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“She knew about this, you know,” Lyrica whispers. They sit huddled by the safehouse windows, four in a row. (Not under—they learned that rule the hard way, when the missiles tore through the last rest stop. No windows, no hats.)
“Who did?” Reimu asks.
A long time ago (a week ago), Lyrica's smile was sly and quiet. Today it is filled with teeth. Reimu thought Merlin would crack first across the three of the sisters, Merlin with her boundless energy tumbled into restraints, but it is the thinker Lyrica who is the closest to faling over the edge. She can hear Lyrica during the nights, when they're pretending any of them can sleep—Lyrica, muttering at the walls, creaking louder than the floorboards, with plans and plans and nothing to execute them with.
“Layla,” says Lyrica. “Layla knew about this, I mean. She told us stories.”
And Reimu is the last of the Hakurei at the moment, keeper of the Shrine, guardian of the Border (and you sure did a bang-up job of that this time, didn't you, dear), but it's dark and she's tired and she's spent too many hours already cooped up shoulder to shoulder to a girl who's only barely on this side of real, so she snaps, “Told you stories about Gensokyo and an army of clowns?”
“We weren't from Gensokyo,” Lyrica hisses back. “None of us are. I was just going to ask—” She stops, looks away, lips twitching, and Reimu has the sudden feeling she's gone too far, like maybe she's spent so long watching Lyrica at the precipice that she forgot her own feet were there, too.
“I wanted to ask if you wanted in, but forget it,” Lyrica says. We'll get our things back on our own. Come on.”
She leaves the safehouse, shoulders high until the moment she crosses the doorway and she has to watch her back again (the difference between pride and stupidity). Her sisters follow behind her, single-file, like students on a field trip—Merlin first, then Lunasa, who pauses at the light to look one last time at Reimu and Reimu can't tell if it's disapproval or an apology before she's gone, too
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