2018-04-26 - Love And Fear

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Title: Love And Fear

Mikoto finally gets a chance to visit Yumi. They manage a little levity, but there are dark clouds on the horizon. They're both worried about Eri - and Yumi's own problems are many. But Mikoto speaks too harshly at the reminder of an enemy, and ends up startling Yumi. Neither are explaining everything about their reactions...


Yumi Ohzora, Mikoto Minagi


Mitakihara General Hospital

OOC - IC Date:

2018-04-26 - 2015-04-14

.***************************** Yamanote High City *****************************.
*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+* Mitakihara General Hospital +*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*
 Recently completed to great fanfare, this 42-story hospital is the tallest
 in the world, with a glossy glass exterior that folds two great wings inward
 towards the main entrance. Equipped with over 1,200 beds, Mitakihara is
 known as a place of last resort for those with difficult illnesses (and,
 ideally, disposable income). Designed with typical criticisms of health care
 facilities in mind, this ultramodern building eschews the usual bland
 pastels and workmanlike right angles for elegant, understated earth tone
 patterns and dynamic diagonal windows and paneling. Its patient rooms have
 large windows wherever possible to let in natural light, and are decorated
 to suggest a hotel-like atmosphere.

 There is substance behind Mitakihara's style; the latest technology
 dominates its every facet, from the touchscreen controls on its room-sized
 glass elevators to the particle accelerator in its basement used for
 precision radiation treatment. For all of its amenities, however, Mitakihara
 can be a quiet, lonely place; not all of its rooms are in use yet, and those
 that get lost in it can find themselves wandering empty halls.

 Mitakihara leverages its sheer size by providing a small, French-style
 garden on the roof for patients. Low hedges of pink flowers seem to sprout
 directly from the tiles, in a radiating circular shape, and an ornamental
 iron fence around the rim of the building ensures safety.

<Pose Tracker> Mikoto Minagi [Ohtori Academy (11)] has posed.

Mai may have placed Mikoto under strict orders to stay home and rest, but even Mai can't argue with doctor's orders. Mikoto's been instructed to come in to hospital, this morning, so they can check on the progress of her stitches. She's insisted on going out without her walking stick, this time; she feels like she can walk just fine, and she's argued that if she really needs one the doctors will yell at her, so it's fine, right?

The doctors are impressed, when they see her. They say she's healing at a remarkable rate, and put it down to her youth and good health. Mikoto suspects it has more to do with the birthmark on her arm, that fate which makes her so much tougher and stronger and faster than normal girls - but she doesn't say anything, especially not when they decide they can take the stitches out.

Good. They're annoying, itchy little things, and it feels weird to have them threaded through her flesh. She is instructed quite firmly when they come out that she is still not better, and she shouldn't push herself with ridiculous stunts, but Mikoto is just relieved she can get rid of the bandages. With her fading bruises, maybe soon everyone will stop asking about what happened.

The first thing she does, once they're done poking at her, is to ask about Yumi. She won't leave without seeing Yumi first! So Mikoto is led into her suite as a visitor, for once. And she moves so much more slowly than she ought to, than her usual energy demands, but she's looking better than she did when she left, even if that shade of sadness to her hasn't quite left. Being out of hospital seems to have helped a lot, for all she's being so restricted.

"I'll just be outside," the nurse reassures them, before he leaves.

Mikoto glances aside as he goes, tracking his movement until the door closes, and then she turns to Yumi. She smiles, warm. "Yumi," she says, her greeting plain, and it is happiness to see her friend and concern for her wellbeing both.

<Pose Tracker> Yumi Ohzora [Infinity Institute (11)] has posed.

Yumi's suite, high up, is easily reached--there is the matter of checking in of course to make sure she's fit to be visited, that she's in the mood for one... And of course she is; it's nice to have Mikoto back, after all. So once Mikoto is escorted into the room--

Yumi looks a little drowsy, but she's sitting up; her gray hair is hanging loose, her glasses on as she sets aside her sketchbook, closing it, letting her pencil rest in her hand for the moment. The other hand--the one with the little clip on it attached to the wires--comes up, and Yumi waves lightly, tiredly.

"Hey, Mikoto-chan," she says, warmly, looking her over. She does see the sadness--she sees... Well, her general state.

"Thanks," she says to the nurse, and looks over to Mikoto, gesturing her over to a chair beside her hospital bed. All the machines beep and sound about as normal, everything is calm; her window has the curtains drawn open. The TV is off.

"...Nice to see you. I bet you've been busy, huh?"

<Pose Tracker> Mikoto Minagi [Ohtori Academy (11)] has posed.

Mikoto looks over the wires, the clip, and there's such concern in her eyes. She makes her way to the chair, and rests Miroku's case beside it, sitting down heavily - which might further betray her lingering pain.

... or maybe the guilt just weighs that much.

