Silk

by Kubaru_Suki (少年好き 配る)
illustrated by eisenkleid

(mirrors http://s2b2.livejournal.com/24639.html)

Beneath a drape of crimson crushed velvet, Miyabi grinned. She folded the fabric back and peeked out from under it. “Is it me?” she asked. Nobody answered. She looked up and down the aisle. “Hoshiko?”

A nearby pile of yellow tulle giggled, “I can’t tell. Maybe?”

“Ahem,” coughed the anime cosplay club president. “We’re here to look at the prices, not play with the merchandise.”

“Of course,” Miyabi nodded.

“Sorry,” added Hoshiko from inside her yellow cocoon. “Um…could somebody…I’m a little…”

Ducking out from under the velvet, Miyabi went to unwind her friend, wrapping the stiff material around her arms to keep it neat as she went. The first bit of Hoshiko to appear was the honey-brown crown of her head followed by the wavy rivers of her pigtails. A moment later her sunny, pixie face smiled out, blue eyes bright with laughter. Miyabi kept unwrapping until the only fabric left was the navy-and-white cotton of the school uniform. “Try the green. This yellow is too pale for you,” she advised as Hoshiko began to roll the tulle back onto its form.

Hoshiko looked crestfallen. “Ooh and I liked that color.” After a moment she shook her head, her brilliant smile back in place as her hair whipped around her. “Well, it doesn’t matter since we’re working on the Celestial Twins and their robes ar-”

“Ahem,” the president coughed again. She turned a sticky-sweet smile on them, “While I’m sure we all appreciate that you are two of the most senior members of this club, and that you work as a team, it would also be appreciated if the two of you would work with the rest of the club, too.”

“Sorry!”

“I’m sorry,” Miyabi said contritely. As they crowded down the Notions aisle with the rest of the club, Miyabi suddenly swayed, reaching out to catch hold of a rack of ribbons with one hand, raising the other to her forehead. “Oh,” she said breathlessly.

The reaction was instantaneous. The club members backed away in alarm as Hoshiko put an arm around her waist. “Miyabi?” she cried. Miyabi let her tug her hand away from her face and study her fingernails. “Is it your heart? Oh, look at your nails! Your hospital is right across the street. Let’s go!”

Miyabi blinked woozily at the cosplay club. “Oh, my,” she murmured. “I’m so sorry. It seems I have to leave early.” She leaned against Hoshiko and let Hoshiko guide her out of the shop and across the street, heavily aware of the pack of eyes following them.

“Your nails,” Hoshiko said as the hospital doors breezed open for them, “have a really nice new polish; did you just get them done?”

As the doors swished shut, Miyabi studied her fingers critically. “I did them myself. Do they really look all right?” She hugged Hoshiko lightly with the arm still around her waist. “I’m glad you knew I was faking it.”

Hoshiko’s arm around her shoulders tightened fractionally. “Well, your nail beds aren’t dark and your lips aren’t blue. I’m just glad nobody else noticed.” Hoshiko’s arm fell away and she stopped, looking at her closely. “You are feeling all right, right?” she asked.

Miyabi smiled at her and led the way to the vending machines by the windows. “I feel fine,” she assured her, fishing out enough change for two cans of tea. “I just couldn’t stand the thought of spending any more time with that sanctimonious bitch and her minions.”

“You too, huh?” Hoshiko giggled and cracked open the first can of tea, handing it back to her as Miyabi handed her the second can. “I don’t know why she complains about us. She’s the one who paired us up in our first year.”

Taking a quick sip of tea, Miyabi didn’t answer her, looking out the window to the shop across the street instead. She knew why.

Ostensibly, she and Hoshiko had been asked to work together because Miyabi had the most free-time and could help the struggling Hoshiko the most. In reality, Miyabi knew that it was because nobody else could stand to work with Hoshiko. She was too slow, too sloppy, and too eager to try everything even though she failed spectacularly at most of it. The hope had been that Miyabi would do Hoshiko’s costumes for her and spare the club the embarrassment. The fact that Miyabi patiently supported Hoshiko’s efforts, encouraging her to cosplay any character she loved no matter how difficult the work, didn’t go over well. She’d spent the last year shielding Hoshiko from the veiled hints that she should quit the club due to her lack of talent.

“Did you want to wait here for the club to leave, and then look, or did you want to leave now?” she asked instead.

“Wait please,” Hoshiko chirruped. “I want to buy fabric today; I’m gonna screw up so many times that I just know Vision’s robes are going to take me forever.”

