It had been a couple months since the Dragon had recruited Yumi and she was starting to get settled in as an agent of chaos. She had never expected to meet so many other bees, or even join a cabal. She had found herself surrounded by new friends in a time when she thought she was most alone. One friend in particular had come to her attention over the past few weeks…
Her name was Maria King. Not the most exciting name in the world, but the woman definitely stood out amongst others. For one, she towered over Yumi by at least an additional foot and a half. Another eye-catching feature of hers was her vibrant blue hair, dyed in a nearly identical shade to Yumi’s. The two also shared the same eye color of cerulean blue. It wasn’t until quite recently that they discovered that they were both Dragons as well as members of the same cabal.
Was it a coincidence that they shared such traits despite coming from two entirely different countries? And why did she seem so… familiar? Could they have met somewhere prior to becoming bees? She was almost certain that they had never met outside of the few times that they bumped into each other while out on missions. These questions had been swirling around in Yumi’s thoughts since she met the woman a few weeks ago.
The skies over Seoul were clear for once as Yumi returned home from her latest assignment, soft orange light of the setting sun creating long shadows over the city. She was nearly at the door to her apartment when she received a text from none other than Maria.
“Hey, are you free tonight? Wanna come over to my place for a while?”
Yumi hadn't expected to get invited over so suddenly, not to mention she had never actually been to the other woman's place before. Not wanting to be rude, she quickly messaged her back.
“Sure, I just got back from work. Let me get cleaned up and I’ll head over.”
“Take your time, I’ll make us dinner in the meantime.”
Yumi was surprised by the response. Maria was making dinner for her? On her first visit to her place? This was starting to sound more like a first date than a meetup between friends. The thought was making Yumi more flustered than it should have. She tried to push the feeling out of her head as she hurried to her room to get changed out of her exploration clothes. Her Infernal Guardian, Nobu, sniffed around her as she picked out a more casual outfit to wear. He could tell that his master was a little uneasy. He trotted off to the living room, grabbed Yumi’s Monster Hunter jacket, and plopped it on her bed with an impatient huff. She smiled at him and scratched him behind his ears. Satisfied with her selection of her usual t-shirt and cargo pants, she quickly got dressed and texted Maria that she would be over soon. Maria confirmed and sent Yumi her address in return.
While the two didn’t live in the same apartment complex, it didn’t take long for Yumi to walk there. Maria only lived a couple blocks away at the complex right across the street from Seoul’s fight club. It seemed fitting for someone as strong as her to be right next to one of the most popular arenas for Secret World brawls. The air was starting to get chilly as the sun continued to sink lower in the sky.
Yumi pulled her jacket tighter around herself as she approached Maria’s door. She could hear metal music being played inside, and knocked on the door as hard as she could, hoping it would be heard over the volume of the music. Apparently her feeble knock was loud enough, as the music stopped and she could hear heavy footsteps approaching the door. Maria opened the door and greeted her with a friendly smile.
“Hey Yumi, glad you could make it. Did you find my place okay?” she asked.
“Yeah, I actually live a couple blocks away,” Yumi replied, gesturing over her shoulder in the direction of her own apartment. She paused for a moment to take off her boots before entering.
Maria’s apartment looked slightly larger than hers. The kitchen was a bit smaller, but the living area seemed more spacious, with enough room for a sofa and a small coffee table. On the bar of the kitchen were two place settings waiting for the girls, each plate appearing to have some kind of pasta in them. Yumi could smell the lingering scent of freshly cooked onions and garlic.
“What did you make?” she inquired as she took a seat.
“Spaghetti carbonara,” Maria boasted. “One of my specialties.”
A look of vague surprise and admiration crossed Yumi’s face. “Nice! Show me how you do it sometime, yeah? I’ve tried making it before, but it’s never come out right.”
“Of course. You can make it for me next time,” she said, throwing in a wink at the end. She took note of how the gesture made Yumi flinch and blush faintly. She grabbed their glasses and filled her own with some whiskey. “You drink?”
Yumi shook her head. “Nope, alcohol and I don’t mix well. Makes me get all kinds of sick.” Maria nodded and poured her a glass of ice water instead.
As the girls ate, they began to chat about themselves. The two had never really gotten the chance to sit down and get to know each other outside of work. Yumi had always been a bit hesitant to approach Maria as well, being too intimidated by the sheer mass of the other woman and her muscular arms that could probably snap her in half with little effort. Lynn had told her rumors of how Maria once went on a rampage and took out a Machine Tyrant by herself. Considering she had been flattened by said creature on more than one occasion, the concept of someone single-handedly killing it terrified her.
Eventually the two got to the topic of their lives prior to getting their powers. Maria was a high school dropout and made her living as a bouncer at a bar. Yumi on the other hand had just graduated college with a bachelors in chemistry and got back to Tokyo just in time to witness the aftermath of the bombing. The subject was still a bit touchy for her, Maria noticed, as Yumi suddenly became quiet after bringing it up. It took some coaxing, but she finally got Yumi to admit that she still felt some guilt over not being able to contact her mother when she got back to Japan.
