Lonely In Unison
"My objective was to eliminate Kyubey before he made contact with you. Now that this has failed... I will leave you alone, for now."
Madoka swallowed as Homura turned to leave. She held herself so confidently, so strongly, and yet so distantly. But... Mami-chan's like that as well.
Madoka's shoulders fell. Is that another thing that happens when you become a Puella Magi?
Kyubey's tail waved in the air. Sayaka pulled her eyes from carefully looking at Homura's retreating back and glanced to Madoka. Noticing her downcast expression, she moved over to her and clapped a hand onto her shoulder.
"Hey, come on, Madoka. I promise to remain as cool as I am right now, even when I become a Puella Magi." She grinned at Madoka, who smiled slowly at her bravado.
"Does this mean you've decided on your wishes, then?"
, Kyubey asked.
"Ehhh?" One of Sayaka's eyebrows went up, showing her confusion, and she waved her hands before her face. "Nah, I'm just saying that. Can I get a little more time for that?"
Kyubey's eyes closed, and it nodded. "Take however long you need... Just remember that all windows close after a certain time."
Madoka clasped her hands before her chest and looked at Homura, who had almost reached the stairs. Homura-chan... Is she really an enemy?
Mami focused carefully on Homura as she left. She sighed minutely; if Homura had decided to start something, she probably couldn't have reached them in time to stop the first blow, and then—
She closed her eyes, physically forcing down the memories. Her hand went up after a moment and lifted her Soul Gem, the purple winking light emanating from it giving the 'all-clear' signal to Madoka and Sayaka. Mami's eyes opened just in time to see the two girls raise their hands in acknowledgement and watch them turn to leave the roof by the opposite door to Homura.
Now then, I believe I have someone to interrogate.
She stepped back into the shadows, emerging in Puella Magi form and reaching out with tendrils of power to track down the black-haired girl. Mami wanted a little... talk with her, before she had to return to the girls.
Homura Akemi walked along the path, one of many on the Academy's grounds. Trees lined it and gave it a peaceful tone, even as the gentle breeze swirled through them and made her hair flutter at the ends. Strange how large the campus seemed in comparison to the number of students, she thought idly.
Her body tensed as she sensed something approach. Not a creature — it was too human for that.
Mami landed easily, and let her school uniform fall back into place.
"I believe you have some questions to answer."
Homura stood back up into her straight-backed pose and turned to leave, a hint of dismissal on her impassive face.
Mami's hand went up, and she moved closer. "That is rude."
Homura stopped, and turned her head just enough to look at Mami out of the corner of her eye. "More rude, perhaps, is accosting a stranger."
"I am too familiar with you to be accused of that." Mami smiled slightly. It wasn't a nice smile — more the sort of expression you saw when something was mildly amusing and only that person realised it.
Mami lowered her hand, still bearing her ring. However, Homura cut in before she could begin.
"Why did you protect Kyubey?"
Mami's eyes hardened a fraction. "That is of no importance to you. Why are you targeting Kyubey?"
"That is of no importance to you."
Homura gazed levelly at Mami, daring her to respond. For her part, she moved her hand up and cupped her chin, closing her eyes in thought.
"May we agree to an exchange of irrelevant information?"
"..." Homura appeared to think it over. "...Very well." She shot a glance around the area, trying to detect any tricks or bystanders. "Walk alongside me. Suspicions will grow less in this manner."
Mami bowed her head to acknowledge her words, then moved to walk alongside Homura.
"I guarded Kyubey because he is the one that saved me."
"Saved you?" Mami could have sworn she saw a raised eyebrow before it disappeared again, Homura not looking at her.
"I was in a... troublesome
situation. His choice was the only choice I had left. That is why I am taking care of the two girls as well — they have the power of choice, something I didn't get." Her still-impassive, vaguely amused face bore a trace of regret.
Homura shot a glance at her, before filling the silence with words. "What kind of a situation?"
Mami's voice tightened, but she willed herself not to show it. "An accident. He gave me a chance. I was too young to realise what being a Puella really meant."
She looked at Homura. "Who changed you?"
