Story: Defences Down (chapter 1)

Authors: Nomad Skye

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Chapter 1

[Author's notes: Post-anime, spoilers apply.]

Hotaru rested, at last in her bed after a long day of work on her new special project. Almost ready to drift off to sleep, she ignored a continuous sound outside her window. But as it continued still, Hotaru gradually opened her eyes. Something was hitting her window. Could it be a hailstorm? Not likely, considering today's weather and the report for tomorrow. Not to mention the sound wasn't as constant as hail would tend to be. A bird? Wouldn't it figure out there was nothing there the first, maybe second time?

That kind of determined stupidity reminded her of something. Well, someone. Since Mikan's great drama of thinking Hotaru was moving away had ended, Hotaru hadn't seen much of her. So it wasn't her at the window, because her alice had nothing to do with being able to fly up to a third story window. Hotaru heard another tap. Maybe she should consider just opening the window and seeing what it was.

Hotaru eventually decided to do just that. Groggily, she walked over to the window and opened the shade. She saw nothing. She then opened the window and took a peak outside. "HOTA-" a familiar voice and having to dodge a small pebble woke Hotaru up all the way.

On the ground, Mikan put her hand over her mouth. She had meant to be quiet so she would only catch Hotaru's attention, not anyone else's in the building. "Hotaru," she called in her loudest whisper.

Hotaru looked down, seeing a person sporting a pair of pigtails in the dim light. Of course it was Mikan, she realized. She should have known that all along.

"Hotaru," Mikan called again in whisper. She saw something come down from Hotaru's window, and then felt herself in a mechanical grasp. "Ah- AH!" Mikan fretted. Then she saw Hotaru's face close up, Hotaru placing a finger to her lips. Mikan did the same, stuttering a "Shh-shh-shh" and then found her feet on the solid floor.

"What are you doing here?" Hotaru asked, sitting back down on her bed as she used a mechanical control to put her grabbing invention away.

"I can still see my Hotaru, since you're not going to a foreign country after all. Isn't that right? You don't mind?"

"Yes," Hotaru confirmed. "But you're also allowed to see me. You don't have to sneak around at night, dummy. Just come knock at my door during regular hours like a normal person."

"Oh..." Mikan realized. "That's right. I shouldn't have come all this way to bother you. I'm sorry, Hotaru."

"It's fine."

"I'm really, really, sorry! I know my Hotaru is so busy! I didn't want to bother you, but, two days away was enough. I mean, two days away, thinking of my Hotaru-"

"I said it's fine. I know already that I can expect things like this from you."


"Really," Hotaru said in a monotone voice, but looked right into Mikan's eyes, asserting her honesty.

"Yay! I'll be sure to visit you every day! We'll have such fun! Don't you think? Don't you think so? I can't wait to see you tomorrow."

"Right, tomorrow. Meaning tonight you leave and go walk back to your dorm. I'll get you back down now."

"Thank you, Hotaru. You're always so kind!"

"Right..." Hotaru said. Stop exaggerating is what she might have otherwise expressed, but she felt too tired at that moment to argue. Instead she just put her arm around Mikan. "Good night, Mikan," she said, and then kissed her on the cheek.
Mikan turned around and slapped Hotaru. "Why you-" Mikan began angrily, but then stopped suddenly. She looked at her hand, then at Hotaru's surprised expression. "Hotaru... I..."

Hotaru held her stinging face. She hadn't been expecting that. And of course, Mikan, not feeling the force of her defensive measures, knew she hadn't been expecting it. It wouldn't be too difficult to come to the truth. Hotaru suppressed her panic. Mikan could know now. Problems they'd had before with their relationship had greatly dissipated, especially in light of Mikan's speech when she'd thought that Hotaru had been moving away. It might have been because of those recent confessions that Hotaru had let her guard down and her feelings out for even a second.

"Hotaru..." Mikan said.

"Mikan..." Hotaru said, looking at her love.

"I..." Mikan began. "You..." she continued. "I hurt you! I hurt my Hotaru!" Mikan cried, clutching onto Hotaru and sobbing slightly.

Mikan was soon smashed against the wall by one of Hotaru's machines. "Dummy. I deserved it," she said.

"How can you say that? Hotaru is always so kind, so helpful, so loving."

"No, I'm not," Hotaru admitted. "I'm insensitive, want you to help yourself, and have never before today so much as kissed you."

"That's right..." Mikan realized.

"It's not that I don't want you to like me, Mikan."

"I'll love Hotaru no matter what! Even if... Hotaru will never love me too."

"Is that what you think?" Hotaru said, putting her hand on Mikan's shoulder.

"It's the truth, Hotaru. Even if I can manage without you now, I don't want to. I'll always love you."

"Dummy..." Hotaru said, looking away. "I just needed to know you could live without me. Self-preservation is a very important skill in this school, and in life. I was only ever cold for your own good. I always loved you, no matter how I acted."

Mikan took a hold of Hotaru, and gave her a much more passionate kiss than Hotaru had given her. When they broke apart, Mikan laughed nervously. "I dreamed about doing so many times before," she explained. "But now that it happened... Well, was it nice?" she asked Hotaru.

"Come here," Hotaru said, hugging Mikan closer. Mikan, used to Hotaru's awkwardness with words, just enjoyed the embrace, knowing it was Hotaru's way of showing her affection right then. Before long they fell asleep next to each other, similar to how the two girls had been on summer nights in their hometown. However, Mikan was finally sure of the answers to the questions that had bothered her from then until now. Yes, Hotaru's love was similar to her own, and yes, they could be together.

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