2015-08-19 - I Need Your Help
|Title: I Need Your Help|
Fate and Lera discuss the plans for recovering Soaring Sky.
Lindy Harlaown's Apartment
| OOC - IC Date:|
<18 August 2014 - 8-19-2015>
Lera has spent more time at Lindy's apartment than her own, lately. Part of it has to do with the necessity of planning and discussing the situation at hand. The shimmering barrier of rainbow light around Tokyo Tower is a sign that things have gone terribly wrong with Citadel. Lindy Harlaown and Meria Camry have spent some time trying to figure out what is happening. The other part of Lera's increased presence, though, is simpler: without Sky, she feels lonely in her dorm room.
So this Sunday morning, Lera is here earlier than she might be normally. It is mid-morning and the girl is at the table, sitting there and looking over something on her tablet (not plans, but rather a news magazine). She has a glass of orange juice and a plate of donuts.
She wears the usual outfit for walking around Tokyo; one of her orange tanktops, the biker shorts that she likes, and sneakers. She has one of them off; the other is still on. The sunglasses with sunflowers, though, aren't on. She has those sitting on the desk. The thought of who gave her that gift is a little too painful to wear them casually, right now.
But they aren't thrown away either.
She is waiting for Fate at the moment, while she idly swipes along through magazine articles on her tablet. The girl represses a yawn, while rubbing her eyes.
A week ago, Lindy Harlaown told Fate that she'd be starting Infinity Institute this term. She'd thanked her politely, then in private had cried all night.
Today, she'd gone out for errands extra early, only to return mid-morning and find a box on her bed. It took her a while to muster up the courage to open it, only to find a uniform dress she found to be incredibly cute ... and more evidence that she'd be going to start school in a scant week.
She'd sat in the corner ever since, forehead upon her knees. It was a knock on the door, that interrupted her sniffling. "Fate-chan?" Came the muffled timbre of Amy Limietta. Taking a few moments to wipe her eyes and compose herself, she stood up, brushed herself off, and quickly sat herself on the bed beside the box. "Come in."
It opened slowly to a cheerful young woman, whose kindly looked smoothed away after a short while like she wasn't fooled for even a moment, "What's wrong?" "Nothing's wrong-" Amy's eyes drifted to the open box, as Fate's drifted to her lap, "-I'm fine. I'm perfectly fine." "It's okay to tell people when something is wrong you know." Her worried look faded after a moment, "Lera-chan is here to see you. I can keep her company for a while if you want." 'I can stall.'
Fate looked up and quickly said "No. No, I'll be right down." "Alright, but-" Moving close, she leaned over her, drawing Fate's eyes, "-you and me are going to talk about this later, alright? Just between us." She straightened, then held up a single finger, "I still remember how terrifying my first day of school was after all." "Alright, Amy." Fate finally replied softly, without any real enthusiasm. "Thank you."
Not long after, she was coming down the stairs of the spacious two story apartment. Today she was in a ruffled black blouse with a tie at the neck, and a white skirt. Her gaze wanders as she descends, spotting Lera at the table. Moving to the kitchen smoothly, she had her hands folded in front of her. "Hello Lera." She eyed the plate of orange juice, and the donuts, eyes drifting to the sunglasses briefly, before looking back up at her. Obligations first, she had to be polite to a house guest, even one who seemed like they were well taken care of. "How are you doing? Can I get you anything?"
"Hey, Fate," Lera says. She looks better than the time she spent her time crying her eyes out in her room here. She has seen Fate since -- it would be hard not to -- but nothing so heavy followed, and it was often with someone else around. She turns and smiles at Fate, waving her hand at her. "Want a donut?"
She motions at the plate of donuts; then she pushes the button on the table. She glances at the girl -- and then she hesitates for a moment. She can't quite spot what is wrong. After all, Fate recovered her composure. She has the brief thought there may be something awry without knowing what or why.
She lets the thought pass for a moment.
"I, um--I wanted to talk to you," she says. "About... the stuff we talked about last time, actually. I had a couple ideas and... y'know. If that's okay."
Asking for help still isn't easy for her.
"Sure." Fate slowly takes a seat near Lera, and slowly her hand hovers near the plate of donuts. Slowly she grasps a napkin, then a glazed donut within it, pinching it. She takes a single bite, and chews. She lets Lera talk.
