2015-08-14 - The Proud Camry Name

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Title: The Proud Camry Name

Unbeknownst to Lera, Lindy gave her mom a call. Meria Camry pays a surprise visit to her daughter. They work some things out.


Lera Camry and Meria Camry


The roof of Lindy Harlaown's apartment.

OOC - IC Date:

8-14-2014 - 8-14-2015

It hasn't been a pleasant week for Lera.

She came to Earth to bring Broken Ground back. The day she left, her mother put her hands on her shoulders and told her something she never forgot: 'Don't get hurt. Just find Ground quickly and come back safe, okay?' Ever since then, she felt like she did a bad job of honoring that wish. She had involved herself in the problems of this planet without hesitation. She had gotten hurt several times.

And now, having lost her temper, she lost Sky. She flew after Jaren Zastava, after he unearthed the Lost Logia known as Citadel, and tried to defeat her mother's former and treacherous assistant. She failed, and her Device was broken. She was injured, too. Somehow, she ended up at Lindy Harlaown's house -- mostly because Fate was there, but she knew it was safe.

Chrono used his healing magic, so she is healed, but she can't say she is better.

She doesn't know that Lindy put a call into her mother, though. That will be a surprise.

Ever since she was little, Lera found an easy way to get some privacy: climb high. With Sky, this meant leaping atop buildings. Without Sky, it means what she did as a child. Lera has found her way to the roof access of Lindy's apartment building.

Now, she sits near the edge of the roof, looking out over Tokyo. She leans back, watching the afternoon sky idly. She looks calmer than she had been, but anyone who knows her can see that she looks depressed; her eyes are half-lidded, her expression worn. Her hair is pulled back into a rough ponytail, instead of combed.

She has her hands on her knee, while she looks out. She doesn't expect anyone to join her.

With the subspace corridors in flux, still playing out the massive dimensional tremors let loose by the Garden of Time, travel between Earth and Midchilda has become nigh-impossible.

Nigh-impossible, that is, unless you're Meria Camry.

Who knows how she got here. Maybe she manufactured an entirely new Device dedicated to stabilizing a tiny transport. Maybe she re-engineered an existing Device somehow. Maybe she wasn't actually on Midchilda at the time, and is as stuck away from it as everyone else on Earth.

But when she puts her hands on Lera's shoulders again, this time from behind, her presence is unmistakable. A little of her orange hair has escaped its hasty, indifferent-to-perfection bun, and trails over first her own shoulder and then her daughter's, blown by the higher-altitude wind. And she smells, as usual, like mysterious metals and stew ingredients that ought never have been combined. She probably hasn't been eating as well since Lera went to Earth, though her hands are hardly emaciated.

"Hey," she greets otherwise-invisibly. She feels warm, warmer than that wind and most other things, as she settles her scant weight further down around Lera, hugging her tightly. "Missed you, kiddo."

The hands on Lera's shoulders make her jump, not out of fright, because it's a familiarity that she didn't expect. She lets out a tiny squeak of surprise, while her mind and heart try to make sense of what her senses all tell her. It shouldn't be possible; she shouldn't be feeling those hands, seeing that tuft of orange hair, or smelling that strange and comforting and familiar smell. It shouldn't be here.

It should be back on Midchilda.

But then it starts to make sense. Of course, she thinks, Lindy Harlaown knows who Meria Camry is. She doesn't manufacture Devices, she crafts them. Mages have a way of knowing who the Meisters are. She puts that together, quickly, though it seems shaky -- and hard to believe. She thinks of all the fears and dreads, but they vanish for just a moment.

Her mother, the woman she feared might walk out of her life after this failure, didn't. She came her.

"M-Mom!" she cries out, turning and throwing her arms back around her. She hugs tightly, burying her face in her shoulder; it isn't at all unlike what she did as a little girl. "You're here! But--the dimensional faults, and--did Miss Lindy tell you? A lot happened, y'know? Um--" She pauses, as she gets a good moment with her face buried there. "Did you--have you been eating okay?"

She has her priorities.

Lera can feel Meria's gentle grin vibrate the very air, transform the world around it in that distinctive way it has. Having to see it is unnecessary, though a muscle that changes in that sensible shoulder is also a clue as to its presence.

"My, my," she chides dryly. "If you ever called or wrote, maybe you'd know more about my diet! To think it took an injury to give me an excuse to see my daughter again. You'd better watch out, or I shall have to start arranging them."

