2018-10-16 - Those Left Behind

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Title: Those Left Behind

Lion finds Mikoto in the bay, and Steven offers drinks to her and Niramo as they discuss Kasagami's upcoming Kendo exhibition. There's something Mikoto's not telling them...


Mikoto Minagi, Steven Universe, Niramo Umokeshi


Shitamachi Low City - Tokyo Bay

OOC - IC Date:

2018-10-16 - 2015-05-22

.**************************** Shitamachi Low City *****************************.
*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+ Tokyo Bay +*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+
 Once known as the "Inner Sea," the shelter Tokyo Bay once provided for
 merchants and fishermen helped Tokyo develop into the powerhouse that it is
 today, nor is it less useful today. Japan's largest shipping ports operate
 out of the Bay, as does its own navy and that of the US Forces. Herculean
 efforts dredge up its silt to create artificial islands, and factories drink
 its water to soothe their smoky throats.

 To most residents, however, the Bay is simply blue water glittering,
 salt-seasoned breezes, and gently drifting sails. The aptly named Rainbow
 Bridge crossing the bay enhances rather than damages its beauty, its white
 towers lit many nights by an artificial rainbow. A provincial visitor might
 consider Tokyo Bay to be trimmed like a garden hedge; it has a number of
 oddly geometric islands with arranged greenery, and any land touching the
 water often makes the best of it with a park, intake valve, or other
 imposition on nature. To a city-dweller, though, it is a miracle of open
 space and calm.
*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+* Players +*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*

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

There are so many things to take care of in a day.

Midterms are, ultimately, the least important of them. Mikoto tries. That is the nicest thing which can be said about it.

There is the thing which was once Sayaka, of course - which Mikoto needs to keep an eye on, in fear of what Eri might do.

There is Eri herself, who Mikoto tries to keep an eye on and help, even now.

And then there's Mai...

... but there's something she has to take care of which is more important than any of that, even though the importance of all those tasks will shatter her under the weight of her promises.

Perhaps midterms can be excused - perhaps Sailor Neptune is right to say she is too consumed by Eri Shimanouchi - perhaps Mai will be fine.

But there is no arguing, no arguing at all, the fact that she has failed her most essential task. That she continues to fail, every day. For this reason - this reason alone - she knows she is letting them all down. Letting him down.

And so she is not hunting, or keeping watch, or pleading for food.

She is searching.

Mikoto pushes herself. She is already in Tokyo proper by the morning. She has already come to the gash in the world which is the ocean, pressed against sand and rock in form of a bay.

She should check on Kimiko, she thinks, at the taste of salt in the air. One more monster to worry about.

But going faster and fiercer only means falling further, in the end.

Because though she knows she must, she cannot find him.

She does not know what she's doing wrong. She's trying not to let anyone down. Trying, in utter futility, to make everyone happy.

Promises on promises on promises, and she is shattering beneath the weight of them.

And so Mikoto comes to sit on rocky outcropping, swinging her sword-case about and laying it beside her. Fingers hardened from grasping that blade for over a decade of her young life trail over the black case - the case which allows her to pretend to be normal.

"What am I doing wrong?" Mikoto asks it, the words thin and strained.

There is no reply. There is no answer to Mikoto Minagi's failings.

The clouds overhead are dark mimic to the clouds in her mind.

<Pose Tracker> Steven Universe [Juuban Public School (6)] has posed.


The entire magical girl community has been in upheaval ever since the events of recent, ones that have concluded, or extend onward into infinity. It is felt by everyone in some respect. Some effects will change lives forever, irreparably separating loved ones. Though it ripples outward, and eventually affects everyone, much like water in a pond.

The Crystal Gems have not been around much since the Hand Ship and NachtWal incident. When he does see Pearl or Garnet, they seem... distant. Preoccupied. Especially Garnet. There isn't much she wants to talk about lately.

It felt... lonely at the house.

So in some effort to entertain himself, Steven has begun making sand angels up and down the beach. Nothing truly productive, though just stimulating enough to keep him awake. "Mmf. Ick." A few gains of sand slipped past his lips as he sits up, face laced with sand, looking the part of some sort of sandman.