“My mom… was the only family I knew. My dad was never around, but he did send me money while I was going to college. At least, I think it was from him. It certainly wasn’t from Mom, and there weren’t any other relatives around.”
“...You too, huh?” Maria muttered, mostly to herself. Yumi quirked an eyebrow at her, expecting an explanation. “Ah well, I didn’t actually know my dad either. As far as I know, I’m the product of a one-night-stand. Mom refused to tell me anything about him.”
Yumi sighed and chuckled softly. “You don’t say? Talk about daddy issues.” Her snide comment earned her a light smack on her arm. “Ow, okay sorry, that was terrible.”
After the girls finished their meal, they settled down on the sofa and Maria put on a movie for them to watch. Nothing particularly interesting to Yumi, just a cheesy action movie. However she didn’t want to say anything, so she just sat down next to Maria and sank into the soft cushions. The droning sounds of fake gunshots slowly lulled her into a drowsy haze. She could feel her head starting to bob up and down despite her efforts to stay awake. Maria took notice and retrieved a blanket from her room to wrap around her sleepy friend.
“Thanks Onee-chan,” Yumi mumbled, still half-asleep. There was a brief pause in which she snuggled closer to Maria, but then suddenly snapped awake and jumped to her feet, her face a rosy red. “OH GODS, I’M SO SORRY!”
Maria, confused by Yumi’s outburst, stood and tried to calm her down. “Yumi, what’s wrong? What did you say?”
“It’s... I mean- nevermind, I should go,” she stammered, turning on her heel to make a break for the door, but tripping over herself in the process.
Maria picked the smaller woman up off the floor, holding her slightly off the floor so she couldn’t escape. “No, c’mon, tell me what you said.”
Yumi wriggled around for a few seconds, but Maria’s grip on her was too strong to break. Defeated, she covered covered her face and sheepishly said, “...Onee-chan. I called you Onee-chan.”
The phrase seemed somewhat familiar to Maria, but she couldn’t remember what it meant or where she could have possibly heard it from. “Oh-nay-what now?”
“Onee-chan,” she repeated quietly. “It basically means ‘big sis.’ I used to call women older than me that when I was a kid. I’m sorry, it just slipped out...”
Maria stared blankly at Yumi before setting her back on her feet and pulling her into a hug. “...That’s fucking adorable, you little nerd.”
“Not it’s not! It’s embarrassing!” Yumi huffed.
Maria laughed and ruffled her hair. “I don’t mind if you call me that, really. It’s kinda… comforting. But if it bothers you that much, just call me Paw, okay?”
Yumi agreed and Maria finally released her hold on her. She put her boots back on and said goodbye to her friend for the night. She couldn’t help the fact that she still felt flustered by the whole incident, but she felt that she had a better understanding of Maria and their relationship with each other.
“HAH, so you did it to her too?” Lynn laughed and took another swig of her drink.
“Shut up! I was half-asleep, that doesn’t count!” Yumi grumpily slurped her ramen as her friend and senior cabalmate continued to tease her about her visit with Maria a couple nights ago. Lynn had invited her out and demanded to know how the two were getting along. Since Maria was one of their newest recruits, it was important for her to check in on how they interacted with the other members.
“Oh no, it totally counts. Besides, I haven’t heard you call someone Onee-chan since the first time I took you through a dungeon! I still can’t get over how cute it was when you panicked and asked me to heal you.”
“I… I thought we agreed never to talk about that again…” Yumi sighed.
Lynn patted Yumi a couple times on her head, right between her two decorative black horns. “Don’t worry ‘bout it! I haven’t told anyone!”
“...Niirah, you’re drunk,” Yumi said, lightly pulling on Lynn’s cheek.
Lynn pulled away and rubbed her cheek, wearing a fake pouty face. Suddenly, her eyes widened and she turned back to Yumi. “Hey, hey YumYum. What if… what if you two are actually sisters?”
Yumi nearly choked on her ramen. “W-what?! What are you even saying?” she sputtered, grabbing a napkin to wipe the soup off her face.
“C’mon, think about it! Neither of you knew your dads, you both have blue eyes… I mean, how many other Japanese people have you met that have blue eyes?”
Yumi opened her mouth to respond, but slowly shut it again. Lynn had a surprisingly good point, despite being tipsy. Yumi was technically a genetic oddity, as far as the general population of Japan goes. But what were the chances that she could possibly be related to someone who was born halfway across the world from her?
“...Well, I mean, how would that even be possible? Maybe we both just had dads with blue eyes? I’m lucky I even have blue eyes, but come on. Assuming we share a dad just because of that… Isn’t that kinda far-fetched?”
