2014-04-25 - Before the Dawn

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Title: Before the Dawn

After his emo rollercoaster conversation and caustic kiss with Shiori, Mamoru was going to go to bed-- but if he's truly exhausted before he sleeps, he might not dream. The last thing he wants to do is dream. The second to last thing he wants to do is meet anyone else tonight. He should know better: Princess Runealy is looking for him. Luckily, she doesn't want to kiss or kill him! Unluckily, he cán't entirely tell. Luckily, she's very forgiving! Things may be looking up.


Princess Runealy, Tuxedo Mask


Asakusa Traditional District

OOC - IC Date:

4 January 2014 - 4/25/14

<Pose Tracker> Tuxedo Mask [Ohtori Academy (11)] has posed.

They say it's darkest before the dawn.

That's something Mamoru Chiba's counting on, as he sits on the edge of a rooftop on the west bank of the Sumida, looking east and watching the stars fade. The moon's been down for over an hour, and he'd be nearly impossible to see were it not for the glimmer of his pointed white mask, reflecting city lights from across the river.

Tuxedo Mask is alone, and tomorrow-- if he can get past the nightmares-- tomorrow he intends to be more alone yet. Books are uncomplicated. Hiking doesn't judge. Trees don't hate themselves. The cold winter earth respects personal space.

<Pose Tracker> Princess Runealy [Ohtori Academy (7)] has posed.

Runealy stands out against the darkness, her boot-wings lighting up every few seconds to 'boost' her jumps from roof to roof. There's a good chance Tuxedo Mask will notice this, as each leap is accompanied by a trail of blue-silver sparkles that make it very clear where she came from and where she's going.

For a while, her path seems effectively random. She'll land on one roof and look around for a few seconds, then shake her head and leap to the next one. This process repeats several times... and then she notices that tiny speck of white. The effect is immediate: Rune abruptly turns toward it, and each leap brings her one rooftop closer to Tuxedo Mask. Her eyes are narrowed with focus, yet the princess' hands are empty as her wand is stowed behind-back.

<Pose Tracker> Tuxedo Mask [Ohtori Academy (11)] has posed.

Oh that sparkle certainly does catch Tuxedo Mask's attention-- and he glances thataway, and his eyes widen in alarm. Whoever she is, she's beelining toward him; he remembers having seen her in some of the bigger fights, and always on the same side as he and his friends have been, but that doesn't mean he's safe.

In a flash he's on his feet, all fifty bajillion meters of him, and he does a quick scan behind him and to his sides, making sure he's got at least a few clear exit routes available. Being friendly's not safe, being rude's not safe, being gone just means getting chased-- he should have been sitting on a parkbench down below, wearing anything but a magic tuxedo. Too late now.

Standing tall even without his hat, Tuxedo Kamen awaits his new doom with the dignity of the princely damned.

<Pose Tracker> Princess Runealy [Ohtori Academy (7)] has posed.

Runealy hurries once she's spotted, taking less time to recover from each jump. She knows that gaze, it's the look of someone who is probably paying attention and might be weighing a lot of options. Once closer, she holds up an open palm in a 'stop' gesture to plead for his patience, to pick something other than 'fight or flight.' ...Not that he seems to be running much right now.

One more leap, and she lands on his roof. "I've been looking for you! And a few other people too, but especially you." If those words seem confrontational or angry, any edge to them quickly fades. Rune's tone softens and her eyes are no longer narrowed. "This is going to sound weird, but can we talk? For even a few minutes? There's something I'd like to know."

<Pose Tracker> Tuxedo Mask [Ohtori Academy (11)] has posed.

Impassively, the tall boy in the mask and cape watches Runealy finish her approach, braced to dodge if she's planning on barrelling into him-- and only relaxing very slightly when she doesn't, when she stops with a decent amount of space between the two of them.

His mouth twists downward at the start of her appeal, rushed and almost hostile as it begins, then flattens out; the 'can we talk', an echo of something someone else asked him near the start of the evening, makes him stiffen a little bit. But, "Okay," he says laconically, not moving.

<Pose Tracker> Princess Runealy [Ohtori Academy (7)] has posed.

Runealy's head lowers for just long enough to catch her breath. "Thank you." Tuxedo Mask seems so guarded and tense, and even with his agreement to talk she's very careful to keep her hands by her sides... no reaching for wands. "You're kind of incredible, you know. You look like... like an officer or minister or someone else who has a lot of important things on their mind." His attire is strange by her standards, but some aspects of class and elegance are shared regardless of what fashion is like in one region compared to another.

