Chapter 1: Rogue
Ririka had almost forgotten what it felt like to sleep and on most nights wished she still could. It had been about three centuries since she was able to, so naturally, it would be difficult to remember what such a mundane activity felt like. Yet just about forty percent of the student body at Hyakkaou Private Academy was able to sleep after school, while the other sixty percent roamed the halls and attended their nightly classes, never able to sleep even if they tried. This was natural for her kind.
Hyakkaou was the only school in all of Japan where not a single student who attended was human. It was a safe haven of sorts for vampires and werewolves alike to pursue their education with absolute safety and isolation from humans, who often hunted both kinds out of fear. However, this didn’t guarantee the safety of the students seeing as how werewolves and vampires had been natural enemies since the beginning of time.
The school was much different before Ririka’s twin sister Kirari took over as Student Council President. Before, only vampires were allowed to attend the academy. This instantly changed when Kirari instituted an acceptance for werewolf students as well. Ririka and many of the other students were shocked by this decision and even outraged at the new President’s rash decision. Though only Ririka knew what Kirari’s true intentions were: It was a mere experiment; to see just how chaotic life would be at the academy if both werewolves and vampires were forced to interact and live among each other.
Of course, life at this academy was going to be drastically different than that of a typical academy. Though students had the option of taking their classes during the day, a majority took their classes at night. The campus was most alive at night, with a surprising number of the werewolf student population coexisting with the vampires. Kirari had expected this seeing as how werewolves were nocturnal by nature and the only other daywalker on campus was her sister, so it was rare if another vampire wanted to attend any morning classes.
Ririka herself chose to take morning classes because she disliked interacting with the gambling obsessed students of Hyakkaou and wasn’t extremely social to begin with. However since she was a vampire and sleep wasn’t something she could exactly obtain, she had to attend each and every student council meeting that would be held in the dead of night, hours before the sun would rise.
This was the time she truly wished she could sleep. Being the Vice President had its perks, but this certainly wasn’t one of them. In fact, all she wished right now was to be back in her dorm room, catching up on a romance novel she had been reading. Even if the meeting wouldn’t start for another few minutes. It was the fact that she was going to have to sit through it is what bothered her.
The unignorable gaze of her sister broke her free from her thoughts. One advantage of the mask Ririka wore was it prevented Kirari from reading her thoughts. The only way for her to read someone’s thoughts was to maintain eye contact with them, hence why she was such a magnificent gambler. That power of hers certainly came to her advantage, especially when people were unaware of it. It allowed her to win practically every game she played.
Few vampires had special powers of sorts, on top of their enhanced sight, smell, and superhuman speed. One other vampire at the academy, Midari Ikishima, also had a special ability. Although her ability would be considered a curse by some. In short, her ability was damage resistant which meant it was near impossible to destroy her. Things such as the sun, holy water, or fire that would usually destroy a typical vampire would only put her through intense pain but never kill her. In a twisted way, it worked out for the masochist, but her greatest wish after being alive for nearly half a millennium was death.
Kirari, Ririka, and the rest of their family also all had such unique abilities, each one arguably more powerful than the next. It almost was unfair how powerful their kind was with the only disadvantage being sunlight. But even that didn’t apply to the Momobami’s who were all daywalkers. By all means, the Momobami’s were unstoppable. They could obtain anything they so desired. The world could be theirs if they wished.
“Would you mind removing that for a moment?” Kirari mused with a smirk.
Ririka scoffed. “Not a chance. You pick through my brain enough already.”
“I suppose so. Do forgive me for wanting to see what’s bothering my dear older sister,” Kirari chuckled sarcastically.
“And how do you know something’s bothering me?” Ririka asked.
“You’re quiet, but never this quiet,” Kirari responded calmly.
Ririka sighed. “I really just wish to be back at our dorm reading, doing anything else.”
“Ah, but as the Vice President, you signed up for this-”
“President!” Sayaka exclaimed, bursting through the room and interrupting Kirari. “There’s a werewolf phased running around on campus!”
Such an occurrence wasn’t very common. The rules for werewolves attending Hyakkaou was that if they were to phase, they would only be allowed to do so on their designated section of the campus. Vampires weren’t allowed there and the werewolves were free to phase at will whenever they pleased. However, this wasn’t allowed anywhere else. Doing so would break the rules.
Kirari raised an intrigued brow at her Secretary. “Oh? And why haven’t you tried to contain them?”
“I… didn’t want to break the rules myself. They were too fast for me to try to catch up with my human form,” Sayaka explained. “What shall we do?”
“Have Runa or Midari search for them. It shouldn’t take very long,” Kirari waved her off. “We’ll start the meeting once the werewolf is contained.”
“I’ll go. Please don’t let the meeting wait on me,” Ririka volunteered.
“Very well. It appears you got your wish after all,” Kirari grinned.
With a nod, Ririka took her leave, whooshing past Sayaka in a flash. This was one of the few things she enjoyed about being a vampire. Her speed was insanely fast, able to travel quickly to whatever destination she chose. This allowed her to search every nook and cranny of the campus, searching for this werewolf.
She didn’t bother searching anywhere indoors due to the fact that it would be blatantly obvious if there was a giant wolf running around inside the school buildings. Wherever this rule breaker was, they were going to be outside. Likely somewhere away from the general school population.
After a bit of looking around, the final outdoor place she could possibly search was the school’s track. As expected, there were no students there at this time of night seeing as how everyone was supposed to be in class or in bed. However, she did find what she was looking for.
In the center of the field was a giant wolf with light brown fur, whose golden glowing eyes stared directly at Ririka. The wolf took a few steps back, clearly not expecting to see the Vice President. Ririka obviously couldn’t tell who this was, but she knew she was soon going to find out. She hoped for her sake and the werewolf’s sake they were female for it would be rather awkward having a male phase back to his human form in front of her. A naked human form, mind you.
“Whoever you are, I’m certain you know the rules of this campus. All werewolves who phase are to be contained in their section of the campus,” Ririka explained monotone, her voice muffled by her mask. “Failing to comply will result in consequences.”
The wolf snarled at her, exposing its sharp fangs, clearly upset by her words. But, it seemed to oblige. Ririka could hear the crunching of bones being forced back into place and watched as the wolf’s form began to change. She was always fascinated by the transformation of a werewolf. She wondered if it hurt them to phase, what it felt like to be in their wolf form. That was something she would never be able to experience herself but simply admire from afar.
Ririka’s eyes widened upon seeing a semi-familiar figure before her. Mary Saotome. Though she didn’t know much about this girl, she was well aware of her cocky demeanor and unbeaten reign of gambling wins. She had seen her on several occasions before and even interacted with her once when she demanded something of Kirari a few months prior that she couldn’t remember entirely.
Mary looked her up and down in her crouched position. “Fuck off, I’m having a really horrible night. Just leave me alone!”
In the blink of an eye, Ririka was directly in front of her, startling the werewolf and causing her to flinch.
“I’m afraid I cannot,” Ririka sighed. “It appears you have caused quite a bit of panic on campus. I’m here to mainly make sure you are contained and return to your dorm without any problems.”
“Whatever, you can go now. I’ve calmed down,” Mary murmured.
Ririka knelt down. “Perhaps you misheard me. I must make sure you return to your dorm without any problems.”
“I don’t need a babysitter!” Mary hissed. “Go report back to the President that the issue was taken care of. I really just want to be alone now. It’s my last night of freedom after all.”
Ririka winced, knowing instantly what was plaguing the blonde. She didn’t need mind-reading capabilities like Kirari to know Mary had just lost a gambling match. And from the looks of it, she lost badly. So bad that she was now in debt to someone, or in other words, she was now a housepet.
“It is unfortunate that you have had a rough night,” Ririka began to say, ready to continue on about the rules but decided against it and instead offered kindness. “Would you perhaps like to talk about it?”
Mary scoffed. “Nothing much to say aside from I’m a housepet now. I’m sure you’ll find out all about it soon once the psychotic President develops a life plan for me.”
Ririka frowned upon hearing Mary call her sister that. Many people believed Kirari was psychotic, but Ririka knew her twin was perfectly sane. She was simply bored and had psychotic ways of relieving her boredom. The housepet and life plan system was a part of it. She herself didn’t approve of such a system, but to go against Kirari would be like going against a queen. In many ways, Kirari was a queen. A queen of her academy and her family name.
And people have tried to go against Kirari in the past, most commonly when they tried to challenge her to become the head of the Momobami clan. That always either ended up in banishment from the opposer or death. The Momobami name was rumored to be old as time itself, and it had been nearly two millenniums since a new leader had been in that position for the amount of time she had been.
“I will see what I can do to help make your life plan… bearable,” Ririka chose her words carefully.
“You really wanna help me? Figure out a way to get that new girl Jabami Yumeko out of my life. Kick her out for all I care. She’s the source of my problem. If it wasn’t for her, I wouldn’t be almost nine million yen in debt,” Mary snarled.
Jabami. That was a new name to Ririka. The academy quite often received new students, however, another Bami attending the school hadn’t happened before. As far as she knew, there weren’t any relatives of hers that had Jabami as a surname. Perhaps this Jabami girl was a very distant relative of hers? Whatever the case, she knew Kirari would certainly be interested and would likely have answers.
“I’m not sure how or if I can do that,” Ririka admitted. “Kirari might be able to be of assistance.”
“Kirari?” Mary snorted. “You two must be on awfully good terms if you’re able to address her by her first name.”
No one at the school knew that Kirari and Ririka were sisters, twins no less, except for the student council members. It was understandable that Mary didn’t know either.
“You could say that,” Ririka murmured. “Now, how are we going to return you back to your dorm? I’m certain you don’t have any spare clothes around here.”
Mary blushed upon hearing that. “Just leave me here. I’ll wait till the sun comes out. The chances of me being seen would be far less, ironically.”
Ririka had already begun to remove her red school suit jacket. “I have a better idea.”
“W-what the fuck are you doing?” Mary shrieked as Ririka stripped down to her bra.
The vampire had long since lost her sense of shame. Being alive for such a long time would do that to someone. Partial nakedness wasn’t much of a concern of Ririka’s right now. Besides, she still had her bra and skirt on. It wasn’t like she was fully nude.
“I am offering you a way to return to your dorm without humiliating yourself,” Ririka explained, removing her undershirt as well. “Here, wrap the shirt around your waist and put on the jacket.”
She handed Mary her clothes for her to put on, turning her head away out of modesty. Mary hesitantly accepted them and put them on. She looked very out of place wearing just those two articles of clothing, but her nakedness was concealed now at least.
“And what about you? I’m sure you wouldn’t want to return to the school in your underwear,” Mary chuckled.
“I would rather not,” Ririka admitted. “However, no one will be able to see me, I can assure you.”
“What do you-” Mary stopped mid sentence, realizing the Vice President had seemingly disappeared out of thin air.
“Start moving,” Ririka’s voice commanded, though Mary still couldn’t see her or tell where the voice was coming from.
Mary looked around, but couldn’t see her anywhere. “Where are you? Are you talking to me telepathically or something and ran off?”
“Start moving,” Ririka repeated, ignoring Mary’s question.
“Tch, fine. Don’t tell me,” Mary grumbled and got up. “You vamps think you’re so above everyone else.”
Mary heard no response to that. Instead of waiting for one, she began walking. She appeared to be alone now, but strangely felt like someone was watching her. It was like a hidden sixth sense, detecting that something wasn’t quite right. She knew Ririka had to be around here somewhere, keeping a watchful eye to be sure she didn’t try to pull any shenanigans.
The werewolf released a sigh of relief when she reached the werewolves designated section, seeing her dorm in the distance. Hardly anyone was here. Only a few housepets were scurrying about and Mary’s friend Ryota who appeared to be studying. She hoped he wouldn’t notice her and then ask her a bunch of questions about the gamble of that new vampire she lost to and why she was wearing someone else’s uniform. She wasn’t in the mood to answer any questions.
She sneaked past his view until she reached her dorm. Thankfully she knew her roommate Itsuki wasn’t home and was either in class or attending the student council meeting she had been talking about, so she had the dorm to herself.
“You're lucky there aren't many students out tonight,” Ririka said from behind her.
The vampire had seemingly reappeared, still in her bra and skirt. Mary didn’t have the patience to ask where she disappeared to or if she was hiding or not.
Mary jumped slightly and turned around to face her. “Fucking hell! Don’t sneak up on someone like that!”
Ririka snickered. “My apologies. Now I must return to the student council room. You caused a bit of a disruption.”
“So then, what’s my punishment?” Mary frowned.
Ririka thought briefly. “Well, I do believe you have been punished quite enough tonight. I will let you off with a warning.”
Mary blinked at her, genuinely surprised. “That’s… generous. Thank you, Vice President. I suppose I’ll see you around then?”
“Yes, it appears so,” Ririlka nodded. “Have a good night, Saotome. I will collect my clothes from you later.”
Mary smiled lightly. “Thank you, and… call me Mary.”
“Very well then, Mary-san,” Ririka grinned behind her mask. “I will see you around.”
With a gentle nod, Mary closed the door. Ririka inhaled and exhaled before deciding to return to the student council room. Of course, she made sure to stop by her own dorm first to cover her top half. Once she did, she returned to the student council room.
No one even batted an eye when she entered the room and sat next to Kirari. Itsuki and Midari were arguing about something she was unsure about and listened as their conversation continued to gain an input. Kirari, of course, was remaining silent in this conversation and wore an amused expression as the two argued.
“I don’t see why so many people are complaining about the vampire to werewolf ratio on the student council. Does it even really matter?” Midari groaned. “You mutts should be grateful we have werewolves on the council at all.”
Ah, that was what all the fuss was about. This topic was brought up quite often, actually. Ririka didn’t have an interest in the topic, so she usually just drowned out the conversation. She would do the same for this one.
“Now now, Ikishima,” Kirari warned. “Let us not be prejudiced toward our… fluffy comrades.”
“My kind just wished there was an equal balance on the council, that’s all,” Itsuki grumbled. “Igarashi-san, wouldn’t you agree? You’re the only other werewolf on the council, I think you should have a say in all of this.”
Sayaka flinched and turned her head towards the President, looking deeply into her eyes as if asking for permission to speak. Kirari read her Secretary’s mind like a book and gave a small nod. Sayaka was completely oblivious to Kirari’s ability and would likely pass away from embarrassment had she known her beloved President had been able to read her thoughts this entire time. Kirari herself knew this, hence why she hadn’t revealed that bit of information to Sayaka. Yet.
“I-I don’t think it is that big of an issue, personally. So long as we get work done and maintain order, it doesn’t really matter if the council is solely made up of werewolves or vampires or a mixture of the two,” Sayaka explained.
Itsuki sighed in defeat and slumped down in her chair. Ririka knew at that point the conversation was over. She heard Kirari clear her throat, a sure sign that she was about to announce something important.
“With that out of the way, I would like to know if we have any new house pets or new students to be concerned about,” Kirari grinned.
Runa excitedly shot her hand up in the air like a student in the classroom who knew the answer to a problem. Kirari raised a brow at the short, hyperactive vampire. Ririka pitied the girl in a way. Runa was changed when she was fourteen about thirty years ago. It was against vampire law to change a child, so fourteen was cutting it close. Runa at times didn’t act like she was fourteen. She either acted like a young child or a mature adult. There was no in between.
“We have six new house pets, one of which might interest you, nyhaha!” Runa exclaimed. “Mary Soatome became a house pet just earlier tonight. I’m sure you all know or have heard of her.”
Nods came from all around the room, including Ririka.
“Hm, it will certainly be interesting developing a life plan for her,” Kirari hummed in amusement. “Now, Runa, any new students?”
“There is,” Ririka spoke up before Runa could. “A new girl who goes by the name of Jabami Yumeko. She’s actually the one who caused Saotome to become a housepet.”
A subtle squint on Kirari’s part told Ririka that she knew something. It must have not been a good thing based off of Kirari’s expression alone. Ririka looked directly in Kirari’s direction, but her younger sister ignored her glare.
“Very well. We will look into this girl,” Kirari shrugged it off. “Are there any other matters we need to discuss at...”
Ririka drowned out her sister's voice, her mind trailing back to when she found Mary at the track. The sheer amount of rage in the werewolf’s eyes almost wounded Ririka to see. She knew Mary may have been an over-confident individual, but she was still a person. No one wanted to be a housepet. It didn’t matter if they were a vampire or a werewolf. The position wasn’t one anyone would ever wish to be in.
And then the image of Mary transforming back to her human form flashed through her mind. Ririka only then thought about just how strikingly beautiful she was. Her pale skin that glowed in the moonlight, her silky blonde hair that was typically in twin pigtails hung loosely at her shoulders, but what intrigued her the most was her eyes. Golden, like the color of raw honey. Ririka was surprised she didn’t drown in them the very moment she saw them. And then of course, her lips, that looked oh so inviting to-
She scolded herself at the thought and tried to think of something else. Having such a thought about a werewolf, her natural enemy, felt scandalous. Although, it wasn’t unheard of for a vampire and a werewolf to be together. Once in a blue moon, something like that would happen. She knew her sister secretly had feelings for her Secretary who happened to be a werewolf after all. But Kirari always went against the flow, so something like that wouldn’t be unexpected of her.
Besides, Ririka decided long ago that she would never get involved in the game of romance. Being an immortal, frozen in time to the age of eighteen when she was changed centuries ago, meant that finding a partner for life would have it’s difficulties.
She certainly could never be with a human, that sort of relationship would just be too painful. Forcing herself to fight back the urge to literally suck the life out of the one she loved every day wasn’t a pleasant thought. Even more so, she knew she wouldn’t dare try to change a human. After all, she never asked to be turned into a vampire. She wouldn’t wish that upon anyone. And because of that, she knew she would have to watch her human lover’s die from age or sickness or whatever causes the death for most humans. She couldn’t bear something that painful.
Being with a vampire was a possibility, however, Ririka also despised her kind. She saw them as she saw herself: a murderer. Anyone who took the life of another person was horrible, a monster. She herself wasn’t innocent by any means and every moment of her existence she tried to forget the horrifying atrocities she committed in her earlier days as a newborn vampire. Every vampire she met was just as guilty of taking the life of someone as she was. And she found that truly appalling.
Then there was the possibility of being with a werewolf. She almost laughed at that thought, knowing all too well that werewolves were also just as capable of spilling blood. The only difference was, not every werewolf was guilty of taking a life. Their temper is what determined it. If enraged enough, a werewolf could go berserk and slaughter anything or anyone in their path without even blinking an eye. She found that behavior to be rather barbaric and animal like. Even though werewolves technically were animals, that didn’t mean they needed to behave like one. Truthfully, she didn’t know very much about werewolves aside from she was taught to hate and fear them. She never feared them; a Momobami feared no one. Hate however… hate was too strong of a word. She didn’t have a liking to werewolves by any means, but she didn’t deny they were utterly fascinating. But entering a relationship, let alone a romantic one with a werewolf… that was an intriguing thought.
“How long have you been in your own world, Riri?” Kirari’s voice penetrated through Ririka’s thoughts.
Ririka snapped out of it and looked around the room. She was almost startled to see that only she and Kirari remained. How long had it been since the meeting ended? How long had she been lost in her thoughts? To be fair, whenever hours went by, it felt like minutes to Ririka. Immortality had made her lose her sense of time.
“Far too long it appears,” Ririka mumbled. “Forgive me, I was just lost in thought. Did I miss anything important?”
“Nothing that would be of concern to you,” Kirari assured. “However, you may find it interesting that the girl Saotome lost to is a daywalker like us.”
“How can you be sure?” Ririka pressed.
Kirari stepped aside and gestured to the window; golden rays of sunlight shone through. “See for yourself.”
Ririka immediately stood up and was at the window instantly. She stared all of a few seconds before her eyes locked onto a girl she didn’t recognize walking in broad daylight. She was slender, but had striking long black hair. This must have been Yumeko.
“Does this mean she is a member of our clan?” Ririka asked cautiously.
Kirari smirked. “Her last name has Bami in it, doesn’t it? If she is related to us, she is a very distant relative. The point in matter is, this daywalker will certainly draw attention. Things are about to get interesting at our humble academy.”
Chapter 2: Thirst
The sun had fully risen and Ririka knew she had classes to attend soon. However, she simply did not have the energy or desire to do so and seriously debated on skipping her classes. In all honesty, it was her own fault for refusing to feed for the past two and a half weeks. But she couldn't help it. It was the worst possible paradox; Ririka was appalled by the very sight or thought of having to drink blood yet ravished her prey with great fervor whenever her teeth latched around their throat. Any amount of self control she had was blinded by raw desire to feed the moment she tasted that sweet yet coppery sensation that touched her tongue she had grown used to over the past three centuries.
Ririka tried her best to live off of animal blood or the blood bags Kirari would buy for her in hopes that she wouldn't starve herself like she usually would. But sometimes not even those were able to quench her thirst. It would only keep it at bay, only for it to rear it's ugly head even stronger the next time. Only the thrill of the hunt could truly relieve her. And hunting animals did help greatly, the only issue was it was difficult finding large animals such as deer or foxes in the area of Japan they lived in. They were close to the mountains, yes, but it would take a long while to travel to the part of the mountains where the animals roamed.
But in the city, humans were everywhere. Practically disposable. She could easily feed herself until she felt sick if she desired as many members of her kind often did, feeding on the low-lives of society who wouldn't be missed if they went missing. But Ririka wasn't like her fellow vampires who fed to their heart's content. Not like she used to.
Occasionally however, she would catch a whiff of a human whose scent would be just too irresistible to avoid. She never wanted to harm them, but it was as if her body went on auto pilot. She could see herself as she sucked the life out of her prey, hear their begs and screams for mercy. Every time she took a life, she would always bitterly sob afterward, feeling truly disgusted with herself. It was a never ending cycle that had plagued her during her life as a vampire. She had, of course, learned to partially control her thirst over the years which made her life a bit easier. Her mask that she wore also greatly contributed in her control for it blocked her sense of smell. But on days such as this one where her throat burned like a white-hot poker was being shoved down it and she practically suffered as each minute went by, her mask was basically useless.
She rubbed the front of her neck in hopes to relieve the uncomfortable burning sensation, but to no prevail. Kirari sat across from her, enjoying her cup of tea which in reality was a cup of O-positive. Ririka couldn't stand it whenever Kirari consumed blood out of their fine china, but Kirari wanted to act sophisticated. She was raised that way after all.
Ririka watched as Kirari sipped from her cup and her mind instantly wished she were in her position. Her throat burned even more, easily smelling the scent from the blood. Yet she forced herself to remain seated rather than get up and get a blood bag for herself. She had unfortunately not put on her mask this morning and made the mistake to make eye contact with her sister. Kirari most certainly took advantage of it and instantly knew what was troubling her.
"You know, there's a simple solution to that," Kirari offered.
"Stay out of my head. I'm not in the mood today," Ririka growled.
Kirari snickered. "I'm just saying, you'd be far less grouchy if you didn't starve yourself. Just go on a quick hunt in the city. I plan on doing so later tonight and you're more than welcome to join me. I don't mind sharing."
"You know why I hate... that," Ririka frowned.
"I don't understand it either. Humans are nothing more than walking containers filled with nourishment which you seemingly try to avoid at all costs," Kirari countered.
Ririka scowled at her. "Have you no decency? You were human at some point yourself! Has your heart truly grown that cold that you feel no compassion towards life?"
"Well when you put it that way, I sound like a soulless monster. Ah wait, poor choice of words," Kirari laughed lowly. "However, I do feel compassion towards life, just not necessarily human life."
"Is that why you can murder one with no remorse?" Ririka grumbled.
Kirari sighed. "You see, dear sister, that is exactly the reason why you have such a difficult time feeding. You need to stop seeing humans the way you used to. You aren't human anymore whether you accept it or not. The moment you see them as they are supposed to be, your prey, that's when you'll get over this mentality."
Kirari had been telling her that from the very start. Ririka took her transformation very hard at first. She, of course, had little to no control over her thirst and would sometimes overfeed, not that she ever wanted to. But she was like a drug addict and the blood from humans was the most addicting substance, something she couldn't resist at first even if she tried.
The first months when she was a newborn vampire, her thirst was uncontrollable. If she even smelled a human in her path, she wouldn't hesitate. The hunt immediately set in and once it started, there was no way of stopping it. She killed many humans, hundreds of them, in her first months. No matter how hard she tried to resist, try to force herself to stay away, she never could.
And she hated it every time she lost control. It felt so natural yet foreign whenever she sank her fangs into the flesh of another living being, feeling the warmth of their blood enter her mouth. It sickened her yet she could never stop once she started. However once she was past her newborn phase, she regained her control and vowed to try her best to stay away from humans for good. And for a while, that worked.
