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No one can be trained for a prophecy— mainly because no one knows what is at stake. The Heroes are never the people who initiate a prophecy. That responsibility falls to the Villain. The Hero is responsible for reacting, however, to whatever the Villain aims to do. So really, without the Villain, there is no Hero. That is why, whenever a new prophecy wants to begin— The Villain is the one that is marked first. 

 

That is the first tragedy. 

 

For if you control the Villain, you control the stakes of the prophecy. If you control the stakes of the prophecy, you can allegedly change the world. But how do you manipulate villains who listen to the voices of Gods and has the power to kill you to do your bidding? From what I learnt, it’s the same way you train a beast with carnal instincts to slaughter. 

 

You start them small. 

 

#Memoir 52~ Origins of Villainy by Tsuyuzaki Michiru 

 

~

 

Shiori was a person who kept track of things, kinda. It was a trait she had to learn growing up. The Temple, though generous enough with its education, was limited with its comfort. Her sisters were fine, and inside the walls, Shiori was raised well, better than most at least. It’s only outside the Temple where she faced troubles. 

 

Jealous people, bitter people, acolytes who hated her sisters more than she could ever dream of hating them took her as a weak link. It never lasted long, not when her sisters kept too much of an eye on her, not when she was fast enough to run and then hide in Mahiru’s shop. Mahiru always had a reputation of being cursed; they didn’t want to risk anything by going near her. 

 

Sure, when they hit her hard, she would get sent to the medical floors. Her sisters would be told that her illness resurfaced (for when the assailant was too valuable to lose). Or that she was bullied (when her assailant was too much trouble to keep). 

 

She knew. She denied it deep down, but she knew that the Temple wasn’t the greatest. Ignoring the way it stole her sisters, ignoring the way anyone who criticised anything within the walls would be served with punishment. Anyone who wasn’t her, at least, whose sisters made sure most harms did not come to her. 

 

But she still knew. She kept track of the patterns. She ignored it. She didn’t want to believe any other alternative. Sure Mahiru saved her, but the Temple saved her sisters. She didn’t want to believe that whilst it was terrible to her, it was not cruel to her sisters. 

 

And yet. 

 

“Those teachers of your sisters,” Michiru said, tapping the table as she eyed Shiori’s reaction, lowering her mug down. “They’re quite cruel you know.” 

 

It was terrifying how certainty could strike a hammer to her heart and break everything down. 

 

It was terrifying how mad the person looked whilst they struck the final blow. 

 

It was terrifying that no matter how hard Shiori tried, she couldn’t escape the person who pulled the trigger. 

 

“We’ll be staying here for the night and here on after,” Michiru said as they stopped on a raised clearing. It was almost on a hill, except the incline wasn’t that steep, and there was a river in walking distance. Trees gathered around the two of them like the linings of the cage, and in this clearing was enough space for two things. A cave and a fire. 

 

“Why?” Michiru gave Shiori a glance, and Shiori shuffled in her feet, trying her hardest to stay strong. “Is this really how far you’re going to take me?”

 

“Where would we take you, my dear Hero?” Michiru walked into the cave, her words mirroring a scream as the words echoed in the cave. “You are as green as the ground.”

 

“Green?”

 

“Young, new— fresh blood.” Michiru Stepped out of the cave. Her eyes paused, staring at Shiori before her shoulders dropped with a sigh. “You don’t even have a change of clothes.” 

 

Shiori looked down at herself, grimacing at the dry mud and the grass stains on her trousers, not even counting the slight tear against her blouse where Rui tried to kill her before. 

 

“Sorry, I didn’t get to pack for a hero’s journey,” she grumbled, mildly out of spite. 

 

Michiru shook her head. “No it’s fine, it was an oversight on my part.” She placed her hand into a bag, something Shiori had never seen before except her sisters. Her eyes widened when a clean set of clothes were pulled out. “Here, change into these— they should give you some proper protection.” 

