2014-03-22 - Caught
|Title: Do You Know Who You Are?|
Anthy Himemiya discovered Mamoru's secret, and in doing so, discovered one he didn't know he had. It's so very easy to make him believe things when he so desperately wants to.
Ohtori Academy, Planetarium
| OOC - IC Date:|
IC, ??? OOC, 3/22/14
It's been a rather eventful finals week, hasn't it? It's fortunate for Anthy Himemiya that she is not even slightly concerned about her grades. Isn't nepotism wonderful? It means you can focus on the things that really matter while casting off what's unnecessary.
Wouldn't it be wonderful to be able to cast off everything that was unnecessary?
After the tests on Wednesday, Anthy is back to watering the roses in the Royal Garden as per her usual. The high glass walls of the enormous birdcage swoop up above her. There's but one entrance, and when the door creaks open, for once, she lifts her gaze.
"I've been waiting for you," she says calmly, setting her golden watering can down. "Won't you please come with me? This place is not terribly private."
It's some time after that that the elevator doors to the top floor of the Chairman's Tower open up. While this place is technically open to all students, few students actually know that it is, and given that other parts of the Chairman's Tower are decidedly /not/ open to the public thanks to the Student Council room being about halfway up, fewer still are willing to dare to explore. Anthy Himemiya works the elevator with someone completely used to it, though. It is known that she has connections to the Student Council, though... Not a full member, but involved with in in some way anyhow.
"Very few people come up here," she remarks as she steps out of the elevator, presumably followed by her companion. "So we will not be bothered." She heads towards a pair of Italian white leather couches, separated by a coffee table in the middle. The observatory equipment looms over them, impressively enormous. Though the domed ceiling of the planetarium reaches very high indeed, the equipment still manages to dominate the room.
On the way there, on a table, there is a framed photograph of Anthy with an older man who bears a striking resemblance to her.
Anthy seats herself one on of the couches with care and grace, skirt tucked underneath her with unthinking elegance, hands tucked in her lap, legs swept demurely to one side. Then she smiles up at Mamoru.
"Well then, what would you like to ask first?" she asks, as if it had been she whose secret had been found out.
Mamoru's surprisingly laid-back, given the givens; it's entirely possible that today's final on so little sleep just sort of flattened him. Possible. It's also possible it's just confidence that makes him affably unconcerned with the nearness of the Student Council offices, with wandering around forgotten corridors with the girl that the boys love and the girls hate and no one really knows.
Either way, when they step into the planetarium, the upperclassman's steps slow and his blue eyes widen in appreciation; there's a sharp little intake of breath. After a second, "I didn't even know this was here."
His voice is quiet, as if to avoid disturbing the vastness of space; his movements are reserved, reverent.
As Anthy heads toward the sofas, Mamoru's eyes take in the photograph and linger on it briefly-- there's a hesitation in his step for a pace as he frowns absently, but whatever almost caught his deeper attention is as quickly dismissed, and he closes on the moon-white furniture in the darkness of the cavernous room.
For a lingering second, Mamo stands in front of Anthy, shoulders relaxed and hands in his pockets, surveying the girl with a gaze that seems to have defaulted to affectionate, and then the side of his mouth crooks up wryly and he sits down across from her. "Ask? Only that you don't tell. What I do outside school needs to stay outside school."
A lot of people don't know this is here. The top of the Chairman's Tower is visible to everyone, but despite its enormous and frequently open bay windows, it's so far above everyone else that they can't really see inside, even if they think they can. Thanks to the onset of winter, the dark of afternoon is already settling in. The light of the setting sun still give them enough to see one another by, but it would be prudent for someone to turn on the lights.
Anthy does not make any motion to do so.
Anthy gazes up at Mamoru patiently, her smile unwavering, as he remains standing for a moment; her smile appears, in the dimming light, to reflect that affection when at last he takes a seat opposite from her. "I understand," she replies. "I have no intentions of spreading that information to unrelated people."
In the background, one of the dying rays of sunlight briefly illuminates the framed photograph and the two depicted within.
"But may I ask why it is that you are doing such a thing?" she asks politely, tilting her head to one side. She does not have any air of judgmentalism or criticism or even concern; it is a matter she has seemingly already accepted, and is only asking after the motivations as a matter of curiosity. Surely not an idle one, though, given that she went out of her way to take him all the way here, where almost no one else ever comes.
There's quiet again; that natural spotlight on the framed picture--
--Anthy's gentle questions--
--the unreality of this silent, comfortable space which feels like a shrine to science and stars--
He's in the dark, but Mamoru has no inclination to turn on the lights, either. There's a hush on him and the rest of the world, and the silence is thick like in a sunlit summer attic, though dust motes dance through only the ray illuminating the photograph.
There's a path ahead of him he can't see, but it feels so close to right that it must be. It must be. The shadows aren't dispelling, they're as maddeningly persistent in waking as in dreaming: shadows and mist, cryptic demands and indistinct faces. He's not accustomed to discussing this--
face to face.
