RP [Illi] Doki-Doki Channel!


Staff member
Previously on the DDC!

Karen could feel the Grimm’s hunger as it came closer, closer, closer - and then nothing. Only a wisp of smoke. Karen breathed it in, closing her eyes for a moment. It was... peaceful, somehow. No longer hungry. Calm.

Sometimes she envied them, just a little.

Yuina’s cry made her open her eyes once more, spinning around to where the second Grimm was lurking in the grass, half-hidden. Karen nodded acknowledgement, then took a few steps forward before crouching down. This one would have seen what happened to the first Grimm. It might not be so easily tricked - but Karen knew it would come for her anyway. They didn’t really have enough mind to resist the hunger. The hunger was everything, and Karen was right there.

Her own eyes stared back, shining. The Grimm made a low sound in its throat, that peculiar half-growl. Karen only smiled in response, and touched her fingertip to her lips in a gesture that needed no translation: shh, hush. It rustled in the grass, growling again, reluctant to emerge with Yuina right there behind her. Karen parted her lips, slipping the fingertip into her mouth and biting down, slicing the skin against her teeth. She held the wound out towards the creature, a few drops of blood welling up, splashing down on the dirt.

Karen crooked her bleeding finger a couple times. Come here, then. She knew it could smell the blood, knew that the hunger would be overwhelming. Another sound, this one enraged, and it leaped from its hiding place towards her in a fury. Karen moved, twisting her body to the side in a roll and coming up in a readied position, one hand on the ground, dust a bright spark of pain in the cut.

She was probably in mortal danger, but she smiled anyway.

Now back to your scheduled programming!



The serpent kept its distance as it drew itself up out of the long grasses. A long arrow shaped head, three yellow eyes glittered like cut gemstones in the center of the Grimm’s forehead. A long tongue flicked from between the Grimm’s lips as Karen stepped forward. It’s gaze seemed split between the two girls, momentarily uncertain between the threat of Yuina and the temptation of Karen. The serpent hissed as Yuina took a step forward, a sound like air cutting through the hole in a pipe.

It’s posture changed, however, once Karen bit her finger. A pearl of blood formed at the cut in the skin, and Yuina could hear the audible rasp of the Grimm drawing in a breath. The serpent slid along the ground closing the gap between them. Yuina felt herself tense as the Grimm came to a stop it’s gaze affixed to Karen’s outstretched hand. It’s mouth opened, revealing rows of thin spade-like teeth. Yuina took another step forward and the Grimm gave no response.

“Careful,” Yuina breathed. It wasn’t really on Karen, was it? Yuina watched the motions of the Grimm. Like a cat coiling itself up to chase after a toy. Now? Yuina swallowed. If she got the timing wrong…

“Left shoulder!” Yuina called as she drove her body forward. The Grimm surged as Yuina leaned forward and placed a hand on Karen’s shoulder. She vaulted over her friend and sliced her leg down into the back of the Grimm’s head before the monster could attempt to retreat. A puff of smoke followed after her her foot as Yuina somewhat clumsily landed on her feet and stumbled forward a pair of steps. She turned quickly.

“You okay?” Yuina asked, offering Karen a hand.
Yuina whispered a warning in Karen’s ear, her eyes intent on the Grimm before them. It was all about timing - about knowing when to strike. The Grimm would come - Karen knew it would; it couldn’t possibly resist. The question was when - and Yuina had to be prepared for that moment, had to be ready to spring into action. A second too late could mean disaster for Karen - but a second too early could mean disaster for Yuina herself.

They waited together. It was probably mere seconds, but it felt far longer than that, time stretching out as they both waited for that singular inevitable moment where they would either succeed... or they would fall. It wasn’t just their own fates - the world was watching them, needing the inspiration and hope that they could provide. They had to do this - not just for each other, but for everyone.