 

Shiori begrudgingly accepted the clothes. It felt worn out, clean lines of mended fabrics that were almost invisible unless one looked closely. She looked down at Michiru’s bag, surprised at how there was a dim glow from the entrance before Michiru closed it. “What is that?” 

 

Michiru looked up, perplexion in her eyes. “What is what?”

 

“That bag?”

 

Michiru raised her eyebrows, the surprise clear on her face. “You’re that green?” Shiori glared at her, and Michiru gave an apologetic grin. “Sorry. It’s a spatial bag, you can hold anything you want there as long as it can get through the entrance.”

 

Shiori nodded, her mind supplying how Fumi and Claudine had their own share when they reached 18. She remembered that in the jealousy of others taking her for another easy target, Shiori stayed at Mahiru’s house for most of the celebrations. Her sisters did not take that decision kindly. “It’s endless?” 

 

Michiru shrugged. “To some degree. It’s magically made,” she explained as she patted the bag before she grabbed her walking stick on the ground. Shiori watched as Michiru took one hand and dug through the earth, creating a small but recognisable stone rune. “Anyone who is good enough with magic can create one, or at least find a way to get their own.”

 

Shiori watched, partially in awe and curiosity, as Michiru tapped the rune with her stick once more. Stray rocks, hidden underneath the trees or otherwise rolled across the ground towards the rune. There they created a small circle, big enough to house fire.  

 

“Right…” 

 

“Anyways,” Michiru clapped her hands, snapping Shiori from her thoughts. “Go inside, you’re getting the entire cave to yourself so get changed, preferably before Rui comes over.”

 

Shiori blinked. “The person who tried to kill me?”

 

“Yep,” Michiru grinned. Shiori struggled to hide a shudder with how the red eyes glowed against the setting sun in the background. “And she’ll be bringing our dinner.” 

 


 

The dinner turned out to be fish and rice. The rice was cooked over the flame in a pot, bubbling away. Underneath it, propped up by many sticks, were various fish, already descaled and deboned, grilling against the fire. Rui was saying something, what? Shiori couldn’t figure out— she went silent the second Shiori appeared. The glare was as unsettling as the atmosphere. 

 

“Shiori, glad you came out,” Michiru grinned, almost ignorant of the tangible tension in the air. The fire continued to burn between them, near-silent as it continued to crack the wood like bare knuckles. “I was worried I would need to send Rui.” She gestured to a log nearby, tapping the bark with her knuckle. 

 

Shiori recognised the threat and sat down. Rui entering the cave would result in another fight, and all three of them knew it. Rui could not stop looking at her, and in a strange sense of defiance, Shiori dared to stare back. The grip Rui had on her trousers tightened. Shiori barely saw it from the corner of her eyes. 

 

“Come now you two,” Michiru said, clapping her hand as she moved around the fire unaffected by everything. She pulled out a serving spoon and a plate and gave both of them some rice and fish. Chopsticks were given next, followed by a canter no doubt full of water. “I put some runes around so the bigger game won’t come over but still, eat soon.” 

 

Shiori eyed her food. Her stomach gnawed at her, but the distrust in her gut extinguished the sensation. She looked at Michiru, her insides tightening at that off-putting smile. “I’m not hungry.” 

 

Michiru’s eyes dropped, her smile remained, but the kindness frosted over. It felt hollow. “Saijou Yumeoji Shiori, you barely regained your strength, you need to eat.” Shiori poked the food, smoke risen up with warmth. It was homemade cooking made in the wild; much like her, it did not belong. The whiplash made her feel sick.

 

 Shiori swallowed hard. “I’m not hungry.”

 

“Look,” Michiru sighed, “I know it’s nothing like your mother’s home cooking—”

 

Something sharp struck her stomach. “My mothers are dead,” Shiori spat. The paleness in Michiru’s face cursed Shiori’s stomach; it made it hunger more. Something was not right here, and Shiori did not belong. “And I have no last name.” 

 

The silence lingered; the food had gone cold. Michiru swallowed hard. “I see… I apologise for my mistake.” 