So, for about a decade, she isolated herself from everyone, even Kirari. Those years were perhaps the worst of her life. Never before had she endured such torment; able to smell the scents of humans miles away but forced herself to stay away. It certainly was a bitter reminder that her days as a mortal were long over. But she knew Kirari was correct. The only way to get over her mentality was to see humans as her food source, an absolutely revolting idea to her.
"You make it sound like it's easy," Ririka hissed. "And I... have murdered humans before like you. I hated myself every time I did."
"Perhaps start by making the connection that it isn't murder if it's for your survival," Kirari suggested.
That could help, but it still would weigh heavily on her heart and mind. Maybe someday she would actually take Kirari's advice and live like a vampire should, but until that day, she would remain the way she was. She would continue to live off of animal blood or the bags kept in the fridge and still avoid blood whenever she could.
"I'm not going to start today or anytime soon for that matter, but thank you for the offer I suppose," Ririka murmured. "I think I shall leave for the mountains today and hunt there. I know those blood bags won't be sufficient enough."
"So long as you feed, I really don't care how you do it," Kirari shrugged and her expression softened. "I do care about you, you know. And whenever you do this to yourself, it's rather concerning."
Ririka sighed and gave a soft smile. "I appreciate that you think about me, but you need not to worry. I can take care of myself. I am older after all."
"By twelve minutes," Kirari rolled her eyes. "But whatever you say. Will you be attending classes today or will you need me to take care of that for you?"
Thankfully, Kirari took night classes which meant they could pull their classic twin-switch routine. Whenever one was either hunting or simply not in the mood, the other would attend their classes for them. They rarely did this, but neither minded. Especially since most of the things they learned were subjects they were already familiar with. They were technically two of the oldest vampires on campus, even older than some of their teachers who worked there. The teachers were either vampires or werewolves obviously, but typically they weren't older than a few decades or so and only accepted the job because they could work there in peace and away from the humans.
"Please?" Ririka asked, pleading with her eyes.
"Very well, as long as you promise that you'll actually feed this time and try not to starve yourself anymore," Kirari requested. "Oh, and do leave your mask behind before your hunt. I'll need it today."
"Fine," Ririka conceded, though she knew she would likely break that promise. "I'll leave in a few minutes. First I need to pick up something from someone."
Kirari looked into her eyes and a wide smirk made it's way onto her expression. "Oh? You didn't mention you loaned Soatome your clothes. That's unusual, I never pegged you to be into werewolves or anyone, really. You must have gotten into a scandalous situation last night if she needed to wear your clothes. Why didn't you tell me?"
Ririka gawked at her. "Don't be lewd, it wasn't like that and you know it!"
"Ah, but I could see the desire in your thoughts," Kirari teased. "You at least found her attractive."
"So what if I did? It's not like I'll start anything with her," Ririka countered.
"I can tell you considered the thought though," Kirari shot back. "But I also saw great hesitation. You're afraid."
"A-afraid?" Ririka scoffed at her in disbelief by her words. "Of what?! I hardly know her! And I'm certainly not afraid of a werewolf!"
Kirari chuckled. "My my, so defensive. I was merely teasing. But I do know you're afraid of relationships."
"I have no comment on that," Ririka muttered. "And what about you? I know you have feelings for Igarashi-san. I see the way you stare at her and the way she practically worships you."
Kirari's expression shifted into an annoyed one. "That... is a situation you have no capability of understanding."
"That was rather harsh. Are you indicating that I'm improvident?" Ririka snickered.
"No, and I meant no disrespect," Kirari sighed. "But you don't have the slightest clue of the bond the two of us share and I'm not exactly allowed to discuss that information with you or anyone."
Ririka raised a curious brow at her. "Even if I'm your twin?"
"I cannot share it with you because I myself am not supposed to know about it," Kirari admitted.
Being able to read the mind of others was both a blessing and a curse in itself, especially when Kirari's dear Secretary's thoughts were overwhelmingly loud. Mostly, she would listen to Sayaka's thoughts whenever she was bored; it was extremely easy because Sayaka often found herself to get lost in Kirari's alluring eyes. The majority of Sayaka's thoughts were all about Kirari, praising her, secretly thinking of fulfilling her inner fantasies and desires with her, or on occasion shame herself for thinking of the President while she considered doing defamatory things as soon as Kirari left the room. The vampire found it all too amusing.
However, on one late night when they were working alone together in the student council room, Kirari discovered something Sayaka desperately didn't want her to find out and had been hiding it from her quite well. She simply made the mistake of thinking about it at the wrong moment. The thought was a bit overwhelming, even for Kirari, causing her to dismiss herself and think on it for the remainder of the night. She wasn't upset by what she found out, she was more than thrilled actually. It was just a lot to take in. She knew she couldn't confront Sayaka on it herself either. That was something Sayaka would have to approach her for on her own terms. And knowing her Secretary, that could take a while.
Ririka gave a weak smile. "I'm sure I'll find out eventually. I can be patient. I wish you the best of luck with that, by the way."
"I'll need it," Kirari agreed. "Now go before Saotome decides to go to sleep. Unless she takes day classes. Perhaps you should find that out. Though Im sure she takes night classes."
Ah, that's right. Ririka had almost forgotten that werewolves though completely different than humans on so many scales, still needed to sleep. She did vaguely remember nights when she was human when she would drift off into a peaceful slumber while her mind gave her either the sweetest of dreams or the most horrific nightmares. Though she sadly couldn't remember a single dream she had. She wondered how much werewolves enjoyed their privilege of sleeping.
After getting dressed and putting on her mask, Ririka traveled to the complete opposite side of the campus where Mary's dorm was within a minute. Admittedly though, her movements were slowed due to her lack of energy. Many students wandering around raised a confused and suspicious brow at her, seeing as how vampires were strictly forbidden from entering this section of the campus. However, none dared to question it knowing all too well that she was the Vice President and whatever business she had was none of theirs to get involved in.
She gently knocked on the door three times, awaiting for Mary to answer. To her surprise, Itsuki answered instead. She had a towel wrapped around her neck, seeming as though she had just finished showering.
"I'm sorry for the disturbance, but is Soatome here?" Ririka asked politely, trying not to let the pain in her voice show.
"Yeah, she's getting ready for her classes soon," Itsuki replied slowly. "Does the student council have a problem with her? If so, give the poor girl a break just for today. She's a housepet now, as you know. She's... not taking it very well, as expected."
"Yes, I'm fully aware," Ririka sighed. "But no, I am here on my own accords. She has something of mine to collect."
"I see," Itsuki nodded. "I'll go get her."
"I'd appreciate that."
Itsuki began to turn to walk away but stopped, staring directly at Ririka. She giggled. "You know, you're allowed to come in. Do vampires seriously need permission to enter every time?"
"No, it's just common courtesy," Ririka replied, stepping inside of the dorm. "I'm sure you would prefer I didn't waltz in unannounced."
"You're right, that'd be weird. And hey, loosen up! You're looking a little stiff. Didn't have enough blood today or something?" Itsuki joked.
'You have no idea,' Ririka laughed internally. "That's one way of putting it."
Itsuki laughed before leaving to another part of the dorm. She could hear that Mary wasn't very happy that Itsuki disturbed her apparently after she blatantly told her to leave her alone. But Mary soon came within view, wearing scarlet pajamas. Mary's expression seemed far more relaxed and almost happy than Ririka expected.
"I assume you're here for your clothes?" Mary asked.
Ririka nodded. "Yes, I am. It's... good to see you again, Mary."
"It's uh, actually in the wash right now," Mary muttered awkwardly. "Could you come back to get it later today?"
"I won't be here later today. I'm leaving for a couple of days," Ririka stated.
Mary shrugged. "Then stop by whenever you get the chance. Oh and by the way, I think I have a solution to this housepet problem."
"I'm going to request an official gamble with a student council member later," Mary smirked. "It's the easiest and quickest way to get out of my debt."
Ririka winced upon hearing that. "I highly advise against it. If you truly need the money right now, I can simply loan some to you for the time being. Going against a student council member won't end well, I can promise you."
"Why would you do that? I don't see how that'll benefit you in any way," Mary scrunched her nose in confusion.
Why was Ririka offering that? It was true that she had more money than she knew what to do with, so loaning nine million yen wouldn't so much as put a dent in her bank account, but she had never done that for someone before. If they owed a debt, typically she would leave them to repay it themselves. She had no reason to help them.
"Call it kindness," Ririka smiled, even if Mary couldn't see it.
"Tch, I don't want to be in debt to anyone. That includes you," Mary grumbled. "But I appreciate the offer, so thanks. Besides, I'm fairly confident in my gambling skills. What happened with Yumeko was just bad luck. I think I'm going to challenge Yuriko-senpai. She seems like the logical choice. Everyone else on the student council except for you are nut jobs."
"Don't underestimate Yuriko, Mary. She's notorious for winning official gambling matches," Ririka sighed. "And well, maybe you could gamble with me for an official match instead. I wouldn't try to intentionally lose or anything, but you would have a much better chance going up against me than anyone else. You'd just need to wait a couple days until I return."
Mary giggled. "Thanks, but I'll pass. I've never seen you gamble before. That's a pretty unfair advantage for you, don't you agree? And besides, I don't gamble against a friend. Not for this kind of situation."
"F-friend?" Ririka stuttered.
Ririka had acquaintances, peers even. Never friends. Her biggest fear was to grow attached to someone only to have them taken out of her life eventually. Ririka did have all of the time in the world to meet new people and make friends, but she had grown so used to being alone, the thought of having a friend felt alien to her. Kirari was the closest person she would consider to be a friend, but that didn't count. She was her twin sister, so of course they would be close. Maybe having a real friend would be nice. Mary definitely intrigued her, that was certain.
"Sure, if that's okay?" Mary asked hesitantly. "You seem like a pretty cool person and I wanna get to know you, even if you are a vampire. No offense."
"None taken," Ririka chuckled lightly. "I'm not very fond of my kind either."
Mary's eyes widened in surprise. "Seriously? I thought all bloodsuckers were, I don't know, familiar with each other? Trusting?"
Ririka laughed out loud from that. "That couldn't be further from the truth. Vampires typically only care about themselves, it's rare when they don't. And never trust a vampire, Mary-san."
"So I shouldn't trust you then?" Mary teased.
"W-well, that's up to you and your better judgement," Ririka stuttered. "I'd hope you could trust me, even though that sounds a bit contradictory now that I think about it."
"Werewolves are all about trust. Once you break our trust, you lose our good opinion of you," Mary explained and then smiled. "So far I trust you though. Your energy is kind of... innocent."
Innocent was perhaps the last word Ririka ever expected someone to describe her as. Wasn't Mary aware of all of the people Ririka had killed? People who had their life to live, a future which she took away from them? Families she possibly stole that person away from? No, innocent was far from what she was. She believed she was a monster.
"I've been alive far longer than you and I have my fair share of sins I've committed. I'm not innocent, trust me," Ririka scoffed darkly.
"Well whatever. For now though, we're friends?" Mary asked, extending her hand for Ririka to shake.
Ririka stared at the hand for a moment, her brain not registering that she was supposed to shake it. Hesitantly, she reached out and limply took Mary's hand into her own. Mary's hand was incredibly warm, warmer than that of a human; she wondered how cold her hand felt to Mary seeing as how she had no body temperature. She could practically feel the blood pumping beneath Mary's skin and the feeling made her mouth salivate. Her throat began to burn far more intensely than it had before, with one word repeating over and over in her mind: blood.
She released the hand and instantly stepped away acting as if Mary's hand had somehow burned her. Mary looked confused, but there was no time to explain why she did that. She knew she had to leave right away. Her thirst was becoming unbearable. Even though Mary was a werewolf and the blood of a werewolf was supposed to revolt a vampire, desperate times could call for desperate measures.
Ririka's mind suddenly produced a horrific image of her teeth latched around Mary's throat, literally and physically sucking the life out of her. She could practically hear Mary's pleas for her to stop which would eventually turn into low murmurs until nothing else could leave her mouth. And then the image of Mary's lifeless corpse at her feet entered her mind, hearing her own screams and sobs as she backed away in shock from what she had just done. That is exactly what kept her from losing control. But she knew she needed to leave immediately.
"I-I must go now," Ririka choked out.
"Uh, okay then," Mary said slowly. "Are you okay?"
Ririka had been holding her breath. It helped control her thirst, but not by much. "Fine. I just... I need to leave."
Mary didn't even have time to say goodbye to her; Ririka practically flew out of her dorm. She couldn't believe she was struggling to keep her control in front of a werewolf. Perhaps she should have fed more often after all; that was just plain pathetic. Once she reached her dorm, she noticed Kirari was still sitting at their dining room table but was now reading a book. She looked at Ririka with curious eyes, but Ririka ignored her and headed straight for the fridge.
Ririka instantly removed her mask, placing it on the counter top. She then took a blood bag out of the fridge, not even bothering to open it up. She violently pierced the plastic with her fangs and relaxed slightly when she felt the cold, sweet, coppery sensation hit her tongue. Her throat revived some temporary relief, but she kept in mind that this was temporary and the feeling would likely return within an hour.
"Fascinating," Kirari hummed. "I've never seen you attack a bag so aggressively like that. Someone's thirsty."
Ririka turned around to glare at her, narrowly making sure to avoid eye contact while she finished up the blood bag.
"I'm just glad to see you feed after starving yourself for no reason," Kirari laughed. "Did you collect your clothes from Soatome?"
Ririka gasped as she finished the bag. "No, it was still being washed. I'll get it later."
"Let me look at your eyes," Kirari commanded out of the blue.
"Why?" Ririka asked in confusion. "I don't need you reading my thoughts right now."
"Just do it," Kirari instructed.
With a frustrated huff, Ririka walked over to her sister. Kirari stood up and placed both hands on Ririka's cheeks, thoroughly studying her face. She frowned and sighed, knowing her suspicions were correct.
"What was that about?" Ririka asked.
"I thought your eyes lacked color earlier this morning and just now too. I was right. They were gray," Kirari said in a hushed voice. "How long has it been since you were actually well fed? And don't lie, I'll know."
Unlike usual vampires whose eyes would be brilliantly red, for some peculiar reason Ririka and Kirari's eyes retained their aquamarine color from when they were humans. It was just far more vibrant than it used to be. They suspected that it was a Momobami trait. All of their family members also retained their eye colors from when they were human, so it was plausible.
But when a vampire had gone a while without feeding, their red eyes would turn pitch black. In Kirari and Ririka's case, their eyes would turn gray. Hence why Kirari suspected that Ririka had starved herself a lot worse than she had originally thought.
"Two and a half weeks," Ririka admitted guiltily.
Kirari blinked at her in shock. "That's... not safe. Not for you in particular, but for those around you. I think you of all people know how excruciating your thirst can get if left unattended to. Why do such a thing?"
"Because I don't want to hurt anything or anyone!" Ririka snapped. "It's hard enough taking the life from a helpless animal, but sometimes I go after people too! And I hate it! I hate living like this! I thought three hundred years would have been enough time to get used to this, but... I was wrong."
Kirari sighed. She gently wrapped her arms around Ririka, pulling her in for a hug. Ririka flinched, not expecting her sister to show physical affection. She wasn't very used to being touched, but she couldn't deny it was comforting.
"But you suffer in agony when you starve yourself and it breaks my heart every time to see it," Kirari whispered. "I can't force you to do something against your will, but please, no more starving yourself."
"I... I'll try," Ririka sighed, closing her eyes.
"Good," Kirari smiled, releasing her. "I suppose I'll see you some time tomorrow?"
Ririka nodded. "I won't be gone for too long. Oh, and just know Mary plans on challenging Yuriko to a gamble at some point today. If you can try, please convince her not to. I'd hate to see her deeper in debt."
"Have you grown fond of her, Riri?" Kirari questioned with a smirk. "I thought you said you hardly know her."
"I did and I wasn't lying," Ririka confirmed. "But... she claims we're friends and that's something I wouldn't mind."
"Ah, it always starts as friends," Kirari sighed dreamily, her mind trailing to a certain werewolf she knew.
Kirari waved her off. "Oh nothing, nothing. Get out of here and go feed. I'll see you later."
Ririka nodded. "I love you."
Kirari hadn't heard her say that in years. She only ever said it during an emotional time or after experiencing something stressful. Perhaps their little conversation warmed her sister's heart. It was nice to hear her say it again.
"I love you too," Kirari smiled.
The mountains truly were a sight to behold every time Ririka went there to hunt. This time a snowstorm must have rolled through, lightly coating the hills with fresh powdery snow. The sun hadn't set quite yet, allowing the icicles hanging from the trees to reflect the sunlight, creating a beautiful setting around her. Moments like this were when Ririka almost felt human again; she was able to enjoy the simplest of things. This was perhaps one of the greatest advantages of being a daywalker in her opinion. No ordinary vampire would be able to do what she was doing. They wouldn't be able to experience this kind of beauty face-to-face without scorching and turning to ash.
However, her main focus was to hunt, not sit around in bliss listening to herself think for once. She would have plenty of time to do that after she quenched her thirst which had seemingly reappeared not too long ago. Her main target was going to be a dear or two or if she was lucky, a bear. Bears always put up a fight which fueled her hunting desire and left her feeling satisfied afterward. The only issue was, bears were scarce this time of year because it was the cold season and they were supposedly preparing for hibernation if not already hibernating. What she would give to be able to sleep for months at a time, not having to worry about anything. Just her and her bed, asleep to the world.
Her ability to turn invisible almost made this unfair; her prey wouldn't ever see her coming. Her ability was almost ironic in a sense. Ririka Momobami, the vampire whose real face only a handful of individuals had ever seen could also become invisible at will. Her entire essence was based off of hiding, even though if she or someone she loved was confronted, she certainly wouldn't run away or try to hide. She rarely used this ability, saved it for when she truly needed it. Hunting certainly could be an excuse to use it, but it made things too easy and though she hated to admit it, Ririka did quite enjoy a challenge.
She surprisingly caught the scent of a bear and her mind went into full auto-pilot, tracking the scent. She still didn't enjoy taking the life of anything, but taking the life of an animal made her feel far less worse than she would if she killed a human.
The bear was suddenly in her sight and Ririka crouched down, ready to pounce at any given moment. Just as she was about to sprint into action, she noticed two small cubs trailing closely behind the bear. She sighed and gave a gentle smile, standing up and decided to choose a different target. She took one last look at the large animal and her cubs as they played with each other, bowing her head in respect; one predator to another.
It didn't take long until she found her next target: a lone male dear. Her mind once again went into auto-pilot and she crouched down into position once again. The deer could see her since she knew it would be practically of no use to use her invisibility skill, but the deer acted as if it were oblivious. Ririka wished it would run away, knowing that its eminent death was approaching. Yet the animal remained in place, paying no attention to the vampire. A deadly mistake on the deer's part, not that it would have helped if it ran away anyway, but Ririka couldn't take it any longer. Her thirst had become overwhelming.
She tried her best to be clean about it, narrowly avoiding for too much blood to spill on the pure white snow. At least her thirst had finally been quenched after two and a half weeks of forcing herself to starve. She did feel semi-better, but still saw that it was a shame to slay such a magnificent creature. Just as she was finishing, she heard the snap of a twig not too far away. It was too loud to be a rabbit or even a deer.
She whiffed the air and caught a rather familiar yet unexpected scent. A vampire's scent. A vampire who shouldn't be in the sunlight but was known to step into it just for the sake of experiencing pain. She wondered why she of all people would be up there in the mountains for she knew all too well this vampire strictly consumed the blood of humans. What would her reason be for traveling this far? Certainly not to pay the Vice President a visit while she was hunting, a ritual she made sure to tell others she did alone.
"Midari-san, I know you're here," Ririka sighed, wiping the blood away from her lips.
Midari stepped out of the treeline and Ririka's eyes widened at the sight of her. Midari's skin was no longer its typical pale color, but was now bright red all around as if she had the worst possible sun burn imaginable. Smoke even rose off of her skin as she stepped into the direct sunlight. Yet she didn't cry out in pain like a typical vampire would, she looked incredibly flustered and disturbingly happy.
Ririka would never understand her and her desire for pain. Midari was just lucky she had the ability of damage resistance or else this much exposure surely would have killed her. Although, maybe that was it. Midari had been claiming since they originally met that all she desired was death. Perhaps she was just seeing what her limit was.
"Never seen you hunt before, Ririka-sama," Midari grinned. "I didn't believe you had it in you."
Ririka rolled her eyes. "Why did you come here?"
Midari plopped down, allowing her body to be submerged in the snow. She childishly began to create a snow angel. "Ah well, sometimes it can be nice having company."
A bald faced lie, of course. Ririka knew Midari wasn't one for hanging around people. Midari was even more solitary than she was; people only ever saw her during class or during a student council meeting. Other than that, it was like she disappeared off of the face of the earth. Though Ririka knew Midari was actually in her little hideout underneath the school, doing who knows what.
No, Midari following her here was likely Kirari's doing to assure Ririka was actually hunting. She knew her sister wouldn't bother following her herself, so she'd send someone else to do it. The only logical choice would be Sayaka since Sayaka would say yes to anything the President requested, even murdering someone if asked, or Midari since she was the only other vampire who could technically be in direct sunlight for a long period of time without being killed. But since Sayaka could only travel at a fast speed in her wolf form, she would still take too long to find her; not to mention all of the complications she would face in the process. Midari was the best option. Ririka knew the only reason Midari actually went through with it was likely for the ulterior motive of the extreme pain she'd inflict on herself.
"I doubt that's the real reason you followed me," Ririka muttered. "My sister sent you, didn't she?"
Midari cackled. "An accurate assumption, yes! She just wanted to make sure you actually went out hunting instead of avoiding it. But I also come bearing really good news."
Good was a matter of whether or not it was her definition or Midari's. Good news for Midari was typically something painful or disastrous. If there was one person who enjoyed seeing chaos more than Kirari, it was Midari. The older vampire was obsessed with being in the center of chaotic or painful situations, hence further convincing Ririka just how much of a masochist she was.
"And that is?"
"Remember that werewolf who caused a ruckus yesterday? Saotome?" Midari asked, sitting up and staring into Ririka's eyes which had returned to their brilliant aquamarine color. "She challenged Yuriko today and owes the Student Council a heaping ton of cash! Ha! And even Kirari warned her against it before the gamble and she still did it anyway! That mutt is gonna be a housepet til the day she dies!"
Ririka's mouth went agape in horror. She could only imagine the horrifying life plan being plotted out for her. All of that just for one mistake challenging the new girl which eventually led her to dig herself in an unimaginably deep hole of debt. There had to be something she could do to help Mary. There was no way she was going to pay off her debts, that was just too much to pay, regardless if she could or not. Kirari or Mary would never allow it.
"That's supposed to be good news? That's horrible!" Ririka shrieked.
"No no, that's only leading up to the really good news," Midari smirked wildly. "Yumeko Jabami also challenged Yuriko today and lost. She's a house pet too now!"
Well, Ririka supposed that was good news in its own twisted way. Now that Yumeko was a house pet, certainly that meant they didn't need to worry about her anymore, right? She wasn't sure. There was something about that girl that Ririka didn't trust. She was a Bami after all and Ririka learned early on to never underestimate her relatives.
"We should still keep an eye on her," Ririka suggested.
"I'll say. There's something off about her. I can't put my finger on it, but I've seen her gamble. I think I'll gamble with her myself. Maybe she'll take me all the way since Kirari wont. I've seen that crazed look in Yumeko's eyes too. It's identical to the President's," Midari grinned.
If that was true, now Ririka definitely knew not to underestimate her.
"You do as you please," Ririka replied coldly. "But... about Soatome. Do you know what her life plan is?"
Midari shrugged and picked at her finger nails. "That's up to Yuriko-senpai. She's in charge of her life plan after all. I almost feel bad for the blonde bitch. She really pissed Yuriko off by insulting her and the student council when they gambled. Whatever Yuriko decides for her, it ain't gonna be pretty."
"Not if I can do something about it," Ririka murmured.
"Huh? Why do you care?" Midari asked with a bored expression.
Well, Mary was Ririka's friend, wasn't she? Friends were supposed to help each other in any way they can. And Ririka did not want their friendship to be put in jeopardy because of the stupid housepet system her sister created. Mary was truly Ririka's first friend and even though they hadn't been friends for very long, Ririka wanted to make sure Mary remained her friend no matter what. There was something about the blonde that was incredibly fascinating to Ririka. She wasn't willing to give her up so easily.
"That's none of your business," Ririka mumbled.
"Ha! You probably like her or something, don't you?" Midari laughed.
That was impossible at this stage. Ririka had never liked someone before, not in her entire three hundred eighteen years of existence. Avidly avoiding people outside of family at all costs helped her assure that. All she could say for her feelings for Mary was that she found her attractive, she was intrigued by her, and that they were new friends. Nothing more nothing less.