As soon as she entered her house, Hoshiko knew something was wrong. She clutched her shopping bag of fabric to her chest and closed her eyes. Faintly, buried under the scent of cleaners and incense, she could smell the stale tang of alcohol.

“Hoshiko?”

Just what she didn’t need, Hoshiko thought sadly. “Father?” she dutifully answered anyway.

Her father appeared at the entrance to his wing of the house. Hoshiko hadn’t been in there since she was small and had only foggy memories of his offices and an extra bedroom being down the shadowed hall behind him. “Your mother,” he said and she chanced a look up at him to see him frowning off in the middle distance, “is feeling poorly again.”

She’s drunk again, you mean, Hoshiko thought. “I understand, Father,” she said quietly, looking at the floor between her street shoes.

“I have important business, so you’re not to disturb me. If your mother needs anything, let the staff know.”

“Yes, Father,” Hoshiko nodded without looking up. She heard him turn away and then, because she could never quite quit hoping said, “I had a meeting of the cosplay club today. We went around to price fabric and notions and things.”

She looked up hopefully when she heard him stop, but he didn’t turn around. “Leave the name of the shops with my secretary tomorrow and she’ll set up accounts for you,” he said dismissively as he shut the door to his suite.

Hoshiko hugged her shopping tightly. “Okay,” she said softly, to nobody in particular, “but I don’t need them. I’ve already finished.” Without bothering to change into her house shoes, Hoshiko headed deeper into the house. It wasn’t as though anybody cared if her shoes marked up the floors. She peeked into her mother’s rooms as she passed them by, knowing what she’d find but unable to keep herself from looking anyhow. Her mother was passed out in her bed. A tray with water and medicine already in place beside her, thanks to her servants. She ducked out again and didn’t bother to stop in her own bedroom. She wanted her sewing room.

Her sewing room was both a sanctuary and a reminder. A sanctuary because nobody bothered her when she was in there because she usually managed to stitch over her own fingers if they did and a reminder because it symbolized everything her parents weren’t. In her sewing room, she made things. It took time and effort and thought to turn the fabric into more than sheets of woven threads. No amount of money or alcohol or secretaries or household servants could do it. Only she could, little Hoshiko with her own heart and hands.

And there were pictures of Miyabi there.

Dropping her bag just inside the door, Hoshiko went right to her mirror, where most of her photos were kept tucked into the frame. She reached out to touch the picture kept in the upper-right hand corner. It was her first picture of Miyabi. The two of them together at their first convention, dressed as the Dolls from Sweet Song Magic. Her hair dyed cotton-candy pink and Miyabi’s a pretty baby-blue, just for the day.

If she concentrated, she could still hear Miyabi’s gentle voice as they’d sat down to work together—in this very room—for the first time. After Hoshiko had been dropped by every other member of the cosplay club that she’d worked with. And she’d apologized for her slowness…

I don’t mind, Miyabi had said. I’m happy to work with somebody so eager to learn. Besides, we’re both going as Dolls!

“So it must be fate,” Hoshiko whispered to herself, touching the edges of the photo gently. Even in the picture, it was obvious that the shirring on her skirt was clumsy. She was still proud of that skirt, even if it no longer fit.

Halfway down the left side of the mirror was a picture from one of the school festivals and she and Miyabi were in their Lacewing Lies costumes. Their wings, which had taken so long to craft and paint, were getting crushed as they leaned in close together. Hoshiko smiled at the way Miyabi’s wings glittered, matching the glitter on their cheeks. Her own wings had been plain since she’d barely finished, but Miyabi had rubbed the glitter-gel on her cheeks anyway, saying, A Dragonfly Apology sparkles even if her wings don’t, remember?

Miyabi, Hoshiko thought, made her sparkle. She’d joined the cosplay club so that she could learn to sew and so that she could dress up and, for a little while, be the spunky, sparkly, strong heroines from her favorite anime and manga series. She’d got something so much better out of it. She’d got the best friend anybody could ever ask for. She’d long since given up thinking that Miyabi was better off without a partner like her for the club. Miyabi was as alone as she was, in some ways. She took genuine delight in watching Hoshiko improve in part because she knew what it meant to her, what it represented to her.

And more, Miyabi kept Hoshiko going. No matter what difficult bit of fabric trickery Hoshiko was trying to pull of, no matter what the absent-minded hurt her parents dealt her, she had Miyabi’s smile to guide her through it. She’d never give up because Miyabi believed in her.