 

Shiori wondered, was that mistake slipping out her last name, or was it mentioning her mothers? Either way, Shiori wasn’t going to let this be buried. Not when her parents were involved. 

 

“How do you know my mothers?” 

 

Michiru’s response was swift, like a cornered animal sounding hurt. The sound aggravated Shiori. Why on earth would she sound hurt? Why did she have a link to her mothers? “Same way I learned about your sisters.”

 

Nothing felt right. Shiori didn’t care anymore for Rui, even when she only tried to kill her this morning. Michiru was an enigma, and she knew her— prophecy be damned. A part of her wanted to trash the food, throw it to Michiru’s face. She wouldn’t, however, not when she knew deep down she was starving. 

 

“Bullshit!” Shiori yelled, rising to her feet. “They died long before the prophecy began.” They died of a plague that ruined the city and the life Shiori knew and loved. They died days a week or two in separation. It was the worst thing that ever happened to Shiori. She would not be so fooled to think that it was ever linked to the prophecy. 

 

“Their death is the reason why this prophecy began!” Michiru screamed back, taking out another small vial that Shiori had seen before. She did not down the vial in desperation like Shiori thought she would do. Instead, Michiru allowed one drop to fall in her water before chugging it whole. Still, amplified by the same certainty in Michiru’s voice that crushed her before, Shiori fell silent at the madness in the scene. 

 

“Now,” Michiru sighed as she wiped her lips with the sleeves of her outfit. “Eat for their sake alone if you don’t want to care about yourself.” 

 

Everything felt hollow, and yet, Shiori did as Michiru asked. She sat down and ate, questioning everything she knew once more. Were her dead mothers the reason why she’s in this prophecy? It made a lot of painful sense if it did. Everything went wrong the day they died. 

 

If her mothers didn’t die, Shiori wouldn’t have been abandoned. The Temple wouldn’t have found and stolen her two sisters away. If her parents were still around, she wouldn’t have gotten sick herself with the plague. If her mothers were alive, if only just one— either Reo or Aina were alive, then she wouldn’t have been cast beyond the walls to die in the forest in a nearby mass burial. 

 

If her mothers had been alive, she wouldn’t have met Mahiru. Mahiru, who was part of the last prophecy as the Lover. Mahiru was the biggest ire of her two sisters who trained to be heroes for the current prophecy…. 

 

In the agony of the realisation, Shiori didn’t notice that Rui was watching her, red eyes flaring in saturation in the firelight as they all quietly ate. 

 

The silence lasted for a while, broken once more by Michiru. She cleared her throat and looked at Rui with a thin line of lips. 

 

“You’re training her,” Michiru declared. Rui choked on her food, the sound stirring Shiori out of her thoughts to look up properly. 

 

“I’m sorry?” Rui asked, almost offended. 

 

“You’re training her,” Michiru repeated. She paused eating, looked at both of them, particularly Rui, with an eye of disappointment and sighed like they were too dumb to get the picture. The sight reminded Shiori too much of her sisters, and it gnawed the insides of her stomach hollow once more. “I’m not leaving the damn hero of the prophecy clueless.”

 

The hair on Shiori’s body tensed up underneath the fiery heat of Rui’s glare. She let out the words like a snarl, “If you care about her so much then you train her.”

 

Michiru smiled, it wasn’t kind, and it wasn’t happy either. There was something eerie within that thin line, emphasised by her obvious age. It made Shiori shrink into her new clothes, and although it’s clear they weren’t friends, the look on Rui’s face suggested the same. “Would you like to deal with any consequences then, should I train her even though this isn’t my prophecy, my dear Rui?”

 

The fear in Rui’s red eyes flickered, any expression melting away as she scowled, looking down and deep into the fireplace between all three of them. “She starts tomorrow morning.”

 

Michiru’s grin curled, pleased in every way possible. “That’s what I like to hear, my dear.” Rui nodded and started to scrap the sides of her bowl with her spoon, shoving everything she could into her mouth.

 

 “Oh Rui,” Michiru said before she drank her medicated drink again. “Train her like I trained you.”