He wore his outfit generally seen in-- gold star and deep pink shirt, jeans, and pink flip-flops, but otherwise didn't have anything on him, except a rose-filgree envelope decorated in scarlet reds. It has recently been opened, the wax seal snapped.

And while Steven nearby hasn't noticed anyone else, Mikoto may find another has.

A very large paw may start to pap-pap-pap at her side twintails from behind her. A deep snort and shakes of pink may come withing peripheral vision.

It was blatantly obvious who it was.

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

Mikoto hears the pad-pad-pad of plush paws against sandy stone. At first, she disregards it, because it does not sound like a hunting-approach. She isn't engaging whatever animal is behind her, and she's not acting threatening; she has no reason to think there'll be miscommunication between them. To live and let live with the beasts around her is why she is such good friends with so many of them.

And, perhaps, why she is friends with so many monsters.

She has not spared much thought to the uninvolved, save Mai. She has not had the energy to consider the ones left behind.

She is not thinking of Steven, though perhaps if she thought to look she would find him. He's not so far away. He is a lifetime away.

And then, from behind, a flash of pink, a whuff, and an oversized paw which bat-bats at her traditional braids, the one concession to a hairstyle she has made since she was a child. Mikoto blinks, head turning - those braids flick about her face in entertaining fashion. Perhaps it is not just tradition which has led her to keep them all these years. The cats love them, after all.

Cats like -

"Lion..?" Mikoto asks in surprise, as she turns about more fully, now, to face him. For a moment the sorrow on her face is evident, but it fades into a wan smile, as she blinks slowly, then lowers her gaze to his mane instead of his eyes. Friendly, for cats. And friendly for people to cats, as she lifts a lightly-curled hand to offer it to his face, to see if and where he'd like to be pet.

A few moments later, she cants her head to the side. "... where's Steven?" She asks, because where Lion is, Steven usually isn't far behind.

<Pose Tracker> Steven Universe [Juuban Public School (6)] has posed.

It does seem as though cats do have many things in common with Mikoto. Perhaps it is what draws them together. The cat just starts back for a long time. Almost studying Mikoto in some strange, inscrutable way. When the hand goes up, he thrust his head into her her, well, with a head his size it is difficult to determine where he was aiming for, because it and his mane are encompassing everything.

Like some sort of big fluffball thrown at you, or a sweetheart wins someone else a massive stuffed animal, and is suddenly dropped on them.

At her request, Lion looks out to her right. At about that time, Steven comes frolicking along the beach, carrying that note. And while Mikoto may have been missed if she wanted to be by him, the fact that Lion is there draws his attention.

"H-Hey!" he says suddenly, redirecting course toward them, sand kicking up and getting between his toes as he goes. "He isn't crowding you out, is he?" is asked. Which to some people, his proximity to her is borderline ignoring personal space.

But cats can be indifferent to such things, can't they?

"Hi Mikoto! How's you? Enjoying the view?" Something seems off about her, sense rather quickly. A similar sense as to when Kasagami near ran him over on the beach a day ro two ago. Distracted, if not something else. "Wanna hang for a bit? I got a cooler back dow nthe beach with drinks if you need one!"

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

Lion shoves his face forward, and Mikoto dutifully provides scritches, trusting that he will move his head to get the desired effect if she hasn't quite figured out exactly where he wants to be pet.

Cats are good at being assertive like that.

If she's being drowned out by his mane a bit, she's not about to complain.

While Lion might not be a talking magical cat, he nonetheless at times seems much savvier than Mikoto's normal cat friends. She asks about Steven, and Lion looks to the side - and as she follows his gaze, sure enough, there's Steven. Mikoto is small, though not, thankfully, as small as a grade-schooler; it would not be difficult to overlook her, in her orange and brown uniform. Lion, on the other hand...

Mikoto shakes her head, with a grunt of negation, as Steven asks if Lion is getting too close. She doesn't seem bothered by Lion getting up close and personal at all.