Lifting her favorite picture out of the corner it was tucked into, Hoshiko sighed. It was one of just Miyabi, for a change. Taken from above, Miyabi’s laughing face tilted up to the camera. Hoshiko had been standing on a chair and Miyabi was at her feet, her lovely, black hair out of its customary ponytail for once and tumbling to make pretty circles on the floor around her where she sat pinning Hoshiko’s hems up for her.

“Miyabi,” she sighed at it, touching her friend’s smile. “One day,” she told the picture seriously, “I want to make something for you to wear. Something good,” she amended. Miyabi would wear anything she made for her and she knew it. Miyabi was that good of a friend. Miyabi was beautiful inside and out like that. No wonder she’d fallen in love with her. “On that day…”

Sudden shouts from downstairs made Hoshiko jump. Her mother was screaming and, from what she was saying, it was at her father. Hoshiko felt her shoulders slump with hopelessness only to let out a gasp of dismay. She’d crumpled her photo when she’d jumped. She smoothed out the wrinkles as best she could before putting it back in its place. “On that day, I’ll even tell you how I feel,” she promised quietly.

Miyabi was curled up in her favorite chair, watching Heavenly Highschoolers and taking notes on the Celestial Twins. She frowned. The robes had lots of fancy bits and notions, but there were vast expanses of unadorned fabric. She’d have to improvise a bit. Maybe a sheer overlay. She tapped her pencil thoughtfully.

Her father’s hand suddenly blocked her vision. “Oxygen, young lady,” he scolded, pulling her mask back down over her mouth and nose. “Reception called up to third floor to tell me you were in, you know.”

“Daddy!” Miyabi accepted the mask with a giggling sigh. “I told you, I didn’t have an episode. Hoshiko and I just needed to get away from club.”

“Thought you liked cosplay club?” her father dropped an absent kiss on her forehead.

Miyabi make a quick note about Dreamer’s hair ornaments. “Like the cosplay, dislike the club,” she explained. “Prissy bunch of perfectionists.”

“Were they picking on Hoshiko again?” her father asked, pausing in mid-reach for his stethoscope.

Even just the thought of it made Miyabi frown. “Not today. Just…” she shrugged, careful not to make a face behind her mask in case her father turned up the flow. What she wanted to say was that she hated sharing Hoshiko with them, especially since they didn’t deserve her cheerful sweetness but that was a truth she didn’t say out loud even to herself. “We got bored being told off for having fun while pricing fabrics.”

Her father adjusted her mask and then ruffled her hair. “Don’t overexert yourself just to one-up them,” he told her. “Now, I’ve got three women in labor so I’m not sure when I’ll be home but I expect to see at least a half-hour’s worth of pressure gone out of this tank when I look at it. And I expect all of it to be in you.”

“Yes, Daddy.” She took an exaggerated breath and her father grinned at her. The minute he was out the door, she took the mask off; it was no good treating a cyanotic spell until she actually had one and she always knew well in advance when she’d actually need the oxygen. She left the flow turned on, however, because she knew her father would check the minute he got home.

She couldn’t blame him for his over-protectiveness; tetralogy of fallot had taken her mother from them in the middle of a perfectly ordinary day. She knew that her father was determined that the disease wouldn’t take her, too. She understood it, but that didn’t mean she liked it. She hated being coddled. The only person who never treated her like spun glass was Hoshiko.

Thumbing the remote to stop the video, Miyabi looked around the room. Her sewing room wasn’t anywhere near as big as Hoshiko’s, nor did it have the spectacular view of manicured lawns outside its mullioned windows. But it was warm and homey and just sitting in it made her feel loved. Once, it had been her mother’s room. In her haziest, earliest memories, Miyabi could see her mother sitting at the sewing machine, foot working the treadle as fabric rolled by under her fingers. Later, she’d adopted the room as her own and learned to sew for herself so that she’d have something besides an ailing heart to share with her mother. Now she shared it with Hoshiko.

She’d joined the cosplay club because it was one of the few after school clubs that she wasn’t restricted from joining, the others all being ‘too taxing’. She’d decided that it wasn’t for her within the first two meetings and had been about to resign in the third when Hoshiko had bounced into the room. Hoshiko, who was as bright and brilliant and resilient as all of Miyabi’s favorite anime heroines and just didn’t know it, loved the club. Or at least, she loved belonging to the club. And so Miyabi had stayed on. Because Hoshiko was there and she was in love.

Not that Hoshiko knew.