She squeezes more tightly -- not that it wasn't already obvious that she's only jesting, in her lilting voice, in order to relieve the sheer pressure in her own heart. "I am so glad to see you," she repeats, using different words this time. "So glad. You may have been too busy to keep in touch, Lera-chan, but it sounds like the best of reasons."

"Ah, Mom, I..." She laughs, but Lera feels that little pang of guilt. She didn't write or call nearly enough. It was rare; it was usually to update her on the mission. After all, she tossed aside Meria's hopes for her to be a Device Meister. It seemed unfair to go on about how life here was great -- or, worse, admit that she missed her. "I'm sorry. I should have called more, y'know? I..."

The ramble stops before it can start, when she feels Meria hug her tighter and say that. 'The best of reasons.' She hugs her back, but she pulls back to look at her.

"I am, too," she admits. "But I--" The smile on her face fades, and she looks down at the ground. "I don't know about that. I... I got in a lot of trouble. I got hurt, I lost Sky and Jaren has him, too, now." And Broken Ground. She looks down and the dread that she felt for the past year, every single time she thought about this conversation, comes to the surface. She played it out in her head a hundred times before.

"I didn't stay safe. I didn't get Ground back--I did worse than that," she says, quietly. She thinks back to all of those times, when she was little, when she tried to throw herself into a science project -- or an engineering project -- or build a simple Storage Device for class. She would pour her heart into it, for her mother's sake, and the same results happened every time: a low mark and the words 'needs improvement.' Lera looks back at the ground. "I screwed up."

A beat. "Again. You're... you're disappointed in me, right? You gotta be."

"Hmm," Meria reflects, still dryer than most deserts. "Which part should I be disappointed in? The part where you've bonded with Soaring Sky more closely than any ten mages three times your age that I could name? Or the part where the two of you worked together to track down that criminal's movements and reveal much of his plan? Or," she purses her lips, "Maybe you mean the part where you intervened, over and over, to protect this world -- and many others put at risk -- from powers more dark and dangerous than nearly any Lost Logia I can imagine?"

Nearly any. She has a big imagination -- and a long memory.

Her voice softens, warms, like a cat kneading a pillow before settling down for a nap.

"You punch above your weight class so often, sooner or later you're going to lose. It's what happens after that matters, and why I'm always so proud of you."

She leans over and kisses Lera's brow, right between ear and hairline.

Then she yanks on her ear, not painfully but with a firm tweak.

"But really, my darling... Propane Cheeseburger-chan?" Now some actual disapproval sneaks into her voice, on a topic so inconsequential that it's laughable -- and, indeed, laughter is lurking in her tone as well. "Who are the Cheeseburgers, and why is that more worthy of announcement than the proud Camry name? You haven't gotten married, have you?"

She prepared so long to find out that she disappointed her that, faced with the truth, Lera short circuits.

She stares up at her, trying to make sense of words that she had been told, coming from the person -- and with the voice -- that she never dared to imagine them from. It's better than anything she could have ever imagined happening. The worst case scenario vanishes from her mind's eye; that image of Meria's disapproving frown, then her turning and walking away, falls away like the sand it is.

"Mom..." She looks up at her -- a rare thing, given the difference in their heights -- and bites her lip. She tears up after the kiss on her brow, biting her lip. Before she really starts, though, she gets pulled over by the playful tug on her ear. "H-Hey, it was... everyone here kinda makes up a name, and I panicked because I thought I needed be like them, and--"

She sighs. She knows how that is. "It was just the first thing that came to mind! I skipped lunch. And that place, America, apparently they use fossil fuels." A beat. "The whole planet does, by the way. Sky complained about it constantly."

She hugs Meria back, arms tightening around her again her, tighter than before. "...thanks, Mom. I... I was just scared. I thought--I thought you were disappointed because I didn't become a Meister. I know you like it, you wanted me to like it, and I... didn't do that."

With the hug tightness escalating, Meria escalates it further. Lera is both bigger and stronger than she, but she's got mom field advantage, squeezing until her daughter can do little but squeak.

"You are your own person. I'm a Meister, and you're -- you're a hero. You've already done things, faced things, that would make me go hide under the covers and not leave my bed for a week. I couldn't be prouder, and really, your journey has only just begun."

Lera can feel the heat of her cheeks as they flush, though, and she adds, neither grumpily nor grudgingly but perhaps with a bit of regret, "I was harder on you than I ought to have been, sometimes. I was wrong... and I am so sorry to have done anything that ever made you afraid. I'll love you forever, kiddo, no matter what. Even if you do marry an American cheeseburger, I will still be your mother and you will still be my daughter."