"She's a friend," Ririka admitted. "Of course I'd be concerned about her."
"I thought you didn't do the whole friend thing," Midari brought up with a curious raised brow. "You're a loner like me."
"I know even you have at least one friend, Midari," Ririka chuckled. "Isn't Yuriko your friend?"
Midari shrugged. "More like a really close peer who fucks me from time to time. I don't do the friend thing either and she's aware of that. I'm sure she'll tell you the feeling is mutual if you ask her."
Ririka definitely didn't need that mental image engraved in her brain. However, it was surprising to hear Midari confirm it. The other members of the student council had been betting that the two were either in a relationship or at least in a friends with benefits situation for nearly a year. The way the two would sometimes mysteriously disappear during class or a student council meeting and coincidentally return at the same time as each other, it was all very suspicious. Ririka was pleased to hear this, knowing Yumemi and Runa owed her and Kirari ten thousand yen now.
"Well, Soatome-san is my... friend, so I'm going to make sure her life plan isn't going to be hell," Ririka explained, starting to walk away. "Stay out here for as long as you'd like. I'm returning to the academy to talk to Mary and see if I can do anything to help."
"I'd be careful if I were you, Momobami-sama," Midari warned, stopping the younger vampire dead in her tracks. "If some people at Hyakkaou hear about this, they'll think the student council is giving special treatment to certain individuals. That won't sit well with the student body."
Ririka was all too aware of this and knew Kirari likely wouldn't approve of her trying to help out the likes of a housepet. She herself or the student council even could very well lose their reputation if she ended up being responsible for bringing a housepet out of their shambles. She didn't care.
Her first stop wasn't finding Mary like she originally planned. If she was going to get anywhere, she needed to see what Mary's life plan even was before anything else. Kirari was bound to have an extra copy and Ririka knew exactly where she could find her. She should have been done attending Ririka's classes by now, so she was either in their dorm room or more likely in the student council room. She decided to search the student council room first.
Sure enough, her sister was sitting on her throne, looking over what appeared to be several life plans. Ririka wondered if Mary's life plan was there with the others. If it was, that meant a copy would have been delivered to Mary by now and Ririka dreaded what the blonde's reaction to that would be, depending on just how horrendous Yuriko made her life plan.
Kirari looked up, surprised to see her twin. "What are you doing here? You shouldn't be back until tomorrow at least. Oh and by the way, your mask is here too."
Ririka huffed and collected her mask, swiftly putting it on. "I got lucky and found a large deer and my thirst is satisfied now, but never mind that. Mary Soatome's life plan, where is it?"
"Quick to the point I see," Kirari laughed. "It's right here. I just looked it over. It appears Yuriko went easier on her than expected. Soatome will be planed to be engaged to a werewolf who happens to be a high-ranking politician. He's nothing short of a filthy lolicon, but at least she'll have a successful future! She should have three kids by the time she's thirty. Not very bad compared to the other life plans for some of the housepets here."
Ririka cringed at the thought of anyone being forced to be engaged to some creepy man twice their age likely only to be used to breed. She knew Mary wouldn't take that lightly in the slightest. Heck, Ririka knew she wouldn't herself.
She knew that werewolves had it far worse than vampires when it came to life plans. Though it would take many years, centuries even depending on the situation, a vampire technically could eventually pay off their debt and be freed from their housepet shackles. However, werewolves weren't immortal like vampires were. There were only extreme cases when a werewolf was able to escape the chains of being a housepet. But usually when they became housepets, they stayed in that position permanently.
"Is there any possibility of changing that?" Ririka asked.
Kirari hummed in thought. "Well, typically a housepet's life plan is set in stone, but I suppose there can be alternative ways of changing it. Technically, you are a higher ranking member in the student council than Yuriko, so your life plan would overrule hers simply because of your rank alone. What did you have in mind?"
"I-I don't know, anything that doesn't take control of her life like that!" Ririka exclaimed.
"Perhaps you forgot what it means to be a housepet, Riri," Kirari snickered darkly, her aquamarine eyes practically glowing. "They don't have a life once they become a housepet. We control their lives after that unless they can pay off their debt."
"I'm aware of that," Ririka muttered bitterly. "But can't we make an exception? She's... she's my friend."
"I'm afraid I cannot grant that request simply because she is your friend. You know how poorly that would reflect on me and the student council," Kirari sighed. "So unless you come up with a different life plan for her yourself, she's stuck with what she has."
Ririka realized that Kirari was actually indirectly helping her out. By altering Mary's life plan herself, she theoretically wouldn't be breaking any rules or helping her escape her status. The issue was, Ririka had never written up a life plan for anyone mostly due to the lack of interest knowing she would be responsible for the future outcomes of another person's life. She only wanted to be responsible for her own life and tried her best to avoid getting involved the life plan system entirely. No one ever challenged her to an official match anyway where she knew the opposer would lose, so that worked in her favor.
Whatever she came up with, it still had to be something that meant Mary's life was no longer her own. But what could she do? Anything she thought of was atrocious or nothing short of slave labor, but she had to think of something quickly before promises were made to this politician and Mary wouldn't be able to escape her life plan at all.
She could figure out what she was going to do with Mary's life plan later. Right now, she knew she had to find Mary and explain the situation. Surely the werewolf would be enraged to speak to anyone even associated with the student council and sadly that included Ririka. She prepared herself for this and the worst.
She left the student council room and was thankfully fast walking, not at her full-vampire speed. She nearly crashed into someone and sure enough, it was Mary. Mary had her life plan held firmly in her hands and her expression was nothing short of furious. Though she did appear to be surprised to see Ririka. She was likely on her way to see the President and wasn't expecting to run into the Vice President instead.
"Do you know what the hell is this shit is?" She demanded, holding out her life plan.
"It's well... it's exactly what it sounds like," Ririka replied calmly. "That is the life plan Yuriko chose for you and unless you can pay off your debt, you're unfortunately stuck with it. However-"
"Wait, you knew?" Mary interrupted, her furious expression replaced by hurt.
Ririka hesitated. "I... yes, I knew, but-"
The vampire stopped mid sentence, seeing Mary's eyes fill with tears. She didn't know how to react to that. She hadn't ever made anyone cry before, but she knew it made her feel horrible.
"I... I guess you were right. You really can't trust a vampire," Mary said lowly wiping away her tears and started to walk away.
Ririka froze briefly, regretting not opening with being able to change her life plan. "Mary wait!"
Mary felt Ririka's hand touch her shoulder. She angrily pushed her off, surprising the vampire and caused her to fall down. Ririka felt her mask slip off of her face and heard the clink when it hit the floor. She froze in place, unable to pick up her mask. Not that it mattered if she wore it now. Mary had already seen her face.
Mary suddenly locked eyes with the flustered vampire. She gasped, but not just because she realized that Ririka was practically a clone copy of Kirari, but because of the vision she saw. It was incredible and even more beautiful than all of the stories other werewolves have shared with her for their experience. She had convinced herself long ago that this wasn't ever going to happen to her, that all of the stories were just false, sappy nonsense, but now she knew it was real.
Before she could process what had just happened, she fell to her knees in shock. She couldn't believe this was happening to her right now. She wasn't sure if she felt happy, angry, or a mixture of the two. But she was certain of what just happened. There was no denying it. It made sense too. She hadn't ever seen Ririka's face before after all.
"Y-you're my..." Mary's voice trailed off; her mind was too consumed by her thoughts screaming at her.
"Please, allow me to explain! I can help alter your life plan," Ririka said breathlessly, suddenly remembering her mask and snagged it to place it back on her face. "I just... I just need to come up with something before it's too late."
"Okay," Mary replied emotionless.
Ririka blinked at her in confusion. Why was Mary so calm all of a sudden? Hadn't she been furious and upset just a few moments ago?
"O-okay?" Ririka repeated.
"Okay," Mary repeated just as emotionless.
"Okay... Well as I was saying, I'm going to do everything I can to change your life plan. I'm not sure how I'm going to do it, but anything would be better than what you have right now. Maybe I'll... Mary, are you even listening?" Ririka asked, waving a hand in front of the stunned werewolf.
"I... I'm really sorry," Mary muttered.
"Sorry? What for?" Ririka asked, now becoming baffled.
Mary stood up, but didn't break eye contact with her. "I need to leave. Can we discuss this later?"
"I... I suppose, but what's going on?" Ririka asked. "Why are you acting weird?"
Mary couldn't give her an honest answer. Not at the moment. She knew it would be far to overwhelming to handle all at once. Hell, it was too overwhelming for her to handle right now. All she wanted was to curl up on her bed in her room and sleep this off until tomorrow. Tomorrow she could handle it. Not now.
"It's too complicated to explain, so I'll do it when I know we're both ready to hear it," Mary murmured.
"What do you mean? Whatever it is, I can take it. Please tell me," Ririka pleaded.
Mary shook her head and laughed darkly. "No, you can't. You couldn't even begin to understand. Not now at least."
That sounded all too familiar. Kirari had practically said the same thing to her the day prior. Whatever this was, it had to be a werewolf thing. What couldn't she understand? She'd been alive far longer than Mary had. Of course she'd understand whatever this was. She could at least try to if Mary would just tell her.
"I-it's a werewolf thing, isn't it?" Ririka asked, standing up herself.
Mary sighed. "Yeah, it is. I just... I can't explain it right now. Maybe later once I've processed this myself."
The suspense was killing Ririka. She desperately wanted to know what in the world Mary was talking about and felt rather offended she didn't at least throw her a bone, so to speak. But she knew pressuring her on it was wrong and wouldn't dwell on it. Mary had a long day and didn't need any more pressure or stress added onto it. If she would explain it to her later, then Ririka could wait. If there was one thing she had learned in her three centuries of existence, it was patience.
"Alright then, I won't press the matter anymore. Rest up, I'm sure you're tired. Is it all right if I visit you tomorrow at lunch? You take morning classes don't you?" Ririka asked.
Mary nodded gently, but said nothing.
"Very well. I'm sorry that you're in this situation to begin with, Mary-san. I really am. If I was able to just erase this life plan for you, I would," Ririka smiled weakly. "That's what a friend would do, right?"
A lil angsty right now, but it'll all get better, I promise!
"What she would give to be able to sleep for months at a time, not having to worry about anything." Damn me too, sis. I'd love that.
And yes I threw in some Midari x Yuriko... sue me.
Chapter 4: Imprinting
Thought I might do a Mary POV for this chapter :)
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
Mary entered her dorm, still in total shock over what had just happened. More so, she wondered why she imprinted on a vampire. She didn't even know that was possible, yet she couldn't deny it now that it happened to her. She knew the excuse that vampires and werewolves were natural enemies obviously didn't apply in this case. That stigma honestly made Mary question just how true it was. If they really were natural enemies, then why did she imprint on a vampire?
And why Ririka Momobami? There were plenty of other vampires she could have hypothetically imprinted on, but she didn't. Lady luck truly must have not been on her side this week. She not only became a housepet and dug herself into the worst debt she'd ever entered, but she also imprinted on the vampire belonging to the most powerful family in Japan, maybe even the world.
The Bami clan wasn't called the hundred devouring families for nothing. Mary had heard plenty of terrifying rumors about that clan. That each vampire in the clan had a special ability, some more gruesome and horrific than the other, and used them all to destroy other vampire clans and innocent lives. And to think, to even consider, that someday she could be a part of all of that? It wasn't something she would wish upon her worst enemy. She truly wondered how Ririka had survived for this long without one of her family members trying to assassinate her or her sister. Realistically, that probably had happened on a few occasions the more she considered it.
She couldn't say the situation was the worst one she could be in, however. She could have always imprinted on someone far worse, like the insane raven-haired girl who got her in debt in the first place. Or the President; though there had been whispers among the werewolf students of Hyakkaou that Sayaka Igarashi imprinted on her, but no one really knew for sure. Thankfully fate spared her from those two.
And Ririka seemed nice enough and far saner than her sister and likely the rest of her family. Well, aside from the fact that she knew about Mary's life plan. But Mary knew that wasn't her fault. And she seemed to be trying to help her out of it; Mary regretted not keeping her mouth shut so Ririka could actually explain herself. She would get her answer soon enough. Tomorrow was quickly approaching.
Itsuki was sitting on their futon, counting her absurd collection of real fingernails that used to belong to vampires and werewolves alike that she had won from gambling matches. Sometimes Mary wondered why and how she became associated with deranged people. At least Itsuki acted sane on most days and acted friendly towards her. Their first meeting however, was far from friendly and almost ended up in Mary losing her own finger nails had she not received the correct playing card. But now they considered each other as friends. Unless of course they decided to gamble with each other, then they went for each other's throats.
Mary plopped down next to her, releasing a long sigh. "That's such a creepy hobby of yours. I don't see what you get out of it."
"People's nails, duh," Itsuki glared at her as if she had just said something stupid. "I just think they're neat."
"Normal people collect bottle caps or stickers. Why can't you be fucking normal?" Mary groaned.
"Who shoved a stick up your ass?" Itsuki snickered.
Mary rubbed her temple, trying to ease her throbbing head. "Ririka Momobami."
"The Vice President? Yeesh, what did you do to piss her off? She's usually so... quiet," Itsuki smirked.
"No, it's not like that and none of this is her fault. All of it's mine," Mary mumbled. "I kind of... imprinted on her."
Itsuki blinked at her in disbelief. "I think I misheard you. You did what now? And on the President's sister? A Momobami? Well damn, that's... that's some tough luck right there."
Mary sighed. "Don't make me feel worse than I already do. I don't know what the hell I'm supposed to do about it. It's not like I ever asked for this to happen."
"Exactly, so don't go blaming yourself for this either. You had no control over it," Itsuki nodded.
That much was true. Imprinting wasn't something a werewolf had control over; it either happened or it didn't whether or not they wanted to. But when it did, it was an experience unlike any other. Mary knew first hand what it felt like and it was something she couldn't describe. Not perfectly at least.
Thankfully, imprinting only happened between the age of sixteen and twenty five, so there was a time frame for it and werewolves could only imprint on someone they had never seen the face of before. Many werewolves were desperate to imprint on someone; it was practically the equivalent of finding their soulmate. The epitome of true love at first time, yet even stronger than that. But Mary never wanted to imprint on someone, let alone believe imprinting was a real thing at first. She found the entire imprinting thing to be highly selfish.
She honestly didn't like being a werewolf very much either, not like she used to. Sure, there were many advantages that came with it. She had enhanced senses, her body temperature was far warmer than a human's which meant she would never freeze, she was inhumanly strong, and not to mention she turned into a giant wolf at will. Truth be told, she did enjoy the benefits of being a werewolf when she phased for the first time. Any teenager who was obsessed with the supernatural would naturally be ecstatic to discover they were something they had read about in comic books and fairy tales. Mary wasn't any different.
What she didn't know were the consequences of being a werewolf, including a very hot temper which could very quickly escalate and hurt someone she loves. After the incident, she hated what she was and saw her abilities as a curse. She convinced herself that she was a monster, but never let the beast within control her. Just because she was a monster didn't mean she needed to act like one.
And so far, it had worked. Only with the occasional loss of temper where she would unconsciously phase, consumed by rage. But never again did she let the beast within hurt anyone. She just couldn't bear the burden of being responsible for hurting anyone else. Having the memory of the incident haunt her dreams nearly every night was tormenting enough.
"Still, this whole situation is really stressing me out," Mary groaned.
"Well, stay away from her for a while then," Itsuki suggested.
Mary glared at her. "You know I can't do that."
Itsuki shrugged. "Well whatever. This doesn't affect me, so do what you want. Also, aren't you supposed to be, ya know, happy about imprinting on someone?" Itsuki continued. "I've been waiting to imprint on someone since I first found out about it."
"Yeah, I'm thrilled that I imprinted on a bloodsucker," Mary snorted sarcastically. "But I guess I could have had it worse."
"Not all vampires are bad you know," Itsuki mumbled, thinking about the student council Treasurer she had a crush on. "Oh, and Ririka's not so bad either! She's just from uh... hella scary family. And well, at least you'll get to live for a super long time now too. At least that's how it's supposed to work, right?"
Mary almost forgot that imprinting also affects aging. In normal circumstances, a werewolf's age would halt if the one they imprinted on was younger than them or they would rapidly age to catch up if the one they imprinted on was older. However, with a vampire? Vampires stopped aging at the age they were changed, frozen in time. So in theory, that meant Mary would be eighteen forever since Ririka was changed at the age of eighteen. She wasn't too sure how to feel about that.
She never had a wish for death in the first place, but the thought of never dying from age was admittedly rather terrifying. She had always imagined herself growing old and gray, eventually dying after living an adventurous and wonderful life. She supposed that imprinting on Ririka didn't change it all that much. She could still live an adventurous life, but it meant Ririka would be a part of it and neither of them would watch each other grow old or worry about one dying from old age. That in itself didn't sound too horrible. It also meant that if Ririka were to ever die, Mary's aging would resume again. Not that she would want to live in a world without her at that point.
"Fuck, don't remind me," Mary grumbled. "I guess this means I'm... immortal now. That's a scary thought."
"And it means you won't be stuck as a housepet forever," Itsuki grinned, tugging on Mary's tag. "It'll just be long as fuck until you can pay off your debts."
"Well, Ririka mentioned she's going to try to figure something out," Mary muttered. "Who knows what she has in mind for me."
Itsuki's eyes lit up. "She might have you enter the student council debt replacement thing happening in a couple weeks! That'd be the easiest way to get rid of your debt!"
"What are you going on about?"
"The student council will be holding a debt replacement... party? It's meant for people who owe a small debt, but it's also a huge opportunity for the housepets to try to get out of that status. But the President knows since most housepets don't have a spine for these kind of things, she knows they'll just get much deeper in debt. And since you're not like most housepets, that can work in your favor and you just might have a shot!" Itsuki explained.
The plan could definitely work. And if she was lucky, Mary could have even gained some cash out of it too depending on the gamble and who she gambled with. However, that wasn't the issue. She was pissed off by the Presidents extended "olive branch" to the students there who would cling to that as their last source of hope of escaping their status, only to have it be cruelly snatched away from them and be trapped in the shackles as a housepet for more or less, an eternity. She despised the President even more than she already did for it.
"I don't know about that. I doubt Ririka would be able to help me if I lost. Not that I'm saying I'd lose," Mary added.
"If you need a loan, just ask," Itsuki grinned.
"I told you what I told her: I don't wanna be in debt to you or anyone else," Mary scowled.
Itsuki raised her hands in defense. "Okay, okay. But for your sake, just pray you don't get paired with Yumeko Jabami. I'm sure you heard I lost against her today. That girl is... something else."
Itsuki said it as if she didn't almost lose her entire family name, which she almost did. Mary heard all about it from the chattering students in the hallway. It was all anyone was talking about and she assumed it was probably the last thing her roommate wanted to talk about, so she never brought it up. She was surprised Itsuki brought it up herself.
"Yeah, I don't want to gamble with her ever again," Mary snorted.
"Enough about that though, you gotta tell me what it was like!" Itsuki smirked.
Mary raised a suspicious brow at her. "Losing to Yumeko? I think you should know the-"
"No, dummy!" Itsuki cut her off. "Imprinting. How did it feel? Was it just as magical as everyone says it is? What did you see? Does Ririka already know? I'm pretty sure she wouldn't, but does she?"
Mary blinked at her, trying to process her rapid-fire questioning. "No, she doesn't know yet. And I don't know... it was just really weird. I just know my future won't be without her."
She honestly didn't have a very good way to describe it. She was still processing that it even happened. She wished Itsuki would at least be understanding of that, but Mary couldn't expect that from her.
Itsuki deflated at her response. "Aw, come on! Give me better details than that!"
"Oi, I told you what I could! Quit pestering me about it!" Mary hissed.
"Okay jeez," Itsuki muttered and crossed her arms. "So what are you gonna tell her? I think she might be a bit freaked out if you just randomly brought it up. It'd be different if she was a werewolf."
Mary sighed and brushed a loose strand of hair out of her face. "I don't know. I don't plan on telling her about it any time soon. If she just so happens to figure it out, then great. But until then, she doesn't need to know right now."
"She'll find out eventually though," Itsuki pointed out.
"I know that," Mary nodded, standing up. "But for now, I'm not gonna worry about it."
"Where are you going?" Itsuki asked, looking at her nail collection once again.
"To get some air," Mary responded simply. "And to think. I still need to wrap my head around all of this."
It was almost foreign to see the school so lively at night. Mary would occasionally wander around at night looking to see if there was someone up for a gamble before deciding to go to sleep, but doing so came at a cost. Being surrounded by so many vampires made her feel uneasy and uncomfortable, as it did to the other werewolves on campus she was sure. However, having her friend Ryota or Itsuki with her always eased those feelings.
Tonight was different. She wasn't in the mood to gamble or talk to anyone. She just wanted some time to herself since she couldn't get that in her dorm. She cared about Itsuki, but sometimes the girl was such a pain and didn't understand the term space. So she decided to go to the portion of the campus that was rarely used: the track. She had found the track to be an excellent place to just relax after a long day and finally be able to listen to herself think. Now was the perfect time to do just that.
The bleachers, specifically the top row of the bleachers, were always her go-to place whenever she came to the track on a night like this. They were oddly peaceful to sit on and they gave a vantage point to see if someone was coming. Mary tried her best to avoid people who came to the track; especially the vampires who were quite possessive over it during certain parts of the night. She wouldn't be there for too long anyway. At least she wasn't planning on it.
Tonight would have been an wonderful night to phase and run around in her wolf form, just enjoying the freeing feeling of the earth beneath her paws as she ran. And the thought did cross her mind. She wouldn't have anything to worry about, just the wind that would greet her. Yet here she sat on those bleachers, staring out at the empty track. The sun had finally set, leaving the moon to light up the campus which meant that the majority of the blood suckers would be up and about, waiting for their nightly classes to start.
Speaking of blood suckers, she suddenly caught a whiff of a semi-familiar scent she knew she would grow used to and noticed the graceful figure making her way towards the bleachers. At this point Mary was starting to wonder if fate truly was a real occurrence. Though she admittedly wasn't upset by the Vice President's presence. It wasn't like she could be even if she tried to.
"You following me now or something?" Mary scoffed.
Ririka slowly shook her head. "Not exactly, but I was concerned about you're odd reaction earlier. I just wanted to be sure everything was alright."
Mary chuckled. "So you followed me here then."
"Well, you simply crossed my path and I decided to..." Ririka sighed, giving in. "Yes, I followed you. There's nothing wrong with a friend's concern, is there?"
"I suppose not," Mary shrugged and leaned back on the bleachers. "So, are you gonna join me or just stay down there staring at me? I know I'm pretty to look at, but still."
Ririka flinched and then nodded. She could have used her speed to reach the top of the bleachers in the blink of an eye, but instead she slowly stepped up the steps until she reached the top. She looked down briefly at Mary as if to ask for permission to sit next to her to which Mary nodded and the vampire sat down. Mary looked away from her and out at the distance, slowly breathing in and out.
"Do you come here often?" Ririka asked, hoping to break the tension.
Mary turned to look at her and smiled slightly. "Sometimes. This place is hardly ever used aside from the leeches who enjoy playing baseball or have sprinting competitions once in a while. But everyone else is too focused on all the gambling indoors to come out here."
"Leeches?" Ririka chuckled. "I'll admit, I've never heard my kind being referred to that before, but it isn't far from the truth."
"You seem to not like vampires very much, huh?" Mary snickered.
"That's correct. I never wanted this. I never asked to be changed into... this," Ririka confirmed.
That much was true. Ririka knew early on when she was a child that vampires and werewolves were very real and was told from a young age that someday she would become a vampire and would stand side-by-side with her sister, ruling over the Momobami vampire clan. She was taught to be proud of her status, that people everywhere would kill just to be in her position.
Yet Ririka always despised her birthright and what she was born into this world for. She was brought into this world just for the sake of being her family's pawn. She was born to die, in a sense. She technically wasn't alive anymore. Her heart had stopped beating and producing blood the moment she changed. And since then, she was cursed to remain as she was now: frozen.
"That makes two of us," Mary huffed.
Ririka raised a curious brow at her, though she knew Mary could not see it due to her mask. "Is that so? If I can be honest, as much as I'm not fond of werewolves, I would much rather be one than what I am."
"Well I mean, I actually didn't mind the whole werewolf thing at first," Mary countered. "Turning into a giant wolf at will sounded exciting at first and I loved all of the enhanced senses I got. I just never realized what consequences came with it."
"And what consequences would that be?" Ririka questioned.
