“Are you certain you want to do this?”
“I would never have an issue with your judgment. It’s just that I can’t wait.”
Perhaps her anticipation for a belated answer is what unsettles her the moment Sayaka agrees with the conditions of the bet almost automatically. Kirari is no stranger to the maniacal glint of deep black eyes, having spent time and time again studying their reactions like she studies collapsing galaxies. Sayaka is a curious creature of both a serious nature and violent personality, forged together by an iron-carved logic that only Sayaka herself can understand.
The more earnest Sayaka, the one that keeps the Student Council running as easily as she breathes may have thought once or twice about the stakes. A much more feral side of her, the one people might not believe she has, is zeroing on the idea of an ultimate gamble against the woman she despises for the favor of the one she wants to impress the most.
Kirari’s dainty finger finds her chin, soft baby blue nail running faintly over her skin. The blinding white lights bathe Sayaka in a mixture of highlights and shadows that only picture her grin more obtuse, a dislodged smile on her face that has Kirari’s attention. Sayaka is enthralling under any circumstance, a beacon that lures the silver-haired woman with untold serenity. Kirari is still analyzing, dissecting... trying to comprehend the person behind dark hair and even darker ponds for eyes.
Riddles and incomprehensible information, that’s what Kirari has to offer and yet it is enough for both Sayaka and Yumeko to get their minds reeling. There is no denying the genius behind each one of them, minds so far on the spectrum in regards to their functionality as they can be. Kirari wonders what weighs most here, abstract conjectures or calculated theories.
Even when the Tower is of her own design, she can only fathom an answer.
Yumeko’s first turn is used to try the door to the central staircase, which in fact, provides more details than what they both might perceive at the moment. Sayaka is tense, the lines of her shoulders and her hands stiff the same way they do when she throws a useless man over her shoulder. Kirari can’t avoid giggling about this. So utterly predictable, even in a situation like this. It eases her, the familiarity of Sayaka’s tired expression at her mocking antiques.
It’s Sayaka’s turn and involuntarily Kirari's chest constricts as she reads the data and lines of thought writing themselves in jet black eyes. It's brilliant and terrifying how everything falls into place like a well-executed code. There is a thousand times more intellect in Sayaka than all Hyakkaou's students together, and still, Kirari has the inclination to think that this will end up as she has predicted.
“You don’t have much time left, I’d recommend typing something in.”
It’s Sayaka’s own will the one partaking in this gamble. And so, Kirari considers a little push to the woman is harmless. When performing a complex operation, there are occasions in which Kirari is a nice lever to stop unleashed thoughts and reign Sayaka in. To bring her back to the land of the living from the depths of her beautiful mind.
Of course, the response Sayaka enters on the digital pad of the door is correct, and she is so very happy Kirari can’t help but smile.
“I promise I’ll beat this woman.”
Behind the devotion of her words, there is a hidden fact of foolish reasoning: Sayaka should know better than to make promises she may not keep.
This is a gamble, and nothing has been decided yet.
Sayaka travels from one floor to the other and Kirari is aware she won't see her for a while. How much time are they used to being apart from each other? Sayaka’s amity and closeness is a luxury Kirari indulges frequently, the oasis of Sayaka’s company one Kirari relishes behind closed doors. With her Secretary gone, Kirari is left with her distant relative, one that zeroes voracious eyes against the President. Yumeko is up and the woman is painfully relaxed considering the wager she is offering.
She is analyzing the Tower in a very appointed way, “That’s why she is your assistant, isn’t it? That extreme devotion to logic she always has?”
Kirari smirks at that, she understands creatures like Yumeko. Moray eels are known for a double jaw that restrains their prey while they feed. Yumeko is a moray, the scrutiny of crimson eyes tells Kirari that behind that sweet smile the woman is ready to lock her jaws around the President and chew until she breaks her. The Jabami is one of the predators swimming around her aquarium, waiting to smell her blood in the water.
“Oh no. That’s not it. Or it’s not the proper way to say it. I think you’ll see it by the end of this gamble. You should probably be more preoccupied with your own life. One wrong move could be suicide.”
“Well, it’s worth dying after knowing everything, isn’t it President?” Yumeko punches digits and one of the doors that heads outside recedes, showing the woman the night sky above them. “I wonder if you’ll get to know everything by the end of this as well. What you are trying to discover. More than one life is at play.”
The intention of her words is measured and pointed but Kirari has never been one to be easily intimidated. This gamble has two players but a third party is throwing her five cents in. Sayaka is not a gambler, she doesn't see it. Yumeko does.
Wiser would have been to stay away from the woman. Kirari has been known to be injudicious, and with someone else feeding the fire and supporting the burning of the stake, she could not resist.
Sayaka's smile flashed in her memory and she just wonders...
It takes another of Sayaka’s turns for Yumeko to finally disappear into one of the trap doors to start her way down. In her absence, Kirari’s only companion is the cold hum of the core powering the tower. She reminds herself, her loneliness is of her own doing.
