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The Cards of Fate

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The devil representing shadow self, attachment, addiction, restriction, and sexuality.

 

The fading afternoon light streamed into the infirmary room casting a warm glow on everything it touched. Behind her mask Ririka stared into Mary’s eyes which had turned into a molten gold in the light; she had never seen anything so beautiful in her life. Her hair shone more beautifully than any piece of jewelry she had ever owned, in this moment she believed there was nothing in this world that could possibly compare to Mary. 

The nurse had already left the two alone on one of the infirmary beds. The only thing that protected them from the outside world was a thin sheet drawn around them, sectioning them off from the rest of the room. Not that it was doing much anyways the school was nearly deserted. 

Ririka hovered awkwardly at the side of the bed while Mary adjusted her ice pack to her jaw where Kiwatari had his bruising grip on her. Mary huffed at the older girl, “Well, are you just gonna stand there or what?” Ririka didn’t move a muscle except to nervously shuffle her feet, “Jeez” The blonde sighed, “Common.” She patted the spot on the bed next to her encouragingly.

Mary watched as she hesitated for a moment before stepping over and sitting beside her. Mary let out a quiet gasp as she watched Ririka remove her mask unprompted, bathing half of her face in fading sunlight. One eye was lit up by the sun, turning it a blue that you would only ever see in the clearest ocean. The other was cast in shadow, turning it a cold almost steel blue. The older girl looked away from her searching eyes, turning toward the floor before narrowing in thought, “What did you want to speak to me about Saotome?”

“Oh, so that’s how it is now? I’m Saotome to you?” She could taste the bitter resentment of the words on her tongue as she said them.

“N- No, I- I just thought-” Ririka was startled at the words She had expected Mary to tell her she never wanted to see her again; that she was a monster.

“Tch, what did you think then, huh? Common spit it out already!” 

A sad look clouded her eyes, dulling the blue of the one in the sun, “I just thought after the gamble you didn’t want to be partners anymore.” Guilt immediately enveloped Mary, all the annoyance and fight immediately deflated out of her. “I’m sorry.” She sighed out.

“What?” Ririka did a double take, thinking she had heard the other girl wrong. The blonde was so bullheaded and stubborn, Ririka was willing to gamble on the fact she had never heard Mary apologize for anything before.

Mary huffed as a light blush formed on her face, “I said,” She raised her voice in annoyance, “I’m sorry, okay?” She looked away from Ririka in embarrassment, her voice dropping to almost a whisper, “I shouldn’t have avoided you after that gamble.”

“Mary… It’s okay, I understand-”

“No!” She shouted, cutting her off, “It’s not!” She clenched her fists in lap, “I- I got scared. I just… All I could see in you during that gamble was Kirari. I mean obviously I know you’re twins but you’re different from her. She’s- She’s ruthless and evil,” She huffed again rambling, “I don’t know! But you’re just not that… And I guess I got scared because I thought you-” She stopped as she felt a hand cover her own.

“I know what you’re trying to say but you’re wrong.” The hand left hers as a dark look fell over Ririka’s face and she tilted her head downward moving both eyes into the shadow, giving her an even darker look, “I’m not Kirari, you’re correct about that, but I’m still a Momobami. I don’t ever want you to forget that because the moment you do, is the moment you’ll be hurt. Either by my family or who I was raised to be. Neither Kirari or I can ever afford to be anything but ruthless and evil.” 

Mary reached over to squeeze one of Ririka’s hands, “I think that’s the same for anyone at the Academy.” She growled, “I hate it! The house pet system and everything! But that’s why we’re helping each other right? So, we can change things, make things better for everyone.” She squeezed her hand again.

A sad smile slowly formed on Ririka’s face, “Yea, you’re right.”

Without thinking Mary lunged over and wrapped her arms around the other girl whispering, “You’re really not so bad Ririka.” As quickly as she had done it, it was over, pushing herself off of the other girl. She cleared her throat awkwardly, “So now what?”

Ririka looked at her lap and fiddled with her fingers nervously, “I need your help with a gamble…” 

[]

“Then I propose we have a gamble.” Ririka couldn’t tell if Kirari was saying this in a failed attempt to cheer her up because Mary had just abandoned her due to a gamble or if she was being serious.

