2014-06-12 - We Live On An Island

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Title: We Live On An Island

Mai has leftovers to share with Mamoru, and gets to see his apartment. They have a surprisingly serious chat in the process. Sometimes, you just need a friend.


Mamoru Chiba, Mai Tokiha


Mamoru's Apartment!

OOC - IC Date:

27 January 2014 - 6/12/14

TXT Mai to Mamoru: I tried out a soup recipe, but made too much. Want any?
TXT Mamoru to Mai: sure come on over, i can't actually leave right now, airplane glue
TXT Mai to Mamoru: To your place? Um, sure, give me the address. ...I'd ask about the glue but I suspect I'll learn soon enough.
<Pose Tracker> Mai Tokiha [Ohtori Academy (10)] has posed.

One exchange of text messages later, Mai has an address. She can excuse going into the city - her weekend hours were enough that she doesn't have a shift today, and she's actually caught up on homework. So - a grocery shop later, visiting Mamoru now. Mai's out of uniform for once - jeans, jacket, a red shirt to go with her blazing crimson scarf - and carrying a bag with something bulky in it with one hand.

The other hand holds a cellphone, and she looks between it and the luxurious apartment building before her. Incredulity is plain on her face - and it gets only worse when she finally gathers up the courage to count windows, and see which floor this apartment is on. She quadruple-checks the address, then steps through automatic sliding glass doors to tap the high-tech touchscreen to be buzzed in.

One elevator ride later, she's standing in front of a door. She checks the address a seventh time, looks down at her suddenly mundane-seeming outfit - then pockets the cellphone, and knocks on the door.

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

"It's open!" calls Mamoru's cheerful voice from inside. "If your hands are full, give me a second, I have to--"

There's a snapping sound and a muffled curse, and then running footsteps. The absurdly tall upperclassman yanks open the door and then darts toward the kitchen. "Come in come in, dammit where did I put the paper towels oh my god if that cat was here--"

It's cold inside because all the windows are open, and still the place smells of airplane glue and paint. Visible even from the doorway, the cause of the kerfluffle is clear: there's a bowl of red overturned on the floor, slowly spreading across the hardwood.

In a flurry of paper towels and ratty t-shirt and jeans and bare feet and glasses, Mamoru reappears and hurriedly starts cleaning up the spilled paint. Above him, on the table, is what he's been working on: a life-sized model of the human respiratory system.

"What kind of soup? I mean-- hi! Sorry. Make yourself at home."

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

A hand, outstretched towards the handle, kind of just hangs there awkwardly for a moment as Mai takes in the sight. And the size of the penthouse apartment, seriously, and she thought the Ohtori dorms got luxurious. And - open windows, red paint spilling everywhere, a model of lungs and trachea - it's a lot to take in.

But Mamoru Chiba is in a t-shirt and jeans, and that manages to jar Mai right back to normal. "I'm coming in, then!" She shuts the door behind her, takes off her shoes in the usual spot, and makes her way for the kitchen - sidestepping any further rushing from Mamoru.

"The soup? Vegetable soup, western-style with some noodles - I made it for Eri-chan, and she took as much as she could, but I wound up having to scale up the recipe for the number of potatoes we got. So - a couple days' supper, I think." She sets the bag on the counter, and removes a good-sized plastic container full of light red soup. "And I'll do that as much as I can...seriously, though, when you said you had an apartment, I didn't expect...well, this."

She looks over to the medical model, recalling first aid training. And the paint, still spreading a bit. She rummages in the kitchen for a moment, looking for more paper towels and whatever cleaning supplies Mamoru has. "Here, I'll give you a hand with that. Can't be much worse than pineapple sundaes. Speaking of which - I put the coffee on your tab from last time - I'm guessing you had to dash off to a rescue, so I gave you my employee discount."

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

"Oh, thanks! Yeah, I did, I owe you another one. And that sounds really good. I think my stomach is trying to digest my internal organs, I got really caught up in this thing and haven't eaten since lunch," Mamoru says cheerfully, down on his hands and knees and mopping up paint. "Soap and stuff's under the sink."

