The Tower representing sudden change, upheaval, chaos, revelation, awakening.
If Kirari was a hurricane then Ririka was the calm before the storm. At least that was what Mary had thought when she had her first interaction with Ririka. The timidity and self-consciousness evident in Ririka’s personality lead her to believe Kirari had taken all of the control and fire from her twin. Mary never realized how wrong she was until this moment.
Ririka was just about to begin her gamble with the Obami brothers when she removed her mask. Mary, for a moment, was convinced she was staring at the other twin. The cold determined eyes that were previously hidden behind the mask were filled with a fire she had only ever seen in Kirari’s.
Mary was wrong, Ririka was not the calm before Kirari’s storm but a storm in of itself lurking just under calm waters waiting to swallow whoever was foolish enough to dive in. And she herself had been swallowed and was now in the eye of the storm watching it begin to rage around her.
To say Ririka was stressed was an understatement. The knowledge that her twin was putting to use the tower of doors she had created sent a wave of cold fear through her body. Even more so when she learned that Sayaka and Jabami were the ones accompanying her. When Kirari didn’t return home until early that morning, Ririka was pushed off the edge.
It was four o’clock in the morning and she was still sitting on the couch in the glamorous living room waiting for her twin to get home. She had been in the same spot all night and could feel her eyes drooping with a need for sleep. She could not let herself succumb just yet, she desperately needed to make sure Kirari was okay. Knowing her twin Ririka feared the worst, there was no way Kirari hadn’t jumped out of the tower, no matter who won.
Just as sleep was about to consume Ririka she heard the front door open and then very quietly close. Shooting onto her feet Ririka made her way over to the door ready to demand answers when a sound suddenly stopped her. Freezing on the spot she listened, she could hear quiet giggles coming from the entryway. Her brow creased in confusion just as her twin and Sayaka turned the corner.
Kirari smirked when she saw Ririka rooted to the spot, “Dear sister did you wait up all night just for me. You know you had nothing to worry about. I was just taking care of some after school gambling, I’m sure you saw on the announcements this morning.” Kirari gave an uncharacteristically soft smile directed to the girl at her side. “You would be impressed, Sayaka did very well.” Sayaka blushed a deep shade of red and looked at the floor bashfully.
Ririka could not form any words. She had been so upset and worried about her sister the last several hours. She was not naïve; she knew the purpose of the Tower of Doors and the dire consequences that came with losing a gamble there. She herself had even looked down the dizzying five story drop while the Tower was still under construction.
God Ririka was so tired, not just physically but mentally too. The stress of worrying about Kirari, the election, and the consequences of the Hundred Devouring Families being at Hyakkaoua Academy. This was really just the final straw, the last push she needed before the weight of everything on her shoulders brought her crashing down. She could feel the tears pricking the corners of her eyes. Kirari just didn’t get it. “STOP. Kirari what the hell!” Tears began to fully stream down her face. “Of course I was worried about you! I knew exactly what you had planned when the Tower of Doors was- “
Kirari cut her off, “Riri, it’s four in the morning. Let’s save this lecture for a better hour, hm? I’ll tell you everything that happened before school okay? There is no need to worry, nobody was hurt during the gamble.” With that Kirari grabbed Sayaka’s hand and dragged her in the direction of her bedroom. Ririka felt like screaming but she was too tired to fight her sister. As frustrated as she was, Kirari was right, it could wait until morning. Ririka dragged her feet until she reached the couch, collapsing in an inelegant heap, too exhausted from the night’s drama to make the walk to her own room.
Much to Ririka’s irritation the house was empty when she awoke. The only explanation on a post-it note stuck to the coffee table. Ririka picked the note up to read with a yawn:
I know you wanted an explanation of the events that unfolded last night, unfortunately that will have to wait. Sayaka insisted we stop by her house before school this morning to get a change of uniform and take a proper shower. Lord knows why when I offered for her to borrow mine and take a shower here (without a doubt we have better water pressure I have no idea why she refused). Come stop by the student council room sometime today and I promise we can talk.
Of course, she couldn’t just have a simple explanation over morning tea. They’re Momobamis after all, everything must be filled with flair and dramatics. Ririka rolled her eyes, crushing the note in her hand and throwing it back on the coffee table in frustration.