The events on the lower floors are undisclosed to her and guessing it’s just dull. There is marvel on the outcome and maybe, whatever happens, is for the best. After all, Kirari is not a sore loser. But she isn’t foolish enough to think defeat doesn’t have a price.
Holding onto a moment for herself, Kirari basks in the uncertainty of the paths laid in front of her. There was a demand that required handling and Kirari threw her hand of cards in the form of the Election.
Was that a whim? There is a method to madness and she is a Momobami, a chaotic gene inside of her that unshackles a destructive mind. She is endowed with power, the kind that men would seek in their ineptitude. She plays with it, pulling pieces on an affray fought in between the walls of her state and the walls inside the academy. The fights are unimportant and so is the war. Results are inconsequential when there is unlimited power.
Or so she believes, as the risks of collateral damage were always at bay with a twin being a shadow witty enough to scurry her way out of danger.
Sayaka is smart yet not cunning, nor cut for the kind of life the Momobami name offers. That has ivory skin itching and vocal cords trying to utter something that can't be said, Kirari is a ravenous woman cursed with the impossibility of denying herself anything. She will not forgo Sayaka’s presence in her life, but it has consequences.
Decisions are personal, Sayaka has taken hers. In her blind devotion, they both are set to be consumed. If it is to happen, Kirari wants it all. All for her. If this is the way they both will proceed there needs to be reassurance that it will be enough to save them or condemn them.
How hedonistic of herself, to craft options in variaté.
Loneliness is not anew to her and so she questions why the minutes passing stretch so much. Her indomitable side is dancing in between possibilities, but the other, the one that’s a gap deep inside of her is expectant at what Sayaka is doing. How is Sayaka moving? What could she be feeling? Her body feels cold without the woman beside her and yet she is the one opening the door for Sayaka to wander.
Beep after beep, the air grows thicker. Kirari’s is never known much beyond oppressing ghosts and gaping maws; there is familiarity tiptoeing at the edge of the cliff waiting for the crash of water to swallow her deep. But for some time now she’s balancing her weight on her toes while she guides by the hand the path Sayaka is following after. And she is a complete stranger to guilt. Does Sayaka really want to follow? Or it’s Kirari’s grip just too strong?
The tower moves again and it’s Yumeko’s turn if she is not mistaken. Her drifting mind has abandoned her attention to the turns as she goes back and back again to the idea behind all this. Is it ludicrous of her to try and prove this goes beyond absolute allegiance and infinite interest? Sentiments are not something she is really attuned with, aloofness and mirth deeply rooted inside to mask herself.
Could Sayaka detach herself from a sightless obsession to use her gifted mind? Or is she doomed to fail at her own naivety? If Sayaka wanted to follow their path, one walked among dragons and no saints, devotion needed to be changed to something less selfless, and far more greedy. The improper emotion was a liability and her family was hungry at a real opportunity to make Kirari bleed.
And it’s not the threat of hemorrhage that sours her mouth. It’s the thought of somebody else trying to take away Sayaka from her. If Sayaka’s not with her, then it’s pointless to fight the fangs off.
The sound of one of the doors opening turns Kirari in her heels, having started walking around without noticing it. A white lily held in between an index finger and a ring-clad thumb pierces Kirari’s chest in an unsurprising turn of events. Yumeko is the one climbing by the stairs, cheeks tinted in pink at the effort.
“Oh, it looks like Igarashi-san is not here.” Yumeko peeks around the rooms, innocently.
“Indeed. She isn’t.”
The flash on Yumeko’s eyes doesn’t go unnoticed, the scan being performed on Kirari one that was bound to happen. She remains light, steady. This was expected. This was not the wild card.
“I guess this means Igarashi-san has lost.”
Kirari crosses her arms against her chest, head cocking to the side. The curl of her lips comes to her naturally, “She has.”
“Are you going to keep your end of the wager?” The woman tucks a strand of hair behind her ear, placing the tip of her index against her cheek as her lips pucker. Her eyes are a fake shadow of soft.
“My end of the wager? What do you mean by that, Yumeko?”
“Well,” the woman remains on her spot, cocking one hip up as she rests her body only over her left leg, “Igarashi-san has to jump from your Tower, she has to jump as a complete stranger to you.”
“That’s not a one-sided gamble. If she lost, you lost the same oblation. You are not afraid of defeat, but even you have a price you are not willing to pay.”
“Who says that?”
“Do you know a human body doesn’t reach terminal velocity until it free falls from over a hundred meters?” Yumeko’s eyes shine, her finger finding the edge of her lips, “It’s silly to think that just because a human being doesn’t reach terminal velocity while free falling they would always survive a jump from five stories, but… with the right criteria, jumping from this tower could be feasible without dying.”
Oh, Yumeko, “I still don’t see the point.”
“I find it quite convenient the tower’s height if it was meant to have people jumping out of it to their death.” The woman walks up to the President, expression not exactly accusing, but attentive at any reaction from Kirari.