When Mai comes back, he's sat back on his heels; he makes room for her to give him that hand with cleanup. This is also the perfect opportunity to glance around his offensively spacious apartment and shrug. "It'll be nice to have study group here sometimes," is all he says.

There's not a lot else to say. It's where he lives, by himself, a lofty king of nothing.

In jeans and a ratty t-shirt.

Once cleaning supplies have been distributed, he gets back to work. Since it's still wet and there's two of them, it really doesn't take long to see to it, and in short order the floorboards gleam once more. "You're having some soup too, right?"

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

"Pay me back in ice cream, and we'll call it even." Mai gives Mamoru a grin. His favourite brand is absolutely delicious and too expensive for her to justify in the grocery budget - which still has ramen at least a couple of days a week. The rummaging didn't take too long, fortunately, and Mai sets to work on cleaning stained floorboards - a task which goes faster with two people.

"Well, I've still got some at home - I think Mikoto and I will be working on it until at least tomorrow. But I'll snag a little, grocery shopping has fewer temptations if I'm not starving when I enter." Giving the once-more-gleaming floorboards a nod, Mai just sits back on her feet for now. "Honestly, though, I think the study group would do well here. Enough room for however many people we have, a kitchen for making snacks..."

Mai pauses, and gives Mamoru an appraising look - she wants to see his reaction to this question. "Have you had many people over here before, Chiba-san?"

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

"Same kind as last time? Ice cream I mean." Mamoru picks himself up off the floor and reflexively starts to move to offer Mai a hand up, but the motion's abortive, already glossed over. Instead, he picks up the wadded red paper towels and the sad bowl and gives Mai a brief, crooked smile before heading back toward the kitchen.

He comes out with clean bowls and big soup spoons, bare feet padding silently across the floorboards, and lifts his eyebrows. "Not really, no. Occasionally talking space cats drop in. A few people have been over at one point or another. Why?"

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

"What can I say? You've hooked me on the coffee-flavoured ice cream." Mai might be drinking a bit too much instant coffee these days, and something with actual good flavor... She nearly misses the abortive offer, but gets up on her own. The container's well-sealed, but might need some reheating. "Just a half bowl for me. And no real reason - just making sure I wasn't the first one you'd had over or anything." Mai flashes a quick grin.

"So...talking space cats. Right, I nearly forgot that that was a thing - I think I remember joking about having one of them tutor Mikoto in science, but nothing ever came of that." Mai heads over to the counter to assist with meal preparation, or at least setting out utensils - as long as she's doing something, she's good. "Any adventures with them recently, or has it just been the usual 'dealing with monster attacks' business?"

A brief pause, then Mai lowers her head to rest on one hand. "...did I seriously just call that 'the usual'?"

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

Container is therefore taken in one hand, and Mamoru doesn't bother putting the bowls down because they're 'not yet' all over. He takes it all into the kitchen, smiling briefly over his shoulder. "No, you're not the first."

Only the second.

"Sailor Moon came over once," he admits, putting everything down on the counter, then taking out a saucepan to reheat the soup. He could use the microwave, but stirring soup is something to do and look at. "Before that-- nah. This is where I hide. But-- I figure if the study cabal gets too rowdy I can always kick you guys out, right?"

Stir stir. "Probably the space cat that could tutor Mikoto-san in science is the one who's the biggest pain in the ass. She's so paranoid. I mean I guess I can't blame her, but I feel like nothing I can possibly do will get her to trust me at anything but arm's length. Uh, tail's length, I guess."

One-shouldered shrug. Mamoru's hair's fallen into his face a little, shadowing it. The utensils are all Mai's. He is focused on the soup heating process. "Um-- adventures with whom? The Senshi? Nothing out of the ordinary."

Except he doesn't normally have trouble making eye contact. "What about you?"