But to Yumi, Mikoto smiles, because Mikoto is so honestly glad to see Yumi again. She shakes her head, to the question, braids swinging. "Not really. Just resting. But, Mai..."

Mikoto frowns, briefly. But Mai is coddling her so much. But Mai won't let her do anything. But Mai is treating her like her little brother, and it wounds her so much more deeply than sword or lance ever did.

"... won't let me out," Mikoto finishes, after a moment. "So I haven't been able to visit... sorry, Yumi."

She looks her over, again, yellow eyes assessing her openly. "... Yumi's doing better?" Mikoto isn't sure, but it seems like a reasonable assumption.

<Pose Tracker> Yumi Ohzora [Infinity Institute (11)] has posed.

Yumi's still got the oxygen hookup, so there is that much. ...But she can see Miroku's case, which Mikoto of course has again, see how heavy she sets it down... And, well, Mikoto's nice to see. She's a friend, and she's cute.

"Mm?" Then Mikoto explains--and Yumi gives a sympathetic look. "...I know the feeling," she admits. "When people just... Assume you can't do anything, don't let you so much as try. It sucks."

"Don't worry about it," Yumi says, and does a reasonably convincing job of it. "I've been sleeping a lot anyway."

Not quite true, but... well, also true. She has.

Yumi nods, "Yeah, I'm doing better. ...You don't have to worry, okay?" She... doesn't look a lot better, of course. And then she wrinkles her nose. "...Okay, I can't hear that you've been locked up and not be a little honest. I'm a little better but still not great. They don't know when I'll be strong enough to leave again."

<Pose Tracker> Mikoto Minagi [Ohtori Academy (11)] has posed.

Setsuna was nice enough to deliver Miroku's case back to Mikoto, before she left hosptial! She's very grateful.

Mikoto looks so frustrated, as Yumi enumerates the feeling so perfectly. She puffs out her cheeks, lets out a suffering breath. Mai's treating her like such a little kid... it's the worst feeling.

But then Yumi tells her not to worry, only to immediately afterwards admit reasons she might want to worry a little bit. Concern replaces frustration wholesale in the face of Yumi's honesty - this tiny berserker is quite clearly upset by the idea that Yumi doesn't even have a timeline to escape. "Yumi!" The word is dismayed.

She shakes her head, fiercely. "Yumi'll be okay!" Mikoto sounds like she's trying to convince herself more than she's trying to convince Yumi. "Just takes time, right?"

The alternative - that Yumi won't be okay, that Yumi has burnt herself at both ends and now there's nothing left - it's too terrible to imagine. Too terrible, entirely. But after her initial panic, Mikoto realises how scary it must be, to not know when she's leaving. Remembers her own time here.

"... is Yumi okay?" Mikoto asks, uncertainly.

<Pose Tracker> Yumi Ohzora [Infinity Institute (11)] has posed.

Yumi is sometimes a little too honest for her own good--not always, but sometimes. This might be one of those. ...She at least indeed does get that same frustration--and... recognizes the worry, too, for that matter. "It's--"

Mikoto did see her have a coughing fit last time she got to see her. ...But Mikoto is... Mikoto, about it, and Yumi smiles weakly at her, leaning back into the pillow she's propped up against. Her blanket is a nice neon green. ...How they got that particular shade probably begins and ends with 'hospital donor'.

...But Mikoto asks more uncertainly, and Yumi winces, at that, glancing to the side. "I..."

"...It usually just takes time," she settles on. "When I was little, I used to get stuck here for months at a time. It's... Well, not that long ago, I guess. But I feel like I've been getting better..."

She sounds a mix of emotions there--wistful, hopeful, but also... uncertain.

"There's not a lot I can do. But..." She turns her head back, "I don't plan to go anywhere, okay? I'll... I'll be fine."

<Pose Tracker> Mikoto Minagi [Ohtori Academy (11)] has posed.

Mikoto watches, carefully, as Yumi answers. There is such sorrow, such worry in those eyes. "Time," she echoes, nodding. "... yeah."

To be stuck in hospital for months... it makes her heart ache, and Mikoto cannot hide it. But she tries not to say it, because she knows Yumi doesn't like it when people worry.

It's just written on her silent face.

And so is the shock, when Mikoto realises what Yumi means by not going anywhere. She hisses in a startled breath. "Yumi..."

Was she that worried, that it would be on her mind? That she was worried she was going to... die? What a terrible thought.

Mikoto shakes her head, again, against the thought. "... I didn't," Mikoto says, after a moment, and it is a tacit admission that she was scared for herself, too. "So Yumi won't, either. Yumi's strong too!"

<Pose Tracker> Yumi Ohzora [Infinity Institute (11)] has posed.

Yumi can hardly look at all that worry, frankly; after a few moments she glances down again, folding her hands and fidgeting with her thumbs. She sees enough of it--but she hears it too, in the silence. "Yeah, it's..."

