For a beat, nobody moves. Everyone is too shocked to move.
The medic team, at their patient being assaulted right in front of their eyes. Merlin, at the audacity of one of the candidates–one of the friendliest candidates–assaulting their Vongola ally. Vanessa, at her own actions.
Her eyes widen and her hands fly over her own face in horror and disbelief.
Tetsuki tongues at the inside of her cheek, checking for blood.
Yes, she’s a Lightning Flame user and yes, she nearly always is reinforcing her own body and yes, it’s not as if it was a Sun Flame powered punch to the face–which she has been on the receiving end far too frequently to count–but still. She wasn’t expecting it.
“Adrenaline makes people act strangely,” she says, to put everyone at ease, which only sort of works.
Merlin at least, can be assured that Vongola won’t take this as a slight, and some members of the medic team stop fluttering around her to check on the other candidates.
“That was stupid and beyond reckless and suicidal!” Vanessa shouts–she probably means to be berating, but her breaths are hitching and she looks like she’s about to start crying.
Tetsuki shifts in her seat, uncomfortable.
Jamal leans against the stretcher, casual as can be, and says, “You didn’t have to go that far to win our race. Bit dangerous, innit?”
She shrugs, rubbing her hands over her knees which ache less than all the seiza from an archery tournament. “I had a parachute,” she responds instead. Actually, now that she thinks of it… “We all had parachutes.”
Now it’s Merlin’s turn to look uncomfortable.
“That’s not the point, Azuma!” Vanessa shouts, and it takes another moment for it to click.
Kyoko’s right: her social skills really have deteriorated.
“I’m sorry for worrying you,” Tetsuki apologizes, before reaching out and gently slapping Vanessa’s face. Blood for blood is a mafia custom, but this is far more benign than that. “We’re friends now, right?”
After another stunned silence, Jamal starts laughing.
A/N: just a small thing… I guess the Ask Box Author’s Cut event is over?
She gets a package in the mail, simultaneously surprising and not.
Of course her Family would send her stuff, even if the things are more practical than their appearance–the headband does not have cat ears, thankfully, but it does have a rather large bow tilted at a jaunty angle, and the gleaming silver dress is made of the same material as her armor. How strange.
What’s surprising is that Kingsman would let her receive mail at all. She’d chalk it up to special Vongola ally privileges, but the other candidates that remain are also eagerly opening boxes of their own. She thought the trials would mean zero communication, but she supposes not everyone can just vanish off the face of the earth for a few months without people getting worried.
Being a Vongola Guardian has really skewed her sense of normal behavior.
“How cute! I wish my sister had sent me something like that,” Vanessa says, spotting the contents of her box from one bed over. As the number of candidates decrease, the sleeping arrangements change. Those who have been swayed towards Tetsuki’s side have migrated towards the door, closer to her choice of bed, while those who still have issue with her very existence stay away.
She’s pleased to see that other side dwindle, though her own has suffered a few losses as well. She expects that number to drop even further today: they’re jumping out of an airplane.
As the door opens, wind blustering, blue sky revealed to the candidates, Tetsuki takes a moment to ponder.
With enough Lightning Flames hardening her armor and her body, could she survive a fall from this height?
Surely there must be some limit to Dying Will Flames, and yet, the fact that she can even consider it makes it almost feasible. Perhaps she herself does not have powerful enough Lightning Flames, but someone else–such as Lambo–very well might.
Actually, maybe that explains how he’s able to withstand so much abuse.
“Scared?” some white boy sneers at her, she can’t really tell them apart. Nathaniel is the only one she knows by name and that’s because he keeps hovering. How he’s gotten this far without knowing how to swim is, frankly, a mystery.
“No,” she says simply, before tuning him out. Sure there’s a possibility that she’s snubbing a future Kingsman knight, but he and his friends have been harassing a current Vongola Guardian so ignoring him is really the best outcome Kingsman could hope for. And she very well hopes Merlin and Arthur have better taste in knights than that.
