omnicat: (for Darker than Black)
Omnicat ([personal profile] omnicat) wrote2017-07-12 06:52 pm

FIC: Careful What You Wish For [Darker than Black x Puella Magi Madoka Magica, Amber&Pai&Kyubey&Hei]

Title: Careful What You Wish For
Author: Omnicat
Spoilers & Desirable Foreknowledge: Tensai Okamura & co’s Darker than Black: the Black Contractor anime and Akiyuki Shinbo & co’s Puella Magi Madoka Magica.
Warnings: Blood, death, canon-typical Puella Magi issues.
Characters & Relationships: Amber &/x Pai, Kyubey, Hei
Summary: A magical girl going only by ‘Amber’ saves Li Xing from a Witch. The human race is never the same afterwards. / a Puella Magi Madoka Magica fusion // 2109 words
Author’s Note: Tian is a Chinese name meaning ‘sky/heaven’, just as Xing means ‘star’. Various other writers have used that as Hei’s birth name before me (I got it from tsuki-llama, who shares a lot of headcanons – including this one – with starrycontractor/major-victory/lolgirl607/darkerthanevanescence, but I also know of FFN’s desy). I love it, okay. I haven’t stopped cackling since I first discovered it. I’m going to use it in everything for the rest of ever.
Yes, I am aware that the modern romanization for the Chinese word for ‘white’ is ‘bái’, but I cannot be held accountable for Tensai Okamura’s weirdness, okay? I imprinted on ‘Pai’ at an impressionable age.

Spoilery Puella Magi Madoka Magica context, for the uninitiated:

In PMMM, magical girls are created by a race of deceptively cute and cuddly-looking alien critters calling themselves Kyubey (singular), or Incubators (collectively). The girls are granted a wish, and in return they agree to become magical girls to fight evil Witches. This is referred to as ‘making a contract’. A magical girl’s power is contained in her Soul Gem, a Witch’s in a Grief Seed. The catch: the more a magical girl uses her power/feels despair (over the problems in her personal life, for example, or the unexpected brutality of magical combat), the closer she comes to becoming a witch herself, indicated by her glowing Soul Gem becoming darker and darker, and the only way to ‘cleanse’ a Soul Gem is by draining Grief Seeds. The Incubators, a race among whom having feelings at all is a serious mental defect, have been luring human girls into this scheme for millennia because they found a way to turn human emotion into an energy source that can combat the forces of entropy that are slowly destroying the universe. And teenage girls were found to have the most powerful emotions of all.

One of the main characters has the magical girl power to freeze and rewind time.

Enjoy!



Careful What You Wish For

"I know how to fix this," Pai says, once Amber has stopped vomiting. Her voice comes out dead and dull and remarkably steady. Electricity still dancing across her burnished blue armored knuckles, she drops the Incubator’s body like the piece of trash it is.

"There is no fixing it!" Amber screams. She tries to stand and walk away from the mess, but manages only a few stumbling paces before she trips over her torn gown and collapses in a sobbing heap. She fists her hands in her long, beautiful, blood-drenched hair. "I’ve tried, and tried, and tried, and tried. You always turn into Witches, your brother always... I can’t do this anymore. If I have to watch one more time how everybody I care about –"

Pai’s Soul Gem is a swirling black vortex against the blood-flecked white of her fingerless gloves, sucking in the light and pulling in her gaze like catastrophic gravity. Only the barest wisps of blue still remain, and it’s like she can feel her heart slip away with them.

Amber’s, lying on the scorched concrete between them, isn’t far behind. It’ll be neck-and-neck, whether Amber succumbs and turns too or holds out long enough to let Pai’s Witch kill her, too deep in her despair to resist.

"Just two more," Pai says. "If you can pull this off, it’ll only take two more times."

Amber looks up, eyes wide with incredulity.

Pai smiles through her tears. "This will work. I promise. You can do it. Don’t give up yet."

Another blue glimmer fades from her soul like a falling star.



The lens of Amber’s magic spyglass, now fully extended, glows with all the colors of an unholy rainbow, and time reels back.



Amber is eighteen and European. Amber is alone. Out of her elegant magical girl robe, she wears worryingly militaristic-looking cargo pants and boots, and all her earthly belongings fit into a single large army backpack. Her story changes just a little every time, and asking her to be honest only makes the discrepancies worse. Xing’s parents are instantly suspicious.

But Amber pulled Xing from the clutches of a Witch, a vision in swirling pale green and dark gold silks, and everything off about her is just another mystery drawing Xing in. Amber is an enigma, and Xing insists on bringing her home.