But then Mikoto realizes it--and Yumi hears that startlement, and wonders for a moment about what she said. "I, um--" Mikoto speaks up. Mikoto--

Yumi looks up. "...Yeah you got pretty close, huh...? You really gave it your all." She smiles slightly, and nods. "I like to think so. Hey--" Yumi unlaces her hands and extends the clipped one over Mikoto's way--she can't really reach the other girl, so Mikoto might have to move closer to take it, if she chooses.

"I don't regret helping or anything. It's nice... I mean that, you know? But um... Yeah, I just--I've got someone bringing me my schoolwork, and... Well, here I am, you know?"

She bites her lip. "...My dad was sick, too. All his life, just like me. ...Anyway I just have a lot on my mind. It's nice to see you, you know?"

<Pose Tracker> Mikoto Minagi [Ohtori Academy (11)] has posed.

It's Mikoto's turn to look down, as Yumi mentions how close she'd gotten to death. She nods, silently. Because she got distracted... by that one boy...

she made mai suffer

She sees the hand reaching out, and Mikoto takes it in hers, looking back up to Yumi. There's still that shade of sorrow over her, but she smiles, as Yumi tells her she doesn't regret helping. "Yeah. Me too."

It's a multi-purpose answer - she doesn't regret fighting, she's had to deal with catching up on schoolwork, and she was in hospital and now she is right here beside Yumi. After all, Yumi's said she doesn't mind Mikoto being so economical with her words.

She tilts her head, though, as Yumi speaks about her father.

"... never really knew mine," Mikoto admits, awkwardly. Her parents were two people who left her life early, for all she was surrounded by other family. She blinks, curiosity entering her gaze. "What's Yumi's like?"

But alongside that curiosity, there's a warm smile, as Mikoto squeezes Yumi's hand lightly. It's nice to see her, too.

<Pose Tracker> Yumi Ohzora [Infinity Institute (11)] has posed.

Yumi's hand is a little bony, a little chilly. But she curls her fingers in Mikoto's and smiles at her anyway. Maybe she can do a little to pierce through that shadow, right?

Mikoto says me too... and Yumi sort of gets it. Each piece comes in in its own time and then she laughs a little. "...That's cool, right? You can answer them all at once. Nice."

Mikoto's admission--well, Yumi was already feeling a little awkward. "...Sorry," she says. But the question... Yumi opens her mouth and closes it, glances for the window, as she thinks about him. There's a little pain in her expression--but fondness, too.

"...He was funny," Yumi says. "And nice to talk to. ...When I was afraid, when things seemed bleak, or even when I'd done something wrong... He was nice to talk to. Nice to have around. I used to phone him like clockwork, you know? I lived in the dorms, and I'd tell him all about it..."

She speaks distantly, obviously remembering. ...And then she doesn't say anything for a little while.

She almost hides the sniffle as she closes her eyes, takes a moment to get ahold of herself.

<Pose Tracker> Mikoto Minagi [Ohtori Academy (11)] has posed.

Mikoto grins, just for a moment. "Yup!" The terrible power to answer many questions all at once... this is the might which Mikoto Minagi brings to bear. This is her true power.

It carves a little corner of that shadow away, just for a moment.

But then, it seems like Mikoto's own innocent question brings it back, because Mikoto can see the pain in her eyes. She smooths her thumb over Yumi's hand - she must have learned that trick from someone.

She's speaking in past tense, and Mikoto's eyes cloud with sorrow as she realises.

"... Yumi's father sounds really nice," Mikoto says, once Yumi falls silent. "I'm glad Yumi had good father."

She falls silent, too, looking down at their hands. She heard the sniffle, and she frowns. She didn't mean to make Yumi sad.

So Mikoto speaks up again, on a different subject. "Eri and Kasagami are -" - not okay, neither of them, and Mikoto pauses rather than lie again - "- alive. Saw them in school. Eri's in high school now!" She sounds so enthused by that idea, so proud that Eri has survived this far. "Saw Setsuna too, but Setsuna came here, so... must've visited Yumi too, right?"

<Pose Tracker> Yumi Ohzora [Infinity Institute (11)] has posed.

And a mighty power it is...

Yumi'll take the moment she gets. ...She takes the thumb over her hand, too, drawing a long, deep breath that... wheezes, Mikoto can hear. It was an innocent question, sure. And still...

Yumi at least appreciates not being called out on her display; sometimes she has a need for a certain amount of what she might call dignity. ...Sometimes she just doesn't want people to see her cry. ...One person makes it habit. Others... Well.

"Yeah. Me too," Yumi says softly.

But the other subject comes up and...

"Oh good." The relief is plain. "...I, um... Yeah, she and Kasagami have both visited. I was worried abou Eri, though. I still haven't seen her... She must be busy." For some reason, talking about Eri makes Yumi glance down at her sketchbook. "Yeah, it's cool that Eri-chan's in high school now. It's nice."

