Once you’re cleared up, you head out into the hospital food court for a bite to eat. A nice, full breakfast to get yourself started.
…by which you mean you have dorayaki and an iced capp, Quebec style. Eh, who cares, you almost died! Kind of. Even Calvina won’t argue about empty calories, right?
At the very least, you now have a chance to check out what Korri’s been up to. She always leaves a ton of messages for you, and it should be just about time for the morning break…
[17:01 04/29/42] grantuseyes: rpid://spotfl.ix/24Ur_OdR7yo
[17:03 04/29/42] grantuseyes: Finally had a chance to listen. It’s pretty interesting, though…you know, David Bowie specifically chose that vocalist to try and break up a particularly noxious view of Japanese women…
[17:03 04/29/42] grantuseyes: We still have that one now, don’t we? No matter how many counter-examples…old memes die hard, I guess.
[17:04 04/29/42] grantuseyes: Sexism in general, really. Maybe, if there’s a real heroine out there, it’s a girl as cute as you?
(You don’t really know why, but Korri has a bad habit of saying things that are extremely on-the-nose.)
[17:24 04/29/42] grantuseyes: …hm, that’s right. I still can’t believe you didn’t go to the concert! Marina was even opening up for them, right?
[17:26 04/29/42] grantuseyes: Hm, but…it’s interesting. Lauren has had her own struggles. She lived through the Collapse, but before that…
[17:30 04/29/42] grantuseyes: Love is Dead came out just before then. If you chart the progression of all three albums, there’s definitely a sense where the emotions and the lyrics shifted from more metaphorical toward something that more directly brought out the feelings of the end of an era…
[17:30 04/29/42] grantuseyes: A desire to fight.
[17:31 04/29/42] grantuseyes: You know, it’s probably not too late to ask your mom to go. Like she says, it might be your last chance!
…right for the gutpunch, that one. Future-past-you should’ve told you not to go to the protest, not done all this weird stuff and try and make you brainwash people, least of all Korri!
[11:02 04/30/42] qubeley004: Maybe I should have gone, though. I got into an accident. ^^;
[11:05 04/30/42] grantuseyes: Oh no! D: Are you okay?
[11:06 04/30/42] qubeley004: Calvina even told me I didn’t have to…I literally left it to a coin flip! :mouuu:
[11:07 04/30/42] qubeley004: But I’m okay. It wasn’t serious.
[11:08 04/30/42] grantuseyes: I’m glad to hear it, at least. I had a bad feeling, maybe I should’ve insisted…
[11:09 04/30/42] grantuseyes: Then again, you already made your signs, right? You didn’t get the Korean wrong this time, did you?
[11:10 04/30/42] qubeley004: Nah, after that incident, I made sure to ask Aunt Junon first.
[11:11 04/30/42] qubeley004: Besides, I felt it was more important. Not getting to see Lauren again will sting, but I bet she’ll still be around. And Marina, well, I’ll get more opportunities to see her in concert, for sure.
[11:12 04/30/42] grantuseyes: Yeah, I get it. We have to take care of ourselves, but you still push yourself to help others, huh?
[11:13 04/30/42] qubeley004: You could say my hobby is saving people!
[11:14 04/30/42] grantuseyes: Hee, that’s just like you. :heart: I still remember, though, how embarrassed you got when we were kids and we saw Lauren for the first time on stage…
[11:15 04/30/42] qubeley004: Uh, yeah, embarrassed. ^^;
(Yes, embarrassed. Definitely nothing more than that.)
…but, ugh. How can she be so cute, even over text?! Korri’s just so amazing…you really should confess to her, just to get it all off your mind.
[11:18 04/30/42] grantuseyes: I need to do a thing before going back to class, so. Catch you tonight, I hope? Do rest up, if you need!
[11:21 04/30/42] qubeley004: I might catch you at school, actually. I have things I want to do, you know?
[11:22 04/30/42] grantuseyes: Oh, right…your girlfriend, huh? ;)
[11:23 04/30/42] qubeley004: Hush, you. :T
[11:23 04/30/42] grantuseyes: :3 Right, see you later, and have fun~
Yeah. Really should. You don’t know how you feel, holding this over her. She’s not even gay, and you definitely shouldn’t think of making her gay; such a thing would surely be unforgivable! Even if she’s been treated so horribly by guys – no, bad thoughts, bad thoughts!
Er. Right. Korri’s going to be busy for a while, so now all you’ve really got to do is wait. It’ll probably be a little bit, since your place is a bit far from here, but…well, now it’s time for the waiting game!
Okay, huh, this is taking a long time. Your Quebec style iced capp is already gone! Even at extra large! Well, you do drink kind of a lot of it, so maybe it hasn’t actually been that long, but you’re sure it wouldn’t hurt to check in.
You pop open your phone, poke your brother’s name, and wait for the answer.
Well, if he’s on the scooter, it might be a bit difficult, but it’ll at least remind him if he’s gone off to play with the gacha machines at Tokyo Shop or something.