 

Rui scowled, holding back a swear as she hissed and ran. Her cooked fish laid a mess on the grass, and all Shiori could do was watch, still and quiet as Michiru ran after her. The brush of a breeze danced on her skin, but she did not care. 

 

Everything else grew cold. 

 


 

Rui hit the ground running. She had to run, burn out all of this built up energy and emotions. She jumped off the charred tree, hearing it ache and groan as it fell behind her. She landed on the next tree, sliding down like it was a pole, running her hand through the wood like it was water. Instead of water flying through the air, shreds of bark tore away by her nails, filling down the claws. She only pulled away when the sound of fabric tearing apart distorted the ambience. 

 

She’ll deal with that later, Rui decided as she jumped down to a roll on the forest ground, the birds squawking once the ground shuddered, the tree behind her already rolling off down to a ditch. She continued running, dirt flinging off her feet as she sprinted. Her palms grew hot, itchy in a familiar but uncomfortable way. 

 

Stupid fucking Hero, wearing the old clothes she outgrew, stupid Rui for agreeing to train her even though the Hero would want her dead. Stupid Michiru— 

 

Rui stumbled to the ground, hitting a tree, rolling into a boulder in a ditch that made her shoulder wince. She stood up, rolling her arms with an aggravated hiss. Yeah, she deserved that one. She knew why Michiru asked her to train Shiori, and it’s not Michiru’s fault for playing it safe, not when Rui would do the same thing in worse ways. 

 

“That was quite a fall,” Michiru hummed as she appeared out of the forest woods. “Need a drink?” Rui shook her head, fixing her hair as she detangled the fallen leaves away from her hair. She then winced, touching the wet texture of blood from her jaw. Michiru chuckled, pulling out a health potion, and she swirled it around enticingly. “Are you sure~”

 

“I’m fine Michiru,” Rui grumbled, removing her glove as the pads of her palm started to heat up. She moved up, pressing it to her jaw only to wince and drop her gloves. “Ow—” She whined, looking down at Michiru, who had her stick out, armed and ready. “Michiru what are you—” She raised her hand up, Michiru smacked the hand down again. “Michiru!” 

 

Michiru glared at her, in that disappointed motherly stare that Rui doesn’t like thinking about. She hasn’t forgotten Yachiyo’s comment, no matter how much she would like to forget. “I know I’m asking a lot for you today but that doesn’t mean falling into bad habits.”

 

Rui bristled, frowning. “What habits?”

 

Michiru glared at her again. “You were about to cauterise your open wound again weren’t you?” 

 

Rui looked away, “N-no.” She hated the way she was brought to a stammer; she thought she outgrew it. Stupid Rui. Rui cleared her throat, levelling her gaze as she looked up at Michiru, matching her stare. “I mean, it was only a small wound so it won’t be that bad—” Michiru hit her again with the stick. 

 

“OW!” Rui yelled out, rubbing the top of her head with a wince. “What was that for?”

 

“No cauterising a wound when you haven’t disinfected it first, or when there is a health potion right there,” Michiru frowned, shoving the potion into Rui’s hand. “It’s a bad habit and you know it.” 

 

Rui frowned, opening the potion begrudgingly before downing the drink. “It was only a small wound.” 

 

Michiru shook her head, “That doesn’t matter. You’re doing your bad habits again, and it’s my job to make sure you don’t fall even further.” 

 

Rui grumbled, tossing the empty potion back to Michiru as her bones creaked and the wounds started to patch themselves together. “Yes, Michiru.” The name sounded more bitter than she would like it to sound.  

 

Michiru placed the lantern she was holding and hooked it on her staff before she walked forward towards the cave. Rui fixed her broken gloves back onto her hands and followed, one pace behind per usual. She lifted up Yachiyo’s scarf back to her nose. The memory of her was comforting, no matter how bitter or sweet it truly was. 

 

The walk up the hill was quiet, save for the way the undergrowth got crushed underneath their feet. 

