KILL la KILL: Vibrations
Kill la Kill AU where Ryuuko is deaf, but can hear Senketsu’s voice. Synchronization allows her to hear, since they share sensory input. Basically I just kept hitting my hands against the keyboard until words fell out.
"Senketsu, what do you hear?"
Having gotten used to her vagrant lifestyle, Ryuuko couldn’t stay home and relax on the weekends. She would take long walks, sometimes drawing lines around the circumference of Honnouji Town several times throughout the day. She bought breakfast, lunch, and dinner at wherever she was, whenever the hunger struck, paying for it with pocket change earned from doing favors for the locals. Ryuuko was a woman who never rested.
Not much. It’s pretty quiet here. The migrating birds are chirping, and the waves from the ocean are crashing against the docks.
"That sounds peaceful."
A voice without intonation, unaware of its own volume. At least she’s not yelling, but even if she was, Senketsu would still enjoy hearing it.
Autumn was starting to give away to winter, as the colder season dragged itself in on the crisp, salty ocean wind. Ryuuko looks down at her arms and holds them outward, drawing a finger against the trigger of her glove, contemplating.
You can do it, Senketsu urges. There’s no one around.
She pinches the trigger between her thumb and index finger and pulls. Immediately following the pinch on her wrist, Senketsu expands and contracts around her body; her skin tingles as they combine together as one. The first thing she hears is white noise before it clears, then she too can hear the birds and the waves, though she doesn’t recognize them as such.
Is it too loud? he asks, carefully.
"No, it’s just right." She can hear her own voice now, as Senketsu hears it.
Ryuuko looks skyward and catches sight of the birds he had mentioned, flying in a loose v-shaped formation. They’re too far away for her to identify, and the farther they fly the quieter their squawking becomes.
She makes her way over to the pier, Senketsu’s heels—their heels—clacking against pavement until she steps onto the old, sea-saturated wood and the clacking turns into a hollow thunking. When she gets out far out enough, one step makes the wood creek loudly and she backs up, startled by the unusual noise.
It’s okay. It can support your weight.
A step forward again, but slowly. The creaking is different this time; deeper. She does it again, faster this time. Higher. Then she jumps on it, and it makes a squeak of disapproval.
Do you like that sound?
They make it to the end of the pier, Ryuuko entertaining herself with the different noises it makes as they go along. She sits on the edge, and since the tide has come in she can dip their toes into the water. Senketsu doesn’t care for the salty liquid, but he’s not about to complain. She kicks her leg, causing the water to jump back on itself. Digging into the water and pushing it out makes a shallow noise, and as it falls back down onto the surface it drips and plops.
"I never thought water would be so noisy."
"Because…" Ryuuko tilts her head to the side. "…Because it’s not alive, I guess. What’s the point of something making noise if it’s not alive?"
There’s no conscious reasoning. The way it moves causes air to vibrate, which is what noise is—vibrations.
"So that’s why rain is so loud?"
He can see where her mind went with that one. The afternoon they met, he had forced himself upon her for her blood—and she had forced herself upon him for his voice. "I’ll do whatever it takes to keep you talking." In that moment, she truly realized the meaning of the phrase “be careful what you wish for,” because as soon as she put him on the sounds that he could hear, the sounds that she could hear, was overpowering. Even several feet underground, the sound of rain beating down on the ruins of what was once her home was agonizing. At the time, she didn’t know what it was, until Senketsu was able to put a damper on his own senses to keep her from being overwhelmed.
She was new to the world of sound. Ryuuko had never felt loss (until her father had been murdered), so she had adapted to the world without it. Her father had provided her with a cochlear implant when she was young, but when she had been sent to boarding school she ripped it out herself in a show of rebellion. Thrown into the dog-eat-dog world of bullies and bullees, she learned how to lip-read just as quickly as she learned how to deal out a fierce left hook. She went to great lengths to keep it hidden, and it worked—for the most part. In the end, they just assumed she was ‘slow’, under the impression of how she spoke, even if in reality it was quite the opposite.