It is kind of weird, though. Who makes phone calls these days? Even your parents are more comfortable texting –
♪ LISTEN TO MY SOOOOOOOOOONG! OOOO-OOOOH!
okay who the hell is playing J-pop that loud in public –
In the distance, there, a young man with ratty, messy black hair, carrying a couple of motorcycle helmets, looking down on his phone, wearing a faded and well-worn Twilight Sparkle t-shirt…
That’s your brother Marq, alright.
You hang up your call and walk right up to Marq, smiling brightly, to spare him the embarrassment. “New ringtone, huh, Marq?”
Marqus Epeli Imanis – or Marq, as you and Korri have called him since you were kids – is probably the person in your family you’re closest to. Certainly, you’ve trusted him with things you haven’t anyone else.
“I thought it was time for a change of pace. ‘Connect’ is great, but it’s nice to switch up every once in a while.” Marq pockets his phone, and gives you an enthusiastic wave. His shirt has that happy-looking pony princess waving and saying, ‘Sparkle like a Unicorn!’. “You should watch Symphogear, by the way.”
More magical girls? He really wants to get you into them, huh? “You’d be surprised how often I hear that, Marq!”
Well, okay. Marq’s a bit of an underachiever, a bit passive and placid, meandering through life without a care. You know some of your aunts and uncles think he should have a bit more focus on his future. (Then again, don’t they say the same about you?)
There’s a lot of reasons you get along well, though! (Something your psychology teacher told you to keep in mind, to observe and recognize that feeling in others.) You share quite a few hobbies, you’re mutual friends with Korri, and he’s helped you through some of the bad times in your life.
But the biggest reason, really…
“Well, don’t all lesbians dream of having someone they love enough to sleep on the top half of a bunk bed with?” Marq wiggles his eyebrows, and you giggle.
“That seems like it’d be crowded. I can barely fit on the top bunk as it is, adding another person would be pretty tough!”
“That’s okay. The bunk beds at the Lydian Academy are built for two!”
You smile ear-to-ear. Having a yuri fanboy for a sibling? Really, that’s the best big brother a lesbian could ask for!
“Sorry about the trouble,” you say, as the two of you start walking through the hospital. The ‘food court’ is more of a massive entrance hall, full of small stores and food stands, massive granite walls extending all the way to the skylight on either side. “I didn’t expect to get into an accident or anything, and I guess Mom wants you to check on me.”
“It’s fine, it’s fine.” Your brother waves his hand dismissively, sighing. “Walpurgisnacht doesn’t begin in earnest until sunset, anyway. It’s not a big deal.”
“Right, right.” Of course, it makes sense that Marq gets along with the Fourth Order, though how a religion based on magical girl anime started is something you can only guess at – so naturally, he’d be interested in their Walpurgis Night celebrations, too. “Just, be careful, okay? Who knows if it might get violent again this year.”
“Eh, I’m tougher than I look.” Marq mockingly raises one of his completely flabby arms and ‘flexes’ it. “See? Ain’t no one gonna kick my ass, as long as they’re not stronger than a small child.”
You giggle, smiling brightly. Marq always knows how to cheer you up, huh? “I guess you know how to stay out of trouble! I’d go, but I should probably at least try to start my classwork early this year.”
“You really should! You might meet a nice girl, y’know? Which, about that.”
Marq stops cold, smoothly turning toward you and pointing his fingers at you.
“E-eh?!” You look around nervously. Oh no, is something wrong?!
“You were trying to impress Calvina again, weren’t you?!”
You’ve been caught!
“Uh, I don’t know what you’re talking about!” you say, as innocently as you can manage, eyes shifting this way and that. “I was there to draw attention to inequities in labour and compensation –”
“Come on, Cibele. I know you better than that! In fact, I have several key pieces of evidence that demonstrates your motivations!” Marq grins confidently, baring his teeth as his finger points to your hair. “Exhibit A – dark blue hair!”
“W-well, I just wanted a change of pace, you know!”
“And I’m sure it has nothing to do with Calvina complimenting your hair that one time? The reason you’ve kept it in pigtails for five years?”
“I-it’s a coincidence!”
“And you spent an hour putting on makeup, too!”
“I’m out of practice! I wanted to make sure to get it exactly right, for, um…” You look aside, blushing. “For reasons which have nothing to with Calvina Aeterna, I mean! Er, not that she doesn’t always look gorgeous…”
“The neck scarf?”
“Chokers were all in the wash!”
“Your ‘HERO’ t-shirt?”
“I thought maybe it’d look, y’know, sporty and fun. I don’t think the yellow shirt and green shorts go well together, though…”
You wish you were a bit more fashion-inclined, really. Maybe that’s part of the problem – your looks are always a bit out of date, or chosen more for sentimentality than anything else. Blue hair isn’t in this season – these days, red hair is the way to go, like Calvina’s sported since switching from blue a while back.
(You’re not exactly the kind of person to go with the flow, though, are you?)
“Face it, it’s written all over – you want Calvina to notice you! Which, I kind of get, but you should probably chase girls you think might actually be interested, you know?”
“She’s never outright said she’s straight! Only very heavily implied it!” Not that Calvina’s ever had a boyfriend, mind you. “It’s not like there are any girls that are interested in me.”
