2014-07-18 - The Sum of Her Duties

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Title: The Sum of Her Duties

Runealy tore Mai apart. It's not like her, and everyone's worried. Friendships breaking really bothers Mamoru. He goes to see what he can do.


Runealy Waldia, Mamoru Chiba


The forests past the suburbs

OOC - IC Date:

13 February 2014 - 7/18/2014

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

Rune continues to behave erratically, and in many ways she has gotten worse over the week. She has fallen asleep a few times in class, and any punishments have been blankly obeyed rather than truly cooperated with; sending the princess to stand in the hall did little to make her re-engage with the lessons at hand. She still doesn't mouth off to teachers or student council, but otherwise tends to be sullen, angry, or clearly having her mind elsewhere.

This evening, she has hired a driver to bring her to the edge of Tokyo and then began to march through the hills. Despite the colder weather as of late, Rune has no jacket on; just her modified Ohtori uniform. That it will be getting dark soon doesn't seem to bother her much, as she stomps along with a book bound in red leather held in one hand, regularly reading from it even when this causes her to stumble on terrain she would have otherwise noticed.

If she's heading anywhere in particular, it's either not immediately obvious or is still far enough off to not be in sight.

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

Someone so unrelentingly encouraging, so fiercely protective of her beliefs and supportive of her friends, is -- in the mind of Mamoru Chiba -- in some kind of trouble if she harshed on Mai so hard it sent the HiME on a cascading downward spiral of self-doubt and remonstration. Given the resilient and forgiving tolerance of and willingness to help with Mamoru's own various moods and problems, and, frankly, her love for Sailor Moon? He feels he not only owes her an attempt at helping her with her own issue, but that it's unquestionably the right thing to do.

Buttinsky, seriously. Imperious buttinsky. It's something the Princess of Waldia and the unknowing Prince of Earth have very much in common.

He set out from the rooftops of Tokyo to find Runealy about an hour ago, and his route's been erratic and roundabout, since -- like with Japanese Cherry Blossom -- he didn't really know where to start looking. But he's always been able to find people if he left himself open and trusted fate, or luck, or whatever it is that rules his days and hours. Every now and then he's been stopping to walk, to crouch and take off a glove and run his fingers through the earth, centering himself.

Eventually, impulse leads him past the suburbs and toward the bare winter forests outside the immediacy of civilization. He walks, and the pattern of someone's recent passage through the wildwood emerges in his awareness of his surroundings; he sprints, then, until he sees the brightness of Runealy's uniform ahead of him, her movement through the forest, her stumbling and her ignoring of it.

"Highness--?" he asks at conversational volume while he's still at mild calling-out distance; the silence of the woods in the night-time lends itself to quiet. He's perfectly audible. He's also sporting formalwear in the wilderness. And a cape.

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

Rune stumbles again, but this time it's due to a familiar voice cutting through her thoughts. Teeth clenched, her head lowers to give her a glance at the stream she's walking beside. Her back stays turned, responding without looking at Tuxedo Mask. "What is it?" The question is asked with a hard, demanding edge.

Then she abruptly spins and glares at him. This isn't her usual mix of awe, respect, and interest in the dashing man; she faces him with raw irritation. "What do you want!? This better be important, if you came all the way out here!" Runealy's eyes drift as she speaks, rapidly flickering between the hero before her and the open book in her hand.

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

"Are you important?" asks the absurdly tall teenager somberly, slowing his approach but not stopping. He doesn't flinch from the glare: it only cements his opinion that something is very wrong, that she needs help. Unceremoniously, between one light footstep and the next, the boy drops his henshin to reveal the snowball fighter from Hokkaido, in his own modified Ohtori uniform. Black and white, red tie-- glasses-- same weighted presence, same gravitas.

He finally stops about ten feet from the young princess, regarding her, reading her body language, noting her dedicated preoccupation with the book in her hand and setting the information aside for the moment. "Because you're the reason I came all the way out here. I'm worried for you. What's wrong? Is it something I can help you with?"