A glance over at Mikoto and another smile. "...Anything fun going on?"

<Pose Tracker> Mikoto Minagi [Ohtori Academy (11)] has posed.

Mikoto holds Yumi's hand, and doesn't look up to her until she brings up their fellow Shepherds. Mikoto is sometimes an incredibly dense creature - but guilt keeps her head bowed, guilt over making Yumi so sad, and it inadvertently helps.

"Eri's tough," Mikoto assures Yumi, once more sidestepping the question of Eri being okay. The question of her being busy, though, earns a frown from Mikoto. "... seems like Eri's pushing herself hard."

Mikoto doesn't know exactly what she's been doing, because Mikoto has been useless and broken, but Mikoto remembers a girl who fell asleep so quickly - the same girl who never falls asleep quickly.

So she feels pretty confident, saying Eri's been busy.

Mikoto smiles, when Yumi asks. "Mai's making lots of good food!" She even made ramen from scratch! And... and that's the only answer she has, to the question of fun things going on, but at least Mikoto sounds enthused. ... almost a little too enthused.

Rather than go on about how there's no much fun about her situation, she tilts her head, at the sketchbook. "Yumi draws?"

<Pose Tracker> Yumi Ohzora [Infinity Institute (11)] has posed.

Yumi doesn't even hold it against her--but guilt is often like that, isn't it? The grayhaired girl instead looks over at Mikoto again and notices it--Eri's tough. Not Eri's fine, not an explanation. "...She's tough," Yumi agrees, "But.." She's pushing herself hard, huh? "That's what I'm worried about. I wish I could see her..."

"Oh, yeah?" Yumi asks about the food. "I'm kinda jealous. I'm not much of a cook..." A hmm. "What kind of food does she make? Lots of stuff, right? Tell me about it." Yumi can appreciate food. ....And she can appreciate something that seems to make Mikoto light up that much. It definitely sounds nice. But--

"Mm? Yeah," Yumi answers. "...Well, I paint, really. But when I'm laid up like this it's a good time to draw a little..." She bites her lip. "Maybe you can tell me what you think of something." Yumi pulls her sketchbook over and opens it, flipping through to the most recent page, and shows it to Mikoto.

It's a pencil drawing, unfinished, greatly detailed. Not all of the lines are in place yet, but it's recognizeable as a very realistic Eri, just head and shoulders in perspective. Eri isn't looking at the observer but somewhere else, and her expression is... heavy. As if she carries a great deal. There's a lot of detail, in it.

"...I'm kinda going from memory, but... Well, I can't stop thinking, so..."

<Pose Tracker> Mikoto Minagi [Ohtori Academy (11)] has posed.

Mikoto nods, to Yumi's worry. She's worried, too, but - it feels like if she says that, she'll be acting just like Mai, again. Mai, who worries and worries...

So she doesn't say anything.

But aside from worrying, Mai also makes so much good food, and Mikoto brightens as she thinks of it. "Mai makes the best ramen! There's so much in it! So many flavours! And they all go so good together! It's perfect, Yumi! I love Mai's ramen! It's -" Mikoto's breath catches for a moment, as she looks away. too good for someone like her

"... it's really good," Mikoto smiles again. "And - and Mai makes other stuff too. Mai's teriyaki is amazing! And, Mai's tempura is really amazing, and -" - she just lists off foods for a while. It's a long list. Mai can apparently cook a lot of different things, and Mikoto is almost desperately enthusiastic about all of them.

But she does, eventually, stop, perhaps not because she's run out of foods to talk about but simply because she's realised she's been talking for an awfully long time. She focuses on Yumi's sketchbook, instead, and nods when Yumi asks for her opinion. She doesn't really get art, but she's glad to help!

Mikoto's eyes shine with recognition, when she sees it. "Wow, looks just like Eri..." Right down to the weight on her shoulders. "Yumi's good."

Mikoto glances to her. She's said she's had a lot on her mind before. Maybe she wants to talk about it. "What's Yumi thinking about?"

<Pose Tracker> Yumi Ohzora [Infinity Institute (11)] has posed.

Poor Mikoto.

Watching Mikoto brighten and talk about all this food is nice. Someone might expect Yumi to get bored about it, to mind, but she just watches her friend with a small smile, nodding in places and punctuating with 'Oh!' and 'Really?' now and then, imagining a little bit being out near all that food just by virtue of how Mikoto mentions all of it. A whole big table of way more than she can even pretend to eat.

...Mikoto stops eventually, and then--well, there's her sketchbook there. "Thanks," she says. "It's sort of a way to..." She trails off. "I dunno," with a small, self-deprecating laugh. But--the question of... what's she thinking about.