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

It's a kitchen. It's an apartment kitchen. Roomier than the one in her dorm at Ohtori, but similar enough that Mai can feel comfortable here. It's the second drawer she checks that has appropriate utensils, and she's just lifting out some spoons when Mamoru off-handedly mentions that Sailor Moon's stopped by.

There's a brief clatter - nothing alarming, just a spoon being fumbled. Mai scoops it up, and slides the drawer closed. "Well. Um. I'm glad things are going well for you two, then?" Congratulation turns to question as Mai seeks a place to put the bowls and spoons - maybe just the clear end of the counter. Eat-in kitchens are nice, aren't they? Saves on space.

Not that anyone with an apartment this size needs to save space.

As Mai sets things out - including salt and pepper, by habit alone if nothing else - she winces. "Protective of Sailor Moon? Understandable, but you have my sympathies - along with my hopes that she's a bit less violent about things than Mikoto. You know, she once cut a water slide in half because she thought it was a monster sneaking up on me?" The two of them can never return to that pool.

Mai glances to Mamoru's face, but then turns to the soup to make sure it's reheating all right. She's quiet for a moment, thinking things over before answering. "There hasn't been any big excitement since the whole...thing with Takumi. Eri might have solved something I was worrying about, I'm just hoping it won't cause her any trouble. I've just been worrying over a few things. Bad dreams."

She lets out a sigh, taking a seat on one of the kitchen stools, and looks out the open window. "...how much have I told you about Kagutsuchi?"

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

There's absolutely a kitchen table. Somehow, Mamoru even managed to get his hands on one with a Formica top. In a lot of homes, the kitchen is the most comfortable space -- the same is true for the upperclassman's apartment, but the contrast is all the more starkly present. It's the only part of the entire flat that doesn't breathe 'alone' from every shadow.

"It wasn't a romantic visit or anything," he tells Mai with a distinct note of exasperation in his voice, glancing over his shoulder to give her a Look. "We had some stuff we needed to talk about."

He's not blushing, so it must be true. He shrugs one shoulder a bit irritably, then makes room for Mai in front of the stovetop, where he diligently continues to stir the reheating soup. "Anyway, I'm the last person Sailor Moon needs to be protected from, but I can't think of any other real reason that cat would let me in enough to keep track of me but still keep me walled off."

Then Mamoru's just listening, watching Mai out of the corners of his eyes, face turned once more toward the task at hand. Finally he does look over at her, once she's looking out the window. "Almost nothing."

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

A good kitchen makes all the difference in the world. It's almost certainly set up differently from Mai's own haven, and she catalogues the differences and similarities as she goes. Given her own stockpiles of instant noodles, she can't really say much about the packaged curry paste and the like. It's a good place to be - warmer than the rest of the apartment in more ways than one.

As for Sailor Moon - that Look is soon met with a smirk. "Well, talking is good too. I'm guessing you finally cleared the air on that close-distant thing, then?" Or their kiss. She starts to open her mouth to say those words, but decides against it - technically, he never outright said it, so officially she shouldn't bring it up.

And then Mamoru brings up Luna's paranoia as Mai inspects the soup, and she has to laugh. "Well, there's one big one-" And then it hits Mai that he might honestly not know. Um. Well. "Let me think of how to expla in it."

Because Mai's taken her seat, and has a few things to say about her Child. "Right. Kagutsuchi. I had a dream the other night about the night I learned about him...and looking back, I'm still not sure if I..." She sighs. "There's a long story, but I'll keep it short rather than let the soup burn. Basically...Takumi wound up in the woods, chased by a monster. Kuga-san and Mikoto helped fend it off, but it was too much to handle. It wanted him for whatever reason. And I was given a choice. A chance to protect Takumi."

"The place where we were...there was an engraved wall, with a sword stuck in it. And Nagi told me that if I wanted the power to protect Takumi, all I had to do was pull out the sword. That Kagutsuchi was ready to protect me, to fight with me." The kitchen is hot, but she feels a chill all the same. "So...I did. You saw him at the New Year - that's how he appeared before me. Looked at Takumi and me, like he was making sure I was all right..."

