The Mark of Lilith
Ayumi waited for Hayate to leave the building before she went home herself. She didn't want to be stuck in a long awkward trip with him on the way home again, plus she didn't want to upset Shiori any further. This was a good plan, but also meant that she had to wait around for him to stop waiting for her at the entrance gate. Once he left she had to give him a good head start before leaving herself.
By the time she set out, sunrise was threatening, and Ayumi knew that by the time she reached Nakatomi Manor that it'd be morning. She groaned at the things she'd have to endure to keep her friendship with Shiori. She didn't want to lose her because of Hayate. She didn't even like Hayate all that much.
She took her time getting home, just to make sure she didn't bump into the boy on the way. The sun was almost to it's morning peak by the time she arrived, and Ayumi had to admit her eyes were starting to hurt. She quickly made her way to her dorm room, rubbing her eyes trying to rid herself of a headache forming.
But no one was in the room to hear Ayumi's call. She looked at her bed and noticed that it was unmade, which meant Mio had been in it most of the day. She went over to Mio's side of it and laid down, sniffing her pillow a bit to absorb some of her smell. She didn't realize she was doing it until she actually did it. She sat up and wondered if she was creepy for doing that.
Before she had a chance to rid herself of that crisis, Mio herself turned up, dressed in a bath towel. Her hair was wet and slightly slicked back from having just been in the bath. Ayumi waved at her, and Mio did the same. She placed her bucket of shower supplies back into the closet, then walked over to Ayumi and sat next to her on the bed.
"I can't believe how much I missed you." Mio giggled a bit, then used a second towel to further dry her hair. "I got used to your emotions and thoughts even if I wasn't reading them. It's like listening to music or a fan when you're trying to sleep. Background noise, you know?"
"I guess." Ayumi still was feeling guilty for sniffing Mio's pillow.
"What's up." Mio finished drying her hair and looked at Ayumi.
"Uhhh… well Hayate likes me and Shiori is mad about it." Ayumi quickly came up with an alternate version on why she was acting weird. She realized that if Mio probed her thoughts she could get to the truth of the matter, but there was a chance she wasn't, so she went with the lie.
"Oh no." Mio's eyebrows raised, looking concerned. "Poor Shiorin."
"Did you know that he liked me?" Ayumi wondered. She was quick to notice the lack of surprise on Mio's face.
"Kind of. To be honest I wasn't really paying that much attention to Hayate's end of things, but I sense a little something there between him and you. I just thought it was the pink-eyes thing at first, then after a while I just forgot about it."
"Well Shiorin is convinced that he likes me." Ayumi pouted. "She really is upset. She wouldn't even talk to me at P.E."
Mio gave Ayumi a hug. "Sorry. That must have been tough."
"Yeah…" Ayumi leaned into her. "At times like this… when bad news happened… Sena-chan and I would take a walk to clear our minds. Well she'd do the walking, I just sat in my wheelchair while she pushed. I thought about doing that on the way home to clear my head, but the sun is out."
Mio pulled away and looked at Ayumi with a thoughtful expression on her face. "Well, what can I do instead?"
"I don't know." Ayumi shrugged. "When you get down to it, it's really Shiorin's problem. I already told her I don't like Hayate-kun. So I don't think we can do anything."
"Come here." Mio stood up, took off her towel, then went back into Ayumi's bed, pulling her down with her. "Let's cuddle."
"Uh- you're naked."
"It's better than a damp towel making my side all wet. You don't mind, do you?"
"No… I guess not. It's just weird."
Mio pulled her down, and the two of them wrapped their arms around the other under the blanket. As predicted it felt different with Mio being naked. Ayumi was rubbing her bare back and it felt more sensual than comforting. Ayumi wasn't an empath and even she could feel it. Soon Mio couldn't lie about it anymore and pulled back ever so slightly so they could look into each other's faces.
"Maybe this is weird," She smirked. "I should put some clothes on."
Ayumi found that part of her thought this was a good idea, while the other part didn't want her to go. Then she remembered Mio's scent on the pillow and felt a whole new wave of embarrassment. Unfortunately she was in bed with a telepath. Ayumi saw Mio's face as she read everything floating in her mind, unfiltered. Her cheeks went slightly pink on that.
"Do you like me, Aya-chan?" Mio whispered.
Ayumi hadn't thought of the possibly of liking someone, boy or girl. Before being turned it had always been just her and Sena. She always said Sena was her best friend, but they were far more than that. Sena, like Mio, was always the affectionate one. She took care of Ayumi, and in a sense, did a lot of her thinking for her as well. But being away from her and having to form her own opinions on things had been trying. Did she like Mio more than just a friend? How could she know what liking someone was if she wasn't sure if she ever liked someone before.
Mio once again was shifting through Ayumi's thoughts. Ayumi didn't mind, it was easier than trying to explain her feelings with words. Then she reached up and pressed a warm hand on her cheek. Their minds linked and once Ayumi closed her eyes they both were floating in the white void. Only this time the two of them were naked. Ayumi found herself not ashamed of this.
I think I figured out something, listening to your thoughts. Mio spoke in Ayumi's mind. You haven't seen it yourself. So I'm not sure if I should tell you.
Whatever it is, I think I should know. I mean you found out using my thoughts and memories, right?
Yes but… it's something that could hurt you.
Ayumi was slightly alarmed by this. Still if it was in her mind, then she'd find out eventually. Please, tell me, Mio-chan.
