Confessions and Final Judgment

Nightbell invites Sakura over to talk about the birthday Sakura missed, and Sakura gives her a present. Then Bell accidentally reveals the stakes if Sakura loses.

Date: 2018-08-27
Pose Count: 17
Akari Hayabusa 2018-08-27 17:05:42 96178
It's in the late afternoon, the next day. The day after Akari's birthday party. The day after Riventon fought Sakura. It's bright and sunny; this time, there's no danger of random storms suddenly popping up.

Bell texted Sakura (on Akari's civilian phone, not her Eclipse phone), and invited her over to "talk about stuff." This time, she's in her Akari-form, leaning against the wall right next to the front door, wearing a simple red dress which manages to be just about halfway between her school uniform and her exercise clothes in terms of how formal it is; her expression is kind of pensive.
Sakura Kinomoto 2018-08-27 17:12:19 96180
Sakura Kinomoto would arrive at the door, on her wand and having flown there. She was wearing a school uniform and, timidly, knocked on the door. "H-happy birthday!" She'd say when the door was opened, holding out a small box. Inside... was a pair of stuffed tigers. Twins.

She'd missed her birthday. She'd been on the way when the storm had hit, and she'd had no choice. After fighting her hardest, she'd just... she hadn't had any choice. She'd passed out. Woken up hours later at Tomoyo's and.... It was too late.

Yeah, she felt really crummy... "I'm sorry I'm so sorry! I wanted to be here on time, but but, there was this whole fight with Riventon and and then there was lightning and I had to try and stop the card but he did it and I'm so sorry!"
Akari Hayabusa 2018-08-27 17:21:41 96182
Akari's mood visibly improves a bit she accepts the bag. "Thanks, Sakura-imouto!" she says. Argh, it's hard to talk about that sort of thing when she's in this form. "Um ... can we head upstairs and head into my apartment before we talk more about this?"

She starts leading her upstairs to the apartment. "I've, uh, there's a lot of leftovers from Korma Chameleon." She chuckles awkwardly. "... and I'd only just finished up with the cakes from last time you were here, too ..." Yeah, there's definitely something really ... strained about her mood, but it doesn't seem to be about Sakura herself.
Sakura Kinomoto 2018-08-27 17:25:08 96184
Sakura Kinomoto blinked and, as they walked.... she reached out and gently took Akari's hand. She stared up at the girl. "Something's wrong, isn't it?" she asked gently.

"Don't lie. You shouldn't lie when you need help. Daddy always tells me, when I don't feel good or am hurt or scrape my knee... you should always tell someone. Because it might be nothing. But if it's something, it's better to have the help you need, than to be alone when you truly need it..." she said with a smile.
Akari Hayabusa 2018-08-27 17:32:56 96185
Akari promptly nods, smiling back at Sakura. "I know, I know," she says. "Don't worry, Sakura-imouto, I just want to wait until we're back in the apartment first. Since, uh, this is kind of ... public? And, and, I'd like to get ... changed."

Soon, and they're back in the apartment. Akari sets the bag down on the table, and says, "One minute!" She slips into another room ... and a moment later, Nightbell steps out in a red tank top and shorts. She takes a deep breath, and then says, "I work for Riventon-sama now." It's clear that this is still a bit difficult for her to say. "He ... well, I can't fight against either you or him, so ... he and I agreed that I should just go to my birthday party instead."
Sakura Kinomoto 2018-08-27 17:36:07 96187
Sakura Kinomoto nodded. "Oh. I didn't expect... that. But that's okay. I'm happy I didn't have to fight you too, then," she said with a smile.

That.... that was it? That was all she had to say on the matter? "Open your gift! I got it special for you! You said you never had a birthday, right? So everyone deserves something like this for when they have nightmares!" she said happily.

Akari Hayabusa 2018-08-27 17:45:36 96189
Nightbell peers down at Sakura for a moment ... and then she laughs. It doesn't really sound like the kind of laugh Akari would make. "What in the world did I do to deserve such nice little sister!" she says, opening up the bag. She gingerly takes out the two stuffed tigers. "... That ..." She's blushing now. "... This is adorable? I ... wow!" She laughs, grinning at Sakura. "Wow, thanks, kiddo!"
Sakura Kinomoto 2018-08-27 17:59:36 96191
Sakura Kinomoto nodded. "What?" she asked. "I... don't really know why Riventon is doing what he's doing," she mumbled, then reached up to where her neck was. Where his scythe had been. "I... know he could have killed me. Not just now. But a few times. And... I've seen what monsters can do. Real monsters..." she whispered, shivering as she tried to repress the memories of that witch.

"... Riventon isn't one. There has to be a reason he's doing what he's doing. I don't understand why it is. But... I won't let him keep the cards. They're my friends. And... if he's lonely, I'll always be his friend. But he's hurting the cards and I don't think he realizes it. So I have to stop him before we can be real friends," she said with a smile.

