ptahrrific: Madoka preparing to take on Walpurgis (madoka magica)
Erin Ptah ([personal profile] ptahrrific) wrote2012-07-16 03:32 pm

Madoka Magica | Homura, others | R | But The Din In My Head, It's Too Much, And It's No Good

Title: But The Din In My Head, It's Too Much, And It's No Good
Fandom: Puella Magi Madoka Magica
Characters/Pairings: Homura, Madoka, Mami, Sayaka, QB, OC
Rating: R
Contents: Violent imagery, self-inflicted injury
Disclaimer: MadoMagi characters and plot aren't mine.

Homura tests the limits of her body's ability to heal.

An even more psychologically-messed-up spin on MadoMagi than usual. For my [community profile] hc_bingo round 3 card, prompt "blood loss." Title is a Suzanne Vega lyric. Also on the AO3.





How much damage can a puella magi body take?


~ ♦ ~ ♦ ~ ♦ ~


Knowledge is Homura's only real weapon. She's collected a small arsenal by now, but if she'd had the same amount of guns, bombs, rocket launchers, and missiles ten timelines ago, it would have all gone to waste. Her worth lies in understanding exactly what's worked before, and what hasn't.

She needs to understand this too.


~ ♦ ~ ♦ ~ ♦ ~


In what she will later acknowledge to be a less than auspicious first move, she starts by shooting herself in the foot.

It's surprisingly easy not to feel any pain. Making the mangled flesh knit back together, that's the tricky part. She has to stare at it for almost half an hour, soul gem vibrating in her cupped palm, while her foot bleeds out onto the kitchen tile next to the smoking bullet hole.

The second time, it bleeds less.


~ ♦ ~ ♦ ~ ♦ ~


Charlotte's cookies-and-pills labyrinth fades away, leaving nothing but the hospital yard and Madoka's scream.

"Akemi!" shouts Mami, running toward her, white-faced. "It's going to be all right. Lie down. I'll heal you as much as I can. Kaname, run inside and get—"

"There's no need," says Homura, turning aside to spare Madoka the sight. She can still move her arm, so it can't be that bad; it's just that Madoka always has a weakness for seeing anyone in pain, and...

...oh. Her right bicep is one giant bite mark.

Homura grabs her elbow to hold it in place and clots the wounds, then transforms out of her blood-soaked costume (it'll be clean and fresh and whole the next time she summons it). "It isn't as bad as it looks," she stammers, raising her hand and wiggling her fingers in what she hopes is a convincing way. Look at the hand. See how it moves, like it's got real working nerves and everything? Pay no attention to the way my school uniform sleeve doesn't hang right. "See? D-don't bother the doctors. I'll be fine soon."

"If you're sure," says Mami, shifting away from her own mostly-unscathed blouse, skirt, and tights. "But I think you'd better rest at my house for a while, so I can keep an eye on you."

"All right." Even though she doesn't need it, Mami will feel more reassured for having been able to fuss over Homura personally. "Don't cry, Madoka," she adds, since Madoka is trembling and has tears clinging to her lashes. "I got it harder than it got me."


~ ♦ ~ ♦ ~ ♦ ~


Under the school building's shadow, Homura and an untouched bento sit in the grass. She's avoided talking to any of the potentials this timeline; her regular passel of admirers have finally given up on following her around. She's alone.

The ring of her soul gem sits heavy and grey on her finger. She dulls the sensation around it up to her elbow and uses a knife to slice red lines along the skin of her arm.

It's practice for a lot of things. Speed (draw a two-centimeter line and heal it until you can do it in under a second; repeat with a four-centimeter line, and so on). Precision (draw a row of lines, then heal a specific one without touching the others). Split attention (do all of this while alert and prepared to stop if anyone comes close enough to notice).

One of her admirers (whose name, Homura has managed to pick up by now in spite of making no effort to remember it, is Takemichi Samiko) approaches softly enough that Homura fails at that last item.

"S-sorry to bother you," says her voice out of the blue, nearly making Homura stab clean through her wrist. "But I thought, even if you didn't want to talk...it might help anyway. If it was with someone who understands."

Homura wipes the blood from her unscarred skin and holds it out. "What do you understand, Takemichi?"

"I..." The girl shivers like a less-clever Madoka. "I'm sorry! Please forget I said anything!"


~ ♦ ~ ♦ ~ ♦ ~


Mami draws the injured Kyuubei into her lap and uses her soul gem to heal the ragged gashes in his fur. "He's a precious friend of mine," she tells Madoka and Sayaka, both watching with anxious eyes. "Thank you so much for saving him!"

He's a liar and a user, is what he is. He has plenty of spare bodies lying around, but the little alien bastard lets Mami drain some of her precious life's energy to patch this one up, just so she won't pick up on any truth that might scare or unsettle her into second-guessing his motives.

