2014-09-12 - There's Totally A Race

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Title: There's Totally A Race

That awkward moment when you're in the hospital, your girlfriend is visiting, and your former crush walks in - and they know each other. And things can only get thornier from there. That and hilarious.


Mai Tokiha, Shiori Takatsuki, Mamoru Chiba


Mitakihara General Hospital

OOC - IC Date:

13 March 2014 - 09/12/2014

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

After a couple of days of care, Mai is feeling better. Unfortunately, she can't just summarily check herself out - not without setting a poor example for Takumi. In the name of being a role model, she has to stay until she's been given the proper all-clear.

There is admittedly the side 'bonus' that she's missing out on all the exams she was too busy being brainwashed to study for. Make-up exams are in her future, guaranteed.

For lack of much else to do, she has one of her textbooks out. Brought from home by a very helpful Shiori, closed on her lap, ready to be studied in the hours she has to herself while everyone's at school. That, however, is for later, when visiting hours are up; at the moment, she isn't in mind-numbing solitude.

"...at which point the pool's manager basically told us to never come back. Seemed a bit harsh - the waterslide was no big loss, frankly - but that was basically that." Mai gives Shiori a half-smile - more amused than angry at this reminiscence. "There's other places to go, though - what about you, anywhere we should rule out for trips?"

<Pose Tracker> Shiori Takatsuki [Infinity Institute (10)] has posed.

Well, if Mai can't check herself out--and really, it's not so bad to be somewhere they take care of you, right?--then Shiori will have to make a lot of visits! She does so eagerly, even, and indeed is about as helpful as she can be.

Though exams are certainly tiring. She doesn't get to get out of them so easily. Well, 'easily'.

"Haha, really?" Shiori answers at first, in good spirits along with. "Well, if he's going to be that uptight about everything, it's probably not that great a pool anyway, right?" Hrm--her? Places not to go? "Well.."

Knock knock.

"Hm? I'll get it, Mai-chan." Standing, still in uniform, Shiori practically skips over to the door, opening it with one hand and peeering through--and then up past a uniform up at Mamoru's face. The purple-haired girl is smiling already, but tilts her head in surprise. "Oh! Chiba-san?" she asks, and grins suddenly as she remembers a certain train ride.

"Mai-chan! Looks like you have a visitor! Should I let him in?" She opens the door a little more widely, so she can see.

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

Voices! The tablet Mamoru's holding is perfectly safe until Shiori opens the door, at which point he almost drops it, because Shiori.

BUT HE DOESN'T. There's only the slightest flicker across his face of total cognitive dissonance before he gives the purple-haired girl a crooked smile and holds the tablet up, waving it a little. "Takatsuki-san, hello." He glances past her to Mai and says easily, "I can come back, or just drop this off, whichever; I thought you might like my exams from last year for a study guide."

That crooked smile's a mask, certainly; the glasses he's wearing help with it, partially obscuring his eyes with a reflection of the light in the room. Reserved motions, collected appearance with the slightest hint of casual rakishness to his hair and looseness to his tie-- his Ohtori image has entered the building in pure kneejerk preemptive self-defense.

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

Even in this situation, Mai was halfway to getting up and saying 'no, I'll get it' - but she managed to remember her position in time. Shiori has this handled, and Mai's supposed to be getting rest. So, she...waits, and gets waited on. Kind of an awkward position to be in - but a visitor might distract her from it.

The chipper grin can be heard even before Shiori's words register, and Mai turns to look. Mamoru Chiba, framed by the doorway, large as life with his Ominous Ohtori Glasses. There's a moment while she considers the situation, and what to do here...but she's comfortable talking now, and if not Mamoru in the daytime it'll be Tuxedo Mask at night.

The most serious conversation can be saved for another day, right?

"Go ahead and let him in, Shiori-chan - I assume the two of you have met before, then?" Mai gives Shiori a smile first, and then gives one to Mamoru - not a fiery taunt, just a welcoming warmth. "That would honestly help, Chiba-san - I'm writing make-ups regardless at this rate, but assuming you're not plotting some sabotage..."

There might be a bit of a smirk there, after all.

<Pose Tracker> Shiori Takatsuki [Infinity Institute (10)] has posed.

Shiori, conveniently, is quick; she's across the room in time to make it not worth Mai's while to get up anyway. While it may be awkward for her, Shiori herself seems not to mind; she's happy to be able to do something to help, or to just sit there and chat.