Jamal, on her other side, nudges her with an elbow. “Race you?” he asks, smile curving his cheek.
“Okay,” she says with an agreeable shrug; she and Ryohei did always do better when they made a competition out of things.
Then she jumps.
Having jumped first and in a more aerodynamic stance means that, when Merlin breaks news that someone is missing a parachute, she’s far closer to the ground than everyone else.
Babbling and panicking ensue. It’s all in English though, so it’s easy enough to ignore.
Some candidates, forgetting the objective of the test, pull open their parachutes far above the mark. Sadly, that includes two of her own–Nathaniel and Abjit–but she’s not terribly surprised. If being a knight is anything like being a Guardian, they weren’t suited for it. But Vongola has other roles, surely Kingsman is the same.
It’s at this point where the chatter on the line has gone repetitive, Azuma, Azuma, which is kind of annoying until Tetsuki remembers that’s her.
“What?” she responds, just to make them stop.
“You have to slow down!” Vanessa says, which is less galling, at least if anyone else had said it. The only men she takes orders from are all men she remembers as embarrassing, gangly teenagers. And even then it’s more like agreeing with their suggestions than following orders. “We’ve all paired up so if one of us is missing our chute the other has one, but you’re going too fast for Jamal and I to reach you!”
She can see the target, now, a small circle in the grass with the letter K. She kind of likes it, it could stand for either Kaiza or Kusakabe; maybe when the trials are over she’ll ask for a pair of cufflinks to give as a present to Tetsuya.
“I’m fine,” she says, instead, and waits until she’s a little bit closer to pull open her parachute. She’s never gone skydiving before, she’s not sure how accurate she’ll be in landing within the target–better to wait until the last second, surely?
She judders to a halt in the circle, knees aching somewhat even though she’s reinforcing herself with Lightning Flames. Which answers part of her question, at least.
Merlin and what looks like a team of medics come running out of the mansion.
Tetsuki glances upward, she doesn’t think anyone got hurt up there, but she wasn’t really paying attention. She walks out of the circle, dragging her parachute with her, leaving the target empty. No sense in ruining the actual candidates’ chances.
By the time Vanessa and Jamal land–both of them with parachutes–Tetsuki is indulging the medic team by sitting on stretcher and letting them look at her; they’re not Kyoko, but she knows better than to mess with medics.
Vanessa, a wind blown, tear streaked mess, marches shakily towards them and punches her in the face.
So, um, it’s been a while since I wrote The Green Knight and I had to reread it in order to remember what I was doing there. Maybe I’ll resume it after I watch the sequel (or maybe it’ll joss me terribly) so this was an interesting writing exercise. So thanks, anon!
Merlin is old enough to remember the last time Kingsman interacted with Vongola. He hadn’t been Merlin then, just one of many technicians with the unfortunate luck to be Harry’s–Galahad’s–friend.
Which means he was as much on the field as Harry, as much witness to the bloody wreckage that Vongola had wrought.
Arthur–Chester–hadn’t wanted to do anything. Hadn’t wanted to talk, much less fight, with Italy’s most powerful famiglia–had let that terrible crime go uncontested, unavenged.
Merlin had never met Vongola’s Nono, but he had heard of his reputation: a kind smile hiding a merciless, cutthroat mind.
He thinks–hopes, more like–that Vongola’s Decimo is not the same.
He walks away from the meeting bewildered, but tentatively optimistic.
“They’re children,” says Harry–Arthur, now, and how strange that is to think–and he’s not wrong, Kingsman is much reduced from Chester’s and Valentine’s actions. Merlin and Harry are the only ones left from the old guard, and they’re scrabbling to fill in the rest of the ranks as quickly as they can, but even still…
Vongola’s tenth generation are younger even than Galahad and Lancelot.
“Young does not mean easily led,” Merlin cautions, “or inexperienced.”
From what he’s heard Vongola has only become more powerful since the Decimo’s inheritance.
Galahad–Eggsy, that is–is the one who brings up the idea.