After an eternity, Yuina sprang into action, her call of intent coming as she was already moving - but the words didn’t matter to Karen. They were just for the viewers at home; Karen already knew what to expect, just from Yuina’s posture, from the slight instantaneous change in her motion. Yuina was her friend: how could Karen not know? She held steady, dropping a hand to the ground to brace herself and provide a stronger platform as Yuina vaulted over her. Yuina’s foot came down, and the Grimm vanished into smoke. It took her a few steps to recover - something they would have to practice for in the future. Right now with only one Grimm, that was okay, but if there had been multiple opponents, a stumble could be a disaster.

Of course, if there were multiple opponents, Karen probably wouldn’t have been holding back, either. She wasn’t sure she would be able to. Karen popped her cut finger in her mouth instinctively, now that there was no need to hold it out as bait. She could taste the spot of blood - her own, but...

Her eyes shone for a moment, a hint of gold in the iris - and then Yuina turned towards her, though, and everything was right once more with the world. Karen brushed her other hand off carefully and accepted the aid to get up, Yuina’s touch banishing the very last vestiges of instinct back to the deepest recesses where it belonged. She answered the question with a nod, just one.

They were okay.
As always, Yuina couldn’t help but feel awed by Karen’s restraint. The other girl said that it was easier when she wasn’t transformed but even still, Yuina could feel the gnawing emptiness as their hands touched. Like some sort of burrowing thing Yuina could feel the hunger retreating back to where she couldn’t reach it. It wasn’t really gone, just out of mind for a moment.

Yuina returned the nod with one of her own as she set her shoulders. Show confidence, and confidence would come right?

“Last two. Just like we practiced.” Yuina said, looking towards the public restroom. Two long black forms walked circles around a door bearing long gouges from long claws and gnashing teeth. Draw a breath in and let it out. They could do this. “Let’s move.” Yuina said.

The content of a torn open purse was spilled across what remained of a bench across from the restroom. A thin trail of red lead from the bench to the bathroom. One of the two lizards perked as the duo approached, its companion still engrossed by the door. Yuina tapped the pad of her index finger against her earpiece.

“I think someone took refuge in the restroom.” Yuina said. There was a momentary pause before her earpiece clicked.

“Understood, I’ll uh, have a trauma team on standby.” Her manager spoke, “perhaps Karen should—“

Yuina looked at her partner and nodded.

“On your mark, Tsukuyomi.” Yuina said, ignoring Sawai’s words.

Bright red, a trail of it, leading to where the prey - where the person was hiding. Karen fought an unsteady breath, shivering with something that was neither cold nor fear. Slowly, she licked her lips... then closed her eyes and pulled away, long enough to collect herself. She had to be... she had to be herself. Yuina's friend.

She didn't dare keep her eyes closed for too long, but when she opened them again, she was able to focus on the serpentine forms, watching them. Yuina was connected with the manager, reporting the update on the situation. Karen still didn't bother to turn her earpiece on. It would have been a distraction: the wrong sort of distraction. Yuina was ready, with a name that meant... meant... something.

That was right. It meant something. They both did. People were watching. They needed someone to believe in, someone to have faith in. Karen could feel them, through the tenuous connection - their interest, their hope, their strength, their... hunger.

They wanted more, didn't they? Perhaps they were not so different after all. Karen met her friend's look, her eyes shining - and if they were shining just a little bit golden, surely it was only a trick of the light. Her posture relaxed, the tension gone, arms loose at her sides. One of the Grimm was already watching them, alert. Karen stepped in front of Yuina, one hand moving behind her back. She nodded to the first Grimm, the one that was watching her, and flashed one finger behind her back to Yuina: that one first.

Her hand moved down as she did, trailing fingers through the red streak. It felt slick, gritty with the dirt on the pavement that sullied it. Ruined, and yet... like coming home.

But her friend was here, and she didn't need to go home yet. Karen moved again, faster this time, running in towards the creatures, her hand sticky with blood to attract their attention. Yuina would be right behind her. Karen ignored the first one entirely, trusting Yuina to tag it as she passed, intent on the one behind. It had noticed her by now, of course, its bright golden eyes reflected in her own. Karen's had stretched out, red-glazed, fingers courting shadow, leaving a red smear on bony plates as she passed, dancing away as the creature snapped at her. It missed, distracted by the heavy scent of blood, and Karen was almost disappointed. She backed away a step, touching her fingers to her lips, still blood-tinted, and blew a crimson kiss.