For a while it seems like she's perfectly happy to just enjoy the sweet taste of the donut. Maybe it's only to mask the fact there is something wrong. Her expression might mostly remind Lera of the old Fate, the one who might have dueled her over the Tokyo Skyline. Maybe that alone is enough to say something is wrong.
She pauses between bites, looks up at her. "So you're here to for a strategy planning session?" She tries to hold Lera for a few moments with her eyes, "Alright. What do you have in mind?" A beat, "And also, what happened at Tokyo Tower? Bardiche's scanners could pick it up from here, so I'm going to presume it's that Lost Logia. ... And not at all connected to last night."
Fate had spent the other day trying to stem the tide of destruction in Tama. She'd only had limited success, but her ritual magic at least helped the thawing process.
Lera hesitates. She remembers that look She wonders, for a moment, if this is just Fate's expression when she deals with business or if that old expression comes from something else. She isn't sure. She decides on a little gesture, rather than immediately calling attention to it. She sticks her hand out for holding on the table, placed between the two girls.
It makes her think of yesterday with Setsuna, though. She resolves to leave her hand extended this time.
"It's definitely tied to Tokyo Tower," she says quietly. "Not yesterday--actually, it might be good, the barrier kept the worst of it back, I think. But, um..." Lera's eyes turn downward. "I was there, when things happened at Tokyo Tower. It's the Lost Logia. It's called Citadel. Jaren was there, and he's convinced Citadel that he can get him home. He's lying."
She glances down for a moment. "I didn't fight. I kept my promise," she says. "Do you still wanna help me get Soaring Sky back? Because I've got a plan."
Fate watches Lera as she listens to her speak, her eyes on the hand she placed between them. She watches her eyes turn down. "I remember. Guardian of the Ten Thousand Points."
Fate takes a breath, "Are you worried that I thought you'd do differently?" ... Is Fate saying that she's not worried that Lera would go it alone? That she had complete confidence that she wouldn't? It's unclear. Her expression is a little hard to decipher here.
She looks down at her donut, for a long time. And then finally, softly, "And are you trying to get me to back out?" A beat, "Because of course I still do." She closes her eyes, frowns a little, "Is it really that hard, asking for my help?"
She falls quiet for a moment. Lera swallows and takes a moment. It isn't just nervousness, but putting something into words for the first time. She only realized this recently.
"It's not that it's hard to ask you, Fate," she says. "It's hard for me to ask anyone for help. I don't want you to back out. I... really want you there, because we're--because you're my friend. Because I trust you. I know I can. But I used to think that if I couldn't handle my problems on my own, people would think I'm stupid or troublesome or--"
She stops herself from explaining every little doubt she has about herself. Those doubts aren't the important part.
"I know that's wrong," she says. Then, she adds simply, like it isn't the monumental change in her life that it was: "I talked to my mom. I learned a lot. But... sometimes, you've been doing something you know is wrong for so long, it's hard to just stop, y'know?" She smiles, hesitantly, then she reaches that extended hand out. She lightly taps her knuckles to Fate's shoulder. "So let's try it again."
She takes a deep breath, then smiles. "I need your help."
Fate watches Lera, the donut remaining in the same position, her hand so still that some onlookers might swear that Fate had the ability to become a statue at any time.
Her mouth does move though, and somewhere along the time Lera says that people would think she's stupid or troublesome, a small surprised sound emerges from her.
She doesn't interrupt otherwise though, just nodding hesitantly at Lera's statement on how it's hard to stop. When the knuckles tap on her shoulder, she starts a little, but then sinks in her seat, as if embarrassed by her own reaction. Once Lera is finished, she takes a short time thinking on it, before allowing herself to smile a little, "Okay, I guess I can understand how that'd be really hard to stop."
She puts her own opposite hand on the table. Not quite touching Lera's hand that was extended from earlier, but it's close. "I'll always be ready to help if you need me Lera. Even if you only just want me, I'll always be willing to help whenever you ask, but first..."
The smile on her expression doesn't fade, maybe she'd guessed that it must have gone well, but for some reason she has a deep seated need to hear it, "...how'd it go with your mom?"
