2014-04-23 - Master Trait: Heartbreaker

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Title: Master Trait: Heartbreaker

Mai has questions. Mamoru briefly fanboys, but is mostly varying shades of uncomfortable and dismayed.


Mai Tokiha, Mamoru Chiba


Ohtori campus

OOC - IC Date:

4 January 2014 - 4/23/14

<Pose Tracker> Mai Tokiha [Ohtori Academy (10)] has posed.

The moon is rising over Ohtori Academy, silhouetting its bizarre architecture in brilliant light. The dorms are quiet - people are either settling down by now, or still out enjoying life. Either way, it's a quiet moment on the paths leading up to the dorm buildings, with a bit of January snow dusting the grounds in purest white. Still, in spite of the cold, there are roses - hardy and plentiful, as always around the school.

Just off the path to the dormitories, sitting on a bench, is Mai Tokiha. Clad in leggings, her battered orange jacket, and a long scarf, she sits waiting. The roses don't stand out, the snow doesn't stand out, and her mind is on a few things - occasionally sorrow or annoyance flash on her face, betraying the thoughts within. Here, it's quiet and peaceful - and she can wait patiently for the one she messaged to arrived.

Well, mostly patiently.

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

There may, in that silvery light, be a sharply contrasted shadow in rather more lively motion than one might consider probable, given the silence of the evening.

It may only be imagination! After all, Mamoru Chiba isn't at all given to displays of kinetic expression, ever. And as he comes around the corner, framed by the dim grey gardens, where even the roses are cast in monochrome by the moonlight, it is obviously purely coincidence that he's taking headphones off.

It's also sure as hell it's chance that as he's hitting 'stop' on his phone's music player, the tinny beat coming from the little speakers matches the timing of his previously more active shadow's motion.

Either way, Mamoru wanders up the garden path with the look of a man whose heart is in his throat one second and on his sleeve the next. "Yo," he says, giving Mai a slightly wary smile as he brushes the snow off the other side of the bench, then flops down on it and jams his hands in his leather jacket's pockets. Jackass is wearing designer jeans. "What's up?"

<Pose Tracker> Mai Tokiha [Ohtori Academy (10)] has posed.

The thoughts of Mai Tokiha are deep indeed - but she hears Mamoru's music as he arrives. She looks up, briefly, to see if it's someone else entirely or the upperclassman she's waiting for - and there it is. Perfectly framed by moonlight and caught in a wondrous pose. Oddly enough, though, Mai doesn't find herself losing those precious seconds - maybe he's too far off, or maybe she's developing an immunity, or maybe it's just knowing that the man behind the tuxedo is a goofball.

That doesn't mean she's foolish enough to meet that gaze directly, though.

As Mamoru approaches, Mai leans back against the bench, looking up into the sky. Not many stars to be seen with the path's lamps blazing, but the moon is nice. Even if it has that bit of red near it. She doesn't say anything immediately when Mamoru sits - first taking in a deep breath. There's a few things she wants to talk to him about, some more cheerful than others, but the most relevant is weighing on her. "Good to see you, Chiba-san. You're friends with Eri-chan, right?"

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

The 'heart in throat' side weighs in, and slams the scale down. Something's wrong. All thoughts of his own happiness and worry, even the fact that his jacket still carries the faint scent of strawberry, fly straight out of his conscious awareness; he sits forward with his elbows on his knees, lacing his long-fingered hands beneath his chin and regarding Mai.

She's having to brace herself to say whatever it is.

Need to talk. Easiest to meet at Ohtori dorms - benches outside or rooftop, your pick.

need to talk

"I am," he allows, though it's cautious. "All things considered, we haven't been friends for very long." Since the week before finals, to be precise. "But longer than most. What's up?"

<Pose Tracker> Mai Tokiha [Ohtori Academy (10)] has posed.

Mai's web of relationships is sparse enough as things are - and meetings have been awkward enough that there's precious few people she knows who are friends with other people she knows. This might be one of the few exceptions - and so when Mamoru confirms that the connection is there, she lets out a sigh of relief. "I've only really gotten to know her better since Hokkaido, myself. So...I don't know how much you know, and I'm going to hold off spilling secrets as much as I can."