Mai's arms are folded around her middle, and her fingers dig tightly into her sleeves. "...and then he destroyed the monsters that had attacked me with all his might. All I could do was scream for Mikoto and Kuga-san to get out of the way, get out of the blast zone - because Kagutsuchi wanted those monsters burned." Finally, she turns to Mamoru. "That was in the fall, the evening of my first full day at Ohtori. Remember when there was that massive wildfire in the woods behind the school?"

Her eyes are haunted, her face ashen.

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

Silently, Mamoru turns the heat off under the soup; his full attention is on Mai, but it's milder than usual-- there's nothing can be solved, here. There's no analysis going on. There's just listening, and empathy.

His motions are reserved and efficient, decidedly downstage; his face is serious as he watches Mai, interrupted only by putting soup in bowls and divesting himself of saucepan.

It's with uncertainty that he stands near the table, then, not sitting down just yet-- there's nothing to solve, but there are still ways to help...

T-shirt and jeans, bare feet. It's not his place. But she's one of his best friends, and she's sick to her stomach with the feelings her memory's giving her, that her understanding of things is giving her.

It goddamn well is his place.

All in one movement, Mamoru's next to Mai and a little behind her, arms wrapped around her.

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

Mai starts at the contact. It takes a moment to realize that it isn't her being glomped by Mikoto, but just an embrace. One that she's not sure how to handle, whether to throw it away as one undeserving, or just...

...this is one of her best friends. If she can accept Mikoto's comfort, she can very well accept this, right? She leans against Mamoru's chest, and just lets out a shuddering breath. "...thank you. I just...it's terrifying, and the worst thing is I'm not sure what the best thing to do is. Because...Kagutsuchi is this destructive, unstoppable force...and every time I've looked into his eyes, I see something that wants to protect me."

And she has a friend that wants to comfort her, and the thoughts of what's appropriate here are hard to keep in mind. Another deep breath, and she finally shrugs free of the embrace.

(Because Mamoru isn't hers alone.)

"I just...I have nightmares of what that kind of power could do in downtown Tokyo, or in a fight involving people I care about." She turns around again, and her face is still a bit pale - but warmth is returning there. "Can I trust something like that?"

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

It's honestly something of a relief for Mamoru when Mai shrugs free, because-- you know how a kid looks when they stuff an entire cupcake in their mouth and then someone asks them a question? 'Ack what do I do now' sort of-- yeah.

He goes to sit down in front of delicious soup, finally, and thank God Mai is starting to look normal again. No salt, no pepper! No itadakimasu either, he just goes ahead and starts. Sip.

Hand halfway down to revisit the soup with his spoon, he lifts an eyebrow at Mai, looking at her from under his hair. "He saved us all at New Year's," he points out. "Maybe you should go someplace and talk to him without being in a fight."

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

There is food! An excellent distraction, even if Mai gives Mamoru a mock-glare for his manners. She does, however, start to smile again as she does so - so maybe it's all good. Of course, she makes a point of whispering an itadakimasu before taking a sip of her own. Still good, even reheated.

After eating in peace for a minute, Mamoru brings up a thought. Mai looks up from her own meal, meeting that hair-hidden gaze as best she can. "...I honestly think I should. I just...I've yet to find anywhere I'd consider safe enough, just in case he did go berserk." She tries to give a smile. "I don't suppose you know anywhere relatively non-flammable?"

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

Mamoru just stares at Mai for a second that lasts like, an hour.

"We live," he says slowly, "on an island."

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

Mai stares at Mamoru for two seconds that last an eternity. Slowly, her head falls forward to meet table.

"And I...can fly."

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

At this point, the black-haired boy just slouches in his chair and hides his face, shoulders shaking with silent laughter.

When he eventually gathers his composure, Mamoru wipes his eyes and adds breathlessly, "You really do worry too much. Not like I can talk, but... I really think it'll be okay. He did save us all. Didn't hurt any of us. Plus, Sailor Moon thinks he's cool." That last is added absurdly cheerfully, as if it's evidence in and of itself.

