Notes and Disclaimers: I have to wonder how many Silent Mobius fanfics used this same title. It seems kind of tedious for me to do so, but it fit so, meh.
This story is dedicated to Kyanite, who designed the spiffy new "Worldshaking" Fanfic layout. The prize for that was getting a story written by me, pairing any couple she liked - the first and only fanfic I have ever done by request. So this here is her choice. :-)
These characters are the property of Asamiya Kia and by extension, Kadokawa, Bandai, AIC, etc, etc.
"Worldshaking Fanfic" continues to support Yuricon, a celebration of yuri and shoujoai in anime and manga and the Yuricon Mailing List, the least sucky group of people on the Internet.
WSF also supports The Fanfic Revolution, because fanfic doesn't have to suck.
If you enjoy this story, please let me know at firstname.lastname@example.org. If you don't, blame Kyanite. :-)
In The Still Of The Night
Rally stared down at the report, unseeing. She knew she should get some sleep; she'd been at this for many more hours than was reasonable. But it was more than just her dedication to her job that kept her at her desk.
She passed her hand across her eyes, rubbing them gently, trying to coax herself awake. The report header blinked softly, but she was too distracted to pay it any attention. Her thoughts wheeled chaotically around, as she struggled with her most pressing concern. Even as she sat here there was a war going on and, as powerful as she was, Rally Cheyenne wasn't sure that it was one she could win.
The door alarm beeped. Rally looked up but, lost in her own conflict, made no answer. The door's sound came again, this time with some urgency, followed quickly by a sharp pounding sound.
"Chief?" A voice came distantly from the other side of the door.
"Open," Rally commanded belatedly, then rose from her seat to greet Isozaki Mana, and to assuage any concern her subordinate might have concerning her welfare.
"I'm sorry, Isozaki." Rally stepped away from her desk, addressing the other woman as she was accustomed to during working hours - although it was long past time for them both to go home.
Mana stood uncertainly just inside the door, hands in clenched fists, legs slightly apart, her head swiveling back and forth slowly to see what might have interfered with her chief.
"Is everything all right?" Mana asked, relaxing slightly.
"Fine," Rally reassured her. "I was just daydreaming. Come in." She returned to her seat. Mana, after a moment, took a deep breath and followed her until she stood in front of the slightly raised desk.
"I'm surprised you're still here," Rally commented, only to be met with, "That's my line, isn't it?"
Rally looked down on the Captain of Department 00 without comment. Mana stared back up, her face showing no emotion, but she there was a slight intensity in her words. "If I may be so bold, Chief. You've been pulling too many hours recently. If you were one of my men, I'd demand an explanation, and possibly require an you to take involuntary leave."
Rally's mouth opened, then closed. She took in a deep breath, then let it out, smiling slightly. "You're right."
"About which part?"
"All of it. I have been here too late recently and if I were working for you, you would be within your right to order me to take some time off. However, I am not one of your men."
"Which means I can't order you to do anything, but...you really look like you need some sleep." Mana's voice softened with concern for an old friend.
Rally thought about telling her. It was a good opening, and she was sure that if there was anyone at all to whom she could talk, it was this woman in front of her.
"Mana..." was all she managed, before she shut down.
"Yes?" The other woman's voice was as inviting as it could be. She was willing to listen - she wanted to help.... If only Rally would reach out to her.
A heavy silence fell between them.
Shifting slightly where she stood, Mana continued after a moment's hesitation. "Then I guess I'll be going. I've got that meeting in Oslo tomorrow, so I won't be in. Do you need me to do anything before I leave?" Again, there was tension in her voice. A curious pleading tone.
"No. Nothing. Thank you. You're dismissed."
Mana turned away.
"Mana?" At the sound of her name she whirled, hope clearly visible in her expression.
Rally's tired eyes met hers. "Have a good trip. Be careful."
"Thank you." With a terse, disppointed nod, Mana left the room.
Rally buried her face in her hands. She wasn't sure if she felt relief at having avoided what would have surely been a crisis, or disappointment in the way she had handled what was a genuine offer of assistance. It wasn't Mana's fault. She had always been a good friend, a fine subordinate and a formidable power. There just wasn't anything she could do about this particular unpleasantness. Rally stood up and walked to the windows, looking blankly out at the city that she, and the women who worked for her, had saved so many times. Now, when she needed it so badly, there was no one in this city who could save her. Not from this.