Lera's smile doesn't falter; she puts her hand back on the table. It remains close to Fate's, almost close enough to touch. It would take just a nudge. At the question, though, her fingers curl. The brief tension isn't from sour memories of the conversation, but that sense of uncertainty. Things ended better for Lera and her mother than they did for Fate and Precia -- or, rather, they didn't end at all.
In a sense, they began again.
But she can't lie about it. "They went well," she says, quietly. "We... didn't really talk much, the last year or so. So we--I mean." She hesitates. Still, the temptation is to blame herself. Meria told her she couldn't do that; that it was something she needed to work on. "She said she was too hard on me, sometimes. And I think I scared her, getting hurt and everything. And she..."
Here, the smile creeps back onto Lera's face -- and into her voice, making both brighter than before. She breaks the line of sight to Fate, looking down at the table.
"...she said she's proud of me, Fate!" she finally gushes. "She said--she said everything I've done, that it was all great, that she'd never be ashamed of me, that she loves me! I just... I thought I had to be letting her down, but she--she's proud."
Fate nods slowly as Lera begins, looking very understanding. She's still smiling very brightly. Even when Lera is being quiet, and hesitant. It looks like she's being extremely positive about even what amounts to minor progress or her mother not being entirely down on her.
It's nothing compared to the delight on her face when Lera's excitement begins. When she starts gushing. Fate is smiling with this sense of incredible delight, as if she were living vicariously in Lera's moment, her eyes joining her. She shakes a little bit with excitement, "Oh that's wonderful! I'm so happy for you!"
A moment later, she sounds a little softer, but no less delighted, maybe just overwhelmed, "...so happy..." Her eyes are a little moist. "...she loves you very much, I just knew she would say something like that! I-"
The tears fall, she puts a hand under her eyes for a moment as if to brush them away, then stops trying as she looks at Lera, "-Thank goodness! Thank goodness!"
Lera didn't know, really, what Fate would say. It felt dangerous, like it could reopen a wound that isn't terribly closed. The response is yet another moment where Lera encounters a response she never expected, but is delighted. Lera's eyes have a few tears in them, too, now, as she thinks back on it. The older girl nods, eagerly.
Then she puts her hand over Fate's and squeezes it, once.
"Yeah," she says, softer, but in no way more subdued. "It was... it was great. I feel like--like there was this weight on my shoulders, pushing me down and crushing me. It'd been there for so long that I forgot about it. But now--now it's gone. I can't even make sense of it all. I feel... a lot better. About everything."
She wipes at her eyes, with the hand that isn't clasping Fate's. Then she lowers it to the emerald necklace that she always wears. There is a subtle new sparkle to it; when she lifts it, it glimmers even more. "She also helped me with Sky. She put a program in here. Once I touch this to him, it'll help fix him and--and help make both of us even better."
That, Lera thinks, is an understatement. It feels more like her mother's love and pride giving her strength directly. She doesn't say that, but the sincerity and strength of that belief is in her eyes.
Not quite. It didn't reopen that wound, but it did do something that while dangerous in some ways, was relieving in many others. It validated one of her beliefs. A belief that mothers love their real children.
Even if she couldn't think of herself as a real person, even if she couldn't have that herself, at the very least her feelings were valid. Unfortunately, it wasn't wholly correct either, but she's not about to articulate something that she now doesn't know can be wrong.
Fate's hand doesn't even tense up when Lera squeezes it, in fact, she even squeezes it in return. "I was just... so worried..."
Worried that Lera would have to go through what she had to, even to a small degree. "...so worried. I just..." A few moments pass as she's too choked up to respond, as tears roll down and soak her collar. Fortunately it's a dark blouse.
But she starts to compose herself after a while, even if she makes no move to wipe away the tears yet, looking at the emerald necklace, and nodding eagerly after her explanation, "W-Well then, I'll just need to get him back for you!" She says eagerly, perhaps a little too eagerly, "W-What do you need me to do? I mean, do we need to break through that barrier first?"
Lera didn't quite expect such a response. She squeezes Fate's hand back when she sees her choke up; she smiles, trying to be comforting. But the girl stays there, leaning forward. When Fate asks her question, though, Lera's eyes light back up. "We're gonna, but Mom is gonna help us weaken the barrier enough to get through," she says. "I'm not clear exactly--uh, she's still working the details out."
A beat. Lera's smile turns lopsided and sheepish. "She said it involves 'science.' I'll take her word for it."