 

Then, Michiru spoke. “Are you mad at me?”

 

“No.”

 

Michiru stopped, turning around where Rui was close enough to be at eye level with her despite the higher ground. “You’re allowed to be mad at me, Rui.”

 

Rui rolled her eyes, a huff underneath her breath. “I’m mad at you then.” She refused to look at Michiru, knowing too well she would falter in the gaze. 

 

As expected, Michiru’s voice was soft— softer than anything that Rui ever heard back in the makeshift camp. Maybe it was because she could still remember Yachiyo’s comment on Michiru being her mother. Maybe it was because she was stressed and wanted comfort. Either way, it made Rui feel like a child again. 

 

“You know why I had to do this,” Michiru said, her voice apologetic. 

 

Rui looked down. Her foot kicked a leafy bush to distract herself. “That doesn’t mean I have to like it.” How predictable, her own words were wavering. 

 

“If I could teach her I would,” Michiru continued, and already Rui shut her eyes, knowing too well what topic they would breach that she wasn’t ready to face. “But—”

 

“Can we not talk about this,” Rui interrupted, fast— hazy. Desperate. She was not ready for this conversation that lingered beneath the surface. This was more than just Michiru teaching a hero, and even when they talked about ‘this’ before, Rui didn’t want to hear it again. “Please?”

 

Michiru nodded, “Alright, how was Yachiyo?”

 

Rui stiffened, glancing in the direction of the river, red colouring her cheeks at the memory of Yachiyo’s face. Of her smile, of her laugh. “Should I even ask how you knew?”

 

“You came back in a daze and calmer than usual. Enough that you didn’t freak out that Shiori had to wear your old clothes,” Michiru replied, smirking with a mischievous glint in her eyes. “Pattern recognition indicates the only person who could do that to you, with casual ease, was Yachiyo.” 

 

“Who knows,” Rui murmured, looking down at her feet. “Maybe I saw a cute deer or something.” 

 

Michiru hummed, tapping her fingers against the staff. “Well then I’ll be proud of your control.” Rui looked up and saw the knowing smile Michiru had, the one she always wore when she knew better. “That even a cute deer could pull you out of that state.”

 

“…”

 

The smile on Michiru’s face softened, and her hand reached out, dusting the dirt off Rui’s suspenders before completing the task in full, subtly fixing up Rui’s attire. Rui stayed still, taking in the luxury of this softness with a hidden but sharp intake. It wasn’t that Michiru wasn’t soft, she was, but it was rare for her to do so out in the open. Was her fear, her embarrassment so open? Or did she just forget in all of the chaos that Michiru knew her so well? 

 

“How was she, Rui?” Michiru whispered, cupping a frail hand against Rui’s cheek. The thumb brushed tender over the years-old scar, and Rui crumbled at the touch. Her eyes closed, basking in comfort Michiru readily gave over the years they’ve known each other before Michiru, inevitably, pulled away. 

 

“Better,” Rui admitted. That much she was willing to say. She did not want to tell Michiru about Yachiyo’s scar, the complex emotions about seeing her and seeing her be happy. She did not want to tell Michiru that she missed Yachiyo. That if Rui was any weaker, she would beg her to stay. She didn’t want to tell her about the supposed Watcher mark and everything that came with that.

 

 “She has her hair up, she continued her archery. Her illusions probably improved but I wouldn’t know, she never did any with me around.” Yachiyo rarely did those tricks on her. In the same way, Rui could fold up her armour and raise the hem of her shirt, Yachiyo did the same kind of honesty. It was their own way of saying they trusted each other. 

 

Michiru nodded, clear that she was listening. She glanced up and Rui, in all her foolishness, stared at the clawed scars on Michiru’s right cheek. “And how are you?”

 

Rui let out a staggered breath, unsure how to respond. Something hit her cheek. Michiru raised her hand and wiped the stray tear away. Rui blinked hard. “Ichie forgot about you.” Her voice was breaking. Her heart ached. She could not say anything more. 

