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[Shinjuku] Section 13.5: Alternatives

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“Unhand me, mad dog.”

Saber groaned. That was the nth time she had said this, voice monotonous and tired. Despite such, the addressee pretended not to hear. Try as she might, Artoria Alter couldn’t move her right arm – as it was being crushed between Jeanne Alter’s supple breasts.

“What’s with that attitude?” growled the agitated Alter, scraping her nails onto the captive arm. Saber remained silent, eyes averted. Jeanne obviously took offense due to her lack of reaction. “And after what you did to me last night?!” She then sunk her teeth on Artoria’s pale shoulder. If it hurt, the blonde was good at hiding it. “I’m sure you gave your full consent for me to do such,” she stared at the room’s door, away from scorching golden orbs. “That’s not what I meant, stupid,” her canines dug deeper, face twisted in irritation as she spoke again.

“Was mana transfer all there was last night?”

She blatantly ignored Avenger’s complaints, and chose to mind how her teeth were still latched onto her arm. Saber wasn’t exactly worried, as she knew the French maiden currently didn’t have the strength to tear her arm off. She was more concerned of how to hide this new bite mark.

… And the many tinier ones littered all over her.

“You were running low on mana, and I happened to be here with a larger pool of it.” Jeanne was not budging, her grip leaving red dents on Saber’s skin. “Continue with your shitty excuses, and I’ll have your Briton ass for breakfast,” was a retort that could be interpreted in one way or another. Saber ignored the implications of such.

“If you’re trying to draw more mana with my blood, you’re asking too—“ A rough shove caught the king completely off guard. Dazed, Artoria clutched onto her bleeding shoulder, crimson staining the white bed sheets. “Can’t you be a bit gentler…” Jeanne trailed off, also unwilling to meet the other girl’s eyes.

“Just like last night?” Artoria finished the sentence for her. Jeanne Alter felt her face was on fire.

The Avenger slowly sat up, snatching the blanket that did little to hide her naked body. As she pulled more of the cloth to her, it only left Saber more and more revealed – which caused Jeanne’s blush to deepen.

“I’ve already seen you fully exposed, yet you’re getting embarrassed now? Give me a break.” Artoria sighed. She spotted her black hoodie on the floor, ten paces from the bed they were sharing. The matching tank top was tangled with Jeanne’s torn cloak. Once she was sure of the location of each garment, she got up and started collecting them.

“H-Have you no shame?” The king ignored the French maiden’s barbed insults, busying herself with tugging on her shorts and black top. Before she could fasten the buckle of her belt, she felt two arms wrap around her waist.

“L-Look at me, idiot.”

“I have a name, and you screamed it quite a lot last night.”

With unexpected strength, Jeanne Alter spun the girl at her heel and grabbed a fistful of her shirt. Neck up, she was already beet red, and tears were welling at her eyes. Whether out of embarrassment, or because of frustration, Saber had no time to guess. However, it wasn’t even five seconds, and the Avenger’s legs were giving way. Almost on instinct, the knight caught hold of Jeanne’s arm and back. She then guided the girl backwards, forcing her to sit when her calves hit the bed.

“Stop expending your energy. You just recovered,” would have sounded chivalrous, if her golden eyes did not seem so glacial. As much as the former saint felt the chill, there was an unusual warmness in the way Artoria Pendragon drapes her own jacket on Jeanne‘s shoulders.

A sickly sweet heat rests on the saint’s chest, and even she couldn’t bring herself to remove the hoodie placed on her. She didn’t have the heart to complain anymore at how Artoria had been doing so much for her – or at least that’s what she wants to believe.

“So even a cold-blooded woman like you can be a knight, huh?”

Jeanne doesn’t receive a reply, but she notices where Artoria’s gaze is set at.

“Oi, what’s with that stare?”

The sword-wielder didn't realized how long she had been fixated at Jeanne; and it doesn't help how she was only in her worn-out jacket. “I-I mean fine, I did ask you to pay attention. But e-even I can feel restless when you keep looking at me!” The Avenger could have sworn Saber’s lips twitch upwards, much to her dismay.

Looking away, Artoria coughed into her fist. “I was examining to see if your wound from Hessian Lobo had healed fully.”

“Give me a day and I’ll be back to wreck shit in Shinjuku,” she boldly declared, kneading her left shoulder to prove her point. A harsh jolt of pain then surged at her chest, causing Jeanne to flinch noticeably. Artoria scoffed. “You really don’t like following my orders, country girl?”

“I don’t listen to anyone, ice bitch queen.”

“And yet, you complied when I told you to open your legs—“ A fist connected to Saber’s cheek. Ouch. A small noise escaped out of Saber’s throat. Avenger hissed, but eventually lightly rubbed the area she had just attacked. She caught sight once more of the knight’s bleeding arm, and had a strange urge to reach out to it. In the end, she decided against such, settling for the other girl’s cheek.

“One second, you’re chewing my arm off, and the next you’re being disgustingly affectionate.” If only Artoria Alter’s voice had more emotion, it would be that of amused.

“Whatever, you asked for it earlier,” huffed the short-haired girl. She ignored how the king’s hand had grasped onto the fingers running down her cheek. The Avenger didn’t want to comment at how Saber slowly strokes her thumb against their entwined hands.

“Jeanne Alter.”

Her eyes widened by a fraction at how serious Saber had called out her name. A beat passed before she continued.

“We will need you to be at your best shape for the final battle.” Their gazes clashed, gold against gold. Jeanne squints a bit, doing little to hide her disgust at those words. “So there’s a “we” now?” she spat, and leaned closer to the knight; causing her to raise an eyebrow at the corrupted saint.

“That aside, I’ll head back to the roost.” Saber finalized, “So stay underground until the Count gives you the signal—“

A pair of lips silence Artoria. Arms secured behind her back, preventing the girl from breaking away. She keeps her eyes open, noting how Jeanne’s are closed tightly. When air becomes an issue, the Avenger slowly detaches herself from the Saber.

“You’re still hungry for mana?” the king deadpans. Jeanne Alter holds back a scream.

“Y-You—“ she pulls at the hem of Artoria’s jacket. “Can’t you read the mood?!”

To which, Saber Alter replies by gently patting the girl’s head. At that instant, Jeanne feels her frustrations melt away, even just a bit. As much as the Britain knight was not one for words, it was her actions that spoke louder. Her stomach brews an indescribable warmth as Artoria tucks a stray strand of hair from her sticky face.

“Heh, you never cease to amuse me, Jeanne.” She commented, “And for the record, last night’s activity should have made it clear at how our relationship stands.”

“… Will you come here again?” she quietly asks, almost afraid to hear a ‘no’ from the Britain king.

“If the situation calls for it,” Saber replies. Jeanne almost winces at that, only to find two strong arms hold her tightly one last time.

“And if you need me.”