Mary wasn't ready to tell her about the incident, regardless if she imprinted on her. This was something she hadn't told another soul. She didn't need anyone knowing her sins. And though she knew Ririka would likely find out eventually, now wasn't the time. She was sure there were plenty of things the vampire would and was hiding from her as well.
"Well for starters, vampires. Our species don't get along too well as you know," Mary snorted. "Every time I see one, I just instinctively feel uneasy and wanna get the hell away from them. Or rip their throat out if they piss me off."
"Do you feel that way towards me?" Ririka's voice was barely audible.
Mary laughed. "Nah, you're... different. If I didn't want you around, I would have made it clear. Trust me."
Different perhaps wasn't the right word, but it sufficed. It wasn't like Mary was just going to come out and say Ririka was more or less her soulmate. Mary knew she would have to fully accept it herself first before she brought it up to Ririka.
"Oh," Ririka murmured.
"Actually, I take it back," Mary corrected herself. "The one thing that makes me feel uneasy around you is that mask you wear. Why do you even wear it in the first place? It's honestly kind of creepy."
There were multiple answers to that question as a matter of fact. The mask Ririka wore wasn't simply a device to help suppress her thirst. It was one of the few items from her childhood when she was still human that held a lot of memories; it was given to her when she was five so her parents could distinguish who was Kirari and who was Ririka. They were identical in not just looks, but practically personalities as well, able to perfectly say what the other was thinking and imitate each other's voices without error.
It was also in many ways her own sense of identity. Whenever she saw her reflection, she did not see herself. She always saw Kirari. Make no mistake, she loved her sister to death, so to speak. However, she never wanted to be her twin. She wanted an identity of her own, one completely different from Kirari so that others knew exactly who she was without mistaking her for her twin.
"It um... helps me control my thirst," Ririka replied dryly, unsure if Mary should know the full truth behind her mask yet.
Mary nodded. "Makes sense I guess. Do you have problems being around me without it on? I only saw you without it once and you put it right back on after."
Ririka shook her head and actually reached for the mask, slowly removing it. The surprise plastered on Mary's face when she did this almost made her laugh. "No, I do not. It's just a habit I suppose. I'm not used to removing it."
"Well just so you know, you look a hell of a lot better without it," Mary smirked.
"I look like Kirari without it," Ririka replied bitterly.
Mary scoffed. "Maybe a little, but I disagree. I can bet a million yen that if you and the President were to stand right next to each other, I'd be able to tell who was who."
"An intriguing proposal, Mary-san, but need I remind you that you're already neck deep in debt? Adding on to that would be rather unwise," Ririka giggled.
This was true, except for the fact that Mary knew with absolute certainty that she would win that bet, especially now.
"Speaking of my debt, I think I know of a way out of it," Mary smiled. "Itsuki mentioned a debt replacement thing coming up in a few weeks. If I win that, I'd be free from my debt, right?"
Ririka thought briefly on it. Yes, Mary did have a high chance of exiting her housepet status had she won, but Ririka knew that Mary still would have a one in four chance of winning first place and paying off her debt or a one in four chance of entering past the point of no return. If she got paired with Yumeko who also was now a housepet and in even worse debt than she was, Ririka was nearly positive that Mary would lose. She didn't want Mary to risk that, but if the werewolf truly insisted on it, there was nothing she could do but hope she would win.
"Yes, that could free you from your housepet status," Ririka agreed. "But it doesn't take care of your situation for the time being."
"Well do you have something in mind?" Mary asked flatly.
Ririka nodded. "As a matter of fact I do. I changed your life plan the moment I thought of it."
"And it is?" Mary probed.
"You may not like it very much, but it's far better than what was originally planned. I had to change the original plan before it was set in stone," Ririka explained calmly. "I have arranged for you to become my personal... assistant for as long as I choose or until you can repay your debt."
Mary surprisingly laughed at that. "Assistant, huh? I'm probably the worst person to be an assistant. But I guess it does beat being planned on marrying some dude and having his kids. So I'm on board with it."
"There's one thing," Ririka winced. "In order for Kirari and the rest of the student council to approve, I had to use a different term than assistant. If I simply put it as such, no one would have accepted it."
"What, did you say you were gonna make me your little slave or something?" Mary joked.
"Well, that's quite spot on actually," Ririka nodded. "I had to place in the life plan that you would be a personal servant to me, doing anything and everything I commanded. So yes, in a sense, you would become my slave."
Mary blinked at her in shock. A twisted part of her felt more than willing to go through with this and wouldn't even mind remaining her servant even after her status was revoked. Mary knew that had Ririka been anyone else, she would have been outright disgusted and enraged by this plan. A werewolf serving a vampire was more than sure to ruin Mary's reputation. But she couldn't find herself to care. This woman was going to be the person she was going to spend the rest of her life with, or so it seemed, so why would Mary make a big deal out of it? Besides, Ririka said it herself that Mary was going to be an assistant, not her slave. She just had to lie about it to everyone else.
"Such a request isn't uncommon for a life plan. Many housepet owners make their houspets their own personal slaves for their own selfish and sinful desires," Ririka continued. "Of course, I'm not going to force you to do anything against your will and this assistant thing will be between you and me, but everyone else will think that you are my servant. Being such, you will have to follow me practically everywhere I go. That includes... going to my estate with me in a week for a family conference I must attend."
Mary shrugged. "Whatever, I agree to these terms. I know I won't be in this position permanently."
"You're taking this strangely well," Ririka responded slowly, suspicion etching in her voice.
"I know you're trying to help me and I really appreciate that. If this was the only way you could, then I can't be too upset, can I?" Mary asked with a slight smile.
Ririka said nothing, but instead nodded.
"So, I need to follow you everywhere huh?" Mary leaned back on the bleachers and placed her arms behind her head. "I'm warning you now, I'll probably be a shitty assistant. Does this mean I need to attend student council meetings too?"
"No, and consider yourself lucky. Those meetings are dreadfully boring," Ririka laughed. "And it doesn't matter if you're a poor assistant. We just need to fool everyone else."
"I think I can manage that," Mary smirked.
Ririka nodded. "Good. Now correct me if I'm wrong, but shouldn't you be preparing to go to bed soon?"
"Tch, I may attend morning classes, but that doesn't mean I go to sleep right after the sun sets," Mary snickered.
"I haven't slept in... many years," Ririka chuckled darkly. "I have forgotten what it's like and when I used to do it."
"You're missing out," Mary responded. "Sometimes it feels really nice to just sleep after a long day. Shut down and not worry about anything."
"I'll be perfectly honest with you, that is what I miss most about being human. I cannot tell you how many times I wished I could sleep. Time certainly passes by much slower when you can't," Ririka explained.
"I can't imagine," Mary shook her head. "But... I guess I should return to my dorm. I don't wanna concern Itsuki."
"Is it alright if I walk you back? It's on the way to my own dorm," Ririka offered.
Mary shrugged. "Sure. You can pick up your uniform you let me borrow when we get there too."
"Alright," Ririka nodded.
"And hey," Mary's expression softened. "Thanks for... talking with me. I thought I needed to be alone, but this was nice. Your presence is kind of calming."
If Ririka could blush, she would have. "I'm glad to hear it."
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Chapter 5: The Estate
Well this turned out longer than I expected...
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
Ririka stared at her reflection in the mirror, her platinum hair perfectly tied in twin braids and her lips stained with marine lipstick. She didn't feel or look like herself, though arguably, had she ever truly had a solid identity that she could claim as her own? Whenever she wasn't wearing her mask for a long period of time, she was not Ririka. She was Kirari. And even when she wore her mask, she still felt nothing more than a shadow of her sister on most days.
She partially had herself to blame, she supposed. She and Kirari had arranged a pact long ago to always look out for each other due to the fact that nearly all of their family members were all too eager to slay Kirari and claim her title as head of the devouring families. But if they were to mistakenly kill say Ririka instead, then not only would they face the full wrath of Kirari Momobami, they would face a fate far greater than death from the rest of the clan for slaying a member who was innocent.
Since the two were basically identical, no one had dared try to attempt a go at taking Kirari's life unless they were absolutely positive they knew she was the real Kirari. The little twin-swap routine the sisters had created made it seem like Kirari and Ririka were the same exact person. It was near impossible to decipher who was who, regardless of scents.
However, occasionally Kirari would use this to her advantage as in avoiding family conferences, even if her life was absolutely safe since none of the clan members actually met in person most of the time. Having an enormous hoard of some of the most blood-thirsty vampires roaming the face of the Earth suddenly entering one section of Japan could very easily turn into a bloodbath, so Kirari avoided such situations entirely.
She still couldn't stand attending said meetings since they were dreadfully boring and could last up to a few days discussing matters of the clan, who was executed under vampire law for whatever reason, or simply hearing complaints as to why she was unfit to be head of the clan. So of course, she made Ririka attend in her place nearly every time.
For once though, Ririka was actually looking forward to the conference. Mary would be attending with her, standing right by her side. Well, technically anyone outside of the clan was strictly forbidden from attending these meetings, but Mary didn't actually need to be there for the actual meeting portion. She would simply wait outside of the room until the families finished, or until Ririka became fed up with their bickering.
Unfortunately, that process could take a while, so Ririka made a mental note to arrange the meetings in the dead of night when Mary would be sleeping. Then when she wasn't talking to the other families, she would spend time with Mary and get to know her better. She already had a few plans in mind which she was for the first time in decades, excited to return to her home estate.
"Your smile is a tad too joyful. I do believe Sayaka has said I have a more smug expression," Kirari's voice pointed out, muffled behind the mask she wore. Ririka's mask. "Are you actually looking forward to attend the conference for once? If I can recall, it's nothing more those parasites either questioning my position or complain about feeding regulations, so I can't possibly see what's gotten you so... excited."
Ririka in disguise shrugged. "I won't be attending alone for once."
"Ah, I almost forgot Saotome will be accompanying you," Kirari grinned from behind the mask. "She will be the first outsider in attendance if I'm not mistaken."
"What about Sayaka? She's gone to one of the meetings before," Ririka reminded her.
"True," Kirari nodded. "Although, I do consider her to be a member of this family at this point so there really isn't any damage done."
Ririka wondered what exactly she meant by that. She was all too aware of how they felt towards each other, even if neither had addressed it towards each other yet. Part of Ririka wondered if Kirari was holding back because she knew she would outlive Sayaka. Then again, Kirari also enjoyed playing the waiting game, allowing feelings to boil over until one or the other could no longer take it anymore and finally admit every single one of their feelings through the clashing of lips. At least, that's how Kirari had described it in the past. Neither had yet gotten to that point, it seemed.
"Our actual family members beg to differ, you know," Ririka scoffed. "They have openly said they see Sayaka as your pet. Nothing more than an oversized lap-dog. Some find it hysterical and others believe you're mocking our family name by allowing a werewolf to enter our domain."
"I'm well aware," Kirari sighed with slight irritation. "But in time, they will learn whether they like it or not that the bond we have isn't up for debate nor is it breakable."
"I have still yet to understand what that's supposed to mean," Ririka grumbled.
"And in time I'm certain you will either figure it out on your own or perhaps you'll simply find an individual you will share the same bond with as Sayaka and I do," Kirari responded smugly. "You have been close once or twice though when I read your thoughts. In many ways Sayaka has claimed me as her own. If you do not know what this means, then I'm afraid you'll have to think more on it or perhaps even do research. Though I'm sure that this matter isn't all that important in your mind."
She was correct, Ririka really didn't care all that much to find out the kind of bond the two shared. She was merely curious to know what sort of outcomes would occur out of a vampire and a werewolf relationship, two completely opposite sides of the spectrum. Other than that, Sayaka and Kirari's personal matters were their business and Ririka had no further interest.
"You're right, it really isn't," Ririka snorted. "But a bond like yours, huh? I doubt that's possible. I'm not entirely interested in one either."
"Such a shame, it is such a lovely concept to think about," Kirari commented. "Oh, and it is highly possible. I know for a fact that Saotome... hm, actually, never mind. I'd think it would be appropriate to let you figure that out on your own."
Hearing Mary's name instantly caught Ririka's attention. Was there perhaps something Kirari knew that she didn't? Ririka had only seen Kirari interact with Mary once this week when Mary brought Ririka some documents during a student council meeting. That did raise the possibility for Kirari to read her mind, but Ririka couldn't be certain. Although from the way Kirari was speaking, it did seem like that happened.
"What about Mary?" Ririka questioned suspiciously.
"Oh nothing really, I just find it interesting how clingy she has been towards you this past week," Kirari mused.
Ririka had actually noticed that too. She herself had originally planned to follow Mary around for a majority of the day time to keep onlookers from bothering her or having someone mistreat her due to her newfound status. However, she was surprised to find the blonde actually following her around instead.
Every morning Mary would greet Ririka at her dorm and request that they walked together so she could get her breakfast. And then in the afternoons, Mary would only sit near her at lunch break which was strange considering she typically ate with Itsuki or her male friend Ririka couldn't recall the name of.
Ririka came to the conclusion that Mary was fulfilling her role as her assistant. Nothing more nothing less. But perhaps it was rather odd how touchy Mary was with her all of a sudden, most recently the day before initiating a hug or lightly ruffling Ririka's hair when Ririka questioned if their friendship would be in jeopardy due to this whole assistant thing and she assured her that they would still be friends regardless. That was rather odd behavior indeed.
Ririka's brows furrowed in confusion. "She's supposed to be... she is my housepet, so why wouldn't she be by my side?"
Kirari removed the mask briefly just to show off the grin she wore whenever she was utterly fascinated by something. "Perhaps because her thoughts are not-so-surprisingly loud and I may have overheard a bit of information I was never supposed to find out. Quite similar to my situation with Sayaka, really."
"And you cannot share this information with me why?" Ririka grumbled, her eyebrow twitching in irritation.
"Well it's simply not my place to do so," Kirari replied innocently. "And besides, I'm sure Saotome would much prefer telling you herself rather than have you find out through me, who so rudely intruded her thoughts."
That was a fair assumption. Ririka didn't want whatever this information was to be told to her without Mary having any knowledge of it, let alone having Mary freak out over discovering Kirari can read minds. Yet she couldn't deny it sent her off of the edge with curiosity, wondering what exactly this was.
"Very well. Speaking of Saotome, I should go fetch her. We need to leave soon," Ririka brought up. "Also, was the helicopter really necessary?"
"But of course," Kirari replied, placing the mask back on. "The head of the Momobami clan must travel in absolute safety and in my opinion, should travel in style."
"We could have easily taken a car," Ririka mumbled. "But I won't question it. I'll meet you on the roof of the school in twenty minutes or so."
With a subtle nod, Ririka disguised as Kirari head out. The sun was fully set and all of the vampires loitering in the halls of Hyakkaou bowed their head in respect when the President passed by.
Ririka put on the intimidating smirk Kirari so often wore, causing a few of the students to cower beneath her gaze. She wondered how Mary would react to seeing her like this. Mary had mentioned once before that she'd be able to tell the difference between the two twins, so Ririka wanted to put that theory to the test. For all intense and purposes, she looked, sounded, and even so much as smelled like Kirari. It would certainly be interesting if Mary was able to tell the difference.
She knocked lightly on the door, hearing a thump from within. Unexpectedly, Itsuki answered the door. Her eyes went as wide as saucers upon seeing who was there. She instantly bowed her head in respect.
"President, to what do I owe this pleasure?" Itsuki asked politely.
Ririka almost slipped up to correct her but instead cleared her throat. "I have business with Saotome. Would you be so kind as to summon her for me?"
Itsuki gave her a confused expression. "Oh, alright then."
She lightly shut the door and yelled for Mary's name, claiming that the President was looking for her. Ririka giggled slightly when she heard Mary respond back with "What the fuck? What does she need to see me for? I need to leave soon!" Ririka quickly returned to her smug expression and stood in a typical Kirari posture.
The door suddenly swung open to reveal a very displeased Mary. Ririka looked her up and down as she did.
Mary's nose wrinkled in disgust. "Why do you look like that?"
"I beg your pardon, Saotome?" Ririka questioned, imitating Kirari's voice almost perfectly.
"Cut the crap, Ririka, I know it's you," Mary huffed.
"I'm afraid I don't know what you're talking about," Ririka hummed.
Mary couldn't deny Ririka almost fooled her for a split moment, but the kind look in her eyes gave it away instantly. Kirari's stare was far more intimidating and invoked superiority whereas Ririka could never quite replicate it perfectly. Besides, Mary could tell even the subtlest difference in scents. Perhaps that was an advantage to imprinting.
Mary rolled her eyes. "I told you before I would be able to tell the difference, Ririka. Now give up the act, it's creeping me out."
Ririka was truly astonished by how easily Mary was able to decipher who was who. Only one other person had been able to do this without any error and that was the Student Council Secretary. Ririka found it strange that these two were the only ones and that they were both werewolves. Perhaps there was a connection to it.
Although, it couldn't have been because of the fact that they were werewolves. Itsuki wasn't able to tell the difference after all. No, this was something different and Ririka was determined to eventually figure out what it was.
"I'll admit, I'm impressed. You got it right, I'm not Kirari," Ririka breathed out, her expression returning to normal. "Do you have everything packed?"
Mary finally smiled and pointed to the suitcase by the door. "Yep, I'm good to go. What about you, though?"
"I don't exactly need to bring anything with me since this is my home we're going to," Ririka explained. "Everything I could possibly need is already at the Momobami estate."
"I see," Mary murmured, realizing she should have known that.
"Here, let me help you with your luggage," Ririka offered, entering the dorm.
"Don't bother. I've got it," Mary replied, picking up the suitcase with ease. "Also, you haven't answered my question. Why do you look like that?"
"Ah, now that's... rather complicated. To put it bluntly, Kirari does not want to attend the family conference, so I will attend in her place. Everyone at school needs evidence that she's gone, so she will be posing as me while I'm gone," Ririka replied calmly.
"So this whole thing needs to last a week?" Mary asked flatly. "I don't see why it can't be for just a day or two at the most."
"Well, the Momobami clan is not named the Hundred Devouring Families for no reason. Our coven is the largest in the world, so naturally, we have many family members. It takes time to discuss things with so many people. Many of my family members enjoy talking over each other as well, so we split the clan into groups who each get a different day to discuss things," Ririka explained.
"Makes sense I suppose," Mary agreed. "And what am I supposed to be doing during all of this?"
"I'll inform you of my intentions once the time comes. But don't worry, you won't be bored. There is plenty to do at my estate," Ririka said encouragingly.
"I was kinda hoping I could do some things with you, but maybe not now that I know what you're gonna be doing," Mary grumbled.
Ririka smiled. "It will be a pain, yes, which is why I'm scheduling the meetings late at night when you will be asleep. That will give us plenty of time during the day to do some activities I have planned."
"Won't you be tired... oh wait never mind. I forgot you don't get tired," Mary scoffed.
"Believe me, I do grow tired of certain things. My family, for starters. I grow rather tired of their bickering. And Kirari who forces me to go to these conferences," Ririka sighed.
Mary chuckled. "I get it. I'd hate that too."
A silence consumed the atmosphere. It wasn't awkward nor was it unpleasant. The two just stared into each other's eyes briefly, both having similar thoughts and getting lost in each other's eyes.
"S-shall we get going?" Ririka stuttered, breaking the silence when she realized she had been staring for too long.
Mary snapped out of it too and blushed, looking away. "Yeah... let's leave."
Mary walked closely alongside Ririka, dragging along her suitcase. Many people raised a confused or intrigued brow seeing Mary with the President and not the Vice President and many whispered among themselves, likely spreading false gossip. Mary simply tisked as she saw this and looked forward.
Once Ririka guided her to the roof of the school, Mary's jaw dropped when she saw the helicopter awaiting for their arrival, knowing that would soon cause a complication with a certain fear she had. Sayaka and the fake Vice President were also waiting for them. This was the first time Ririka had seen Sayaka so far away from Kirari. Make no mistake, they were only a few feet away from each other, but typically the two were practically attached at the hip.
"Have a good flight, Momobami-sama," Sayaka spoke directly to Ririka, completely ignoring Mary's presence.
"Thanks, we will," Mary sneered.
Sayaka glanced briefly at Mary and pressed her lips together before looking away like she knew something. Ririka caught that and knew she would question either her or Kirari for that later. But for now, she lead Mary to the helicopter and gracefully jumped on from the ground while Mary struggled to climb up.
"Show off," Mary snickered once she entered and sat next to her.
Ririka smirked and shut the door. "It's sometimes fun to play around with my vampire abilities. I'm sure you can relate."
Mary buckled herself in and placed her arms behind her head, relaxing into the seat. "Yeah, turning into a giant monster sure can be fun."
"Was that sarcastic?" Ririka asked.
"Partially," Mary nodded. "I can run a whole lot faster in my wolf form and can hunt for my own food and not have to cook it, so there's that."
"You actually enjoy hunting?" Ririka frowned.
"Well I don't hunt people, so sure, why not? Besides, eating a deer or bear isn't too different from eating beef or pork. It just takes a bit more steps," Mary snorted.
"That makes two of us. Humans aren't on my radar when hunting," Ririka murmured before the engine to the helicopter started up.
The two put on their headphones, though Ririka really didn't need them for protection like Mary did. It just made it easier to hear her.
"You don't... you know, kill humans?" Mary asked in a surprised tone.
Ririka chuckled darkly. "Never said that, I just prefer not to so I try to hunt animals instead. The craving for human blood never goes away, but living off of animal blood is enough for my survival."
"It must be hard never slipping up," Mary commented.
Ririka nodded. "Think of it like this: Tofu is a good replacement for meat, but it will never be the same as a quality steak. It will never fully satisfy the craving for meat. So yes, occasionally I will slip up when I need to fulfill that craving and go after humans or if I don't have access to any animal blood."
"So in a really weird sense, you're the vampire equivalent to a vegetarian?" Mary laughed.
"Yes, you could say that," Ririka agreed.
Somehow, knowing that fact about Ririka made Mary like her even more. She knew she would have to eventually get over the fact that she had imprinted on someone who has literally drained the life out of who knows how many human beings. But now she knew that Ririka made an effort not to do this unlike the majority of her kind, that said a lot about her as a person considering what she was.
Suddenly, the helicopter lifted off of the ground and they were in the air within seconds. Mary unfortunately didn't have a good relationship with heights, so when she saw the city below from the window, she gripped the seat below her tightly. She gritted her teeth and shut her eyes, trying her best to ignore it and hoped this flight wouldn't be a long one even though Ririka told her it would be.
Ririka, of course, noticed this. "You're afraid of heights?"
"S-shut up, I'm not!" Mary denied, refusing to open her eyes.
"It's alright, I won't tell anyone," Ririka chuckled. "If you want, you can... hold onto my arm instead of risk destroying your seat with that firm grip of yours."
Mary's grip loosened and she looked down, noticing that she indeed left very noticeable crescent marks into the seat from her nails. "I don't wanna hurt you, so I'll pass. I'm pretty strong."
"I assure you, I can handle your strength," Ririka explained. "Your wolf form's strength however, not so much. But don't be afraid to hold onto me, I won't bite."
"Hm, how ironic," Mary laughed weakly.
The blonde skittishly reached for Ririka and placed her hand over the cold one's hand. She felt Ririka interlace their fingers and Mary's tight grip returned, refusing to let her go. Ririka's hand was ice cold and Mary could only imagine how weird it felt for her own hot hand touching hers.
"I suppose my hand will work as well," Ririka commented slyly, looking out of the window.
Mary instantly panicked, realizing Ririka told her to hold onto her arm, not her hand. She tried to loosen her grip, but felt Ririka squeeze her hand in assurance, relieving her anxiety.
Mary sighed and shut her eyes again, releasing a sigh. This was nice, but she couldn't help but wonder if Ririka felt even a hint of attraction towards her by so easily allowing her to hold her hand. She wasn't a touchy person at heart and Mary had learned this earlier that week when Ririka outright said it.
Yet, she never denied the hug Mary gave her yesterday or the hand holding now. Perhaps she was simply trying to be a good friend or trying to act chivalrous. Whatever the reason, Mary decided not to dwell on it and instead enjoy the time she had with their fingers interlocked and ignored how high up in the air she was.
Mary knew she shouldn't have been surprised by the size of the Momobami Estate so she certainly shouldn't have been surprised by the helicopter landing pad and when Ririka told her that the helicopter was Momobami property. She knew Ririka resided from arguably the wealthiest family in all of Japan, but the house she saw before her easily matched the size of a castle. But this mansion wasn't a castle, it was surprisingly quite modern looking.
The two approached the house, Mary eager to escape the snowy weather. She glanced at Ririka and grew concerned by her expression. Ririka looked annoyed by something.
"Everything okay?" Mary asked, nudging Ririka's arm.