"Steven," she offers in return greeting, smiling to him - a smile which doesn't quite shape her cheeks the way he's seen her whole face shift to accommodate her joy. "Good to see." Good to see Steven, or good to see the morning over Tokyo Bay? Perhaps both.

The astute reader may notice, here, a distinct lack of an answer to his first question.

Perhaps Steven notices something, too, because he follows up his greeting with an offer. Mikoto blinks, tilting her head to the boy instead of his lion, this time. There is a pause, between his words and hers.

... but it won't hurt to spend a little time with Steven, after all.

"'Kay," Mikoto nods, giving Lion one last scratch behind a round little ear before she lowers her hand to push herself up. The other catches the strap of her sword-case, and she shrugs it onto her shoulder as she comes standing again. She'll follow Steven down to the beach without any argument at all.

<Pose Tracker> Steven Universe [Juuban Public School (6)] has posed.

Lion doesn't particularly move his head to receive pets anywhere specific. He just seems to like being touched or petted in general!

Approaching closer does show something is wrong. Under the surface. What could it be? "Same to you!" he says, trundling on over and looking to the two. "You both look like quite the pair on that rock!" he says, that infectious little grin he has growing wider. "Like some kind of action cat squad!"

Though it was a perilous moment, the time they worked together to attack will certainly be remembered for a long time. "C'mon!" he says, going for one of Mikoto's hands to pull her along in excitement!

The cooler was just out of view around the corner, positioned by a parasol. It looks stocked with all sorts of fruity drinks and sodas! So much sugar! "Ooooooh did you see this?!" the boy holds up that letter from Kasagami, informally requesting his presence at a Kendo exhibition, and desire to see him compete. Rose filigree, wax seal, some sort of fancy type of paper, and... a dagger hole in one side?!

Yeah that sounds like Kasagami.

"I think I am gonna go! Even though I am no good with swords. I just wanna be there and do cool moves!" A look down to the sand. "It was funny. Kasagami almost ran me over yesterday jogging. She seemed distracted. Dunno why!"

The boy heads over to the cooler, digging around. "What do you want to drink?"

Lion has oddly stuck very close to Mikoto.

Maybe just to chill, or perhaps he sensed something?!

It was impossible to tell.

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

"Action cats..." Mikoto echoes, blinking. And then she giggles, her chin lowering as she shakes her head. There's a curve to her brow which suggests it's funny for reasons which aren't all happy.

... but at least she laughed.

She finds one of her hands summarily captured as Steven drags her along, and she at least manages to keep good pace. About one of those curves of the bay, there's a parasol - if she'd walked just a little further, Mikoto thinks, she would have found him.

(If she tried just a little harder, Mikoto thinks, she would have found him.)

The guilt which veils her eyes is interrupted as Steven holds up his invitation, Kasagami's calling card in so many ways. The filigree, the formal seal, the sliced edge as if affixed by a blade.

She's not unfamiliar.

She's gotten her own invitation, after all.

Kasagami has been distracted, and it is a leaden pit in her stomach. Golden eyes narrow, briefly, as Steven muses. She wonders. She does not realise that she was the one who complicated matters in the first place, not at all.

A brief shake of her head, braids flicking this way and that, and it's gone. Mikoto reaches out, with a hand, to scratch at Lion's mane. Whether she is giving comfort or receiving it is once more a riddle for the ages.

"Lemonade!" Mikoto declares, to the question of what she'd like to drink, because for all the doubts in her heart, Mikoto has never once hesitated on the question of food. Steven has a lot of soda in there. He's got to have lemonade somewhere.

That decision made, her eyes fall on Steven's rosy invitation, and she hums uncertainty through closed lips. "... I dunno," she concludes, on the subject of whether she'll go. "They're, playing. Not fighting for real. I'd..."

Mikoto's gaze drops down, and she does not say what she would do. It's obvious.

"... wouldn't fit in," she concludes, after a moment of silence. "But, Kasagami's..." Another pause, another frown. "... good to help Kasagami right now." And it is normal, she does not say, to help Kasagami right now.

<Pose Tracker> Niramo Umokeshi [Juuban Public School (9)] has posed.