Ryuuko had never met people as supportive as the Mankanshokus. Mako always spoke with grand gestures and exaggerated speech, which was as easy to understand as it was difficult to keep up with. (No, she didn’t understand how that worked, either.) The rest of the family spoke slowly, even in conversations that weren’t directed at Ryuuko. She didn’t have the heart to tell them that she could keep up with them if they spoke normally. Soon after meeting Ryuuko, Mako signed herself up for a class in sign language even though her ability to pay attention in class left…something to be desired. She tried though, bless her heart, and her conversations with Ryuuko these days had become a combination of actual sign and improvised charades.
It wasn’t necessary, but when she thought about it, Ryuuko smiled. These were the lengths that she would go for her new friend.
That Monday, however, she would be really blown over with surprise. During lunch break, Mako and Ryuuko have an unannounced guest in the courtyard they ate in.
She approaches them, instead of addressing them from her perch on top of the Academy, lording over all and reeking of totalitarian charisma. Ryuuko smirks.
"My, what a surprise! The mighty Satsuki-sama graces us with her presence! What’s the special oc—"
Ryuuko is not interrupted by Satsuki’s voice, but by her gestures.
What? Ryuuko exchanges shocked glances with Mako, before returning her gaze to Satsuki.
[I should have asked if you wanted me to address you in sign.]
Ryuuko frowns. “Bitch, are you making fun of—”
[You never responded to anything I said when you weren’t looking at me. I figured you were being insolent as usual, since during our fight you knew when I was behind you. I also saw the paperwork Mankanshoku submitted for extracurricular classes.]
It had already been silent, but it saturates itself in the shock from Ryuuko. The conversation is completely missed by Mako, who is still gorging herself on bento.
Ryuuko sighs uncomfortably and puts her own lunch and chopsticks down.
[I figured you would have taken advantage of it.]
Satsuki’s eyebrows furrow in distaste.
[I am not an underhanded woman, Matoi,] she signs aggressively. [Those who have disabilities are not meant to be underestimated or pitied. Sanegeyama is proof of that, don’t you think?]
Ryuuko rolls her eyes. [Bullshit! It doesn’t seem like he’s disabled at all.]
[Nor do you.]
Ryuuko stills for a while. Did she just…give a compliment? Satsuki continues when it’s clear Ryuuko isn’t going to respond.
[I would not have given him a second chance if it had not been a sacrifice.] She doesn’t go into details, but Ryuuko wasn’t expecting her to do so. She sighs, shoulders slumping, and she finally shakes her head.
[Your question. You don’t need to sign. I can read your lips just fine.]
[Very well, Matoi.] Satisfied with the response, the student council president turns heel and leaves.
Mako grabs Senketsu’s sleeve with her chopsticks and tugs to get Ryuuko’s attention. “When do you think Satsuki-sama learned how to sign?” The fact that she speaks with full mouth is lost on Ryuuko.
"Oh…I don’t know." She looks in the direction that the taller student had gone in, but she’s nowhere to be seen. She regrets not having asked while she had the chance.
The fact that there was a class available for Mako to sign up for indicates that there had been some kind of demand for it, Senketsu suggests.
"It seems weird that she’d bother herself with the effort. I don’t know what she does up there in the student council chamber, but I bet she’s pretty busy. Other schools I’ve been to had student councils that practically lived on campus…so when did she have the time?"
There’s a pause, an unheard thoughtful hum from Mako. “Maybe there’s someone in her life that’s…you know.”
Ryuuko arches a brow. “The word ‘deaf’ doesn’t hurt my feelings, you know.”
"Gamagoori-sempai is in my sign class."
Ryuuko chokes on the bite she just took. She pounds on her chest to make it pass.
"Sorry—it looked like you said that Gamagoori was in your class."