Ririka snapped out of it. "Yes, fine. I just forgot about some of our maids here. They won't react well to having a werewolf on our property. You probably won't see any tonight, but you likely will tomorrow night. If any of them treat you unkindly, please let me know immediately."
Mary expected this. By all means, she was entering the lions den and should have declined Ririka's request the moment she mentioned bringing her along. Any werewolf in their right mind wouldn't be at the Momobami estate even if they were paid to do so. Although, Mary's situation was a bit different compared to an average werewolf. Had she not imprinted on Ririka, well, she very well may have declined the offer. And she hated to think like that. She didn't want to join her simply because she imprinted on her. So she tried to get out of that mentality.
She did feel quite honored to step foot on the equivalent of holy ground for vampires though. She could only imagine how much history was buried on the estate, how many battles for territory took place here. She wondered what Ririka had seen throughout the many decades she had been walking the Earth.
The interior of the mansion was nothing like the exterior. It was full of Victorian era antiques and paintings, specifically an enormous painting on the wall near the staircase. Mary instantly recognized the two twins in the center of the painting, standing stiffly next to each other wearing formal clothes from what appeared to be the nineteenth century. Kirari wore the same smug expression Mary despised to see, but her hair wasn't in their typical twin braids; it was neatly tied up in a bun. In one of Kirari's hands was a black Ace of Hearts playing card; very fitting for her. Ririka sported a similar look with her hair tied up in a neat bun as well, though her expression looked... somber. Clutched in her hand was her infamous mask that had the same sinister smile.
"Admiring the painting?" Ririka asked curiously.
"Yeah, it looks like it's a few hundred years old," Mary commented.
Ririka shook her head and smiled weakly, thinking of the day she stood in that very room as she and her sister posed for the painting. "Two hundred, actually. Kirari had it done for our hundredth birthday."
"Damn, how old are you two?" Mary asked, staring at her wide-eyed.
"Don't you know it's rude to ask a lady's age, Mary-san?" Ririka chuckled and her smile faded. "But... three hundred and eighteen years. That's how long I've existed."
This only reminded Mary that she still knew so little about Ririka and her past. She supposed there was a time and place to find all of this out, but she knew it would certainly take a while. Three hundred years worth of stories would obviously take quite a bit of time to tell. But Mary now had plenty of time and Ririka did too.
Mary scoffed. "And to think I believed turning eighteen made me old."
"Honestly, I can't even remember what my eighteenth birthday was like. Times were drastically different back then," Ririka shook her head as she lead Mary upstairs.
That wasn't a total lie. There was only one memory she had from that day which also happened to be her final day of being human: Pain that was excruciating. She had dreaded turning eighteen for years, knowing that would be the day she would become an immortal.
Kirari, however, counted as each day went by until her eighteenth birthday when she knew her life would finally become incredibly interesting. It was fair to say the two had very different emotions about the whole ordeal, but they both could agree that the pain from the transformation process into a newborn immortal was the worst pain imaginable and neither would ever wish to go through it again.
Mary shrugged. "I spent mine alone and it was really boring, so I guess we can both relate."
Ririka stopped in front of the door to her old room. "I suppose so."
The door to the room slowly swung open and Mary blinked at what she saw. This large section of the mansion looked as if it didn't belong at all. It had lots of technology and more books than Mary could count. But what surprised her the most was the king-sized bed in the center of the room. This had to be some private joke of Ririka's, because it made no sense that it was even there. Vampires didn't sleep.
Mary looked over and sighed with relief when she noticed Ririka was undoing her braids, allowing her hair to fall loosely down her shoulders. It was currently wavy which made Mary stare at her for a bit longer than she should have, making a mental note of how beautiful Ririka looked with wavy hair. Well, more beautiful.
"This is my room," Ririka spoke calmly. "It is also where you will be staying. I do hope the bed is comfortable, I wasn't entirely sure which one I was supposed to purchase so I went with the largest and nicest looking one I could find."
Mary blinked at her, finally making the connection that this wasn't Ririka's bed, it was hers. "Stop, you can't be serious."
Ririka frowned. "I-is something wrong with it?"
"You didn’t need to buy me a whole bed just for the week, idiot! An air mattress or even a sleeping bag would have been fine, honestly,” Mary laughed.
"Nonsense, you're my honored guest. It would be impolite to provide you with something like that,” Ririka countered with a smile.
“Aren’t I your servant though? Servants get the worst treatment don’t they?” Mary smirked.
“Depends on the servant’s owner,” Ririka shook her head. “And you won’t permanently be in that position either. I despise that word too, don’t use it. Friends don’t enslave each other.”
"Yeah... friends," Mary murmured to herself.
"Please make yourself comfortable. And if you get hungry, the fridge is fully stocked downstairs so help yourself," Ririka brought up.
"Yeesh, how much money did you spend on me for this?" Mary lamented.
"Not too much," Ririka said slowly. "And the bed I see as an investment in case you ever came back or if Kirari ever brought Sayaka again."
"Oh, so I'll be coming back some day?" Mary teased with a smirk.
Ririka panicked. "I-I only mean to say if that ever happens, but you are more than welcome to visit during break when Kirari and I return here. It can get rather lonesome when she and Sayaka go off to do their own things."
"You don't have other friends to invite?" Mary asked, taking a seat on the mattress.
Ririka shook her head. "Any friends I have made in the past either live halfway across the world or they are deceased. Vampires are relatively solitary creatures anyway, so we don't exactly indulge in friendships."
"What about relationships?" Mary asked with a tint of red appearing in her cheeks.
Ririka could hear Mary's heart beat slightly faster and she smiled at her nervousness. "Vampire relationships are different than friendships. It's difficult to form bonds and find mates, but if it happens, they are life-long and we will stick with them till death do us part. Well, so to speak."
"That's just marriage," Mary scoffed. "But I'm sure the vampire to human divorce ratio is significantly lower, huh?"
"You could say that, yes," Ririka nodded gently. "Usually when vampires find a mate, they won't search for another if their mate perishes. It's very much like a soulmate scenario humans write about in romance novels."
"That's uh... interesting," Mary commented, internally laughing at how ironic this was.
"Do werewolves have anything similar to that? I'm only curious because I'm suspicious of Sayaka and Kirari's relationship to each other," Ririka asked.
Mary rubbed the side of her neck awkwardly. "Well, um, we have something called imprinting but that's kind of complicated to explain."
"Oh? Have you ever imprinted on someone?" Ririka asked, her eyes sparkling with curiosity.
Mary felt her face heat up. There was no way she was ready to explain any of this to Ririka. She knew Ririka would probably be able to tell if she was lying, but she was going to figure a way out of this conversation one way or another.
"Eh, I mean... maybe," Mary muttered, her face growing so incredibly red. "I can explain it to you some other time. I think I'm a little too tired to do it right now."
"Ah, my apologies, I forgot how late it is. You must be exhausted from the trip," Ririka nodded. "I'll let you sleep. Goodnight, Mary."
Mary nodded and watched as Ririka left the room, quietly shutting the door behind her. It was a couple hours before she would normally sleep, but now she didn't have much of a choice if Ririka thought she was going to sleep. It wouldn't hurt in trying, she supposed. She had a long week ahead of her after all.
Mary tossed and turned in the oversized bed. It was by all means very comfortable and should have allowed her to fall asleep with ease, but she just couldn’t. Perhaps it was due to the fact that she was in such an unfamiliar environment or because she was sleeping in the room of the person she imprinted on. Ririka's sweet, peachy scent was very prominent in the room and was overwhelming Mary's senses, also adding on the complications of falling asleep.
The alarm clock that sat on the nightstand next to her had barely changed the numbers to show it was two in the morning. Mary wondered what Ririka was doing, what she would usually do at this time of the night. She knew it was plausible that the vampire was at the first of these meetings. She did mention earlier she arranged them to be late at night and two in the morning seemed to be pretty late.
The slight creak from the door instantly caught Mary's attention, though she didn't lift her head to see what caused it. If anything, it was probably just a draft. Yet, she couldn't shake off the sudden feeling of being watched. She opened one of her eyes briefly, but clearly saw that she was the only one in the room.
It was eerily quiet to the point where she could only hear the faint howls from the snow storm outside or her own breathing. If there was someone else in here, she'd know it right? She wasn't sure, but she couldn't sleep not knowing.
“Ririka are you in here?” she asked and lifted her head up, half expecting to hear a response back for some ludicrous reason.
The intruder hesitated, totally not expecting Mary to know she was in the room. Well, it was her room, but she still felt like she was intruding. “Yes, I’m here.”
Mary squinted, trying to pinpoint where she heard the voice. “Where the hell are you then? Show yourself.”
Well, there was no turning back now. Ririka relaxed her body, revealing herself at the foot of the bed, startling Mary. Surprisingly, Mary didn’t freak out at all like Ririka had expected. She was certain Mary would have shrieked at her to leave or yell at her for remaining hidden, more or less invading her privacy. But alas, the blonde just appeared to be a bit frazzled from her presence.
"Would you believe me if I told you I was here only looking for a book?" Ririka smiled sheepishly.
Mary scoffed. "Tsk, no. Why would you do that... invisible thing for getting a book?"
"To not startle or wake you up," Ririka replied nervously.
"You know I'd be way more startled to see a floating book, so I know you were watching me," Mary snickered.
“Forgive me, it... has just been a while since I’ve witnessed sleep so I decided to watch you sleep,” Ririka admitted. “I… find it kind of fascinating.”
Mary scoffed and then smirked. “Well, I wasn't asleep. And I’m not gonna lie, that’s a bit creepy.”
“O-oh,” Ririka deflated. “I-I’ll leave if I make you uncomfortable.”
Mary shrugged and laid her head back down on her fluffy pillow. “It honestly doesn’t bug me too much. Next time just tell me if you’re gonna do that. And don’t do that weird invisible thingy you can do! That’s what really made it creepy.”
“Alright, I’ll ask now then,” Ririka nodded. “Would you be so kind as to let me stay? I promise I won’t make a disruption. It’ll be as if I’m not even here.”
“Yeah, yeah, whatever," Mary confirmed, tossing onto her other side.
"The bed is uncomfortable, isn't it? That's why you cannot sleep," Ririka murmured sadly.
"No, no it's more than enough!" Mary assured her. "I'm... I'm not used to sleeping alone in a room. I share my bedroom with Itsuki, so maybe that's why it's hard to fall asleep."
Ririka raised a brow at her. "Is that why you're alright with me staying?"
"Maybe it is," Mary admitted. "Just don’t stand at the foot of my bed looking like a freaking ghost. Heh, bad choice of words I suppose. Ghosts can become invisible like you."
"Very funny," Ririka rolled her eyes and smiled lightly.
"Don't you have your meeting thing soon by the way?" Mary yawned.
"No, not tonight. The first official one starts tomorrow night. So for now, I don't have much else to do other than read or watch you sleep," Ririka explained.
"Well have fun with that. I'll warn you though, I drool. So I might look all gross when I fall asleep," Mary spoke tiredly.
"Oh, so now you're tired?" Ririka teased.
"I told you before that your presence is calming," Mary grinned weakly. "But there... are reasons... for that."
"What do you-" Ririka began to speak but stopped when she heard the light snores coming from the blonde.
Ririka smiled to herself and shook her head. She sat down on the edge of the bed, watching Mary. Mary was incredibly beautiful, especially when the moon broke through portions of the clouds and shone lightly on her face. Ririka couldn't stop staring at her facial features.
It was absolutely fascinating to see the subtle rise and fall to her chest. Ririka was ashamed to admit she could watch Mary in this state for decades if possible. She looked so... tranquil, but more importantly, stunning. Her beauty truly was astonishing to the vampire who knew she was slowly becoming attracted and enthralled by the werewolf.
So yeah in case any of you guys were wondering, the characters in this are 18+. Especially Ririka lmao.
Chapter 6: Gamble
A long, fluffy, semi-filler chapter because I want these two to fucking kiss already-
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
Golden rays of sunlight shone brightly through the window, waking Mary up. Her eyes slowly fluttered open, expecting to see Ririka still in the room with her. Yet she didn't detect her presence at all and instead noticed the strong scent of something burning. Burning pork, it seemed. Mary found that to be rather odd considering Ririka wouldn't be the one trying to make food since she hadn't eaten anything solid for three centuries. Perhaps her stomach was playing tricks on her.
She sat up and got out of bed, stretching an arm over her head. She wondered how long Ririka stayed with her last night. She didn't wake up once after she fell asleep surprisingly, but she was curious if Ririka was true to her word about finding her sleeping fascinating. Even so, one could only watch so much of something before growing bored and try to find something else to entertain themselves with.
Then again, Mary had a very different mindset than a vampire. Vampires had all of the time in the world so naturally a few hours to them wouldn't feel like much time had passed at all. Mary realized she'd soon feel that way some day too, possibly many decades into the future. The fact that she would no longer age was still difficult for her to wrap her mind around.
After getting dressed into some jeans and a loosely fitting shirt, she headed downstairs to follow the burnt scent. It only grew more prominent and a new scent of something distinctly like maple filled her senses as well. When her nose led her to a kitchen, she almost laughed at the sight before her. Almost; she nearly choked from the smoke.
There stood Ririka, desperately trying to save whatever was edible of the burnt meat on the stove while looking at what appeared to be an old cook book on the counter as well. Mary stood at the door way smirking, watching her struggle.
"You shouldn't leave it all on one side for too long, you know," Mary spoke up, startling the vampire.
"O-oh, good morning," Ririka squeaked. "I thought... I thought I'd make you breakfast. Well, try to. Forgive me if it's too burned. It's been a while since I've used the stove."
Truthfully, this was actually the first time Ririka had ever used a stove. Having Mary over gave her an excuse to experiment with human food and observe how mortals cooked. Cooking had never been an activity she needed to do on a daily basis or ever really, so there was no point in learning how to work the stove or cook food. She of course knew basic things from when she was human like how eggs fried at a certain temperature, but even then, any food she ever ate was always made and served to her. She nor Kirari had ever needed to cook a single meal for themselves since they had servants to take care of it for them.
Mary laughed. "Don't worry about it too much, it's the thought that counts. I'll eat whatever is already made."
Mary looked over Ririka's shoulder to see strips of bacon, half of them severely blackened, and some eggs which also appeared to be slightly burned. She also noticed the plate of waffles which looked to be alright, though the waffle iron to the side was likely the reason since it was automatically set to cook the batter to perfection.
"Go sit down and I'll bring you your food," Ririka ordered calmly.
Mary nodded and left the kitchen. She sat down at the dining room table which looked surprisingly modern compared to the rest of the interior furniture. It was likely Ririka bought this for her use as well considering vampires didn't really have a need for a dining room table. It was a kind gesture but really got Mary thinking again about how much money Ririka really did spend on her for the week.
Ririka placed the plate of food in front of Mary before sitting across from her with a curious expression, palms resting on her cheeks. Mary raised a brow at her in question while Ririka merely continued to stare at her, a small smile appearing on her face. Mary rolled her eyes, knowing she was waiting expectantly for her to eat. Perhaps another thing that fascinated her was watching people eat since she couldn't exactly do that either. That, or she was expecting praise for salvaging what she could from the food she mostly burned.
"It's not too bad," Mary admitted when she crunched the maple bacon. "It's edible if that's what you're wondering. Impressive for a vampire who hasn't cooked in a long time."
"That's good I suppose," Ririka nodded. "What is it like? I've sort of forgotten what it's like to eat solid food."
Mary smirked and slid the plate forward. "Tell me yourself."
Ririka blinked at the steaming plate of food. Why hadn't she ever thought of this before? More importantly, why hadn't Kirari? Kirari would be more likely to be intrigued by trying human food, but neither she nor Ririka had ever taken it into consideration. Certainly it wouldn't hurt to try it. She wondered if it would even digest, though she highly doubted it.
Picking up the bacon, she smelled it first, finding it strange how it was almost revolting to her. It was only cooked animal skin, what made it so different than the wild boars she would often hunt in the woods? The lack of blood, sure, but even the boar's scents caused her mouth to water. Perhaps it wasn't the boars themselves, but the blood beneath their skin. Regardless, she took a bite from the end of it. The taste wasn't nearly as bothersome as the texture she felt as she chewed it.
"Don't like it?" Mary teased upon seeing Ririka's displeased expression.
Ririka shook her head, knowing she wouldn't be able to swallow it. She grabbed a napkin from the table and spit the chunks of meat out, noticing the silvery liquid on the bits. She knew it wasn't saliva, but recognized it as her venom instead. How interesting. She was very capable of producing saliva, but perhaps her mind was convinced she was trying to feed, therefore cause her to produce venom instead of saliva. It certainly was an intriguing experiment to say the least, but she didn't want to try it again. There wasn't much of a point to do so after finding out her results.
"It's not blood," Ririka chuckled. "So my body rejects it."
"Ah, then hand it back over because my body definitely won't," Mary grinned.
Ririka obliged and slid the plate back over to which Mary then ate the food at a far quicker pace than before. Ririka felt a bit better about the way she cooked it now that she saw Mary happily consume it. Granted, werewolves constantly needed nourishment due to the amount of calories they burned off every day. So even if Mary didn't like the food, she would have probably eaten it regardless.
"So, what's on the schedule for today?" Mary asked between bites.
"If you're up for it, there's a lovely creek we can walk to that should be frozen over now due to the drastic temperature drop and it should be interesting to see the frozen fish beneath it," Ririka suggested. "It is... a bit of a distance away from the estate though."
Mary raised a brow at her. "How far?"
"Hm, at least eight miles," Ririka hummed. "Is that too much?"
In Mary's human form, eight miles to and from would be a stretch. She'd be beyond tired after walking such a distance. However, her wolf form could easily handle eight miles. That was nothing. Well, not sprinting at least. Running at full speed would definitely push her to her limit, but she did kind of want to know what her limit was since she never had the chance to test it before now.
"Eh, it depends. You wouldn't care if I traveled in my wolf form if I did, would you?" Mary questioned cautiously.
Ririka shook her head. "Not at all. Though I suppose I'd have to slow down for you if we were to run to save time."
"Are you saying werewolves are slower than vampires?" Mary challenged with a smirk. "Because I know damn well we're faster."
"Is that a challenge, Mary-san?" Ririka grinned excitedly, exposing her fangs. "I'd be happy to race you to the creek. It's fairly easy to get to after all."
"Alright, bet," Mary nodded.
"No betting. I would hate to be the cause of you getting into even more debt," Ririka shot back arrogantly.
Mary scoffed. "Cocky, are we? You'll be eating those words pretty soon."
"Alright, then let's say we do make a gamble out of this. I don't want to bet money, but the winner gets to ask a question which the loser must answer honestly," Ririka proposed. "Is that acceptable?"
"Fine by me," Mary nodded. "Well, as long as you state the question ahead of time so I know what exactly I'm getting myself into."
"Clever, so very well. My question involves imprinting since you said you would explain it to me some other time last night," Ririka said calmly.
Mary stopped chewing her food for a moment, taking Ririka's question into consideration. She didn't want to back down now, especially if it meant she could show off. The issue was, the question was a loaded one. If push came to shove, Mary could just briefly explain imprinting without having to reveal too much of the truth. Even so, now she had even more motivation to win.
"Fair enough," Mary huffed. "I don't really have a question at the moment but... I guess I'd ask something like what your favorite thing to do is."
Ririka blinked at her in slight surprise. She completely expected her to ask something along the lines of regarding why she was so adamant on helping her out which truthfully Ririka couldn't quite figure out herself. "Oh, well I would have told you that if you asked regardless."
"Save it for the gamble because now I'm interested," Mary spoke up before Ririka could say what it was.
"Alright then," Ririka nodded and rose from her seat. "Shall we not waste any time then and head out?"
"Sounds good, but..." Mary paused as she stood up. "Um, I'll need you to wait until I phase outside. I'd rather not destroy my clothes."
Ririka didn't understand what she meant for a moment, but then her eyes widened upon the realization. "Oh, o-of course. I'll just wait here."
Mary exited through the back door of the kitchen, seeing Ririka give a gentle nod through the window before the vampire walked away. It was incredibly cold outside, more than enough for Mary to see her breath. She was certain the temperature was in the negatives with how cold it was. Perhaps it was a good thing she challenged Ririka to this. Though her body temperature could withstand far harsher conditions than a human's body could, even she had a limit. Her wolf form would keep her warm without a doubt though.
She firstly undid her hair and placed the ties down. Then she quickly unbuttoned her jeans, pulling them and her panties down her legs before kicking off her shoes, shivering slightly from the cold air touching her bare skin. She then removed her shirt and bra, placing them on top of the piles of clothing on the snow.
She cracked her knuckles before running forward and instantly phasing into her wolf form, already feeling herself warm up again. She would never get used to that exhilarating feeling, it was unlike any other. Her sensitive paws never took well to snow, however. It felt strange compared to her human feet when it touched the snow. It was as if she could feel every fragment of fine ice beneath her.
Turning around, she saw Ririka step outside with her. Ririka's eyes didn't look frightened to see her, but almost... excited? An unusual reaction from a vampire, that's for certain, but Mary wasn't complaining. She wanted Ririka to feel at ease around her regardless of what form she took.
"I suppose you'll want me to take your clothes with us, so I brought a back pack with me," Ririka mentioned, pulling the pack off of her and started to place Mary's clothes inside.
Mary approached her and nudged the clothes, trying to help her shove it in the bag. She then noticed how much smaller Ririka was compared to her in this form. As a wolf, Mary made Ririka look so fragile next to her. Ironic, considering the vampire's body was hard as stone.
After finishing packing away Mary's discarded clothes, Ririka slung the back pack over her shoulders. "Alright, you'll just need to follow me for a minute so I can guide you to the trail. After that, first one to the creek is the winner. Deal?"
Mary gave a gentle nod and sneezed when a snowflake landed on her wet nose.
Ririka giggled at that. It was cute. "Three... two... one... go!"
The two of them sprinted at full speed as soon as the final word left Ririka's lips. Ririka at first thought she was in the lead until she glanced to her left, shocked that Mary was actually keeping up with her. Now she actually grew concerned that she was going to lose, but she refused to. She increased her speed, satisfied to see Mary fall behind slightly-
Only for Mary to also increase speed and pass her in the process. Ririka could have sworn she heard a grunt which she was certain was equivalent to a condescending laugh. Ririka couldn't go any faster than she already was and she knew they passed the halfway point by now. She just hoped Mary would get tired and slow down. Had she been recently fed, Ririka knew her speed would have been quicker than it was. Not that Mary needed to know.
Soon, the creek was within sight and Mary still took the lead. Quite considerably, as a matter of fact. By this point, Ririka knew she already lost the bet. And frankly, she was alright with that. She wasn't a sore loser and Mary won fair and square.
As she saw Mary stop in front of the frozen creek, she soon caught up with her. The wolf was panting heavily and gently collapsed at Ririka's feet. Ririka fought back the urge to pat Mary's head or give her a congratulatory scratch behind the ears, fearing it would be offensive. But it would have been so easy and she really wanted to for some reason.
"Well I'm amazed, it turns out you were correct," Ririka admitted with a smile. "Congratulations, Mary."
Mary looked up at her with prideful golden eyes, swiftly standing up. She shook off the snow on her fur and tail before nudging Ririka's shoulder with her snout. Ririka mistakenly took that as Mary giving her a signal to pet her and she reached out to touch her. Mary flinched briefly not from fear or anger, but confusion. She then lowered her head, realizing what Ririka was trying to do and allowed the vampire to stroke her soft yet course golden-brown fur.
The feeling felt so natural yet unnatural at the same time having Ririka's icy hand touch her head. She knew if any other vampire attempted to do this, she would have instantly tried to rip their hand off out of sheer instinct. She just couldn't feel that way with Ririka and she blamed the imprinting thing for it, but this was so calming. So welcoming. She couldn't care if it had to do with imprinting or not, it felt nice.
Ririka herself felt similarly. Never in her entire existence had she ever thought she'd be touching, petting a werewolf, let alone being up this close to one. She never had a desire to do so before now either. What was it about Mary that made her feel so drawn to her? They were supposed to be natural enemies and yet touching her like this felt completely natural. Intimate. She was starting to understand Kirari's attraction to Sayaka. Werewolves truly were incredible and fascinating creatures.
Mary then stepped aside and nudged the back pack this time, making the message clear to Ririka.
"Oh, your clothes," Ririka smiled and took off the back pack. "I'll turn around if it makes you uncomfortable."
The werewolf didn't really care since Ririka had already seen her nude once before, but instead gave a gentle nod. Once the vampire turned, Mary's bones forced themselves back into position and she returned to her human form. The air somehow felt even colder which warranted her to get dressed quickly as to trap her body heat and remain warm. She was already hot from running eight miles so the air was refreshing. She just couldn't be out for too long.