A gibbous moon was rising red on the horizon, dominating the view out the window. The buildings were dark in front of it; lights dampened by the general gloom.
Rally didn't move at the sound of the voice. Perhaps an extra hint of tension became perceptible in her stance, but otherwise, she remained perfectly still.
"Why didn't you say something? Surely, if anyone could help you, it would be the most powerful woman in the city?"
Rally said nothing, willing the speaker to disappear.
"Well, second most powerful." Footsteps sounded on the floor, until Rally could feel the presence at her back. "No one is quite as powerful as you are...big sister."
Rally gritted her teeth as she was embraced from behind.
"Why?" Rosa continued. "Why didn't you save me? Aren't you the most powerful woman in New Tokyo? The world? Aren't you the legendary Rally Cheyenne? Aren't you my big sister - always there to protect me? Why didn't you save me?"
Rally's heart felt like it would burst out of her chest as she struggled against the despair that filled her. "I tried," she grated out from between clenched jaws. "I did everything I could - offered you love, hope, humanity, even when you left me behind to go to Nemesis. I gave my soul to Nemesis for you. What more could I have possibly done for you?"
"You could have loved me." Rosa's words were breathed into her ear softly.
"I did love you. I do."
Rosa walked around Rally, her hand dragged softly across Rally's shoulder, up her neck to her cheek. "Love...me now," the specter said, lifting her face and offering her lips up.
Rally loathed herself at that moment, loathed her own reaction to whatever restless spirit it was that haunted her. She leaned forward into that kiss; leaned forward of her own volition, to capture her sister's lips with her own.
The kiss was sweet. Softer than she would have thought Rosa was capable of. Rally thought of the days when they had been very young and outcast and hated, parentless, pariahs. Rosa had clung to her then, a small child trembling in her arms. Arms that she had pretended were strong.
Now it was she who trembled as Rosa moved down from her lips to her neck. Those arms in which she had pretended strength were now powerless, as Rosa undid the fasteners at her shirt collar. Her only reaction as the ghost of Rosa Cheyenne stripped her of jacket and blouse was to close her eyes and sigh as she was laid out on the floor.
"Does it make you feel better, big sister, to let me take you like this?" Rosa's whisper was filled with venom, as sharp as her touch was gentle. She caressed Rally's breasts as if they were made of hand-blown glass, fine and delicate. "Do you feel absolved of the sin of my death?"
Rally's eyes opened at that. "I was not responsible for your death. Or your choices." She wanted to push Rosa away, but her caresses filled Rally with paralysis. "This doesn't make me happy. But if it brings you some comfort, I will not stop you."
Rosa laughed meanly. "So like you. And this, this is so like me." She ripped Rally's skirt away violently. "What will make you stop me, big sister?"
"I won't stop you, Rosa."
"Even if I hurt you?" Rosa leaned down over Rally, leering, her hair draped down across Rally's chest. Hair that was heavy and cool. It had no smell.
Rally looked into the cold dark eyes that had once belonged to her sister. "You can't hurt me anymore, Rosa."
There was a breathless pause.
The first drop struck Rally's cheek. The second her chin. She watched as Rosa cried, then reached up to embrace whatever phantom it was that took this form; drawing her close, as she had when they were children.
Rosa sobbed into Rally's chest in painful gasps. Rally stroked her hair, speaking words that had been meaningless when she had been alive and were now no more than habit.
"It's okay. Everything will be okay." Rally murmured. "Everything will be all right."
She kissed Rosa's brow lightly, stroking those tear-stained cheeks, brushing her fingers across kiss-darkened lips. Then she leaned up and kissed Rosa.
"Does it help?" Rally asked, when they parted. Rosa's only answer was to move forward for another kiss.
