2015-12-22 - Sibling Rivalry

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Title: Sibling Rivalry

Setsuna finds a quiet place for coffee after school, but Soular has other ideas. They have an overdue conversation.


Shun Minami, Setsuna Higashi


Linden Baum Diner

OOC - IC Date:

17 Sep 2014 - 12/22/2015

<Pose Tracker> Setsuna Higashi [Juuban Public School (9)] has posed.

Today, Setsuna Higashi slipped away to walk home alone; it was easy enough. Love had another of her projects, after all, and she didn't have any club meetings today. The girl from Labyrinth had plenty of practice at being unobtrusive amidst crowds. Another girl in the red-and-black uniform of Juuban Middle School certainly stands out even less than she did before. The red causes her to stand out to the eye, but the uniform makes it easy not to look at /her/.

...Right now, though, she's sitting at a small, two-person booth in Linden Baum, a cup of coffee and a menu in front of her. She glances thoughtfully past the menu, towards the window, paying attention to something /other/ than the world around her, her red eyes distant.

...Distant, and still different than they were once, still possessed of a certain spark that's new, compared to the rest of her life.

She's alone... And she has the Linkrun buckled to her waist.

<Pose Tracker> Shun Minami [Infinity Institute (12)] has posed.

It's been some time since Setsuna Higashi--or rather, Eas of Labyrinth--was killed by Northa, the top executive of Labyrinth. It's been some time since Setsuna Higashi--once Eas of Labyrinth--awoke as Cure Passion. And it's been some time since Cure Passion was seen. As a matter of fact, Soular has been keeping an ear out for sightings of the red Precure, and there's been no whisper of her since her awakening. It might mean nothing; perhaps she has transformed and fought again away from prying eyes.

But it might mean everything. And so Shun has waited to be absolutely sure.

He's as sure as he can be by the time he enters Linden Baum. He hasn't come here in some time... He was in his Soular form at the time, with Westar and Fate. Fate, too, has changed sides since then. They weren't bothered, due to people assuming they were some kind of weird cosplayers, or so he figures. Today, though... well, coming as Soular would send a certain message he doesn't want to send. *Yet*.

It only takes a moment of looking around before he spots Setsuna. When he does, he smiles and waves off the hostess, then walks over to Setsuna's booth and seats himself opposite her.

After that, he waits for her to put down her menu and acknowledge him. He does not anticipate having to wait long. When she does, he'll give her a smile that does not reach his eyes. "Setsuna," he says, with a curt nod, by way of greeting.

<Pose Tracker> Setsuna Higashi [Juuban Public School (9)] has posed.

It was days before Northa's strike that Setsuna left the mansion for the last time. She had been certain, then, planning to return... So her things were left accordingly. Everything was put away neatly, but no more neatly than on any other day. Ever since, her chair in their meeting room has sat empty.

And Setsuna Higashi hasn't seen anything of Labyrinth since.

But she knows better than to think she's done with her home. Even if she isn't sure, yet, what will become of that relationship...

It doesn't simply end.

Setsuna is dressed and looks like an entirely normal Earth girl. ...What Shun might notice, however, is the lack of the necklace that she treasured for so long. There's also a small glasses case beside her menu, resting on the table, her purse in the booth beside her instead. She is silent, and doesn't notice someone approaching.

She notices Shun's voice.

Immediately she turns her head, crimson eyes snapping his way in wariness. "Soular," she says, quiet but clearly on guard. ...She never did bother keeping up with their disguise names, as a rule.

<Pose Tracker> Shun Minami [Infinity Institute (12)] has posed. The lack of necklace *does* stand out. If it was destroyed during the battle, he didn't hear about it, though Shun doubts Northa would have found that a report-worthy detail and he hadn't dared question her on it. He doesn't anticipate that Setsuna may have destroyed it herself; she was far too attached to it, and far too weak to give herself entirely to Möbius-sama like she once had.

It's genuinely disappointing in some ways, and a genuine relief in others.

More interesting is that he gave her leave to use their fake, human names, but she responds with their proper titles. "It's been some time," he continues, tone conversational, almost ordinary for a perfectly normal human being that he is not. "Your things have been collecting dust."

Not, all considered, that he'd expect her to come back for them. Even without her... personal issues, Northa had tried to kill her. She wouldn't have done that without direct orders. If he were her (not that he ever will be, surely), he wouldn't have dared return, either, no matter what he'd left behind. Naturally, that isn't the point of what he says.

<Pose Tracker> Setsuna Higashi [Juuban Public School (9)] has posed.