"You can turn around now, Ririka," Mary spoke up.
"Alright. Now my whole reason for coming here is to look for fish," Ririka explained, starting to walk on the ice covered creek with Mary close behind. "Kirari and I used to visit this creek together many years ago. We even placed some fish and turtles in here of our own, not that they're probably still alive."
Mary shrugged. "Who knows? I've heard some aquatic species can live up to fifty years."
"Perhaps," Ririka nodded in agreement. "Though the ones we brought here were pretty much either goldfish and the turtles likely have long since moved on. It would be nice to see some life here, though."
"I'm sure we will," Mary encouraged.
The two walked over the ice for a few minutes before Mary spotted what she thought looked like fish. She ran over to it and grinned upon seeing the medium sized brown fish beneath the surface. Right as she was about to call Ririka over, she heard a crackling noise beneath her. Her eyes widened and she looked down to see a giant crack formed in the ice just beneath her feet.
"Uh, Ririka," Mary called out nervously.
Ririka looked up and her eyes widened in shock too. "Mary, stay calm and don't move."
"Stay calm?! I'm about to fall into freezing fucking water! How am I supposed to stay calm?" Mary shrieked.
Ririka was a moment to late to get to Mary; the blonde fell through the ice. Ririka was there in an instant, clinging onto her arms all the while trying not to worsen the cracks in the ice. This was difficult position; Ririka needed to be certain her grip wasn't too tight yet tight enough to get her out of the freezing water. Thankfully, she was able to. Mary coughed and spit out water as Ririka pulled her out, dragging her to the shore.
"I'm so sorry, I was positive it was safe to walk on!" Ririka spoke frantically. "A-are you alright?"
Mary glared at her and raised a brow. "I've seen better days, honestly."
Ririka then noticed the sheer amount of steam raising off of Mary's body as if she had just exited a hot sauna. "I can tell... Why is there steam?"
"Ugh, great," Mary hissed, noticing the steam herself. "It's my body's self-defense system, basically."
Ririka blinked at her in confusion. "And that means?"
"It means that my body is working harder than it should be to keep my body heat at my normal temperature," Mary huffed, standing up and tried to squeeze the icy water out of her clothes before it could freeze. "It also means I can't phase until my body core returns to normal. I'll be too weak to walk pretty soon since my body is kind of trying to keep me alive."
"You mean you're going to get hypothermia soon?" Ririka panicked. "B-but I thought werewolves could withstand harsh temperatures!"
"Well not as much in our human forms! Even we have limits!" Mary yelled in defense and began to shiver. "Come on, let's start walking. I'd rather go now with the strength I still have."
Ririka stared at her dumbfounded and then shook her head. "Don't bother."
"What do you-"
Mary's sentence was quickly cut short when she felt arms swiftly lift her up bridal-style, doing so with ease as if Mary was weightless. Normally, Mary would have screamed in protest and thrash around to free herself, but she remained still. Her face was bright red and she shivered, knowing this wasn't from the intense cold.
There was no word to describe how beautiful the vampire looked being this close. All of the rumors the world had made vampires out to be ugly and terrifying were wrong, dead wrong. Their beauty was nothing short of angelic, especially Ririka. Her skin was flawless and pale, not to mention her silky platinum hair made her almost appear to sparkle when the sunlight hit it just right. Hell, even her peachy scent was heavenly.
And those eyes, those breathtaking eyes were the most dangerous feature about her. How could they not be when Mary was rendered completely speechless as those cerulean eyes stared into her golden ones with concern and protectiveness? Now Mary was starting to understand why vampires truly were such deadly creatures. Everything about them invites you in, regardless of who or what you are.
"I'm going to run, so hold on tight. Once we get back to the estate, I'll help you warm up, okay?" Ririka spoke softly.
"You're helping already," Mary mumbled.
Ririka tilted her head to the side curiously. "Hm?"
"N-nothing! Just take me back before I freeze my ass off!" Mary grumbled and blushed furiously, looking away.
Ririka nodded and began to run as fast as her immortal body could. The feeling for Mary was exhilarating yet horrifying. Her human form wasn't used to traveling this quickly unlike her wolf form which could handle it with ease and had fur that protected her skin from the cold. The best way she could describe the feeling was flying in the air inside an airplane with no cockpit or windows or roof. Just safely secured in the air with an intensely strong and cold wind velocity.
Needless to say, Mary was glad it was finally over when Ririka made an abrupt halt in front of the back door to the kitchen where they started that silly bet of theirs not even a full hour ago. Mary was now shivering as the steam on her body dissipated. At this point, she knew she would get hypothermia if she didn't warm up soon. But thankfully they were already back at the mansion, so she wasn't as concerned.
Ririka held Mary with one arm briefly to open the door, the blonde desperately clinging to her with all her strength. She then did one final sprint to the living room, gently placing Mary one the velvet futon. Mary blinked twice before Ririka left and returned with a fuzzy blanket, wrapping it all over her making sure she absolutely didn't leave a part of her bare.
"I-I appreciate it, but..." Mary began to say, but the rest of the sentence died in her throat.
"What is it? What can I do?" Ririka asked, growing even more concerned now.
Ririka felt so helpless and guilty. If only she were a werewolf herself or even a human, she'd be able to warm Mary up with her body heat; even if the thought of their bodies pressed together so closely sounded rather scandalous. But as a vampire, her entire body was cold as ice and would do more harm than good.
"C-clothes are still wet. I need to t-take them off," Mary shivered even more, pushing off the blanket to unbutton her shirt.
"Oh... Oh I see," Ririka paused and thought for a moment before fully pulling the blanket off of her and lifting her back up into her arms. "Where to?"
"Bathroom," Mary murmured, laying her head tiredly on Ririka's chest. "Shower."
Ririka nodded. "I'm on it."
There was plenty of space in the downstairs bathroom, enough space to have a large chair which Ririka lowered Mary onto. The vampire looked at the shower and thought about the basics of first aid she learned in school over the years. Hot water could damage Mary's skin due to the extreme change in heat. So, she started off with cool water.
Mary fumbled with her clothes, only to have Ririka walk over and look at the clothes and then into her eyes as if asking silent permission. After gaining a nod of approval, her hands slowly and delicately reached for Mary's shirt, quickly undoing the buttons before sliding it off her shoulders. She stared at Mary's bra for the briefest of moments before she caught herself and looked away out of modest courtesy, reaching for the straps latched on the back.
"Can you stand?" Ririka asked in a hushed tone, refusing to look at the blonde.
Mary slowly stood up. "I think I can walk over."
Ririka nodded and offered her arm for Mary to take a hold of all the while still avoiding to look at her. Mary laughed weakly. "I don't care if you see me this way. Nothing you've never seen already, technically."
"E-even so, it's impolite and improper," Ririka countered as she pulled back the shower curtain and helped Mary inside.
"How chivalrous," Mary smirked and rolled her eyes. "Thank you, though. I think I can handle it from here."
"Of course," Ririka responded and immediately left the room.
The vampire quietly shut the door to the bathroom and placed a hand on her forehead, taking a deep breath. She felt horrible for a couple reasons. Firstly, Mary was in this mess because of her. She should have tried to save her as soon as she noticed the cracked ice. She could have. She felt like the day was ruined now and the last thing she wanted was for Mary to catch a cold.
What made her feel worse was how she enjoyed the way Mary clung to her body. Even if she was shivering and cold, her body still felt warm. Much warmer than Ririka had ever felt as her time being an immortal. And she found herself longing for more of that warmth. Her warmth. But why? Warm and cold were polar opposites so she should have been repelled by Mary's heat and yet, she craved more of it.
What's more, she had only known Mary for a little over a week and now she wanted to hold her in her arms like she just did. Was she really so touch starved she was desperate for someone like Mary, a werewolf, to make her feel something? To feel warmth again?
"Selfish," she muttered to herself bitterly.
She entered the living room, glancing at the fireplace that hadn't been used probably ever. Well, now was as good as any time to use it. The Momobami household always had items that the twins necessarily didn't need, but kept around in case a specific situation arose. In this case, the kindling they restocked every year was more than enough to light the fire place.
Ririka stared into the roaring flames, placing a hand near it only to snap it back instantly. This kind of heat was different, harmful. Not like the warmth Mary's body put off which was soothing and comforting to feel against Ririka's cold body.
The screech from the water stopping in the bathroom drew Ririka's attention, sharply turning her head away from the fireplace to look in that direction. Only a couple minutes passed by before she heard what sounded like Mary cursing. She worried for a brief moment and considered getting up to check on her until she saw Mary step out of the bathroom wearing a bathrobe. Ririka's bathrobe.
"I'm sorry, my clothes were still really soaked and there was nothing else to wear," Mary stated awkwardly.
"Don't worry about it. That robe belongs to Kirari you know," Ririka smiled mischievously.
"You're fucking serious?" Mary grimaced, looking down at the Robe and then noticed the small but prominent turquoise "R" stitched above the left breast. She glared at the now giggling vampire. "Very funny."
"I wanted to lighten the mood," Ririka's laughs faded. "I'm sorry about the creek. Had I known the ice would break, I never would have taken you."
"Why say sorry for that? It was beyond your control," Mary countered, drying off her hair with a towel.
Ririka shook her head. "I didn't get to you in time. I could have."
Mary shrugged and plopped down on the futon, wrapping the blanket around her body even though she was warm enough now. "Eh, you did what you could. And you brought me back here and helped me out, so don't beat yourself up about it."
"I suppose you're right," Ririka murmured quietly.
Mary could easily sense that Ririka was still upset about it. She knew something that might cheer her up or at least get her mind thinking about something else.
"Hey, I won the gamble didn't I?" Mary smiled. "Now you need to pay up and tell me what your favorite thing to do is."
Ririka looked up and smiled too, nodding. "Indeed I do."
The vampire honestly didn't have very many hobbies. She was convinced she read so much she had read half of the books printed in the world which technically wasn't impossible with all the time on her hands she had, but reading was a boring answer. Too simple. She could say she enjoyed playing basketball with Kirari on occasion, but basketball was more of Kirari's hobby and ever since Sayaka entered her life, Kirari had forgotten about that activity for a while and in turn, so did Ririka.
Ririka suddenly remembered the piano near the fireplace. Of course. How could she have forgotten? Well, it had been years since her fingers had graced any ivory keys of a piano, but she remembered enough to prove her interest.
"I do quite enjoy playing the piano," Ririka continued. "It's been a couple of years since I last played, but I still enjoy the sound and feel of the keys."
"Well now you have to play something," Mary grinned. "Impress me."
Ririka gave a light smile. "Alright."
The vampire gracefully walked over to the piano, sitting down on the bench before placing her fingers over the white keys. She hesitated for a brief moment, taking into consideration that she should play something Mary would know. Ririka knew many piano pieces by heart without the need for sheet music, but most of those songs were from the nineteenth century. Classical. She doubted Mary knew most of the songs she had learned over the many decades.
She finally made up her decision, gently pressing down on the keys. It had been years since she last played this, but she had played it so many times it was muscle memory to her at this point. If she truly wanted to impress Mary, she would do it with her eyes closed. Which she did, slowly fluttering her eyes shut and focused on the melodic sounds coming from the grand piano.
Mary sat up slowly, watching in awe as the vampire played each note without error. She recognized the song immediately; it was one her mother would often play for her whenever she had trouble falling asleep as a child to help her relax. Watching Ririka play the song brought forth a very different emotion. She was certainly impressed, that was without question, but she was yet again rendered speechless because of her for the second time that day.
"Clair de Lune," Mary breathed out in a hushed tone once Ririka finished.
Ririka raised a curious brow. "You're familiar with this piece?"
"Yeah," Mary nodded. "You... play very well."
"Thank you," Ririka smiled fondly.
"I've always wanted to learn how to play that. You're pretty talented," Mary mumbled.
"Many years of practice," Ririka responded calmly. "You know, I can teach you how to play Clair de Lune if you'd like. It's quite simple once you get the basic notes down."
Mary blushed. "R-really?"
"Certainly," Ririka nodded. "Come here and I'll show you."
Mary took a deep breath and stood up. She walked over to the piano and stiffly sat down next to Ririka who moved over to give her some space on the bench.
"Watch and follow what I do," Ririka commanded calmly and pressed the first few keys.
Mary looked at where Ririka's hands were positioned and followed, pressing down on the keys in front of her that produced a sound an octave higher but the same sound nonetheless. She grinned, feeling accomplished for some reason. Ririka smiled too, moving on to the next portion.
This time when Mary tried to mimic her, she missed a couple notes and a foul sound emitted from the piano. She pulled her hands away quickly in embarrassment as if the keys burned her. She heard Ririka lightly chuckle.
"That's alright, it will take practice," Ririka said patiently and then looked at Mary's hands. "Hm... may I?"
Mary blinked at her and then gave a gentle nod of permission, looking away. Ririka placed her hands over Mary's fingers, briefly relishing in her warmth before guiding her hands to the correct keys and lightly pressed down. She decided to continue onto the next set of notes, slowly playing the song now while guiding the blonde's hands and fingers.
Mary felt her heart in her throat as Ririka moved her hands to the correct keys. She knew Ririka must have heard her rampant heart beat and increased warmth her body produced. If she did, she wasn't saying anything. The only possible sign that gave it away was Ririka's growing smile as the song continued.
At this point, Mary didn't really feel like she was playing anymore. She definitely wasn't paying attention; all of her attention were on Ririka's hands that were over her own. She didn't let it show, however. She simply pretended that she was paying attention to the notes and keys when secretly she wasn't.
With the final ending notes of the song, Ririka's hands still lingered over Mary's. She removed them right away when she realized the song had ended.
Ririka cleared her throat. "Well done. You can now say you've played Clair de Lune."
Mary scoffed, trying to calm down her beating heart. "Hardly, you did all the work."
"I may have gotten a little carried away," Ririka admitted shyly. "Are you nervous, perhaps? Your heart is beating rather loudly."
"I-I was just embarrassed for hitting the wrong notes!" Mary raised her voice in defense, crossing her arms. "I knew my playing was gonna sound like shit compared to yours."
"Well, you haven't played nearly as long as I have, so there's nothing to feel ashamed of," Ririka assured her.
"Now I know never to challenge you to a piano playing gamble," Mary joked.
Ririka smirked. "That's wise, not even Kirari would."
"No?" Mary questioned curiously.
"Kirari and I know how to play a few instruments, but she never took to the piano like I did. In a competition, I'd surely win. However if she challenged me to the cello instead, then I would lose," Ririka explained.
"Interesting," Mary muttered quietly and yawned.
Ririka tilted her head to the side. "Are you tired?"
Truthfully, she was. Her body had endured quite a lot over the past two hours and she knew it would have been a good idea to rest. However, the only downside with doing so meant she would likely have a difficult falling asleep once it was night time.
"A little," Mary admitted.
The older girl gave a gentle nod and stood up. "Then you should rest. We have plenty of time to do other activities later."
Mary didn't need to be told twice. She stood up as well and headed towards the stairs with Ririka following behind her. Once in the bedroom, Mary climbed into bed and stared at Ririka who stood at the doorway of the bedroom. She rolled her eyes and smiled.
"Are you gonna leave or stay?" Mary snickered.
Ririka honestly wanted to stay. She didn't lie when she told Mary she found watching her sleep to be fascinating. She would have gladly stayed to watch her or rather watch over her while she slept peacefully. However, only if the werewolf wanted her to.
Ririka fidgeted with the hem of her shirt nervously. "Would you like me to stay?"
"Sure I guess," Mary shrugged nonchalantly, even though she was internally happy. "I hope you were entertained last night."
"I was," Ririka confirmed. "Thank you for letting me stay."
"Well it's also your room. I have no authority to deny you even if I didn't want you to stay," Mary pointed out.
"But for this week it is your room, so you have every right to send me away if you wished," Ririka replied coolly.
Mary sighed and laid her head on the pillow. "Alright whatever. I'll see when I wake up then."
Ririka nodded and sat down on the edge of the bed, watching as Mary shut her eyes and drifted off into sleep. This gave Ririka plenty of time to think of many things. All of them involved the girl currently asleep, unaware of Ririka's conflicted and rather confused emotions. Ririka couldn't deny that Mary was intriguing to her, but she knew her feelings rooted deeper than that.
She was shocked by how easily it was to feel such a strong attachment to Mary so quickly already. She had never grown fond of a person like that. The feeling that stirred in Ririka's chest whenever her icy skin touched Mary or the way the blonde smiled was proof of it. She wanted more of her, as selfish that felt.
And that in itself made Ririka fearful, afraid that she would some how fall in love with the werewolf. Assuming she wasn't already falling...
I am actually very proud of this chapter. I hope you enjoyed it just as much as I did to write it!
(Also, yes. We get it, Jay. You're a simp for Ririka-)
Chapter 7: Predator
TW: Sexual harassment in this chapter
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
Just as she promised, Ririka remained watching over Mary as she slept. Hours had passed by and she debated several times on waking her up since she only wanted to take a small nap. However, Ririka couldn't bring herself to rouse the sleeping girl who looked so peaceful. She felt as if it were almost sinful to do so; the poor girl had exerted so much energy earlier and must have been exhausted. So there she remained on the edge of the bed like she had been for the past few hours, continuing to watch Mary and ponder about the dreams she was having.
However, Ririka started to notice that something seemed off. Mary's sleeping expression was no longer relaxed but twisted into one that looked like she was in great pain. Ririka instantly stood up and watched her as she was now muttering something incoherent in her sleep. The whispers were slurred with only a few words that were legible. Ririka tried to gain a read on what she was dreaming about, but couldn't. She assumed it wasn't something pleasant simply based on the fact that Mary was now sweating and panting as well. It was quite concerning to see.
"Tsuzura," Mary hissed with a pained sleeping expression.
Ririka pulled her hand that she was about to wake Mary with back and instead blinked at her. Who in the world was Tsuzura? She was beyond confused at this point, but at least she knew what or rather who the dream had to do with perhaps. Whatever the reason for Mary speaking that name, Ririka kept an eye on her, fearful of what would happen if she woke her up.
More incoherent sentences were muttered from the sleeping girl's lips and tears started flowing from her eyes. At this point, Ririka didn't care anymore. She knew she had to wake her up. Damned be the consequences she received.
"Mary," Ririka spoke softly, nudging the girl's leg. "Mary, wake up!"
Mary did not wake up. Her eyes remained closed, completely unaware that Ririka was trying to wake her up. She was trapped within a nightmare she was all too familiar with but never seemed to get rid of or get used to. A memory, really. The same haunting memory that was the source of all her self-hatred and guilt and shame.
"M-Mary," Ririka tried again.
This time, Mary's eyes shot open and she gasped. "I'm sorry!"
Ririka flinched and ran over to her side of the bed. She would question Mary about all of this later, but now wasn't the time.
"What is it? Are you alright?" Ririka asked frantically, placing a hand on Mary's arm which felt far hotter than earlier.
Mary blinked several times, trying to gain a grip on her surroundings. She felt the coldness from Ririka's hand on her arm which brought her back, telling her that the dream was over. She sighed and ruffled her hair with one hand as she sat up. She couldn't respond to Ririka, not truthfully because she wasn't alright.
"Just a dream," Mary murmured. "Don't... don't worry about it."
Ririka's lips curled downwards. "Are you sure? You seemed really upset."
"I said," Mary looked into worried cerulean eyes. She wanted to snap at her, shout at her to go away and leave her alone. Push her away like she did with everyone else whenever this happened. But she couldn't bring herself to do so and instead gave a reassuring expression. "Don't worry about it."
"A-alright then," Ririka nodded. "But are you okay?"
"I will be," Mary huffed and rubbed her eyes. "What time is it?"
Ririka glanced at the alarm clock on her shelf. "Half past five. You've been asleep for a while."
"No shit," Mary chuckled weakly. "Sorry if I freaked you out or anything by the way. I didn't mean to."
"You mentioned a name in your sleep," Ririka mentioned. "Who is Tsuzura?"
Mary stared blankly at the vampire. Had she heard her correctly? She must have, though she hadn't heard that name being said out loud by someone in a long time... not since the incident. She was honestly rather surprised Ririka didn't know the name or even remember it. Then again, when the incident occurred, Tsuzura was a a nobody among the faces of the many thousands of people in the city. Surely someone like Ririka wouldn't know who she is or what happened to her.
"She... was an old friend," Mary stated carefully, avoiding as much of the truth as she could.
The fact that Mary said Tsuzura was and not is told Ririka this girl was no longer in Mary's life. She was unsure whether or not this was a good thing. It likely wasn't good based on the dream Mary had and due to how skittish the blonde was acting all of a sudden.
It was bothering her that she hadn't heard of this mysterious name. She made a mental note to research on it when they returned to Hyakkaou or perhaps even ask Kirari if she knew anything about the girl somehow. She had a feeling asking Mary herself wouldn't have been a good idea since her memory of this person didn't appear to be pleasant.
"I see," Ririka hummed awkwardly.
"Yeah," Mary muttered darkly.
The atmosphere had suddenly become very stiff and Ririka could sense Mary's uneasiness, wanting nothing more than to comfort her and see her smug grin again. She wouldn't press Mary for it, however. Ririka of all people had her fair share of skeletons in the closet that she wasn't willing to talk about. Mary was no different and she respected that.
"Shall we go out to get dinner? I'm certain you won't want me cooking for you again and I know there are some nice places in town," Ririka suggested, hoping to relieve the awkward atmosphere.
"How would that work exactly?" Mary asked, her tone starting to return to normal. "Would I order a steak and you'd suck on a blood bag or something?"
Ririka chuckled. "That's an intriguing idea, but I'd rather not draw any unwanted attention. I would just watch you eat and figure something else out later."
"I've been meaning to ask about that," Mary pointed out as she got up to stretch. "How often do you need to feed?"
"Vampires can go a couple of days without any issues, but after that, there are complications," Ririka explained calmly. "Our eyes will turn black if we go too long without feeding or in my and Kirari's case, our eyes will turn gray. Our throats will also begin to burn like a white hot poker is being shoved down our esophagus."
Ririka knew the irony in saying that considering she hadn't gone hunting since she traveled to the mountains the week prior. In fact, she was rather surprised her eye color was still its normal color, if not a tad faded but not very noticeable. Not enough for Mary to notice, that is. Perhaps it was because she had been used to starving herself for centuries that her body had almost sickly grown accustomed to it. Whatever it was, she knew she would eventually have to feed during this trip whether she liked it or not.
Mary cringed. "That's awful. I never knew that."
Ririka gave a gentle nod. "Because of the modern day era, my kind tends to lay low and live off of blood bags or animals rather than go after live humans. But as I have said before, sometimes the scent of a human can be too irresistible and we will go after humans."
It made sense. That was the likely cause of all of the unsolved deaths or murder mysteries, people who disappear and were never heard from again. The thought made Mary shudder, wondering just how many people had disappeared without a trace and died feeling the life drain out of them. At least it didn't happen too often. If it did, the entire human population would be very aware of the existence of vampires and would hunt every last one of them down, so it made sense why Ririka's kind secluded themselves.
"It must be bothersome," Mary said in a hushed voice.
"Very much so," Ririka nodded in agreement. "If you have any more questions about my kind, I'd be more than happy to answer them during supper."
Mary didn't want to feel like she was probing, but she couldn't deny this was the perfect opportunity to not only learn more about her supposed natural enemy, but learn more about Ririka as well. That was an opportunity she wouldn't decline.
The car slowly came to a stop. Mary was a little surprised that Ririka had taken her to a pub, but she was glad she didn't take her to some expensive restaurant. Mary knew Ririka's twin would surely flaunt her money and familial connections which to her, would be incredibly obnoxious. Ririka was far more humble than Kirari in that respect.
"I hope this is alright," Ririka spoke shyly as they got out of the car.
"A pub that sells beer and steak? Yeah, that's fine with me," Mary grinned.
Ririka sighed with relief. "Good."
The pair rounded an alley way and Ririka immediately noticed a man leaning against the brick wall with a bottle in his hand. She could smell the intense alcohol on him from where she was at. She glanced over at Mary who's nose was wrinkled, letting her know that she could smell it as well. Ririka shook her head, never understanding how humans allowed themselves to become so intoxicated like that. At least he still appeared to be aware of his surroundings; that was far better than some of the other humans Ririka would encounter late at night.
The drunk man looked up briefly at the two women, his eyes widening and a smirk making its way to his face. He raised his arm out as if to reach out and touch them even though they were several feet away. Mary rolled her eyes at him, ready to shout something at him, but was surprised to feel Ririka's arm wrap around her waist and gently tug her until she was pressed against her.
Mary blushed and looked over at Ririka whose expression was dark and almost... possessive. If looks could kill, the man would have been dead by Ririka's stare alone. He muttered something incoherent, but Mary couldn't hear him over her heart beat pounding in her ears.
