2014-06-21 -Hashtag:Kittens Hashtag:Fail

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Title: #Kittens #fail

Worried about how Mamoru's chat with Luna might have gone, Mai stops by his place after work. There is leftover cake, and dancing around what's actually troubling him.


Mamoru Chiba, Mai Tokiha


Mamoru's Apartment!

OOC - IC Date:

31 January 2014 - 6/21/14

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

Work is finally, blessedly, over. A long evening shift, with hours alternating between mind-numbing boredom and hectic chaos - customers came in dozens, or not at all. Still, Mai made decent tips, and had a few chances to check her phone for messages as the evening went on. She had worried about how things would go for Mamoru, but finally received a notice that he was still alive.

But there weren't really any details beyond that - no followup statement of 'it went well'. Which was worrying in its own right.

Mikoto had been told that Mai would be getting home late, so once the Linden Baum finally closed its doors, the HiME waitress took a detour instead of returning straight to Ohtori. The walk to Mamoru's apartment building is filled with indecision and justifications, but soon enough she's reached the doors, the elevator, and finally Mamoru's floor.

Mai pauses at that threshold, uncertainty cooling her enthusiasm. This is kind of forward - she didn't call ahead, just acting on a whim. It shouldn't be her place, frankly - she's not Mamoru's girlfriend or anything. But...she is his friend. And if things didn't go well with the science cat, he might not even have Sailor Moon to talk to, right?

One hand holds a bag with the Linden Baum logo, a bulky box within. The other, still raised in the air from when cold indecision halted it, moves once more to knock on Mamoru's door. Once, twice. Because like she told Eri - if appearances were concerning her, the ship has long since sailed.

And Mai's friend might need someone to talk to.

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

All this uncertainty for someone who only sometimes remembers to analyze what might be proper or improper, and only occasionally cares if he manages to reach a decision on it.

There's silence from inside for a bit, maybe Mai will have to knock again--

--but no, the lock unlocks and the handle turns, and Mamoru opens the door.

His expression's-- a lack of expression, before he registers who's standing there, and then he makes the effort to put some semblance of a smile on his face. "Mai-chan. Come in," he says, stepping back and aside to allow her passage. His movements are automatic, reserved, and graceful, and there's nothing visible behind his eyes.

He's barefoot and overdressed and damp, like he came in off the balcony a little while ago but didn't bother changing; somehow, he looks composed instead of rumpled. Mamoru isn't being cold, he's just-- not there.

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

It is wet out, isn't it? Mai's own winter jacket is still damp, and she takes it off as she enters; she didn't bother bringing casual clothes to work, and is simply wearing her school uniform again.

Mamoru's lack of expression is close to what she's seen, from time to time - and for a moment, Mai is reminded of that brief moment, when she accidentally guessed what he might have done with Sailor Moon. That moment when he almost shut down completely.

And so worry is plain on her face - a near-frown, imploring eyes taking him in. It takes a moment for her to register the smile, and a moment longer for her to return it - flickering, as brief as his own.

"It's good to see you're still alive - I wanted to check up on you, make sure you hadn't been mauled or anything." Mai slips off damp shoes, and makes her way to the kitchen without hesitation. She sets the Linden Baum bag on the kitchen table, and unpacks a rather large box - with a bit of steam wafting from under the lid. She doesn't open it just yet, though - having gone this far, stepped this far into someone else's life, she's hesitating again.

She speaks without looking at him directly, hands on the box she brought. "...I'm guessing it didn't go well, though."

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

Mamoru only trails after Mai through the dark and empty apartment-- it's raining and it's dark out, and the only light on is one in the kitchen. As he follows her therein, he switches the light on and leans in the doorframe, thumbs in his pockets, arms loose. He doesn't appear to have any objections to Mai barging in on him, into his space, his tower.

That last time, it was almost shut down. This time it is, and it's in full swing, but there's no fury to it, and no ice. It's not a deliberate closing off of the world with an arrogant distance, it's autopilot.

"Sometimes," he says finally, gaze drifting to the steaming box, "I wish I weren't right for the wrong reasons."

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

The rain rattles against the window, and Mai takes a deep breath. Don't think about the weather, or any of what that would usually bring to mind. Just...focus on what brought her here. She turns to look at Mamoru, and what she sees there...

Working quickly, Mai opens the box's lid. The first thing pulled out are a pair of takeaway coffee cups - she hands one to him, and keeps the other for herself. "It's a bit strong - last of the pot." The sides of the box can be disassembled, and she unfolds it to reveal...an eclectic mix of treats. Slices from three different cakes, along with a few simple pastries.

Taking a seat, Mai finally turns to face Mamoru again, and does her best to give him a warm smile. The drum of raindrops rattling against the window serves as a backdrop while she considers her next words. To demand answers? Give a distraction? Or maybe just let him decide. "...I stopped by because, well. You would have said if things had gone well, so I thought you might need some support. Do you want to talk about what happened, or just..." Awkwardly, she waves towards the assortment of sweets.

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

It's not that he lets Mai stew in silence with the patter of rain against glass and against the balcony floor outside. Not on purpose. It just takes him a moment to register the words and then parse their meaning. Then Mamoru shoves off the door frame, and he's not really back yet, but there's warmth there where there wasn't anything a second before. It's still a small and faint smile, but it's not an effort this time.