COMBAT: Tuxedo Mask transforms into Mamoru Chiba!

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

That question hits hard enough that if Rune had wanted to back away from Tuxedo Mask, she's too stunned to do so now. His footsteps go unopposed, and becoming intentionally revealing himself to be Mamoru delivers another mental shock... one strong enough that she does stagger back a pace or two in reflex, eyes wide. "So you're..." The realization trails off.

Anger quickly returns, her free hand balling into a fist as Mamoru continues to pound her with insightful questions. He's not saying anything awful, but she reacts as though he had. "Am I important? Right now, as I am? No. What I could be is important, and it's what I need to start living up to! Maybe you could help me, but that's the entire problem! I can't have you and everyone else constantly solving everything for me! I've already lost too much time as it is living like that, and now I need to start being useful! And so do you, for that matter!"

Now she's hurling accusations, stomping a foot on the grass in frustration. "Instead of sitting around crying about all this 'drama' you keep getting mixed up in," she's recalling their conversation atop Tokyo Tower not too long ago, "why don't you go back to Tokyo and find something worthwhile!?"

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

He stops, but he still doesn't flinch back, doesn't falter. There's only a nod at Runealy's abortive question -- 'so you're'. Yes: he is. He doesn't relax, or put his hands in his pockets, or do anything to indicate he's taking her any less than completely seriously, but Mamoru saw what Runealy had wrought in Mai's own psyche-- and he wears his customary distance like the subtlest of armors. Removing one mask only reveals another.

She's lashing out, and that, at least, is something he's prepared for...

...and he reacts to it with the same firm patience with which Runealy calmed him on that rooftop in the dawn of the year. "I have a purpose, but your Highness, this isn't about me. What makes you think you're not important as you are?"

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

"Stop calling me that!" Rune makes a demand that might not be entirely unusual for foreign royalty, but it's not made from friendly politeness and a desire to be seen as a person rather than a title. Instead, her anger is only growing as she begins pacing from side to side - mostly favoring one side so she doesn't trip into the stream. "I've been given every chance to succeed, every bit of help you can imagine along the way, and I have nothing to show for it other than pointing at someone to say 'you, go take care of it.' Or begging them for help since I don't know what I'm doing! That's not 'your highness', that's as low as it gets! I'm trying to fix that!"

Her gaze returns to the book, flipping through its pages every so often even as she's talking to Mamoru. "And I can't do that if you keep chasing me around! Stop holding me back, you idiot!" That insult isn't made casually, it's not playful endearment from one friend to another who can expect to harmlessly trade barbs and laugh it off. Those last two words are said with the edge of someone who hopes it hurts.

COMBAT: Runealy Waldia has used Insult on Mamoru Chiba.
COMBAT: Runealy Waldia has finished attacking.
COMBAT: Mamoru Chiba fails to brace Runealy Waldia's Insult, taking 0 Fatigue damage!  Critical Hit!  Mamoru Chiba is Quipped!  

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

'Stop holding me back'-- those are the first words that hit home. Mamoru knows he's no idiot, and he came here emotionally equipped to have anger hurled at him, but that one? That's unexpected, that cuts. It echoes the sentiment Mai had unintentionally invoked with her desire to keep him out of fights, to keep him from being hurt. He thought he'd moved past it.

But it's what he always suspects: he can be handy, sure, but when it comes right down to it, he's a liability, he's a target, he's a distraction to the people important to him.

Runealy may be gratified to see him suddenly stiffen at the demand; until now, her attacks had flowed around him like a smooth rock in an angry river. It's the only reaction she gets, though. He tilts his head back slightly, regarding her with the sort of arch look Ohtori upperclassmen have mastered; the moonlight reflects off his glasses, obscuring his eyes. "I'm afraid you've made a damagingly inaccurate appraisal of your situation, Runealy-san."