She knew it was hungry. She leaned in to that, heavy-handed, fanning the flames of its hunger and her own, leaving no room to think of anything but the hunger - no room to think about Yuina, who would be behind it now. Its focus was entirely on blood-stained Karen, her unspoken promises, the hunger they shared, the same blood on both their lips.

So close.
A flick of Karen’s finger behind her back was all Yuina needed. She could feel herself relaxing, her world closing in on the important elements; their destination, the two Grimm, and her friend. Karen ran her finger through the blood, and the two beasts rumbled low as she pulled their gaze. The only thing that mattered was them reaching their destination, and Yuina would make sure they reached it.

A glitter of gold in Karen’s eyes, then the two of them were on the move. The first Grimm attempted snap after Karen as she rushed past, teeth like curved hooks as they snapped through empty air. Karen was too fast, and Yuina’s hand slid so easily through the air. The tips of her fingers sank into the flesh of the Grimm, and the momentum of her body guided her hand forward as she followed after Karen. Black vapor oozed from the Grimm as her hand slid through to the other side.

In the edge of vision she could see it dropping like a puppet which had lost its strings.

A smear of blood stained thick knots of bone as Karen ran her hand along the side of the Grimm. Obediently the beast obeyed, it’s neck twisting as it tried and failed to take a chunk out of Karen. Yuina came in low and quick. The Grimm reared back, it’s mouth opening into a toothy snarl. A smile curved Karen’s lips.

Yuina’s arm swept like a scythe slicing so easily though the neck of the Grimm.

Yuina met Karen’s eyes and raised her hand.

Good work. Yuina signed with an unpracticed hand. She felt her shoulders drop as she released a breath.

Yuina tapped her earpiece. “The Grimm are neutralized, the way is clear for paramedics.” Yuina said.
Just like that, it was over.

Karen felt the Grimm's hunger disappear, and there was only her and Yuina now. She staggered, now that it was gone, shuddering and trying to wipe off the blood that she'd been so enamored with a moment ago. Truthfully, there was a part of her that was still enamored with it even now - but she was thinking more clearly, and she knew she must not, could not, could never. It would have been easy, she thought, to fall into despair right then - the harsh reality of it, all the memories surfacing. Her eyes flicked towards the bathroom, where the blood trail had been leading. The woman in there could be someone's friend. Someone's sister. Someone's mother. She didn't know.

She didn't want to know. It would have been too much.

Yuina's imperfect sign drew her out again, a hint of a nod, something that might have been a smile if it hadn't been hidden behind too many shadows. Karen wiped her hand on her skirt once more, as Yuina called in paramedics. That was right. There were other people for this next part, weren't there? People who would... help, even if they couldn't fix anything. Their part was done. Their part was over.


"So that was the first time you had faced the Grimm." It wasn't, not for Karen - but it was the first time she'd faced them as a representative of the DDC, and so she let the statement slide. The office seemed too close, too warm. It had been easy to sink into those memories, another time, another place. "I remember thinking the two of you were crazy, with Karen not transforming," their representative continued, in an unreal voice in an unreal room. "But it worked. No one had ever done that before - gone up against the Grimm without transforming. People wanted more. People wanted to see that transformation, to see what you were hiding. To figure out how powerful Yuina must be, if Karen felt that she didn't even have to transform. People wanted to know the story behind you two, what was going on there. Everyone had questions, and we didn't get answers so much as hints, little tidbits designed to whet people's curiosity. When the first opportunity came for fans to meet you, people were clamoring for access. How did you feel about that?"
A wry smile crossed Yuina’s lips as she lifted her cup. She took a sip before placing it back down and clearing her throat.

“One of the things I remember most about that day is how strange it all felt.” Yuina began.