There are many things about that battle that probably weren't reported. The haunting words Northa issued to Setsuna stand out among them. ...Those were just for her.

She hadn't counted on the sudden /fear/ she would feel when facing Labyrinth, though; as she looks to Shun, she remains tense. ...Funnily enough, she acts more like she did before she left, in that way. Tense, closed-off, wary.

"It's not as if I had much to begin with," Setsuna answers, unblinking as she watches the older Executive carefully. "Besides, I doubt I'm welcome."

...The only thing that left with her is her deck of tarot cards, and that because she gave it away before she defected. That, and a single outfit.

"Make Westar clean it up if you don't want to. He'll probably be glad to help." She sets her jaws.

"...Those things aren't mine anymore, anyway."

<Pose Tracker> Shun Minami [Infinity Institute (12)] has posed.

"Clean it up?" Shun echoes, letting amusement tinge his tone. However, he doesn't follow up with that remark. This is because he said it specifically to get into Setsuna's head, make her wonder what he meant by that. If they were going to 'clean it up,' they'd have thrown it all out by now. ...Whether Westar is already keeping the room clean or not, he won't say, either.

"Aren't they, Eas?" he says mildly. "Well, perhaps not. After all, you were the one who turned your back on us. Northa merely made it... official."

<Pose Tracker> Setsuna Higashi [Juuban Public School (9)] has posed.

Setsuna's fingers, resting on the table, curl into a fist for her right hand. That 'amusement'. ...It seems to have worked well enough to get /some/ reaction, at least. But she's already wary enough; it's not necessary to go any further to get her on her guard, or make her wonder.

"Whatever it is you want to do about it," she says, frowning.

As he calls her Eas, that frown only deepens, and indeed, she looks the part; her eyes may be different, but her clear anger is the same as always. Until...

"I'm not Eas anymore." It's said calmly, flatly, firmly. "You're right. I turned my back on Labyrinth. ...I betrayed Mobius-sama." Firm... With a touch of remembered pain. It's clear in her eyes, for a moment. But something more earnest comes into her voice as she continues, "But what we were doing... The way we hurt the people of this world. Is that really something we can justify? Is spreading misery this way something we have the right to do?"

<Pose Tracker> Shun Minami [Infinity Institute (12)] has posed.

The look in her eyes is different now, Shun observes. Before, they were flat, lifeless... normal. Now, they look more like the eyes of Earth humans, sparkling with some useless light or emotion. It's not just anger; it's more than that, now. She really has changed.

He doesn't like that.

He likes even less the fact that she's so brazenly able to admit to her treachery, though at the same time he doesn't think he'd like it any better if she tried to deny it, either. His least favorite thing, though, is definitely the way she questions her old actions as Eas.

"I think not. Do you really think you can turn your back and ignore what you've done so easily?" he replies to her claim that she isn't Eas anymore. "If you do--why haven't you transformed since that day?" This is a gamble, but if he's right...

As for her questions, his green eyes narrow slightly. "Of course it is. It is Möbius-sama's will, after all. We need no more justification than his orders." Certainly it's all the justification he needs to lie to himself.

<Pose Tracker> Setsuna Higashi [Juuban Public School (9)] has posed.

The differences are subtle, but they don't stop there. There's the light in her eyes, certainly, but she's not quite as pale as she was before, either. Slowly, she's become more like the humans of Earth, and of other worlds that aren't Labyrinth. Slowly at first... And now, all at once. Perhaps it's worse that the changes are subtle, and that to someone less exacting, she might look the same as she did before.

It hurts her to admit what she's done, of course, but Eas was never one to shy away from something for fear it would hurt. ...Setsuna is the same.

"I'm not ignoring it," she answers, though she nevertheless feels the words slide past her guard and slip into her heart like a tiny barb. "I--"

She shakes her head, focuses for the moment on her questions, and on Shun's answers, "That's not enough! What if Mobius-sama doesn't understand the people of this world? What if he doesn't see the way what we've been doing is hurting them?"

...Even now, she still uses the title.

"In the time we've been here... I've started to understand them. It's not pointless; they really do draw strength from one another. They..."

"This isn't about me. It's not about what I've done. I... I know I can't just erase it."

<Pose Tracker> Shun Minami [Infinity Institute (12)] has posed.

Worse, better... The fact remains that she's changed. Shun didn't enter into this conversation with much expectation that Setsuna could be convinced to renounce her heresy and return to being Eas, but what little he possessed is rapidly dwindling.