Mai takes a breath, turns to face Mamoru - and closes her eyes. It's contemplation, honest. "I'm worried about her. She's had to make sacrifices - ones I would have made in the same position. Things I almost wish I could have done. And..." Her face tightens, in pain and anger. "...it wasn't worth it. It's brought her pain, and she needs all the friends she has. I made sure she got to bed after supper, but..."

Why did she call Mamoru? If Mai's being honest...it was a few things, but one was to get his measure in person. She opens her eyes, and meets Mamoru's gaze with a fierce glare. "She speaks well of you, and she's hurting. I want to make sure you'll - that you're not going to abandon her like other people have."

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

The boy's expression twists a little as he listens, from worried to serious to something pinched and sympathetic. He doesn't move, but his breath clouds the air in front of him in the sparkling cold. And he really listens. It does seem to be something he's good at; even when Mai's not looking at him, his attention is a heavy thing, almost palpable when it's focused like this.

That ferocity hits an expression that's already pained, and Mamoru reacts with a gut-level protest, his whole being singing the tight reining in of horrified indignation. "Abandon her?" he repeats in a mixture of anger and distress, sitting up and crossing his arms, hugging them to his chest. "No. Fuck. No. I think-- I think I haven't been a very good friend. I think I didn't notice something I should have, when I was happy. I'm not used to--"

--being happy.

Having friends.

"You know. I'm sorry I didn't. I wish--" Mamoru puffs out a little sigh, then sits back in the bench, shoulders hunched. He grits his teeth for a second. The past is past. "Mai-chan, that is not something I would do. She didn't tell me anything about what happened, I only know she understands grief. I should have asked."

<Pose Tracker> Mai Tokiha [Ohtori Academy (10)] has posed.

Mai holds the glare even through Mamoru's distress, because she has to be sure - but when he sits back, she turns away and matches his pose - sitting back, shoulders hunched. Slowly, she shakes her head. "You told me, New Year's day, that you didn't feel normal? You at least have that excuse - I didn't notice either. Didn't notice, until I said the wrong thing when we were happily talking. Didn't realize something was wrong until she broke down in front of me - I think I'm probably worse, Chiba-san."

A sigh, as Mai's hands dig into the snow on her half of the bench - did she not clear it off before sitting? "...thank you. You're earnest, you're a good person, I just had to make sure. And no, you shouldn't have asked - some people hide our problems for a reason. Not wanting to burden people. And Eri-chan...she doesn't want to be a burden either."

Mai's head turns to face Mamoru again, a hint of that ferocity lingering there. "And you're not letting on that I told you about any of this - all I want to do is make sure that her friends are going to keep being friends."

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

Duly chastised by the use of a more formal address, Mamoru turns away too, his face a little red, and not just from the cold. But he's not lingering on his gaffe; there are far more important matters on the table.

He glances back when Mai's voice is pointed in his direction, and irritation transforms his face again. "I'm not a complete idiot," he retorts, scowling. He keeps his arms crossed for a second longer, then lets out a bigger sigh, unfolding to reach up and rub his face, run his hands through his hair. "And," he adds quietly, "I should have at least made the same offer. She asked me if I wanted to talk about something that had me really upset. She wasn't hurt when I declined. I wouldn't have been hurt if I asked and she declined. I should have made the offer. That's right, isn't it?"

He's asking, and he's just as earnest; the uncertainty on his face is clear. But then he shakes his head, quick and firm, and he doesn't look away again, just dismisses his concern. "But no. No. I won't tell anyone, least of all Eri-chan. It's not my place, anyway."

<Pose Tracker> Mai Tokiha [Ohtori Academy (10)] has posed.