Finally she pulls away, though not very far. "You shouldn't talk about Sky in the past tense like that. I have no doubt he is, even now, waiting for you to go get him back. The Device chooses the wielder... and Sky is difficult to impress. I'm proud of you for that, too. He might be in another person's custody, but you are still his partner -- so act like it, child!"

Ordinarily, Lera prides herself on being able to out hug anyone. Today, though, she wants this: to just hug her mother, tightly as she can, and let that vice that been around her heart slip away.

She looks up again. It feels hard to imagine Meria Camry hiding under the covers, but Lera scarcely gives herself enough credit. She starts to realize that, though. If her mother has faith in her -- and Fate, and Ren, and even (in a strange, roundabout way) Eas -- maybe it's high time that she starts to have faith in herself.

She bites her lip, though, at Meria's admission. The weight that had been on her heart -- pushing her down, crushing her sometimes, and leaving her struggling -- is lifted. She wipes her eyes, then she nods. "I'm sorry, too," she says, quietly. "I know I lost my temper, y'know? And I said things, and--and they weren't fair."

She lets out a sigh that relases far more than pent up air.

Her expression becomes more serious, though, at her mention. She sits up straighter, pulling back from the hug only a little. When she nods, it looks serious and, for the first time in a few days, with some confidence. "Yeah," she says. "I need to get him back. I've got friends who promised they'd help--um, with the Lost Logia that Jaren is stealing, too. He's waiting for me, right?"

"Hey, I'm the adult here!" Meria protests with a fond smile, when Lera starts apologizing. "Seriously -- you may be taking care of all these local kids like a big sister, but you're not responsible for us. That has to come from me... and if I made you feel afraid, then I have something to work on."

Her smile widens. "Besides, no matter how old you get, you'll always be my little girl. You should just make your peace about that."

It widens further as Lera continues to speak. She nods, once, twice. "It's surely true. Here, let me see that..." Her hand snakes out to grab the necklace that she gave her daughter long ago. When it makes contact, light blooms from between her fingers, a swirl of tiny Midchildan rune circles that spiral into and around and through in a mystical knot of Gordian scope.

"Once you've got him, use your pendant to activate this program. And remember -- what comes next is really coming from you, not from me. All the Meisters in all the worlds can't engineer what really matters, and that's what's in your heart. I may have forgotten that... and it took you to remind me."

Another hug, this one a little dewey. Lera may come away damp.

"Go get 'em, kiddo."

Lera opens her mouth to protest by instinct, but after a couple of thoughts flick through her head, she stops short of that. She remembers what Fate told her earlier today; she decides to surrender that. She smiles back at her. "I'll work on that," she says, grinning back sheepishly. "It's not so bad, anyways, y'know? I can get my cool mom to invent all sorts of--huh?"

If there is one thing that Lera will never quite learn to predict, it's her mother's ability to grab ahold of her ear -- or her pendant, or her hair, or hand -- before she can see it coming. She startles when her pendant is clutched and looks down at it.

Her eyes light up when she sees the tiny rune circles appear, then spiral down into it. Her hand comes up to catch the pendant; her fingers pinch it, and she sees the soft glow coming from it. She nods her head, once, before she looks up at Meria. She can only guess how the program works; she knows, though, what she has to do. She bites her lip again, nodding against her mother's shoulder when she gets pulled into the hug.

She hugs her back tightly, keeping quiet at first; she doesn't trust herself to not cry. She spent a long time wondering what would happen if she failed. She realizes, though, that she couldn't fail. She never could lose her mother. She can't lose Sky, either. Lera pulls back and smiles, managing to speak clearly. "Mom... thanks. I love you. And..."

She grabs her hand, suddenly. Like mother, like daughter. Lera stands to her feet and gives her a tug. "...I gotta call up the others, so we can make a plan for Jaren's Lost Logia," she says. "So we've got some time. We should get some real food into you, instead of cinnamon toast and ham ravioli sandwiches. I'll make your favorite."

She starts for the door to the stairs -- but Lera pauses for a moment. She laughs sheepishly, "Think of it as an apology, anyways, because I kind of maybe sort of told people that Magical Cheeseburger Propane-chan's mother is the Amazing Lady Stromboli-sama so hey let's get to the kitchen!"