While one may see the cloudy sky overhead as a omen of darker things to come, it can also be seen as a way for the upcoming sunlight to be even brighter and more refreshing after its' absence.

With all the excitement of NachtWal having passed what seems to be ages ago, life has been getting back to a normal pathern for the mouse Miraculous user. Even Yuhira seemed to have dropped her obvious probing about any sort of monster-fighting activities this week, and with the midterms finally over, it's time to finally relax before the grades are posted for all to see!

The hope that the less she thinks about her Social Studies exam will just make it disappear is one that she's holding close to her chest today.

It's in this optimistic mood that Niramo makes her way to Tokyo Bay, her seldom-used sketchpad out and green eyes scanning for an interesting spot to try practicing her abysmal drawing skills. The blue-gray of the ocean sparkles with the dim rays of the sun that manage to break through the clouds, but nothing really seems to stand out to her. Sure, there's the spot where she landed when the Gem Handship shrugged off her attack, but it was smoothed out long ago.

It's this search for an ideal spot to sit and let her mind wonder away from the crushing weight of the dreaded midterms results that brings her to spot the parasol, but the company there has the short Juuban student blink in surprise. Steven is a no-brainer, since he lives almost on the shores of the Bay itself, but Mikoto doesn't seem quite the person to head down to the beach. She speaks what's on her mind and certainly knows a few things about swords, but sand can't be good for any sort of blade.

Lion seems to be hovering pretty close to Mikoto as well, and she remembers him watching them from outside the cafe. Maybe the massive feline has a bond with Mikoto that is of kindred souls?

No...Mikoto, doesn't seem like the type to eat food without asking first.

"Steven-san, Mikoto-san! Please tell me the midterms wern't as mean to you as they were to me." Walking up to the trio and waving her free hand in greeting, Niramo lowers her bookbag to the sands with a sigh and rub her shoulder. "I think they're trying to turn our brains into mush with all the random questions they throw in there..."

Complaints of the tests get waylaid as she sees the flailed invitation in Steven's hands, and her natural smile grows. Kasagami has been working so hard to try to keep the kendo club going despite what events have transvired for her, and Niramo's glad to see she has friends she can count on, even if most of them don't attend Ohtori. "Oh, you got one as well? I'm going too, even if I have to get something to eat from a konbini later."

Even if she doesn't actually go to Kasagami's school or knows a thing about a sword, there wasn't even a question on if she was going to support her friend.

<Pose Tracker> Steven Universe [Juuban Public School (6)] has posed.

"We flew all over and beat stuff up! Cause thats what heroes do!" the boy says jubilant. It was part of his song, after all, about saving the day.

The boy fetches a lemonade for the lady-- actually two! "I have normal and pink lemonade! I am, I am not sure if there is a difference between the two, but feel free to have either! Or both if you want!"

"...Playing?" Steven asks Mikoto. "Kasagami said it was important training for fighting and stuff. Is it not real?" he asks. He sounds... not quite wounded or hurt, though sad curiosity. Like when a kad finds out the tooth fairy isn't real. "I think I get what you mean though." Perhaps because of how they fight, it is childsplay what they do at the club.

"I am sure she would enjoy a visit at least if you can," he adds in.

Lion sense another approaching, as his head perks up, that cotton candy mane brushing up on Mikoto's side. A look down the beach, and someone else is approaching! The Gem-Child notices shoretly thereafter. "Heeeeey Niramo!" Steven shouts on her approach. Someone not seen in a while! "Been okay for me so far!" He hasn't seen her since the NachtWal incident, wasn't it? Something like that. "Hey, want a drink too? I got all sorts of stuff in here!" A look to the letter. "Yeah, she wants me to actually compete I think! Dunno why, I ain't the greatest at it. Maybe she wants me to get some actual experience with a sword?"

Since Steven didn't have one of his own (or rather, one any more) that was magical, he had to start somewhere!

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

"What heroes do," Mikoto echoes Steven, and there is sadness in the echolalia, sadness in her eyes. And when she finds the words, she cannot bring herself to do anything but agree. "... yeah..."

She shakes her head, summons a smile again as she glances to Lion. "Pink," she insists.

