2014-03-09 - Charm, Beauty, Truth, and Strangeness

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Title: Charm, Beauty, Truth, and Strangeness

Ichigo goes to the Hikawa shrine to get a charm for the second time, and runs into a troll and an angel. True story: she still doesn't get the charm.


Mamoru Chiba, Ichigo Momomiya, Anthy Himemiya


The Hikawa Shrine

OOC - IC Date:


It's a chilly, partially overcast day in Tokyo; the breezes are insistent in Yamanote, tugging at hair and skirts and jackets and scarves. The Hikawa shrine's a bastion of calm in the busy city, and its courtyard shelters those who enter even from the grasping wind.

Not everyone enters, however. Like a spirit denied entrance due to inherent laziness, a true failing of character!, a young man stands outside the wrought-iron gates with his hands in his pockets, gazing into the square. It was this place, he thinks to himself. Just down the road. And the beautiful girl, and the talking cat, and the mystery and /who is Usagi Tsukino really/ and does she know blah blah blah silver crystal blah blah moonlight blah--

His thoughts are deep and mysterious.

This young man is Mamoru Chiba, and his scarf whips in the wind, and his face is impassive as he stares from behind dark sunglasses, lost in thought.

Yes, it is chilly today, isn't it? But this shrine is so beautiful and peaceful! The last time she came here to buy a charm, Ichigo nearly missed her bus, and she promised she'd come back again. The place is quieter than usual today, and Ichigo is thankful for that, as she's been pretty tired working at the cafe and studying all day.

"Phew! What a peaceful place! I'm so sorry I didnt manage to grab that charm the last time Masha, but maybe this time we can!" The funny pink fluffball that floats behind her on heart shaped wings shakes its head in protest. "But Ichi-chan, I thought I was your lucky charm!"

As she heads towards the front gates, Ichigo doesn't yet notice the mysterious stranger standing there, and so she continues to talk to the floating puffball that accompanies her towards the shrine.

There's only a few days left until the second semester finals begin. Most students are doing their best to get their last bit of studying in, or wailing about how badly they're going to fail; some are blowing it off even now, confident that they're going to do poorly regardless so why worry about it?

Anthy Himemiya is one of those people. She, however, has an advantage over your usual student in that it doesn't matter if she does poorly, regardless of the concerns of the students around her, because she's the sister of the Chairman of the middle and high school divisions.

Her presence at Hikawa Shrine, thus, is just because she happened to take a side trip here and not because, like some other students, she's trying to beg the gods to grant her good grades in spite of her lack of effort. For Anthy Himemiya, grades are a non-concern. There's so many other things in her life that are more important.

Her purple bangs rustle in the breeze as she gazes up at the shrine, her book briefcase clutched in front of her with both hands. She turns to see that she's not alone, and green eyes blink wide behind her spectacles to see a young man in shades. To him, she gives a vague smile and a polite bow. Whether Mamoru notices her or not, she continues turning, and this time spots a young woman talking to a pink floating puffball.

She tilts her head, staring directly at Ichigo and Masha as they have their conversation. Anthy says nothing. That might just make it worse.

It's the girl who's always in the rose garden. Mamoru glances toward Anthy, giving a crooked little smile and an inclination of his head in return, and then his focus lands fully on the other girl and her floating pink fluffball. He rocks back on his heels and calls out in a voice that would be pleasant if the words weren't teasing. "It's rude to replace your lucky charm," he calls to Ichigo, though his eyes are on the heart-winged puff of indignation. "Maybe you should study more."

"Ooh, Masha, sometimes you can be so annoying! I wanna have fun today, and not just go looking for...Ah....." She's interrupted by Masha's suddenly antenna wiggling and wing-waving.

"Danger danger!"

"Err, what is it? Chimera!?"

But no, it's just two people nearby who have spotted her talking to a floating pink puffball! Oh no! They cant know about Masha!

"Eeh!" She grabs the pink puffball quickly, trying to hide it behind her back. Masha flaps in protest, struggling to break free. Gee, this is embarassing.

"Erm....Hello there!" She calls out to the two of them, trying to think of something to say to divert attention away from herself. "Wow, isn't this a beautiful shrine? I wonder if those two priestesses are there today? They sold such pretty charms."

Then Mamoru calls out to with what seems to be a light tease. "Er..What? Oh you mean this?" Suddenly she whips out masha, holding him by the antennae, and he is smart enough to cease wriggling. Yup, nothing to see here, just a lifeless plush toy-charm thing. Wow, he suddenly looks smaller, more charm like. "Oh. Right, right! My er...Lucky charm!" sweatdrop.