The knights that remain are being run ragged, Kingsman is long overdue to begin trials for more knights, but there aren’t enough knights to propose enough candidates. Without more candidates, trials can’t be held to get more knights.
A vicious cycle.
Even worse, if the current knights propose single candidates, the pool of competitors is less which means the quality goes down. If they propose multiple candidates, then in future trials their proposals won’t be their top picks… meaning their quality goes down.
They need knight quality competitors who don’t actually want to be knights.
“Vongola didn’t seem too bad,” Galahad says, when Merlin brings up the issue. Arthur favors the boy, but Merlin isn’t exempt of that either, “Isn’t that what alliances are for?”
He’s not wrong.
The Fulmine that Merlin first met was, in one word, sharp.
The Vongola cohort had been undeniably powerful despite their age and lack of professionalism, their uniform suits which they wore almost reluctantly. But while the gentlemen had been earnest and engaged, Fulmine looked every bit as lethal as her confirmed hit count and ready to attack if needed.
The Fulmine–the Azuma-san–that Merlin meets for the Gawain trials is both the same and nothing at all like that.
If there is a message being sent, he is not sure what it is.
After he’s sent the candidates away, Merlin takes a closer look at the punching bag Azuma-san punctured.
It wasn’t worn out, bulletproof fabric still new, and yet she hadn’t had a weapon with her. Just her bare hands.
He thinks he is on the edge of understanding something terribly dangerous.
Check out the Ask Box Author’s Cut event!
The next few weeks are somehow boring considering she’s participating in the recruitment of a secret vigilante spy agency. Well, perhaps boring isn’t the right term, more like… lackluster. She admits that most of it’s her own fault–she’s been tuning out during the verbal parts of the various lessons–part of it because, again, language barrier, but if she’s going to be honest it’s also just because she doesn’t care.
She’s not actually in the running to become a Kingsman knight, so a lot of the lectures just… don’t apply. And anyway, especially with both contacts in, Vongola can record whatever they want of her transmission and analyze it for later. There’s no audio aspect–though apparently Shouichi-kun is working on modifying Haru’s rather embarrassing cat-ear headbands into something more… discrete–but they probably have a lip-reader in Vongola… maybe. They could probably add it to Lambo’s near-infinite list of linguistic talents.
But, yeah, the talking. She let’s it fly over her head. The physical aspects are easy enough to mimic from the other candidates around her–especially with Nathaniel’s well-meaning hovering–and even if her specialties are archery and kusari-fundo, Vongola’s not going to have an assassin that doesn’t know how to use guns. Or knives. Or explosives.
The point is, it’s all stuff she doesn’t need to know or already knows, so it’s boring.
Even the sparring is kind of dull; most of the recruits are from the British military and trained in the same combat styles maybe some private training mixed in like university-level fencing or wrestling. The only exceptions being herself and Jamal, who fights better in enclosed spaces, using walls and fences like the ground just happened to be vertical, pulling in close to his opponents so they have less space to maneuver.
In contrast, she prefers distance. Which, well, made sense considering she was a mid to long range fighter. But even with hand-to-hand combat, she’s better with distance. It may sound strange considering her short reach and the fact that hand-to-hand combat implies closeness, but maybe that’s why. For her, it was either a last resort, or it was intimate.
Either an enemy had somehow made it past her other defenses and needed to be taken out immediately… or it was her and Ryohei as children, eagerly showing off what they had learned from their separate martial arts clubs, or it was her teaching Kyoko and Haru how to defend themselves, or it was her playing around with Kyoko’s trainees, helping to mould the new Vongola into one that wouldn’t need an assassin for a Guardian.
Which, probably explained why she did what she did.
“Morto,” she murmurs, just as the side of her hand touches her opponent’s neck. Then she pulls it back and darts away before his punch comes anywhere near her.
Then she goes back in, deflecting his arm with a punch to the elbow, before resting her other fist against his chest lightly. “Morto,” she says again, then retreats once more.
She continues to do this for another three taps, enraging her opponent further, until Merlin decides to put him out of his misery.