It's a long silence. Mamoru gets up from the couch, abstracted and distant; he walks absently toward the enormous projector, movements as slow as if he were underwater. He reaches out and his long fingers touch the brass fittings, trailing as he walks through a deeper shadow in the stillness of the room, and when he steps past it, those fingers are covered by white gloves
and the shadow he was in
moves with him.
Tuxedo Kamen slows to a stop and his cape silently falls around him; he regards Anthy from behind the ghost-white mask, almost luminous itself. No hat. "I'm chasing a dream. Forgive me if it seems forward, Himemiya-san, but-- there's a princess. I can never see her face."
The space of a heartbeat, and with all the gravity of the earth upon which they all stand, he asks her, "Do you know who you are?"
The thickness of a summer attic, and the sharpness of the midwinter sky... Given how high up they are, that's exactly where they are, too. Yet even in this cold place, warmth lingers, like something that will never quite die, where memories are made eternal. Perhaps the comparison to the summer attic was more appropriate than expected.
There's something in the attic...
Where Mamoru may get up and begin to walk through the deepening dark, Anthy remains still and unfazed, like a celestial object around with others orbit. She gazes out at the sky as the last vestiges of madder red seep from it, leaving behind a deepening twilight purple. In the distance, the moon shines in the darkness like a white pearl, high and pure. Close by, Venus, the Evening Star, shines with implacably steady light. She doesn't turn as Mamoru touches the observatory equipment, nor does she turn as he phases from Mamoru to Tuxedo Mask.
It isn't until he asks her question, and a moment has been allowed to lay thick in the evening air, that she stands up.
'There's a princess. I can never see her face.'
'Do you know who you are?'
Dark fingers lift up, and perhaps it's a trick of the light, dim as it now is; it's like she's just suddenly there in front of him. The tips of her fingers stroke the side of his face with infinite softness, and her green eyes look up at him with a gentle, inscrutable emotion.
"Do you?" she wonders, guiding the Prince of Earth reborn with the lightest of touches to look only at her. "You've lost your memories, haven't you...?"
His face is warm; the slow dance of the heavens changes the light, the atmosphere, and the colors in the room, but Mamoru himself is unchanging and steady. The warmth of the sun is there yet, all through this frozen moment of dying light at the end of a stunted December day. Time is stopped.
There's a watch that the boy lost, one which keeps time with images of the sky's progression, one which chimes a melody that makes his heart ache, twisting it in phantom hands made of loss and ghosts. Somewhere, it's ticking. Somewhere. But not here.
Here, the fluttering heart of the unknowing prince, so full of hope and longing and frustration, stops when Anthy cups the side of his face in her slender hand: he holds his breath, the world holds its breath.
The answer's in his vivid blue eyes before he can bring himself to speak.
If there is anywhere time may stop, it is here. In this garden where memories can last forever, and eternity dwells in a castle in the sky, time is meaningless. But at the same time, as long as that's the case, one can't move forward. One can only pull others in.
Good or bad for Anthy, that is the Rose Bride's specialty.
Her expression doesn't change when she feels Mamoru hold his breath, nor when she hears his response. She does, however, withdraw her hand, though she doesn't lower it. "Do you want to retrieve your memories, no matter what? Memories are sometimes sealed away for a reason," Anthy warns him, voice soft. "To take back the memories now out of your grasp... Are you sure you won't regret it?"
The light stays the same, but Tuxedo Kamen lets out his breath as Anthy pulls her hand back; he reaches up, himself, and two gloved fingertips touch his mask-- but he lets his hand drop, leaving it on, shimmering golden in the last light. No: no, the sun's set already, hasn't it? The stars and planets--
He doesn't move otherwise, and he can't take his eyes off Anthy's face, despite her letting him go. "'No matter what'," he says, voice quiet, hesitant, "is very close to a vow."
The silence isn't awkward, and his gaze isn't a stare. It's searching. He's searching. Endlessly. Searching her face, her voice, his imperfect memories of dream-- nature abhors a vacuum.
Finally, he says with a slight tilt of his head, "I have a path to my memories. To knowing, for certain, who I am. Whether or not I regret following it--"
Mamoru shakes his head, and he lifts his hand again, but this time it's to enclose Anthy's lightly, hold it there for a moment, then pull it down. It's so gentle, any resistance would stop him immediately. "I am not whole. Do you know what that's like? I can't spend my life not knowing whether or not the name I have is even mine."
Gentle as his grip is, Anthy doesn't struggle against it. She watches his face, as if waiting to see an answer of her own as he searches for one in her own face. There won't be any answers there, but her attention is by all appearances focused on him and him alone.
At the end, she smiles faintly, emptily. Does she know what it's like to not be whole? Well... "Who can say?" she murmurs. "But the memories of your childhood are not the only memories that you are missing.
"If I told you something like that, would you believe me? Mamoru-san."