"You're that distinct, but I don't even know your name. Before I say anything else, could you tell me who you are... or at least how I should address you?" Rune stands almost rigid, consciously trying to avoid idle movement that might spook Tuxedo Mask. Yet unlike some of her peers, the princess can't make this look effortless or 'cool'; he might see a little fidgeting, and little signs in her tone of voice could also suggest he may have the advantage here as far as posture goes.

<Pose Tracker> Tuxedo Mask [Ohtori Academy (11)] has posed.

He may have a stillness advantage, but it doesn't really mean anything: his emotions are kind of an open wound at the moment, and Mamoru really can't tell what Runealy's angle on this is, yet. It sounds suspiciously like exactly what he's afraid of, but-- he can't tell. He's so, so tired, and he's past his limit for interactions by a long stretch, and he can't tell if he's only seeing it because he's looking for it--

--but even if the compliments are completely innocent, even if the deference isn't shyness, he's never dealt well with them anyway. Mamoru would normally be blushing right about now at that kind of positive attention, but he's not.

He's taking a step back, leaning on an HVAC unit, and bringing his white-gloved hands up to his face. "Tuxedo Kamen," he says quietly, scrubbing at his eyes under his mask, then pinching the bridge of his nose for a second before he drops his arms and sighs. "And I'm not anything like that. I just help the Sailor Senshi sometimes. Mostly I'm boring and focus on school."

<Pose Tracker> Princess Runealy [Ohtori Academy (7)] has posed.

Rune mostly stays in place even as Tuxedo Mask moves to sit down, though her head turns to follow his every movement; she's fascinated and quietly repeats his name: "Tuxedo Mask..." Then he adds a little something depreciating. "Boring?"

She repeats that, incredulous. "Boring?" Runealy's eyes narrow, this time in a mix of defiance and anger. "I don't think you're boring at all! Boring people don't help one of my most important, closest friends." She starts to walk toward him, but stops after only a single step in deferrence to how guarded he seems. "So please don't talk down on yourself like that!"

<Pose Tracker> Tuxedo Mask [Ohtori Academy (11)] has posed.

Not quite sitting-- leaning, so he's not quite so toweringly tall, but still with enough availability of motion that he can jump away like Nightcrawler if he has to. He gets more and more tense the more fascinatedly Rune watches him, and then

she gets mad.

And Tuxedo Kamen loses the last shred in his metaphorical rag-bin of cope, and abruptly he's pushed off the giant air conditioner and is every inch of his six-foot-two, with the sheer overwhelming presence of angry royalty. Something, it should be noted, that Princess Runealy would be well familiar with.

"I WANT TO BE BORING!" he rages, flinging his arms out to his sides, hands outstretched and flat like he's slicing the air. "All I wanted to do was help! And all I can do is disappoint people! Everyone I try to make friends with wants something different from me! It's like I can't just be friendly, I can't just be kind, I can't just want to help because I don't like seeing people unhappy-- I can't even hang out with someone I think is cool because it looks like I'm flirting or something, and then when I'm not, I'm breaking someone's heart! That doesn't even start to get into people who think kindness is an opening to own me."

He sucks a deep breath of air in through his teeth and turns around swiftly, cape swirling behind him and hair ruffling unevenly with the motion and the breeze, and he puts one bright white-gloved hand flat against the HVAC unit as he hunches his shoulders.

All he can think for a second is what he's been thinking for the past hour: he should have stayed where he was, in the shadows, in the back, away from the sound and the fury. He should have stuck with his books and his music and his plants and his solo sports. Maybe started a blog.

After that second, he still can't look at Runealy. His voice is a little raw, but loud enough to be heard, still. "I'm sorry. You didn't deserve that at all. Please don't be so-- please don't admire me. Don't put me on a pedestal. Don't think I'm any more interesting than anyone else. I'm not."

A much smaller voice. "And please don't take it personally, but don't come any closer."

<Pose Tracker> Princess Runealy [Ohtori Academy (7)] has posed.

Now Runealy does move; she takes a tiny hop-step back as Tuxedo Mask rises, eyes wide as he yells! Did she just pick a fight by praising him? "Y... you ha--" She gets shouted down, and lets him say his piece uninterrupted. By the end, it's clear he does not have just 'a piece' but rather many pieces, a lot of things weighing on his mind.

Yet for all the lashing out he does, none of it is physically directed at her; swinging his cape and 'striking' the air are alarming to see but her fear quickly stops being focused on herself... now she's watching a mysterious ally vent his fury, and it's troubling to see! All of this keeps her rooted to the spot. His concerns are alien, she has no context whatsoever for them... no way to truly understand the 'why' behind his feelings, just that they're forceful and important.

So when he calms down, she stays there. She heard his request, and tries to gain composure after being so rattled by his anger. "Alright. Not another step, then. Just... if you don't want me anywhere near you, if you don't want to be admired, can I at least thank you from where I stand?" Rune wanted to make it sound elegant and cool, but her words are spoken with tiny gasps mixed in... it's not so easy to just shrug off that kind of outburst and some fear lingers.