“Disengage,” he says, unnecessarily, since there’s already several yards between the two fighters.
Her opponent, near nonvocal with fury, kind of… growls in her direction. Which, considering the people she works with on a daily basis, is so nonthreatening that she can’t help the smirk.
“Peter, if you would control your temper,” Merlin admonishes before turning to her, “Azuma-san, I expected you’d have the courtesy to be serious,” he says, so stoically that she can’t help but let the smirk drop.
Then, she gets angry.
Her Dying Will Flame, much like her fellow Guardians’, was triggered by a Dying Will Bullet from Reborn’s gun. Her regret had been that she had allowed him to shoot her. Her Flames do not appear to protect, or from enthusiasm, or from confidence. They appear when she’s angry. Specifically, when she’s angry at men patronizing her.
Merlin does not get to be disappointed in her. She was holding back but she wasn’t mocking. She holds back because–“This is what happens when I’m serious,” she says, striding next to the rows of punching bags hanging in the gym. Kingsman has a very well-stocked facility, beyond top of the line equipment, made to withstand the peak human strength of their very fit knights and recruits. The heavy bags are made of the same bullet resistant fabric as their very dapper suits.
But Lightning sharpens, hardens. She is not like Lambo who has enough Flames to harden the very air into a shield. She cannot spark a series of explosions to ignite an entire room, or create entire fantastical and physical worlds in seconds. But what she can do is enough.
With Flame enhanced fingertips, she jabs in. No extra force from her hips or abdomen, just shoulder and arm and mystical internal energy. She makes it all the way through, beyond her elbow even. When she tugs her arm out, sand trickles from the gaping hole.
When the haze of angry green falls away from her vision, she sees the shocked faces of her fellow candidates. The wondering gleam in Merlin’s eyes.
“Morto,” she repeats, and smiles.
A/N: Back again!
She doesn’t head back to the first dorm immediately, no matter how much the missing contact lens weighs on her mind as she tries to sleep. It would add suspicious behavior on top of an already suspicious practice, so she leaves it be. But it takes a while to fall asleep. She feels so vulnerable.
When morning comes around, the candidates find strange one-piece uniforms (which the others refer to as siren suits) in their lockers. Each of them have different colors and patterns–stripes and checker and tartan. Her black with grey pinstripes isn’t totally hideous, but she doubts she’ll look back at this outfit with any fondness.
She brushes her teeth in front of the mirror and stares at her reflection. One brown eye, one grey. One contact lens.
One is enough, technically, but the contacts work best in a pair. She stares long enough to make the message clear–she’s down a contact lens, and only her first day.
It unnerves her, but not as much as it does the recruits–minus Nathaniel–apparently. For most of them it’s likely because heterochromia isn’t something they encounter frequently; Mukuro’s tendency to frivolously use his abilities as he pleases has made her immune to his red eye, much less mismatching eyes of normal colors. But Abjit and Jamal, the names of her first two allies, she learns, were the only ones beside Nathaniel to have met her gaze when she had both contact lenses. They know it’s not her default state. But they say nothing.
Nonverbal alliance is the best alliance. Unfortunately, not everyone thinks the same.
“Can you see alright?” Nathaniel asks her quietly as the candidates arrange themselves in front of Merlin and several cages. Apparently, sort of saving his life means he feels free to talk to her whenever he pleases.
“Well enough,” She murmurs back. Perfectly, actually; the contacts aren’t prescription, after all.
When they’re instructed to pick a puppy, Merlin allows her to choose first. Whether as a courtesy for her Vongola envoy status, or for being the most active during last night’s underwater pop quiz, or for some other arbitrary reason she doesn’t know. But she appreciates it all the same.
As she approaches the cages, she shuts her eyes. Sight will be more a hindrance than a help, here. And anyway, she only recognizes a few breeds–an akita, a dalmation, a poodle–not that she knows why certain breeds would be better.