Or, as the case may be, answer the door and find a pretty good memory waiting for her.

She doesn't really notice the shield of his identity, instead keeping up her grin. "We have!" she reports back cheerfully. "I guess I shouldn't be surprised that you would've too--same school and everything, and pretty people like you just go together."

She steps inside and--well actully she does glance at Mai's face about the sabotage, though it seems it's not a thing.

It seems plausible to her, though.

"There's a spare chair," she says, gesturing, "And don't worry, Chiba-san. You're safe from me today! I'm just here for Mai-chan."

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

"You know I wouldn't sabotage you," Mamoru scolds mildly, giving Mai an exaggerated frown to go with it; both the taunt and the reaction seem rote, when taken together. It also results in a tiny release of tension about his shoulders. When Shiori steps aside to let him pass, he gives her a wry look, eyes briefly visible behind the spectacles-- and then he's inside, and he hands over the tablet before moving to claim the chair.

"We met on the train back from Hokkaido, yes-- more or less through Tsukino-san."

Though there's nothing but breezy amiability in his tone and his face and his posture, the fact that there's nothing but that, coupled with his choices in phrasing, could very well indicate that there's some sort of a loaded topic here.

He glosses past 'pretty people like you go together' entirely.

Leaning in the chair a little, Mamoru props himself up on one arm of it with his elbow and lets his legs stretch out, taking up far more space than anyone really ought to. He does actually look pleased at Shiori's last statement. "Good. I'd be worried for your sanity if you were in Mai-chan's hospital room for me."

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

The joking expression on Mai's face swiftly shifts to startled surprise, and then a heated flush. Being filed under 'pretty people' was one thing before, but now...she doesn't quite gloss past it so easily. Blame the exhaustion, or the tedium of being trapped in a small hospital room for day, or whatever might be on her mind.

Mamoru's return to dorkiness, however, is reassuring, and the blush fades as Mai laughs just a bit. He gets a nod, and Mai takes the tablet to set next to her bedside. "Sorry to impose - but not so sorry I won't take you up on the offer. If it had been any other week..." She shakes her head, and considers. Shiori-chan knows Tsukino as well? Small world.

...of course, Mamoru looks tense, and Shiori is teasing just a bit... "In fairness, Chiba-san - if someone only listened to the rumour mill, it's a reasonable thing to try."

...especially given the arcade the other day. The thought just slips in, and interrupts her train of thought utterly. "...and 'today'? Was there a battle over the last seat, or something?"

<Pose Tracker> Shiori Takatsuki [Infinity Institute (10)] has posed.

When Mai goes red, Shiori glaaances her way, her face not visible to Mamoru thanks to the angle--and smiles right at her. She may actually have winked, but surely that's just a trick of the light, or Mai's exhaustion.

(Shiori winked.)

She doesn't know him well enough to pick up on any deeper meaning to his calm tone, except of course for the part where she was there. "It was nice," she says mildly.

"I think it was a good choice," she offers Mai, taking her own seat back as well. She takes up much less space; in fact, she generally looks as if she might blow away in a stiff wind. "He looks pretty smart." There's a beat, and then she actually laughs, lifting her hand to cover her mouth politely. "Good point. But--" ...The rumor mill...? Shiori turns and looks guilelessly at Mai. "Did I miss something?"


The Infinity student's face takes on an innocent, nearly angelic look at the question. "Hmmm? Oh, well, you could say that," she answers. "He may seem stiff, but he's actually pretty comfortable."

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

Mamoru Chiba, 0. Shiori Takatsuki, 1.

Granted, there was a momentary distraction when Mai blushed, which had Mamoru starting to look curious and sit up a little bit, glancing between the two with interest--

The last thing Shiori says slices right through every single defensive layer of armor the eleventh grader's been firmly and carefully building, and all of a sudden he's flushed bright red and looks away, scowling.

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

...yup, she meant it in that way. All Mai can do in response to the wink is clear her throat, and try to move on. Maybe focus on what Shiori was saying, obtuse as it was. Stiff but comfortable? Confused, Mai turns to Mamoru for clarification, but there is only blazing crimson. What in the world-

-oh. OH.

Mai's hand comes up to meet her forehead. She takes a moment to catch her breath, her shoulders shuddering with repressed giggles. Shiori-chan seriously couldn't have...or maybe Mai's friend is a lot more playful than she lets on.