This was going to be a disaster, and it wouldn’t be courteous enough to be quick about it. Yuina longed for something blissfully short, like a nice train wreck or car crash not whatever today was going to be. Maybe if she ate that one funny looking thing on the snack table she could get food poisoning. That sounded like a pleasant afternoon. Though, something told her that Mr Sawai would just have Karen be upfront for the rest of the event then, which was not something Yuina wishes to subject her friend to. So, here she sat watching a crowd gather.

It didn’t feel real. A few days ago she could count on one hand how many people knew her name outside of school, and now a mass of them were lined up outside of the shop. She couldn’t get a grasp on the numbers, but just looking out the window she could already feel her hand throbbing from all the handshakes she would have to do today. They were just people right? Why did they make her feel more anxious?

Through the window she caught the eye of a boy who turned away as soon as he realized their gazes met. At least she wasn’t the only one. Yuina looked back over her shoulder to Karen and offered her friend a smile. She just needed to be the face for Karen, it was just shaking hands and making small talk while signing a headshot or something, right? She could do that much.

Karen sat further back from the table, but just close enough that Yuina could reach back and place a hand on her shoulder, just in case—

“Just focus on signing things, alright?” Yuina said. “I’m sure everything will be over before we know it.”

“Doors will be opening soon, are we ready girls?” Their manager said, appearing from behind a pair of shelves. A man in an event staff shirt stepped over to the doors and turned the lock with an audible click. People outside shifted with a sudden anticipation.

“Yes, of course.” Yuina said, putting on her best smile. Just a few hours and they would be done. With a nod from Sawai, the staffer pulled the doors open.

“Welcome!” Yuina could hear the man say, “if you are here to meet Miss Okazaki and Miss Mitsumi please remain in line until you are called forward.”

Right. Okay. Posture straight and keep your best smile. They just killed monsters a few days ago, how hard could this be?
Karen was definitely uncertain about all of this. Yuina was also uncertain about all this - they had talked about it a little, just the two of them; Karen in notes written on a whiteboard. The room was mostly empty at first, but she knew there were people outside, gathering. It helped, though, that she couldn't see them. She kept her eyes away from the window, to be safe, looking around the room instead. It was bigger than she would have liked it to be, for certain. The table was between them and everything else, but Karen didn't think that would help all that much. It wasn't much of a table.

There were a lot of things on it - paper and pens and pencils. There had been some debate about whether or not to give Karen a white board, but she hadn't wanted one. She'd felt like that might encourage people to talk to her, and she wasn't ready for that. There was one in her bag, beside her chair, if she decided she wanted it, but it was hidden for now. Karen gave Yuina a nod at her friend's suggestion, though she wasn't quite sure about that being over before they knew itcomment. It was meant to be soothing, though, and Karen tried to be soothed. It didn't work very well.

She took a slow breath, another, and kept her eyes on the table as the doors opened. Unknown people started moving in, and she reached out, briefly, her fingertips brushing Yuina's arm - something solid to hold on to. She didn't want to do more than that subtle touch, though, just in case. Karen sat back, trying to filter as much of the room out as she could. She wished the table were more solid - this one wasn't any good for hiding under.

She was probably not supposed to hide under the table.

Yuina was talking to people - Karen didn't really process what she was saying, but the cadence of her voice was soothing nonetheless. She listened, her eyes occasionally flicking over to her partner. People put things on the table in front of her and she signed them, cautious and careful to keep her hands back so no one touched her by mistake. She didn't want to make any mistakes - not here, not now.

A flicker of movement caught her eye - she'd heard her name, but she'd heard her name over and over, and she wasn't paying any attention to it. The movement wasn't the usual, though, not someone placing something in front of her to sign. Her attention shifted, moving in, focusing on... a person in front of her. A small person. A little boy.