If she’s going to have a puppy forced on her, she wants one that will at least be useful in the future. It won’t match up with Yuzuru, her box familiar, but even real animals can handle some Flame maneuvers from what she’s seen of Hibird. Kyouya-senpai lucked out with Hibird being Cloud natured.
She lets out a small amount of Lightning Flames in front of each cage, deliberately ignoring the impatient grumblings of the other candidates, and tries to sense each puppy’s response.
It’s difficult–the puppies being so young and so small, and on top of that, their Wave Energy not yet manifesting in Flames–but one of them handles it better than the rest. When she opens her eyes its to look at the fuzzy face of a skinny black and tan puppy. When she carries it out of the cage it sniffs along her face, licks her chin, and settles calmly in her arms. She glances at the other cages, some of the puppies barking energetically and running in circles–this one is a good choice.
“The saluki pup. Good choice,” Merlin says briefly before waving one of the other candidates forward to make their choice.
She clips the leash onto her new puppy’s collar, and sets it down on the ground.
The rest of the day is rather peaceful–some running drills and getting used to having a four-legged shadow, some socializing amongst candidates. One of the female recruits, the one with what is apparently the brindle Staffordshire bull terrier, introduces herself as Vanessa.
After they are dismissed, everyone finds a kennel and their dry luggage at the foot of their bed. In addition, an unfamiliar small plastic case sits in her locker. When she opens it, the lingering sense of unease fades away. In a saline solution is her missing contact lens.
A/N: Meh… puppies?
In her dream she is drowning.
It’s not too much of a surprise; in a literal sense, it is one of the few ways she can be killed. Vongola has taught her all about Flames–fire a lesser form of energy–and being Lightning natured makes her nigh impervious. No blade can cut nor bludgeon can break a Guardian protected by Lightning Flames. From Shamal and Bianchi she has gained an immunity to most known and some unknown poisons in the world. And if somehow, something were something to break through all those defenses, her Dying Will allows for a multitude of second chances.
But drowning… while water cannot douse Flames, it is still an unstoppable force. The sharpest of weapons and sturdiest of shields are useless against an ocean. While her body can fight off poisons, it still requires air to breathe. And a drowned body reawakening at the bottom of a pool will find themselves drowning a second time.
Ah, but drowning in a figurative sense. That is nothing new to her. How easily she had been submerged into the world of mafia. How little fight she put up when following her friends and family deeper and deeper into Vongola. How her glares at Reborn so so swiftly and subtly became gazes at her reflection in a mirror: Vongola’s Lightning Guardian, second best hitman in the world.
In her dream she is drowning. In reality, she startles awake as soon as the water reaches her fingertips, hand dangling over the side of the bed. She is not the first awake, but she is not the last either–the water level rising so quickly that soon enough all of the recruits are awake and squawking at each other. Something about toilets and shower heads. Perhaps they mean to find the source of the flooding?
The water is already up to her waist, but she is the shortest so the others are fine still. She goes for the door instead, being the closest to it and tries to pull it open, to increase the volume of the container if they cannot decrease or at least halt the volume of the water. It is locked. She pulls at it again, but it does not budge.
The water is at her chest.
There is a small window in the door. With a Lightning enhanced punch, she breaks the glass and carefully reaches through to see if she can unlock the door. She cannot. But she punches away all of the glass, even a little hole can mean a few more seconds of air. When she turns to see what the other candidates are doing, the water is already high enough that were she standing instead of treading water it would be at her eyes.
Most of them are clustered by showers and toilets–breaking tubes from the shower heads, snaking one end into the toilets and the other to their mouths. She wastes a few moments staring in a combination of disgust, incredulity, and bewilderment, before realizing there is probably a logical reason behind it.
But not all of them, she notices, still treading water at the opposite wall. One of the candidates, one of the newer ones to her nonverbal alliance, is over by his bed for some reason. He’s still moving of his own volition, but his head isn’t above the water. Trapped, or simply unable to swim. He’ll be drowning soon enough if nobody helps.
She thinks of Ryohei, of their teenage years with his inability to swim but a desire to be a lifeguard, nonetheless. She and Kyoko hadn’t let him, and though he wasn’t quite convinced, he acquiesced because he would have been putting more lives at risk.
