Living as Kuromu Dokuro

Chapter 8

Trudging to the entrance of Kokuyo Land, Kuromu grumbled a little under her breath. Both her hands were occupied by plastic bags, one of which containing their lunch, and in the other packets and packets of instant noodles. (Planning for the future of course, she reasoned, as they couldn't always find money for takeaway. Illusions don't work forever.)

Those thoughts served as distraction, though navigation within the school remained successful. It had been depressing, looking around the abandoned place and inhaling its stale air, but before long, she reached the only relatively unharmed of the staircases.

Kuromu dragged herself up the stairs, scowling as she realized that she was the only one with any inkling of what a stove was. She would have to cook, it looks like. However horrifying her results were, she trusted them to still be somewhat edible, albeit unhealthy, unlike whatever concoction the other two might possibly cook up.

Ken and Chikusa would have to endure her non-existent cooking skills then, since it simply would not do for them to die of starvation. It's not like they could cook... Could they?

Another step up. She shook her head and forcefully perished that thought. At least for that day, they would be eating actual ready-made food. She should just be glad for that.

A few steps further, she encouraged herself.

Striding up the last few steps, she yelled for the two problematic children to get to the only habitable room. The one with the couch. Oh yes.

Then, remembering to turn right, she reached the theatre. She noted with hypocritical irritation that the door was left open. Irresponsible brats. (She really was not much better…)

Kuromu stepped into the dusty and unused room, empty of most facilities, and found herself looking at the expected accommodations. She was however, nonplussed to see that the sofa was a ragged and worn, even though she knew that she should not have been surprised. It was sanitary enough, provided, but it didn't look very comfortable. Regardless, she reasoned that it had to be better than the filthy, uninviting ground.

Ignoring her doubts, she dropped herself onto the sofa and reluctantly admitted that it was… somewhat cosy. With a contented sigh, she relaxed, allowing herself to unwind, to roll her neck and stretch out the numerous cricks in it. The tension dissipated from her shoulders, and she felt lethargic enough to curl up and sleep.

But as fate would have it, a familiar tingle went up her spine. A vein twitched under her skin, foreboding the immense dissatisfaction she was sure to feel after interacting with that person. Her eyes shuttered close in frustration, and she let out a displeased huff. She couldn't even rest in peace.

"Mukuro... What do you want..." She thought with mild resentment undirected at anyone, her eyes tearing open to see Mukuro's solid, opaque, and very real person. Indigo hair and the correct shade and all.

Impressively detailed and very realistic, she conceded jealously as his skills were top notch even halfway to recovery. It seemed like he had rested enough to satisfy his narcissism.

(Though she did not comment on it, both of them understood that this wasn't as effortless as Mukuro would like to pretend. It was nice to see him again though, in reality, not as an unwelcomed visitor in her dreams.)

"Why, Kuromu, no 'hello' or 'how are you' to me? Kufufufu… Terribly rude of you towards someone who came to help, you know..." He drawled in barely concealed enthusiasm, and she had to wonder if Vindice drove him crazier than he was before with boredom.

She felt a deep twinge of annoyance after registering his words, but ignored it with practised ease. How she had grown used to him so soon, she didn't know. Side effect of knowing all about him from beyond the computer screen so long ago maybe?At the current moment, he did not look like he was done speaking. In fact, he seemed extra chatty today. One truly had to wonder about his positive mood… What was the rare occasion?

Only paying half attention to his words, Kuromu admired her most recent fascination from amongst her mass of stolen goods. Her first plunder off the streets! Or actually, her first haul at all!She tapped her lean fingers against the watch and filed his inane (according to her) words away, pushing down a self-satisfied smile. It was nearly three in the afternoon, according to her fantabulous new watch. No way she had crooned over it!

She was just… just exceedingly proud of herself for a well-done theft... Or so she told herself.

The poor random passerby, his watch replaced by an illusory one that was stuck showing one o'clock, but it really wasn't her fault that she had yet to advance into illusions that were both self sustaining and have the freedom of movement. It had been either one or the other, an improvement to be honest, so she chose the one that lasted longer — the one frozen in place, never ticking as it should. She had already used up most of her energy when she, with the mentality of 'better safe than sorry', attempted overlapping the once separate illusions of sight and touch.

She tuned back into Mukuro's rambling. (In her opinion, yes, rambling nonsense and 'rhetorical questions'.)