She honestly believes that they were in the *wrong*. No wonder Möbius-sama ordered her erasure. The realization is a much more bitter pill to swallow than he would have expected. ...She is, after all, the one denizen of Labyrinth that he acknowledged (however privately) as a rival.

"Of course not," he says, of her not ignoring it. "That's why you haven't transformed again, isn't it? Because you know, once you start to pretend to be a Pretty Cure, you really will be pretending that what you did as Eas never happened." He narrows his eyes. "After all, you just said so yourself: what if we have been hurting them? Playacting at being a heroine means putting yourself in a position where you will be adored by those you once assaulted. That would be the height of hypocrisy, wouldn't it?"

It's not about her? Shun makes a low noise of derision. It's all about her, in his opinion--though of course, he doesn't really care about the feelings of the Earth humans, either. After all, their temporary suffering will be alleviated once all worlds have fallen under Labyrinth's sway. "So they draw strength from each other. Why does that matter, Eas?"

<Pose Tracker> Setsuna Higashi [Juuban Public School (9)] has posed.

And not only her erasure; her lifespan wasn't merely truncated. ...She was ordered to face execution.

"Tch," Setsuna answers at first, as Shun continues to hammer in on the same issue about her transformation. ...She has no real response to it, not at first. She can only look at him, try to brace herself, try to ignore the way his words make sense. The things she's done...

It's not in question, anymore, whether what she did was wrong. She understands that pain. ...it was wrong, and she failed at it. Both are truth.

"It's not like that!" Setsuna insists, albeit not as strongly as she'd like.

"Eas is dead!" Setsuna snaps, slamming her fist down onto the table, her coffee cup vibrating with the motion of it. ...Thankfully, it's gentle enough not to make enough noise to cause people to stare, but only because her hand wasn't high up.

"She's gone. That's not who I am anymore. ...And it matters because it means we were wrong! It means that everything we thought might not be true! It means that Mobius-sama is wrong!"

<Pose Tracker> Shun Minami [Infinity Institute (12)] has posed.

Shun isn't the only one who can beat someone over the head with an uncomfortable truth. If hurting people is wrong, then Möbius too is wrong for having ordered it in the first place. Even Soular has felt uncomfortable with his role at times, though he's never gone so far as to think that he was /wrong/ for doing it, for precisely the reason listed above. Möbius-sama is never wrong, therefore his orders cannot be mistaken, ergo his hurting people is right and proper in the long run. To hear Eas not only denounce her own identity but that of their Supreme Leader...

The last time they spoke, he told her she disgusts him. Here and now, he doesn't need to say it: it's clear in the curl of his lip, the widening of his eyes, the sheer revulsion on his face. He doesn't answer verbally. That look says it all.

<Pose Tracker> Setsuna Higashi [Juuban Public School (9)] has posed.

In some ways, Shun and Setsuna are more alike than either would admit, or even realize. ...This might be one of them. As Eas, she wasn't known for her subtlety, and as Setsuna, she hasn't exactly gained much in that department.

...She spots that reaction, and with /Soular/ of all people not talking for a moment, even that look in his eyes can't make her back down. She sees the opening; she has to strike.

"Can't you see? We've been fighting all this time and they were right! The things in this world... They're precious to them for a reason!"

Setsuna leans forward, the emotion clear in her voice, a wall down that she would never have revealed before. ...And still never may again. But this moment...

"I just didn't want to see the truth before, but now I do. I care about these people. ...I won't hurt them like I used to, not anymore. And you've been around them, now, too. Don't you see anything worthwhile in the way they live? Don't you see how happy they are?"

<Pose Tracker> Shun Minami [Infinity Institute (12)] has posed.

Shun and Setsuna are enough alike that they probably could have passed for siblings rather than cousins, while they were still bothering with such things. Given their different names, it's probably just as well that they didn't, even if they probably could have passed it off as different fathers. Of course, that means means that for as stubborn as Setsuna is, Shun is just as much in return. After all, his entire worldview /hinges/ on him believing fully in Mobius-sama's righteousness. To accept what Setsuna says, that he could be *wrong*, would be to allow all of that to come crashing down. The wall may come down for Setsuna, and Shun recognizes that, and perhaps that's why real anger reflects off his own face.

The most irritating thing is that finds the first thing he wants to say is 'Don't you care about *us*?' even though that's a patently ridiculous sentiment. "Don't you care about Möbius-sama?" he asks instead, because it makes much more sense and is just as infuriating to him, the implication that she does not. "Are you trying to tell me that the way of life he has guided us to is without worth? That our calm and security is less valuable than this empty 'happiness'?"