She kicks her way over to him, and under the water their eyes meet blearily. She hopes she doesn’t lose a contact lens. She checks to see that he isn’t tangled up somehow, before hooking her arms under his and kicking them both up to the surface. It’d be comical, her being almost a foot shorter and nowhere as thick, were the need for air not desperately burning in her lungs.
The water has risen high enough that they can reach the ceiling with an outstretched arm.
“Can you not swim?” She splutters out as they both breach the surface.
He coughs but doesn’t answer; he’s kicking his legs, at least, which makes it easier for her to keep him afloat, but it’s not in the way meant for treading water which answers her well enough. She keeps them up there for a while, spotting the others with their toilet breathing tubes, taking a final glance around the room.
The hole she punched in the door’s window is a constant drain, but ineffective over all. The rate at which the water is rising is faster than that leak. It’s unlikely she can punch through concrete even with Lightning Flames enhancing her, but surely there must be some other solution? Withstanding an underwater environment isn’t exactly impressive, working out how to escape is what she would test.
“One last breath,” she warns the man in her arms, and they both inhale deeply before the water level rises to meet the ceiling. He is deadweight, but not literally, not yet. So she drops him over by the others crouched by the toilets, ensures that he’s added into the strange breathing tube rotation, before picking up one of the discarded shower heads.
In the bathroom area of the dorm is a large mirror, nearly half the wall. It’s odd, and it’s convenient. She presses a fingernail against it, notes the lack of a gap between the reflection, and knows that this is not a mirror. It’s a window. Much larger than the sliver of one in the door. Large enough to make a difference.
She flips the shower head around in her hand, holding the bulb and ramming the handle into the window. A smaller point of impact, with enough force behind it, has a larger chance of putting a crack in the glass; after that, the water pressure should take care of the rest.
But rather than making cracking the glass, her blow pushes her backward instead–the lesser resistance. She tries again, carefully harnessing a tiny amount of her Flames around the tip–to sharpen, to harden–but again is pushed back.
She’s beginning to become light-headed.
As she’s about to try a third time, someone tugs from behind her. The recruit she had carried earlier. He offers the tube to her, she takes a breath. He takes a breath of his own before handing the tube off to one of the other recruits around the toilet. Then he brackets her body between his arms, a reversal of before, this time her back against his chest, and grabs onto the sinks below the window.
Ah, he’s bracing the both of them. This time, when she rams the shower head against the window, it cracks. Once more and the glass breaks entirely, shards and water and all of the candidates spilling out into the observation room.
Merlin, ironically wearing a rain jacket despite being the only one dry, looks appraisingly at the lot of them; piled on each other like wet puppies shivering and coughing miserably. He begins speaking, something about plumbing and breathing. Teamwork. Whatever. There’s water in her ears and she really can’t be bothered to listen.
Plus, having been the closest to the window, she ended up at the bottom of the pile. And as she noted earlier, she’s probably the smallest of the candidates, it is not a fun experience. She drags herself out from everyone else, glad for the armor protecting her from glass shards.
As she is wringing water from her hair, Merlin calls her alias, “Azuma-san.”
She looks up expectantly.
He startles slightly, but continues, “Excellent work on both looking after one of your fellow recruits and on noticing the two way mirror. While you could have thought out the execution of your escape a little further; Nathaniel’s reciprocation of your help was what enabled your plan to succeed.”
She blinks at him, trying to decode what he said from Scottish-accented English into the mix of Japanese and Italian that her thoughts tend to run in these days. “Thank you,” she replies when the silence grows long enough.
He dismisses them, sending all of the candidates towards a dorm room identical to the previous one except for the fact that it’s dry. There’s a bit of a shift on the beds chosen, but the one closest to the door is left alone.
As she roots through her new locker for a change of clothes, the candidate in the bed next to her speaks. It’s Nathaniel, the mutually helpful candidate.