His hands had moved, very cautiously: <Hi>

Karen hesitated, then set the pen down on the table in front of her, tucking her legs up under her on the chair and sitting back on her heels, giving her a little more visible space above the table. Her hands were just as cautious as his had been: <Hello.> She could have left it there, picked up the pen again, signed something and moved on, but her head moved just a little to the side, considering, and her hands moved again, with a fraction more confidence: <I'm KAREN. What's your name?>

He signed his back, <KENJI>, then, with all the unabashedness that she could never master: <Do you really have magic?>

Karen paused, for once not a hesitance, just considering how to answer. <Yes>. Her sign was slow, a little withdrawn, <But it's scary. I don't want to use it until I have to.>
Once the crowd started to move Yuina found it wasn’t as bad as she thought it would be. There was a rhythm to the flow of people, to the hellos and handshakes followed by signing and saying goodbye. It was something you could lose yourself too as your body followed along automatically. Well, other than the handshakes. She did her best to ignore the hiss of the other person’s emotions when their hands touched, but even muted she could still feel the excited murmur of anticipation or the crackling buzz of nerves. She could do without the handshakes.

Like a bad smell Yuina just did her best to ignore the feeling.

“Thank you for coming today! How are you?”

I am doing well, how about you.

“Can you really defeat a Grimm with a touch?”

Of course, leave it to me!

“Does Karen-Chan really have a cool power? Can you tell me?”

Haha, I guess you’ll have to find out next time.

“Your dress is so pretty!”

Thank you!

The conversions came and went, and Yuina found they began to mix together. How were some idols so good at keeping track of the fans they met?

Movement in the corner of her eye caused Yuina to turn her head. She couldn’t really keep track of what was being said but Karen and a young boy were talking their hands moving quickly as they signed. Even if it was only for a moment, it was nice to see Karen engaging with someone. A smile curved Yuina’s lips as she turned her attention back to the next person in line. Through the window outside it didn’t look like the crowd had any intention of letting up anytime soon.
Karen exchanged a few more signs with the little boy, but of course the managers wanted to keep things moving. Undoubtedly, though, a brief stop in which Karen was actually interacting with someone would be well worth it in terms of audience appreciation - likely videos of the small encounter would be all over within an hour. She let him go on his way with a wave and a signed piece of paper made out to him specifically, watching him leave excitedly with his parents.

She felt... good? It was a different feeling - not scared, but happy in a way. Content, and glad to have made a difference. Calm, and with hope for the future. Keeping those feeling firmly in her mind, she reached her hand forward and put it on Yuina's arm for a moment. Yuina, she knew, was being exposed to a great deal of feelings right now - perhaps a little bit of serenity would help her, in its own way.

Karen gave her a smile, then slipped her hand away before her own nervousness could return, sitting back in her seat once more to focus, once again, just on getting through this.
It was nice to see her so animated. Yuina could hear the electric click of a nearby cameraman snapping some candid shots as Karen and the boy spoke. She could see their manager in the background talking quietly to someone with a cellphone in hand before making a faint motion to a member of the staff that they needed to keep the line moving. Karen passed along a signed piece of paper to the boy and just like that he vanished into the crowd.

A brush of a hand on her arm, a flash of a smile. Yuina too smiled and she felt for a moment warm. “Thank you.” She said softly. Then, another hand to shake came her way along with another piece of merchandise to sign and Yuina focused herself on getting through another hour. Only…

Through the window Yuina could see a commotion brewing. Voices shouting, people pushing, moving as a mass in an attempt to get away without knowing a direction. A staff member called for people to keep in line as a pair of teens pushed past him. The staff member caught one of their arms, the girl’s eyes were wide. Yuina heard only one word, ‘Grimm.’

Outside, someone screamed.

Yuina leapt up to her feet, her chair crashing to the ground. She looked at Karen as a fine black smoke washed across her shoulders. “Use what you need to keep people safe.” Yuina said. She could feel her pulse quicken. “We need to get outside now.” With a nod Yuina turned and rushed to the door, people scrambling back to get out of her way as she moved.

Just for a moment out of the corner of her eye Yuina was certain she saw a smile on the lips of Mr Sawai, then she was through the door and the thought well out of her mind. Yuina elbowed her way through the panicked crowd, casting a glance back to be certain she hadn’t lost Karen in the confused press, and soon she stumbled out onto the street. A young boy scrambled backwards as a large beast loomed over him. Long thin limbs ending in thick claws, a snout that seemed to end in a beak stained red, deep golden eyes that burned in the light.