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

Mai grumbles, face still firmly against the table - but once Mamoru finally stops laughing, she sits up properly again. And...outright giggles at that last, cheerful statement. "There is that. I just...Mikoto is someone who works best when she has something to hit. Give Kagutsuchi a troll to incinerate, we're all good. Without...I want to make sure. But thanks for the reminder - I do get caught up, thinking about the worst that can happen."

She doesn't always have nightmares about Kagutsuchi, after all. Sometimes they're about other things.

Mai has another couple of spoonfuls of soup, even if her face is flushed a burning bright red in embarrassment. For which the cure is more embarrassment - and so when Mamoru is next eating a spoonful of soup, she pipes up. "How did that talk with Sailor Moon go, anyway? And - did you still want to hear my thoughts on your cat problems?"

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

"Hey, I texted you how it went," Mamoru says, a little defensive. More soup goes in his mouth, and he takes out his phone while he's eating to thumb back through messages and show Mai the exchange.

TXT Mai to Mamoru: Quick tip, try not to kiss her again unless you mean it and she actually seems interested. ;)

TXT Mamoru to Mai: all is well

Look of triumphant 'so there', and the guy puts his phone face down on the table and then picks up the soup bowl to basically just drink all the rest of it because hungry. When he sets it back down he waves a hand a little. "Anyway. Yes. Space cat. What is her deal?"

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

"Yeah, because 'all is well' is full of detail." Mai's still being slow and methodical in her eating, thinking things over. "Right. So - you were saying that she's keeping an eye on you, but making sure you keep your distance..."

Mai lets out a sigh. "It's something I've done, from time to time, for Takumi's sake. I've had classmates, well, interested in him - for all that he's three years younger than them. So I've tried to get to know them a bit, if only to keep an eye on their intentions. And to make sure they don't try anything like taking advantage of my little brother." Her spoon clacks against the bowl as she bisects a stubbornly large piece of carrot.

"...and this is the sort of thing any parent or guardian does. For any relationship - but especially one with an age difference - the guardian wants to make sure that their charge won't be hurt - physically or emotionally. Which can involve a bit of paranoia." Mai looks at Mamoru seriously. "So, if this cat is acting as Sailor Moon's guardian - maybe she believes your intentions, but is still keeping you at bay because she can't blindly trust in them."

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

"Look, I don't share the things you tell me--" starts Mamoru, brow furrowing, but then Mai drops it and proceeds with the giving of space cat advice, and he sits back in his chair, considering as he listens.

'For all that he's three years younger' prompts a half-annoyed flushing of his face, and he looks at his empty soup bowl, lips thinned for a second. He's still listening, though, and when Mai finishes, the seventeen-year-old frowns for real. "I told her I would rather help the Senshi than keep going alone, at odds with them. That when it came down to it, I couldn't be their enemy, even if it meant never getting what I wanted. And it's not Sailor Moon she's keeping me away from, it's their business. She's keeping me in the dark."

Then he grimaces and looks away; it's his turn to be looking out the window. "And now I've got something I'm keeping her in the dark on. I know she won't like it, but I'm not sorry for doing it. If I told her, she'd find a way to put me on an even shorter leash. But if she finds out on her own, she'll cut me off completely. And then Sailor Moon will cry and Jupiter and Mars will curbstomp me and Mercury will drown what's left and Venus will..."

The Princess. It's so jarring. He trails off, unhappy and angry and bitterly confused. "I don't know. I just know I'm not their enemy, and I never want to be their enemy. And if what I've done turns into a danger to them, then I'll stop it. But only then."

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

Why is the soup gone? Mai's spoon rattles around an empty bowl before she sets it down. She looks away as well, wincing. "It's a guess, admittedly. Just because if she does like you, her cat might be trying to keep some distance for propriety's sake, or I don't even know. Does this mascot give you any answers? At all, about anything?"

