Late Enough to Rest
Fandom: Princess Tutu
Summary: Alternate Universe. Superhero Ahiru finds supervillain Rue on her doorstep in the middle of the night, hurt, holding an unconscious Mytho and asking for help.
Notes: Written for @ahirueweek day 2: superpower. Relationship can be platonic or pre-romantic, depending on your interpretation. Read here on AO3
The last thing she expected to find on her doorstep at 3 AM was - well, anything, it was 3 AM, the only reason Ahiru herself hadn't gone to bed yet was because she apparently made terrible life choices. But definitely the very last thing she expected to find on her doorstep was Rue.
But there she was, leaning heavily against the wall, sopping wet locks of hair clinging to her forehead, her clothes so tattered that Ahiru couldn't even guess whether they used to be her Princess Kreahe costume or not. And hanging in her arms was Mytho, eerily still.
"Please -" she started, but Ahiru was quicker.
"Rue!" she yelled, throwing the door open as wide as possible. "You - Mytho - are you hurt? Is Mytho alright?"
"We need to come in," Rue said, her voice tense. Her fingers dug into Mytho's side. "Quickly, before anyone sees us."
Despite this, when Ahiru stepped aside, Rue just stared at her.
"Come in," Ahiru urged, and finally, Rue moved inside, out of the rain. It was only then that Ahiru noticed the trail of blood she left behind.
"You are hurt," she accused. "Sit down, I'll get the bandages -"
"It's nothing," Rue cut her off. She lay Mytho on the couch and sagged next to him on the floor. Inside, Ahiru could get a better look at her. Blood gushed from wounds all over her body; thankfully, most of them were probably just shallow scrapes, but there was a large gash in her thigh that might need stitches, and from the way she was holding her chest, there was a good chance something wrong with her ribs as well. "Listen -"
"Don't move," Ahiru ordered, running to the kitchen. She pulled the med kit from under the sink and ran back. Rue startled as she knelt next to her.
"I'm sorry, what?" Rue asked, incredulous.
"I need to reach your wounds." From up close, it was clear that she was wearing civilian clothes, a black shirt and pants, tactical, good for running.
"It doesn't matter," Rue snapped. "Listen, I have information -"
"I'm not listening to anything until we've taken care of your wounds."
Rue groaned. "Ahiru, we don't have time for this -"
"Is anyone going to die within an hour?"
"No, but -"
"I don't see how that -"
"Then we have time to disinfect, stitch, and bandage some gashes."
"Who even cares!"
Rue glared at her. Ahiru crossed her arms and didn't move an inch.
Finally, Rue sighed and gingerly pulled off the leftovers of her shirt. "You're still as stubborn as ever, aren't you?"
"Yup," Ahiru said, in a cheerful tone that quickly morphed into a horrified gasp.
Bruises climbed up Rue's torso like vines, covering her side and ribs, sneaking up into her sports bra and down to her thigh. Without thinking, Ahiru reached out a hand to touch, before remembering why that would be a terrible, awful, no good idea, and snatching it away.
"Are your ribs..."
Ahiru stared at Rue until she turned her head.
"They're not broken," she said, reluctantly. "They don't hurt enough for that. Bruised, probably. Maybe fractured."
Ahiru took a deep breath. "Alright," she said. "We're taking you to the hospital for an x-ray tomorrow."
"No hospitals," Rue snapped.
"I can't just let you walk around with fractured ribs!"
"No. Hospitals." When Ahiru opened her mouth to protest, Rue cut her off. "My - the Raven knows I'm hurt. He'll be keeping an eye on them. The risk is too great."
That's - fine.
"Okay," Ahiru agreed reluctantly, "no hospitals. But promise me you'll take it easy, at least for a while, alright?"
Which was a normal question! But Rue stared at her like she'd just announced she was marrying the Raven."Why do you even care?"
Ahiru blinked. " 'Cause you're my friend, of course."
Rue just kept staring at her. "I've been trying to kill you for the past three months."
She shrugged. "Friends make bad choices, sometimes. Doesn't mean they're not your friends anymore. Now take your pants off, I need to reach your thighs."
For a solid few seconds, Rue didn't move. Then, she burst out laughing.
"You're one of a kind, aren't you?" she muttered, and it seemed almost bitter.
Ahiru didn't know how to respond to that, so she didn't, setting out to clean her wounds instead. Luckily, she'd been right, and most of them were shallow. Only the one on her thigh required stitches.
"There!" She clapped her hands together, triumphantly. "All done. I'll get some ice for your ribs. Lay down on my bed in the meantime."
Rue sputtered. "I can't just - I can't just take your bed!"
Ahiru waved her off. "It's fine, it's fine. I can sleep on the floor no problem."
"It's indecent!" she protested, and it would've been beyond weird, a supervillain on her floor protesting that taking the bed would be impolite, but it was Rue. Rue was just like that.
"You're the one who's hurt," Ahiru reasoned. "Please, Rue. Take the bed."
Rue blinked owlishly at her, before slowly getting up and walking to the bed. With a sigh of relief, Ahiru ducked out of the room.
Problem: there was no ice left. Fakir had even written a nice little reminder on the fridge door: buy ice, right there beneath the rest of her groceries. The whiteboard has been his idea too, actually; she'd forget less if she wrote down whatever she needed right after she ran out. It'd been a huge help, except for the fact that she still forgot to go to the store on a regular basis. Whoops.
Underneath the ice, there were more supplies in Fakir's handwriting; iodine, gauze, medical alcohol. The last fight had been rough, and Fakir had spent a good half hour just bandaging her wounds. It'd been worth it, though; Mytho had actually shown some awareness, right before he slashed her the third time, and the sword had only grazed her. He'd even opened his mouth to say something, before it turned into an ugly sneer again. Stuff like that was getting rarer and rarer, and even Fakir couldn't bring himself to lecture her too much, after she told him.