“Tsukuyomi! Get it’s attention!” Yuina said.
Things slipped back to the way they had been. More people, more things to sign. Despite her little moment with the boy, Karen had more or less withdrawn again, focusing on the papers rather than the people. She wasn't good with people. It felt like they'd been here for ages. She was starting to get hungry.

Perhaps these people were-

Karen stopped, mid-signature, blinking her eyes. That thought hadn't been...

She looked up, her eyes darting through the crowd, and the scream didn't startle her at all. Yuina was already up, smoke wafting as her transformation settled. Karen stood up as well, more slowly, pushing down the hunger. This wasn't a good place to be hungry. She needed to get out of here, away from the people. Focus on only one thing: She followed Yuina, into the hallway, letting the other girl clear the way, staying close. Yuina needed her to be there - or at least, mostly there. Yuina needed her to be there enough that she wasn't thinking about being hungry.

Light washed over them, sunlight from the outdoors. The Grimm was there, looming over a child as Yuina started forward.

She wasn't going to make it. There wasn't time. The Grimm would eat the boy, but it would still be hungry - always hungry, they were always hungry. The hunger never went away. Karen shuddered, and then gave in to it. It screamed, or maybe she did, her eye a bloody flame, settling into gold as the transformation moved over her, eating away skin and flesh, blood staining the stoop where she stood. Karen crouched down, pushing the transformation into her legs, soft-sided shoes splitting to release claw-taloned feet, bone-clad shins coiled with red, ropy muscle. She wound the hunger around herself like a coiled spring, then released it into a leap that put her between the Grimm and the little boy. She skidded on the landing, digging talons into the ground to stop herself, leaving rents in the street. Her right arm flexed, claw-tipped, swiping for the creature's face, tearing one of the golden eyes out of its skull and crushing it in her fist.

Her breathing was heavy, but she stood her ground. Yuina would be here. She just had to hold on for a little bit longer.

Yuina urged her body for more. She just needed a little more speed, a little more strength, to be just a single step ahead of herself. If she could do that, if she could just do that then she could— if she wasn’t fast enough then — the Grimm loomed over the small boy, long curved talons held aloft. They fell in a slow arc and Yuina reached her hand out as if that alone would be enough to reach through the gap between them. A scream filled the air, though Yuina wasn’t certain if it had escaped her lips or those of another’s.

With a rush of wind, a blur blew past her on the left. The Grimm shuttered from the impact as black ichor sprayed. Yuina’s breath caught, Karen had made it just in time. Relief only lasted a moment, but her body felt lighter as she spurred herself forward.

The Grimm screeched, a sharp sound like steam leaking through a cracked pipe. The beast swiped downwards at the girl, its long curved talons falling like a harvest scythe. With so many people could Karen still hear her? No, she had to trust in her partner.

“Tsukuyomi! Careful! I’m on your right!” She called as she rushed forward.

There was blood on her fingers, the remnant gore of a ruined eyeball. She didn't wonder what it would taste like - taste didn't matter. The only thing that mattered was filling the emptiness, the chasm stretching down, down, down. Maybe if she ate something, she could fill the chasm, just a little bit... a little bit closer...


No. No, no. Not that. That wasn't her. That was... that was part of her. It was always part of her, the hunger, the part of her that was wondering not just about the gore staining her palm, but about the rest of the monster before her - what it would be like, if she ripped it to shreds. If she could devour it all. If even that would be enough.

Karen wasn't going to give up, though. She was here for... what? It was so hard to remember. She had... something she had to do.


That was right. She had to protect... someone. There was a boy behind her. Was that who she was protecting?

A wave of calm approached, and even without it being right there, Karen could feel the clarity sinking in, feel it wrapping around her, a shield against herself. Yuina. Protect Yuina. That was it. That was the one thing that mattered the most. Yuina's call had pulled her back from the brink, a warning of something, and Karen moved to the side, making way for Yuina to move in. The Grimm's talons caught her arm, claws striking against plates of bone, rending the flesh between them, tearing some of the protective plates free. There was pain, and for a moment, the pain was more consuming than the hunger.