Ririka took out her phone checking the time. She was already dreadfully late, no need to rush getting ready. She texted Kirari and the rest of the student council her apologizes and informed them she would be late arriving today. Ririka got up with a sigh still tired from the late night. She could hardly think while getting ready for school, the only thing that took up her mind was the stress of everything happening around her. She still couldn’t believe her sister. Why couldn’t she just take something serious for once in her life? These intense gambles she sets up aren’t just games made for her amusement. To be honest Ririka was getting tired of going along with everything. At first it seemed like it all served a purpose and was helping their family and each other. But lately it just seems like nothing her twin does has a purpose other than to satisfy her curiosity and boredom. Ririka breathed a sigh through her nose while she finished putting her school blazer on. Maybe she should take a vacation after the election she thought.
Ririka arrived at school after a short ride to campus with their chauffeur. The Momobami twins of course owned a luxurious suburban home close to the academy to allow for quick rides to and from school. Just before stepping out of the vehicle Ririka slipped her mask over her face. Today it would be a blessing, hiding the bags under her tired eyes. Once again checking the time she noticed she made it just in time for the end of lunch. She would have classes until the end of the day preventing her from speaking with Kirari. She sent a quick text to her sister letting her know she had finally arrived at school and wished to speak with her after the school day had ended. Ririka received a quick acknowledgement and made her way to class.
The day dragged on, Ririka’s tiredness only slowing it down even more painfully. Finally, the last bell had rung signaling the end of the day. She could almost collapse in relief. Quickly she made her way down the halls to the familiar room the student council occupied. Taking a quick breath to center herself before opening the door.
At the sight before her Ririka dropped her briefcase with a dramatic thud . At the head of the table, in the president’s chair of course, sat Kirari with Sayaka in her lap. The president was caught lip locked with her secretary. All things considered Ririka shouldn’t be shocked at this turn of events. However, making out with Sayaka when Kirari knew Ririka was coming, even for the younger twin that was bold.
The two of them separated at the noise, “ah Ririka that’s right! I forgot we had a meeting scheduled, my apologies.” Sayaka was statue still in her lap, face even redder than Ririka’s at being caught. It would be comical if she wasn’t as frustrated as she was.
“Yes,” she breathed out through gritted teeth, “I do believe we have a lot to talk about Kirari. Can we get started, just the two of us?” Ririka let her gaze fall on the girl in her sister’s lap.
“Of course,” Kirari looked down at Sayaka who was still frozen, “my dear Sayaka you will have to move eventually so I can speak with my sister. I’m sure you have some student council duties you must attend to.” Sayaka finally jostled by Kirari’s words, stood with her gaze directed at the floor.
“Of course, President. My deepest apologies Mrs. Vice President. I was not informed the two of you had a meeting scheduled.” Sayaka briskly made her way toward the door all the while keeping her head down, never meeting either of the twin’s gaze.
A smirk settled on Kirari’s features. “So, I’m assuming you want an explanation?”
“Yes.” Ririka said as she removed her mask.
“Very well, it’s not very interesting, nobody was hurt. Jabami won the gamble against Sayaka and that was that.” Kirari shrugged nonchalantly with a wave of her hand.
“No, I want to hear all of it. I know you are leaving things out.” Ririka pointed an accusatory finger, “you jumped from the tower, didn’t you? You jumped after Sayaka when she lost the gamble.” Kirari frowned at having been read so easily.
“If you insist.” Just as Kirari was about to begin Sayaka burst back through the doors with an annoyed looking Mary trailing behind her. A light blush still colored the secretary’s face.
Both girls held up identical envelopes, “President this came for you it’s urgent!” Sayaka blurted out as she sped walked through the room to hand the letter over.
“I received the same thing in my desk this morning. It’s an invitation to an auction requesting both of us attend.” Mary told Ririka as she glanced over to Kirari to throw a disdainful look in her direction. Ririka felt a small smile form on her face, the blonde’s antics cutting through the tension that was left in the room.
“How interesting.” Kirari said with a smirk, “it starts in just a few minutes are you two going?” Ririka met Mary’s determined gaze, the two of them nodding in understanding.
“Yes, we are.” Ririka replied.
“Then I guess we’ll have to put off our conversation once again.” Ririka signed in frustration. A necessary consequence if she wanted to earn more votes it seemed.
“Are you going?” Mary said with a sneer.
“No. I think I’ll watch this one play out from the sidelines.” Kirari said with a knowing smirk.
With that the Vice President redonned her mask and walked out with her partner. Mary let out a loud groan, “Ugh she obviously knows something we don’t! Don’t you two have some sort of twin telepathy? Can’t you figure out what it is?”