"Kufufu… fu…? I could take your place for a moment to convince them of course, but I am sure you'll just refuse... I don't honestly feel like becoming hated for a suggestion..." He muttered to himself. That he had barely just recovered enough to take control of a vessel for a few minutes was left unsaid. He blinked thoughtfully, almost calculating as if something of interest occurred to him, but resumed speaking before she took any notice. "If you haven't realized, Ken would be troublesome due to his stubborn plus paranoid streak, and I highly doubt you could deal with him without my assistance."

Her blood boiled at his attitude, a dark and malicious flash lighting her twin orbs into a luminescent purple. Her features distorted into wilful rage, and without further thought, she broke his illusory nose, temporarily relieving herself of many other violent thoughts.

(Oh, how great it was to punch him, solid and all. Whether he even felt the pain was of no matter, as it was highly gratifying to feel the crunch of his 'nose' breaking.)

She smiled unpleasantly, venom dripping off the edges. (Secretly, her fury already wore off.)

She could handle this! The nerve of that pineapple abomination, to try 'bestowing' his greatly appreciated help after she had already decided to do things herself, and to dare suggest that she was not capable of handling Ken!

Oh, she knew already! Ken was a handful and more, she even experienced that firsthand! Did he think she was slow to catch on? Or something?!

That arrogant prick! He was even more of an asshole than usual. How was it that he could snap her control with merely the tone of his- Her eyes widened with realization, and her lips twisted with indignity as she processed her peculiar reactions.

In hindsight hundred-percent, she had been quick to anger, not to mention her rage unfounded and somewhat unreasonable. She wouldn't have snapped this unnaturally if the situation occurred on a usual day... She would have been nothing more than annoyed! Was the musing expression on his face just now…? He was testing a theory out?!

Sonnovabitch!

Her mental tirade abruptly ended at the idea of Mukuro riling her up on purpose or influencing her mood with mental manipulation, almost giving herself whiplash from the sudden silence in her mind. Oh my, she grimaced, damn you to hel- to heaven, Mukuro!

She breathed in and out, in a vain attempt of regaining mood stability. She was not going to drive herself up the wall because of him, definitely no.

But how? When had he recovered enough? Was it possible for her?! How how how?

Curiosity coursed through her, the thirst for answers inciting another wave of frenzied, jumbled thoughts. Noticing this, she inhaled a sharp breath, anxiously forcing her thoughts away from cross-examining Mukuro this instant. Calm down, Kuromu.

Right. Use common sense!

It must have been because of their link that he could influence her this easily! That's right, yes. Just stop thinking about it, Kuromu, she told herself.

Though she coerced a U-turn from the incessant theories flooding her mind, this issue was not over. She would have a talk with Mukuro about this ability and his allowed uses of it soon enough. For now, she had an urgent situation to settle and much doubts to vanquish.

She reasoned that even though Chikusa and Ken were Mukuro's minions much like herself, (she wrinkled her nose in distaste at that) the two became her responsibility the moment she laid eyes on them. Oh, she began melodramatically, their distrustful expressions, their jaded gazes, wary and unsuited for their tender ages! She would change that, pull them out of their shells, and tear their lives into one worth living! Mukuro would do well to respect that, yes.

She would preferably start by teaching them manners, though she herself lost much of that to begin with. Speaking of which, Ken really should pick up his jaw. Gaping was unbecoming!

The two mostly likely saw her punching their most respected bluenette in his face, she gathered from Ken's expression, though Chikusa still didn't react much.

"Come on now, why are you two still standing around? Your master has no use for statues your know."

Toying with a stray strand of violet hair, she gestured for them to sit in a lackadaisical manner, inwardly smirking when it did not fail to make Ken bristle. When they did not comply immediately however, she scowled, ticked at them for ignoring her instruction.

She was already pissed at Mukuro, and in no way could she tolerate insolence after that. Especially not now.

She snarled impatiently, biting back unnecessarily harsh words, before barked out an order in what she thought was a measured tone. "Sit, the two of you!" Although reluctant, they quickly shuffled to the other side of the sofa, far away from her.

There was a pregnant pause, where each of them bored holes into one another, and it was only broken when Kuromu faked a cough, hiding a grimace. She valued silence of sorts, but that was awkward. "Right..." She began. "So... As you have seen," She dismissively gestured to Mukuro, flushing when he mockingly waved at her. "this pineapple idiot here is Mukuro... His illusion, at least."

"This is enough proof that I'm not an imposter, a spy, an intruder or anything bad, right? I mean, the asshole is making me do this on purpose you know... He could have just told you about me and set up a secret code or something from the start instead of allowing this mess."