<Pose Tracker> Setsuna Higashi [Juuban Public School (9)] has posed.

For the longest time, the same was true for Setsuna, too. ...And then her worldview did collapse. And now...

Now she tries to convince Soular without stopping to wonder why she even cares to begin with about someone she was always chilly with, at best.

Seeing real feeling from him only sparks her own, though. She was never one for calm, no matter how stoic she might come off to those /not/ from Labyrinth.

...For a girl from Labyrinth, Setsuna is /bizarrely/ demonstrative.

"Of course I do!" Setsuna answers hotly, defensively. ...That Shun didn't /ask/ what was on his mind means she doesn't get to hear it, doesn't get to know it would even occur to him.

"I am!" she answers. "Our calm, our security... It's just misery by another name! It's loneliness! These feelings, they matter! I can't just throw them away! I..."

"I don't /want/ to throw them away. I never even understood what I was missing, before, but now I do! And I..."

"Even if my hands are stained. Too stained to pretend I'm just another of them. I still can't destroy that happiness now that I understand what it is."

<Pose Tracker> Shun Minami [Infinity Institute (12)] has posed.

Misery and loneliness by another name? /Ridiculous/. Soular has *never* felt miserable or lonely. As long as he tells himself that enough times, he can believe it with all his stunted heart. "Oh," he says coldly. "So you're saying that, all along, it was just you who felt that way." His eyes narrow. "You fit in well among these humans indeed."

Really, it's almost enough to make him question why Möbius-sama made her an executive in the first place. HE doesn't, of course. Questioning that would lead to dangerous paths--in one direction, the fallability of Möbius's judgment, and in the other, why Soular and Westar would have been chosen if Eas were chosen *because* of her damaged nature.

"I don't know why I started this conversation with you in the first place," he concludes, folding his arms and shaking his head in disgust. This isn't true, but Shun says a lot of things that are untrue. "There really is no getting through to you anymore, is there?"

<Pose Tracker> Setsuna Higashi [Juuban Public School (9)] has posed.

'All along, it was just you who felt that way.'

Even hearing that she fits in among the humans here does nothing to blunt that statement for Setsuna, making it worse in a way distinct from the way he likely meant it. ...One thing is clear, though.

The way it sounds her /shows/. She tenses, again, suddenly stiff, and her breath catches in her throat. In the next instant, there's a tension in her eyes, the mark that she's trying not to show her hurt. ...It fails.

Another reminder; she can never go home. Home doesn't /want/ her back.

"I don't either," she says, raw emotion at the edges of her tone as she forces herself to look away, trying desperately to keep her composure. "If what you want is for me to return to Labyrinth... Then it's pointless. Eas will never return. ...I'll die, first."

She makes herself turn, slowly, though it feels like it takes forever. Her jaw sets, her red eyes attempting to bore through to Soular's green.

"From this point forward... You and I are enemies."

<Pose Tracker> Shun Minami [Infinity Institute (12)] has posed.

At this point, it doesn't matter what Setsuna says. Her declarations of defiance are merely more of what Soular already knows. What's important to him at this point is that he hurt her as much as she has hurt him. He drinks in the way she tenses, the way her breath catches, the way her eyes shift to try and fail to hide the way he has made her feel. /Good/. Let her suffer. Let her roll in her useless, worthless emotion. This is only the beginning.

'I'll die first,' she says. Technically, she already has. Soular's lips thin, both at that and how she eventually meets his eyes again, declares that the two of them are enemies.

"That much," he replies coldly, "was obvious."

He slips out of the booth and begins to walk away. He does not look back.

<Pose Tracker> Setsuna Higashi [Juuban Public School (9)] has posed.

Setsuna feels like a fool for even trying to convince Soular, in the moment. The old self-recriminations come back easily. Still, her expressions stay tense... But her eyes can't hide her feelings from Soular, who knows her so well.

Technically, though, it's true. ..She already has. ...Which makes her resolve, at least, clear.

Soular says that it's obvious that they're enemies, and maybe it was. Maybe, even if she doesn't know what it is that she's going to /do/, that much was inevitable, all along.

Setsuna forces herself to watch Soular go, and she does it in silence. ...She watches him until he reaches the door.

...Slowly, she closes her menu, and takes her coffee mug in both of her hands, huddling quietly around it fr the warmth she no longer feels in her heart.

The former Executive--the new Cure--says nothing, even after Soular is gone.