"Eh, I guess he..Err, it..Hasn't given me the kind of luck i'm looking for." Nope, not Masha, just more trouble in the form on giant monsters. Not that he can help it. He was just designed that way, afterall. However, her attention is now focused upon the young man who vaguely reminds her of an older version of Masaya.

"Umm, do you know much about charms?"

Anthy is a bit (in)famous among Ohtori students in spite of her loner status, it's true. In her case, she recognizes her upperclassman largely because he's in her former fiance's and the Student Council President's class. There is another reason too, but that's not as important right now. For the moment, she's staring at Ichigo and her companion as politely as someone can stare.

Naturally, the instant Ichigo realizes their attention, she grabs the puffball and hides it away as best she can. Her attention is politely patient as well, and when Ichigo attempts to deflect, then tries to play up to Mamoru's teasing by presenting Masha as nothing more than a plushie charm, she shuts her eyes and smiles.

"My, what an adorable lucky charm! Did you make it yourself?" she says pleasantly. Since Ichigo is more focused on Mamoru, though, the purple-haired girl doesn't offer more commentary than that for the moment.

One sidelong look at Anthy and her politely expectant IRON FAITH that if everyone were polite then all the awkward would go away forever, and Mamoru sighs inwardly. The teasing face goes away, and he reaches up to take off his sunglasses and hook them in his blazer pocket. The charisma behind his clear blue eyes is almost a tangible thing; there's a weight to his gaze that can almost be felt-- now, anyway. Masks beneath masks.

Mamoru gives Ichigo a kind smile, gracefully following Anthy's example and allowing the incident to be glossed over. This girl, he'll remember; investigate later. The weight of his full attention is gone, then, and he's simply an easygoing teasy big-brother type. "Yes, did you? If so, that is admirably skillful craftsmanship. As far as charms go, I've read a few books on them. What are you curious about?"

"Ooh.." She glances over at Anthy, smiling an akward smile. "Err...Masha here? Oh no, I didnt make him..He was given to me by a friend. But, I guess he must be broken. Sometimes he makes...Weird...Noises!" Yes, like talking to people and flying around. Of course you didn't see that! Ichigo is just glad that her ears didnt pop up...Yet. Hopefully there wont be any more surprises.

"Yes, my friend at the Cafe Mew Mew made this for me. Ahh, I wish I was that talented. But thank you!" she glances back and forth between Mamoru and Anthy, giving an embarrassed smile. Phew, she has to be more careful in the future! Silly Masha.

However, the conversation turns back to that of charms. Specifically her desire to acquire one at the shrine. This is her second attempt to do so. "Well, do you think they really possess magic? Do you think they can really grant wishes? I think that would be really cool, but the charms I've used in the past (including Masha here!) don't seem to work so well.."

"Oh, so he's a mechanical toy? How creative," Anthy says pleasantly, eyes still shut, smile still in place. "I'm very impressed with the way he flies and talks. Your friend must be quite skilled."

Whoops. It sounds like she did see after all. B-but if she's calling him a mechanical toy, obviously it must mean it's all all right, right? ...right??

Nonetheless, the conversation moves on to charms, specifically Ichigo asking after their effectiveness. Anthy glances over at Mamoru, green eyes blinking wide as if looking to him for an answer on the matter. Then she smiles back at Ichigo.

"Well... who can say?" she replies. "But I do know that the charms from Hikawa Shrine are very popular."

Yes, Anthy, it'll be okay. It'll work out fine. Sometimes wishes do come true.

Mamoru gives the purple-haired girl a sideways, crinkle-eyed smile when she looks up at him. There aren't any answers in his face, only the evidence that he's enjoying himself with this dance.

"Do they work?" he muses, crossing one arm over his chest and leaning the elbow of the other on it, tapping at his chin. "It depends. Some of them work," the Ohtori upperclassman begins in a tone reserved to giving presentations in class, "as a focus of the belief of the holder-- they are effective, but a crutch to true will. Some of them are magic, if only a little. Some of them are very powerful and real, but those are not the ones you will find available for purchase."

"Mechanical toy? Oh....Er.." Well darn, she saw everything, didn't she? Ichigo is sure she can talk her way out of explaining why she'd possess the same 'toy' that fights alongside Mew Strawberry however...Hopefully. Should the need ever arise...Right?

"Ehehehe!" She laughs nervously, scratching the back of her head, making sure those ears dont suddenly pop up as she gets caught up in more and more stories. "Well, yes, I suppose you could say that! Err..Mechanical toy-charm..Thing! Whatever was Keichiiro-san thinking?"