But she would bear it - because that was why she was here. Because she had someone to protect. Because if the Grimm hurt her, maimed her, tore her to pieces... Yuina would still be safe. Karen wobbled - the hunger was hard to maintain, through the pain. The transformation was starting to fade already, her legs shedding their alterations in a discharge of crimson-black ichor. She held on to as much as she could, because she had to be able to take another hit, if it struck again.

She couldn't let it touch her friend.
With each step unimportant things seemed to melt away. Her heart drummed in her chest, breath came and went, all as time felt as if it were pulling itself slim. She ducked low as she slipped past Karen, her steps light. Black ichor dripped from the wound that had once been the Grimm’s eye. Droplets of red seemed to hang in the air as the Grimm drew its arm back, a plate of bone hit the ground with an empty clatter. The Grimm’s claws flexed. It was fast, but Yuina’s hand was faster as she brought her body up.

She couldn’t let it hurt Karen again.

Her hand carved cleanly through the arm it was using to keep itself steady as if there were nothing there at all. The Grimm screeched as it’s body toppled forwards, it brought its raised arm down in an attempt to catch itself. Yuina planted her left foot as she pivoted her momentum into a spin on the balls of her feet. She lifted her right leg as she spun, her foot carving a deep gash through the beast’s side.

The Grimm twisted its head to try to face her, it’s beak wide as it screamed.
Yuina was there. Of course she was. Karen's grin softened - less edged, more a true smile. Yuina's attack brought the Grimm down lower, a lost arm taking away its balance, and Yuina was already there to follow up with an attack on its side. Karen stood beside them, watching the creature open its beak, hearing its scream. She stepped forward, towards the open beak, and thrust her arm inside.

A sickening crunch resulted as it inevitably bit down - and while the bony plates covering Karen's arm stopped the limb from being severed entirely, it still bled, her expression changing to pain - but only for a moment. She would push through it. Yuina was there, and she could not give in. Her hand came up - flesh and blood, not some Grimm-fused monstrosity, just a girl's hand - and stroked the side of the beak even as it held her other arm locked in place. It was rough, not smooth, miniscule fused hairs beneath her fingers. Karen lowered her head, her cheek against the beak, a tear transferred for only a moment. For that one moment, there was stillness - and then another horrible sound as the Grimm bit down once more.

Karen pulled back, bleeding, holding the mangled remnants of her arm and gritting her teeth. Even now, though, the red muscle fibers were pushing forward, bony plates already adapting to cover them as they grew. From the end, where her hand would have been, a beak burst forth, wide and snapping out as Karen lashed towards the Grimm's remaining eye.
A trail of smoke followed the tip of her toe as Yuina planted her foot back into the ground. Thick ichor whelmed up, like ink from a broken pen, along the Grimm’s side. As Yuina turned back, the Grimm was still. The odd sight seemed to hang, a young girl resting her cheek against that of a monster, then there was a sickening crack. Yuina felt her breath catch as Karen pulled her bloodied arm back from the Grimm’s maw.

Flesh pulsed, bony armor grew to encapsulate it as a beak took shape. A faint ‘oh’ escaped Yuina’s lips before she winched. That had to hurt a great deal. If it did, it didn’t let it slow her any. Karen’s arm sprang forward as the Grimm attempted to pull away, and there was a loud crack as her beak tore through the side of the Grimm’s head. It screeched as it twisted away, long strings of viscera and tendons stretching and crackling.

The Grimm screeched, it’s beak snapping randomly as it tried to pull itself free from Karen’s grip.

“Now!” Yuina pushed forward, she reached her hand out, her finger brushing across the Grimm’s neck. Prickly skin. Her fingers closed and the body tumbled to the ground.

Behind her, Yuina heard the crowd cheer. She ran her fingers up through the Grimm’s neck towards Karen’s hand.

“It didn’t hurt too much, did it?” Yuina asked. She paused a moment, before sliding her dress’s cowl off her shoulders and placing it over Karen’s. “You did well.” She said with a smile.
In smoke, it died.