Miyabi was pretty sure that everybody else had figured out her feelings for Hoshiko ages ago. Her father had very gently questioned her about it when he’d seen the Lolita-ish look of their Gravitational URGE costumes and the rest of the cosplay club had guessed at her feelings years ago, when she’d talked Hoshiko into doing costumes from Punk Princesses; namely Rin and Ran the girls with the ‘special friendship’. Miyabi went to her mirror and studied the pictures she, like Hoshiko, had tucked into the full-length frame. The revealing Punk Princesses costumes were in the top center and all black vinyl and leather. Hoshiko was leaning forward, wearing a good approximation of Rin’s ‘come on’ look and Miyabi herself was turned away from the camera, looking back over her shoulder with Ran’s flirtiest look—aiming it more at Hoshiko than she was the photographer. No doubt, everybody but Hoshiko knew how she felt.

“Innocent,” Miyabi murmured, looking at the other pictures she’d collected; Hoshiko laughing at the sewing machine, Hoshiko frowning in concentration as she wielded a cutting wheel on some tracing paper, Hoshiko, Hoshiko, Hoshiko in all of them. Without a clue in any of them and still, it made Miyabi smile. “One day I’ll tell you how I feel and then…?” she trailed off with a wistful sigh. And then…she just didn’t know.

Her mobile phone rang, interrupting her musing. “Hoshiko?”

“Your dad let me in the building on his way out and I’m outside your apartment,” Hoshiko said. “Can I stay over?”

“Of course,” Miyabi answered automatically.

She could all but hear Hoshiko’s grin. “Great. I told your dad I’d make sure you finished your treatment, but I’m pretty sure I lied to him.”

“That’s okay,” Miyabi said, heading for the door “I lied to him first.” She opened the apartment door to Hoshiko who was standing in the hallway, phone still up to her ear, and beaming like the sun. “Things okay at home?” she asked into the phone’s speaker.

“Not really,” Hoshiko said into her phone before clicking it shut. “But it’s not bad, either. I just…wanted to be someplace where somebody cared.”

Miyabi closed her own phone and hugged her, drawing her into the apartment. “You’ve come to the right place.”

Hoshiko sat with her chin propped in her hands, watching Miyabi alter a kimono pattern to make the base pattern for their costumes. “You’re so clever,” she sighed enviously.

Miyabi looked up, a smile fluttering at the edges of her mouth. “I read about it on a website.”

“That’s even cleverer,” Hoshiko giggled, slipping out of her chair and edging over to sit next to Miyabi on the hardwood floor. She fiddled with the purple satin edging on her pajama shorts as she watched Miyabi’s hands fly over the tissue paper, measuring and marking and cutting. “Can I help?”

“Not with this part.” Miyabi tore a chunk of pattern off and looked at her. “I was thinking about altering the look of the robes a little, though,” she said, tucking a loose strand of hair behind her ear.

“The empty places?” Hoshiko guessed, tucking Miyabi’s hair back for her as it slid free again. She wasn’t about to suggest that Miyabi put her hair back up in a ponytail. She liked it loose. She’d deliberately put her own hair down in the hopes that Miyabi would follow suit. “You want to fill the empty places with something?”

Miyabi beamed at her. “Yes. A sheer overlay to add sparkle, maybe. If you want to do something, you could take the remnant boxes out and see if there’s anything that might work.”

“If there isn’t anything here,” Hoshiko said, standing and going to the narrow closet that housed Miyabi’s leftover materials, “I might have something at my house. I bought a lot of stuff when I first got started,” she explained, gathering boxes from the ‘scraps’ shelf. “Just because it was pretty or felt nice. I didn’t have anything…in mind,” she lost her breath as she turned around. Miyabi was leaning over to the far side of the pattern, intent on her work, the gold silk of her camisole top gaping wide open. She could see all the way down to the black silk waistband of Miyabi’s shorts, though her eyes got stuck at the creamy swells of her breasts. She dropped the boxes.

“Are you all right?”

Hoshiko thought her heart might have stopped, but nodded anyhow. “The boxes slipped out of my hands,” she said, hoping that Miyabi would take her meaning as the boxes had been misbalanced or cumbersome rather than a quickly forgotten aside. She shrugged one shoulder up, rubbing her burning cheek against it under the pretense of moving some of her hair off her face in order to hide her blush. “Sorry. I’ll pick this mess up…” There was fabric scattered everywhere, colorful mounds of velvet and velour, silk and satin, twill, tweed, and toile.

Miyabi knelt down and began picking the boxes out of the tangles of cloth. “We might as well go through it together. I’m sick of the pattern anyhow.”

