2014-04-17 - His Face Froze That Way

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Title: His Face Froze That Way

It's the New Year. Mamoru has no idea what to do with this much happiness.


Mamoru Chiba, Eri Shimanouchi, Ikiko Hisakata


Linden Baum Diner

OOC - IC Date:

1 January 2014 - 4/17/14

<Pose Tracker> Mamoru Chiba [Ohtori Academy (11)] has posed.

It's roughly 12:45a on New Year's Day; partying people are still in the thick of their parties, illegal fireworks still go off here and there; the streets are alive with joy and wonder and hope, and restaurants that are normally closed by now are still open to cater to late-night seekers of food and come-downs.

It's roughly forty-five minutes after a host of mahou shoujo quite literally saved the new year.

It's only about half an hour since Chiba Mamoru stopped wandering in a half daze, de-henshined and floating through the celebrating crowds like a leaf on a slow-moving stream, only dimly aware of the people and held aloft by the sheer happy energy radiating from the very streets upon which they walk and dance and run.

He's been in the Linden Baum for about fifteen minutes, completely preoccupied, unable to stop smiling. Makes it a little hard to eat the cupcakes he bought, but he can sip his hot chocolate with impunity. The mug doesn't care if he suddenly grins again.

<Pose Tracker> Eri Shimanouchi [Ohtori Academy (8)] has posed.

Like many others of the supernatural community, Eri had felt the loss of the gem. Like others she showed up amongst the listless crowd of those who should be celebrating.

'We have to go help Pop~pyoko! And save the New Year~pyoko!' Eri saw the frog fairy, heard it's call from a distance, fidgeted as she checked her soul gem. More than half of it was swirling with dark mist.

'How long do you think you're gonna live fighting with a half dirty gem?' A voice mocked her. One grief seed left. But she wasn't Mami, or Kyouko, or Homura she felt barely competent. She didn't even have territory of her own yet, couldn't replenish her magic as easily. With a heavy heart, she'd turned and walked away, hands in her overcoat pockets.

Flash forward to a few hours later, as the bells of the Linden Baum tingled. She'd taken care of her problem temporarily, the New Year had come, and that feeling that something had missing had vanished. They had handled it on their own, so why did she feel so terrible?

At this hour the Linden Baum was of the 'seat yourself' environment, so she grabbed a menu and ambled down one of the rows of booths, before she spied terrible, dark, and handsome... SMILING?!? The sight of him caused her to double take before she smiled herself, planting down both hands on the table not too far away from his side as she stated, "Happy New Year Mamoru-kun~" She spoke it in a sing song voice, giggling a little. "Ehehe, has the spirit of the season gotten to you after all?"

<Pose Tracker> Ikiko Hisakata [Juuban Public School (5)] has posed.

In the crowds, an elementary schooler makes her way along with a small yawn. After helping save the New Year as CuteWolf Tsukiko, Ikiko Hisakata had de-henshined and checked in with some of the local strays, to make sure they were doing alright with the fireworks and the noise and whatnot.

Now, she feels like it's a good time to head home and get some much-needed sleep, especially after the tough battles in the Bad End lands. Almost overdue sleep, given that she had to borrow then-current recovery for now-soon exhaustion, but one thing calls out first:

A bite to eat, and something to drink - saving the world is hungry work, especially when you watch a magical chef in action.

And so she walks into the Linden Baum Diner. Ah, the smell of food, the warmth, the... raffle co-winner talking to some guy grinning like a loon. "Hi Eri!" Ikiko waves, heading towards the table.

<Pose Tracker> Mamoru Chiba [Ohtori Academy (11)] has posed.

As soon as Eri calls out his name, Mamoru's gaze snaps up from the apparently cheer-making tabletop and he focuses on her, and immediately blushes all over again. "I-- I don't-- I mean--" he stammers, then laughs a little nervously, blue eyes glancing away, "yeah. You could say that."

He looks up at her again, and then he's just grinning all over again. He can't stop. "Some things... happened. That were amazing. And there was a dragon. And-- it was so perfect. And everything was beautiful. And everything is beautiful. I can't-- even. Eri-chan--"

And then he registers the fact that an adorable kid's on her way over, calling out to Eri, and he beams at her. "Hey, you're friends? Let me treat you guys to whatever. I'm just-- the cakes are amazing."