Motion reserved and carriage quietly dignified, the older boy clasps his hands behind his back as he continues, tone businesslike, but not condescending. "First of all, having a multitude of friends who are willing to freely offer help is hardly 'accomplishing nothing'. Having friends at all is a worthy accomplishment -- quite possibly one of the best extant measures of success in life. You seem to be laboring under the misapprehension that you're needy, but I've only ever seen you give, not take. Second, and terribly important to any leader in training, effective delegation is something that takes the very proud years to master. If you're telling people to 'go do this' and pointing, and it works, then you're a middle-schooler admirably performing a task that adults find difficult. It's tempting to think you should be able to do everything on your own, but that's incredibly inefficient even if you manage it. It causes burnout, which leads to actual uselessness."

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

Despite this 'success' in hitting a nerve, Rune doesn't crow in victory. She has wanted to drive Mamoru away, and the hidden seal upon her is making it very easy to not care if she upsets people to get what she wants, but she doesn't seem any happier - in either a true sense or a darker satisfaction - to have stung him with her words. Still, she'll take the result since it means she can get back to what she thinks really matters...

...And she doesn't get that. This is surprising; Rune had expected that a few insults cutting at his recent worries would be enough to get Mamoru to give her a few sharp remarks and then storm off. "D... damagingly inaccurate!?" She listens as he explains things in detail and praises her, even offering very good advice that would probably cut through to someone in their right mind.

A princess gripped in obsession, regularly skipping meals, and getting very little sleep as of late is not in their right mind. "You don't know what you're talking about. You're guessing! You're just throwing a bunch of high-sounding junk at me because... what? You're hoping you're right by blind luck? Or maybe you like having someone pathetic around school to look down on so you feel better about yourself!? There are some things I can't delegate! I, personally, have to do them because there is absolutely nobody else who can! And if I don't stop messing around or wasting time, I...!"

That sentence cuts off much as her realization of his identity did, but this time it's for different reasons. It's not shock, but a mix of anger and fear causing her voice to choke up with a gasp. Mamoru's words, and his even being here, are rattling her.

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

Mamoru doesn't make the mistake of sounding kind, or gentle, or understanding. She's not in her right mind; the evidence is everywhere. This isn't like her. Certainly, with only three meaningful encounters, he doesn't know her well-- but he's always been good at reading people, at identifying traits and patterns and drawing relevant conclusions.

The fact that he's rattling her means he's finding some success, despite the ease with which she undercut him a moment ago; he can tell he's getting somewhere.

His expression doesn't change. He doesn't sound soothing, he doesn't sound hurt. Accusations of arrogance and thinking he's better than everyone else aren't, after all, unusual. Accusations of guesswork are -- because he is fairly arrogant -- dismissed as throwing shade to distract him. "Learning to do the things that comprise your responsibilities is very important," he agrees, dropping his arms to his sides and shifting his weight, then stilling again.

"But you can't learn them all at once, and you can't learn them quickly by doing nothing else. It takes time and experience to learn to do things right, Runealy-san, and it takes the care and mutual support structure of friendship to learn to do them meaningfully. What you're doing now, in trying to drive people away so you can focus solely on fixing your perceived shortcomings, is only setting yourself up for the failure you're hoping so desperately to avoid."

The eleventh-grader finally moves, then, taking a step forward, and then another. It's an uncanny mirror of the physical psychology she herself used on him, once upon a January night, but magnified, and underlined by the fact that he's so very tall and so unrelentingly intent. The weight of his full attention is an almost tangible thing. "And that's not guessing. It's pattern recognition. Don't do this. You're worth more to the world as a whole person than as the sum of your duties."

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

"Just stop talking! All you're doing is trying to trick me in to...!" In to what? Rune cuts off because she doesn't immediately know the answer to her own guess, prompting her to look at the book again. This causes her to miss the first footstep, but not the second.