"Why do you keep calling me Pai?" Xing asks, tucking a lock of hair behind her ear and hoping it makes her look cool and confident, not shy.

They’re walking along the edge of the lake where her family goes stargazing at night. It’s a quiet place this time of year, so Amber has taken to training here. ‘Having this magic doesn’t mean it does all the work for me too,’ she’d said.

Amber lifts her hair away from her sweaty neck, and Xing has to forcibly tear her eyes away from the droplet rolling down behind her ear when she speaks.

"Because I think you’d look lovely in a white dress."

Xing blinks, blushing furiously. "Like – like a wedding dress?"

"No, that’s not quite what I had in mind."

Xing wonders how a smile can look so sad.

She doesn’t have to wonder long.



Tian falls for Amber’s charms almost as quickly as Xing does.

Tian is seventeen to Xing’s fifteen, a head taller, and – Xing never begrudged him this before – a kind, handsome boy busily growing into a kind, handsome man.

Tian accompanies her and Xing to the lakeside at night and shows her how to use the family telescope, and Amber looks at him like he hung the moon. Like she would fight off a hundred Witches for him. Like she loved him years before she even met him.

Amber’s smile is never brighter than when Tian smiles at her, and never sadder than when she thinks no-one sees her looking.

Xing doesn’t understand why it makes her so jealous.

But she doesn’t have long to wonder about that either.



"TIAN!"



"Do something!" Xing screams at Amber as Tian’s lifeblood soaks her new white dress.

He had helped her pick it out just two days ago. He’d even tucked a few extra yuan into her pocket when the price tag made her heart sink. He’d teased her and hugged her and been her brother, he’d tried to save her, and now he’s this bleeding thing with not enough limbs, twitching in her arms and gurgling up at her through something that can barely be called a face anymore.

"Use your power! You did it for me! I thought you cared for him, why aren’t you doing something?!"

But Amber won’t even look their way. She’s propped up against one of the only wall Witch Izanami’s white flowers hadn’t covered in drippy little red pieces of Tian, one hand pressed over her mouth as she shakes her head and her shoulders heave. Her Soul Gem flashes like a thunderstorm in the moonlight, dark clouds chasing its orange glow. The Grief Seeds she had collected lie where they fell, untouched.

"AMBER!"

"I’m afraid there’s nothing she can do," a strange voice says.

Amber’s head shoots up.

Xing’s eyes go wide.

It looks like a white cat, with beady red eyes, an enormously fluffy tail, and long, floppy ears bearing golden rings. It trots through the aftermath of carnage without a care in the world.

"Kyubey," Amber whispers, harsh and brittle.

"So you’re not going to attack me this time, huh? Your emotional responses really are quite predictable," the cat-thing says to Amber. Then it turns its head towards Xing. Nothing seems to move when it speaks. "That girl’s magic is useless in this instance. But I can help your brother. If you make a Contract with me, I will grant you one wish – anything you want, no matter how impossible – and in return, all you have to do is become a magical girl like her."

"What?" Xing whispers. She clutches Tian tighter, his increasingly erratic breaths tearing through her like jagged glass, but she can’t look away from the creature.

"It’s true. Just ask your friend."

"Amber never said anyone else could –"

"You can," Amber interrupts. She takes one look at Xing, at the blood drenching her from knee to chin, and has to hide her eyes. Her voice starts shaking. "It’s the truth. But there’s a catch. Kyubey, tell her."

"Hm?" The Kyubey cocks its head. "Do you really think such a small detail matters right now? In the face of the boy’s life? Shouldn’t you want to end the suffering he’s experiencing as quickly as possible?"

"Tell her everything. If you don’t, I will! I can’t lie to my friends anymore, I won’t. She’ll say yes anyway!"

"And you know this how?"

"You know how! It’s what you gave me this power for in the first place!"

"What are you two talking about?!" Xing bursts out, tears streaming down her cheeks.

Amber’s voice cracks. "Fucking tell her, Kyubey, or I swear – !"

"Very well."

The Kyubey’s beady eyes bore into Xing’s, and it tells her everything.



Xing says yes anyway.

Yes, please, make me a magical girl, I’ll take the Contract, I’ll do anything, PLEASE.

Kyubey cocks its head – and Amber drives a knife through its skull, screaming.



Amber doesn’t stop plunging her knife into that innocuous little body, over and over and over again, until it’s worse off than even Tian.