"And thanks! I got them when I was... err.... getting something else for a errr... friend...." And now her cheeks were red.
Akari Hayabusa 2018-08-27 18:19:20 96194
Nightbell shrugs. "All I can say is, he knows the stakes for Final Judgment as well as you do," she says frankly. "Riventon-sama has been competing against you because he thinks he's a better fit for facing it than you are. I ..." She stops herself from admitting that she kind of feels like siding with Riventon over a manifestly naive twelve-year-old on this. "... well ... yeah. I've heard that Eclipse has some real monsters, and, well ..." She shrugs, and smiles. "You're definitely correct that Riventon-sama isn't one of 'em."

She raises her eyebrows at Sakura's sudden bashfulness. "A 'friend', huh?" she says, grinning knowingly. "Don't worry, it's only us here, I won't divulge any secrets you have."
Sakura Kinomoto 2018-08-27 18:28:07 96196
Sakura Kinomoto blinked a few times. And then.... "What's the stakes?" she finally asked.

"Do you know? I know it's coming but... Kero-chan won't tell me what the costs are. He keeps telling me that I'll win, no matter what. He always says not to worry about it. But... If he's willing to go to such lengths... it must be important. Right?" she asked, eying her.

Oh dear. Piercing little sister...

Which stopped when she asked THAT! Sakura squeaked and looked away. "I-It's not that! It's for Yukito-sempai! When we find him! He's been out of town for a while and when he gets back, I-I mean, I err, I-I didn't, it's nothing like that! I mean, just, he's been gone a while and and I hear if you build a bear and give it to someone you'll be destined to--" And then covered her mouth, so, so red. Her whole face.
Akari Hayabusa 2018-08-27 18:56:54 96203
Nightbell blinks her glowing red eyes. "Whoops," she says softly. "You know, I don't know how he expects you to win if you don't know what you're fighting for, but ..."

She steps back, frowning a moment as she gazes at Sakura. After a moment, she says, "Would you say that this Yukito-san of yours is the most important person to you in the world?" She suddenly remembers Mikoto smiling and hugging her at the party yesterday, and quickly pushes aside that totally irrelevant memory. "Because ... that is what the stakes are, if whoever's in the judgment-seat fails. Everyone in the world will simply forget the feelings they have for their most important people."
Sakura Kinomoto 2018-08-27 19:03:32 96205
Sakura Kinomoto froze. And just stared. Her eyes widened. She would... lose their feelings for the most...

Tomoyo-chan, her best friend, came to her mind. She'd just... forget her? What about Gull-sempai? What about all the brother's and sisters she'd made?

Then her eyes widened. What other memories could she lose? Would they lose memories of her? Would she even remember the cards? She... "I... I need to go. It was... It was great seeing you. I... I need to talk to kero-chan. I need to... I'm sorry..." She was shaken. Very shaken.
Akari Hayabusa 2018-08-27 19:05:43 96207
Bell immediately realizes she messed this up. Briefly, she wishes she'd changed back into Akari to talk about this, but how would that have helped? "Ah ... yeah," she says awkwardly. "Sorry ... um, maybe we could have some of these leftovers later ..." She grimaces. "Sorry ..."
Sakura Kinomoto 2018-08-27 19:17:16 96209
Sakura Kinomoto says, "For what?" she asked. "This... is important. I needed to know."

"And Kero-chan has been hiding it from me all this time. Has been... keeping it secret. I need to know why. And... if it's that important, I need to make sure I don't lose. That..." she sighed.

"No wonder Riventon is trying so hard to beat me..." she turned and started walking to the door. She had to go home. She had to ask Kero..."
Akari Hayabusa 2018-08-27 19:21:35 96210
"Sakura-chan!" Nightbell says this before she's even entirely sure what she wants to say from there. Think, think. What would Akari do? Hmm ... ah, there we go.

She hesitates, then walks over and pulls Sakura into a big hug, giving her a genuine smile. "If it ends up being you," she says softly, in a voice that sounds more like Akari than Nightbell, "good luck out there, all right?"
Sakura Kinomoto 2018-08-27 19:25:05 96211
Sakura Kinomoto nodded, and gave her a hug. She then looked up and... "I promise. I won't give up, okay? No matter what. But... I know I won't lose." She gave her hand a squeeze, before pulling back.

"Because... I've learned a lot. I have all of you to fight for. I won't let a single memory be lost. Not again. Okay?" she aid before turning to leave again.
Akari Hayabusa 2018-08-27 19:31:40 96212
Bell smiles and nods, taking a step back and giving her a thumbs-up. "Okay, then!" she says. "You go get 'em, girl!"

Truth be told, she doesn't think there's any realistic chance that it won't be Riventon facing Final Judgment, but ... well, given all the unknowns Riventon has to work with, if Bell discouraged Sakura, and she did end up being the one ...

She doesn't want to think about that.