“Thanks,” Hoshiko said, kneeling next to her. “It’s always more fun to do this part together,” she added as she picked up a square of heavy cotton. She dropped it again almost immediately. “Ooh!” She picked up the folded, snow-white lace carefully. It looked delicate and felt fragile in her hands. “What a pretty pattern,” she ran her fingers over the dramatic sweeps and swirls. “Where did you get it?”

“I made it.”

“You did?” Hoshiko blinked at Miyabi before looking back at the elaborate lace in her hands. “Cutwork?”

Miyabi shook her head, blushing faintly. “Needle. But that’s the only piece I’ve ever done,” she continued on hurriedly. “It’s boring and labor intensive.”

Hoshiko imagined that it was. “How come you’ve never used it?” she asked. “I mean, I know why I wouldn’t have…” she trailed off with a meaningful roll of her eyes.

For a long moment, Miyabi looked at her and then ducked her head. “I did,” she said with the air of one admitting a great secret. Her hands brushed over Hoshiko’s own as she opened the square.

Once opened, the lace became an elegant cape with scalloped edges and a fine ivory ribbon at the neck. “Wow,” Hoshiko stared. “Is…is this a hood?”

Miyabi took the cape from her and laid it across her lap. “A mantilla,” she corrected, brushing Hoshiko’s hair back over her shoulders. “But it’s a separate piece.” Then, “Put your head down a bit.”

Hoshiko bowed her head as Miyabi swept the cape over her shoulders, automatically tilting her chin up so that Miyabi could tie the ribbon at her throat. “Does it look as pretty as it feels?”

“You look lovely,” Miyabi told her, taking her hand. “Come and see.” Hoshiko let herself be led to the floor-length mirror.

“Oh,” she whispered, touching the edges. “You should wear this. If this were mine I’d wear it all the time, Miyabi.”

Miyabi settled the mantilla over her hair. “It is yours,” she said.

“I couldn’t!” She turned to Miyabi, reaching to undo the ties. “Really, I wasn’t asking…” she stared at Miyabi as Miyabi laughed at her.

“I made it for you,” Miyabi said, turning her back to the mirror, her hands warm on her shoulders through the thin lace. “Originally it was going to be the shoulder panels for your KittenWickt costume. But then I realized how much it meant to you to make it all yourself, so…” she shrugged lightly.

Hoshiko reached back and laid her hand over Miyabi’s own, touched. “Thank you. For both impulses,” she said. She squeezed her fingers lightly before moving to untuck the edges of the mantilla from where it had bunched at the shoulders. “Ouch!” She whipped her hand down, pressing her thumb tightly against her index finger. “Something bit me.”

“Pins,” Miyabi said, her fingers probing gingerly at the lace. “I pinned them together so they’d not get separated.” The mantilla slipped free and Miyabi poked two gleaming stick pins into the pin cushion on her wrist. “Are you bleeding?” she asked, circling to stand in front of her, straightening the mantilla again.

Peeking at her fingers, Hoshiko let out a sigh of relief. “No. It was more an ‘ouch’ of surprise than pain.” She held up her hand between them. “See? It’s fine now.”

Miyabi smiled gently at her as she caught Hoshiko’s hand in her own. “Poor Hoshiko,” she said, examining the tip of her finger closely.

Then she kissed it.

Miyabi heard Hoshiko’s sudden gasp and dropped her hand abruptly. “All better!” she said brightly, trying to keep her tone light.

Hoshiko was staring at her, eyes wide. “Will you teach me how to make lace?” she asked breathlessly.

She really didn’t know how anybody resisted Hoshiko. “Of course I will,” she said gratefully, glad that her transgression had either been dismissed or forgiven. “What did you want to make?” she asked.

“One of these,” Hoshiko said, shrugging to indicate the cape over her shoulders. “For you.” And then, before Miyabi could respond with a banal ‘that would be nice’, Hoshiko kissed her.

Hoshiko’s mouth was soft and cheerfully straightforward. She wasn’t pressing the kiss, wasn’t forceful, but there was no mistaking her intent. Her lips were slightly parted, sipping delicately at Miyabi’s own mouth. One of Hoshiko’s hands was cupping her jaw; the other was resting warmly over Miyabi’s racing pulse. Hoshiko drew back and licked her lips. Miyabi stared at her. “That would be nice,” she finally said.

“I wanted to make you something,” Hoshiko said earnestly. “For a long, long time I’ve wanted to make you something but I wanted it to be pretty. And good quality. Then I…I was going to tell you. About my feelings.”