“I dunno, there should be plenty of girls, really. Like, uh, what’s her name, from school, Xiao-Yin –”
“The mysterious Li Xiao-Yin?! No way, I’m out of her league!” You rub the back of your neck. “Besides, we barely know each other! I just want Calvina to notice I’m not a kid anymore, you know?”
“And you got hit by a truck while your head’s in the clouds…” Urk. Well, he’s not wrong…”I get it, though. Calvina’s got a lot of admirers, and it’s hard to earn her respect. I barely did back in uni.”
“Did you ever try asking her out?” Marq’s the whole reason you got into fencing, and Calvina was a big part of why he even tried back in the day.
“Hell no. I bet if I ever did, she’d run me right through with a sword! Which, admittedly, might be kinda hot…”
It’s times like this you’re glad to have a family. Even if an ex-psych-major is always on the nose where you’re concerned.
“Just…I don’t get it,” you mutter. “I’m nineteen. It feels like I should’ve had these kinds of experiences by now. No offense.”
“None taken. Well, I’m not a lesbian, you know?” Marq says, as if it wasn’t obvious. “Even if I think girls should love girls.”
“We can call you ‘an ally of girls’, then!” You snicker at your own lame joke. “Heh. But no, I’m thinking like…the other lesbians in the family have good luck, right? Plus, they’re all really gorgeous…” Speaking of your whole family, at least, across the world.
“You’re pretty cute yourself,” says Marq.
“Ehe.” Compliments aren’t bad, but it’s not quite the same when it’s family, is it? “But like, there’s Vanessa, right?”
“Movie producer. That opens a lot of doors.”
“Famous actress! Besides, she had to take ages to figure out her orientation, remember?”
“And Grandma Gaia, may she be remembered?”
“She found her beloved in the worst times of her life. I should hope civilization shouldn’t have to collapse for you to find love, Cibs.”
“Oh! And Aunt Vesta! She has like, four girlfriends!”
Marq shakes his head. “Not the best comparison. Vesta’s life is literally an anime! Which is quite ironic, since she hates anime.”
“Is that the right use of ‘ironic’? Or ‘literally’?”
“Uh, probably?” Marq laughs awkwardly. “Point being, you can’t judge yourself against the context of others. As they might say in the Fourth Order, the Adversary works in mysterious ways.”
“Not the Goddess?” You’re not entirely knowledgeable about this ‘magical girl religion’ thing, though you’re sure Marq has told you before at some point…
“The Adversary is the patron of love, Cibele!” Marq puts special emphasis on that word, for whatever reason. “Trust me, Cibs – someday, someone’s going to pull you down from heaven. You can’t read people’s minds; for all you know, there’s lots of girls who have a thing for you at school. Some girl might disrupt your providence for the sake of love, if you know what I mean.”
It’d be nice to be sure.
Marq’s given you a lot of advice over the years. He’s taught you more than even Mama or Papa has. Hell, he’s the one who helped you realize you were a lesbian in the first place. Only Korri’s been a better friend to you. But, when he says something like this, it’s not the same if it’s family –
but, he’s wrong about one thing.
You can read someone’s mind, now. Thanks to future-past you.
And thanks to future-past-you, you can feel the quasi-physical presence of Marq’s mind, entirely focused on you. All it takes is to reach for it, and:
I don’t get it, though. Do these girls not have eyes? A girl this cute shouldn’t be ignored!
And you smile to yourself, in private. It’s a light you’ve found inside an ocean of night, of loneliness and longing, but knowing that he’s not just saying it for the sake of family – both from the words, and the warmth of emotion that comes from them – does help your confidence a little.
Maybe you can prove future-past-you wrong after all, huh?
“So we’ll head home, and you can relax tonight. The accident wasn’t serious, but it’s a good enough excuse to take a break, right?”
“Actually, I was thinking of heading to school after lunch.”
“Huh? Really? That doesn’t sound like you.”
“No, you see,” you say, “it’s psychology class.”
“Ooooh.” Marq whistles. “Yeah, I get it now. Nothing stands in the way between my little sister and a crush, huh?”
After all, as long as you have people fighting for you, you’re not alone. Just like you’ve fought for the people you care about and the people of Southern Sun who need it most, you know that there are people willing to fight for you in return.
…but, about that.
You wonder, as you walk out the door and into the courtyard, the fountains before you and the river ahead, what it is that you’re here to do with the power in these hands of yours. What kind of heroine the city, the world truly needs.
Because you’d like to think the world is getting better. That every day, the small things you and everyone else does makes it that much easier for people to live. That the reason you’re able to live, to love girls, to walk among all races and cultures as equals, is because always, someone, somewhere out there is fighting for you. Because of the sacrifices made by people like Calvina, Aunt Vesta, or your beloved Grandma Gaia. That saving the world isn’t just something one person does, but that we all can do, every moment of our lives. That you don’t need miraculous powers to build a better future.
But you can’t help but think, as you stare out before your beloved Southern Sun, as the mechanical birds scatter in flight before you, their silhouettes framing the sun…
maybe this city needs a miracle.
Marqus Epeli Imanis