As they got out of the alley, Ririka finally noticed Mary's rampant heartbeat and grew concerned that the looks the man gave them frightened her. Not that it should have; a vampire and a werewolf up against a measly human would have been an easy and rather unfair fight. At least he was gone now and would likely move on to some other part of town.
"Are you alright?" Ririka asked softly.
Mary was more than alright. "Y-yes, but uh... your grip is a little tight."
Ririka instantly let go of her. "I'm so sorry! I hope I didn't hurt you, I just really did not like the way that man was looking at us... at you."
The loss of contact made Mary frown slightly, but she didn't say anything. It made her question why Ririka did it in the first place. Was she trying to silently convince the man that they both weren't an option to have in whatever erotic fantasy he was having while undressing them both with his eyes? Or was she trying to indicate that they were a couple even though they weren't? She didn't know, but she couldn't deny how her heart leapt when she felt Ririka's arm snake around her waist and she wanted to feel it again.
"I didn't like it either," Mary agreed. "We know which one of us he was really looking at though."
"Not me," Ririka stated in confusion.
"Yes you, you idiot," Mary snickered. "You're... a lot prettier than I am."
Ririka scoffed. "Personally, I beg to differ. Regardless, I did not appreciate his energy in the slightest."
"Me neither," Mary sighed. "Let's hope we don't run into him after dinner."
Ririka nodded. "Agreed."
This was the first time Mary had been to a pub. The interior was a bit what she expected; the flat screen television and pool table was definitely something she expected to see. In all honesty, this place appeared to be more of a lounge than a bar. She was surprised Ririka knew about it. Then again, Ririka probably remembered when the pub first opened, so it made sense she knew it existed. Mary glanced at the sign on the wall which said the pub was: "Open since 1969". Yes, Ririka was certainly around when it was first established.
Mary chuckled upon seeing their waiter who became very flustered in their presence. Ririka seemed to be oblivious of his reddening cheeks when he sat them down to their table. He actually reminded Mary of her friend Ryota back at Hyakkaou. He even had the same hair and eye color. It would have been an interesting coincidence if they were related.
Mary ended up ordering a chicken salad, refusing to order anything too expensive since she knew Ririka was most likely going to offer to pay for her meal. The man seemed insistent that Ririka ordered something as well, to which she only ordered water. When he returned with their drinks, he asked her one final time to which she refused once again before he left the two alone.
"Why order water if you're not gonna get anything at all?" Mary questioned, taking a sip from her tea.
Ririka grinned. "Well, I'd rather not raise any unnecessary suspicion."
"Won't it be suspicious if you don't drink any of it?" Mary scoffed. "Can you even drink water?"
Ririka gave a gentle nod and took a long swig from the ice water, making sure Mary could hear her swallow it. She then wiped her mouth with her napkin and placed the beverage back onto the table.
"Yes," Ririka answered. "It doesn't do anything to my body. It does not provide any nourishment which means I don't need it to survive, but I can still drink it."
"Wait so... you don't sweat it out or use the bathroom either then?" Mary asked curiously.
"Not exactly," Ririka chuckled. "Blood is our only form of nourishment that we survive on, but we don't have a need to expel any... wastes. Our bodies are not capable of doing so anymore anyway. Interestingly enough though, we still can produce tears, saliva, and venom. Even our hair and nails still grow, just at a much slower pace. I've never understood how that's possible, honestly."
That was new to Mary. Though she was now technically an immortal, she knew she would be a completely different immortal than Ririka was. In some ways, she didn't mind that. She was sure going through such an intense transition like Ririka did when she became a vampire must have been extremely difficult.
"I see," Mary murmured. "I've got another question that I've been meaning to ask."
"Ask away," Ririka nodded.
"You can become invisible. Can any other vamp do that?" Mary asked quietly, making sure only Ririka could hear her.
Truthfully, Ririka herself didn't really know why she could do that. Just like she didn't know how Kirari could read minds or how so many of her family members had unique abilities of their own. And yet most vampires did not have such abilities. Ririka knew being able to step into the sunlight without burning to ash certainly was a Bami ability, but as for the other abilities... no one really knew for sure.
"I'd like to know the answer to that as well because as far as I know, I'm the only vampire who can turn invisible at will," Ririka explained calmly. "I'm not the only member of my family with such an ability though."
Mary's brows furrowed as she took another sip of tea. "What do you mean?"
Ririka thought carefully before responding. "The Obami's are known for shapeshifting. They can transform into any life form they have seen and even imitate voices perfectly. The Honebami's are known for tracking, more so than any other vampire. They can track a scent halfway across the globe and even further than that."
"That doesn't sound nearly as powerful as turning invisible though," Mary snickered. "You could really use that ability to your advantage. You're more dangerous than I realized."
Ririka shook her head. "Ah, but there are some relatives with far more dangerous abilities than I. The Mushibami family is known for control of the mind. They can make you see whatever they want you to see, usually horrific images used for torture. The Inbami's have venom more potent than any other vampire's in the sense that it can paralyze another vampire in minutes and can last for several days or weeks even. They are even rumored to have their venom embedded in their nail roots so whenever they scratch someone, they also receive venom. So yes, my ability has its perks but it isn't nearly as dangerous as some of my... cousins abilities."
That was quite a bit to take in. Mary knew vampires were insanely strong, fast, and resistant, but the Bami clan took being a vampire to a whole other level. And those were just a few examples Ririka gave; it didn't even scratch the surface of exploring the hidden secrets of the hundred devouring families. Mary assumed Ririka must have thought she wouldn't have cared about these names and in turn would have forgotten them, but Mary made sure to remember each of these family names and who to avoid in the future in case she ever came across one of them.
Even so, the fact that Ririka was even telling her these things showed that she trusted her. It showed that there was no turning back. Mary realized that because she imprinted on Ririka, she had practically entered the domain of vampires for life. She wasn't sure if she was glad she was a werewolf instead of a human in this situation or not. Being a werewolf amongst a coven, an empire, of blood sucking demons was basically suicidal. But there was no turning back. She knew too much and the bond she shared with Ririka was one she couldn't break.
"God damn, that's terrifying," Mary muttered. "And all of these humans are just walking around and are clueless that creatures like the Bami's exist."
"You have no idea," Ririka chuckled darkly. "We are by all means, the perfect predator. I believe I've mentioned before that everything about us invites you in. Our looks, our voice, even our smell attracts humans and apparently sometimes even beasts like werewolves who are supposed to be repelled by us."
Mary's heart nearly stopped upon hearing that. Just how much did Ririka already know? What exactly did she mean by that?
"Uh, what do you mean?" Mary asked cautiously.
Ririka shrugged. "Well, I'm mainly thinking of Kirari and Sayaka. For some reason, Sayaka clings to Kirari like a love-sick puppy, no pun intended. She claims Kirari and her scent is irresistible yet she cannot stand the scent of any other vampire. She says she tolerates me though. I'm still puzzled by it."
Well that explained a lot. Mary had heard of the rumors all throughout the school about Sayaka imprinting on the President, but this pretty much confirmed it for her. If Sayaka wasn't such a stiff and practically worshiped the ground Kirari walked on, Mary might have approached her to ask for advice or maybe even attempt to become friends or at the very least allies. After all, both of them had imprinted on a Momobami. That was one thing they had in common.
Mary hoped she wouldn't get as overprotective and possessive as Sayaka. She knew that as time went on, her feelings for Ririka would only grow stronger both because of the imprinting and her own personal emotions. She just wondered if she too would eventually become a love-sick puppy, following Ririka everywhere she went. If she was being honest, she already was. But she had a feeling it would only get worse with time. Much, much worse.
"I-is that so?" Mary laughed nervously.
"So it seems," Ririka nodded. "Now, anymore questions?"
The blonde thought briefly. Nothing really came to mind for her at the moment. Nothing that didn't sound like an invading question like how many humans Ririka had killed or what it was like for her to be turned into a vampire. Perhaps just one more...
"Hm... I have been wondering how you and the President stay in the area without anyone noticing that you guys don't age," Mary pointed out.
Ririka gave her a sad smile. "Well, most of those we know will be dead in a few decades, so no harm done really. If questions are raised and humans grow suspicious, we will just go into hiding for a while and wait until those people have passed away."
That was a rather depressing thought to consider. Mary realized that all she would live to see her entire family die. Not to mention all of the friends she made at Hyakkaou who were werewolves; she would watch as they would slowly age each and every day, grow old and die. That was something she couldn't do now. Itsuki, Ryota... Mary would live on frozen in time as they turned old and grey after living a fulfilling life. Almost everyone she knew or loved would eventually die as she lived on. Now she understood why vampires kept to themselves and didn't really enjoy friendships or relationships, why Ririka once told her she didn't really have any friends.
"That's honestly really depressing," Mary breathed out.
"It is," Ririka sighed; her eyes looked distant. "Now please don't take this the wrong way, but because of what I said is exactly why I'm desperately trying not to grow too attached to you. But... it's getting really hard, Mary. I've grown quite fond of you."
Mary couldn't take that the wrong way even if she tried. In fact, her heart swelled with great joy, but she also felt conflicted. Ririka didn't know about her secret and Mary wasn't sure now was the best time to tell Ririka about the whole imprinting thing. It was long, complicated, and Mary still hadn't figured it all out yet. She knew Ririka would want and expect a full explanation which she just couldn't give yet.
Mary pretended to not care. "So, how exactly should I feel about that? Do you not wanna be friends anymore or something?"
Ririka's eyes widened and she quickly shook her head. "No, no, of course not! I knew what I was setting myself up for when I agreed to be your friend. It's just... I'm afraid."
"Scared of the day I'll die?" Mary questioned.
"Yes," Ririka nodded slowly. "I don't want that day to ever come. To you, that day seems so far off in the future, but to a creature like me... it will arrive in the blink of an eye."
"Not," Mary paused, choosing her words wisely. "Not necessarily."
Ririka stared at her in confusion. "What's that supposed to mean?"
"Well, there are rare instances of werewolves who can stop aging," Mary explained. "A very specific and special event has to happen in order to do so. And I uh... I just so happened to experience that event. I stopped aging right after it happened pretty much. So this means I'll be eighteen forever. Just like you."
"So, you're basically telling me that you're an immortal? An immortal werewolf?" Ririka repeated slowly, trying to process the thought.
Mary shrugged. "I guess so. I can still die from injury or something, but I won't die from aging."
Ririka had never heard of such a thing. Every single werewolf she had ever encountered always eventually died from old age. Sure, she had met some that had died a bit later in life than the average human, but the point in fact was, werewolves aged just like humans did. So why and how was Mary different?
"You must be messing with me," Ririka murmured.
"Why would I lie to you?" Mary frowned.
"I...It's just difficult to believe," Ririka sighed. "I've never met a werewolf who stopped aging. It just doesn't happen."
"Well, I thought so too," Mary huffed. "But like I said, a specific and special event has to happen in order for a werewolf to stop aging."
Ririka raised an intrigued brow at her. "And what event would that be?"
Mary's thoughts halted. "It's... private. I can't really talk about it. Not yet at least."
"Oh. I see," Ririka hummed and looked up as the waiter dropped off Mary's salad.
The pair didn't talk too much as Mary ate her meal. Ririka seemed to be spacing out as she watched Mary eat, but Mary paid no mind to it. She knew what Ririka was thinking about and felt slightly guilty that she couldn't tell her anything yet. She decided that once or if Ririka developed romantic feelings for her, that's when Mary would tell her. It would make things easier and far less intense or awkward.
Once the blonde finished her food and the bill was brought, she noticed Ririka fishing around in her pocket for something. She smirked as she watched the older immortal struggle and eventually sigh in frustration.
"Forgive me," Ririka whispered. "I seemed to have left my wallet at the estate. Is it possible you could pay now and I can pay you back later?"
"Considering I was the only one who ate, shouldn't I be the one paying anyway?" Mary chuckled.
"I suppose, but I brought you here and intended on paying," Ririka frowned.
Mary waved her off. "Don't worry, I'll pay."
She reached into her own pocket, searching for some loose cash or her wallet, only to remember she left her wallet in the car since she was honestly expecting Ririka to pay.
"What's wrong?" Ririka asked.
Mary groaned. "Hand me the car keys. I left my wallet in the front seat."
"Would you like me to go get it?" Ririka offered.
"Nah, that's alright. I'll get it," Mary denied but smiled at the offer.
With that, Mary stood up and headed towards the exit. Once outside, she took a long sigh and walked back towards the alley to get to the car. Unexpectedly, the drunk man they had encountered earlier was still there, except this time he wasn't alone. Now there were two other men with him, both reeking of alcohol.
Mary muttered a curse under her breath when the men took notice of her and blocked her way.
"The fuck do you want?" Mary scowled at them.
"Come on, gorgeous, don't be like that," one of the men slurred.
"Let me see a smile," another said, reaching for her hair.
"Don't touch me!" Mary growled, slapping his hand away. "Now get out of my way. I don't want any trouble."
"We like a girl who plays hard to get," the original drunk guy smirked. "Why don't you stay for a while and have a little fun?"
Mary felt one of the man from behind her grope her rear, to which she swiftly turned around and struck him in the face. The man's nose threatened to bleed and his expression looked angered. Without warning, he swung and hit Mary's jaw only to scream in agony, holding his hand while the blonde remained unfazed.
"What the fuck?!" he screamed, staring at his quickly swelling knuckles.
'Never punch a werewolf in the jaw, bastard,' Mary thought. "I told you not to touch me. Now leave me alone!"
"Fucking cunt!" the original drunk man bellowed, reaching out to grab her.
Mary inhaled, preparing for the worst. All three of these men were incredibly intoxicated and likely wouldn't remember if Mary phased into her wolf form. It would certainly scare them off, however, there were still a couple complications. By phasing, she would be extremely vulnerable and prone to being seen. Not to mention when she phased back to her human form, she didn't have any spare clothes. Perhaps phasing wasn't the best idea.
She didn't have time to make a final decision however, as she suddenly saw two of the men suddenly drop to the ground while the leader of the group was lifted in the air by none other than Ririka. She held the man with one hand by his collar, her seething cerulean eyes staring intensely into his fearful ones. The other men instantly bolted upon seeing this, not that they could ever outrun a vampire. Fortunately for them, Ririka only had one target in mind.
Mary was shocked to see the vampire, she hadn't seen her coming. Well, of course she didn't. It's near impossible to see a vampire coming at full speed. Ririka probably left to make sure she got to the car and back safely. And it's a good thing she did. Not that Mary couldn't have handled three intoxicated humans who could barely speak anything legible.
"W-what are you?" the man gasped for breath.
"I have never understood men like you," Ririka spat coldly. "Men so undeserving to live. Pathetic. Give me one reason why I shouldn't take your miserable life."
Now the man looked even more afraid. "I... Let me go, you fucking-!"
Ririka didn't let him finish. Instead, she lowered him to the ground and sank her teeth into the flesh of his neck, instantly stopping any more words from forming. The man's eyes bulged and his face turned pale. He grasped for Ririka's throat, but was too weak to reach it.
Mary’s eyes widened in horror. “Ririka… I-I think you're killing him.”
Ririka could faintly hear Mary’s voice; it brought her back to reality. Mary wasn’t telling her to stop necessarily, but she was reminding her that she had a choice. It didn’t matter how much she despised this person, he was still a living being. But she knew it was much too late; her venom was already in his system. If she stopped now, he would turn into a vampire within minutes. If she didn’t stop, she would kill him. Personally, she wasn’t sure which fate was worse.
She retracted her fangs with a gasp, watching the man crumble to her feet. The man was no longer conscious, but Ririka could hear his heart beating just barely. She knew the moment her fangs left his flesh, the transformation began. Perhaps it was a good thing he was unconscious. The pain he would have been going through would have been excruciating had he been awake and would have most certainly drawn attention.
“Ririka,” Mary’s voice called out from behind her.
The vampire could feel tears welling up in her eyes. She couldn’t bear to face Mary and see her expression. She was positive Mary either hated her or was terrified. Most likely both.
Ririka jumped when she felt a gentle hand grip her shoulder. Slowly she turned around, grimacing when she saw Mary. Yet Mary didn’t look scared or angry. She looked oddly calm.
“I... I’m sorry you had to witness that,” Ririka whispered.
Mary gave a light smile and walked over to her, brushing her thumb against Ririka’s lips to wipe the blood away. “I understand, in a sense, but… I’m glad you didn’t kill him.”
“I almost did,” Ririka sighed. “I would have killed him had you not said anything.”
“But you didn’t,” Mary reminded her. “I’m sure that took a lot of restraint.”
Ririka shook her head, feeling her tears flow freely. “The fear in his eyes… he knew he was staring into the eyes of a predator. A monster.”
Mary sighed and took a step closer. “You are a predator, but that doesn’t make you a monster.”
“I’ve killed people, Mary,” Ririka hissed in protest, turning away. “The things I’ve done makes me a monster. The complete lack of restraint I just showed proves it. I could have killed him easily. I wanted to.”
Mary hesitantly reached out, lightly gripping onto Ririka’s ice cold hand. She felt the vampire flinch from her touch and quickly turned to face her once more. Her cerulean eyes looked at her in confusion, searching for something.
“I used to think like that too; I’m not innocent by any means either,” Mary sighed. “But from one predator to another, I’m telling you you’re not a monster. Not for this.”
Ririka wanted to believe her, she really did. But she couldn’t help but feel disgusted with herself, especially since she changed this man's life forever. All for a drunken decision he made or rather also could have made; albeit a deplorable one at that. She could have killed him, but a part of her didn’t want to. A part of her wanted him to change and experience everything she had ever felt in her time as an immortal, suffer what she suffered.
“When I saw him, I just felt so angry,” Ririka murmured. “I feel very protective of you. Seeing those men, seeing him touch you... it infuriated me.”
"I wasn't too thrilled either," Mary snorted. "But thanks for saving me."
"I should have done it differently," Ririka whispered. "But I don't regret saving you."
"Maybe we should get back to the estate?" Mary suggested. "I’d hate to stick around when he wakes up. If he wakes up.”
Ririka looked down at the unconscious man. “If he wakes up, he won’t really be alive anymore. He'll be a predator frozen in time like I am."
Yes so. I am not good with writing fight scenes and it shows... but this had to happen to help them grow closer.
Chapter 8: Ancient Sins
Heyo! So this will be going over A LOT of Ririka and Mary's past, so you may wanna pay attention to this chapter!
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
The two got into the car and sat in an unnerving silence as Ririka drove away. Ririka briefly glanced over at Mary, desperate to know what she was thinking. She needed to know. More importantly, she needed to know why Mary was so calm about this entire situation. The blonde looked as though she was contemplating, perhaps still processing what had just happened. Ririka herself was still trying to process it.
This was the first time she had ever turned a human. Well, that was assuming he survived the process. Not everyone did. Perhaps that's what made her most guilty, never knowing if he would live or die. Though if he did survive and become a vampire, his new life wouldn't really be living. Ririka never could say her life as a vampire was anything compared to when she was really alive.
She remembered the very day where she drew her final breath as a mortal. Her eighteenth birthday in the year 1703 was certainly a day to remember; thankfully she had her twin right by her side to endure the same pain she went through. Parts of her memory was hazy due to the amount of time it's been since it happened and because of relative memory loss during the transformation. She mainly remembered being trapped in the cellar beneath the Momobami estate, writhing in pain as venom overtook every vessel and vein in her body. Needless to say, she and Kirari got very used to each other's screams of agony, even if it was for a few minutes. It was the first time either had ever cried and screamed at the top of their lungs in front of each other; Ririka wasn't sure if the transformation or hearing the pained cries of her younger sister was more painful.
And then came a new type of pain when they awoke as an immortal: thirst. The searing pain in their throats as if they had gone weeks without a drop of water while in the blazing heat of a desert was the best way Ririka could describe it. And even then, it was far worse. They were not allowed to leave the cellar until they were fed, so they both took their first life when two human peasants were thrown into the cellar with them. Soon, new screams were heard, but not from the twins. From their prey. Ririka felt horrible when her teeth latched around the throat of someone who was unaware that they were about to die, but as soon as the blood touched her lips, her mind went blank and the hunt set in. She cursed her life, her very existence, as soon as the body in front of her took it's final gasp for breath and fell to her feet as a lifeless corpse. It was a harsh reminder that her life as a human was over, nothing more but a shadow of her past. She also knew that her prior self was dead, died the moment she took her first life.
Both she and Kirari were born to eventually become vampires, the next heirs of the Momobami clan; it was unavoidable for both of them. It was common knowledge that once a human turned into a vampire, they no longer had the capability to reproduce; hence why the only way to become a vampire was to be bitten into existence. In reality, the twin's biological parents were human slaves to the clan, people who were disposable. Their adoptive parents had perished in a battle for territory which meant they were next in line to become head of the clan.
Their grandmother had grown tired of her five hundred years of existence, so she planned for one of the twins to take over when they turned eighteen and once that happened, she herself would die; it was her right. Once a Bami leader had served in a leadership position for at least half a millennium, they had the right to die by that point.
Killing a vampire, now that was difficult part. The only way to do so was to tear it apart, limb from limb, and then burn the pieces to ash. A very gruesome way to finally die, but the Bami's took it as a ritual of honor. A "cleansing ceremony" of sorts which was incredibly symbolic for their clan. Only another head from another family was permitted to go through with this ritual; anyone else who tried would meet the same fate.
The day Ririka and Kirari became immortals, they also had to witness the death of their grandmother. All they could do was stand by and watch as she was ripped to pieces and turned into dust. Though they both were relieved she could finally rest in peace since no person was ever meant to live so long, it was also painful to witness since they deeply cared about her. Neither denied that It was the darkest day of their lives; neither ever spoke of it to each other or anyone else after it happened, but still had the painful memory replay in their minds for many decades after.
Ririka didn't want Mary to ever know of her horrid past. Mary claimed that Ririka wasn't a monster, but Ririka solidly believed that if Mary had seen even so much as a glimpse into her past, the rebellious phase against her clan she had of killing humans, those words would be taken back in an instant. Yet another reason why Ririka knew she couldn't grow too attached to the werewolf, regardless if Mary was immortal. However, if there was anyone Ririka would open up to about that information, it would probably be Mary. Perhaps someday, far into the future when the two were much closer to each other.
"How are you doing?" Ririka asked the blonde, deciding to break the silence.
"How am I doing?" Mary scoffed. "How are you doing? You seem more shaken up than I am."
"I'll admit, I'm not happy with how I reacted," Ririka murmured. "I've killed humans, but this time was different. I didn't kill him, but... I ruined his life."
The car slowly came to a stop in front of the driveway to the mansion. Ririka didn't turn off the car engine and Mary had a feeling she wasn't planning on it. The two sat in silence; the only sound that could be heard was the low hum from the engine.
"I understand how it feels, Ririka," Mary offered.
"Do you?" Ririka didn't look up, but her voice sounded skeptical.
Mary inhaled deeply. She couldn't believe she was going to tell her about the incident. "Remember when I said a name in my sleep earlier? Tsuzura?"
Ririka finally looked over to her and gave a gentle nod.
"Her life was ruined because of me," Mary whispered lowly and panicked briefly when she saw the look of shock on Ririka's face. "I didn't kill her if that's what you were thinking!"
"I-I wasn't," Ririka shook her head. "I'd appreciate an explanation though. If you're comfortable with it. Can you start with telling me who she was or... is?"
Mary smiled painfully. "She was someone very close to me. One of my best friends. Like I said, she's still alive out there somewhere, but she's not in my life anymore. And that's my fault."
Most of that statement was true, except for the fact that Mary left out one important detail. Tsuzura was her first love. Mary had only known her for a couple of years in middle school. Back then, times were happier. Easier. Back when Mary couldn't transform into a giant monster.
"Was she human?" Ririka asked calmly.
Mary nodded. "Yeah. And that's partially why she's not in my life anymore. If she was a werewolf like me, well... she would have healed."
"It sounds like you hurt her," Ririka murmured.
"I did more than that," Mary chuckled darkly. "I took away something from her that she can't get back. I took her voice."
She had gotten into an argument with Tsuzura over something she honestly couldn't remember. It wasn't even that big of an issue as far as she could recall, but what she did remember was the intense heat spreading all throughout her body. It was like she had a fever, one that pumped adrenaline and anger through her veins. She felt as if at any given moment she was going to self combust, and all it took was one yell from her friend that sparked a chain reaction.
She was scared as the transformation had began. She remembered how Tsuzura kept calling her name and Mary screamed at her to stand back. But by the time Tsuzura could react, it was too late. She had gotten too close.