There were no more words between them, then. Rally, who had not felt another person's touch in more years than she could count, found herself overcome by need. She reached hungrily for Rosa, for the feel and taste of her skin. The only time she had allowed herself to feel this kind of desire she had been a young officer in the force. A long time ago. The one time she had let herself forget her promise to eschew this part of being human. Now, with no human who could give her this kind of release, she sought the company of ghosts.
And then Rosa moved and Rally's thoughts, which had been wheeling and spinning, merged with lust, stopped altogether. Her chaotic mind came to rest on her own center, with the heat building within her. She reached for Rosa, to feel her on and in her, to hold her and be held by her as the tension built to snapping point, then past in a blinding, deafening explosion.
Animal need took over, as Rally took Rosa, touching her, licking, biting her, until she pleaded; begging with words for attention in a way she never had until just before her death. Obligingly, Rally acknowledged every part of her, identifying each limb, every inch of skin as part of the whole that made up Rosa Cheyenne.
As she climaxed, Rosa shed tears, but whether they were from joy or sorrow, Rally couldn't know. Her own tears, when they came, would be those of despair for her failure and weakness. That, she did know.
"Rally," Rosa's voice was that of a child, her eyes wide and trusting, as she looked up into her older sister's face. "Rally," her voice coming as if from a great distance
"Rosa?" Rally reached out as her sister began to fade from within her embrace. "Rosa!" she screamed, as Rosa's hand passed through her own and slowly disappeared. "Rosa!!!!" She reached out, straining to capture her sister's hand, falling as the specter faded from sight. Rosa," she sobbed, her head falling down upon her arms, he cheek pressed to the cool floor.
Rally's head whipped up, her eyes open, but unseeing. The first thing to catch her attention was the softly blinking report on her desk. A beep sounded - the report asking for her attention. The sound repeated, demanding an answer. Slowly, stupidly. Rally reached out to close the thing and quiet the insistent noise.
She sat there staring blankly out into the empty office. This was precisely, she thought, as the tears began to drop onto the desk below, why she was not going home. This, she thought, as her hands clenched, feeling once again the last sensation of her sister's hands in her own, was why she avoided falling asleep.
This, she thought, is the battle I lose every time. For weeks now, not every night, but some, this was the battle she had fought with herself and lost.
Rally walked to the bathroom where she splashed cold water onto her face. She avoided looking at herself in the mirror. It wasn't the lines of exhaustion in her face, but the expression of hopelessness, that she couldn't bear. She wiped her face with a towel, avoiding her own guilty gaze until she could turn away.
The door slid open and Rally stepped out into the hall...
...to find Isozaki Mana waiting for her, arms crossed across her chest and an exasperated look upon her face.
Rally couldn't meet her eyes. "I thought I told you to go home."
"I canceled my flight tomorrow. I told them that I'd just have to miss the conference."
"Why?" Rally's voice was sharper than she had intended. She took a breath to calm herself. "There's no need for that."
"Rally..." Mana struggled to find the right words. Her expression tightened and in her customary tone of command, she barked, "I'm not going home until you do."
Taken aback for a second, Rally just stared, then her features softened into a smile. "Okay, you win."
Mana's expression didn't change. "I'll accompany you."
That made Rally laugh. "I said you win. I'm going home." She approached the other woman, her voice conciliatory. "But yes, if you have time, can you come? I...I want to talk about what's been bothering me. I think you might be able to help."
Isozaki Mana breathed out heavily, her tone full of relief. "Thank the gods. I was worried that I'd have to fight to get you to admit that."
The two women looked at each other for a long time, smiling slightly at each other.
"Come on, let's get out of here." Rally Cheyenne said. "We'll let Lebia take care of things until we get in. I think what we both really need is a good night's sleep."
"I concur," said Mana, as she fell into step behind her superior. "Rally?"
"Yes?" Rally responded without turning.
"This isn't the first battle. This isn't the final battle. But don't, whatever you do, think you have to fight whatever this is, alone. We're all here to fight with you."
Rally stopped where she stood. "'Whatever happens, live.' Is that what you mean?" she asked over her shoulder.
Mana shook her head. "No, but it'll do just as well." She laughed. "It'll do just as well." The two women walked out of the room together.
The door slid closed on an empty office that looked out on a night sky presided over by a bright white gibbous moon, shining down over a silent city.