"I did! We partner up to have conversations!"
She rubs her face with one hand. You’d think that after going to school here for so long—and having to deal with as much crazy shit as she has—that nothing could surprise her anymore. And yet…
"Don’t tell me he’s there because of me."
"Uuuummm…he didn’t say." She didn’t ask either, Ryuuko assumes. Another sigh.
"He’s the last person of Satsuki’s Elite Four that needs to learn it." Actually, on second thought, maybe it’s not all that surprising that Gamagoori would do that. He’s proven in the past to be the most considerate out of all of them. "That damn computer nerd, though…the one that always has his mouth covered up."
"Inumuta-sempai? He’s always done that."
"I figured. Doesn’t make it any less irritating."
They continue to finish their meal without conversation. Later that day, Ryuuko is up on the roof of the Mankanshoku household, in a bid to get time to herself.
You seem upset, Ryuuko.
"Ah…sorry. Is it bothering you?"
I should be the one asking you if something’s bothering you.
"It’s not that important…"
You’d shrug it off if that was true.
Ryuuko draws her knees up to her chest, and looks down at Senketsu.
"I don’t like feeling like people are pandering me."
"It was okay when Mako said she wanted to learn sign, ‘cause that’s what friends do, right? But Satsuki knowing…and knowing Gamagoori is trying to learn. I mean—they’re the enemy. Why should they care?”
You think that they don’t care about you?
All Satsuki has to do to get rid of you is lift her finger to ban you from school grounds. Yet, she allows you to stick around. They allow club presidents to come at you as they wish, even though Satsuki knows that they’re just fodder for me to absorb their fibers. Why do you think they do that?
"Because they’re stupid?"
Because they respect you.
"Don’t say shit like that, Senketsu."
Don’t do this again, Ryuuko.
"It’s not respect!"
"You know damn well they just feel sorry for me!"
"I’m tired of your philanthropic bullshit, Senketsu!" Her arms cross over her chest and he can feel her fingers against his hem, starting to tug to take him off—
Then you can do without my voice.
"Don’t…don’t joke about that…"
"Please…I didn’t mean it…"
"D-don’t leave me in silence again!"
Her hands shake as she loses her composure, tears welling up in her eyes and falling under the force of their own weight. Unknown to her, her tearful wailing echoes through the slums.
"I’m sorry, Senketsu! Please forgive me!"
Moments pass, and Senketsu offers her no consolation.
Do you understand why I’m cross with you, Ryuuko?
She picks her head up, face reddened with her crying. “N-no…”
Venture a guess.
"Because…I pity me, too?"
Close, but no.
"Uh…" She sniffles. Being chastised was a million times better than being left in silence. "…I don’t know."
Because you never allow yourself the chance to consider how others see you. I know you’ve spent a great deal of your life dealing violent outlashes to anyone who looks at you the wrong way, but there are stances on the issue of your deafness other than “indifference” or “distaste.” How do you think I feel about it?
"You say you were made for me, so…it doesn’t matter one way or the other for you, does it?"
I am your ears, Ryuuko. I embrace the duty of not only clothing you, but providing my senses to you as well. It’s what brought us even closer, when you realized what it was that I was giving you.
Mako hates using the word “deaf” around you because she doesn’t want you to think that’s a word she’d use to describe you. The girl is confounding but that much I can understand about her. Her family doesn’t think of you as broken, just needing a provision just like food or shelter.
"Wait, I don’t understand. You think…we benefit from it?"
I don’t think so, I know so. Don’t you remember the fun we had yesterday, making all those noises down by the docks?
Of course she does. All those sounds that everyone takes for granted, all those sounds that Senketsu is used to hearing but encouraged her to experiment for as long as she wanted. They spent a great length of time Synchronized, but not for battle; the blood Senketsu had to consume, she would have never called it a waste.
"I’m sorry, Senketsu."
You’re forgiven, Ryuuko.