 

Michiru chuckled, the old silver parts of her hair swaying with the motion. “That explains a few things, but not your feelings.” 

 

Rui shuffled, being the first to step away. She didn’t look in Michiru’s direction, glancing down at the river and the woods and the faint curl of dying smoke in the air far away from them. They must be having dinner right now, and she couldn’t even visit for their sake and Michiru’s sake.  

 

“I mean I was calmer, wasn’t I? At least until now.” 

 

Michiru shook her head. She stared down at Rui’s hand, the claws tearing away at the gloves once again. When Michiru looked back at Rui, she looked less at her student and more at Yachiyo’s gift around her neck. Her voice sobered. The kindness was going dry. “And in a daze.”

 

A sharp intake left Rui’s lips and the tension in the air burned into something else entirely. The yearning of her friends turned to ash. The lining of the scarf was dyed with black soot. 

 

“Can we not—” Rui snarled, stumbling into politeness with jarring heavy steps. She turned to Michiru, the red in her eyes pulsing like lava popping in the air. “Talk about this as well? Please?” 

 

Michiru’s eyes were kind, but her grip on her staff tightened. “Alright, let’s talk about your training with Shiori.”

 

Rui laughed, shutting her eyes as she dragged her hand over her face. Smoke curled at the corner of her lips, twisting and twirling in a grey cloud before disappearing entirely. But, unlike her guardian, when she looked at Michiru, her eyes held hatred. “You just love to make things difficult for me don’t you.”

 

Stupid fucking Hero, stupid fucking— 

 

Michiru’s kind eyes diminished, regret and sorrow filling out the holes that were left. She looked down to the ground, tapping the walking stick in slow, heavy gestures. “Only because we don’t know the consequences of making things easier for you,” she admitted quietly, the tone of shame saying everything else that went unspoken. 

 

Rui bit the inside of her mouth, her tongue licking up the taste of blood. It was hot, tasted too much iron and had too much regret. 

 

Stupid fucking marks, making her become a mess like this. Stupid Rui, Stupid Yachiyo for visiting her even when she shouldn’t. Stupid Ichie for likely leading her here. 

 

“I would teach her if I could,” Michiru continued, the hollowness in her eyes morphing into that look of seriousness that Rui was familiar with. It was the same sight that made Rui calm down, the one that forced her senses to return whenever she stepped too close to the edge. Her back burned, but this sight alone forced it to cool. “But we both know things won’t end well if I gain a Mentor mark.”

 

Rui shivered at the title, careful not to look at Michiru and the scars on her cheeks again. She looked down at her gloves instead. They were torn and barely holding together before that alone was too much, and she looked away to the sky.

 

Rui would not last long if Michiru was the Mentor or if she was chosen to die in an unavoidable way. It would be so easy to kill her, especially when Rui was around. A villain liable to break, a loose cannon who already had one massacre underneath her name. They stayed there in quiet thought, the tappings of Michiru’s finger against her staff breaking the silence. 

 

“She’s going to die if we don’t do anything I’ll agree,” Rui broke, her breath haggard. The smoke left her lips the same way a breath did on a cold day. It collected too quickly, almost invisible in the night sky. “But— if I train her she’ll kill me.” 

 

Michiru shook her head; the light between their two bodies flickered dangerously. “You don’t know that.”

 

“I saw the look in her eye,” Rui grunted, her eyes once again meeting Michiru. “Something dangerous is there—”

 

Michiru’s eyes hardened. “Hero’s are always dangerous.”

 

“She looked ready to kill!” Rui barked back. “She wants to kill me and she doesn’t even know what I’m supposed to be for her.” 

 

“She’s her mother’s daughter—”

 

“I see it in her eyes, Michiru,” Rui snapped, biting back a feral growl. She flexed her hands, tearing more of her gloves just a bit more. “I don’t care-- I don’t know!” She yelled, “--How you think otherwise just because you met her when she was a baby but she’s not whoever you thought she was! She’s the Hero now so stop being blinded by nostalgia!”