“What kind of gamble?” Suspicion evident in her voice.

Kirari smiled a bit too wide for Ririka’s comfort, “If you win, I’ll give you my full support in the election. If I win, then you have to be me for a week while I go on vacation with Sayaka.” 

The older twin narrowed her eyes, “That’s all you want? Has Sayaka made you grow soft?”

Kirari shrugged, “If you win the gamble it could be beneficial to both of us. It will also satisfy my curiosity, so I see it as a no lose situation.”

“What sort of gamble are you proposing?”

Something sparked in Kirari’s eyes, “I want to see if Saotome can tell us apart. If she guesses right you win, if she guesses wrong then I win.”

Ririka did a double take nearly whispering, “You want Mary to win the election, don’t you? I thought you were just holding the election to dominate the rest of the clan and solidify yourself as the head. What changed?” 

“That’s if she can tell us apart, I’m not yet quite convinced she will be able to. But if she does… Mary might just be the best thing for the Academy right now. It would also be interesting to see what she does. Especially now that she’s had experience being a house pet.”

“You know if she wins that also means she’ll be head of the clan.” 

Kirari cocked her head, “Isn’t that why you partnered with her?”

Ririka glanced away for a second before hesitantly meeting Kirari’s gaze, “She’s everything we’re not and that may be the exact thing the clan needs. You can’t change a system you were created by, Kirari, no matter how hard we try.”

A crease formed between her eyebrows, “Well, it seems there is much more riding on this gamble than I thought.”

[]

They had left the city more than twenty minutes ago, instead moving into the rolling hills of the mostly abandoned countryside. They did pass several large mansions on the way, but none compared to the one that currently loomed in the distance far in front of her. Dark clouds circled delicately above ready to release a storm on them any moment. It seemed that moment was close  as light rain began to pepper the windshield as they drove up the long driveway.

Mary arrived at the Momobami estate the weekend following her encounter with Kiwatari. She was completely unsure what to expect, the only information Ririka gave her was that she needed help with a gamble and when the chauffeur was going to pick her up. She couldn’t help the ominous feeling swirling inside of her, even if she trusted Ririka she was still heading into the lion’s den that was the Momobami estate. 

They finally pulled up to the front of the mansion, dark architecture loomed over her accentuated by the dark clouds and rain coming down. It was every bit as rich and over the top as Mary had expected, “Tch, figures they live here.” She mumbled as she exited the car, thanking the driver before he pulled away. 

She was greeted under the awning of the front of the house by one of the maids. “Good afternoon Mrs. Saotome,” She bowed deeply causing Mary to huff in annoyance, “Please follow me.” Keeping with the air of mystery that always came with the twins, Mary wasn’t at all surprised about the little information she had been given. She looked around as she was led into the mansion, noting the emptiness each of the large abandoned rooms gave off. For such an extravagant house it had very little substance and warmth to it, giving it a largely foreboding atmosphere.

She was led down a long hallway with large arches overhead and empty rooms connecting onto it. Soon they came to an intersection that led off to smaller hallways, Mary had no idea how anyone could ever reliably navigate through the mansion, she was already completely turned around the second they entered one of the smaller hallways. 

Suddenly the maid stopped at one of the doors, she bowed once again, “The Lady Momobamis are waiting for you.”

She opened the door, allowing Mary to step through. It was as if she stepped into a whole other world. The room was huge, she guessed they were in the center of the mansion. It housed a beautiful Japanese style garden with a glass roof that captured the light patter of rain above. There was a pond and small river that flowed throughout the room. It was filled with various fish swimming through and small wooden bridges that passed over it, allowing for visitors to walk across. A large cherry tree wound its way up toward the roof in one of the corners. There were several lanterns scattered around to allow for light even with the dark clouds and rain that swirled above. 

Mary’s breath was immediately stolen by the surprising beauty of the room. It contrasted so harshly with the rest of the mansion that she had seen. If she hadn’t just walked in through the door she never would have believed that it belonged in the same house. 

In the middle of the room the twins sat together with Sayaka standing behind them. They were completely identical, both done up with Kirari’s signature hairstyle and makeup and wearing matching kimonos. “Hello, Mary.” They spoke in sync with one another. “Welcome to our estate.” They both gestured to the surroundings around them. If Mary was being honest she couldn’t tell if she was impressed or creeped out with how perfectly in sync they were. 