Well..Maybe it's alright. Hopefully they wont ask about her mentionning a Chimera is. Phew, this secret identity thing sure is tough! Just to prove that Masha is really just a mechanical toy and not some sophisticated robot designed to eat infusors and detect alien threats, she pretends to wind a key behind Masha's back and lets him zip around her in circles, yelling 'Ichigo, Ichigo!'

"See? Isn't this a cute little wind up toy he made for me?" Eheheh....

But back to those darned charms! Ichigo glances over at Mamoru as Masha continues to pretend to be a mindless toy, spinning around her til he gets dizzy and veers off in a random direction, falling into a nearby bush(!).

Ichigo doesn't seem to notice as she listens carefully to Mamoru's words. "Hmmm, I wonder if I'll find a magical charm here. Wouldn't it be cool to have any wish come true?" But..But her wish is probably so trivial compared to some wishes. "I've heard a lot of the girls who buy charms here have their wishes come true, so I guess maybe I'll just have to buy a more expensive one to make sure it really works!"

Now..where did Masha go?

Well, well; Mamoru actually answers the question seriously. Anthy regards him with what almost looks like curiosity as he speaks as though giving a lecture or a presentation. As one might expect for a top student at Ohtori Academy, not that that concerns a bottom student like Anthy very much. How curious that someone like him would consider any charms at all to be genuinely affected.

"Were you also looking for charms, Chiba-senpai?" she wonders, before smiling back at Ichigo and her nervous laughter. "My!"

If Anthy ever does run into Mew Strawberry, oh, what stories she'll weave. Perhaps she'll be lucky and it won't come down to that? "It certainly is adorable," she agrees, holding out a slender hand as if offering Masha a perch. When he instead flitters off into a bush, Anthy only lowers her hand back to her briefcase and straightens to regard the Juuban student again.

'Wouldn't it be cool to have any wish come true?'

Anthy only smiles, eyes squinted shut.

"Wishes are powerful things in their own right," Mamoru says, not unkindly, but certainly seriously. Gone is the lecture tone, back is that weighted attention. "Don't underestimate the power of your own heart. They are also dangerous, if you are not one hundred percent sure you know what it is you're asking for. They do come true, even if it takes a very long time..."

Toward the end of that, Mamo's gaze drifted; as his words trail off, he's looking into the middle distance; something far away and noble's taken over his stance and expression, but it's only for a split second.

Because then Mamoru's looking at Anthy again, and he outright grins, spell broken. "Himemiya-san, isn't it? No, I wasn't looking for charms. I got distracted on my route toward the bus stop."

Ichigo peers curiously back at Mamoru as he speaks in an almost mysterious way about charms. Wow, he sure is knowledgable! That warning kinda makes charms almost sound dangerous!

"Oh! But..If you use them with good intentions, I'm sure only good can come out of it, right? At least, I'm gonna try! I'm sure my wish will be granted as long as it's made with a pure heart!" Well, one can always hope, right?

Anthy reaches out towards the puffball, but he veers off into a bush. "Oh no, Masha! Where are you?" Ichigo calls out, showing at least some concern for the 'useless charm'. Clearly she's only teasing and does care for the little puffball.

Suddenly Masha shoots out of the bushes again, dazed and confused and flying blindly right towards Anthy! Will she duck/catch him in time or will she be flattened by the flying ball of cotton candy!?

Mamoru speaks of wishes and the power of the heart, and Ichigo reassures herself that it should all be okay as long as she wishes with a pure heart. Anthy continues to smile in exactly the same way as before. That expression doesn't change even when Mamoru re-addresses her, telling her he was just distracted.

"Oh, I see," she replies pleasantly.

Because her eyes are shut, though--no, even if they'd been open, Anthy is not an athletic person by any stretch of the imagination. Masha comes shooting out of the bushes, and she becomes aware of it only soon enough to open her eyes and stare, at which point the fluffball barrels right into her. She cries out and stumbles, falling backwards towards the concrete path of the Hikawa Shrine.

"Good intentions are a start. A solid idea of exactly what you want and how to deal with the consequences of having it, that's more important than a pure heart. A kind and generous heart will achieve the best possible outcome," Mamoru says, now almost cheerful. Maybe he enjoys the sound of his own voice; maybe he's making it up; maybe he believes it.