“Thanks for… getting me air,” For not letting him die, more like.
“You’re welcome,” She responds, before shrugging out of the wet pajamas and pulling a dry set on top of her armor.
“You seem to have developed heterochromia iridum,” He adds, tapping below one of his own eyes when she turns to look at him.
She doesn’t know what that means, and her blank stare must tip him off.
“Your eyes are different colors,” he elaborates.
One of her contact lenses! If he noticed, then Merlin definitely noticed earlier. One night and already she’s revealed one of her (and Vongola’s) secrets.
A/N: Finally got to the damn underwater scene… though I have no idea what’s up with that exchange at the end.
I kind of wanted it to be like… Tetsuki is at an advantage because not only has she been basically guaranteed she’ll live, but she also has years of experience with the crazy shit of canon KHR. Also, she’s a Guardian. Which means she’s not necessarily supposed to put her survival first so much as the mission/Tsuna’s life.
The small alliance of three is all she can manage before Merlin enters and all of the recruits stand to face him, more or less at attention. She doesn’t, partially because she’s already met him and he has less leverage over her than he does the rest of the group, mostly because she was never in the military and doesn’t see the point in mimicking the others.
Neither of her allies do either, and while she is pretty sure it’s not because they are following her lead, it gives a nice sense of nonverbal solidarity. Considering how well they seem to be communicating without words, she may just never speak to them.
She writes her alias on the body bag tag in kanji, so simple, only two characters and not even particularly complex ones at that. For next of kin she writes storm instead of lightning. She’s already been guaranteed she won’t die, but just in case, she figures Hayato-kun ought to be the first to know. So Vongola can avenge her properly.
When the recruits are left alone again, this time with no interruptions in sight, some of the herbivores go to pick on one of her allies. She’s had enough experience in being Ryohei’s best friend that she’s about to clamber over the bed between them to stand next to him, regardless of the fact that they would still be outnumbered, but he holds a hand out towards her and their third ally and shakes his head.
She acquiesces. But she seethes all the while as those herbivores insinuate and insult him. As if his class, as if his race, made him less worthy. And yet, he stands there with a skeptical, almost amused expression on his face.
Then she sees what their other ally is doing–not watching the spectacle, but making eye contact with the other neutral recruits. Most of them ignore him, but others nod in acknowledgment, in agreement. By the time the loudest herbivores have finished bellowing at, what she thinks even Kyouya-senpai would consider, an impressively composed carnivore their herd has decreased in number. And herds are only as dangerous as their numbers.
Before lights out her little alliance of three grows to an alliance of five, still entirely nonverbal.
A/N: So short. Sorry.
There few things more frightening to a woman than a man with a larger sense of entitlement than manners. The situation is worse when it is a young foreign woman; moreover, when instead of one man it is multiple.
Regardless of her abilities, her hidden gadgets, her experience despite her age… there is still that instinctive fear. Her father hadn’t needed physical violence to strike fear in her heart. It wasn’t Xanxus and Byakuran’s weapons that had made them so monstrous. And even as she stepped away from successful missions, there were always moments when she would pause and wonder–has Reborn finally killed me?
Nervous Japanese girl somehow suckered into the role of mafia assassin; it was an easy mask to wear in front of the Kingsman because it was partially true. And so there was no difficulties in assuming it in the face of the other recruits. Arthur spoke true, she is of a different demographic than the majority of the recruits. And what is different is often misunderstood and reviled.
But she is not the only one. Three of twelve recruits, including herself, are not white. Three of twelve recruits, including herself, are not male. Sure, she is the only overlap, but she is not quite alone.
As the room fills, she is aware of a divide occurring; she automatically on one side without a choice. And so she sits, watches as a bunch of overly entitled men mob together. A herd of herbivores, Kyouya-senpai would scoff, disdainful. But even a herd of wildebeest can kill a lion.
