Sakura Wars Fan Fiction ❯ Aftermath ❯ Assurances ( Chapter 1 )

[ T - Teen: Not suitable for readers under 13 ]

Author's Notes:
SPOILER WARNING!!! If you haven't seen the Sakura Taisen Kayou Show Final (Shin Ai Yueni) and have intentions of watching it, plus is allergic to spoilers, then please back out now. This story is highly inspired by that show, particularly the events in Act 2, and I don't really want to ruin such powerful scenes for you.
For those still willing to read the fic, but haven't seen the show and would like to have an idea of the scenes this story was based upon, please refer to the post notes at the bottom for a (very) short synposis.
This story was meant to be a one-shot, but it kind of became longer than what I first came up with as I went along. As such, it would most likely end as a two-parter, at most maybe three.
I had also used plenty of in-game reference throughout the entire fic, and had noted them down.
Disclaimer: Sakura Taisen is owned by Sega and Red Entertainment. I am not making a profit out of this fanfic, but still, this particular story is mine, so please don't take it.
It was a sight that most - if not all - tabloid reporters would have loved to see.
Three of the popular Hanagumi actresses were completely wasted. One was hanging all over the ticket clipper, while the other two also had to be supported by their sober peers as they were all guided back to their quarters. It was really quite fortunate that they had held their "little" party within the premises of the Great Imperial Theatre - unless their gossipy secretarial staff willed it, the public would never be aware of that night's unpleasantries.
There was a reason for their celebrations, of course. Once more, they have successfully defended the Imperial Capital from the hands of a monstrosity a madman had given birth to. It was a bitter battle were lives were once again lost but won back, and had perhaps contributed to the reason why some of them got as drunk as they had that night...
"Whaat? The niightsss... -hic- owvrrre? That can't beee... (1)Chuu'i... -hic- ... go n'... gettas'more booze!"
Oogami and Reni looked at each other, both knowing fully well that Sumire could no longer handle any more alcohol that what she had already ingested.
Sumire glared at them, since neither made any moves to grant her request. "Fine, then. I shall -hic- go'en get some m... myself..." she slurred, standing up gracefully from her bed, only to swoon and fall back down again. "Ara... I seem to have -hic- loost my footing... -hic- Chuu'i, be a gentleman and he... -hic- help me up?"
Oogami shook his head, but he did sat down beside Sumire and tried to get her to lie down. "I think you should get some rest, Sumire-kun."
"Awwww, c'mon Chu... -hic- Chuu'i!" Sumire said, her arms placed around Oogami's neck as she had earlier, much to his embarrassment. He tried to pry her away, but she was holding on just a little too tight.
"It would be best for you to cease drinking now, before you make your hang-over worse in the morning," Reni advised.
"You're no fun," Sumire pouted. "We're young! -hic- We're hii... hel... healthy! We're ALIVE!" Much to Oogami's shock, she suddenly stood up during her declaration, fist raised in the air, her face filled with determination... before she sank down again with a "hic".
"Yes, but we're not invincible," The Hanagumi's captain commented, wincing as Sumire latched on to him again.
"H-HMPH! Why don'cha tell that -hic- that to our dear lit'l country hick?!" Sumire replied, glaring at Oogami.
The somewhat relaxed atmosphere suddenly became tense. Reni looked away as Oogami stared at the intoxicated girl. "Sumire-kun..."
"Always... always making us -hic- worry! Doesn't she -hic- know that it gives me -hic- wran... wrung... wrinklesss?! That is ce-certainly unaccept… unacc... unacceptable, right, Chuu'i?!"
Oogami couldn't reply. It was a topic that was certainly on the forefront of his mind that night, but he had never expected that it would be Sumire's as well. At least, not after that wild party they just had, and with her in her current state.
Or perhaps, he thought, maybe I should have.
After all. If he hadn't anticipated that this would happen and that his help would eventually be needed, he would have loved to have gotten drunk for what was probably the same reason.
Sumire slightly pushed herself away from him, her expression pained as she tightly gripped his shirt.
"You! -hic- You!! She listens to you!! You tell 'er... -hic- you tell 'er, Chuu'i... that if it happens again, I shall... -hic- drag 'er back n' kill 'er! -hic- My lack of (2)reiryoku be damned! Under... und... got that?!"
Oogami gave her a faint smile. "I think it would be better if you told her yourself," he said.
But Sumire was not listening. Her face was pressed against the sleeve of his shirt, mumbling incomprehensively, though Oogami was certain he was able to pick up words such as "stupid", "dumb", and "martyr" somewhere. His sleeve was also getting noticeably damp...