<Pose Tracker> Eri Shimanouchi [Ohtori Academy (8)] has posed.

Eri giggles again, her eyes dancing with mirth. She holds up a single hand, the other remaining fastened to the table, "Okay! Slow down, slooowww down! Tell me /everything/!" She isn't even acting facetious, more like entranced by the moment. "Wow, you either had the adrenaline rush of a lifetime or you're in love. I'm going to assume the former since a dragon is involved.. unless.."

But in that pause her train of thought is lost as she waves at Ikiko, "Hey Ikiko-chan!" Eri didn't know her well, but she loved hanging with elementary schoolers, "Come on over! Join us!" Eri shifted to scoot into her side of the booth grinning at Mamoru, "Hey thanks! Haven't really gotten the chance to celebrate the night yet!"

<Pose Tracker> Ikiko Hisakata [Juuban Public School (5)] has posed.

Dragon? Ikiko headtilts slightly at this. Well, there was... nah, surely not; probably just a coincidence. It's unlikely this guy was there...

...although there /was/ a guy there, wasn't there?

She gives her head a brief "snap out of it" shake as she sits down next to Eri. "Hi, Eri-chan! Is this a friend of yours?" Turning to the grinning Mamoru, she gives a friendly smile. "Hi! My name's Ikiko Hisakata; nice to meet you!"

<Pose Tracker> Mamoru Chiba [Ohtori Academy (11)] has posed.

"I-- I don't even know where to start--" laughs Mamoru helplessly, putting his cocoa down and waving his hands, then picking it up again, then putting it down again. He briefly puts his face in his hands, covering the red-- but it only gets worse, and he looks up to Eri with a sort of shocked expression.

Answer: yes, to both. Obviously. Just not necessarily to the almost offensively handsome high-schooler.

"No it's nothing like-- I mean-- yes, the first. The former. It-- yes, adrenaline rush! With-- a dragon made of-- ...fireworks. And... uh-- but I-- she--" That would be a mixture of reactions, there. The first set of hesitations is closer to tripping over words; the second set's entirely the worst lying in the entire world. The third? Desperately fishing for anything else to talk about, then realizing talking about the first thing that comes to mind falls under 'gentlemen don't kiss and tell'.


Levying the world's most grateful look on the fifth-grader, he gives her a slight bow, then smiles again and it's all over his face, in his eyes, because he can't shake the feeling and doesn't want to. "Mamoru Chiba. It's a pleasure to meet you, too, Hisakata-san! How's your New Year's Eve been?"

<Pose Tracker> Eri Shimanouchi [Ohtori Academy (8)] has posed.

Mamoru Chiba is definitely blushing. That alone gave credence to one theory over the other, even if she hadn't quite connected that neither are mutually exclusive. And before she sat down, she had a sort of dreamy look over her face, as she did when the thoughts of romance crossed her mind. There was a reason why Eri was a somewhat-secret Otome dating sim fanatic, for the ones that ended in true love. And there's a 'she' in there, so Eri's smile became a touch lopsided. She listed to him ramble on for a bit, before she made another motion with her hand as if to say slooowwww down. "Alright. Mamoru-kun. I'm in friend mode right now. That means I'm not going to be a nag, or a tease, or embarrass you in front of anyone. So you can take your time and tell me what you want to when you're ready. Or don't. Your secrets are safe with me, but I'm not going to be upset if you wanna keep some to yourself."

But then CUTE WOLF TSUKIKO RESCUES him from further awkward, and as Eri scoots into the booth, and allows Ikiko in, she grins back at her, "Wow, you must have like the best parents, Ikiko-chan. I wasn't given permission to be out this late on holidays until I hit middle school!"

<Pose Tracker> Ikiko Hisakata [Juuban Public School (5)] has posed.

Ikiko contemplates how to answer Mamoru's question. Outright lying doesn't seem right, which leaves...

Vague truth. "Busy and tiring," she admits with a weary smile. "I... had a bunch of stuff I had to get done with friends to get ready for the celebration." Quite an understatement, but it's true, and more importantly - it shouldn't seem unusual to any mundanes.

And speaking of carefully told truths... "The Hisakata family tradition encourages responsibility and maturity, Eri-chan, and gives permissions as you prove you've earned them." The fact that she technically /doesn't/ have permission to be out this late is, however, omitted.