Just like that, the spell of silence and stillness is broken. Tuxedo Kamen's face changes and he takes a half-step backward, eyes widening in alarm behind the mask. Just as quickly, his gaze goes razor-sharp; his hand's suddenly gripping his cape, pulling it up slightly in front of him.
"I didn't," he says, voice steady and tone firm, "tell you what memories I lost."
There was something in her look--
--an absence of something--
--an echo, a dark reflection in a looking glass, of the void Mamoru keeps at the edges of his consciousness. How much worse, he thinks, might things be for the princess
if she doesn't have
the Silver Crystal?
Now he does stare, in desperate hope and no small fear: not for himself, but for Anthy.
No. For what he imagines.
"I believe you," he finally says, frozen in place while time moves around him. "I would believe you. The things I almost--"
A breath; Mamoru looks away quickly, closing his eyes tightly. "I almost see. How could they be memories? It's a dream-- but I have had true dreams. And she calls out to me, she knows me. And what she wants-- what she asks me to find-- if only I can find it for her, I'll know."
Lifting his head again, body strung taut like a guitar's strings, Mamoru looks directly at Anthy again, directly at her empty eyes. If he can't face her, what is he good for? His eyes are overbright, glistening with unshed tears. "But I can't find it. I can't find the Silver Crystal. I've been searching so long-- dreaming and praying-- but-- I'll do it. I promise. I'll find it. I promise!"
'I didn't tell you what memories I lost.'
Anthy's gaze is steady and unflinching, expression unchanging. Though the masked man's expression is alarmed, and the dreaminess that clung to him is banished in an instant, she doesn't speak. However, she gives a patient air, as if waiting for Mamoru to make his point. Waiting for him to make his conclusions. Waiting for him to speak next, to reveal what it is that he expects.
She is not his princess. She knows that. But he is a Prince, and only a Prince can save her from her fate... and so when he tells her that he believes her, when he apologizes for not yet having found the Silver Crystal, her gentle smile returns.
"The Maboroshi no Ginzuishou," she agrees, not so much as blinking at the tears he is on the verge of shedding. "Those dreams are truer than you realize. When you regain your memories of the distant past, you will understand everything. And when you find the Silver Crystal..."
She advances a step, bringing herself within a breath of the taller man. "...will you let it grant me a miracle?"
Within a breath, and he's almost like a deer in headlights.
Mamoru's own breath catches, and he looks down and down into Anthy's eyes: the bottomless void of her eyes that can take any aspect projected. The Prince's heart has chosen to see sadness and resignation and expectation of failure, so that's what he sees.
Bleakness, despite the smile. It's a sad smile he sees. There is no cheer here, no happiness, and that--
that is heartbreaking.
She knows me, he thinks, and he has to blink, and the tears fall, and he takes a stumbling few steps backwards, further from Anthy again. As he moves he's turning his head away again; he reaches up to take off the mask and wipe his eyes off on his sleeve, teeth clenched.
Not only is he a Prince, he's ever a predictable one. There's one song in his heart, and no matter how strong and lovely and loving that song is, no matter how pure and true and giving, it's one song. And Anthy knows it.
And Mamoru doesn't.
She's broken his composure, and now everything is immediate, everything is intense, everything is real. It's less than half a second he's away from her before Mamoru steps forward again, but not so close as Anthy was-- close enough to put his long-fingered hands on her thin shoulders oh, so lightly, and far enough she doesn't have to crane her neck. "Anthy," he whispers, his full attention weighted and immense, kinetic and alive, and entirely focused on the slim, dark girl's eyes. "Princess?"
His voice is no longer a whisper, but still quiet, urgent, and possessed of a heart-caught flutter at the back. "I don't know how. But I will find it, and I will do everything in my power to help you get your miracle."
She does know him. She knows him from countless ages ago, when he was known by a different name, but still had the same face, the same eyes. The look in there... well, that she no longer remembers. The feelings they felt back then... it was so long ago now. And now she can't feel anything at all. That is what the Rose Bride is.
When Mamoru stumbles back to wipe the tears from his face, she lets him retreat without giving chase. She is here in front of him, here for him to chase, not the other way around. She's sing the first verse of the song he longs for, and it's inevitable that he'll come back for more.
And so that's precisely what happens. Mamoru steps forward again, touches her shoulders, gazes into her eyes. She returns the favor, chin tilted upwards as if ready for a kiss. Her eyes reflect--what Mamoru wants to see. His own are heavy with that, and add yet more weight to his words.
She smiles and nothing more. No nod, no agreement. Only a smile. Yet, when he promises her a miracle, she tilts her head to one side, resting her hand over his.
"Thank you," she whispers.
But in the end, is he a Prince that she can believe in? ...Perhaps. But probably not. She knows she's not his Princess. When he realizes the truth, will he still tell her such impassionate things?
Though she may take action as bidden, just as she has here, faith is not a thing Anthy feels quickly or lightly.