Perhaps an explanation would help. "In brief - in spite of my trying to avoid getting involved with anyone, and Chiba-san's insistence on not dating anyone, there's rumours of us being together. Admittedly not helped by the fact that I've given him leftovers a few times for lunch - or by him being vocal only around me, some days - but it's blown out of proportion." And then the giggling comes back, and Mai shoots Shiori a reproachful, but noticeably amused look. "Especially since I, at least, haven't used him as a /chair/."

<Pose Tracker> Shiori Takatsuki [Infinity Institute (10)] has posed.

Shiori meant it in precisely that way. Of course, she doesn't dwell on it to rub it in or anything. Instead, she peers between the others as the mention of the rumor mill for a moment.

She is not blushing at all. She just looks like she's in a terribly good mood, that's all, hands folded in her lap as she chats.

...When Mamoru finally bursts into blushing red and looks away, the purple-haired girl starts giggling, too, unable to breathe in the next couple of moments, which is just as well, because it would have been terribly rude to interrupt Mai's explanation. Buuut...

The giggles are back at the reproach, and she lifts her hand, "Haha, I'm kidding, Mai-chan. Or, well--It happened, but it was harmless. Sadly, Chiba-san wasn't really interested. But he's a lot of fun anyway, isn't he?" Hee hee. "Is that terrible of me?"

"Hmmm, though, I guess I can see the rumors anyway. I'd buy it with you two." Beat, "But, you're just friends. It's not like I have to worry."

Shiori looks to Mai and to Mamoru. Her tone hasn't changed or anything but she nevertheless feels compelled to ask, "...Right?"

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

"We're 'just friends, yes," Mamoru interjects, clipped and, briefly, fiercely annoyed as he glances halfway up to side-eye both Shiori and Mai with a look of accusation that can't actually disguise the massive sulk at being teased in stereo.

But then the other part of that registers, and it's with mixed absurdly desperate desire for a topic change and honest interest that he straightens up in his chair and abruptly looks very very canny. "Worry?" he repeats slyly, a slow grin starting at one corner of his mouth. "Are you two a thing?"

Finally, the older boy takes off his glasses, and his blue eyes are bright and look a hell of a lot warmer all of a sudden as he looks between them. "Does this mean Eri-chan will finally stop trying to throw us together? Does she know?"

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

Mamoru Chiba, in Mai's opinion, is absolutely a lot of fun to tease. Unfortunately, using him for fun brings a certain incident to mind - at least whatever Shiori's done is just harmless fun, right? Of course, she moves on - and comments on buying the rumours, a prospect that turns introspection into outright sputtering. "If you believe all the rumours, I'm in at least one threesome, and I have a pet demon who declares vengeance on kendo practitioners and curry bread."

One of these is at least sort of true.

Mai nods at Mamoru's serious assertion. "I bowed out of that race a long while ago, Shiori-chan - handsome as he might be, you don't have to worry." From reassurance, she turns to Mamoru for confession. "We're...trying a thing. As for Eri-chan, she was encouraging me in this more than any of these supposed attempts to set us up."

There's a grin there, and Mai's tone is fully shifting to playful. "Were you scared of the middle-schooler's schemes, Chiba-san~?"

<Pose Tracker> Shiori Takatsuki [Infinity Institute (10)] has posed.

Here Shiori is actually in her comfort zone, so Mamoru's glare of accusation prompts another little laugh that she manages to suppress this time, like she's being stared down by a teacher. ...Only, not a real teacher because then she'd probably stop laughing. But Mamoru's dignity will have a chance for its revenge regardless; not privy to Mai's thoughts, she can just grin over at the sputtering, right up until--

Her eyes widen at one of those rumors in particular. She oes not say which.

Instead, Mamoru's question revives her and this time her smile is smaller, her lips not quite so wide. She's downright shy as Mai answers, and nods lightly before looking back Mai's way. "Was she?" she asks.

Looking up, she grins, too, hearing the way Mai talks. "My, my. Well, he does get so nervous, I notice," she points out 'helpfully.' "If it makes you feel better, I could look out for someone else to set you up with, Chiba-san."

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

"Ugh, there's no race-- and I wasn't scared, it's just that I must've told her seventeen times to knock it off," complains Mamoru, slouching back in his seat and crossing his arms, scowling all over again. Where his glasses half-hid his eyes before, and then they were so bright and keen a second ago, now they're half-occluded by his hair falling into his face and shadowing it a little.