He glanced at Reni, who was once more looking back at them. Though her face didn't show it, her eyes revealed that she, too, was still bothered - if not haunted - by the day's events. He didn't need any mirrors to know that his own were probably reflecting hers, either.
If this was how Sumire, Reni, and himself were, the rest of the Hanagumi were probably feeling the same way.
It was going to be a long, restless night.
Not long after her sudden outburst, Sumire finally fell asleep, her head rested on Oogami's shoulder. After easing Sumire into bed, Oogami exited the room and waited for Reni as she changed the older girl's clothes into something more suited for sleeping. He could have already left, but he knew he couldn't leave without speaking to the young German.
Besides, the person he most wanted to talk to that night was busy with someone else.
Sakura held Kohran upright on her bed as Iris buttoned up her pyjamas. The Chinese girl was in a lethargic state - she hadn't passed out from the alcohol, but it seemed as if she wasn't aware of what was going on around her either. She just sat there, smiling at nothing, gnawing contentedly as she let her friends dress her up.
Though she tried not to show it, Sakura was actually worried about Kohran. It was not the first time Kohran had any alcohol, but she usually knew her limits, and never got this intoxicated before.
“There we go!” Iris said cheerfully as she finished, picking up Jean Paul from Sakura's lap and standing up straight. “Kohran can go to sleep now!”
Her companion nodded. Making sure that she wouldn't be hitting any of the odd machines that were strewn on the floor, Sakura stood up, still holding on to Kohran's arms as she gently laid her on the mattress. Sakura then knelt down near her friend's head and smiled. “We'll be leaving now,” she said softly. “Sweet dreams, Kohran.”
Without warning, Kohran suddenly grabbed on to one of Sakura's hands, her once peaceful face now registering what was almost a manic desperation. “NO!! Don't go!!!”
“K-Kohran...?” Sakura stammered, surprised at the sudden movement.
“You can't leave us!” Kohran cried, her voice full of despair. “You have to stay with us... you hear?!”
“But Kohran, Sakura isn't going anywhere,” Iris reasoned.
“You sure?” Kohran asked in a small, insecure voice.
The swordswoman placed her free hand on Kohran's, wincing a bit as her friend tightened her grip on her other hand. “I was just going to bed. I won't be going anywhere else,” she reassured.
“Thank goodness,” Kohran said, her shoulders shaking as she began to sob. “Sakura-han... Sakura-han...”
Sakura shot Iris a questioning look, but the young French could only shrug as she failed to meet her eyes. Iris obviously knew more, but she wasn't talking. For the moment, anyway.
“I'm so sorry, Sakura-han,” Kohran sobbed. “I have devoted my entire life to science, and yet I could still do nothing when it really counted... I'm truly worthless...”
“That's not true!!” Iris suddenly exclaimed. “You helped Iris bring Sakura back! Everyone helped! Without everyone, Iris would have...” She discontinued and bit her lip.
Though Sakura personally could not remember anything her little companion had said, the fact that they were able to talk to their distressed friend was proof enough that what they had done had worked. “Iris is right. The both of us are here today because of the Hanagumi. And I am able to be in front of you right now because my wounds were healed by the medi-pod. See?” She lifted Kohran's hands and held them close to her heart. “Kohran...”
Kohran smiled weakly as she felt the comforting warmth of her friend's hands. “That's true, isn't it? It worked... and you were able to fight the monster because of it, right?”
Sakura nodded.
“You totally beat the living crap out of it, right?”
Sakura grinned widely. She most certainly did. With her wielding her father's sword, combined with the blood of the Haja flowing through her veins, the monster stood no chance.
“... You won't ever leave us again, right?”
The swordswoman opened her mouth, but no sound came out. She swallowed hard, unable to say anything.
How ironic that the thoughts she just had earlier about the advantages she gained from her family's inheritance were now the same thoughts that were causing her distress.
“I don't want to lose anyone ever again,” Kohran continued, her voice was getting fainter as she slowly succumbed to sleep. “My family... Ayame-han... Sakura-han... please, no more...”
Sakura was still speechless as she stared at Kohran's slumbering, yet still visibly troubled form. She waited until her friend's breathing was even before gently disengaging herself from the hands that were still holding on to hers.
However, it had not been long before another hand replaced Kohran's.
Looking down, Sakura saw that Iris was staring at her intensely. She knew that the younger girl could read her heart, and of the turmoil that raged within it, which had grown in intensity since Kohran's last question.