She wouldn’t have had to, Miyabi thought dazedly touching her mouth. The gift itself would have said everything. She reached out, sliding her fingers through the mass of Hoshiko’s hair, smoothing it away from her face. “I love you,” she whispered, leaning in and kissing her. She kept it nearly as chaste as Hoshiko had, her tongue sliding out to trace over Hoshiko’s lower lip only as she pulled away.

“Me too,” Hoshiko said. “I mean, I love you, too,” she clarified, her lips brushing against Miyabi’s own as she spoke. “I love you, Miyabi.”

And Miyabi had to kiss her again. Not innocent, not chaste, this time. She kissed her hard, slipping her tongue into the warmth of Hoshiko’s mouth. She tasted the faint remnants of the candy bar they’d split earlier in the evening and sighed, tangling her fingers in Hoshiko’s hair, not caring as the mantilla floated to the floor as she tugged her even closer.

Hoshiko kissed her back, hot and sweet and fumblingly inexperienced but not shy. Not at all shy. Her arms went around Miyabi’s waist, one hand gliding up to bury itself in her hair as she pressed closer still. She ended the kiss by nuzzling her cheek against Miyabi’s own and Miyabi expected her to speak. When she didn’t, Miyabi kissed her ear and made her sigh. “Kiss me again?” she asked quietly.

When Hoshiko nodded, Miyabi turned her head, expecting the slick press of Hoshiko’s mouth to her own again. Hoshiko surprised her by kissing her neck just under her ear and moving down to the base of her neck, then out over her shoulder in a series of careful, slow, open-mouthed kisses.

“This is okay, right?” Hoshiko asked, kissing the cusp of her shoulder. “What we’re doing now?”

“For my heart?” Miyabi asked, stroking over Hoshiko’s shoulders, untying and pushing away the lace cape before stopping with her hands just above her breasts.

Hoshiko giggled. “For your head,” she said, running her fingers over the long-faded scar that bisected Miyabi’s chest, stopping at the edge of her camisole. “You don’t have that many restrictions and anyway, how could love be bad for your heart?”

“Especially not yours,” Miyabi nodded She let one hand cover Hoshiko’s breast and said, “It’s okay in my head as long as it’s okay in yours.” Hoshiko’s answer was to arch her back, pressing her breast more firmly into Miyabi’s palm, and kiss her again. Miyabi drank in Hoshiko’s broken murmurs of pleasure as she teased her nipples beneath the thin material of her pajama top.

She pulled her mouth away from Hoshiko’s with a gasping need for air some time later and rested her forehead against hers, watching her hands cupping Hoshiko’s firm breasts through the indigo silk of her top. She could also see Hoshiko’s fingers wrapped up in the thin straps of her own top and she shrugged, letting Hoshiko pull the straps off her shoulders, baring the tops of her breasts.

Hoshiko immediately traced the newly-lowered hem, lingering over the plump curves of her chest. “You have such lovely breasts,” she said, her words drifting coolly over Miyabi’s still wet mouth. “I saw down your shirt earlier, when I dropped the boxes. It was why I dropped the boxes,” she confessed, flatting her hand and tracing the hem again.

Miyabi thought about that for a moment and then let go of Hoshiko’s body to grasp the bottom hem of her camisole. She drew it off and let it fall to the floor beside her, shivering at the soft moan that Hoshiko made.

“Oops,” said Hoshiko, whipping her own top off and tossing it behind her, “I dropped my shirt.”

Giggling, Miyabi wrapped her arms around Hoshiko and drew her close again, losing the giggles to a sharp gasp as their naked chests came together. She shifted, rubbing her breasts against Hoshiko’s just to feel the soft slide of skin on skin. She caught her mouth with her own, nibbling at her lips because they were both breathing heavily. The sharp press of Hoshiko’s fingernails into her shoulders made her shudder. “Oh.”

“Oh,” Hoshiko murmured shivering back at her before bending her head and kissing the very top of Miyabi’s scar. “All better,” she said.

Miyabi gripped her slim hips, tightly grasping the insubstantial silk of her pajama bottoms and tugged as she began to kiss her way down Hoshiko’s body. “All better,” she agreed, setting an open-mouthed kiss over one sweet-pea pink nipple. She ran her tongue around the stiff peak as Hoshiko gripped handfuls of her hair and held her head in places, silently begging. “You’re so beautiful,” she murmured, mouthing her way across Hoshiko’s chest to lavish attention on the other side. “So beautiful,” she repeated, suckling at her breast until Hoshiko’s labored breathing turned into a short, breathy moan.