The next few moments happened so quickly. The scent of blood filled the air as Mary looked down at her dearest friend and the one she loved as she clutched her throat spilling with blood. Mary could see the absolute terror in her eyes as she stared up at a giant wolf that used to be her friend.
As quickly as Mary had phased, she returned to her human form. Tsuzura couldn't scream or even speak. Her vocal chords were very much rendered useless. But she could still move, and the moment her eyes locked with Mary, all she wanted to do was get as far away from her as possible. And Mary couldn't blame her. She just about slit her throat, Tsuzura had every right to be horrified.
All Mary could do was call for the paramedics and vanish right before they arrived. She couldn't bear to see the girl she loved look so afraid of her. She knew that was the shittiest thing she could have possibly done, but her legs just began running and she couldn't stop them. She didn't want to stop running either.
"Her voice?" Ririka asked.
"We got into some stupid fight, I don't even remember what it was over," Mary scoffed, tears welling in her eyes. "I wasn't aware I was a werewolf yet and I phased for the first time during the argument. She... got too close."
Ririka blinked at her, realizing what that indicated. "Oh."
"I look back on it and think about everything I could have done to avoid that. Had I done something different, who knows? She may still be my friend. She may not have moved out of the country," Mary explained somberly.
Finding out Tsuzura moved away was perhaps what killed Mary the most. She didn't leave so much as a letter or even a text message for Mary to discover. Mary had to find out through one of Tsuzura's neighbors who claimed after "the bear attack" that Tsuzura's parents decided to move somewhere far away from any wilderness. As well as where Tsuzura would be transferring to a school for the mute and deaf.
What Mary never understood is why Tsuzura never exposed her secret. Then again, who would have believed her? A girl being attacked by her best friend who transformed into a giant wolf was a story that could have sent her to an insane asylum. A bear attack while out hiking was far more believable and was probably the only thing the doctors could describe where her wounds came from.
"She used to have the sweetest voice too," Mary continued, wiping away a tear. "She wanted to become a singer and she would have. But I took that away from her."
"I'm sorry," Ririka said solemnly, reaching out to touch Mary's hand. "That must have been very hard on you."
Mary flinched when she felt cold fingers lightly touch her hand. She looked down at Ririka's hand and took it into her own, looking up at the vampire with a weak smile.
"It was," Mary confirmed. "So I do understand what you're feeling, Riri. Just... don't make the same mistake I made."
"What was that?" Ririka questioned.
"Don't let this eat at you forever. Don't push people you care about away because of this," Mary explained. "I could tell you were worried how I felt throughout all of this. You're worried I'm afraid of you now, right?"
Ririka nodded. "I don't want you to be."
"I'm not," Mary assured, giving the vampire's hand a light squeeze. "I'm not scared of you. I never have been and I never will be."
"How can you be so sure? You know I've killed people. Anyone with blood. You still have a beating heart and blood pumping through your veins, Mary. Who's to say I won't try to go after you if you get cut by something someday and I'm desperate for any blood I can get?" Ririka questioned in all seriousness.
That was something Ririka had been concerned about for a while, actually. Yes, Mary was a werewolf and the taste of werewolf blood was said to be absolutely appalling to a vampire. However, Ririka couldn't deny that Mary's scent was different than that of other werewolves. She didn't smell like a wet dog like the typical werewolf would smell like to some degree. Something about Mary was alluring to Ririka. Her scent, her smile, her... everything. The vampire knew she could never forgive herself if she let something happen to Mary because of her.
Mary leaned in close, close enough to see every intricate and perfect detail on Ririka's face. "You won't. I know you won't."
Mary said it with such certainty, it stunned Ririka how she had such confidence in her. She wanted to tell Mary she was right, but for a creature with a track record such as Ririka, she could never fully assure Mary that she wouldn't ever try to go after her blood. Especially if Ririka had gone a good while without feeding and Mary just so happened to get cut by something at the wrong time. Then it would be the ultimate gamble for whether or not Ririka would lose control and suck the life out of a girl she was utterly enamored by.
Ririka swallowed hard. "F-for your sake, I hope you're right."
"Do I make you nervous being this close? Thirsty?" Mary questioned with a smirk, leaning even closer.
Ririka had never been this close to another being before. She could see Mary's sparkling, golden eyes perfectly now, hear the sound of her heart steadily beating in her chest, smell her sweet yet earthy scent. Ririka realized then she had never met anyone quite as beautiful as Mary either. No one came close.
"No, n-not thirsty," Ririka admitted.
"Nervous then?" Mary asked, her voice just above a whisper, her arm slowly trailing up Ririka's.
Ririka's heart had stopped beating three centuries ago, yet now she felt a tightness in her chest as if her heart were about to start up again. A yearning and desire to fill the gap between them. Ririka wondered just what would have happened if she did. She wondered if Mary would push her away or pull her closer in. But she was close. So close. It would have been so easy to just let go and lean forward and-
"We should probably go inside," Ririka muttered quickly, finally shutting off the car.
A streak of disappointment briefly flashed across Mary's features, but it wasn't very noticeable. What was she expecting? Ririka to fill the gap between them and kiss her? Certainly not. Mary wasn't so sure if she was prepared to try to do that herself.
"Yeah," Mary agreed, blushing furiously.
For a few hours, the two didn't talk to each other very much. Ririka's mind was occupied with thoughts of Mary and the incident that occurred earlier that night whereas Mary's mind thought of Ririka and of the stupidity of the characters in the cheesy romance novel she was reading that she picked off of Ririka's shelf. They were in the same room, both secretly wishing one or the other would say something to strike up a conversation, but they both remained silent.
Yet, the silence wasn't uncomfortable or even awkward. In a sense, each other's presence felt natural. Comforting. When not surrounded by other people, the two were relatively quiet by nature. Mary enjoyed the peaceful silence to an extent. It was a change of pace compared to being around Itsuki or Ryota, who could never seem to remain quiet for longer than five minutes. Mary was at least grateful that the person she imprinted on was introverted and not loud or obnoxious.
Eventually, Mary decided to try to fall asleep. Like usual, Ririka sat at Mary's bedside, watching and waiting for the blonde to fall asleep. Mary's eyes remained open, feeling wide awake. She had a feeling this might have happened considering the vast amount of sleep she received earlier, so chances were, she wasn't going to get very much sleep if any at all tonight.
"All right, I can't take this," Mary grumbled, sitting up.
Ririka looked at her with curious eyes. "What's wrong, Mary?"
"I had enough sleep earlier," Mary huffed. "I won't be able to fall asleep for at least a few more hours."
"But it's midnight. I have no issue with you sleeping in, but are you sure you want to stay up?" Ririka frowned.
"I can't sleep right now. Is there something we can do? What time does that meeting of yours start?" Mary asked.
Ririka glanced over towards the clock. "In a few minutes, actually. I was going to start heading over to the conference room when you fell asleep, but... you're still awake."
"Can I attend the meeting with you? It'll cure my boredom," Mary requested.
Allowing a werewolf to listen in on private Bami clan conversations would be equivalent to treason. However, it was never strictly written in their laws that a werewolf couldn't attend if one claimed they weren't aware of their presence. Besides, Ririka was certain that Kirari had let Sayaka listen in on the family meetings on more than one occasion. No one ever found out because technically no one was there. The easiest way to communicate was through the use of radios, so none of the clan members were ever physically present. Ririka supposed Mary could join her, so long as she remained quiet.
"I doubt that," Ririka scoffed. "These conferences are dreadfully boring. You won't want to stay longer than five minutes, I'm sure."
Mary shrugged. "We'll see. So... can I?"
"I don't see why not," Ririka smiled.
The werewolf grinned toothily and pulled the covers off of her, hopping out of bed. Since they weren't leaving the estate, Ririka gave Mary permission to wear her pajamas even though she herself had to dress up. It was more ceremonial than anything else, but Mary certainly wasn't complaining seeing Ririka in a dark blue suit and tie. Though, that did make her look tacky in those pajamas as she walked with Ririka down a hall of the mansion she hadn't seen before.
"Am I even allowed to do this?" Mary asked quietly as if someone would hear her.
Ririka shook her head. "Not really. I'd probably get burned at the stake if any of my relatives discovered I let a werewolf listen in on our family secrets."
Mary stopped walking and Ririka did as well. "Why didn't you say so? I wouldn't have tagged along if I knew that!"
"Relax, I said if they found out. None of them will," Ririka chuckled, placing a hand on Mary's shoulder. "Don't worry, Kirari is just as guilty of letting Sayaka attend some of the conferences too."
"So, you both break the rules big time by letting Sayaka and I listen in," Mary snickered and they resumed walking. "Wait, do vampires even have any rules or laws?"
Ririka thought briefly. To the vampires outside of the Momobami clan, yes. There were quite a few rules that all immortals had to follow or else they would be at the mercy of the second largest vampire coven in the world who lived in Italy. Since the Momobami's kept to themselves and were significantly bigger than the other refined coven, their laws applied only to fellow clan members.
They technically didn't need to follow the laws that the average vampire would, but many of the Bami laws were similar to the other laws anyway. The two covens kept a truce that way so no wars had to occur again. The Bami's were only concerned with their own.
"Not very many. There's only a few that are regularly enforced. Keep the existence of our kind a secret, don't kill or turn humans conspicuously, do not turn a child, et cetera," Ririka explained. "Unless of course, you want to die. Then the heads of each family will happily oblige and hunt you down."
Mary's eyes widened. "This is for all of your kind?"
Ririka shook her head lightly. "No, that only applies to members of our clan. Any vampire outside of our clan faces the wrath of another coven who lives in Italy. We don't need to be concerned about them though. We follow our own laws."
"That's... good?" Mary asked more than said.
"It is good depending on where you lie in the hierarchy. Kirari and I could get away with breaking some laws and receive a punishment equivalent to a slap on the wrist," Ririka smiled. "As for some of our lower ranking members, breaking any of our laws could mean the end of their life."
"Oh, so it's still tyranny," Mary stated flatly. "Just like at Hyakkaou."
"Kirari sees it more as a monarchy, but yes, I suppose you're right," Ririka nodded in agreement. "Although, there are still laws that even Kirari and I still have to follow. The ones I mentioned are the main ones."
"So what happens if someone does break one of your laws?" Mary questioned.
The process though it sounded difficult, was actually very simple. A member of the Honebami family would track down the person in question and hand them over to the Obami family for a justice trial of sorts. If found guilty, from that point the individual would be held prisoner by the Mushibami family until the head of the Totobami family decided what punishment was deemed fit. After approval from the head of the Momobami family, the Inbami's would typically then take over and enforce the punishment which in most cases was death or banishment.
Many of the lower, lesser Bami clan members would intentionally break laws in order to become banished. However, they took an enormous risk by doing so since most punishments were dismemberment or death. Only a handful of clan members had actually been banished, a mercy from Kirari and a couple prior leaders of the clan. It was a system the clan lived by for many millenniums.
"Whoever broke the law will be hunted down, be given a trial, and then held prisoner. If found guilty, the head of the Totobami family makes a decision on what punishment they receive. Kirari must approve of it first, though," Ririka explained.
As they rounded a corner of a dim corridor, Mary saw a large door that seemed like it held great significance. Especially since there was a vampire guarding the entrance. She instantly noticed Mary and gave Ririka a confused expression. Her eyes were bright red, unlike Ririka's cool cerulean ones.
"You're not going to allow the dog to pass, are you?" she asked, sneering at the werewolf.
Mary was ready to speak her mind by being called the derogatory slur, but remained quiet as she saw Ririka walk up to the smaller vampire, looming over her. Ririka raised a brow at her in question and the smaller vampire cowered, looking away in fear.
"She is my honored guest. And do not refer to her as a dog ever again, Kokoro," Ririka commanded harshly.
There was a certain coldness to Ririka's tone that Mary recognized earlier that night when she spoke to the man she almost killed. She sounded very much like her twin, but her tone was far more sinister. Mary shivered as soon as she made the connection, realizing that Ririka's tone changed when she was greatly irritated and made a mental note to never piss her off.
Kokoro instantly knelt down at Ririka's feet. "Please forgive me, Lady Momobami."
Something was oddly familiar about this vampire. Mary thought she recognized the name and it finally hit her. This was the very first person she gambled against on her first day of attending Hyakkaou. Her hair was now differently styled and her smug smile no longer existed. Around her neck was something similar to a housepet tag, but appeared to be more of a choker than a necklace.
She knew that Kokoro became a housepet after she lost the gamble against her, but she wasn't aware that she became a servant of the Momobami's after she left the academy. She wondered what trouble she must have gotten into to get into this position.
Surprisingly, Kokoro didn't seem to remember Mary's face, so Mary kept her head low in case the vampire decided to take a closer look. Mary looked older and her hair wasn't in pigtails like usual, but her features were relatively the same. She didn't want to risk having Kokoro recognize her and cause any problems.
"You are forgiven," Ririka spoke calmly. "Now, is everything prepared inside?"
"Yes, my Lady," Kokoro nodded vigorously.
"You are free to return to your quarters then," Ririka said, dismissing her with the wave of her hand.
"Much appreciated, my Lady," Kokoro smiled before dashing away quickly.
Ririka opened the door and offered Mary to enter first. Mary was still in shock from seeing Kokoro again. Ririka followed behind her, gently shutting the door.
"Since when did Aiura work for you guys?" Mary commented, her curiosity getting the best of her.
"You know her?" Ririka asked, surprised.
"Yeah, she challenged me to a gamble on my first day when I first arrived at Hyakkaou and lost," Mary nodded.
"Hm, that explains why she challenged me to a gamble in hopes to get out of her debt," Ririka pondered aloud. "She lost very badly, of course, so now she is a servant to the Momobami clan for the next six decades in order to pay off her debt."
Mary ignored the reminder that the one she imprinted on was not only strikingly gorgeous and sweet, but at times could be absolutely terrifying. "I didn't even think you could win a gamble. You lost to me, after all."
"That wasn't a fair gamble," Ririka pointed out with a smirk. "It was snowing and I wasn't at my full capacity since I didn't feed the same day."
"Yeah, yeah, call it how you want. I still won," Mary grinned smugly. "Also, what was up with her calling you Lady Momobami? Did she think you were Kirari or something?"
"Kirari often wears her hair down like I do when we come home," Ririka explained. "Since no one can tell the difference including her, she just always assumes it's Kirari she sees."
"I can tell the difference," Mary pouted. "Must be a werewolf thing."
Ririka gave a light smile and gently nudged Mary's arm. "No, I think it's a Mary thing."
Mary blushed at that. "W-whatever. Let's just get on with this stupid conference before I get bored."
In an instant, Ririka went around all the room and turned on each radio standing on it's own podium. There were at least fifteen radios in the room that all had a plaque with a family name on it all ending with Bami. Once all the radios were fully functioning, Ririka walked over to Mary and leaned forward.
"You need to remain quiet the entire time. Do you think you can manage?" Ririka whispered into her ear.
Mary's blush traveled all the way down to her neck, leaving goosebumps in its wake. She swallowed hard and nodded.
"Good," Ririka smiled, flashing her fangs.
The vampire gracefully walked to the futon in the center of the room and sat down. She looked back at Mary and patted the seat next to her, beckoning the werewolf to sit next to her. Stiffly, Mary did as she was told and walked over before taking a seat next to her.
As voices began emitting from the radios, each one called out their names and what family they were from. Once everyone was accounted for, Ririka inhaled and exhaled deeply.
"Let us begin," Ririka spoke, imitating Kirari's voice perfectly which she had done many times before.
It started off how it always did: organized, sophisticated, and everyone took their turn to speak like proper leaders should. Each head of each family gave their annual report on feeding grounds and whether or not the humans grew suspicious of disappearances and such. There was the mention of a werewolf killing a clan member and sought for advice on what to do. There was also the occasional bickering of not being able to feed enough off of live prey which honestly sickened Ririka to hear, knowing how several of her relatives would often overfeed to the point where people began to take notice.
The only conversation that brought forth any real excitement was that a member of the Obami family had committed treason to which Ririka allowed the Inbami's to decide this persons fate. The Inbami's, of course, were all too happy to provide Ririka with what forms of torture they would use before killing the traitor. All of this was typical for at least the first half of these meetings, until things would go horribly wrong and more often than not end in fights and petty threats. Ririka sat and awaited for the chaos to ensue as it surely would.
When each head began to arrogantly boast about their accomplishments, that's when it turned into how these conferences would always end: chaotic, loud, and bitter. One family would bring up past failures which lead to a constant game of name calling and exposing flaws until the only sounds that could be heard were bickers of people all rudely talking over each other.
Ririka felt embarrassed that Mary had to witness this, but soon noticed that the blonde had actually ended up falling asleep, probably because she grew bored. If she was still awake, Ririka was certain she would have left the room due to the obnoxious complaining. She herself felt her anger build up until it just about boiled over.
"How boring," Ririka sighed, still imitating Kirari's voice as the yelling died down. "You people all bore me terribly."
Perhaps that was slightly out of character since Kirari did find it humerus to an extent whenever their family members made fools of themselves, but it was just incredibly annoying for Ririka. She was ready for this conference to end and clear her mind of it before she had to deal with it all over again the next night.
Ririka heard whispers and accusations which she would have none of. "It makes me cry, realizing you people help run my coven. The same old avarice for blood, same old empty threats, same old animosity. I'm sick of it. As your leader, I disavow all of you."
The entire room went dead quiet for a brief moment before new screams bellowed over the radios, all questioning Kirari's authority and how dare she spoke that way towards her elders. Ririka smiled darkly, holding back a laugh. These people really hadn't changed during the many years they had existed. Far too many years, in her opinion.
"If you have a problem with it, feel free to come after me with everything you've got. I'd be glad to oblige," Ririka offered and the room once again grew silent. "That's what I thought. Now, if there is nothing more you people have to share aside from bicker amongst each other, I would like to end this meeting."
There were no open objections.
"Very well then. I bid you all farewell," Ririka said calmly.
One by one, each radio shut off as each family head left her presence. All except for one radio. Ririka looked at it in question, wondering what the head of the Totobami clan could want. Typically, Hayami didn't have very much to say during conferences anymore and never really requested anything. Not like she used to many years ago. Her involvement in clan issues was far less than it used to be.
"Momobami-sama, are you still here?" Hayami spoke softly.
"Yes, I am here," Ririka responded in a far softer tone than she used towards her other family members.
A pause. "Are you alone? I'd prefer no one else to know of this for the time being."
Ririka glanced over at Mary who was still very much asleep and even lightly snoring. "I am alone."
"I have a request," Hayami said in a tired voice. "I have been walking the earth for six hundred and fifty years. Surely you can understand that I have grown weary of my existence."
Ririka immediately knew where she was going with this. "I see. Can I assume you are going to request a cleansing ceremony?"
Hayami sighed from the other side. "Indeed, it is long passed my time. I am finally ready to die the death I should have many centuries ago."
"And so you shall with honor and dignity," Ririka replied in assurance. "The Bami clan will forever be in appreciation of your services and leadership. I will arrange an appropriate date and inform the other members of this within a few weeks."
"Thank you," the ancient vampire murmured in appreciation. "And in death, my eldest daughter Terano will be taking my place as leader of the Totobami family."
Hearing Terano's name caused Ririka to flinch. She was starting to understand another reason why Hayami was going through with this now. She wasn't being misleading when she claimed she wanted to die, almost everyone knew this for a while. However, whenever a head passed on, a new head would take their place.
Ririka knew Kirari was someone Terano held a personal grudge against. Surely as soon as Terano entered this role of leadership, she would challenge Kirari's place. And Terano was not an immortal anyone would ever want to trifle with. Not even someone as powerful as Kirari.
"As you wish," Ririka nodded, even though Hayami couldn't see her. "Is there anything else?"
"No, not at the moment," Hayami responded quietly.
"Then you are free to leave," Ririka dismissed her.
Ririka heard the radio shut off and she sighed. It had been two hundred years since a family member had requested a cleansing ceremony, but it was absolutely Hayami's right to request one given the amount of time she had been forced to drain the life out of humans and walk around as a soul-less being. Ririka just felt a bit sad since Hayami had always shown Kirari and her kindness in the past, compared to the rest of their selfish, cruel relatives. Having her depart from this world was a somber thought to dwell on, but Ririka didn't judge her decision. She herself had been wanting the sweet release of death for decades.
Yet alas, she would have to wait another couple hundred years or break vampire law in order to die, but... times were a bit different now. Ririka had her very first friend and she wanted to experience the joys of life she was denied of. Perhaps Mary could help her find that joy in life once again. Her presence alone brought a smile to Ririka's face and whenever they touched, Ririka felt something flutter in her chest, so it was certainly a start. And because Mary was apparently immortal like she was, Ririka really did have all the time in the world, didn't she?
The vampire looked down at Mary and noticed that her position looked rather uncomfortable with her neck leaning back. Ririka chuckled to herself, deciding to try to wake her up so she didn't develop a crick in her neck.
"Mary," Ririka gently nudged her. "Mary, the conference is over."
The werewolf stirred slightly, but didn't open her eyes. "No, five more minutes."
Ririka shook her head and smiled. "Wouldn't you prefer the comfort of a bed?"
"It's too far," Mary groaned.
"Would you like me to carry you and take you to your room?" Ririka teased.
That caught Mary's attention. Her eyes slowly fluttered open and she gave a side glance towards the smirking vampire. Mary shrugged. "Yeah, carry me."
Ririka had totally not expected that response. She pressed her lips together in consideration. Had anyone she knew seen her with a werewolf in her arms walking through the halls of her own house, she would have very little dignity left and likely would have been teased relentlessly. Well, no one she knew was around and she could have silenced any of the servants who witnessed this and tried to spread rumors.
What harm would it do anyway? It wasn't like Mary was heavy, not for a creature like Ririka who could easily rip a tree out of its roots in the ground. The only issue that came to mind was that the gesture felt a tad... intimate. Then again, this gave her yet another opportunity to relish in Mary's warmth, so she made her final decision, scooping the smaller girl into her arms.
Mary laid her head against Ririka's cold chest, but seemed more or less unfazed. Her eyes were closed again and Ririka couldn't help but stand still for a moment, taking the time to look fondly at her.
"What are you waiting for, Ririka? Start moving," Mary murmured tiredly.
Ririka wanted to say she was simply admiring the blonde's beauty, which she completely was, but instead replied with: "May I remind you whose home this is and who is so generously taking you to bed? The least you can do is request something of me politely."
"Please start moving," Mary yawned. "Or don't. Your chest is actually pretty comfortable."
Ririka almost sputtered at that statement. Instead, she kept her mouth shut and began to walk. She was uncertain why Mary was so touchy with her and not anyone else, not that she knew of at least. Ririka knew well enough that if one of Mary's friend tried to do what she was doing, Mary would have tried to squirm out of their arms immediately. So why was she so comfortable around her? So open? It almost reminded her of how Sayaka treated Kirari.
'Perhaps Mary...' Ririka thought momentarily and instantly denied the thought, lightly shaking her head.
She would have known by now if Mary imprinted on her. And why her of all people if that were the case? It wasn't impossible, she supposed. From what she knew about imprinting, which granted wasn't very much because of what little Mary explained to her, she knew she didn't have enough knowledge on the matter to confirm her suspicions. Besides, Mary would tell her, wouldn't she? Friends aren't supposed to lie to each other after all.
Well, maybe she would interrogate Kirari or better yet Sayaka on the subject when she returned to Hyakkaou. One if not both would likely have some answers for her. For now, all she was concerned about was getting Mary into bed so she could rest peacefully.
"This is nice," Mary whispered.
Ririka slowed her steps and let those words sit in her mind. "Yes, indeed it is."
Mary nuzzled closer to the vampire and released a content sigh. Ririka felt that stirring sensation in her chest again, this time stronger than earlier. She felt an overwhelming sensation to protect Mary, but also something else. Attraction wasn't the word she wanted to use, but it was as accurate as it could get. Curse Mary and her ability to cause Ririka to feel things.
The bedroom was thankfully dark which spared Ririka the time from turning off the lights. She gently placed Mary onto the bed, noticing that she was now asleep. She then pulled the covers over her body and sat down next to her, far closer than she had the previous nights.
A part of her wanted to lay down next to her, just for the experience of it, but she felt as if that were crossing a line. That wasn't a line she was risking to cross right now out of fear of how Mary would react when she woke up. Although considering Mary had no issue with Ririka literally carrying her into bed, perhaps Ririka was overthinking things like she usually did. Maybe it wouldn't have been so bad to lay down next to her and allow her mind to wander for a while.
Ririka released a sigh, longingly looking down at the sleeping blonde. 'Someday, maybe...'
I thought I would throw in Kokoro's character because I really despised her when I read about her for the first time. This was a one time cameo for her, but I may have other Twin characters make an appearance later on as well.