"...How Eri's doing," Yumi answers. "What what happened means for the... war. What she's thinking... What we're going to do next." Still 'we' of course. "Other stuff, but a lot of it keeps coming back to that."

She pauses. "...That girl who died. My part in it all..."

"How Eri's doing."

<Pose Tracker> Mikoto Minagi [Ohtori Academy (11)] has posed.

It's a way to do something Yumi doesn't know, and Mikoto accepts that effortlessly, because it must be important to her in some way, and maybe she just doesn't have the words for it. That's okay. Mikoto doesn't have the words for things sometimes, too. Words have always been a foreign world, to Mikoto Minagi, who lives in instinct and sensation.

Perhaps that's why she's so enthusiastic about food.

She nods, as Yumi shares her thoughts. Eri, Eri, Eri - it all comes back to Eri, and Mikoto understands, deep in her heart, because so many of her thoughts have been just the same. So much time, spent worrying about how to help that sad, worn girl.

So few answers.

"... Eri's not giving up," Mikoto says, finally. "But... Eri wants Chevaliers to be allowed sadness. Know that much." She'd been instructed to let them have all their negative emotions.

She frowns, glancing down. Yumi's part in it...

... so many girls who weren't made for this. It's almost frustrating, but Mikoto hurts for her, too.

Mikoto takes a breath. "Yumi can be sad, too. Takes... lots of training to deal with death. It's not, easy. Or simple. It's, brutal, and not kind or good. It's okay, if Yumi's struggling. Death is..." She pauses, again. "... supposed to be sad."

She doesn't look at Yumi at all. It's supposed to be sad, but Mikoto isn't sad. Mikoto is vengefully glad that her enemy will no longer cause trouble for her most important people. Mikoto is satisfied that their enemy is defeated. Mikoto is proud of Eri for killing her. That little hint of sorrow she felt, seeing Mami's corpse... all it does is throw the reaction she must have in sharp relief.

Because she cannot be sad that an enemy is dead.

But Yumi and Eri - they're not like her. They weren't made for this. They must be so sad, and that makes Mikoto feel sad, too.

"Eri..." The word is just her name, for a long moment, sad and quiet. "... Eri's trying, really hard... and..." Mikoto's voice grows despairing, "and I can't help, Yumi. I'm still, broken."

<Pose Tracker> Yumi Ohzora [Infinity Institute (11)] has posed.

Yumi, too, sometimes reaches the limit of words--obviously, like she just did. ...That's part of what she can channel into her art; what she can't say, she can paint, she can show, she can put on canvas and let that be her statement. She's done it many times. But now...

Yes, it comes back to her.

"...Mm," Yumi says, and nods. "Okay." Anybody would allow that much, right? But--

Yumi looks back up to Mikoto, blinks, as she's allowed. As--Mikoto doesn't look at her. As Mikoto explains.


"...I don't think..." She bites her lip. "...It is sad. But I... I'm barely thinking about that girl. I didnt' know her. I know... She had people who will miss her. Maybe a family. And I know that's awful. But I can hardly think about it for worrying about how Eri feels. How..."

She shakes her head. "...I get it. Not being able to do something. It sucks. It really... sucks. I..."

She should look into that girl. She knows not even saying her name is just insulating her from it. But...

"...I dunno, I think about death kind of a lot. My dad died of the same thing I have. Will I even last as long as he did? I don't know. But you..." She bites her lip. "You've had that training, huh...? Somehow. You have."

<Pose Tracker> Mikoto Minagi [Ohtori Academy (11)] has posed.

Mikoto had to try and paint during one of her classes. And there was one assignment which simply did not go well at all - the one about family. The teacher took her aside to talk about her life because why would she make such dark and disturbing images on her canvas? Mikoto said something about how she thought they were learning about Matisse, and it was easy to assume she'd just misinterpreted his darker works.

Mikoto stuck to subjects from her life in Ohtori after that, and everyone thought her imagination was incredibly fanciful but at least she didn't get any more probing questions.

... needless to say, she doesn't paint any more.

She shakes her head, looking up to Yumi. "Yumi will," she says, of her father. "Yumi's strong. And, it's okay. I don't give many thoughts to the enemy either." Not even 'Mami', just 'the enemy'. "But Eri... thinking about Eri a lot. Just like Yumi. Don't think about death so much, normally, but I'm," she tears the word from her throat, "worried about Eri."

Just like Mai.

"Because I love Eri," Mikoto hastens to add, because she is not like Mai, and she will declare her affection openly and often.

Her gaze lowers, again. "... 'cause... yeah. I have. If I could've... I would've done it, so Eri didn't have to be so sad... but, was distracted." Her lip curls in momentary anger as she thinks of him. Endo didn't even have the decency to die. But her expression soon falls back to pensive sorrow. "... so Eri did. And I'm proud of Eri, 'cause enemies must be defeated, but... I keep thinking... what's that do to someone who hasn't spent their life preparing? What happens, when - when someone who was just - normal has to... kill?"