Unable to help herself, Miyabi gave a sharp tug at Hoshiko’s shorts, dragging them down off her hips. She let go of her handfuls of fabric in order to slide her palms over the sweet curves of Hoshiko’s ass, using pressure to drag the shorts down until gravity caught them and they slid down Hoshiko’s legs to pool at her ankles. She strung kisses down her ribs, along the curve of her bell, over the crest of her hip and then down the slender line of her thigh. The muscle trembled under her lips. She closed her eyes as Hoshiko shifted once, twice, stepping out of her shorts and kicking them aside. She steadied herself with a hand on Hoshiko’s knee and then looked up, taking in the sweeping view from Hoshiko’s purple-painted toenails to the top of her golden-brown head. It seemed only too appropriate that she was kneeling at her feet.

“You’re more than beautiful,” she said, sliding her hands up Hoshiko’s legs until her thumbs met the crease at the top of her thighs. “You’re perfect.” She laid a kiss on Hoshiko’s belly, just above the thatch of burnished gold curls. Hoshiko whimpered faintly as Miyabi sat back and Miyabi didn’t know if it was the pressure from her hands or if it was a decision made on Hoshiko’s part, but Hoshiko’s thighs parted just far enough that Miyabi could see the slick, petal-pink folds of her womanhood.

The sight sent a lighting bolt of heat through her and Miyabi leaned forward again to press her mouth against that place, the curls crisp against her lips as she darted her tongue out to catch the taste of something thick and sweet like honey.

“Miyabi!” Hoshiko cried out. Her knees buckled.

Hoshiko felt completely out of control sitting in Miyabi’s lap, kissing her as deeply as she could, her hands racing over her body. She cupped her face when she finally tore her mouth away to gulp in some desperately needed air. “Miyabi,” she whispered, skimming the tips of her fingers over the hard buds of her nipples, loving the way her eyes closed helplessly when she did it.

Miyabi made a sound deep in her throat and shifted. Or tried to. A moment later Miyabi managed to open her eyes, blinking up at Hoshiko and Hoshiko couldn’t resist smiling at her. Miyabi smiled back and then squeezed her thigh. “Move a bit,” she instructed.

She let Miyabi arrange her as she liked until finally she was straddling one of Miyabi’s thighs. Her silky skin was almost cool against Hoshiko’s heated core. She gasped, pressing closer and rocking her hips slightly. She could feel the slickness of her arousal making the movement smooth and easy. She did it again. And again, stopping only when she encountered the silk of Miyabi’s pajama bottoms; it almost felt rough after the softness of Miyabi’s skin. “Miyabi?” she ran her hands down Miyabi’s arms until she could twine their fingers together.

“Hoshiko?”

Burying her face shyly in the sweet space where Miyabi’s neck flowed into her shoulder, Hoshiko asked, “Could I…” and she touched the waistband of Miyabi’s shorts. “And maybe we could lie down?”

Miyabi cupped her face in her hands. “Yes,” she said, “I’d like that very much.” She kissed Hoshiko’s cheek, sweetly. “Should we go to my room?”

“No!” Hoshiko shook her head vigorously. “I want to be with you here.” She turned her face and laid a kiss into the cup of Miyabi’s hand. “I fell in love with you here. This place, it’s special to us.” She lifted her eyes to Miyabi’s and smiled helplessly. “And the floor is covered in really nice fabric right now. We could pretend it is some fancy boudoir pillows and stuff, right?”

“You’re absolutely right,” Miyabi agreed, brushing a gentle kiss over her lips.

Hoshiko slid back off of Miyabi’s leg, her breath hitching in her chest as the sensations swamped her. Miyabi, too, was gasping, her fingers flexing restlessly where she held her. When Miyabi started to stand, Hoshiko grabbed her wrist and stopped her. “Lay back,” she said. “I want to do this for you.” She wanted them to be equals in this. Besides, Miyabi was so pretty, stretched out against the riotous colors and textures of the spilled remnants of their costuming careers.

She went slowly, hooking her fingers under the top band and stopping every few inches to drop a kiss on the newly bared skin as she went. She retraced her path up, her hands gliding over the moon-pale flesh, watching it flush with heat under her. She paused for a moment at the silky patch of dark hair that covered Miyabi’s most intimate secrets. She was tempted to kiss Miyabi there, to taste as Miyabi had, but she also wanted to see Miyabi’s reaction to her touch. Locking eyes with her, Hoshiko slipped her fingers into the vee of Miyabi’s legs, stroking the damp flesh.