Then she nods. "Jaren's behind the barrier. He'll be itching for a fight. Citadel... said he is going to teleport back home. So Jaren has a time limit," she explains. "And--um, we can't let Citadel do that. The area that he's going to teleport--it might get all of Tokyo Tower. And he's going to teleport right to where Jaren wants him, not his home."
She lets out a long breath. "So Jaren'll be there and he'll want a fight. He's got Sky on a little string around his neck. If I'm on a building nearby..." She tilts her head. "Think you can get in and get Sky to me?"
Fate's mouth opens as Lera says the word science. Science. Such a broad term. It could mean so many things, and Fate wants specifics. She could very easily just bombard the barrier for a day with strike sfrom the atmosphere, but there's no telling what kind of retaliation there might be. Even if she could it would let Jaren know she's coming prematurely.
It sets her out of her comfort zone, so for a moment she does look down, but then nods quickly and dabs at her eyes with her free hand finally. "Right - Well I'll trust your mother to manage in time to prevent anything like that from happening. As for Jaren-"
There's this glint in her eyes, maybe a little bit of her competitive streak managing to creep through, "He's not as good as he thinks he is."
It's not that Fate thinks she's better though necessarily. Just that Jaren overestimates himself. She takes a breath, and then clarifies, "He's strong, but he doesn't think things through at all, and he's easily distracted." Another moment, and then, "He's also slow. Your mother makes some really good devices but the barrier jacket Broken Ground creates is just too thick for him to react quickly." She offers Lera a reassuring smile, "So yeah, I think I can get Sky back for you."
"Yeah," Lera agrees, with a smile. "He's... my mom told me something, too. She said that what matters is what's in here." She taps a finger to just above her heart, before she pulls her hand back. "That's where strength really comes from, for a Device and a mage. I think she's right, y'know?"
She thinks, for a moment, of Nanoha, Raising Heart, and the first time that they used Starlight Breaker.
"He doesn't use Broken Ground right. I remember when Mom made him. He does more than Jaren uses him for," she says, quietly. "I think that's part of his weakness, too. It's something I'll find out." She looks down at the hand not holding Fate's. Her fingers curl up into a fist. "Once I've got Sky back..."
She plans to have a rematch. She doesn't see much choice in it -- but unlike the past times that she fought Jaren, she feels more certain about the need for a fight. She is less sure of victory.
But she isn't terrified of defeat, this time.
Fate Testarossa keeps her eyes on Lera throughout her explanation, watching the fingertap to her heart.
Fate looks down for a moment after, her shoulders hunched together, listening to Lera talk, but at the same time turning her thoughts within. "Your mother is very wise. Someone very special to me told me the same thing, once."
Closing her eyes, as if she could remember the moment, "She said she could teach me everything about fighting she knows, but that it wouldn't amount to anything if I didn't have a strong heart." A pause, then very quietly, "Maybe that's why Mom was so strong, because her heart was a little too into it after..."
She opens her eyes, looks up at Lera, stopping herself from talking about something so sad, and manages a faint smile again as she looks at her, "The point is, I already know you're strong there Lera." A beat, "But- even so, be careful. You're a lot like Nanoha. Maybe a little too much in some ways."
She looks down at her lap, "Both of you try to take on too much alone. Even when you have Sky back, remember we're still there for you, with you." Her voice drops into a faint whisper, "I don't know what I would do if anything happened to either of you."
Lera looks down at the mention of Fate's mother, but she nods her head. She can see the train of thought, but she is happy enough to let it go. It feels like a warning, though: that following one's heart can also lead to dangerous places, too. She starts to open her mouth, but then Fate compliments her -- and compares her to Nanoha. She smiles at that.
But the smile flickers a moment later. She isn't alone; she needs to remember that, even if she felt it sometimes. She may need to act like Sky's wielder -- to live up to what that requires -- but she has to remember others need her. Ren and Endo. Even Setsuna, she thinks. And, especially, Fate.
She pulls her hand away from Fate's when she finishes in a whisper. It's only so she can stand up and walk closer to the younger girl. She puts her hands on her shoulders, then crouches down so they're eye level. "Fate," she says gently. "I'm sorry that I worried you. But... don't worry, okay? I plan to be here for a long time." She smiles. "I can't get myself killed. Because... you need me, the others need me, I need all of you, and I wanna be here with you and everyone else through the years, y'know?"