She descended into muttering swear words near the end, glaring daggers at the smirking illusion. She gave him a rude one-finger salute when he snickered at her choice words.

Ken eyed the girl distrustfully, though his doubt was already dissipating. "As you've said, that's an illusion, pyon! How should I know if that isn't yours?!" He protested meaninglessly, having never seen another illusionist before, therefore having zero basis to judge.

"Are you kidding?! Just look!" She pointed at Illusory Mukuro, her face flushed with ridicule and disbelief. "That blasted thing is all high level and everything! As much as I hate admitting this, I could not have possibly woven this mother fucking intricate illusion."

She couldn't believe she just demeaned herself, even if those words were ninety-nine percent true. And they were still so going to discuss his Influence (She had dubbed it as so.) later.

Ken reluctantly nodded, the expression of a petulant teenager on his face as he cautiously observed Kuromu and her reactions. The female in question deluded herself into believing that Chikusa would have rolled his eyes in an 'I told you so' if he so was able to.

She still felt like scratching her face out or tearing her hair off, but decided that she liked her face too much to actually do so.

"Sigh... Now that we have that settled… Lunch, late as it is. I bought your portions, so feel free to eat with me here." She huffed at them in exasperation, tired out from interaction. "I expect you to repay my money later, so steal, rob or whatever. Get a job maybe."

Some tension leaked out of them at the proclamation of having to return her money, although Ken still scowled and rolled his eyes in a deliberate show of distaste. There were rarely free meals without ulterior motives. Even if there were such absurd things, they'd be too weirded out to eat. They didn't trust her, to be truthful. Mukuro-sama might've accepted her, but she had yet to prove herself worthy as a comrade. They doubted that she understood anyway.

Unnoticed, Illusory Mukuro faded away, the faintest hint of approval on his face. They might not be fond of his Nagi yet, but the three were off to a fair start. His minions worked together better if they got along after all, though he had better not let her hear about his using her ex-name, even mentally. "Kufufu..."

Pushing away unpleasant feelings, she riveted her eyes to the food, artificially brightening her expression, and managed to convince herself that she was brimming with anticipation.

"Now then, let's dig in!"

Her recovery was too fast to be healthy.


After an absolutely wonderful day of ice breaking and getting along famously, she was needless to say, exhausted. Sectioning her sleeping area off with a broken piece of chalk found lying around, she sternly forewarned the two to never cross her territory without invitation, even generously providing samples of the possible consequences. The two males were suitably terrified into submission, or at least, Ken was more wary of her now.

She might have went a little overboard with the illusions, but what could she say? That the horror was part of their training to resist illusions? Practise made perfect, at least for her illusion casting. If they were made into practice targets, it wasn't really her fault.And so, with a good night's sleep of Mukuro-less dreams, Kuromu woke up to a rather fresh start, the other two nowhere to be found remotely near her sights. Her sleepy amethyst eyes had drooped and darkened into ultramarine, disappointment evident within. It was a shame, as she had been hoping to try some of her newest techniques on them.

With a pleasantly sadistic mood like that in the late morning, the teenage girl decided to visit dear old Namimori.

(Kokuyo was boring anyway, dull as a zombie's sanctuary with a healthy dose of pragmatism and materialism.)

And so, stepping into the Namimori Shopping District for the first time, Kuromu disinterestedly glimpsed the pastel blue skies and puffy white clouds freely floating up above. To her frustration, her vision was mostly obscured by the blinding sun that hung above, reason being that it had been generously shooting arrows of heat and white light onto the scandalized earth below.

All in all, great weather that day, although the scorching sunlight would tend to make anyone avoid looking upwards, at all. Especially Kuromu, who might as well be a vampire with all her distaste of sunlight.

An occasional bird or two cut across the sky in a whimsical flight, fitting in perfectly as part of the scenery. Here or there they landed, pecking at something or another, but most people merely went about their way, ignoring the silhouettes of birds in their peripheral vision.

She breathed in the fresh morning air, feeling it fill her lungs pleasantly, and sighed as she exhaled. So far she had seen nothing that would turn her away, so she continued observing. She would be visiting this town quite often from now on after all.

Faded background noises of chattering filled her ears, and looking around, it seemed like the street was buzzing with a friendly awareness. Everyone seemed to recognize everyone else, perhaps because Namimori was a smaller town. They seemed comfortable, surrounded by common faces, regular occurrences.