“I’m just sayin’. You never know.” Lynn just smiled mischievously and shrugged.
Yumi just stared at her in disbelief and shook her head. She was having a hard time taking her drunk friend seriously, but the concept of her possibly being related to Maria was bugging her. It seemed absurd, but something in the back of her mind kept whispering, “What if?” There was an ever empty spot in her heart that longed to be filled by some sort of family unit. The cabal came very close, but it wasn’t quite the same as having say, a mother or a sibling.
Lynn somehow managed to pay the bill in her drunken haze and the two stood to leave the bar. Yumi noticed her swaying slightly and slung one of Lynn’s arms over her shoulder and helped her walk back to their apartment complex. After making sure Lynn got to bed safely, she headed back to her own apartment to look something up.
“This is gonna sound crazy, but I want you to hear me out on something.”
It had been about a week since her original meeting with Maria, and Yumi had called her over to her apartment to show her something. The two were standing in the kitchen, a box sitting between them on the countertop. Maria hadn’t the slightest idea what was going on, but the tone of Yumi’s voice concerned her.
“You okay Yumi? Did something happen?”
“No, I’m fine. It’s just-” she paused and took a deep breath- “Niirah put this idea in my head. What if, just what if, we’re actually related?”
Maria stared at Yumi blankly. “...Excuse me?”
“Look, I know this sounds stupid. I mean, I thought it was too. Niirah was even drunk when she suggested it! But, I couldn’t help but humor the thought, so…” Yumi opened the lid of the box, revealing a case containing some vials and swabs in sterile bags. “...I ordered this, mostly out of curiosity.”
“...You want us to take a DNA test?”
“Exactly. Even if it turns out we’re not related, we might learn something about our absent fathers. We’ve got nothing to lose, right?”
Maria leaned against the wall and closed her eyes, thinking deeply. She felt curious about who her father could have been, even if she was bitter about him not being a part of her life. Still, Yumi had a point. Neither of them had anything to lose from having the test done.
“What the hell, why not? At the very least, we can satisfy your curiosity.”
Yumi smiled and handed her a vial and a swab. They both swabbed the inside of their mouths and sealed the swabs into the vials. Yumi packed them back into the box and sealed it up with tape.
“Alright, it’s all set. I’ll let you know when the results come back.”
The two went their separate ways for the day; Maria going out into the field for some quick missions, and Yumi heading to the nearest post office to send their kit to the testing facility. Soon, they would have some answers to their questions.
Lynn and Yumi sat together in Yumi’s apartment, a mysterious white envelope sitting on the coffee table in front of them. Yumi was shaking nervously and Lynn just had a hand over her face in utter surprise and disappointment.
“I can’t believe you took me seriously. You know not to take me seriously when I’m drunk,” she groaned.
“You were very persuasive,” Yumi quickly lied. “Besides, I had the money saved up, I figured why not?”
“...You nerd.” Lynn lightly slapped Yumi in the face with the envelope. “Now hurry up and open it, let’s see the results.”
Yumi undid the clasps of the envelope and pulled out the document inside. She scanned over the lines of text and various charts of genetic information, slowly making sense of everything on the page. Her eyes suddenly widened upon reaching the final page, and she slowly turned to face Lynn, a hand clasped over her mouth.
“...No way,” Lynn gasped, snatching the document out of Yumi’s hand and looking it over for herself.
“...I- I think I need to lie down for a bit. Call up Paw for me, yeah? Oh gods…” Yumi staggered off to her bedroom and Lynn could hear the thump of her hitting her bed.
Lynn whipped out her phone and dialed the agent in question. “Hey Paw? It’s Niirah. ...Yeah, Yumi says to come by her place, the results of your test are here.”
It was only a few minutes before Maria arrived at Yumi’s apartment. Lynn greeted her at the door and handed her the document as she entered. “Here, look it over. Yumi’s in her room.”
Maria glanced around in confusion before looking down at the papers in her hand. She leafed through the pages and let out and audible gasp, followed by a hushed “Holy shit.” She dashed off to Yumi’s room, where she found Yumi sitting cross-legged on her bed, her hands still clasped over her mouth. Maria awkwardly sat down next to her, waiting for her to say something. Yumi looked up into her eyes and grasped one of Maria’s hands, which were significantly larger than hers.
“Hah… What are the odds that the person I catch myself calling Onee-chan by accident turns out to be my older sister?”
“Small world, huh?” Maria said with a soft chuckle. “Our dad sure got around.”
Yumi couldn’t help herself and threw her arms around Maria, nearly smacking her in the face with her horns. Maria returned the gesture, pulling her little sister close to her chest and stroking the back of her head.
Lynn poked her head into the room and couldn’t help but smile too. “Dinner’s on me tonight, you two. Consider it a family reunion gift. Actually, I’ll invite the rest of the cabal too. We’re gonna celebrate tonight!”