It only feels right to drink pink lemonade around a pink lion, after all.

She cannot quite hide her derisive snort as Steven asks, but Mikoto breathes out a sigh through parted teeth, clicking her tongue against them. "It's real to them," she concedes. "But they're not warriors, Steven. Can't treat them the same."

If they think they can train for battle with so many terms of engagement fettering their attempts, they are just pretending to fight. They are performing.

There is a reason Mikoto Minagi does not train with anyone these days.

The only rule she ever knew in her training was...

And then there is a familiar voice, and Mikoto turns to a girl she has only ever known to be uninvolved.

It's strange, isn't it, that she'd be here this morning before school..?

There is darkness under her eyes and a weary edge to her smile, and perhaps she has stayed up too late studying. Perhaps there are greater depths to the simple girl called Mikoto Minagi. "Niramo," she calls, in greeting.

Midterms, she says, and Mikoto hums discontent through closed lips. "Yeah," she agrees, a shade of guilt to the word. Niramo must have had a harder time with midterms, because Niramo probably actually attended all of hers. They can't very well be hard on Mikoto if Mikoto skipped class entirely. "Niramo okay?"

She is one of an increasingly-narrow pool of girls Mikoto can still ask that question.

There is an extra shade of relief to her smile, as Niramo says she's going, too. "Good," she says, because even if she is afraid, she still wants Kasagami to be supported and to feel better.

Blink-blink, she glances back to Steven. "Steven uses shield," she says, skeptically. "Even know how to use sword?"

<Pose Tracker> Niramo Umokeshi [Juuban Public School (9)] has posed.

Even with how early it is this morning, Steven is really energetic. Maybe he hasn't gotten a preference to if he is a morning bird or a night owl yet? The mornings were never something she wanted to deal with until the sun was fully over the horizon, but school waits for no dozer. The offer of a drink is just too much to ignore, the slight burst of sugar hopefully enough to turn the tide. "Oh, i'll take a...um, here!" A box of apple juice is plucked from the bounty stored in the coffer. Besides, Steven already was kind enough to offer her a drink in the first place, she wasn't going to be rude and make him get the drink out himself!

The mention of Steven actually competing brings Niramo short of getting her straw into the box, and she makes sure she heard him correctly before responding. "Wait, you actually have to compete? I mean, I think I heard she wanted to give you sword lessons when you were cleaning that bokken, but...well, you'll do great, i'm sure of it!" She did read her letter first thing this morning, so she might have accidently skipped the part asking her to compete as well. Kasagami couldn't actually expect her to just wing it, right?

Then again, knowing Kasagami and how she knows about her tonfa-swinging anctics, she's certain Kasagami actually has that planned. Now there's something else to dread besides the final day of midterms!

Mikoto's quiet question has Niramo blinking at the older girl - (and her sheathed sword that she likes to carry. Did she lose the golf bag somewhere?) - and having her nod her head. "O-oh, i'm fine, but...I mean, I should be asking you that, Mikoto-san! I mean..." A quick glance at Steven has her question die on her lips. The last time she saw Mikoto, she had somehow terrified an Ohtori student into thinking she was a fire-breathing hell cat, and she's not sure if Steven would have heard about Mikoto's misadventure with the latest cooking class.

There are just some things you don't tell even your closest friends about!

"U-um, nevermind about that! I know Kasagami-san would like it if you could come, and I want to get something for you the next time I see you. I just...um...didn't come prepared, that's all!" Niramo's fumbling over her words a bit here, but she feels like she was one personally responsible for giving Mikoto those peppers. Maybe if she had managed to been a little more assertive...?

The mention of Steven using a shield has Niramo fumbling with her sketchpad in one hand, untapped juice still in the other. She wasn't looking for anything exactly, but she didn't want to act like she knew just how effective a shield was in the half-Gem's hands. "B-but a shield doesn't have a place in kendo, right?"

A seemless poker face will not be found here.

<Pose Tracker> Steven Universe [Juuban Public School (6)] has posed.