<Pose Tracker> Mamoru Chiba [Ohtori Academy (11)] has posed.

"I'm just happy," the tall boy admits, returning Eri's smile and slouching down in the booth a little further, but not so far as to make his knees a problem. "Everything worked so well. Everyone gave it their all. Everyone's hearts were in it."

He's still a little flushed, but Eri's assurance that she won't poke into details has relieved the nervous tension, at the very least. But-- it's still, he's still practically radiating the joy the Jewel of Beginnings and the whole triumph of the night brought.

He turns around in his side of the booth a little so he can lean against the wall and take up more of the seat, then nods quickly to Ikiko; he also reaches over to slide Eri's menu over to the elementary schooler. "But it was a good celebration? For all the work you did-- it was worth it?"

<Pose Tracker> Eri Shimanouchi [Ohtori Academy (8)] has posed.

"It's a great feeling, isn't it?" And fleeting, the more cynical side of Eri in chibi form stated internally. Her romantic side also chibified was currently throwing that side of her in a lake. The cynical side was shrieking as she was now soaked and freezing cold. Her imagination was kind of eccentric sometimes. "And you all saved the New Year as a result." She still felt a little pang of guilt for not taking part, but Eri wanted to live. And she couldn't live by ignoring reality. "Pretty amazing what you can accomplish by everyone putting their whole heart into it."

Nodding to Ikiko once she was settled, she states, "Well I hope you were having fun doing it. You know, the New Year just doesn't seem special unless you're spending it with people you care about." Now her optimistic side was dunking cynical chibi-Eri back in a lake before she could bite off another comment. She nods with a grin, "Dang, I wish my parents had been 'like that' when I was your age, but then again I kind of never went out anywhere except school and club activities until like.." There's a notable pause, "...this year."

<Pose Tracker> Ikiko Hisakata [Juuban Public School (5)] has posed.

Half a moment to think of the quest to rescue the Jewel of Beginnings, and- "Yes," Ikiko nods to Mamoru, a resolute expression on her face. Saving the world? Protecting the happiness of everyone? Always worth it.

She nods to Eri as well. "It was tough at times, but worth it," the 5th grader agrees. She browses through the menu, thinking about what to get. Nothing too big; she mostly just needs a snack, and it also wouldn't be polite to Chiba-san. A cupcake might be good, with a cup of cocoa to go with...

...wait, did Eri just mention Mamoru /saving/ the New Year? With others?

Ikiko glances over the top of the menu at the older boy. She can't quite place him, not yet, but two coincidental things? Hmmm...

<Pose Tracker> Mamoru Chiba [Ohtori Academy (11)] has posed.

"It is," Mamoru answers Eri's first question, feeling out of breath, eyes shining. He sits up a little, and reaches across the table-- he did it once before, when Eri was nervous of herself and as upset as he was; he briefly puts his hand over hers. Physical contact. But this time, some of his joy comes with it. This time, he's full to brimming with all things positive, and it spills over, and she'll get--

Energy. Emotions. Images. She'll get little pieces, snapshots, of moments and feelings and sense impressions and sights. And warmth, and overwhelming pride, and awe. Happiness, shared.

"I don't remember the last time I ever felt like this. Like everything's just-- right." And then he slips his hand away and bursts out laughing at a joke in his own head, because that is precisely the kind of nerd he is. "Like everything's coming up roses!"

Then he moves to clap his hands lightly on the tabletop in front of Ikiko, obviously socially unsure of what to do with all this emotional energy because he's acting like a kid. "Epic!" he tells her enthusiastically, "it was epic! And so is the chocolate cake! There's real fudge frosting and it's fresh and I'm sorry I'm just going on and on--"

<Pose Tracker> Eri Shimanouchi [Ohtori Academy (8)] has posed.

Touch. Contact. It's sort of a puzzling thing for her at first, the context. Obviously it wasn't romantic, she could figure out that much, but it still caused the chain reaction of coloring Eri's nose and cheeks a little that it was happening in front of the fifth grader. And then she feels it. It's sort of like just this warm fuzzy feeling at her fingertips at first. Almost like a nerve impulse that is travelling upwards, except instead of pain, it's sort of like happiness itself was transmitted. It causes her expression to screw up into a sort of bemused and befuddled look.