He rolls his eyes and turns his head away, glaring at the wall. "I was GOING to say I'm happy for you. Now I'm just going to say you'd better not. If I didn't date before, all this nonsense has only cemented it."

A half second later and he's tilted his head slightly forward, eyeing the two girls through his hair reproachfully. Then he looks away again and lets out a short, tiny sigh before his jaw sets. "I have enough to worry about without adding someone trusting me but only so far."

With that, he unfolds from the chair and straightens his uniform jacket, pulling on his self-possession like a cloak. "Or accusing me of dishonesty when she can't tell me the truth," he adds against his better judgement, then puts his glasses back on. "If you have any questions about anything in my notes or exams, call me. Takatsuki-san, I'm glad you're well. I have to go study for my soc exam, so if you ladies will excuse me..."

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

Mai catches Shiori's eye at the brief question, and gives a quick nod. Then the grumbling starts, and she tries to get a word in edgewise. Tries being the operative word - it's largely muttered under her breath. "You might not be running in the race, but that doesn't mean there isn't-"

And then Shiori makes her suggestion, and Mai doesn't hide her wince. The thought of the topic alone makes her flinch, and then she glances down at her lap at the comment of 'all this nonsense'. He must have been more bothered than he'd let on, the other night...

She feels tired. Part of her wants to explain about the other night, that it's not him that's not trustworthy - but she can't, without having to explain to Shiori why Mamoru runs around at three in the morning. The thought that someone else might have been just as terrible doesn't cross her mind - the words resolving the incident from a few days ago remain unspoken.

And her joke from earlier must just be the icing on the disaster cake she's made of this friendship. She opens her mouth to speak, but hesitates - the words not willing to come to her. It's only as he's standing to go that she says anything.

"Chiba-san- thank you. And...I really am sorry." Words, said timidly, that needed to be said and will warrant later explanation.

<Pose Tracker> Shiori Takatsuki [Infinity Institute (10)] has posed.

Shiori is admittedly skeptical of Mamoru's first statement; of course there's a race. He's clearly a popular guy. But then, for her, this doesn't have the weight of knowing all that much about how Mamoru ticks. She misses the wince entirely, and instead only hears the harsh response.

...Which, well, doesn't faze her; she was teasing, giving a statement without really thinking it through or understanding context to which she lacks access. It's when Mamoru goes on where he does, something about trust and dishonesty, that she blinks, confused. A glance between the two of them clears absolutely nothing up for her at the moment.

"...It was nice to see you, Chiba-san," she offers brightly. "Good luck on your exams!"

"...I'm sure whatever it was will be all right," she offers Mai innocently, her attention shifted entirely back to the hospital room's occupant.

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

"You're fine," Mamoru says shortly to Mai, giving her a quick, thin smile that doesn't reach his eyes as he pauses by the door. "I told you it wasn't your fault, and I'm actually going to get mad if you keep blaming yourself for basically being possessed."

Hand, doorknob. He nods briefly to Shiori. "Thanks. And you on yours."

Then the upperclassman just stands there for a second, looking at his hand on the door. His voice is really quiet. "It's her. You know it's always her, Mai-chan. So don't beat yourself up." A glance over his shoulder at Shiori, and he's so fierce in that moment. "Don't let her beat herself up."

He yanks open the door, then, and stalks out; the tap-tap of his feet on the linoleum outside recedes at an even pace.

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

There is absolutely a race. It's something Mai has been meaning to talk with him about, but...it's not something she wants to bring up. There are conversations she'd rather have. Like talking with a dragon.

Her flickering heart finds footing at the 'possessed' comment, and her head comes up to fire a look at the retreating Mamoru. Sure, he knows and Shiori knows but he had no way of knowing that...can that be taken innocently? And then-

Absolution, perhaps? Those words, stated but moments ago, ring in her ears once more...there's other things bothering him. That much is clear. But...Mamoru being angry at someone else's actions doesn't make what she contributed any less complicating. Or any more forgivable. By the time these thoughts are done, the moment's gone, and he's already stormed out. All Mai can do is sigh.

And then look up sharply when her phone buzzes. There's a text message, and she looks at it to see what words have been sent her way-

Guilt and despair and self-loathing are, momentarily, banished from Mai's voice as she throws the open phone down on the bed. "That man is impossible. Completely. Abandon plans of setting him up, Shiori-chan, I wouldn't inflict him on anyone I know!"

The phone's screen cheekily displays an ASCII-art trilobite.

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