“It's getting late... shall I take you to your room?” Sakura whispered.
Iris nodded, but didn't take her eyes off her. Being Iris' unofficial caretaker, it was not at all uncommon for Sakura to take her to her quarters for the evening every now and then. However, she knew that that night would not be a normal visit. It wouldn't be full of fairy tales and happily ever afters, as they once were when Sakura still read to Iris before bed.
Thanks to her emphatic powers, it was quite obvious that Sakura wanted to talk to her privately, and she already had an idea of what it was about.
She also didn't have any intentions of giving in to the request which she knew would follow.
“I see. I'm glad to hear that everyone is all right,” Orihime said.
Maria ran a hand through her platinum blonde hair; the other made sure that the (3)kinematron was steady on her lap while she knelt in a (4)seiza position beside Kanna's (5)futon. “It was truly fortunate that you were able to sense what's going on here even though you're so far away.”
Orihime made a shooing gesture at the video monitor. “Of course, de-su! It's truly nothing. I'm just sorry I missed the fiesta!”
The Russian chuckled softly. “I have to go. We hope to hear from you again soon.”
“Yes, well, I shall keep in touch. Good fortune, Maria-san! (6)Ciao!”
Maria closed the kinematron and turned to look at Kanna, who was already lying on her futon, a damp washcloth on her face. “Are you feeling better?” she asked.
Kanna sighed. “Yeah. I'm actually quite sober now,” she answered, taking off the cloth as she sat up. “I'm sorry, Maria. I can imagine that you had to take care of the mess...”
Incredibly drunk, Kanna ended up being quite sick as she was being assisted to her room. Fortunately for Maria, she was given enough warning that she had time to open the nearest window and thrust Kanna's head out just as the woman began to flush the alcohol out of her system. It had just been a simple matter of taking a hose and washing the mess away at the courtyard later on while Kanna was recovering.
Maria waved her hand, telling her that she didn't mind. “It's all right. Just try to control yourself next time.”
Kanna smirked. “Yeah.”
The two friends remained silent for a while, each with their eyes closed, lost in their own thoughts. Maria eventually made a move to stand up. “I have to get going,” she said.
“Is this what it felt like?” Kanna suddenly asked.
Maria turned to look at her. “What do you mean...?” she inquired after a short pause, even though she already knew what Kanna was talking about.
“Back in Russia. During the war. You must have lost a lot of friends, didn't you?”
The markswoman didn't reply.
Kanna snorted. “Yeah, sure, we've lost someone before... Ayame-san had been a huge blow to us. But then, even though a lot of things happened in the years after that, we managed to pull through. For a while, I thought, with all of us together and guarding each other's backs, it can't happen again. But now...”
“What exactly are you trying to say?”
Kanna clenched her fists in anger. “Damn it, Maria, I was there! I was so close! Maybe if I hadn't stopped to have a chat... if I hadn't grabbed something to eat... if I had just simply walked faster, then maybe...”
Memories of a harsh Russian winter began creeping back into Maria's mind. She closed her eyes, willing it to go away. (7)After Setsuna's defeat, she was no longer haunted by the memory, but due to recent events, she wasn't quite sure if she could handle it as well as she had for the past how many years.
“I didn't even hear the sounds of battle!” Kanna continued bitterly. “Thanks to my inattention, by the time I got there, it was too late, and... and... (8)kuso, there was so much blood...”
She gritted her teeth as the events of that day came flashing back...
The usual pink kimono as dark red as her hakama.
The white towel quickly transforming into the same shade of red as she tried to stop the bleeding.
Quick, shallow breaths taken, all in vain as too much blood was lost, no longer able to carry the precious oxygen.
The painful admission from the dying herself that she would not survive.
Body falling limp... hearts stopping, one literally and one figuratively... a mournful howl...
“Kanna!” Maria yelled as she shook her shoulders. “Kanna! Snap out of it!!”
Kanna suddenly opened her eyes, surprised to find the moisture in them. Her fists had been so tightly clenched, her palm began to bleed.
She couldn't take it any longer. The vision of Sakura dying in her arms was just too much to bear. Kanna was no stranger to death, and she normally didn't break down easily. But when you could only watch helplessly as someone you consider as family died a painful death within inches in front of you, things change.
“Maria... I... I can't...”
Maria took the damp cloth on the futon and began to wipe Kanna's hands with them. “It's not your fault,” she said softly.
“But I wasn't able to save her...”
The Russian shook her head. “Kanna, it's not your fault,” she insisted.