She needs something to do with her hands, so she starts gathering the dishes. The salt and pepper went untouched, after all - she gathers them up as well, trying to come up with an answer and finding not much. "So, now you have another secret. And if the cat finds out in any way, you're probably in trouble. Is it something you can try telling Sailor Moon, or..." Mai trails off, not sure what to say. A silence, for a moment.

Then she puts the dishes in the sink with just enough clatter to get Mamoru's attention, and looks directly at him. "Look. If it helps, I think you're a good person. A real gentleman, and a good friend. So even if I don't know the details - let me know if I can help." She smirks. "After all, apparently I can always just fly you out of a situation."

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

As the seconds tick by, Mamoru looks more and more ill at ease. Mai was the one looking ashen before -- now it's his turn to look like he's going to be sick. By the time Mai clatters the dishes into the sink and she looks at him, he's hunched over in his chair, arms folded and shoulders up, mouth a thin line of self-remonstration and guilt soup.

Then he looks up at her, and his dark blue eyes are darker still, stark in his drained face. His expression doesn't change when she smirks, when she laughs. "I really did just complain about her keeping secrets from me and then turn around and do that. But I have to. It's-- Mai, please don't hate me, and please don't tell anyone else. You can help. But you have to let me keep doing it and-- and please, please do trust me. I'm gambling. But I need someone to believe in me. It's-- it's really stupid, it's a really stupid thing for me to-- but I have to-- if I tell you and you decide you can't help, or won't because it's so stupid, you have to promise not to tell."

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

The laugh echoes awkwardly as Mai realizes just how much this must be weighing on him. That previous good cheer is extinguished, and Mai slowly makes her way back to the table without a word. She takes her previous seat, brings it around to Mamoru's side of the table, and sits right in front of him - no barriers, nothing between them.


Mai's face is serious - but warm affection is in her eyes. "I'll trust you, and I'll keep your secrets. The only caveat-" She holds up a finger. "-is that I reserve the right to tell your friends what trouble you're in if things go south. I won't say a word unless you are literally in no position to do so yourself. Is that fair?"

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

"You're my friend, and so is Eri. But if you mean the Senshi, then... if-- if things go really south-- then I'm sorry. But I can't not try," Mamoru says miserably, and Mai may have taken away the barriers, but the eleventh-grader puts them back up, head in his hands and physically curled in on himself. "Zoisite. I think we were friends. I-- asked him to hold off trying to kill me while the two of us try to figure out where we came from. And he agreed. And I'm going to try to find out anything I can about him, and he's going to try to find out about me, and we'll text each other if either of us finds anything. And-- I am trusting-- him. And he is trusting me. Because we both need to know."

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

...is that his full list? That's kind of... "Then just Eri, and only if things really go wrong." Mai winces as Mamoru curls up, and she reaches out - hesitates, because of everything that he has as an issue, and she just listens. Listens, as he explains. About a possible former friend, a non-agression pact, seeking the truth.

"Zoisite...the one who attacked that pianist, right? I don't know the full story there, but....I'm not exactly in a position to complain about trusting someone like that." Mai looks up - not away from Mamoru, just up at the ceiling. "For instance - I met someone once. Namely, I resuscitated her after she nearly drowned. Then she got in a fight and wrecked the boat we were on. Then the next day, she attacked me on sight - one hand on my throat, the other ready to strike." One hand comes up to rub that throat - and then, oddly enough, Mai begins to smile.

"Then she collapsed on me, I took her back to my room, fed her - and she attacked a giant monster for me that night. And now Mikoto's my roommate." She gives Mamoru a smile. "I'm not saying it will go that well, and I understand why you're hiding it... but if you're willing to trust him, I'll try to have your back."

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

He finally looks up, and he looks as awful as before, but his eyes are oceans of relief and he relaxes just slightly. "He's petty and cruel and bitter and insanely strong, and he's bound to the Dark Kingdom. He's terrifyingly intelligent, and has admitted to being the Dark Queen's spymaster. I have no provable reason to trust him when he says that he chafes under her rule, though there's no reason to doubt the consequences for treason would be dire indeed."