As Steven hands over the pink lemonade, his expression softens and saddens just a touch. Mikoto would totally be the one to jump on that comment... wouldn't she be? A warrior so fierce to defeat her enemies to save people... is a hero, right?


"Oh, I see what you mean! Because they don't really fight real battles." That made sense. At least if he understands correctly. "I don't really! But Kasagami says that is why I should learn! Something about 'both understanding how to use and defend against them', and how 'a proper shield deserves a strong blade at its side'."

She was all about swords, that young lady.

"Well, she said compete, I don't ah... know if its against real events. Maybe a test or some show of what I have learned to those gather? I dunno" he says to Niramo. "I just know that she took one of her rose daggers and jammed the note to the side of the door instead of mailing it. Preeeeetty sure I gotta be there." A casual sip of the soda he opens with a pop of a tab. How is he gonna explain that mark on the door?

"Thanks!" he says toward Niramo. "And uh... no, not really sadly enough. I don't think I can really apply anything I have learned with it either..." a solemn tone. He is worried that he may make a spectacle of himself like the training session handling the blade.

Lion slinks his way away from Mikoto long enough to go headbutt Niramo in the side. He seems to remember her! Though how well he does is questionable. As cats tend to be questionable.

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

Mikoto's 'golf bag' is still right there on her shoulder, but perhaps knowing the truth about what it holds makes it seem a little less innocent.

That's an adage which holds true about many parts of Mikoto Minagi.

... but she seems like such a normal girl, drinking her soda, which she insisted ought to be pink just for solidarity with a strange cat.

She cants her head, as Niramo starts stammering, frowning in concern. Has she frightened her? She didn't think she was being scary, but, well... that's just another thing which isn't quite so innocent, these days.

She doesn't think for a moment that Niramo might feel bad about pasta class, because Usagi already apologised.

"It's okay," she says, with a reassuring smile, as Niramo fumbles over being unprepared. She's trying not to spook her further. "Don't worry, 'kay?"

She is still trying to be good, just as Steven thinks she is.

Even though...

Alarm crosses her face, briefly, as Niramo expresses shock at shields in kendo. She's more tired than she thought. She's said too much about what Steven does at night to someone he's friends with during the day. But - Steven seems able enough to explain it away.

She shoots him an apologetic look nonetheless.

"Steven hasn't learned much," she surmises, not realising how much saying it outright might pain him. "Dangerous to use weapons without knowing. Better to use known things." Saying that much should be safe. She does not know whether he has the same natural aptitude with his shield that she has with her claymore; she assumes.

"... but that's not what Steven's worried about, huh?" Mikoto guesses, frowning thoughtfully. He's worried about knowing nothing in front of everyone. It's not really a concern she can relate to, as someone who has shamelessly known nothing in front of the crowds of Ohtori many times over the past two years. But Steven's not like her, after all. "Don't worry, Steven. Everyone's bad at first. Kasagami'll help."

<Pose Tracker> Niramo Umokeshi [Juuban Public School (9)] has posed.

Hearing Kasagami's explinations from Steven has Niramo nodding her head, hearing the voice of the crimson captain herself with each quote. "Kasagami-san really knows a lot about swords. It makes a lot of sense to me, but I don't really know about anything with blades to begin with. Well, maybe in a video game, but only just there. I'm sure you'll do fine at the meeting, Steven-san!" And while she doesn't voice it out loud, she does have to agree on how pratical sword training was for him. With how skilled he was with the shield, a sword would likely trip Steven if he tried using it with his shield.

Lion gets special attention as the young Juuban girl drops her sketchpad and scratches Lion gently behind the right ear and right in his fluffy mane. Lion deserves some homemade snacks too! Maybe some paw-shaped frosted cookies?

"Well...if you sure, but I still feel bad! And i'll try not to." Well, as long as she figure out some way to repay Mikoto, then she'll stop worrying about it. "Besides, life is too short to worry all the time. I mean, if I worry all the time about all the homework I have and recipes I have yet to try, i'll never get anything done!"

It's not like she tries to ignore the homework, it just sneaks up on her these last few months.