Until it hit her right smack dab in the brain, or the heart or the very soul. Joy, burning, and fierce. Next came the images, even if they were translated more into emotions and energy, than actual memories. Little tiny images, pieces, snapshots of a life not her own. Happiness, pride, all of those things that living should feel like.

And then the contact slips away, and she so desperately wants to grasp it again, to feel those things, to live them vicariously through another person again. This is how living should feel like. And yet for all of that happiness, and wonder, and joy she felt..

But it was not her life. And what he had done had temporarily allowed her to have that side of her that she'd been desperately trying to regain for nearly a month. The ability to feel happy, cheerful, content, and proud of what she did. Part of her felt angry at him for doing it to her, part of her felt sad knowing how far she had sunk since she first saw Kyubey draw out that shining, radiant gem that had been so beautiful, and despite the pain, she had reached up towards it, believing 'This is mine. This is something that allows me to be part of something special. Something greater than just myself.' That gem had never seemed so beautiful, ever again. Certainly not when she lay dying in an alleyway, pierced by countless crossbow bolts. Certainly not when the person whom she had given her wish unto had banished her from his home. And yet she knew he didn't know, as he was ignorant of these facts. He possibly didn't even know how he did it, much less what he had done.

And so as he retracts his hand, all of these feelings and thoughts just pass in one heartbeat, then two. As she kind of places a hand up to her forehead, as if holding up what she was thinking in and of itself was some massive weight. And then her eyes begin to well up. But as they mist, she draws a hand across them, as if nonchalantly trying to get something out of her eye. And perhaps at that moment she knew what Nanoha had always told her. Sometimes you just have to smile, no matter how you feel, just not to burden the people you care about even if it is a lie. And so she did. Eri felt like a liar. A huge liar, for trying to conceal her feelings. And yet she would not ruin this night for him. "Everything's coming up roses, eh?" She even grinned at him a little, like it was some private joke. "I'm happy for you, Mamoru-kun. Maybe it'll be a good New Year for us all." Liar.

"But come on, your night can't /really/ compare to fresh chocolate cake with fudge. That's cake treason." She even points a finger at him, joking, lying. "You cake traitor."

She nudges Ikiko, "Don't you agree, Ikiko-chan?"

<Pose Tracker> Mamoru Chiba [Ohtori Academy (11)] has posed.

He has no idea how he does it. He has no idea what he just did to Eri, either, but--

--he also knows he can do things no one else can do. Mamoru's just completely unaware of what kind of response it can elicit, because he's walled himself off physically and emotionally for so long, it's never come up.

He's also used to seeing people cry when they're happy, so nothing really even looks off-- and Eri's a good actress. So the eleventh-grader flashes another full and honest smile at her, then laughs. "Cake traitor?! Hardly! At least three amazing cooks were there, and their hearts were all in it-- Mami was there, have you ever had her cakes?"

Waving his hands, Mamoru picks up one of his cupcakes, then slides the plate to the middle of the table since neither of the girls has ordered anything yet. And he picks up his hot chocolate! And then




All of a sudden, the older boy's blushing all over again. "N-no, don't be ridiculous. What makes you think that??"

<Pose Tracker> Eri Shimanouchi [Ohtori Academy (8)] has posed.

Eri is not a good actress. She's totally overplaying her role. <3 But as he laughs, she returns the grin, trying not to add to the angst from the mention of Mami, "Oh yeah, I've had one of Mami-senpai's cakes before. She is really amazing in every way."

Ikiko asks her question. To divert Eri from angst, she imagines the following. A. Mamoru Chiba is a character in a dating sim. B. That Ikiko is the protagonist selecting from a list of options in response to the conversation.

1 - He is totes a Cake Traitor Eri-chan.
2 - Mmm, Fudge!
3 - Your eyes are just so dreamy Mamoru-kun!
(4)- Are you in love?

Already she could see the still image of tall, dark, and handsome upperclassman friend shifting into a still image of him blushing. Mamoru Chiba: "N-no, don't be ridiculous. What makes you think that??"