Maybe that was why they could accept strange things easily?

It was... unnerving, but put her surprisingly at ease. Her lip uncontrollably twitched at the scolding a couple of sheepish teenagers were receiving. The old lady didn't even seem angry at the ruckus they made, merely showing fond exasperation. The kindly old woman seemed accustomed to this, so perhaps this was their wont?

So warm... She felt a strange, tender feeling flood within her, and briefly wondered if she should see the doctor. Or not.

What was this blatant sorcery?

She decidedly pushed her thoughts into a corner for later perusal, though in doubt that she would remember to examine them. She briefly worried about the cobwebs which were sure to form in that corner of her mindscape, but dismissed those just as quickly. It wasn't worth the trouble to ponder and hurt her little head in the morning, especially not before breakfast.

With her attention back around her, she noticed a familiar figure. Wasn't that Yamamoto Junior amongst the faceless crowd?

(At least, he looked similar, as she couldn't, for the hell of her, figure out how far did this world bore similarities to its anime counterpart.)

Surprise brightened her violet orbs, and she impulsively called out for him, waving her hands wildly to him. Enthusiasm nearly kept her bouncing on the balls of her feet, but she restrained herself into a mere face-splitting grin. If she played this right, there would be free sushi! For the sake of their health, Ken and Chikusa both ought to pray that she succeeded.

Death by unhealthy consumption of mutant instant noodles would not be a good way to go. She would know, having died twice, right?


In an undisturbed corner of Takesushi, Kuromu sat surrounded by two walls and a table. Before her, was a small plate of sushi, courtesy of Yamamoto's generosity.

The atmosphere seemed a little off, but she ignored it in favour of breakfast, despite the tiny noise of common sense in the back of her mind telling her to run. (The voice, in a place ridden with cobwebs and dust, was stored with everything that Kuromu did not want to think about.)

She moaned as the rich flavour of fresh sushi with homemade soy sauce spread through her mouth. Oh, which benignant power that sent her reincarnated into this world was to be thanked!

Mmhm...

"So, Dokuro-chan, have we met before? You seemed to recognize me just now." Yamamoto casually asked, his dark eyes a little too narrowed for it to be curiosity, alerting her to the underlying paranoia.

Why was everyone whom she met that day suspecting the worst of her?! Her hair stood on ends as the small voice grew louder and began viciously prodding the front of her mind.

"I apologize if I don't remember meeting you though. It seems like I don't have a good memory..." His sheepish but nonetheless charming smile afterwards instantly dispelled her rightful caution. He couldn't be possibly suspecting her, not oblivious as he was portrayed at least.She swallowed, and greedily bit down on another piece of sushi. Not enough. Each was heavenly!

Distracted as she was, she did not discern the set in his jaws, nor how the too-casual slouch on his shoulders was seeming as though he had forced himself to relax. Unnoticed went the resolute spark in his eyes, masked by a bright close-eyed smile and a friendly tone which he questioned her with.

She did not have the chance to come up with a lie, not yet. Not when everything tensed suddenly.

"Yamamoto is right, where have you seen him before? I don't recognize you from around town, 'Kuromu Dokuro'." A squeaky voice confronted her. It was heavily suspicious, and had a bladed undertone to it. "Or for that matter, I don't recall that you have ever stepped foot in Namimori."

"In fact, there was never anyone officially recorded under your name. No related documents, nothing." It continued, as if to itself, but she shivered at the dangerous edge in the voice, berating herself internally for being careless. She could not even bring herself to be offended about the blatant interruption and the 'I swear you better have a damn good reason' threatening glare it sent her way.

'It' was Reborn.

"What are your motives?" He bluntly said, cutting straight to the point and expecting an answer. She opened her mouth to speak, but her voice was stubbornly mute.

The pause of silence stretched like a rubber band, filling with tension. And then, it seemed to snap.His obsidian eyes glinted unnaturally, instantly dyeing the atmosphere dense with danger and dark, better-left-unfulfilled promises. His aura dripped with malice and surrounded her in forewarning, eventually becoming the focal point of her vision.

His aura, coming from such a tiny body, was an overwhelming ink black that reeked of a cold, calculating, unemotional intent to destroy her. With such an aura concentrated on her, she was convinced of her impending doom.

She panicked and nearly hyperventilated, the menace so thick and suffocating that she could not breathe. Ohmukurosaveme-

She clawed desperately at her throat, a small voice commenting snarkily that she was going to get killed by an aura of all things this time. And as her lungs began burning with the lack of oxygen, and her violet eyes blurred with warm tears that pricked and grew hotter still, she had no choice but to believe that tiny voice.