"It's easier." Mai's expression is guilty, apologetic. "I'm sorry. But it's...easier to not talk about such serious matters. There's never a good time to bring them up, and you never want to burden your friends, and so things just build and build..." She shakes her head. "It's easier to just let things be, and be as supportive as you can. If you'd made the offer, given what was bothering her...I don't think she would have said anything." She's trying to be earnest in return, and meets his gaze. "Thank you. And I'm sorry for doubting you."

Mai closes her eyes, inhales deeply - and when she opens them again, it's with a bit of a smirk. "Though with that said, Chiba-san~" The formal address is said with a lilting, almost mocking tone, and Mai's voice is teasing again. "I might not have had to make sure if you hadn't run off in the middle of our last conversation. I had a couple of things I wanted to ask you, you know!"

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

Of course it's easier. It's been easier his whole life.

--when Mai very deliberately changes the tone of the conversation, Mamoru slowly lifts an eyebrow, then cants his head back to give her an arch look. "Cure Peace was there. I stopped being able to take myself seriously." There's a pause, and he glares. "Shut up."

There's a sniff of disdain as the boy looks away, but then he warily eyes her sidelong. "What questions? And you don't have to be so formal with me, Tokiha-san." Tone for tone, he can mock right back. There are reasons he has the reputation of kind of a jerk in some circles. He's not even displaying them.

<Pose Tracker> Mai Tokiha [Ohtori Academy (10)] has posed.

The tone shift was deliberate - and there's one last serious glance in there. But for now, at least, Mai's convinced Mamoru's being earnest regarding Eri. And frankly, that's all she could ask.

Of course, the chat with Eri reminded her of a few other things, and the other reason she wanted to catch Mamoru tonight. "Oh, what tragedy. The heroic Tuxedo Mask, driven off by an ice-cream-eating creampuff." She meets the glare with a distinct smirk. "And whyever not, Chiba-san~? After all, you're my upperclassman, and a dashing heroic hero by night. Isn't that worthy of some respect?"

...Mai might have a bit of a reputation herself. She's grinning again at his mild glare - and then she gets a little more serious. Just a touch. Well, not openly mocking, anyway. "It was about New Year's - you mentioned that you got everything you could possibly hope for for one perfect moment, or something like that." There's curiosity in her tone - she's got at least some interest in this answer. "What were you talking about?"

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

"If you're going to ask me personal questions, Tokiha-san," Mamoru says with an approximate ocean of snark, leaning toward Mai so he can glare even better-- but then slouching back and simply looking somewhat peeved, "the least you can do is do it under the aegis of friendship."

His mouth twitches at the corner as he tries to maintain this aggravation.

Failure. Poor Mai just asked him about his favorite subject.

"Sailor Moon! I got to really help her! And she was so good-- she was so perfect when it came right down to it! I mean, she had a lot of people worried, I could see it. Especially after that wolf and the depressing singers-- but she rallied and kicked all kinds of butt with that stupid troll! She even caught me when I fell, before you brought your dragon! And at the end-- when we all hit it at once--"

His face is shining. It's shining. His enthusiasm's so bright he's talking with his hands.

"When everyone hit it and it was like the fireworks started early and trailed off into the real fireworks-- right before I passed out-- we were..."

Suddenly he falters and looks away, grinning. His jacket smells faintly of strawberries, and Luna's all right with him, and


between the ticks of a pocketwatch

between heartbeats

the clarity steals his breath

"Everything was perfect."

<Pose Tracker> Mai Tokiha [Ohtori Academy (10)] has posed.

This is the world of snark and sass - Mai's weapon and armor against the world. Even as Mamoru glares and glowers, she's just shy of grinning - it's a question of who's going to cave first.

The answer, today, appears to be 'Mamoru'. He starts gushing about Sailor Moon, and even Mai can't help but be enthused - she's seen the heroine a few times, now. Fighting with love and justice, making speeches that are actually inspirational, an actual heroine. Caught up in that enthusiasm, even the off-hand mention of Kagutsuchi can't dim Mai's mood.

After all - Mamoru Chiba is shining with enthusiasm! Besides which, this is Mai's first time hearing about how everything ended - she'd been focused on keeping Kagutsuchi's aim on the right target, and she exhausted herself in those final moments. Though it does help to here that Mamoru passed out too...