<Pose Tracker> Tuxedo Mask [Ohtori Academy (11)] has posed.

And now, hearing Runealy's voice like that, Mamoru can't help feeling even more like something one scrapes off the bottom of one's shoe. He turns around again, eyes overbright behind his ghostly white mask, and his face is showing the distinct signs of being about half a breath from crying.

Hell, it's the great Tuxedo Mask and his voice is wavering and uneven and full of the worst kind of regret. "I'm sorry. I'm so sorry. I didn't mean to scare you. I'm not usually--"

Like this. This much of a mess. This lacking in self control. This emotionally exhausted. Any number of things he could say, but doesn't, because it's all just excuses.

"Who am I? Where am I? WHO AM I?"

"Your name is Mamoru Chiba."

"He's so polite and well-behaved. Only six years old, you say? He's very brave, he hasn't cried at all, even though he has no family now."

The sad thing was, he wasn't sad.

It's so tempting-- if he went back in his shell, crawled back under his rock, he wouldn't do this to people. He wouldn't hurt people. He wouldn't have pain to save up and bear and bottle until it's all released on the wrong person; he knows how to be alone.

"Find the Silver Crystal..." It's tempting, but she won't let him.

"I know you're not lying." He fought so hard for the privilege.

"MAMI NEEDS ME WE HAVE A POST MISSION THING WHERE WE HIGH FIVE!" ...he can't give up. He won't give up.

"Can I thank you from where I stand?" Not when there are sane people out there who don't hate themselves and want to take it out on everyone else; not when there are people who'd stick around after that kind of explosion and bravely insist on performing their selected task.

One hand comes up again to swipe at his eyes under the mask once more, and he sniffs and laughs a little and swallows, then laughs a little bit more. He looks wrung out. "Only if you let me thank you, too," he says, and the laugh in his voice still sounds a little bit like it might be related to crying, somehow. "For giving me the chance to stop being a jerk."

<Pose Tracker> Princess Runealy [Ohtori Academy (7)] has posed.

Runealy blinks several times, trying to make sense of what just happened. One moment Tuxedo Mask was being smart in checking out his surroundings, so careful... then angry, and now apologizing. She had asked for only a few minutes, and has already seen such a range of feelings from him. At least now he's... less angry. Laughing. Not the healthiest of laughs, but certainly an improvement over what he was doing.

Yet even as Tuxedo Mask settles down, Rune stands still. She's not going to assume his request to stay away has been dropped, she doesn't rush over with hugs. Runealy does smile, though. "I know a little bit about being a jerk. And stopping. Stopping usually feels a lot better, doesn't it? So..."

A tiny nod, then the princess relaxes. "You're welcome. Now... without throwing gold and medals or parades at you, I'll try saying it again: Thank you. Thank you for helping someone who means a lot to me!"

<Pose Tracker> Tuxedo Mask [Ohtori Academy (11)] has posed.

It really has been the worst week for emotional stability. And it's been the worst day-- er, night, whatever-- for morale. No one's actually ever seen him like this. He's never been like this.

Lucky Rune.

"I almost never start," he confesses quietly, finally turning a little red, but this time from shame instead of embarrassment. His cape's fallen to cover his arms, but the bright white of the front of his formalwear remains uncovered, and it-- and his mask-- are starting to be dimly lit by the grey pre-dawn in the eastern part of the sky.

Then Tuxedo Kamen gives Princess Runealy a lopsided little smile. "You're very welcome." The smile goes even more crooked, and after a heartbeat's pause, he ventures, "Um, who's the person who means a lot to you?"

Another pause, and the boy couldn't possibly look more sheepish. "And what are you called? I, uh, never actually caught your name, either."

<Pose Tracker> Princess Runealy [Ohtori Academy (7)] has posed.

Finally, Runealy relaxes. She doesn't approach Tuxedo Mask directly, but after having spent the last several moments frozen in place for fear it would set him off... his smile is enough to let her at least pace around the roof a little. "'Almost never'? Me too... feels pretty awful once you realize that's not like you, doesn't it? Sounds like you're already getting after yourself for it, so I'm not going to say anything more about that other than..." A light nod. "It's okay. I don't know what's going on, but glad I could help. My name? I'm not asking you to take off your mask, so don't worry." That may sound like an odd reply to his question at first.

However, it's made a little more clear as she reaches up for her tiara and removes it. A flash of red light engulfs Rune, and her magical attire has been replaced by things much more mundane: Jeans, a t-shirt depicting Lancelot (as drawn by Madoka), and a red and white jacket with gold lining. Handmade, and fancy for its time... but clearly not modern given its material and style.