 

Stupid Fucking Hero. Stupid Michiru for making her do this. Stupid Fucking Rui. Stupid— 

 

“Do you see it in her eyes?” Michiru said calmly, her age showing off the wisdom it harboured as she stared down Rui. She did not care for the anger, the held back snarl or the way Rui’s claws sharpened on natural instinct. She just stared, the light intensifying the dark crimson colour of Michiru’s iris. “Or do you see your own thoughts reflected in hers?”

 

Rui clenched her fist, understanding the unspoken words but refusing to believe them. “We have different irises.” 

 

Michiru didn’t change her expression. “But her eyes are similar to Yachiyo’s.”

 

Rui backed away, turning away from Michiru. The fire snapped from her fingertips. Smoke snarled its way out of her lips, slipping past her fangs and her gritted teeth. “Don’t!”

 

Yet, it was already too late. Rui already imagined the day everything fell apart. The way Yachiyo glared at her, bow in her hand, blood on her cheek. The word monster slipped out of her tongue Rui once adored. The kindness in her eyes hardened to a weight made to kill.

 

“I’m sorry,” Michiru said, meaning it truly as she walked around to face Rui once more. “But that needed to be said.” 

 

“Did it really?”

 

Michiru’s eyes narrowed, and she dug the foot of her staff into the ground. “Considering you met her recently, yes.” Uncaring for the rising heat, or the way dark smoke continued to coil itself out of Rui’s lips, Michiru pressed a finger into Rui’s chest. On the ground, the grass curled and faded into a brown decay. 

 

 “You’re letting your emotions control you again,” Michiru said. Her voice gained more momentum as the tips of her hair began to fade into silver ash. She stared down at Rui, her red eyes glinting in the heat. “Or do you think I wouldn’t notice that you’re more on the edge than normal. That you’re making easy mistakes. That you’re forgetting your grounding techniques and falling back to terrible habits like self caturising yourself because you don’t think you’re worth saving.”

 

“WELL MAYBE IF YOU RAISED ME BETTER I WOULDN’T BE THIS WAY!” 

 

Michiru stepped back, almost as if she was slapped. A visceral reaction of guilt was on her face. Rui stared into her eyes, horrified at her expression that was reflected back to her. She shouldn’t have said— she shouldn’t have said anything. God, she would love to get murdered now by the behind, preferably not by Shiori, just to escape the look on Michiru’s face. 

 

“I’m sorry,” Rui muttered, fumbling to put the words back into her mouth. “That was uncalled for.”

 

“It’s okay,” Michiru whispered, clearing her throat, blinking fast. She pulled out her walking stick and turned around. The ground squelched as she shifted. They both looked down, unsurprised that the grass had decayed into the mud. In fact, the sight made Rui feel worse. “I know you get impulsive when you’re stressed.” 

 

Rui opened her mouth but silenced it as Michiru began to walk. “You can get angry at me all you want Rui, I deserve everything you have to give.” Below her, the ground started to squelch again, and even if Rui couldn’t see her face, she knew from the way the shoulders sank, Michiru was laughing at her own misery. “Just remember, you’re the different sides of the same coin.”

 

“Train her like you trained me,” Rui finished, knowing the words by heart after hearing it so much growing up. “Be kind. I know.” If only being kind came naturally, much like the effortless way Michiru acted. If only every part of Rui wasn’t sharp and angled in a way that was deemed threatening. If only Rui could be a single percentage of what Michiru was raising her for, then maybe things would’ve been different. That Rui wouldn’t be—  Rui

 

Michiru’s laugh snapped Rui out of her thoughts, just enough for Rui to catch the three bottles of healing potions flung at her. She looked down, biting her lip at the one labelled strictly for Shiori. Even now, when Rui said cruel things, Michiru was kind. Even when they hadn’t started anything yet, she was always ready to prepare something.

 

“I taught you well,” Michiru grinned at her, brushing off the moment a few minutes ago like it was nothing. Rui smiled back, awkward and small as she felt. Michiru did teach her well, but Rui was never that great of a student.