'We were...Everything was perfect.'

Mamoru looks away with a happy grin, that smell of strawberries in the air, and a suspicion fills Mai's heart. A look of worry on her face, when he's not looking - and then the appearance of the grin from before. "Sounds like you've fallen in love...Chiba-kun." A slight lilt at the end, a slight tease.

Does it count as a lost chance if you'd never hoped for it?

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

Abruptly Mamoru's blushing enough for the color differential to be visible even in the moonlight. He steadfastly looks away--

--for all of two seconds.

Then he suddenly turns, processing the tonal change of Mai's speech: that was less enthusiastic than her face was while he was watching her, that was less of a tease than Eri was giving him, even. He searches the girl's face, hand moving automatically to reach for hers, but he catches himself before it gets very far.

And he backs away a little, emotionally if not physically. He's already a seat away from her. "Yeah Eri-chan and her friend were saying the same thing. I don't know. Maybe? She's very inspiring."

<Pose Tracker> Mai Tokiha [Ohtori Academy (10)] has posed.

That backfired horribly - it was easy to give a bit of light teasing when Mamoru was looking away, but when he's looking directly at Mai...he's caring, and good-looking, and honestly more heroic a person than she could ever hope to be.

Why even think about it? Work, school, the hospital, her duties as a HiME...Mai's too busy to think about romance, right? Not worth thinking about. Not worth hoping for. So - be happy for her friend, who might be luckier in love. Be happy for someone else. Even if he seems to care...

but then Mamoru pulls back. Perhaps already won over, whatever his words actually say. So Mai does her best to smile. "Well, I don't have much experience there myself - but she's very heroic from what I've seen. If she's as fond of you as you sound to be of her, then it might be a good match!"

And then she grins, and her hand darts out to poke Mamoru - hard - in his leather-clad chest. "Though I certainly hope I don't need to remind you to be a gentleman!"

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

There's an echo of Eri's reaction in Mai's-- she said she was happy for him, and her face looked a little like that. Had the same lack of overwhelmingness in her enthusiasm.

Mamoru doesn't know what he said.

He doesn't know what he said to Eri, either.

The eleventh-grader smiles uncertainly after a second, half-willing to go along with it-- after all that talk of not wanting to be a burden, of wanting to keep troubles private, he's hesitant to cross a line, to ask. She's lying to him, but it's to protect herself. Her feelings. He jams his hands in his jacket pockets.


Looking entirely offended, Mamoru leans back and away from Mai, knocking at her arm with his elbow. "Hey! That hurt! I don't think she likes me like that. I teased her an awful lot, still kind of do. It's hard not to, when it's so easy to get a rise out of her."

He stops leaning away, straightening up and eyeing Mai. "What did I say?" he finally asks.

<Pose Tracker> Mai Tokiha [Ohtori Academy (10)] has posed.

Mai just grins. A weakness, in the perfect Tuxedo Mask! As for him and Sailor Moon...well, see what happens. No time for romance for Mai anyway, she'll just have to live vicariously through others. "Well, that's kind of the point - it's a reminder, to make sure you don't forget!"

Her cheer isn't as hollow, now - though she backs off from the assault, and folds her arms with a smirk. "Well, I can't go telling you how to go about your romancing, Chiba-san." Even though she just did. After a moment more of the teasing smirk, though, Mai calms down.

She does, however, try her best to keep up the smile. "In all honesty? It's less what you said, and more how you said it. You sound excited to know her, like she's the best thing in your life. You get lost in thought just thinking about her. Honestly - " A bit more lightheartedness to her tone, again. " - you sound kind of sappy. And in all honesty, after getting to know you I think you're just someone who's fun to tease right back."

After a moment of that not-quite-mocking cheer, Mai leans back against the bench with a sigh. "...just between us, that's something Eri-chan's wondering about. She wants to find someone who will think of her like that, and she's worried she won't get the chance." She looks at Mamoru again - taking a long look at that earnest, perfect face. One that - honestly - belongs to someone else. "That's another lesson for you - a girl's heart is delicate."