Mary made her way over to where the three girls were, “What’s this all about?!” 

“Sayaka,” Both twins turned to her at the same time, “Would you please explain to Mary.”

Sayaka jumped a little at suddenly being addressed, “Saotome, the President and Vice President have invited you to help determine their gamble. You must choose who is Kirari and who is Ririka. The only rule is you may not ask a question only one of them would know. You are free to try any other means you can think of.”

Mary sputtered, “B- But they’re identical! How the hell am I supposed to do that?!” She turned back to the twins. Both wore the same exact expression, a small mischievous smirk and knowing eyes. Mary narrowed her eyes at the two of them, “What happens if I win?”

Both twins shrugged at the same time, “Nothing,” The one on the left spoke. “You are only helping us decide our gamble.” The one on the right finished. 

Mary looked around once again, there was no one from the election committee present, so she decided it was safe to assume this wasn’t an election gamble. “Who bet that I would get it right?”

The smirk on both of their faces grew as they spoke simultaneously again, “Ririka, of course.”

Mary’s eyes flitted between the two twins. She groaned, “You’re putting a lot of faith in me here.”

Both twins’ eyes softened as they tilted their heads to side, “I know.” 

A shiver ran up Mary’s back. “Stop doing that! It’s so creepy.” Mary observed the two of them closely, it wasn’t just Ririka copying Kirari’s actions, Kirari was also able to imitate Ririka too. 

The twins laughed together at Mary’s comment. They splayed their hands out in front of them, “It’s time Mary, which one is me?”

Mary walked up to them so she was standing in front of the twins and crouched down so she was at eye level with them. She looked both deep in the eyes, looking for any differences between the two. Neither made a single move nor let anything show. It was as if they were perfect mirror images of each other.

She glanced up at Sayaka who had a calm smile on her face, casually watching Mary from behind the twins. Mary gritted her teeth in annoyance, how the hell was she supposed to tell the difference between the two. She looked down from the girls’ faces. They each wore matching kimonos with intricate designs, obviously very expensive. Both girls’ hands were painted with the signature blue polish Kirari always wore. They really didn’t forget a single detail, Mary thought. There had to be something . She blushed at the idea she just had, she didn’t want to try it, but it was the only thing she could think of. 

She leaned forward on her knees getting close to the right twin’s face, similar to what Kirari had done to her when she was invited to join the student council. The effect was immediate, the right twin’s face erupted in a dark blush that went all the way to the tips of her ears. Mary smirked feeling triumphant and sat back on her heels again. 

She then leaned over to the twin on the left getting close to her face, if not closer than she had been to the other twin. She narrowed her eyes noticing something was off.  She had the exact same reaction as the other twin, her face had immediately lit up in a dark blush, reaching all the way to her ears. Her eyes glanced up; she could feel the other girl’s breath on her face she was so close. Damnit , she didn’t want it to have to come to this. 

Without warning she leaned in kissing the twin in front of her. As soon as it began it was over. Mary pulled back quickly looking up again as she did so. She whipped the back of her hand across her lips and pointed to the twin on the right and with a slight grimace said, “You’re Ririka.” 

The right twin gave a haughty laugh and smirked, “Are you sure about that, Mary?” The blush had completely disappeared. She glanced at the twin on the left, still looking incredibly embarrassed, blush covering most of her face.

Mary narrowed her eyes, “Yes, I am.” As if flipping a switch, the twin’s facial expressions switched. The left twin’s blush completely disappeared with a growing smirk on her face and the right twin looked away unable to meet Mary’s eyes blush growing on her face.

The left twin spoke, “This is your last chance to change your decision.”

Mary shook her head, “No, I think I’ll stick with my choice.”

The room was quiet for a few beats until Sayaka spoke up for the first time since explaining the gamble, “Saotome is correct, Ririka wins the gamble.” Finished with a light glare in her direction. Realization finally sunk in at what had just happened, Mary shivered in disgust, she really just kissed the President. 

Sayaka walked over and helped the President stand without another word. Kirari turned and smirked one last time at Mary, “How interesting.” Without another word she walked off disappearing through one of the many doors attached to the room. 