Kanna didn't look convinced. In her mind, there could have been so many things she could have done in order to prevent what had happened, and she didn't know if she could ever forgive herself for it.
Maria sighed. She wasn't good at this... she just had her own demons settled not too long ago! And she, too, was still extremely troubled by the events that took place that day. But she knew that Oogami was also too preoccupied dealing with the other Hanagumi members - she just saw him with Reni when she had gone back to Kanna's room after cleaning the mess at the courtyard. The least she could do as his vice captain was to help him out.
“Look,” she began. “The important thing is that you didn't know it was going to happen. Nobody knew. If you had known in advance, you certainly would have done everything in your power to save her, right?”
“Of course I would!!”
“Besides, if you hadn't brought her back as early as you did despite the circumstances, she might have already been too far gone for Iris to have helped...”
Kanna smiled bitterly. “I had assured her that the medi-pod would take care of her wounds.”
“And take care of them, it did,” Maria said. “But as for the pods not being able to bring her back to life, don't consider it to be another failure. If I'm not mistaken, Kohran is still berating herself over that, too. There's no need for the both of you to be so worked up about it.
“If it was truly that easy to bring people back from the dead without any repercussions, then we wouldn't be where we are today.”
Maria closed her eyes and looked back, putting her mental defences down and allowing her memories to take over. Remembering her captain's death was still very painful for her. However, the event eventually led to her being “discovered” by Ayame and brought to her new family. And though she was distant at first, for each passing year it has become increasingly difficult for Maria to imagine a life without the Hanagumi.
“Don't allow guilt or regret to consume you. You did what you can, and that was enough.” Maria laid a hand on her friend's shoulder. Don't be like me, she added silently.
Kanna nodded slowly. She then smirked and rubbed her nose. “Heh... I'm sorry. I must have been acting really weird.”
“Well, you haven't been your usual self,” Maria said, smiling a bit. “I thought perhaps it was the alcohol.”
“You think?”
“Hehe... well, whatever it was, thanks.”
And then they grew silent again, enough for them to hear the muffled voices carried over by the wind from Iris' room.
“I'm so glad they're both okay,” Kanna finally said.
Maria nodded. “Me, too.”
Kanna plopped back down on her futon. “I guess I better get some rest.”
Her companion stood up. “I had better return to my quarters as well.”
“Hey, Maria? One last question?”
Maria looked at her questioningly. “What is it?”
“Do you think you would have still been able to say all of that stuff even if she hadn't been revived?”
Maria thought for a moment, before shaking her head and giving an honest answer. “I don't know.”
Story Notes:
(1) - "chuu'i" - First Lieutenant (in the army), or Lieutenant Junior Grade (in the navy), the latter perhaps better for Oogami as he's from the navy.
(2) - "reiryoku" - spirit energy
(3) - "kinematron” - video conference machine the size of a briefcase that Kohran invented, debuting in Sakura Taisen 2
(4) - "seiza" - sitting on one's lower legs, with feet underneath and toes pointing backwards. Can get quite painful when used in long duration.
(5) - "futon" - flat mattresses, usually laid on tatami (woven straw) mats and tucked away when not in use.
(6) - “ciao” - Italian word of salutation
(7) - Reference: Sakura Taisen 1 Episode 3
(8) - "kuso" - swear word
An Extremely Short Synopsis of Act 1&2:
The Hanagumi were planning to do a reproduction of Ai Yue Ni. As Orihime was not present in Tokyo, Sumire was invited to help (despite her retirement due to her reiryoku disappearing), thus her presence in the story.
However, peace in Tokyo was being threatened. A mad doctor created monsters, one of them particularly powerful, and unleashed them to the city. Sakura, in particular, was ambushed, and though she was able to hold up on her own, things quickly went from bad to worse when the monster took a woman and her baby hostage. By the time an oblivious Kanna arrived, the monster had gone, and all she saw was a fatally injured Sakura. It was not long afterwards when Sakura died.
Kanna, in denial, brought her back to the Teigeki and laid her into one of the medical pods at the basement. It didn't work. Kohran said that the pod could not revive the dead, much to her dismay. Iris, who had just recently discovered that she could bring living things back to life by offering a part of her own, was determined to sacrifice herself for Sakura. The rest of the Hanagumi then asked Iris to share the burden with them (even Sumire, despite her weak reiryoku).
Everyone was okay, Sakura was revived, she defeated the monster with Arataka, they celebrated, and Act 2 ends. Medetashi, medetashi! Hehe.