In her head, Eri playfully thinks, 'Amateur' when it comes to Ikiko's skill at life as a dating sim. You don't just come out and ask that! But she wasn't really being depreciating to the girl. It was a little funny, and she was affectionate for her besides, as she was most elementary schoolers. And it was pretty obvious now, given his reaction. Eri thinks on it for a while, before she laughs at Ikiko. "Oh come on Ikiko-chan. Finding love on New Years only happens in like Shoujo manga! It's a really romantic thought though, isn't it?"

<Pose Tracker> Ikiko Hisakata [Juuban Public School (5)] has posed.

Ikiko claps a hand to her mouth, barely covering her grin. "You are! You're /totally/ in love!" she giggles. There's no malice to it; her voice instead hints at the teasing encouragement that someone supportive gives.

She nods to Eri. "Very romantic!" she agrees. "Especially if there was a tender kiss, or perhaps even some flowers-!"

...why are roses coming to mind?

<Pose Tracker> Mamoru Chiba [Ohtori Academy (11)] has posed.

Oh, now, Mamoru just hides behind his coffee. So red. So, so, red. "I am not," he insists. "It was just a very exciting night! And the whole coming year really will be good--"

--unless one should ask, say, Homura--

"--because... because all the hope was given back! And people need hope, and they need dreams, and they need people they care about, and who care about them, and-- and-- yes flowers too! Wait. What."

A tender kiss. Some flowers.

Mamoru really cannot actually shrink. He's too tall. He can only bunch up on his side of the booth so much. He sips his coffee and wishes he could hide in a shadow right now. But he's also grinning like an idiot again. Trying NOT TO. Failing. "Eat some cupcakes, for crying out loud!"

<Pose Tracker> Eri Shimanouchi [Ohtori Academy (8)] has posed.

Trying to ask if someone got a tender kiss is sort of a rules' violation even if you're trying to be supportive. Even Eri, who was terrible with social rules outside of dating sims, knew that one. So she doesn't comment on that, even if the romantic in her was picturing it.

"Only if those flowers are planted." She says with all seriousness. Eri hated killing flowers for purposes of love. Eri didn't mention the other exception of roses which were so magical that they didn't need to be planted, because 'come on'. She does not spoil secrets like that. "But I personally think forget-me-nots would be rather romantic."

But it was that one chain of rambling commentsfrom him that caused her eyes to mist up again, taking her off guard, like a sucker punch. And she wipes her hand across her eyes, dabbing it, and whispering almost inaudibly, "Yes they do."

But she composes herself just as Mamoru is talking about cupcakes. And Eri just cannot resist teasing any longer. She is after all, an adolescent girl. And so she responds in a tone dripping with solemnity, "If you insist. Then we shall eat the cupcakes. However, in honor of your vanquished face, we will need red velvet, or blush."

<Pose Tracker> Ikiko Hisakata [Juuban Public School (5)] has posed.

Ikiko's giggling has quieted down into a bright grin as she reaches for an offered cupcake. A stunned expression crosses her face as she bites into the cupcake. The cupcake is *incredibly delicious* and possibly the best she's ever tasted...

...but that's not why the stunned expression.

Dragon. The lone guy. Saving the New Year. A romantic kiss. Roses.


The Jewel of Beginnings.

She looks at Mamoru as she slowly chews on the cupcake. The evidence all seems to point the same way; there is simply too much in common to be mere coincidence. She swallows the bite of cupcake, a thoughtful look on her face...

"Thank you for the cupcake, Chiba-san!" she says with a happy smile. It's not her place to directly ask about his magical identity; rather, it's his secret to reveal at his own choosing.

Instead, Ikiko takes another bite of the cupcake - it /is/ tasty, after all.

<Pose Tracker> Mamoru Chiba [Ohtori Academy (11)] has posed.

"No way!" Mamoru's face is covered by his hands again, but he's laughing-- laughing at himself, at Eri's being terrible, and out of the emotion rush he's still experiencing. "You did not just say that! Okay-- okay-- I am out of here." He takes his hands from his red red face and slides out of the booth, fumbling in his jacket pocket, and taking his wallet out. He can't look at either of them for a second, but slides a bill across the table. "Here, don't forget to leave a tip."

Brief, smiling look at Ikiko. "You're entirely welcome. You two have a good night, and a happy New Year." The last is addressed to them both, and moving seems to be helping him regain his composure-- there's nothing graceless in his departure, and the blush is at least fading--

--but he's not gonna be able to get rid of that grin for days.