2018-10-13 - Late Train Home

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Title: Late Train Home

Kasagami and Setsuna almost have a conversation on the train home from Lindy's.


Kasagami Araki and Setsuna Meioh


The train

OOC - IC Date:

Sat Oct 13, 2018 - Weds May 20, 2015

<Pose Tracker> Kasagami Araki [Ohtori Academy (11)] has posed.

It's a late night train ride in Tokyo. After the recovery at Lindy's, an exhausted Kasagami has been half leading, half leading on Setsuna all the way into the empty back-end car until she's collapsed into a seat. The wrapped up bundle that is her blade is set on the seat across. The usually loquaicious Duelist is all silence as her 'borrowed' sneakers hit the free seat in front of her without any sense of politeness.

She's practically lounging on the window-side seat, every bump in the track making her chin nod a little and some of her hair flicker. Her head finally tilts to the side, seeking a warm shoulder. And after a long sigh?

Her fingers seeking the hand that was so needily grasping hers not too long ago even if she hadn't consciously realized that fact.

Moonlight streams through the window, lighting up only half of her face.

<Pose Tracker> Setsuna Meioh [Infinity Institute (U)] has posed.

It's standard for Setsuna to be an upright, polite contrast to the sprawling lounge of her girlfriend. Tonight, though, there's this jouncing tension in her shoulder when Kasagami's cheek touches it through white shirtcloth. After a moment Setsuna notices the jounce and tries to relax that side, consciously, but it only helps a little.

She's been studying an irregular, squiggled scratch on the seatback in front of them, wrapped in her own quiet. Setsuna and Kasagami have shared comfortable silences before, but this doesn't feel like that to the senshi. There are a dozen half-formed questions she can't speak, because she doesn't how to end them yet.

Setsuna's hand is there, as soft and warm as always. She threads her fingers between Kassie's and gives a small squeeze. Her mouth opens, then closes again, and the wise senshi feels a strange and fluttery unsteadiness.

Another minute goes by. After a sidelong glance at the moonlit angles of the other's face, she finally speaks up. "Camry-san doesn't hold you responsible. You shouldn't, either." It's meant to be reassuring. "Whatever that girl says."

Once the words have started, though... "She is... the one. The one who beat you. Isn't she?"

<Pose Tracker> Kasagami Araki [Ohtori Academy (11)] has posed.

Kasagami is nothing if not in tune with her girlfriend's reactions, if not having yet acquired the almost supernatural sync that a certain pair of Senshi have managed to meld together. Things like muscle twitches and sudden movements, or the lackthereof, stiffness...it's words on a page to a Duelist so in tune with the martial arts and used to reading people physically.

The widened, if still foggy, window into this beautiful warrior she cares for is telling. Even the mood isn't the comforting exhaustion she's so used to after they've both drained from a fight. Part of Kassie feels like she's just stepped onto a battlefield.

And not with that edge of excitement, but a hint of ice in her veins that she can't quite come up with a reason for. Her gaze turns, and she meets the loneliest Senshi.

Threading squeezes and that hesitating mouth brings a little more concern into Kasagami's exhausted features.

Twitch. Kasagami's gaze looks down as Setsuna asks her question. Her free hand squeezes the seat's arm hard. The one in Setsuna's own is tense, but quickly forces relaxation. She doesn't want to hurt her love, no matter what she's feeling right now. The reminder of her loss stings. 'That girl'.

Her jaw sets harder. There's a brief flash of anger, followed by...bitter amusement?

"I wouldn't expect little miss flamethrower to understand what a skilled swordswoman should be capable of!" Barks out Kasagami, a little too loud. So much so that it surprises her. The whole thing with accidentally wounding Camry has really gotten to her. Perhaps even moreso, that her girlfriend agrees.

She outright looks away to hide the anger at her love for the many levels of insinuations she feels.

"Ohtori's Prince, Utena Tenjou, is her name, Setsuna-chan." Corrects Kasagami suddenly. A bite of her lip.

"...It won't be the same next time." Her voice is low, her great pride's wound torn a little sharply open given who it's coming from. She falls quiet for a moment.

"Do you think I'm weak?" It's meant to be an honest question. The tone in her vulnerable, exhausted state is accusatory.

<Pose Tracker> Setsuna Meioh [Infinity Institute (U)] has posed.

It's tender ground she treads, Setsuna knows as she asks. She's prepared for a strong reaction to the question. No, it's Kasagami's angry vehemence over the wounding of Lera Camry that gets a double-blink of garnet eyes. Just as the senshi's stiffnesses and silences speak so clearly to Kasagami, so the set of the swordswoman's jaw and the tone of her proclamation read as both anger and hurt to Setsuna, so attuned now to the vulnerabilities beneath the crimson pride of the girl she loves.

The only problem is, Setsuna feels included in that rebuttal. A glance at the window takes her gaze near, but then past, Kasagami. "Or me, either?" She shakes her head, then thumbs the scratch on the seatback and releases a breath. "I only..." I only wanted you to not feel so badly, she thinks, but stops.

The correction comes. The mirrored hesitation. Kassie likes her, Setsuna thinks, suddenly. The doting in the car; the way it feels, in this moment, like the duelist is concerned with the girl who beat her getting her proper due over anything else...

From correction to accusation. From the girl whose name is attached to a deep depression Setsuna keenly remembers Kasagami suffering, to what sounds like a disbelief in her steadfast support. "Why would you think that?" There's a touch of hurt in her voice. "I've never... No. I just think that we can't control everything. Like I said, it was a battlefield."