He's getting closer, and still sharing insights. Ones that make so much sense that they threaten to cut through what's compelling her to act this way, and finding herself unable to agree or thank him for his concern, she becomes frightened. His second step is met with her retreating an equal distance, eyes wide and head shaking with enough force to swish her hair about slightly.

"I've had time to learn, and the best teacher in the wor--" She catches the mistake; that phrase isn't technically right when one is on Earth. "In any world! I don't need you or Sailor Moon or anyone else telling me what I ought to be doing! Not when the only person whose opinion really mattered knew I'm shaping up to be a complete failure! So just go away and stop bothering me!"

Runealy abruptly twirls, beginning to stomp away. Notably, it's not in the same direction she was originally heading before Tuxedo Mask spoke. He might not be winning her over to his point of view, but he has had enough impact that she is at least changing her destination. She's also moving slowly enough that it would be pretty easy to keep up with her. Some of this isn't strictly intentional; between her fatigue and all these outbursts, the princess looks to be breathing harder than normal.

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

Ignoring the demand but respecting the distance, Mamoru continues to listen and starts to follow Rune, keeping the same number of paces between them that they'd maintained previously. "I didn't think I was telling you what you ought to do; I'm sorry if I was. I figured someone should point out the consequences of your current course, since the information doesn't seem to have been made available to you," he tells the back of her head as he travels in her wake.

"If you want to make me go away, to shut up and stop bothering you--" It's phrased like there's the potential that it's not what she wants. He knows it's what she wants. He also thinks she's really unstable right now. "--show me. Make me understand. Make me understand why it's not my business to try and help someone who fights for justice and decency and kindness when she's hurting. Show me you're not hurting yourself."

It takes the older boy a second to actually force the words out. "Take my hand and show me. And then I'll leave you alone."

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

The apology and explanation dull Rune's anger, but this doesn't make her any happier or calm her down. Her fear just continues to grow, eyes jolted wide when Mamoru mentions the consequences to her actions. He might not directly see that on her face, not from this angle, but there is a sudden change - a near stumble - in her step when he says those words. He hit upon something important.

"I know the consequences. I know exactly what's going to happen if I don't get busy and start doing things the right way! Sooner or later my home will fall apart, and yours might follow after that!" The insults have stopped, though Runealy's voice is getting more manic and words are starting to blur together.

When he asks for a hand, she looks over-shoulder at one of Mamoru's. Her memories flash back to a time she can recall when someone offered their hand for a very significant reason. It's an event Mamoru might not have knowledge of, a time when Rune found herself on the floor of a mall with her life seemingly collapsing around her and Japanese Cherry Blossom held out a hand that proved to be the first step in making everything better.

With her mind gripped in obsession over the seal-modified book, the prospect of someone else solving her problems plays anew in her mind and Runealy does not want it. "You don't need to understand! Just... just don't follow me! I've been letting you get away with acting like this since you're helping Eri, but you're pushing it! Leave me alone!"

Lashing out with panic rather than mockery, Rune begins running away. She's still not heading in her original direction, instead intent on both getting distance from that as well as Mamoru. He may not have outright convinced her, but he has managed to jar Rune's thoughts and force her seal-guided obsession to be carried out differently.

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

When Runealy starts running from him, Mamoru stops, watching helplessly. Whatever's bothering her is beyond his ability to solve. He was willing to follow hey, but chasing--? No.

He's not going to chase a middle-school girl through the woods when she's afraid of him.

"Please talk to your friends!" he calls after her, worry thickening his voice as it recedes behind her. "You don't need to be alone!!"

Silence answers Mamoru's fear for the bright-hearted princess, there in the bleached dimness of the cold, moonlit winter woods, and he stands there for a long moment, motionless. Finally, he turns away, starting the long trek back to the closest train station. He is, at the very least, resolved to take his own delegation advice and recruit someone who passed remedial friendship class to deal with this.