“I see.” Kirari doesn’t budge from her post, steadfastly gazing at Yumeko, “I don’t think you missed, however, the way the exterior doors work. I did tell you, answer correctly and you’ll live. I’m not deceiving you if I state all the conditions from the very start.”
Yumeko seems to find whatever she was searching for while studying Kirari’s expression as she retreats, striding to the exterior door closer to her, “What if she chooses the wrong door? What would that mean to you?”
So she knows. That even at the brink of death, there was a way out. A final right answer to save whoever had to leap in their payment. Again, the question is well formulated, very precise. “Is this your way of knowing everything?”
Yumeko links her hands in front of her, the delicate flower twirled maliciously trapped in the cage in between her fingers, “You said I would comprehend by the end of the game, a part of the bet if you will. I guess that’s the answer I am missing.”
The difference is barely five minutes before Sayaka emerges from one of the trap doors. So much intellect wouldn’t find no questions on the screens complicated. Sayaka’s eyes are glazy, and she launches herself in a soft dash to reach the President.
“My, Igarashi-san, you came here very quickly! You must have gotten all the questions right, didn’t you?”
The spell is broken under sweet words and Sayaka is flabbergasted to watch her enemy right before her. The raven-haired woman invades her personal space, offering her lily while she gushes about the gambling they just lived. Something inside of the Secretary snaps and she swats away Yumeko, falling onto her knees.
Without knowing her part, Yumeko had played the lines that began the crack in iron will. This is probably unfair, but Kirari desires this. She has no reason further than to reset the score, to erase the idea of the President from Sayaka’s mind and replace it with Kirari. To show her dear Secretary that she needed to sharpen herself if she was so willingly offering herself to a woman cornered in between starved wolves.
“Sayaka, wake up. You lost.”
The sentence is real, as a game, Sayaka had been defeated. Light gradually leaves shiny onyxes and while Yumeko’s words about the game are white noise to Kirari’s ears, she can see the moment Sayaka understands her mistake in her tunnel vision of a goal. Not one to make mistakes, in her piety, she grasped a part and not the whole. She never saw the big picture.
Deception is an usual image depicted by anyone standing in front of Kirari. Gamblers, politicians, students, they all regard Kirari with a feeling far harsher than pain mixed with incredulity. Not once it had bothered her. Not until today, when Sayaka’s eyes locked with hers for a second before being cast to the floor.
“I suppose it’s time for you to pay your side of the bet, Sayaka Igarashi.” Acting like a stranger is an oddity, Sayaka being the only other person besides her sister she can consider beloved by her. But the act needs to wait until the curtain drops for it to stop, to when the final response is given and they both exit the Tower into the safety of a brand new beginning. “You may choose any door you want… now jump.”
Silence is the only thing meeting Kirari, as Sayaka just stands there, eyes not focused yet weighing her options. This is her source of fascination, how even a mind that’s shut down completely still works in utter logic. It’s the real power behind Sayaka.
The woman swirls slightly, facing the door with a five marked in braille. Kirari fights off the sigh of relief bubbling inside of her, of course, the right answer. Two steps forward and Sayaka stops, gazing by the corner of her eye at the door next to it, the number four disguised in dots. Kirari blinks. What was she doing?
Completely slumped, Sayaka moves her head to fix her gaze on the President. Kirari valiantly maintains the mask of her smile and Sayaka stares at her, shattered. The Secretary loses herself in the action for a whole minute before she nods to herself and changes course, walking up to the door branded with the unlucky number.
Kirari’s fingers twitch, as she is expectant at Sayaka’s actions. The gaze of Yumeko is burning into the President’s neck as she knows. She’s been aware all along how the gamble had a fail-safe as long as Sayaka was able to see it. The right final answer.
And perhaps she did see it, yet Kirari has stated that the price to pay was to die as a stranger to her. And Sayaka has never been able to deny Kirari anything.
The door slides open and chilly air invades the floor, as Kirari’s pupils dilate, obscuring most of her azure eyes. Sayaka has let go of her hand while navigating the cliff. She has decided to be swallowed on her own.
“I humbly offer my love to you, President.”
As Sayaka hands herself to the arms of the nocturn sky, Kirari is breathless at the final act. With a void title on her lips, Sayaka once again offers her selflessness to her.
Kirari strides fast, bracing against the limit of the door, her breathing completely halted. Her hand misses by a centimeter touching Sayaka’s as her figure is engulfed by the curse of gravity. They lock eyes and there is no fantasy of a lithe figure floating on air. Just the impending drawing of a body about to crash against solid ground.
“You have your answer.” She barely calls over her shoulder, ignoring completely the smile on the other woman’s face.
Her leap has no hesitation and she has no regrets. Or well, perhaps one, that of inflicting suffering to Sayaka’s last moments as she looks horrified to have Kirari cradling her in her arms in their journey down. Kirari’s body is lax against the tense one resting against her chest, and maybe, Yumeko was right and this price is too high to pay, even for her.
There is no final salutation nor grace, not an ounce of forgiveness from a bed of white lilies, softly floating up at the impact.