And then I hear it...the sound of her wings...

Which came first, the phoenix or the flame?

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This Must Be Hell
Title: This Must Be Hell
Fandom: X
Rating: K+
Characters: Kanoe, Hokuto, Seishirou, Kotori, Nataku, Satsuki
Warnings: none
Summary: For surely there couldn't be anything worse than dying and ending up in the same place as the Sakurazukamori with a karaoke machine?

The chirpy little sister of their Kamui had greeted Kanoe chirpily when she woke up, on flat tiles in what looked like the lobby of a four-star hotel, with a phantom of the pain from where a certain damned Angel had apparently taken great offence about something she said, and promptly plunged his hand through her heart.

"Welcome to the afterlife Kanoe-san." she had said, with her long blond hair hanging down in bright strands, more full of life than Kanoe had ever seen it. "If you are still feeling the pain of your death, I am instructed to tell you that it will soon pass. Also I am instru-"

Kanoe scowled, pushing her own dark hair out of her face. "I'm sure none of us have felt exactly the same amount of pain that you have." she interrupted darkly, "And I don't want to hear any more instructions from whoever predated you for our chosen future."

The annoyance was prevented from responding by a loud cackle, and another girl popping up, one who's appearance had Kanoe scrambling back from where she lay. "Too bad dreamseer-chan!" she snickered. "Because I'm the one who got here first, and I've had the run of the place longer than anyone else!"

Kanoe was struck speechless by the utter lack of resemblance to her male reflection in the real world. Just from her tone of voice, she came off as the exuberant to his hesitant, the joy to his sorrow, the life to his death. Except that she was dead. "Who are you?" she said in frank terror.

And another of those who had died for the future to come about appeared, except that she had met this one in life, multiple times. "She's my sister-in-law, and not to be pushed around Kanoe." the previous Sakurazukamori informed her, standing tall behind the girl, looking as put together as always. Yet he did not wear his usual sunglasses, and he had been gifted with the strangely matching mismatched eyes that his successor had in the living world. "Hokuto-chan, you left me in the middle of the song." And there was a hint of emotion that wasn't smug or annoyed in his tone, from the odd look that the little bird girl gave him, it was for the mirror image of the fallen Sumeragi leader alone.

The girl appeared to have either no knowledge or no resentment for her scheming against the other Kamui, fragile boy that he was, and tried to help Kanoe to her feet, sudden large white wings spreading wide to help her keep from falling over. "Sorry, they do that." she correctly added when Kanoe stared at the mysterious appendages on her back. "I got them when I arrived here. I'm the only one though." she added as she let go of Kanoe's hands.

Then, there was the sound of cheering from inside one of the farther rooms, and the girl sighed. "I think they've turned up the volume too loud again." She rushed off, pulling up long white skirts from the floor, calling back to Kanoe. "Explore wherever you want, you can't get into trouble. There's only one other person here anyway!"

Then she had vanished elsewhere, the long pinion feathers being the last to disappear.

Kanoe groaned as she felt another throb in her chest. For only a probable second kill, the new Sakurazukamori seemed to know exactly where to stab her.

The sound of footsteps behind her caused her to spin, quickly on heels that threatened to dump her back over, and she found herself wondering if they had a change of clothes here. "Ah, Nataku." she greeted the newcomer, standing there with a blank expression on its face. "I see you're here too."

The biroid stared emptily at her. "Do you know where Kotori-san and Hokuto-san are?" it asked, a hint of a child's lost cry to its voice.

Kanoe pointed back down the hallway that the bird girl had vanished. "That way. The blond was saying something about having the volume on something too loud again."

Nataku smiled, a child's cheer. "Come with me Kanoe-san! Maybe they'll let us play now that we have another Dragon of Earth here!" And it snatched up her hand, pulling her along suddenly with all the strength of a full-grown man.

Kanoe resisted the temptation to tell it she wasn't a Dragon of either side, and instead asked what she felt was the more important question of the two floating in her mind...