It could undoubtedly end her life a third time because ohmykamiitsreborn-She wheezed and she was unable to cough without choking on her near fits, the intense fear piercing through her, leaving behind holes of fudgepleasedontkillmeyet andpleasepleasepleaseistillwanttolive!

Her face was frozen and distorted by terror, but within a desperate and mostly unaffected part of her mind gradually detached itself. (The voice of reason that she had exiled, and thus unintentionally protected.) Keeping in mind to leave the fear-ridden part of herself behind, she escaped through the link for Mukuro.

Her mental manifestation gulped, almost back to normal aside from the frequent mental tremors. Mini earthquakes really. She was out of hysterics now that she wasn't in the presence of Reborn's pitch black and intentionally murderous aura.

Sensing that Mukuro was dead like a log within his mind, dreamless and undisturbed sleep most likely self enforced to ensure efficient recovery, she sighed. So this was his secret to speedy recovery. There was only one way to catch his attention unfailingly and immediately.

'HelphelphelphelpHELP! Mukuro! MUKUROOAA!' She screamed at him from within his mind, projecting her high-pitched and frightful screeching directly into their link.

And then Reborn's killing intent seemed to disappear, as if it had never been there in the first place, or that it was blocked from her mind and senses. She let out a breath in relief, suddenly and exceptionally thankful for their link and the advantages that came with it. Maybe his ability to influence her mind and its senses wasn't that awful after all...

Seizing back control, she stilled her physical trembling and ceased the unsightly display of fear. Terror dissipated from her eyes, but they remained brightly lit with stubborn and unshed tears. An invisible layer of ice appeared to shield her twin orbs from their scrutiny before she dared relax.

In midst of clearing her mind, something most unnerving and distressing occurred to her. She dug her nails violently into her palm, perturbed by her sudden epiphany.

If not for Mukuro and their connection...? What would...

Her bones chilled at that thought.

Resolve flickered into existence behind her dulled orbs, unseen as they grew and grew into a brightly burning flame with her newfound realization.

She was weak.

She was weak, and it affected none other than her own chances of survival.

The will to survive steadily became the resolution to grow stronger, and her grasp on the world abruptly shifted, this time destroying her earlier childish and naive demeanor. Although jaded to an extent, she had never truly understood what it feels like to fear the end of her existence until this day.

(The first death had been something out of her control, and while she did discover a fear of death, she did not quite experience the feeling clearly. Even her most recent 'death' was rushed into with the high possibility of surviving in mind.)

Her lips pursed, and she blinked the moisture in her eyes away, her figure cutting into utmost seriousness and determination.

(Later, she would deal with this the best way she could — train and emerge to become indomitable, or wither away in the process. The relentless and merciless training might puzzle Ken and Chikusa, but she knew Mukuro would understand. He had to.)

Unwilling to spare any more time, she decided to reassure them of the lack of her 'intentions', hesitating as she struggled for a more accurate word. "I have no... obligations to answer you, but you can rest assured that I am not here to harm Tsunayoshi."

Her expression puzzling them,"You... You must have had conjectures as to the Mist guardians, yes?" Here she paused. "Think upon it... but I shall say no more."

Reborn's expression was unreadable. Yamamoto looked to be pensive, then a little guilty…? Whatever. She couldn't tell their thoughts, and had no intent or energy to try.

"Till we meet again..."

The last part was more of a whisper, thus Reborn did not seem to notice it as he furrowed his brows in deep contemplation.

She stood from the seat, feet unsteady as she trailed out of the restaurant and into the nearest alley. Her back supported against the filthy concrete wall, she glanced up at the sky visible from the gap between buildings. She really messed up didn't she? Not only did she end up speaking like Mukuro or some Chuuni-victim, she didn't get any dinner.

'I guess we are having instant noodles tonight after all...'


Skipping dinner, Kuromu sat on the ledge of an open window, looking out at the forest and night sky from afar. She appeared absentminded, but her thoughts were passing in lightning speed as she looked out from the classroom.

Seeing, listening... Reflecting.

It was quiet in the dark, an absolute silence undisturbed by even the occasional hoot of a hidden owl, or the faint sounds brought by a gust of wind. It was a comfortable silence.