Miyabi’s eyes went wide and blind, a daze of pleasure making them dark. “Hoshiko!” she cried out, the broken sound of her voice making Hoshiko grind her own thighs together. Wanting to hear Miyabi say her name like that again, she rubbed the heel of her hand in a hard, tight circle. Miyabi bucked up against her hand. “Hoshiko!” Miyabi’s hand flew to her chest and Hoshiko stopped abruptly. Miyabi grinned. “Come and kiss me,” she said, laughing softly.

Giggling, Hoshiko slid up Miyabi’s body to claim her mouth in a deep kiss. She made sure that their legs were entwined the way that they had been earlier, one of Miyabi’s legs between hers and one of her legs between Miyabi’s. She tried to hold back a moan as Miyabi arched up against her, trying to hear Miyabi’s panting breaths, but the wet, hot feeling of Miyabi’s slickness coating her thigh was too much.

She collapsed forward, laying heavily against Miyabi’s body. It took Hoshiko a few moments to work out a comfortable position, eventually sliding one hand under Miyabi’s head and using that arm to support herself as she kissed and rocked against Miyabi’s body. “Miyabi,” she moaned, her free hand caressing her shoulder, “move with me.”

Miyabi already was moving with her, the thrust of her hips, and the shift of her leg in perfect harmony with Hoshiko’s own. Her hands slid over her body like streaks of liquid heat, gliding down over her back, tracing the crease just under the curve of her buttocks, slipping up to cup her breasts and tease her nipples. Miyabi’s body and mouth were giving her everything and Hoshiko still wanted more. She ached deeply, bringing her free leg over Miyabi’s hip.

“Ah—Hoshiko!” Miyabi threw her head back with a startled cry.

“Oh!” Hoshiko echoed her. She’d felt—she’d felt…she brought her hips down hard again and there it was—the wet press of Miyabi’s folds against her own, Miyabi’s dark curls coarse against her most sensitive spot. “Oh,” she moaned as their bodies slipped away from each other again. The angle was wrong for anything more than brief, tantalizing strokes. Hoshiko pushed herself up to her hands and widened her stance, getting one knee under Miyabi’s free leg while shifting her other knee up to Miyabi’s hip.

“Hoshiko!” Miyabi’s voice was a high, keening sob as she jolt up, her back curing away from the floor. She braced herself back on her elbows and Hoshiko thought that she’d never seen Miyabi look so beautiful before, with her flushed face and her tousled hair and her mouth a moist, pink ‘o’ of surprise and pleasure.

It felt like her body was kissing Miyabi’s as they moved together, as Miyabi wrapped her legs tightly around Hoshiko’s own and rubbed up hard against her. The hot, wet slide of parted lips pressing together and parting and coming back together in a slick, wanton rush of feeling felt like the most intimate of kisses. Hoshiko clutched Miyabi’s knee and ground her hips down. “Harder,” she whimpered, “Miyabi, please, more…touch me. Touch us.”

Miyabi’s head dropped back, her breath tearing out of her in a sob, but her delicate, long-fingered hand rose, plucking at her own nipples before curling into the lush, damp space between their two bodies.

That firm, flickering rub of Miyabi’s fingers over the center of her body fanned the fire in her belly into an inferno, triggering an explosion that raced under her skin, shaking her from the inside out, sending her core into a liquid meltdown.

And somehow Hoshiko was sure that the wild, joyous cry that echoed around the room belonged to her and Miyabi both.

“Hey, wow! Celestial Twins from Heavenly Highschoolers, right?”

Miyabi smiled at the stranger. “Yes. You’re Smile from University Angels, right?”

“Right, senpai?” Hoshiko added with a giggle.

Smile grinned at them. “Yeah. Are you here as part of a group? Or with a club?”

“No, just on our own,” Hoshiko said. “Just together.”

“Well, you two look great. I like the lace overlay you’ve got. Is it just to cover in the open spaces or…?”

Miyabi touched the lace cape that Hoshiko had made for her. It wasn’t fancy and it wasn’t very well done, but it was perfect. “It’s to represent their Love-Love spell. The white light?”

“Cool. Would you mind if I got a picture?” Smile waved a camera at them.

Hoshiko laughed and wrapped her arm around Miyabi’s waist. Miyabi pulled her digital camera out of a small pocket she’d created inside her robes. “Would you take a copy for us, too?” she asked. “We like to keep a copy in our sewing room.” Smile nodded and Miyabi passed her the camera. She leaned into the warm curve of Hoshiko’s body and Hoshiko linked their hands together as the cameras flashed.

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