The girl she was walking alongside fell silent for the longest time, not trusting her voice. Mami thought she had drifted off and started on another topic entirely, when all of a sudden she heard Homura speak.
Mami's mind raced. When had Kyubey found the time to form a contract with another girl? It had to have been during one of her longer missions shortly after he had taken to going walkabout — the rest of the time, the two of them had stuck together with almost obscene regularity. In some perverse way, she was jealous of Homura, feeling ever so slightly like a wife whose husband had had an affair.
She shook her head again. "I understand that being a Puella Magi wasn't what you hoped it would be." No time for dating, no friends...
"But blaming the person who began it is incorrect. Instead of trying to get revenge on Kyubey, I expect you to focus on the task that you have been given. Petty vengeance is no excuse for shirking duty."
Homura stopped walking suddenly and Mami walked on for a few steps before realising this. Her eyes hidden by her bangs, Homura stared at the ground. Just as Mami lifted her hand to reach for her, Homura looked up at her with a gaze that seemed to reverbrate with anger, even as her face twisted marginally into the first true expression Mami had seen from her.
"You. Know. Nothing
." Mami could have sworn that the faint trace of a tear glimmered in the corner of her eye. "You are nothing more than Kyubey's puppet, dancing on his strings." Homura began moving, brushing past Mami. "And you are so very alone on the ends of those strings, so much that you do not even know how to interact with your new frien—"
Mami's hand snaked out and caught Homura's shoulder, and as she turned, her free hand was moving to strike Homura in the face. Breathing far too hard for mere exhaustion, Mami's face was a rictus of rage. Homura flinched back, more from the sudden change in expression from the composed blonde girl than the impact.
Forcing herself not to activate her abilities and let out the tidal wave of rage that surged at her exiled status, Mami looked Homura in the eye.
"And you? You mistake empty vengeance for a purpose! Even if a thousand Puella are created, you will still be alone and marked out from them — as the traitor. The little girl who thought she was better than to save the world." Tears were threatening to flow now, and Mami inwardly hated herself for being so open and emotional in front of someone she didn't know. She blamed it on Madoka and Sayaka; seeing their blissful ignorance made her feel warm and she wished for them to become the same as her, if only for the company.
Her hands shook as she said her next words, and despite her iron self-control, a few small tears leaked out.
"Is that really what you want? To be alone? To be hated? Why?" Homura remained speechless as Mami's other hand went to her other shoulder and the older girl leaned on her, eyes clamped shut against the tears.
"Why fight me? Why not alongside me
?" Mami's voice went very small at her last words, and Homura didn't move. Regardless of how idiotic and brainless her intentions were, she could not leave Mami alone here.
Her arms, still at her sides as Mami cried silently and desperately into her, went awkwardly around Mami's back and her eyes closed in sympathy.
After the eternity that it took for Mami to recover, Homura felt the uniform she wore be clenched in Mami's hands.
"You will not interfere with me. You will not approach Kyubey. You. Will. Not. Exist. In. My. World," Mami hissed into her ear, and released her to stand up straight.
Or tried to. Homura still clutched her around the back, and wouldn't let go.
In Homura's head, a thousand thoughts were fighting for dominance. Kill her now? Tell her? Convince her? Leave her alone?
Crush her spine? Leave her alone? Why could she not have been contacted earlier? She already hated Kyubey in her own way: How hard could it be to open her eyes and let her see what had to be done?
She already knew the answer. She was alone by choice; Mami wasn't. The girl would not — could not — should not believe her. Her stakes in this were far too high. She wasn't an option.
Mami finally felt Homura's arms slacken and stood back up, her tears having given her a small red tinge to each eye. She stood back up and tried as best she could to return her expression to its previous state.
This didn't happen. I didn't do this.
She turned away from Homura without another word.
I'm still alone. She wouldn't have made for a good ally .
And walked away down the path, leaves rustling in the wind as her hands went around her stomach.
She chose this path. She knew it would bring her against me and she chose it.
So why had it felt like Homura had held her just that little bit tighter right before she'd let go, as if she wanted to be there for a little while longer?
ANNNNNGST. It buuuurrrrrns. So sue me, I'm in a pissy mood.