Karen released the Grimm as it fell to its death, letting its remains slip through her... not fingers, precisely. Yuina touched her hand, and Karen shivered, the motion turning into outright shaking as her transformation left her. Bone and corrupted flesh peeled away, leaving only her own body behind - unharmed, exactly as it had been. Only the severed, torn sleeve of her dress remained to mark the horrors that had happen.

That, and the scarring within her own mind. The shaking didn't stop, and she turned towards her friend, burying her face in the other girl's shoulder as Yuina slipped a cowl around her shoulders - something soft, something warm, something real. She didn't answer the question - she didn't want to lie to her friend, and she didn't want to tell the truth. It was better, as always, to say nothing at all.

Her tears were probably answer enough, and the shaking of her shoulders beneath the cowl.
“It’s okay, it’s okay,” Yuina said slowly. She placed an arm over Karen’s shoulder as she ran her hand in small circles along her back as the girl cried. Part of it felt surreal, Karen was always so quiet, kept her emotions so guarded, and yet it wasn’t like she didn’t hurt.

“You did great… and it’s okay now.” Yuina said softly. She didn’t know what the correct thing to say was, if there was anything correct to say at all, so she was more than content with being a shoulder until Karen had cried herself out.

The crowd that remained had gathered on the far sidewalk. They were quieter now, weren’t they? Some had phones held up, but no one seemed inclined to step forward. Yuina caught the eye of the young boy, his complexion ashy as he held close to his mother. They held each other’s gaze for a pregnant moment, and then the boy’s lips split into a grin. He whooped, it was a strange tone-deaf sound which hung in the air, followed soon by a wave of excited chatter from the crowd as Mr Sawai jogged over to them, a coat in hand.


“I remember the media buzz after that, some of those amateur videos were played for days. People really were excited to finally see Karen’s powers.” Akamine said. Yuina nodded in agreement as she looked down at her glass of water.

“Mr Sawai said we also received more interview requests after that as well.” She said. The lawyer’s pen again scratched across her notepad.

“That excitement only continued to build after that, right? If I remember correctly there was a different incident not too long after, one which involved a strange Grimm, yes?” She asked.

“Yes ma‘am.” Yuina said. She drew in a breath. “It wasn’t long after we had left school for the day, we had been held over for some supplemental lessons, when we saw a Grimm acting oddly.”
It had been a very odd time.

Maybe it had been days. Maybe it had been years. Karen wasn't sure sometimes - everything was drawn out or condensed, and it all kept chaining back to that one moment somehow, when the Grimm had turned on the crowd. They'd stopped it, certainly - but it hadn't been bloodless, and it hadn't been painless. It had been awful, and miserable, and terrifying - and nothing, nothing could possibly compare to that one moment when the adulation of the crowd had poured in.

For a moment, she hadn't been hungry.

And Karen had no idea what to make of that.

She had felt it, that strange sensation, the audience effect. She'd known about it thanks to Mr. Sawai and Yuina, of course, but knowing wasn't the same as experiencing, and there was something about that rush, that fulfillment that made her crave it, want more of it. She loved the feeling - and hated what she knew she'd have to do to get it. That feeling came from people, people who were watching her, and so even though the effect felt good, a part of her still hated it, hated liking it, hated knowing where it came from. It terrified her, and she wanted to hide from it forever.

And she wanted to feel it again.

So it had been a very strange time, and perhaps it wasn't too surprising that she and Yuina were being given additional lessons to try to help them. Karen wasn't sure how much good the lessons were actually doing, but she did them anyway, because that was how it was done - and it wasn't so bad, spending more time with Yuina. Karen had always done her schoolwork alone before, so having a partner was nice - a nice feeling. A nice feeling that she didn't have to feel guilty about.

For whatever day today was, they were done with their lessons and heading back to their rooms. Karen had her backpack over her shoulder, walking through path outside, carefully keeping off the grass. Her gaze was downcast, as it almost always was, but she didn't mind. Sometimes she saw little flowers, here and there in the grass. There was something nice about that, as well, in an uncomplicated way.

Karen desperately needed things to be uncomplicated - but things didn't always work out that way.