Then Mamoru swallows, mouth suddenly dry. "We're meant to protect the Princess from the clutches of the Dark Kingdom. They're after her, and they're after the Silver Crystal, same as we are. It's just if they get it, it's the end of everything. Worst case scenario isn't them killing me, it's them using me against the Princess and against the Senshi. Using me to get the Ginzuishou. I-- I appreciate you backing me up-- but I need you to know what I'm playing with. A-and not just Eri-- please tell Sailor Moon, too. She's also my friend. But the others would kill me for this."

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

Mai winces at the description. Mikoto isn't quite that bad. "Okay. I hope I don't need to remind you to be careful, then. But if you're right about having some past connection..." She looks directly at Mamoru - and reaches out again, this time putting a hand on his shoulder. On the sleeved part, not bare skin, but a touch all the same. "He might be in peril, or it might be a trap. So, be careful."

...and that fear is horrifying. "...I agree. There are things worse than dying. So - I'll try not to take this lightly. And if you do need rescue, I'm telling Eri, Sailor Moon, and Kagutsuchi. Okay?"

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

The tiniest breath, and -- Mamoru's not flinching away from Mai's hand. Finally he can return the shadow of a smile, and finally he doesn't look so awful. The breath's let out in a faint little laugh. "Okay. And-- sorry, that kind of came out of nowhere, didn't it? I guess I'd been putting off really thinking about it. Sailor Moon's guardian cat even explicitly told me to stay away from him... but--"

He sits forward a little more, one of his hands curling into a fist against his chest, without him even realizing. "I believe it's not a trap. I believe he's someplace he desperately doesn't want to be. I believe he's in danger, even more so now-- but I know how crippling hope can be to reason and judgement. If anyone from either side finds out... the only way he can save his skin, I'm sure, is by throwing me under the bus, even if he didn't intend to. So--"

As Mamoru looks up again, the smile's more solid, and edging into wryness. "--yeah, I think you and Eri and Sailor Moon flying in on the Kagutsuchi Express and bringing the rain is the best thing I've ever heard. If it's too late for me, just, please-- help Sailor Moon. Help her stop them?"

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

Mai squeezes that shoulder, and her own smile is a warm one. "Yes, because I'm known for never bringing something horribly serious up out of the middle of nowhere." There's a flash of smirk in there, before she continues - a bit more serious. "It's...a lot to take in. I'm wondering if the cat might have been trying to keep you safe, but I can barely guess what the cat I know is thinking."

She finally releases his shoulder, and frowns for a moment. "Right. Blind hope...pay attention to what's going on too. And be careful - I don't have so many friends that I can afford to lose one." Come to think of it, how many does she have, really?

Abruptly, her finger darts out to poke him in the shoulder, and she stands up. "You just make sure to let me - let us know when you realize you're in trouble. Because you have friends who care about you." She hesitates a moment, uncertain, and wraps her arms around herself again. "...and who don't like to think about the idea of 'too late for you'."

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

Mamoru weaves back with the jab, wry all over again. There's no 'ow' this time, though he does reach up to rub his shoulder as he gets up, himself. "Safety is a two-sided coin," he says mildly, and this time he doesn't stop himself from touching Mai. Just lightly resting his hand on her arm for a moment, the absurdly tall boy's solemn and very clearly humbled. "Thank you. Hell, I'll text you every time I text him, and if he actually shows up in person-- well, you're in my speed-dial. You can help me make sure it doesn't get to the 'too late' part."

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

Mai looks up at the touch, and there's a smile when she does. A small one, like a candle flame, but she's honestly relieved. "I'm holding you to that, you know. I fully intend to help with that."

This moment is one that could last forever...but it has to end sooner or later. Mai unfolds her arms, and slaps her hand on the table as she stands up as well. Her enthusiasm is flaring up again. "Right! I'd better get back to my errands - and I'll leave you to finishing your model lungs." She nods at the project that was underway when she arrived. "There should still be some soup left - just bring the container by Linden Baum sometime."

As she heads out the door, she turns back to Mamoru one last time. "And good luck." Her grin is bright.