2014-03-26 - It's Okay, They're Magic Roses
|Title: Well, They're Magic...|
Mamo's not having a great time right now THANKS ZOISITE but he has a can-I-talk-to-you date to keep with Eri.
Ohtori Academy's library!
| OOC - IC Date:|
Dec 21, 2013, Part 2 - 3/26/14
Different days are different things to different people. A truism that's nonetheless particularly apt on this cold darkening late afternoon in early winter: some people are in good moods because good things happened to them.
Some people-- we'll start with one Chiba Mamoru-- had been in good moods because of good things happening, but then, in intending to get to the library early for a discussion on roses and magic at Ohtori Academy that isn't full of doom, got waylaid by an emotional landmine.
In essence, there is a handsome senpai standing in the snow outside the library, breath steaming in the air, head down, staring at a brightly colored and scrunched up thing in his hands. He's not wearing a coat over his winter uniform jacket,:lau though there is a scarf around his neck.
When Eri calls out, he half-turns and looks up in startled semi-alarm--
It's not that easy to see in the light until Eri gets closer, and by then, Mamoru's standing straight, almost defiant. What she sees? Red eyes, unevenly blotchy face, red nose, and stark grief which he's doing his damndest to bury.
"Eri--" he starts, and his voice breaks, and he closes his eyes and tries again after a second and a long breath. "Eri-chan. Shall we?"
Broad gesture toward the library doors; the bright thing gets stuck under one arm. Looks like a really fancy book case, school bag sort of thing.
Sometimes talking to a person you like about everything, and nothing at the same time helps tremendously. You may not find the answers you're looking for, but when your life has become one giant gaping wound, knowing people care enough to try to staunch the bleeding, even without all the context on why it happened is enough. Thus while her life had a pall hanging over it not unlike some ominous shroud, she was still in a good mood at the moment.
Walking down the pathway from the royal garden, Eri was wearing a winter overcoat, a scarf, mittens and a cap over her thick linen dress, towards the labyrinthine fields which had been covered by newly fallen, virgin snow. When she spotted one Mamoru Chiba. It was hard to mistake the handsome senpai figure, even in winter clothing. And so she called out to him cheerfully. Why not? He had actually asked to meet with her sometime before the trip.
As she stepped closer, however, she scrutinized her face. Even though her glasses were fogged up a little from the sudden change in temperature from the greenhouse to the outdoors, she wiped them off, readjusted them, and took a second look. Her cheerful greeting immediately became more subdued, "Mamoru-kun." She wasn't great at reading people, but she knew grief when she saw it, which gave her a little pause when he asked, 'shall we?' "Yeah. Yeah sure."
Readjusting her school bag on her arm, she walked towards the library doors, glancing at the thing under his arm, before back up at his face, "You look a little like you're some overstuffed balloon, like you need to release something else you'll just pop from the tension." She observes, as someone had with her not too long ago, there's no humor in it though despite the imagery, it's all just worry that her voice carries, "Wanna talk about it?" When they reach the library doors, its actually her that holds the the heavy wooden door for him.
Holding the door for him gets, at least, a little laugh from Mamoru, though it sounds like it could go either way any minute. "Thanks," he says, kicking his shoes off once they're just in the door, then sticking them -- and the bright school bag -- in cubbyholes. His voice is a little thick and he's not looking at her. "No. I just need to-- to-- I don't really even know what it is."
He reaches up while he's half-bent to shove the shoes where they go, scrubbing at his face again as he straightens, and then he laughs. It sounds a little desperate; it's not forced, but it's not happy. "Let's, please, talk about the rose? Because I don't know what's wrong with me. I-- I'm-- I appreciate that you offered. But I don't even know what I lost. And magic roses--"
There, he said it.
"--are a good distraction, I find."
And he just said that, too.
"Any time." His laughter does bring a small smile to her expression, though she knew what it was like in that state. Sometimes you just laughed to prevent yourself from crying. Eri's own shoes come off once indoors, and her school bag is put away in one of the same cubby holes. Not long after she's shedding the mittens, cap and scarf to the same place, and unbuttoning the overcoat given the warmth inside.