The sky was a vast expanse of inky blue-black, the warm embers of orange light long obliterated to make way for night. A canopy of luminous stars materialized in an ocean of blackness, now that the day did not stand in their way. Some stars were dull, barely flickering into existence every now and then, but there was an adequate amount of shimmering dots to illuminate the dark, moonless night.

A breeze brushed past, too weak to affect any more than the stray strands of her hair. All else was deadly still in face of the oddly pensive night.

She sighed.

Even in her previous life, she had always been the same way, convincing herself to become satisfied with how things are even though there was always an emptiness. She tried hard to fill it up, with overreactions, with exaggerated pretensions of intense emotions and passionate ideas that were never her own. Especially, pushing away those thoughts and feelings that she did not like.

She had looked around and seen her inadequacy, but she never did admit it, seeing nothing wrong with lying to herself. Even if it was never enough to fill up and block away her sense of inferiority, she continued lying, and told herself it was enough. She had refused to put in the extra effort for anything, telling herself that what she had was good enough.

Doing just enough to get away with pretending that she amounted to more than she felt she did, and even though it's never enough to convince herself, she forced herself to feel more than she did. No, not anger, but whatever else she expected of herself. Anger came to her all too easily anyway, almost uncontrollable when triggered by the smallest details.

Even now, as she became angsty over herself, she was more furious than anything.

She should have seen this happening! Hadn't she told herself that things would be different at the start of her second life? Hadn't she became determined enough to change?!

She slapped herself when boiling hot tears began rolling down her cheeks. She did not deserve to cry. She was the one at fault, and now was not the time to cry.

Even silently, she was seething with purple rage and disappointment with herself. She was too good at seeing only the things she wanted to. This would have to be her wake up call, her metaphorical kick in the face, because fact was that she was weaker than everyone else currently, even Lambo.

And those years of an overconfident, blase attitude, of secretly hoping that she would be like one of those Mary-Sues, powerful and coveted just because she had discovered her flames early, just because she had knowledge of the 'future'... Those were fanciful notions, mere pipe dreams, and she should be embarrassed to have had even once entertained them.

(She had even expressly forbidden herself to think like a Mary-Sue, but it seemed like just once was enough for the idea to latch onto a hidden part of her mind, fastened tight.)

Mortification blazed in her, and all she could do was to claw at her arms to relief the shame, leaving red, painful streaks behind on her skin. Stuck in her own perceptions of how the world around her should be, she turned into the freaking epitome of hypocrisy! To have gone so far as to presume herself capable of improving Ken and Chikusa's lives, of changing them 'for the better' as people... Her thoughts trailed off, as she was too embarrassed to continue that line. Not that she would go back on her word, because in fact, her conviction just became stronger now that she no longer saw them as a goddamned pastime.

She would not expect them to change anymore. They were already surviving fine like that! (Well, except for the food.) Instead this time, she would get them to enjoy their lives.

But first she had to become stronger, so that they could see her as an equal to be respected. At this point, most of her problems (except their next meal) could be solved by turning into someone formidable, but that was impossible without proper guidance and much fearsome training.

"Mukuro?" Her voice came out as a croak, barely above a whisper. "Teach me, make me unbeatable..." But there was no reply, and her voice soon faded into the impalpable silence, this time broken by louder owl hoots. In the distance, a gust of wind blew scattered leaves away.

"I want to become stronger, stronger than anyone else." She stated lightly, but her conviction was firm as steel. Her voice, quiet, sounded louder than anything in this deceptive silence.

'So that nothing like this happens again, to make me fear for my life, to point out how weak I am that I could do nothing and had to be rescued... I will become stronger.' She swore wordlessly. Mukuro was aware through their link, as she had meant those thoughts to the degree of unwittingly pushing echoes through their connection.

The silence stretched into beyond the blue-black sea, and as she looked over to the sea of stars, she felt them winking back in anticipation. Nonsensical impressions, she chided herself sardonically.

After what seemed like an eternity of tranquility, he allowed her a reply. "If that is what you wish for, Kuromu..." His voice was humorless, seemingly absentminded in the lightness of his tone, but within his statement was an oath, a definite outcome.

And she smiled self deprecatingly, because if he so promised, it would happen, no matter if he had to drag her dead body all the way through seven hells just to strengthen her.

But that was a figure of speech, at least, she hoped so.

"We start after dinner…"

True, she was kind of hungry after expending all these energy to reflect on her actions.

These deep thoughts were for smart people, not her… Her stomach obediently growled in answer, crashing through the thick and melancholic silence with impeccable timing.

Really.

Mukuro softly laughed.


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