But she is not alone. She meets the eyes of the lanky, curled up man across from her; holds the gaze until he nods and she nods back. Then she looks over at the bed two down from hers, no longer is that man reclining, hood shadowing his face, but he has sat up–feet planted firmly on the ground. As if sensing her, he turns away from the herd and looks at her. When she quirks an eyebrow at him, he smiles, a bright sickle of gleaming teeth.
Perhaps growing up best friends with the most obnoxious boy in town has skewed her interactions with different genders. Because while she finds it easy to nonverbally form an alliance with the two non-white male recruits (and somehow assert dominance over at least one of them while doing so), she can’t draw the courage to do so with the two other female recruits.
It’s true that there are few things more frightening to a woman than a man with a larger sense of entitlement than manners. One of them is another woman whose skills and motivations are unknown.
A/N: Slap-dash because I realized it was past midnight 😦
I must admit, it’s because I am watching Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries which is a FANTASTIC show. HIGHLY RECOMMEND (it’s on Netflix!)
Part Six of The Green Knight series… and I still haven’t gotten to the actual exams yet D:
She is sent ahead to the dorm room, and while she’s tempted to ignore the tacit order and just explore on her own, she curbs her curiosity. For one, it’s only her first day, and she wouldn’t want to waste any good will she has on such a stupid matter. For two, she doesn’t want to run into someone who doesn’t know who she is and end up in some kind of altercation that will break the Vongola-Kingsman alliance. For three, she doesn’t want to get lost. So she somewhat reluctantly heads straight for the directed door and settles in.
There are a dozen beds lined up against the walls, corresponding lockers beside them. There are five other recruits beside her already in the room–their luggage sitting at the foot of certain beds. She only has the one duffel bag, because life has taught her to travel light, and so she chooses one of the beds closest to the door and stores her entire bag into the locker.
Three of the five are are crowded together, Englishmen maybe a few years older than she. While they’re not in the stunning three-piece suits that Arthur and Galahad wore to pick her up, their clothes still scream of spoiled luxury. But she doesn’t dismiss them entirely, because they’ve obviously been proposed for a reason and even then–sometimes numbers do matter in a fight.
The other two recruits, like her, are each staying in his chosen area. Unsurprisingly, they are both also older than her. The one opposite her is curled up and almost drawing his lanky limbs into a ball. In jeans and a soft-looking sweater he looks more like someone who had been kidnapped from his house than someone in the running for an elite vigilante group. In contrast, the other recruit is reclining in his bed two down from hers, the hood of his jacket pulled up and over to cover half his face. He’s probably not really sleeping, but he makes a good show of it.
As for her, she sits and makes sure to scan the room slowly and steadily. She knows the video feed can be nauseating under certain circumstances. She’d prefer not to do that to monitor team if she can spare them. Not that the dorm room is of any particular interest, but who knows. Maybe someone will want to add yet another expansion to the Vongola mansion.
Meanwhile, she wonders at the Kingsman method of recruiting new knights–how restrictive, to only choose one from each trial. But perhaps the others, the ones who fail out early, are used elsewhere? But what if there’s a test in which all of the candidates fail? Do they just not get a new knight from that particular set of recruits?
Then again, as if she’s one to talk on restrictive choices and convoluted recruitment–Vongola Guardianship still frustrates and embarrasses her. As if she were conscripted into a super sentai series where each member has unique powers and a… specific… color… Oh no.
She can’t help but cringe from the sudden onslaught of memories. Ryohei and Kyoko both had been avid fans of such shows when they were younger–her frequent childhood sleepovers at the Sasagawa household involved playacting of episodes watched earlier that day. She can never remind them. Because if she does, somehow, the weird Vongola affect will kick in and then maybe the Secchione Sezione will be unfortunately inspired in a certain direction. Or Tsunayoshi-kun will uncover yet another set of mysterious artifacts that correspond to each Flame type. Or aliens. Again.
She is so glad to be in a different country.
Her brain hadn’t been entirely devoted to horrified musings. Being so close to the door made it easy for her to keep track of entrances; and soon enough the number of recruits matched the number of beds.
A/N: I’m really sorry. This got super off-track. And then that ending was like blargh.