'Let's talk about roses.' Eri just sighed inwardly. She wanted to help him but, she couldn't talk about roses, not those roses, not the ones he wanted to know about not without revealing...
And then he says /that/, and she freezes in her motions of putting everything away briefly, as she reevaluates the word 'couldn't'. Once she had, she finishes what she's doing. Finally turning around and facing him, "Alright then, I'm not going to patronize you. But you first. Life as of late has decided to punish me for being a little too trusting." She gestures further into the stately library, lined with books, allowing Mamoru to choose a place where he'd feel comfortable talking in private.
Funny thing about that state, too. It's harder to talk about reasonable things, but easier to just sort of mentally go 'fuck it' and talk about things you maybe shouldn't.
But this was a premeditated talk. So it's not-- bad decision time. Right?
Mamoru gives Eri a quick, sidelong nod, then leads the way around and toward the windows, toward where there's a table by them, and they can look out at the darkening courtyard. He pulls out a chair for her, then reaches into his-- there's no room in that tailored uniform jacket for the rose he produces. But he does. It's not crushed, it's not stressed, and should she examine the end of the stem, it doesn't even look like it's been cut.
"I need," he says, handing it to Eri, "to go wash my face. I'll be right back."
He's giving her a chance to do Magic Science On It.
Him pulling out the seat for her now does bring a small smile back to her expression, as she seats herself, smoothing out her skirts. Which is when he produces the Rose.
It was hard not to feel a little spike of anger when she saw a flower that wasn't /planted/. And it shows. Perhaps he might recall her comment on beautiful corpses. But.. she keeps it carefully controlled at first as it's handed to her. And he moves to the restroom. Breathing out a sigh, she then gives the flower a second look. Which causes her to scoot up in her seat, adjusting her glasses.
Everything about it was perfect. There was no sign that it had wilted, or even suffered in the least for being uprooted. The stem was as rigid as an actual rose, perhaps even moreso. And then looking at the end of it, she traced her hand along the...
Then she looked straight at the stem, upwards. It hadn't been cut.
Thankfully magic science didn't require her to transform. All it required was empirical evidence. And the anatomy of this rose was /incredible/ to her. It's physiology would remain a complete mystery, though she toyed with some ideas in it's head. She'd left her book bag behind. So instead, she hurriedly went on a brief hunt for a pencil and paper, leading to her borrowing it from a group of students several tables over.
Not long after she she was sketching every detail of it skillfully on a piece of paper. Her depiction, as it took form was as perfect as one could get with pencil markings skritching across paper. And as she went, she was labelling each part. Anther, filaments, stigma, style. 'Ovaries'(?) that had a question mark since that part of the flower couldn't be seen by the naked eye without dissecting it. She was working on the sepals, peduncle, and hip, and hadn't quite gotten to the stem proper..
When the upperclassman finally comes back, he does look better. Composed. He's shut the inexplicable grief away; he can be productive again. There's nothing sneaky about the way he comes back to the table, but he also doesn't make a hell of a lot of noise. Just pulls out the chair opposite Eri, slides into it, and then leans on the table and props his chin, watching.
"You can keep it for however long it stays around," he says, only looking tired now, maybe a little wry, possessed of his usual omnidirectional affection. "I don't know how long that'll be. But now you can see why I wanted to know where something like that grows."
You know, there are a lot of things Eri could say right now when he returns to exaggerate her 'mad skillz' when it comes to botany and plants. But she wasn't like that. She valued truth, and understanding above all things, so when he offers that, she puts down her pencil briefly, looking up at him, and holding the rose up in front of her. "Honest answer? I don't know."
She turns the rose upside down, looking down its length again.
"What I did was alter existing roses to be reasonable facsimiles. I thought you were pulling a prank on me with photoshop, so I decided to return the favor. It wouldn't be the first time an upper classman decided to make fun of me for my passions, and I was in a bad place at the time. The reveal would happen, we'd get a good laugh and then we'd forget it ever happened." She then looks at him, "My apologies. I made too many assumptions. The fact of the matter is, I can create this. This exact rose." She holds up a hand to it, "...but due to how my magic works, if I conjured it, it would only last for a short time, like you're implying yours does. In order to make something permanent, and lasting, I have to alter something that already exists in nature, and it takes an atrocious amount of magic for even minor feats like that. I.." She looks chagrined, "..I can't really do that often, due to how my magic works."