More quiet follows, punctuated by a stop that isn't theirs. A bent white-haired woman in what must be an heirloom kimono takes careful steps onto their car and then spots them: two teenaged girls, one long-draped and dashing and the other tall and elegant, and very obviously and publicly together. She's too proper to sniff. She's also too proper to remain. Into the next car she goes with short, slow steps.

Setsuna speaks only when the other woman is gone, and her voice is a little harder to hear over the clack of the train. Maybe this is a louder section of track. "I know you are strong, Kassie. I've seen it."

Another half minute, maybe. "How well do you know her?" It's an innocent question, the most unobtrusive one Setsuna can find within her to ask.

<Pose Tracker> Kasagami Araki [Ohtori Academy (11)] has posed.

The stop punctuates the beginning of an argument. Kassie's head turns sharply. In the enforced silence, the young woman plays her own words back. Her lover's retort. In that awkward, horrific quiet, both her own hurt and the sting of regret bites into her heart. No matter how much she believes in what she should be, how can she so easily shrug off her love's support?

It hurts. One leg curls up to her chest. Her heart feels chilly for a moment, sharp frostbite. More guilt added to the pile.

The old woman gets off. She hasn't looked at her until the last, transferring her own raging feelings her viciously. Even the air of politeness doesn't keep the young woman from noting the hasty exit. Another little spite she's seen so often since she came out in her previous school. And a convenient scapegoat for her current vortex of feelings.

Surely they haven't had late night arguments like this. Right?

"Setsuna...I..." She wants to apologize. To correct. She shudders instead.

Her chuckle is bitter. "I wish I could see it, my love." Her smile, her love, is genuine. So is how she just can't find what she considers strength in herself. An honest admission.


Kassie can feel her heart pound over even the beating of the tracks.

Curling to the side, she looks to Setsuna. Her tongue feels dry, words like ash in her mouth. "In what way?" A beat, immediately. A clench of Setsuna's hand. "...Damnit. That was cruel of me. I'm sorry." With much effort, the Duelist swallows some of her self interest and hurt. She slumps. That question, gentle though it might be, signals something she feels like an idiot for not considering. Her smile is weak. But Kasagami tries her hardest to summon some empathy into her.

"I know nothing at all about her. And yet? At the same time, she's so transparent and open when she's fighting, when she's talking...open books and all. Utena-chan can be a real blind fool when she wants to be, weak and yet strong..." A tilt of her head, and she lets out a frustrated tch!

"She says too much and not enough! Just the kind of thing you'd find in a Prince! I swear, I don't know whether to tickle her ears or punch her in the stomach sometimes!" Her free hand is a fist clenched in the air.

With that outburst of rivalry-related affection, she slumps.

"...That doesn't help, does it? Come on, Setsuna. Can you tell me what you're worried about?" She shoves herself up with some effort, and looks at her lover. The mask of pride falls away.

Kasagami looks at Setsuna with a mix of worry, as well as lingering hurt and a touch of shame to her. It's been a long, long night. But if nothing else, she'll face her sweet's concerns head on.

<Pose Tracker> Setsuna Meioh [Infinity Institute (U)] has posed.
<SoundTracker> Tori Amos - Enjoy the Silence, instrumental cover https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-venJA4Ay1I

Now both of their sentences are dying between words. Her fingers still thread between Kasagami's. The embarrassment of Utena Tenjou's words still burns, but now she feels the sullen heat of shame, too. Setsuna wanted to support her girlfriend, but seems to have just made things worse, somehow. Too preoccupied with her own problems, she thinks to herself.

"You are." Strong, she means, and there's answering affection even amid the chill discomfort of disagreement. Sincerity. Whether or not Kasagami believes she is strong, her girlfriend clearly not only believes in her strength but admires it.

'In what way?' There's a little hitch in Setsuna's shoulders as she draws in a short breath.

The apology comes so quickly on its heels that she doesn't really have time to process what just happened. The grip on her hand helps, and she looks down at their joined fingers, then up again. A nod. "It has been a long night. We are both tired." Her voice is still as gentle as when she reassured Kasagami of her strength, still as warm. Setsuna tilts her head to study the girl she loves, and receives the answer she asked for.

It's a long one.

The absorptive quiet isn't unusual. Setsuna Meioh is a thoughtful sort of listener; Kasagami has seen her mull over new information like this before. It shows in the little wrinkle that appears between her eyebrows.

The train's slowing down as Kasagami asks what she's worried about. A second passes. There's a flicker of dark eyelashes: Setsuna is thinking, another little sign Kasagami has learned.

Here is what part of Setsuna is thinking: I'm... being ridiculous. It's been a long night, and so many terrible things have happened. Both of us need sleep.

Here is what another part of Setsuna is thinking: Utena Tenjou of the stunning sky-blue eyes and oh so important title is a very important person to Kasagami, despite how integral she is to the girl Setsuna loves ending up a tangled, desperately depressed mess rewatching home videos of lost days in a doomed estate. And how important is Setsuna to Kasagami, if she never mentioned her to Utena Tenjou once...? Why...?

Second's up. Setsuna inhales, and looks Kasagami's way.

"Everything's fine." And she summons up a warm, convincing smile to sell it.

It is a very small lie.

It is also her first. Another first, to join the rest she has shared with her first love.

A woman's voice, sweet and precise, pipes into the car to announce Infinity Institute as the doors open. "My stop. I'll see you tomorrow, Kassie." She leans over and gives her girlfriend a kiss on the cheek before exiting the train.