Little did Mary know looking down on the garden through one of the upper floor windows was Runa Yomozuki. She let out a trill of laughter as sucked on the lollipop in her mouth, removing the headset she had been using to listen in on the gamble. Soon afterwards Kirari and Sayaka joined her in the room. “So, I assume you deemed that a satisfactory gamble between my sister and I?” Kirari began. 

Runa giggled some more, “Yes! I expect you will now be giving your support to Ririka and Saotome now as per agreement?” 

“It seems so…” 

Ririka still sat blushing in front of Mary, the blonde held out a hand to help the older girl up. “I can’t believe I just kissed your sister.” The blonde mumbled out, making a small gagging noise. 

The older girl let out a small giggle. Her demeanor suddenly changed, a smirk grew on her lips, “Does that mean you were hoping to kiss me?”

The blonde’s face lit up in a blush, “Sh-Shut up!” She fumbled for something else to say, “Let’s just get you out of this stupid costume! I feel like I’m looking at Kirari.” She finished grumbling.

Ririka giggled, nodding and taking her hand. She led her to one of the doors connected to the room, similar to one Kirari and Sayaka had disappeared into. This door led into a large bedroom, with floor to ceiling one-way glass looking onto the garden room. Mary didn’t have time to look around the room as the older girl pulled her straight into the bathroom connected to the room. She sat down on a stool in front of the mirror and glanced at her through it, “Thank you Mary.”

The blonde blushed at the sudden words, “For what?!”

Ririka shrugged, looking away, “For doing the gamble. And for caring enough to know the difference between the two of us.”

Mary looked at her feet guiltily, “Don’t get me wrong when you guys aren’t acting like each other it’s easy to tell the difference between the two of you… But since you were during the gamble I honestly didn’t couldn’t tell.”

“You guessed?” Surprise evident in her voice.

She chuckled, “No. I couldn’t tell the difference between the two of you, but I knew Sayaka could. So, I watched her face when I got close to you and did the same thing when I leaned into Kirari. She had no reaction to me leaning in,” Mary shrugged, “So I figured I had to go all the way and I was right, her face twitched when I kissed Kirari.”

Ririka didn’t say anything just shook her head and chuckled at Mary. She grabbed a wipe off the counter and began to remove the makeup on her face. The blonde watched her for a moment, momentarily captivated by the older girl, before stepping up behind her. She pulled at one of the ribbons in her hair until it unfurled releasing the braid it held up. She watched Ririka’s reaction in the mirror, seeing only a soft smile slowly grow on her face. 

Mary slowly began to unbraid her hair, running her fingers through its softness. “Ririka?” The older girl hummed in response. “How did you win every coin toss the other day?”

Ririka paused, “I was taught how to tell the difference in the texture of the faces. So, I can tell if it’s resting on heads or tails in my hand. That way I can either keep it in my hand or turn it over on my wrist depending on what I need.”

Her mouth dropped open in surprise, “How the hell do you even do that?!” Ririka only shrugged in response causing Mary to huff. It was quiet for another moment as she slowly released the other bow. “Okay, so how are you and Kirari able to copy each other so well? I don’t think that’s just a twin thing, you’re like creepily in sync with each other.”

The older girl paused again, tensing, before continuing to remove the blue makeup, “That’s a long story, Mary.”

The blonde shrugged, “We have time.” 

Ririka pursed her lips, “It’s not a very happy story, I didn’t have a very happy childhood.”

Mary set a hand on Ririka’s shoulder slightly pulling the older girl into her, “I feel like I barely know anything about you. Just because it’s sad doesn’t mean I don’t want to hear it.” She grabbed a comb from the counter, pointing it at her in the mirror, “I mean, you don’t have to tell me if you don’t want to!” She growled out before softening and beginning to brush out Ririka’s hair, “But we’re friends now, I want to be there for you.” Mary blushed, refusing to meet the other girl’s eyes.

Ririka blushed lightly, “Okay, but to understand that you must know about how we grew up.” 

Mary nodded in affirmation, “I want to know.”

Ririka sighed, “It all began when a pair of twins were born into the Momobami family causing the death of their mother and soon after their father. Because of this before they were even able to speak they became known as The Devils .”