"Play what?"

The biroid grinned at her, and she was struck by the sudden strange idea that it was happier than it had been in life. Which should have been a more impossible idea than she'd thought. "Karaoke, of course!"

Oh, lovely.

They turned a corner, the heels cutting into her feet as she moved faster than she really was supposed to in these shoes, and came out into a secluded, but decently spacious room, with the Sumeragi twin (because with that level of resemblance to the current Head, there was no one else she could be) sitting on top of one of the enormous speakers next to a television, singing loudly into a gaudy microphone complete with bow, to a hit from the late eighties. What surprised her more, as Nataku released her hand and went to go stand next to the bird girl, her wings again vanished, was that the Sakurazukamori was singing along, and quite well to, even if neither her image of him nor his actual voice fit the song. And even more that he seemed to be enjoying himself on a level that she thought impossible for a sociopath.

She sank into a chair that she hadn't noticed being right behind her again as the song ended, thank god, and the overly enthusiastic announcer added up their scores and how well they'd sung the song. Again, to her surprise, both of them had done quite well, and the man picked up the small controller to scroll through a long list of songs for the two of them to sing together.

They were all in paradise or purgatory or whatever, and their ideal of how to while away the time was to sing karaoke?

Kanoe was quite certain she had entered some kind of Hell from which she would never be able to rise from.

The blond stiffened suddenly in her corner, but she waved off Nataku's concern with a slightly forced smile before walking away from her wall, past Kanoe without giving her attention. The biroid watched her go sadly, then sat against the wall, as if it were determined not to move until she came back.

The Sumeragi stood up on the speaker, spitting the words of a rather fast-paced song with practiced accuracy, nailing the last high note with uncanny strength. "And that's how you do it up here in wherever we are!" she called out to the empty room, waving the microphone around and nearly walloping the Sakurazuka in the head with the cord.

He caught it with a chuckle and looked up at it. "You've gotten better since the last time we sang together." he informed her seriously, not even attempting to stare up her flaring skirt. "You couldn't hit that note before."

She grinned at him, all false innocence and bright michief. "Well being dead and by myself for nine years gave me lots of time to practice. Pick the next song Sei-chan!"

Kanoe had no idea how one managed to look at the Sakurazukamori and call him Sei-chan, of all things.

And when he did not go all terrifying and murder her with cherry blossoms or anything like that, she realized that the man was impossibly, actually fond of the irrepressible girl. Somehow.

Her thoughts of the contradiction unfolding before her eyes was broken by the blond returning, with another in tow. "There are other rooms of course, but this is the only one where there's anyone else right now. I can show you around later, if you want?"

"No, I'll be fine." the newcomer deadpanned, before looking at Kanoe with dull eyes shielded by glasses. "Hello Kanoe-san. I see you didn't beat me here by long."She smirked up at the first enjoyable person to grace this place. "Hello Satsuki-chan. Were you on the wrong end of a battle with a Dragon of Heaven?"

The girl frowned. "No, my computer ripped me to pieces. It hurt." She stated with her usual amount of understatement of a fact.

And with that little bit of dialogue, she wandered out of the room, just as detached as ever.

The winged girl went over to Nataku, talking quietly and getting it to stand up, before they walked off somewhere else again, but not towards the lobby, probably.

A new song started up on the television screen, the Sumeragi girl now lying on her back on the speaker and letting the microphone hang down below along with her arm.

The Sakurazukamori moved the cord that descended from his mic as the obnoxious sounds of some American song from the eighties started up, the beat already making her want to knock back a shot or seven, till she was drunk enough to not care.

"We can't get drunk here dreamseer-san!" the black-haired girl called out in amusement from her perch.

Kanoe resisted the urge to storm out, and contented herself with gritting her teeth in frustration and bafflement.

Couldn't someone at least get the Sakurazukamori off the karaoke machine?


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