Mikoto's blunt assessment on Steven feels like she's being needlessly brutal at first before the ravenette reminds herself that Mikoto just seems to be that honest. She might not be trying to be rude, and hopefully energetic boy doesn't see it like that. "I mean, you can't just expect to pick up a sword and start swinging it around like those over the top samurai movies. Kasagami-san has to have been training for years to be able to use her sword like she does!"

<Pose Tracker> Steven Universe [Juuban Public School (6)] has posed.

A finish of the soda is coupled with a look toward Mikoto. "You... think so?" the boy asks, hopefulness in his voice. "Think I will do better with sticking to what I know? Huh." She wouldn't be wrong, though coming from a master swordslady, it either means he sucks at it, or focusing on strengths is key to victory. It is hard to read her right now.

"Yeah, I am worried about disappointing Kasagami. I don't want to let her down. I have lots of fun doing kendo and hanging out with her! I just, um. Something about it makes it hard to learn due to a reason I can't explain, I guess?" He is fumbling words it seems. "But that won't stop me from going."

"Thanks Niramo!" the boy says with a thumbs up. It would be nice to do someone proud.

Lion enjoys basking in the affections of these beings and half-cat. It was good to be king of the... desert? Yeah, in his case, desert.

Long story.

"I feel like there could be more to it though, Niramo," Steven comments at her comment of Kasagami's swordplay abilities. "Something sets her leagues above everyone else. I wonder what it could be? Maybe just everything she has been through?"

"I sometimes wish I could understand what everyone has gone through better so I could help more."

A hand rests on a cheek, a thought passed to a far-flung time. of those in turmoil, and all the well-wishes in the world couldn't bring two people together on his own.

<Pose Tracker> Mikoto Minagi [Ohtori Academy (11)] has posed.
<SoundTracker> Bear McCreary - Gentle Execution https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xZKKhfyc7Og

Is it brutal?

It is the truth.

They work with magical forces which allow them to topple buildings. To go into the battlefield with an unsuitable weapon is asking for death. At best, it might delay the inevitable. At worst - someone who knows how to use it will take it.

And then Steven would die.

Mikoto doesn't want that for him, and so she nods, when he asks.

It does not occur to her for an instant that her grim worldview might be mismatched with the people around her.

Life is too short to worry, but Mai Tokiha has taught Mikoto many lessons over the past two years.

She has learnt how to worry.

The comment still earns a smile from Mikoto, a little wistful. "Yeah," she agrees, because she wishes it were that simple. "Just gotta keep moving forward."

It's hard to learn, Steven says, and Mikoto hums through closed lips. She is still thinking, as the conversation turns to Kasagami's prowess. And then Steven makes that last comment - and Mikoto hisses a breath through her teeth.

She waits until they are finished speaking. Or perhaps that's just the illusion she gives - as she orders her thoughts.

"It's hard for Steven 'cause Steven has no will to hurt," Mikoto explains, simply. "None at all. Weapons have uses, Steven. Axe cuts wood - hammer's for mochi. Swords are different. Swords are only made for killing. That's why Steven's having trouble."

Golden eyes glance back at the case on her back. "... it's not bad. Steven's good at shields. That fits Steven much better." Being able to protect people makes him much happier than a sword ever could.

"Don't try and match Kasagami. Kasagami's not just a warrior. Kasagami's from a warrior family... a rightful heir to Kasagami's blade. Can't match generations of training, fighting, victory, with a few lessons. Effort can't match blood." There's a distant look to her, gaze focusing out on the waves of the bay.

That gaze shifts - slides back to Steven. And it is a sad, sad thing, tired and resigned and bearing a terrible weight. "... understanding isn't easy, Steven. Sometimes, knowing the truth means knowing there's nothing you can do."

Mikoto turns, drawing breath through grit teeth again. "The truth's scary," she says, and her voice trembles on the telling. "It's so scary, Steven."

But before anyone can ask - a hand reaches up to scrub at her face. "... it's getting later. Better - better get to school." And with those tremulous words, she starts running off of the beach.

She is not going to school.

But all of a sudden, she feels so miserably alone.

Better to be alone than to crush her friends in such a brutal fashion.