And now Mytho was on her couch, offline, and Rue seemed like she'd split off from the Raven and - and she needed ice for her bruised-or-fractured ribs that they couldn't take to the hospital because the Raven would be watching them.
Ahiru took a deep breath, and managed to unearth some frozen peas from the back of her freezer.
Rue had settled in on her bed, in the same way a stray kitten would settle into a dog pound. Aside from her fingers playing with a stray piece of fabric from her leftover-pants, she lay completely still, stiff as a board and with her arms tucked in as close to her body as possible. She and Mr. Fuzzles seemed engaged in a staring contest, and it didn't look like Rue was winning.
"Mr. Fuzzles doesn't bite, you know," she said, plopping the peas down onto Rue's chest. Thankfully, Rue didn't protest the treatment anymore, and simply moved them down towards her bruises.
"I know that," she snapped. "Why do you have a stuffed animal? You're seventeen."
"What, don't you have any?" She moved Mr. Fuzzles so that his head rested in Rue's armpit. "They're fuzzy!"
"Father would never have allowed me to cling to such childish nonsense," she sniffed haughtily. But even though she glared at the teddybear, she made no move to throw him off. Maybe because that would throw the peas off too.
"Well, your father is a supervillain, so I think that might just be part of all the evil."
Rue opened her mouth, then snapped it close again. "I... suppose it is soft."
"Exactly!" Ahiru grabbed a chair. "I'll get you one too, later."
"You really don't have to do that."
"But I want to."
"Ahiru, if we don't deal with Drosselmeyer, there might not be a later." Rue hit her fist against the bed. It couldn't hide the shaking in her hands.
"Drosselmeyer?" Without even thinking about it, she touched her pendant. "Shouldn't we be taking down the Raven?"
Rue started taking a deep breath, before letting it out again with a painful wheeze. "How much do you know about Drosselmeyer?"
"I - I've only met him a few times." She remember him appearing above her lake, hovering over the water like a ghost, gifting her the pendant, a chance at humanity. A chance to help Mytho.
Rue's head snapped towards her. "You've met him?"
"Only a few times! Can count them on one hand, really." His smile was creepy, and his ability to stop time even more so, and he seemed to delight in other people's misery just a bit too much, but even so, he didn't seem - well, Raven-level capital 'E' Evil.
"That - makes things easier, I suppose." Rue blew out a breath. It seemed exhaling was easier than inhaling. "Drosselmeyer is the writer of the story."
"The Prince and the Raven, right? Where Mytho's from?"
She remembered him, that day on the lake, smiling down at her with a grin too wide for his face.
"So you love that boy, huh?" he'd asked her. She could only nod. She'd been just a duck, after all.
"Would you still love him if I told you he wasn't human?"
"It was one of the many plays he wrote, although the only one he left unfinished," Rue confirmed. "It seems he wants to finish it, now."
"Would you still love him if he was just a robot, made to perform?"
"Mytho tore his own heart apart to keep the story from continuing; with him defective, the Raven couldn't properly fight him. But when you started to rebuild his heart -"
"Do you love him enough to search for his heart, so that he may feel again?"
"The story continued," Ahiru finished. Her nails were digging into her arms. "Then - this fight. It's my fault."
"If it hadn't been you, it would've been someone else," Rue said, but Ahiru barely listened.
"He said that only I would accept being Princess Tutu. That I'm the only one who -"
"And the Raven told me I was an android built by him," Rue interrupted. Ahiru startled.
"What? But you bleed."
"Exactly." Rue's hand was clenched and white-knuckled. White-knuckled from a lack of blood, which androids didn't have. "He lied. Men like him and Drosselmeyer will say whatever they need to, in order to get you to do what they want."
And Ahiru - Ahiru was still shaking, but she took a deep breath, and suppressed her fear. For Rue. Rue needed her to be calm. "I'm sorry."
"I told you, it's not your fault -"
"I'm sorry about the Raven," she clarified. "That's the reason you were helping him, right? I'm sorry. He shouldn't have treated you that way."
And Rue just... stared. She just stared, until tears started to stream across her face.
"Rue..." Ahiru reached out a hand, but Rue was faster, wiping away the tears as quickly as they appeared.
"I'm sorry," she said, and she sounded choked up. "I don't - I don't know what came over me."
"It's okay." Hesitantly, she laid her hand on Rue's head, and when Rue didn't try to stop her, she stroked her fingers through her hair. Her hands were still shaking, a little bit, but as she continued, they stilled. As Princess Tutu, she'd done this dozens of times before, for dozens of people, and there was something comforting about the familiar movements.
"I don't know exactly what you've been through," she started, and without even noticing, she slipped into the familiar Princess Tutu cadence. "But it must've been horrible, having the Raven as a father, doing everything you could for him, even hurting Mytho, and finding out he never loved you to begin with. You've been through a lot, and you can cry about it."
"We don't - we don't have the time -" Rue choked out, but the tears kept coming faster than she could wipe them away.
Ahiru kept carding her fingers through Rue's hair, carefully working through the knots in her hair. Even as Rue's sobs increased, her whole body shaking, a certain tension slipped from her body underneath Ahiru's fingers. "It's okay," she repeated. "If nobody's going to do die in a few hours, we have the time."
And at that, Rue unraveled. It was like all the tears she'd kept in for weeks, months, maybe even years came spilling out in one giant storm. She wailed into her pillow, and all Ahiru could do was continue to stroke her head, the practiced motions just as much for Rue's sake as for her own.
A story was moving, the plot wrapping up, but even so, they could take a few sentences to rest.