Mikoto swallows, against a lump in her throat. "I don't want Eri to be destroyed by that weight, Yumi. I'd do anything to help Eri now."

<Pose Tracker> Yumi Ohzora [Infinity Institute (11)] has posed.

Yumi might appreciate that story. ...For her part, she's been painting since she was a kid; all the rumors aside, it's really half the reason she goes to Infinity.

Mikoto sounds so sure about Yumi herself, and Yumi isn't in the mood to argue in favor of her impending demise, so she just nods along. Mikoto... The way she puts it. The enemy. But--"...Yeah," Yumi says. "I love Eri, too."

And she's worried about her, too.


The young witch doesn't know what happened with Mikoto or Endo, or really the details of that fight. But she can hear Mikoto's pride, pride that surprises her--a question that surprises her... No, Mikoto has more to her than many believe, many imagine.

"...I think Eri'd still be sad," Yumi says, softly. She doesn't explain. "Hey." She squeezes Mikoto's hand, bringing hers closer again--it's a weak gesture, little strength in Yumi's fingers, but it's there. "I don't know how it'll affect her. I... I've seen death, like that, a couple of times. I don't... I don't like it. But Eri..."

She bites her lip. "You can be there for her, at least. Right? You can spend time with her. Check on her. It might not seem like a lot, but..."

"You can do that."

<Pose Tracker> Mikoto Minagi [Ohtori Academy (11)] has posed.

Mikoto smiles, as Yumi says she loves Eri, too. It's a wan thing, brief, but it's there. Mikoto is glad to hear that other people love Eri, too. Eri deserves all the love in the world.

Especially now, when Eri feels so disgusting.

There is pride, there, and anger, and they are just as brief, such harsh sharp things on a girl who has always been so kind. Surely there's a story to it, but Mikoto doesn't tell. She's too focused on Eri.

Would Eri still be sad, if she had that training? Would she still cry at night, all alone, after killing someone who was so important in her life? Her gaze darkens, teeth grit, staring down at their hands. The edges of those thoughts are obsidian-sharp and dangerous and she cannot, cannot -

Mikoto's hand is pliable, easy to move, and Mikoto glances up at her and smiles again in acknowledgement of the support, her thoughts forgotten. Someone else might protest that Yumi is too sick to be providing this sort of help, but Mikoto isn't going to stop Yumi from doing what she can, knowing what she does about Yumi's inner thoughts.

"Yeah," Mikoto says, after a moment. "... yeah. Even like this, I can... make sure Eri rests. So long as Eri comes, that... must mean Eri needs me, right?" She doesn't realise at all how insensitive those words might seem. "Even though I can't... protect Eri at all... I can listen, right?"

She nods, firmly. And pauses, for a moment, looking to Yumi anew, because there's something in that reassuring statement which she's only just caught.

"... Yumi's seen death before?" Mikoto frowns. "... is Yumi okay?"

<Pose Tracker> Yumi Ohzora [Infinity Institute (11)] has posed.

It's enough. Yumi can see it.

...Yumi spots that look from Mikoto too, but--when Mikoto smiles again, they seem to be gone. Maybe someone else might protest that about Yumi, but she wouldn't appreciate it very much. It's just moving her hand, how bad is that? How big a deal is that?

...She doesn't say anything about Eri coming to Mikoto and not to her. Yumi knows discretion sometimes.

"Mm-hm," Yumi agrees. "Even if you can't protect her, you can help--and you can help her protect herself by getting enough rest. You can still do something." 'You', of course, is the operative word at the moment, though Yumi doesn't look bitter, doesn't look sad about that much. But--that question...

"I--" Yumi opens her mouth, closes it, shakes her head. "I-it's fine. It was... These men with guns came and... Well, I got taped to a chair. I couldn't do anything. ...But I saw, on the cameras. I saw Kozue... saw Pluto. Saw them--take--I mean--y-you know..." She can't quite say it, even.

"I-it's fine. I just mean I've seen people die." It... doesn't sound that fine.

<Pose Tracker> Mikoto Minagi [Ohtori Academy (11)] has posed.

"Yeah..." Mikoto bites at her lip, as she considers, a heaviness to her tone which suggests she's been thinking about how to help Eri a lot. But everything she could do - she'd need to be better for it. And...

... and she's not sure it's what Eri wants, even if it's the right thing to do.

But those are difficult questions, and Mikoto doesn't air them. Instead, she fields difficult questions to Yumi, and Mikoto's frown deepens as she speaks. There's a flash of recognition, as she mentions Kozue and Pluto.

Setsuna is her beloved friend. Kozue...

... Kozue is an enemy, and she can't have any feelings for her...

But why were they together? "What did Kozue do?" Mikoto asks, automatically, instinctively, without thinking about Yumi's distress at all. It is a sharp, suspicious thing, and those emotions cannot cover over the deeper concern for Kozue's activities, the meaning that girl still has to her.