Ririka chuckled at Mary, “Something like that,” she said with a smile, “but no unfortunately I don’t think anyone can tell what Kirari is thinking, even me.” With that Mary groaned again as they made their way to the auction room.
Mary and Ririka walked out of the auction room. The results to say the least were surprising. In the end, no one really lost. Most of them left the auction with more votes than when they had joined. Jabami may have won the gamble against Batsubami but she had freed herself in the process.
“Ugh, everyone at this academy is freaking crazy.” Mary groaned out, “I mean who could’ve seen that coming.” Mary paused for a second, “actually, I take that back I know exactly who saw that coming.” Mary said disdainfully as she gave Ririka a pointed look. The taller girl raised her arms in defense. “Speak of the devil.” Mary said under her breath as Kirari turned the corner with Sayaka in tow.
“Perfect timing. I’ll assume you’ve wrapped up with the auction?” Kirari said casually with a knowing smirk on her face.
“Yes. Just a few minutes ago. We had to wait behind to confirm our winnings with the election committee.” Ririka droned out, her mask contorting her voice.
“Right. I already took care of things with Rei Batsubami so I am done for the day. Ready to head home Ririka? I can finally tell you what happened last night on the way to the car.”
Ririka gave a stiff nod in response stepping away from Mary. The blonde girl shot her a curious glance, Ririka only waved and said her goodbyes in return. The trio left Mary in the hall, heading for the front exit of the academy. “Okay, Kirari, tell me what really happened yesterday. I want to know all of it.”
So Kirari finally told her twin. The whole story starting from when Jabami challenged Kirari and ending with Kirari and Sayaka in a pool of lilies after jumping from the tower. When the story had ended, they had already reached the exit. All of them stepped out together into the cool afternoon air. Ririka had yet to say anything to Kirari’s story when Sayaka bid her goodbyes to the twins. Kirari pulled her secretary in for a chaste kiss causing Sayaka to light up red as she walked away.
“Are you two together now?” Ririka asked.
“Yes.” Kirari had a soft serene smile on her face, nothing like the cold knowing smirk she usually wore.
“I’m happy for you Kirari but what would you have done if she had chosen the wrong door? Would you really have let her jump?”
“Those were the stakes of the gamble. Sayaka knew the risk.”
Ririka frowned, “Do you not care if she lives or dies?”
Kirari looked almost shocked at the accusation, “And here I thought you knew me better dear sister.” Her smirk returned on her face clearly amused, “Of course I care about Sayaka. I love her after all. Besides, Sayaka chose the right answer in the end so what’s there to worry about?”
Ririka’s face grew cold, “I’m asking, what if she hadn’t? The risks were always there! She could’ve died Kirari! You say you love her but you put her in a position where she could die. That doesn’t sound like real love. Or do you just not understand? These gambles have real consequences Kirari! Like that gamble you had a while ago with Jabami. What if she had won and you had to leave the academy? What would you have done huh? What would I have done if you had lost?” Her voice was starting to get thick with tears. “We share the same face Kirari, sometimes that means we share the same consequences.”
“What’s there to worry about? None of that happened so why are you upset?”
“Because I don’t know what’s next! I don’t know what risks you’re going to take and if you’ll win! Even you’re never guaranteed to win every gamble!” Ririka was almost yelling at this point, her frustration finally boiling over. Kirari just stared at her not knowing what to say. “I can’t be around you right now.” Ririka turned around back towards the entry doors.
“What?” Kirari said incredulously.
“Go home without me. I’m going to stay somewhere else tonight. I’ll call another driver.”
“If that is your wish Ririka.” Kirari said with a frown already deep in thought. Ririka walked away from her sister, without a goodbye. She walked back to the entrance of Hyakkaoua and sat on one of the benches in front of the school. She could feel the tears streaming down her face behind her mask. Balling her fists in her lap she reached into her pocket to get her phone to call another driver. She, however, stopped when she heard someone walk out of the academy’s entrance freezing at the sound.
“Ririka?” Mary asked as she walked over to the girl on the bench, “I thought you had already gone home for the day. Wait are you crying?”
Ririka squeezed her fists again, willing the tears away, “I- “ she tried to start but couldn’t hold the tears in any longer as sobs wracked through her body. “I’m sorry I know you don’t like when I cry.”
Mary was frozen in front of the girl debating on what to do or say. She sat down close to the crying girl. Tentatively she reached out and held her hand, careful to keep her grip loose in case the other girl wanted to pull away. The grip tightened securely around her hand. “Do you want to stay at my house tonight?”