At some point, Xing realizes that she hadn’t noticed when her brother stopped breathing.



"There’s a better way, Pai. I swear we’ll get him back. I’d been looking for a way out for so long I didn’t think it was possible anymore, but you did it. You found a loophole. You sent me here."

They’re sitting by the lakeside again, where Xing wished on falling stars as a child, and she and Tian would sit and laugh and listen to stories until their heads began to droop with sleep, and the mirror-still surface of the lake reflected a million pinpricks of light purer than anything she’d ever seen.

Amber dragged the three of them here and cleansed her and Xing’s bodies with water, Tian’s with fire. Xing allowed it only because their parents shouldn’t ever have to see what she’d seen, what became of him. Because of her. Because of Amber.

No.

Because of Kyubey.

There’s something unforgivably calculating about the way Amber’s gone about convincing Xing that all of this is true. After what the Incubator said, though, she doesn’t doubt a word of it.

Xing feels like she already understands what her former future self was thinking, even.

With trembling hands and hunched shoulders, her eyes wide and red and damp, Amber drains one Grief Seeds after another to flush the darkness from her Soul Gem. She doesn’t look like a triumphant heroine basking in the magic light of her victory; she looks like an addict who’s finally scored a fresh hit.

Xing can’t believe she hadn’t seen it before.

"It’s a cycle," Amber tells the poisoned jewels in her lap. The flames of Tian’s pyre reflect in their crystalline surfaces, a deceptively glittering prism of death and suffering. "A vicious, vicious cycle of despair and one magical girl cannibalizing another’s tragedies. They lie and coax and take advantage, turn us into ticking time bombs, and exploding is supposed to be the only way out. Fight the despair until you drown in it, your magic sets in motion another girl’s downfall, and only the Incubators go home happy."

"How does any of that bring my brother back?" Xing asks tiredly. Amber said she’s probably gone into shock. Amber said she’s lucky she killed Kyubey for her, because if he’d been able to make the Contract, Xing wouldn’t have had that luxury anymore.

Amber said she was sorry at least a hundred times, she was so sorry, but there was no other way to lure Kyubey out to tell Xing what she needed to hear, so goddamn sorry, but it won’t make this mistake again, it knows Amber has a plan for Xing now. Amber has fought back before, in other places, alongside other girls. They’ve suffered too many setbacks at her hand already. Not enough to stop the Incubators’ plans, never that, but enough to read the signs of her little acts of defiance and choose a path of less resistance.

"Their rules won’t bring Tian back. My power will. Your wish will. Despite their rules." Discarding the last depleted Grief Seed, Amber takes her spyglass from her belt instead and tugs it open as far as it will go; barely halfway. She whispers: "I’ve never... never had to fight the Witches that are coming after this on my own before. I always had you by my side in battle from here on out. Tian was always there to... to protect again and..."

Arms wrapped tightly around herself, Xing shuffles closer and presses into Amber’s side, cheek to her shoulder. "You’re not alone this time either. We’re going to get my brother back. For good, this time."

Amber nods, slowly. "Tian, and everyone else who ever fell to the Witches and the despair."



("I became a magical girl with my friend April. We thought it was such a grand adventure at the time."

Pai doesn’t ask what happened to her. Whether she died, or turned into a Witch. It happened to all magical girls, in the end. Amber had never met another who’d survived as long as she had, and she’d met so many.

April, and Brita, and Alma, and Carmine, and Kirsi. Bertha and Suoh and Tanya. Mina. Shihoko. Michiru. Chiaki. Abigail. Parcel. Mai. Xiao Jie.

Xing.

Too many to name.

Too many.)



So together, they fight until they’ve gathered the temporal momentum they need and the spyglass opens all the way once more. Then Amber holds out her hand, a wordless ‘Are you sure?’ in her eyes. And Pai nods, and takes that hand in hers.

And time reels back.



("Amber, what kind of magical girl was I?"

The way Amber looks her up and down at that, Xing doesn’t feel stupid for misunderstanding and buying that plain old human dress anymore.

"You would have been beautiful.")



"TIAN!"



"Yes, please, make me a magical girl, I’ll take the Contract, I’ll do anything, PLEASE."



Kyubey cocks its head, tail swishing lazily. "Very well. What is your wish?"

"My wish," Pai sobs into her brother’s ruined chest. "Is that no-one under your Contract ever feels despair. Not now, not in the future, not in the past. No-one!"



So the universe rearranges itself, from the dawn of human history outward.

And one day, the Gates open.

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