She realises her mistake a moment later, glancing away. "... sorry." She halts over her words, and they feel so inadequate. "Yumi, doesn't, gotta talk about it."

<Pose Tracker> Yumi Ohzora [Infinity Institute (11)] has posed.

Yumi thinks Mikoto's that type--to think about it a lot. To think about her friend, who she loves, a lot. It's not that strange, really. It makes sense. ...But they are difficult questions, as.... are...

It's sharp, and suspicious, and Yumi actually flinches with the suddenness of it, her hand twitching against Mikoto's as she looks to her friend in surprise. "A-ah--Um--"

Mikoto apologizes, and Yumi looks more worried than she did before. "N-no, I was... I was being vague, I'm sorry. It's my fault. I shouldn't have just... Y-you know. I'm sorry."

She seems smaller than she did a moment ago, for some reason.

"She--she saved Tsuru-san. By... T-there were these men, with guns, and she... s-she..." Yumi glances away, and looks... queasy. "S-she practically c-cut his head in... h-half..."

Now she looks like she's going to be ill in a much more immediate sense.

<Pose Tracker> Mikoto Minagi [Ohtori Academy (11)] has posed.

The shock and regret are writ immediately on Mikoto's face, looking up as Yumi flinches and stammers. "I--"

I'm not going to hurt you, Yumi, I'd never hurt you, Yumi, don't be frightened, Yumi, I didn't mean to scare you, Yumi, I just didn't think before I spoke, Yumi, this is my fault, Yumi, please, Yumi --

But Mikoto's shallowing breath doesn't give her any of those words, even as her lips shape Yumi's name. She is frozen by the crushing guilt of Yumi's reaction, frozen as Yumi gives her just what she asked for, in a way she never, ever wanted.

Her gaze is fixed on Yumi; she cannot look away. Mikoto swallows, against the lump in her throat.

Mikoto doesn't speak for a long time. She tries - she tries - but her mind is a mess of associations, and the crushing, terrible guilt that she has made Yumi relive something so horrible to her. Her mouth opens, closes, like one of those fish she so effortlessly snatches from the water and brings to Mai to fillet.

But it's Yumi she's cut open, now, and there is not a thing she can do to fix it.

"I'm sorry," she rasps, eventually, against a throat dried by open-lipped breath.

<Pose Tracker> Yumi Ohzora [Infinity Institute (11)] has posed.

Yumi doesn't see that reaction at first, as she's very much avoiding looking at anything in particular. She of course can't hear the words that aren't spoken--but after a moment she does start to look back at Mikoto again after a few moments, sees her looking at her; she's nervous, of course, and nauseous, and the little beeping of the machine betrays that her heart is beating faster than it was before, makes clear something that she could otherwise want to keep to herself.

But Mikoto apologizes, and Yumi looks up to her again, hesitating... and sighs.

"...No, it's..." She shakes her head.

"I um..." She bites her lip, hard. "I don't like... to think about it. I didn't..."

She can't quite come up with any of the right words, now, not even enough to babble. "Don't worry about me, okay?"

<Pose Tracker> Mikoto Minagi [Ohtori Academy (11)] has posed.

Mikoto should have known, should have thought it through, shouldn't have said the first thing which came to her mind like she always does -

But she did. And now Yumi is upset, and it's all her fault. She says not to worry about her, but Mikoto can do nothing but. Everything is the panic of Yumi Ohzora.

"Didn't," Mikoto struggles, still, finding the words, "mean, hurting Yumi..."

But she did. Because she is such a harsh, sharp thing, and she cuts and cuts, even when she doesn't mean to, even towards someone she never meant to wound. She is frightening and terrible, and she cannot even control herself.

If she hadn't still been occupied with Kozue...

Yumi is right here, Yumi is in front of her, Yumi is her dear friend who she loves and she has hurt her, and Mikoto is stricken by the knowledge.

<Pose Tracker> Yumi Ohzora [Infinity Institute (11)] has posed.

Is it Mikoto's fault? It's easy for her to think so.

"It's--You didn't, I..." That's not quite true, but it's near true, something she's trying to get at as she looks over at Mikoto again. Mikoto, who is beating herself up and worrying and clearly--

"I just... I-I get surprised. When people get sharp. It's--It's fine, you know? You didn't mean it, no big deal. I just, um..."

The images, nonetheless, are in her mind now, and Yumi closes her eyes but finds that that only makes them clearer.

"I-I'm not... feeling... so great." She bites her lip.

"Don't..." She looks at Mikoto and worries, too. "...Don't..." She hesitates, and leans her head back into the pillow. "Don't... go, okay?"

<Pose Tracker> Mikoto Minagi [Ohtori Academy (11)] has posed.