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

It's a whole combination of things: Mai's changing body language, her shifts in expression and tone and level of kinetic engagement with the conversation, the subject matter, the things that caused the sudden imbalances in the feel of the conversation-- and her insistence on keeping the formality of his family name--

--they don't add up to what would be clear to a lot of girls and some guys. But they do add up to an almost obvious, in retrospect, desire on Mai's part to keep a certain distance.

He's very good at hiding hurt.

Luckily, it's even easier for him, because Mai goes back to talking about Eri, and then she's talking about girls' hearts being delicate and he goes from mild dismay to mild confusion. "I'm sure she'll find someone like that, she's a very caring person. And if someone hurts her and she keeps it from me but tells you, let me help you beat them up. But-- why do I need that lesson?"

<Pose Tracker> Mai Tokiha [Ohtori Academy (10)] has posed.

Mai is keeping her distance - emotionally and physically. The former more than the latter, in all honesty - she's still comfortable with the idea of jabbing Mamoru in the chest. And looking at Mamoru's earnest expression doesn't help - that look of dismay and then confusion has her a little uncomfortable. But...there's a couple of important things to address there, and Mai looks down. "...someone has. But neither of us get to do anything to him until Eri-chan has decided what she wants to do." Her hands, come to rest on her legs, tighten into fists. "But you're right - she's a caring person, she's a good person, I'm just going to do what I can to support her. Play the role of the helpful big sister." She looks up at Mamoru again, and smiles.

And then laughs, because his confused expression is so goofy and it seems like he honestly doesn't know. Mai brushes off her legs without saying anything, stands up, walks around to face Mamoru directly. From this angle, the moonlight hits him just right...

...Sailor Moon is a great heroine and very lucky.

"You want to know why, Chiba-san?" Mai's position has the moon mostly behind her, shadowing her face just enough to hide any redness - and her hand darts out again to jab him in the chest. Her voice is - while mostly serious - coloured with just a hint of her sometimes sass. "I'm certainly hoping this isn't intentional on your part, because if it is I might have to hurt you. Frankly, every other moment you look like some perfect model. Even without taking the tuxedo into account, you look good. And honestly it's been a distracting, tumultuous couple of days just trying to converse with you. So!"

Mai starts to jab again - thinks better of it, and holds up one finger instead. "I...have too much in my life to think about romance right now. I'm saying this to you so I know it - that I wish you all the best with Sailor Moon, or whoever else you choose - but I have to bow out of whatever contest is going to erupt over you." Now, the hand darts out to jab at him again. "And I'm going to keep an eye on you to make sure you don't go breaking any hearts by accident, understood?"

She folds her arms with a huff...and then everything she's just said sinks in. Even in the shadow, the redness can be seen. "...anywayIhavetocheckonMikotobye" and she darts for the dorm entrance.

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

Mamoru starts to ask something-- in all likelihood 'can you get me in on that beatdown when she says it's okay' because he really does--

--feel like a

big brother


Wide-eyed, the seventeen-year-old stares up at Mai. He's already blushing, he's already uncomfortable, and he goes from even more confused to even more uncomfortble when she says the word 'model' for some reason, and then he's very red, even in the moonlight, and he looks absolutely stricken. He doesn't even protest the jabbing, even though goddammit it does hurt, he just rolls back a little with it each time.

He's about to open up his mouth to stammer something or other, and then Mai implodes and runs away.

For a second, Mamoru sits there and watches Mai run off, eyes still wide and face frozen in shock and the current inability to process all the implications.

Feeling a little sick, face burning, the boy slowly picks himself up off the bench.

The wind blows through the deserted Ohtori gardens, kicking up the fresh powdery snow, moonlight sparkling off it and obscuring details. There's a brief flash of darkness in the middle of the glimmering light, and Tuxedo Kamen doesn't leave footprints leading away from the bench.

When the snow settles back down, it's like neither of them was ever there.