"I don't want to talk about it, but-- you're right. I don't want to be alone. And cakes are wonderful--"

And he takes the coffee in both long-fingered hands, using the heat of the cup as an anchor. "I don't want to think about it. But every time I try to think about anything at all, it's at the forefront. I tried homework, I tried music, I tried reading, and I even resorted to hashtag kittens and that's the worst part, I can't even look at kittens on Tumblr. Mai."

His head's down, he's breathing in the steam, and he's talking at least, even if there's no real answers. He is also completely unironically serious about the kittens.

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

Sometimes, the quiet is nice. Just existing, in a comfortable environment. Mai is in a warm kitchen, and while it isn't 'home' it's not far off. There's a smile on Mamoru's face again, and there's actually life in his eyes again, and Mai is breathing a sigh of relief that the indomitable mountain is fading again. She takes a sip of coffee, the heat warming her rain-dampened cheeks, and smiles a bit more easily this time.

"You are allowed to call for support, you know. I'm not saying I can drop everything to help out every time you need someone to talk to - but you're my friend, and I do want to help. So if you'd prefer..." Struck by a flash of impulsiveness, Mai sweeps her arm to present the already open box. "Tonight's special is: Whatever cakes were left over after tonight's Linden Baum shift. I think there's a couple of slices of coffee cake, we sold out of the lemon, and I managed to snag three slices of the double chocolate..."

Mamoru's own indecision is a serious matter. Mai knows that the whole Zoisite business was a difficult decision for him, and whatever that cat had to say nearly -broke- him. It's a major deal. Not something to be taken lightly.

And yet, Mai brings that free hand to cover her mouth in a desperate effort to stifle her giggles. "Kittens? Really?" He really is a dork. But somehow...

Mai gathers herself again, and starts to give a serious response - though by the end, her voice is a little more light-hearted. "Whatever you're comfortable with. If you'd prefer, I can start ranting about how tonight went - I usually save that for Mikoto, but I can make an exception~"

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

Distraction. He just needs distraction to be able to re-engage, and Mai simply being here is that, and Mai being here because she was worried about him is that times a thousand.

Weeks ago, he said to Luna it'd be nice to know someone knew where he was, or could find him.

Now, he's achingly glad, right in the middle of all the hurt and self-recrimination and brooding over his self-worth and gullibility and what it's cost him, because someone knew where he was and could find him and it's because she cares about his well-being enough to seek him out.

So Mamoru slides in to sit across from Mai, and unhesitatingly reaches for a piece of double chocolate cake with his bare hand.

He stops himself just in time, and sheepishly gets up to go get plates and forks. "Kittens," he tells her dolefully, reaching up to grab civilization from a cabinet, and etiquette from a drawer. And then he smiles again, and it's a relieved thing, warm and real and rueful, and his eyes are actually focusing on her and he's awake behind them. "That sounds perfect."

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

Much of the time, Mai can see Mamoru as a peer. For all that he's her upperclassman, they're close enough in age - and separate enough from other people they know - that Mai can treat him as an equal. Teasing him about the things she's dealing with herself, having honest discussions about the kinds of things they've both dealt with or are dealing with. They're both Ohtori high school students. Both of them trying to protect someone.

Occasionally - blessedly rarely - she can instead treat him as someone to look up to. Someone more stable, more collected than her. Those particular moments when she needs a rock - and he's there. In those moments, she treasures her friend - and tells herself that she can't indulge in that kind of thing often.

And occasionally - and Mai likes to think more often - there are these times that Mamoru is lost, and relying on her. Times where she can be the one taking care of him, in some way. To large degree, she's most comfortable in those moments - because it's what she knows. She's Takumi's guardian, Mikoto's keeper, Mamoru's advisor. The one to be relied upon. The one who, perhaps, is needed.

So Mai chuckles when Mamoru realizes his impending poor manners, and smiles comfortably while he gathers those dishes. "Good plan; save the savagery for when I'm not watching. Alas, those poor slices~" Mai meets that relief with a bright grin of her own, and begins to think that maybe her friend will be okay after all. Lacing her fingers together, she stretches out her arms.

"It was a frustrating night in a lot of ways - basically, every hour was either completely dead or completely packed. Just as we were getting into the rhythm of serving customers, everyone would finish up and leave the place empty. Just as we started cleaning, a dozen people would show up. Seriously, it's like the customers were intentionally playing with us - oh, and that's not getting into some of the drink requests. Do you know anyone who takes eight spoonfuls of sugar for one cup? Seriously?"

As much as she's griping - she's not actually angry, but rather brightly smiling. If it keeps Mamoru's mind off of whatever went wrong, there is an endless supply of 'frustrating customer' stories.

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

It's a common trait for protectors especially to need to feel needed-- if they're unnecessary in their all-consuming definition, what are they for? That, right there, is approximately half of Mamoru's problem right there. The other half is a muddled mess of conflicting emotions that are too wide and deep for him to handle.

He feels like she always sees him when he's a mess. Something he'll need to fix when he's less of one.

"Why don't they just take the whole damn sugar bowl?" Mamoru snorts, putting the plates and forks down, and starting to finagle cake pieces onto plates with only cake forks as serving utensils. "And the slices are going to get eaten whether or not you feel bad for them."

An endless supply of frustrating customers is basically a whole new world for rich boy; a more fascinated and sympathetic and incredulous audience Mai will never find.

And maybe by the time Mai goes home, Mamoru will be distracted enough to sleep.

And he's tired enough he might not even dream.