She does hold up a hand, as if fearing his response, "But, by studying this, I may be able to eventually point you in the right direction to where it exists in nature. And I'll do that as recompense, if you want."
"That's-- that's all I'm looking for," says Mamoru, his eyes bright again. Bright and kind of soft, really. In danger of getting emotional again. He laughs a little, head down for a second to hide his face; he runs a hand through his hair and lets out a deep breath. "If I can get to that place..."
When he looks up again, he's wry, self-deprecating. "But it might not be a place in nature. It might not be anywhere at all anymore. They might be--"
The corner of his mouth turns down a little; he's still trying to smile, but it's an aching little thing. "Might be made of memory. Echoes. Of what, I don't know." He almost says something else, then swallows, hard, and looks away. "But I know it's important. If you can-- if you can find a place-- I'll pretty much owe you tutoring forever."
Eri Shimanouchi smiles as he speaks. It's not the self-confident, cheerful smile that one might expect. There's a timidity to it, of someone who'd just been hurt recently and is perhaps desperately afraid of having her almost naive trust broken, of being hurt by rejection. There are no signs of this in Mamoru Chiba, but that fear lingers.
When she speaks again, her voice is soft, and has a bit of that same wryness to it, "Might, might, might. But what if it does? It's okay to doubt, but don't lose hope and reject the possibility until you /know/. If you'd asked me a few months ago if monsters existed I probably would have laughed it off as an impossibility, now it's my every day. Perhaps it is the same way with roses, which are literally.." She airquotes with one hand, "..'special snowflakes' to us now, until we find a land where they're commonplace."
The last part has her laughing a little awkwardly, though she muffles it with her free hand, because it's a library, "Yeah? I might actually need that this next semester. I don't think I did as well as I usually do, because.. life happened. But whether or not we find it, I'm always willing to settle for a friend."
A land where they're commonplace.
Mamoru's thinking of the piano playing from less than an hour ago. Of what it evoked. Eri's laughing awkwardly, muffled, and continuing, but the older boy's expression is abstracted, his eyes distant like they were the other night, when Eri was helping Asagao pack. But this time instead of just distance, there's the sharp tang of Sehnsucht wreathed around his consciousness, showing in his face.
Where roses grow everywhere and the fields are gold and touch the bluest of blue skies--
Abruptly he focuses on Eri again, and Mamoru smiles lopsidedly, back in the present, the tangible and visible. He leans across the table a little, briefly reaches to put his hand around hers. "Friendship is precious, Eri-chan. It's not something to settle for."
He lets go, then, and sits back, reaching up to rub the back of his neck. Mamoru gives Eri a distinctly crooked grin. "And now that I've gotten emo and magic rose germs all over you, if you'd still like to be friends, then so would I."
That look isn't one quite as familiar to Eri. Though it might be, if she'd been looking in a mirror not long ago. Reminiscence was a powerful thing, even if you didn't know what you were reminiscing upon. As a soft susurrus of memories slips in and out Mamoru Chiba's mind, as ephemeral as smoke and sugar glass, she eventually quiets down.
Maybe she'd made a mistake, everyone as of late had told her she was too quick to trust, and here she was again, making the same mistake. Until Mamoru reaches across the table to lay a hand atop hers, showing her that she probably hadn't. There's a faint blush on her forehead and cheeks, though it isn't due to any sort of attraction to him this time, even if that certainly did exist, and he knew it, because that was just part of Mamoru's every day, being the handsome guy in the room; it was more a reaction to the comment, "Yeah, I guess that was..." She offers a lopsided smile, "..a really stupid and awkward thing for me to say."
But his final comment brings out light laughter from her again, which devolves into actual giggling, with her hand, still holding the rose covering her mouth. "Okay. First off, magic rose germs are the 'best' germs. And second, given how my life has been as of late, my tolerance for emo is pretty high. So yeah, I'd like that."