On the other end of the mall's dark half-redesigned top level, Homura clenches her fists until her nails break the skin, and fantasizes about shooting until there's nothing left of Kyuubei's body but a red smear on the tiles.


~ ♦ ~ ♦ ~ ♦ ~


When she pulls on her stockings in the morning, it's over mismatched feet.

Her left foot has calluses, thick toughened skin on the heel and big toe, nails clipped to uneven lengths. Her right foot is pink and tender, the nails pale translucent slivers that barely cover the beds, her ankle hairless until about three centimeters above the bone. (Fine hairs start up above there, as usual; keeping her legs smooth is a luxury she's never had time for, now less than ever.)

It took eleven hours to grow.

Once her stockings are on, there's no telling the difference. She steps into her loafers, kicks aside a rug that always seems to end up with bloodstains, and carries her trash out to the curb on her way to school, thinking more about the day's schedule of witches than about what's swathed in plastic inside the bin.


~ ♦ ~ ♦ ~ ♦ ~


Sayaka stumbles out of Elsa Maria's labyrinth with three long gashes ripped across her torso, a souvenir from ink-black claws.

Homura stops time and walks over to the frozen Sayaka, half bent over in the middle of reappropriating one of her swords for a walking stick. A dagger drops from behind Homura's shield. She lifts the ragged scraps that the familiar made of Sayaka's pure-white waistcoat, sizing up the damage, then unfastens her jacket and copies it as closely as she can.

Sayaka's wish is always for healing. Sayaka's special gift, Kyuubei has intimated on more than a few occasions, is to heal herself with miraculous speed.

Homura redoes the fastenings and restarts the clocks. She's about to engage the eternal duelist in a race, her practiced abilities against Sayaka's natural ones, though she does it all in silence: it would crush Sayaka's spirit to know if she lost.


~ ♦ ~ ♦ ~ ♦ ~


One timeline, in a quiet moment, she looks up the name of a good, discreet therapist for school-age girls (her age, she would have said, once) and slips it into Takemichi's bag.

She manages to do it for the next eighteen or so repetitions, then forgets. There's too much else to do.


~ ♦ ~ ♦ ~ ♦ ~


She's past caring about any of her possessions. Clothes and furniture, dishes and appliances, carpets and wallpaper: there's no use fighting to take care of any of it. Odds are good she'll have it back in perfect condition in a few weeks regardless, and if (when) she finally solves the riddle and gets Madoka through this, any amount of property damage will be worth it.

She's collating data on the various incarnations of the box witch when the bell rings. Somehow, this cycle, Madoka's found the apartment's address.

Homura doesn't dare let her in. The stains on the walls will only scare her.

She buys a bargain-basement holoprojector after that. Pure-white walls make a better field on which to organize her visual data, anyway.


~ ♦ ~ ♦ ~ ♦ ~


Mami's ribbons have her bound, helpless, arms clamped to her side so she can't even reach her shield; Sayaka's blade hovers at her throat. "I'm telling you, she's not a normal human! Kyuubei doesn't even know where she came from. For all we know, she's a new kind of witch!"

It's almost funny. Of the three of them, Homura is the only one who has never been a witch. "Don't be a fool, Miki Sayaka," she says, trying to sound bored. "If someone who heals without scars is a witch, then what does that make you?"

"What are you talking about?"

"I see you haven't gotten injured since becoming a puella magi. Try it."

"You can't bluff me!" snaps Sayaka, and runs the blade cleanly across her upper arm.

It's the beginning of her breakdown, this time around. If it weren't for the way it broke Madoka's heart to watch, Homura wouldn't even have felt guilty.


~ ♦ ~ ♦ ~ ♦ ~


(Part of her loves the fact that this body is a slave to her whims now, rather than the other way around. She's not pushing her limits any more, not really; she stopped finding out anything new a long time ago. All she's doing is reminding herself that even the most impossible-seeming roadblocks can be conquered.

It's the opposite of Sayaka, who feels her body is worth less once it becomes a soulless shell. Homura flings a spray of red across the tiles in her bathroom, knowing she won't need a transfusion or another damn hospital stay or even to lie down for a few minutes because of it, and feels hope.)


~ ♦ ~ ♦ ~ ♦ ~


Rough stone the weight of a small car has smashed her leg from the calf down. Even the pavement around it bears the cracks of the impact. She's leaning against a heap of the same: the remnants of a parking garage, maybe; that glint of metal off to her left could be a fender. It's hard to tell.

Madoka's in one of the shelters. That's where she usually ends up, in the timelines where all her other friends have died. Not that it'll buy her any safety after Walpurgis has made ruins of everything before.

This is fixable. The witch has shrugged everything off once again, but her sand timer is at the point of rewind. She won't even have to waste magic repairing this body; that, too, will be reset with the last month and a half of the world's history.

But if whatever she does will only make Madoka's fate that much worse....

A trickle of blood runs down Homura's forehead. She lets it.

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