Okay. I'm only telling you because you asked and I care for you. I think… no... I know that Sena-chan wasn't just a friend to you. She was in love with you.
Ayumi wanted to protest that. It seemed amazing, but for some reason it wasn't shocking. It was as if she already knew it but just didn't acknowledge it. Y-You're right.
There's something else. Maybe it's because we have this connection, but I'm starting to feel those same feelings as well. Mio confessed with a slight tremble in her voice. I'm sorry. I know it must be horrible to hear this. Especially from me… but I'd be lying if I kept it in. I thought I should come clean.
Ayumi looked at Mio's avatar self, then opened her real eyes. Mio's eyes were still closed as she was in Ayumi's mind still. She looked pale and there was a tear going down her cheek. She was scared of being rejected. Ayumi closed her eyes again and returned to the voice where Mio's avatar was looking more composed.
Why do you like me?
I don't know. To be honest I always have. The day I saw you. I can't explain it. Didn't you notice how easy it was for us to become friends. It was like we already knew each other.
Ayumi did notice that. In fact that was one of the strange things about this whole situation. Not only did Mio look like Sena, but she acted like her, and they got along with each other the same exact way. Even floating in the void Mio could read those thoughts.
There really is something bizarre going on, isn't there? Mio admitted. How do I know that Sena-chan loves you? I mean I could piece it together with your thoughts, but in the end those are just your thoughts. But I KNOW she loves you.
"You mean loved." Ayumi had opened her eyes and spoke out loud. "She can't love me, she's dead."
Mio's eyes were open as well. "No… she loves you. I can feel it."
"You think she's alive?" Ayumi asked, then shook her head. "Don't say things like that."
Mio was silent for a while then whispered. "I have a freckle on my thigh. So did she. We act the same, we smell the same, we look the same. And we both love you. Add the fact that my own memories are messed up and missing parts. Somehow, I know this sounds crazy, but Sena-chan and I are connected. And I know you feel it too."
Ayumi didn't want to think about it, but the more she tried to push the possibility away, the more she started remembering other things. "I asked Hayate-kun about you today… something you did a year ago. He said he couldn't remember. It really bothered him. He said he knew you were there, but he couldn't remember what you were doing. That seemed so odd to me that it bothered him."
Mio sat up, breathing slightly heavy. "This is all starting to make sense."
While she said that Mio looked frightened. Ayumi sat up with her as well, touching her bare shoulder.
"My memories aren't right. It's like they aren't real. And Hayate-kun can only remember me being in his memories, but not actually doing anything. It sounds like to me someone created false memories." Mio reasoned. "Miki-chan said I've been here a year… but she acts like I'm a stranger… Then theres the fact that Nakatomi-sama finds you a threat. So he just happens to find a girl that looks exactly like your best friend? What are the odds?"
"Mio-chan are you saying that somehow you're really Sena-chan?"
"I don't… I don't know!" Mio was grabbing her head. "Nakatomi-sama can read me like I read you… so he always knows what you're up too. And you're bound to trust someone that you were close with before… so… it's all coming together."
"Try to think about your own life. What Mio Ogawa was like before she become a Shedim."
"That's just it. Every time I try, it's like my mind wanders to something else." Mio shook her head. "Ayu-chan, you had to of thought all of this before… I know you have."
"You're doing it now…" Ayumi noticed. "As soon as I brought up Mio's past you changed the subject."
Mio looked lost. She turned and placed both hands on the side of Ayumi's head. "You'll have to go into my mind this time. I'll make the link, but you have to search. I can't do it myself."
"But I don't know how?"
"Place your hands on my face like I'm doing to yours." Mio ordered. "Close your eyes and just try your best."
"I don't want to accidentally hurt you by rooting around in your mind like that." Ayumi felt frightened.
"Ayu-chan… I have to know. I have to know if I'm really me or if I'm Sena-chan. And you do too." Mio nodded her face. "If it seems to dangerous, I can stop the link. But I need to know. I need to know I'm not going crazy."
Ayumi felt a tear go down her face. "I-I'll do it…"
"I'm sorry for making you…" Mio murmured. "But I can't expect you to accept my feelings for you if this is hanging over us."
Ayumi realized that Mio had automatically expected that Ayumi would accept her feelings. Ayumi wondered if she knew this because she could read Ayumi better than Ayumi could read herself, or if it was just self confidence. Nevertheless, that was a problem for another time. Right now the big mystery of her Shedim-life was about to be solved. Who was Mio Ogawa?
It seemed impossible to think that Sena Kamiya and Mio Ogawa were one and the same, but then again it seemed completely logical, looking at all the evidence stacking in Sena's favor. What did Ayumi want? Did she want her old friend back, or did she want to keep her new one? They were exactly the same, but Ayumi had grown to see Mio as Mio. Did that mean in some way she was letting Sena down for accepting someone else?
She raised her hands, and placed them on the side of Mio's face the same way Mio was holding her. They stared at each other both with fear in their eyes. Mio fully knew the mental turmoil that must be going on in Ayumi's brain at that moment, but she was too scared for her own identity to comfort her. She needed to know this about herself.
"Ayu-chan… no matter what happens, it's you and me till the end, yeah?" Mio spoke in a shaking voice.
"Yeah. No matter what."
"O-Okay." Mio closed her eyes. "Please, tell me who I am."
Ayumi nodded, and closed her eyes as well. The responsibility of this weighed Ayumi's shoulders down. Was she really doing this? Was she really going into Mio's mind?