He's not in the moment anymore, his mouth running on autopilot as his mind spins off elsewhere entirely. His own wishes. Wishes he almost remembers. All the things he doesn't remember at all, and the echoes that he sees that grip at his heart and choke him with frustrated longing. Unknowingly, while his thoughts spiral, his gaze has fallen on the pleasantly smiling Anthy, and he stares at her without thinking about it. It's half analysis: is she letting this all wash over her, or is she shying away from it. That impenetrable wall of closed-eyed kind smile--

So it is that he doesn't see the beelining puffball either, and he yelps in shock and alarm as Anthy cries out and goes stumbling back. He moves, absurdly light on his feet, like lightning to catch her before she impacts--

"Hmm, when you say it like that, it almost sounds complicated. I guess you're right though. I wouldn't want to make a careless wish that has consequences. Wow, you're really smart!" Or does he have experience in these matters?

Ichigo then turns her attention upon Anthy again..She seems sweet but..Wow, does her expression ever change? Ichigo peers curiously at Anthy as she continues to smile, eyes closed. Then of course the flying puffball of DOOM flies straight towards her!

"Look ou-!" Too late! Anthy gets smacked and barrelled over by Masha who is clearly damaged or confused by all that spinning.

"Oh no! Are you alright?" Ichigo dashes to Anthy's side, attempting to help her up, "I'm so sorry, this is all my fault! Please enjoy this coupon for a free ice cream at Cafe Mew Mew! It's the least I can do!"

She whips out the coupon, offering it to Anthy in hopes that it can make up for her bruises. Poor girl..

Anthy Himemiya tumbles for the unforgiving ground, where she might be bruised, crack something or worse. There isn't any time at this point to consider anything but that, and as she falls, she cries out--

--and all of a sudden, she lands not on unforgiving stone, but someone's firm arms. Her eyelashes flutter open, and she turns her head slightly to one side to see the one who caught her.

"Chiba-senpai...?" she murmurs.

Ichigo comes hurrying up then to offer her a coupon for free ice cream, and Anthy blinks over her way. She twists slightly to attempt to right herself, but she can't do so very well in this position. Nonetheless, she offers a smile to the Juuban student.

"Yes, I'm fine, thank you," she reassures her, accepting her hand and help to get back up. Mamoru no doubt helps as well. "It's all right," she adds--but nonetheless, she accepts the coupon, bowing deeply. "I'm sorry to cause you two concern..."

Ichigo smiles, relieved that the girl is alright. "Phew, I'm glad! I guess my little...Err..charm, might need to be looked at." Right..

She also peers towards Mamoru curiously when he moves so quickly to help her. Wow. Such lightning reflexes. But..Are they MEW reflexes? Hard to tell..She tries to catch a glimpse of a mew mark but there is nothing visible that she can see.

After she has hopefully helped Anthy to her feet, she just smiles and nods. "Oh no, it's all my fault, dont apologize! Feel free to drop by my cafe sometime and enjoy this ice cream! We haven't had a grand openning yet, but we're still open for business. Oh, by the way, my name is Ichigo! It's really nice to meet hte both of you!"

There's a moment that's almost a Moment, as Anthy barely voices her question of his name, and as Mamoru studies her expression and meets her eyes. He's trying so hard to read her, like he assumes he has the right.

It's short-lived, because yay Ichigo! Stereo help-up and free ice cream! By the time Anthy's on her feet and bowing, the upperclassman's smiling wryly, one arm up, hand at the back of his head. "Not a bit. If you're going back to Ohtori, I'll accompany you; I'm headed there myself."

Then he grins at the girl with the flying cotton candy attack droid, and actually goes so far as to sweep a bow. "Ichigo-san, it's a pleasure to make your acquaintance. I'm Mamoru Chiba; I'm sure we'll run into each other again sooner or later." What's that supposed to mean?! Is that just being charming? If it's just being charming, why was there a strange glimmer in his eyes?

Whether or not Anthy goes with him, he's a perfect gentleman about actually taking his leave.

Looked at. Yes, something like that, Ichigo.

"Thank you very much," Anthy repeats to Ichigo, tucking the coupon away in her bag. Whether she'll actually show up is another story, but the coupon was offered and accepted, so all's well that ends welll, perhaps. "It's nice to meet you too, Ichigo-san. My name is Anthy Himemiya."

Again, she bows politely. Mamoru may have tried to visually discern the meaning behind Anthy's expressions, but it's like trying to determine what's on the opposite side of a thick veil: it seems like you should be able to see through, but you can't. Nonetheless, her smile is wide when Mamoru offers to escort her back to Ohtori campus. "Thanks much," she says, bowing again. "I would appreciate that very much, senpai."

She's silent as Mamoru says his goodbyes to Ichigo, though she watches the whole time. Once Mamoru moves to go, though, she bows again to Ichigo--the second or third time, now--and follows behind her upperclassman.