She leans forward and kisses Fate on the forehead. "I promise."
Fate watches Lera stand, lifting her chin just a bit, but she's still looking at Lera's face mostly out of the periphery of her vision.
Thus she does start a little when Lera's hands touch her shoulders. She relaxes after one quick moment of tension, eye's following Lera's down, then further down besides. She's mostly looking at her lap, though she's still looking at Lera out of the corner of her eyes. 'Don't worry' she says. Lera might as well have asked her to stop breathing.
And yet there is something reassuring in what she says. After one soft exhalation, she's ready to say something it seems. But that's when Lera's lips make contact with her forehead. Fate looks up quickly, uncertain what just happened, eyes wide.
It takes her a few moments to realize what happened, sifting through the memories of another person images that seem to drift away like sand between finger tips. "Um-Oh." That's not quite the reaction one might expect, is it?
Her eyes drop again, as she tries to process her own feelings on so simple a gesture. Eventually a smile touches her lips. It's not even an embarrassed one, as many older children might feel when receiving such gestures. It's more that she's decided that she likes a thing that is actually new to her.
"Alright. I-" She finally lifts her chin to meet the older girl's eyes and keeps contact with them, "-I believe you." And a moment later, as a whisper, "And I do need you. So anytime you're ever thinking of doing anything a bit reckless. Just remember you said that-" She leans forward, and puts her arms around her slowly squeezing her eyes tightly shut, "-remember it and come back to me."
Sometimes, Lera almost forgets that she thinks Fate can be adorable. It doesn't come up too much; this is a girl that she fought and saw fight, and sometimes, it is easier to remember the intensely skilled mage -- or the hurt young girl who suffered at her mother's hands. When she flusters, though, and then smiles like that, Lera is reminded. She smiles back down at her.
She refrains from saying so.
Her expression softens as Fate speaks, her eyes shining at the affirmation that Fate does need her. She leans forward to meet Fate halfway, wrapping her arms around her tightly. "I know," she says quietly. "And I need you too. So... I will." She nods against her, then squeezes tighter with her arms. "I promise."
It feels like a tall order, but she can make it.
That was enough at least. She'd still worry, she couldn't help that, but at least it made her feel better.
Once squeezed tightly in the hug, Fate has no idea what to do. How long should one hold someone in a hug? How long should it last?
... Well she doesn't really want it to end. About thirty seconds into it she finally asks quietly, "So. Once this is over, what sort of friend things would you like to do?" Then a moment later, she's still hugging just as tightly, "Someone told me that friends do things together. But I don't really know what kind of things friends do besides shopping, since you took me shopping"
She sounds a bit self-conscious, "Do friends go flying together? They didn't know since not everyone can fly, but they said anything is enjoyable so long as you're together."
Lera doesn't let up from the hug. She doesn't mind long hugs; if she was asked, she wouldn't know how long a hug should go on for. Her opinion is that they should last as long as they need to. She doesn't want this one to end yet.
She looks down at the top of Fate's head at the question though. She smiles at it, tilting her head to the side, before she leans her head back down atop Fate's. Her cheek presses into the top of the girl's head. "They can go flying together," she says. "And shopping. And get food together and play games and sports and things. I like mountain climbing. But..."
She closes her eyes and smiles.
"Let's start with flying together. I think that person was right."
"Okay." Fate say softly, not as startled once in the hug by the feel of Lera's cheek pressing against the top of her head, "Well I'd like to try all those things. They sound like they could be fun with someone you care about."
Then Lera mentions they could start with flying, and she gets this delighted little smile on her lips, "Do you like to race? Arf doesn't like racing me." She turns her head, pressing against her, "She says that flying as fast I do is cheating." She actually giggles, "My record to Osaka and back is one hour."
"Of course!" Lera says, softly but enthusiastically. She remembers when she first got the flight spells down, several months ago. Her and Yukimi had raced, then, though Lera's efforts were still halting. Since then, she had learned to move much faster -- and with far better control. She wouldn't be racing around towers over a park anymore.
"Arf's just jealous," she says. Then, with a hint of pride: "I can keep up with you. Probably. I've never tried Osaka, but there's a first time for everything!"
"Okay! But-" Fate beams at her, "-I'll win!"