Sorrow clouds Mikoto's gaze - both figuratively and literally, as her eyes dampen. She finally, finally makes herself look away. She can't bear to see Yumi's pain any more, can't bear to see what she's wrought.

She swallows, again, but the lump won't go away. Squeezes Yumi's hand, gently, so gently. "Won't, leave Yumi alone." She doesn't know why Yumi would want to stay with someone like her, but she cannot deny such an honest plea. Being alone, after all...

... it's the worst thing.

Mikoto still doesn't look at Yumi, as she tries to take deeper, steadying breaths. Tries to order her tumultuous thoughts. "Yumi's... not my enemy. I'd, never hurt Yumi. I want to protect..." ... but instead, all she's done is bring her pain. "Didn't... realise, I was, scary. Not to Yumi. I, didn't mean to..."

It's well that she doesn't have one of those clips on her fingers, hooking her up to those terrifying beep-beep machines.

She shakes her head. "... only sharp 'cause... Kozue's my enemy now." And there's regret there which isn't entirely because of Yumi. "Only sharp to enemies."

It feels so hard to breathe, but she tries her hardest. "Yumi... gonna be okay?"

<Pose Tracker> Yumi Ohzora [Infinity Institute (11)] has posed.


Yumi takes another small breath, tries to do some of the same things Mikoto is doing--and hears her... explain. It feels wrong, for Mikoto to be apologizing to her like this. It's not her fault. But--

"...You don't scare me," Yumi says, and hopes she can get that across. "I mean, you're my friend."

She hesitates, there, and then looks surprised--and a little sad. "...Oh..." She nods, after a moment. "An enemy, huh..."

Mikoto asks, and Yumi puts on a small smile. Her heart is still beating faster than it should; she doesn't look... great. "I'll... be fine. I just... Have to..." Her breath wheezes a little.

"I'm just tired. Just--"

The image, again.

"Just not feeling great. Don't worry."

<Pose Tracker> Mikoto Minagi [Ohtori Academy (11)] has posed.

Mikoto nods, shakily, when Yumi says she doesn't scare her. It's difficult to believe, but she tries to. Yumi wouldn't lie to her, after all.

"Yeah," she says, of Kozue. Explains her sharpness with two heavy words: "Wasn't always."

But she doesn't explain, because she's worried about Yumi. Mikoto looks up to her, again, with all that guilt and sorrow and eyes a little too misty, as Yumi insists she's all right. "Yumi..."

Mikoto takes another deep breath. "It's okay, if Yumi's upset. Yumi, it was upsetting." She may not know the details, but she knows enough, much of it communicated in the beep-beeps and her wheezing breath.

She squeezes her hand, again, so gently. "If Yumi wants to rest, I'll stay right here, okay?"

<Pose Tracker> Yumi Ohzora [Infinity Institute (11)] has posed.

That much is true--or, mostly true? It's not Mikoto that scared her, exactly...

"...Mm." Yumi... likes Kozue. She doesn't want her to be an enemy--certainly not hers. But then... Does she get to pick that? Can she even think in terms of enemies like that? People aren't...

"...Okay," Yumi says to Mikoto, and manages a little smile. "Thanks. I'm... It's not you, okay? It's just... it. Thinking."

"...Okay." Yumi squeezes Mikoto's hand. "The chair's not bad, right?"

"I..." She sighs. "At least til the nurse gets here. I'll... have to call her over." She has the button. ...She doesn't press it just yet.

<Pose Tracker> Mikoto Minagi [Ohtori Academy (11)] has posed.

Mikoto can't like Kozue. Kozue is her enemy, and she must destroy her. Even if...

She smiles, back, to Yumi, and it is small and fragile, but it is there. "Okay." It isn't her. She has to try and believe that.

The chair is utterly inconsequential. Mikoto would sit anywhere, if Yumi needed her. So she nods. "Yeah. But if Yumi wants me to rest with you, I can."

She's small. She could probably fit. Her side might protest, but Mikoto isn't worried about that. Neither is she worried by the impropriety of offering; that doesn't even occur to her.

Mikoto glances back, towards the door, wrinkling her nose at the mention of the nurse. "There to make Yumi better, right?" She concedes, after a moment. "So, good to call."

<Pose Tracker> Yumi Ohzora [Infinity Institute (11)] has posed.

The chair is easy to talk about. It's simple, even. And it is a nice chair. ...But it's not the important thing, no.

Maybe Mikoto would fit--Yumi blinks, at the request, understands it after a moment. "Ah..." She shakes her head. "That's okay. Thanks, but... I um... I need the space a little, right now. I don't want to..."

She gestures, vaguely, and then says, "Right there's okay. A-and I've got a couch too." Over on the other part of the room. She keeps Mikoto's hand, as she gets out the button, and finally presses it.

"Yeah. Yeah, you're right. ...Thanks."

She closes her eyes, and sighs.