"I'm Runealy, Guardian Princess of Waldia." She smiles to Tuxedo Mask and then answers his other question: "I could thank you for helping stop the man whose dream could have become our nightmare, but maybe that's something that 'had to be done'? What I'm really talking about is what happened during New Year's. I was worried about Sailor Moon, she's very important to me! And it looks like you did a pretty good job taking care of her."

<Pose Tracker> Tuxedo Mask [Ohtori Academy (11)] has posed.

The guy who fights crime in a tuxedo seems a lot more relaxed, himself, finally; the cold air does wonders once you stop being worked up. There's nothing especially radiant about him, there's not enough energy left for that kind of thing, and all the adrenaline's gone, and even the ragged edges of it are used up.

At Rune's introduction, he does sweep a deferential bow, but it's possessed of enough inherent insouciance to make it clear the respect belongs more to the girl than the title.

At her explanation, he looks kind of doomed, actually, and one hand comes up to cover his mouth as his eyes widen. "Oh god, she's going to kill me for blowing up at you."

<Pose Tracker> Runealy Waldia [Ohtori Academy (7)] has posed.

Rune, in what could be an error of court manners or entirely intentional, mostly mirrors Tuxedo Mask's bow. The motion isn't the same, but the height is; she goes about as low as he did, then rises. "Is she?" The princess raises an eye, then laughs. "Perhaps we should make a trade, if that's what you're worried about." In some circles, this would be a moment of sensing blood in the social waters. Yet Rune's demeanor is too light for that, there is no air of opportunism.

<Pose Tracker> Tuxedo Mask [Ohtori Academy (11)] has posed.

To be perfectly honest, even if it were an opportunism thing, Mamoru's completely disarmed. The extremely well-dressed eleventh-grader of mystery reaches up to rub at the back of his head, looking curious and a little worried. "Well not kill me, but she certainly wouldn't be happy about it, and Sailor Mars might put me through a ceiling on her behalf or something... what kind of trade?"

<Pose Tracker> Runealy Waldia [Ohtori Academy (7)] has posed.

"That sounds pretty rough." The princess finds it easier to be bold now, as the man who towers over her seems so deflated. "My terms are simple!" Rune speaks with a mix of playfulness and intentional melodrama. "You let me take a single step closer to you... just one, from where I stand here and now." That's quite some distance away, as she has been minding his space with a lot of caution for most of this conversation. "In return, I will conveniently... 'forget' to tell Sailor Moon about this. And Sailor Mars and anyone else as well."

<Pose Tracker> Tuxedo Mask [Ohtori Academy (11)] has posed.

Tuxedo Mask stills. He watches Runealy for a second, then finally grants, slowly, "You can come a step closer. Just-- I just don't-- I've had some pretty severe personal space impositions today." Because that doesn't sound stupid at all. He's not actually fidgeting, but he does shift his weight and glance briefly away. Doublechecking those exit routes.

<Pose Tracker> Runealy Waldia [Ohtori Academy (7)] has posed.

Rune steels herself for this, staring hard at Tuxedo Mask. She doesn't say anything, but does listen to his concerns. The princess watches as he considers leaving once again, and she raises her right foot in a very exaggerated display, now balanced on just her left.

Lingering like this for a few seconds, perhaps intentionally drawing the moment out... Rune then stomps her foot down a mere inch or two away from where it started. This is a step closer to Tuxedo Mask in only the most literal sense, yet a single deep nod follows. "Maybe I can take more steps later." Her speech returns to normal, sympathetic and patient. "For now, this is plenty. Whatever had you so worked up, I hope you get through it. It's no fun being like that, so I'll cheer you on from here."

<Pose Tracker> Tuxedo Mask [Ohtori Academy (11)] has posed.

He doesn't flinch, but he does watch. And the exaggerated deliberation earns Runealy another lopsided smile, this one accompanied by an indelicate snort of amusement. "Well played, Highness," he says drily.

The last parts of what she says, though, get Tuxedo Mask giving Rune a gentler smile, apologetic and appreciative. "Thank you. I'm actually-- going to go straight home. I might even be able to sleep, this time. I'm sorry you didn't get yesterday's Tuxedo Kamen, or tomorrow's. Make it up to you next time."

<Pose Tracker> Runealy Waldia [Ohtori Academy (7)] has posed.

Rune smiles back, warm... patient, pleased. "That's okay. I got to meet the New Year's one, and I like him. He's smart, has lots of good points to share when things were pretty scary, and looks out for my friends. So I hope that pillow and blanket feel really, really nice."

Then with a slight handwave, she turns and begins to depart. ...Doing so without magic may prove to be interesting, and require some climbing.