2018-10-17 - Let Me Help!

From Battle Fantasia MUSH
Jump to: navigation, search
Title: Let Me Help!

Mikoto enacts Usagi's advice in the most direct manner possible. Mai finds herself with an extra pair of hands in the kitchen, and Mikoto tries to be helpful. There is a failure to communicate, there are things left unsaid - but everyone's smiling, so it's fine, right..?


Mikoto Minagi, Mai Tokiha


Ohtori Academy - Dormitories

OOC - IC Date:

2018-10-17 - 2015-05-22

.******************** Yamanote High City - Ohtori Academy *********************.
*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+* Dormitories +*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*
 There is some variation between the dormitories to provide a range suitable
 to different tastes, but they are typically old-fashioned and elegant, with
 low stone walls guiding the walkways and ivy creeping up their white walls
 and columns. Their exterior is classically European, like sedate manor
 houses, and for the most part this style is maintained inside, with
 dignified old paintings in thick goldleaf frames. However, the dormitories
 do not lack for daring Ohtori touches, with whimsical art deco floor
 panelling here, fantastical geometric lamps there, and odd little secret
 panels and dead ends throughout.

 Dorm rooms are generally shared between two same-gender students, but
 singles are almost as common; Ohtori students were not generally raised to
 share. There are some triples and quads available as well. Some dorms permit
 a great deal of leeway in decoration, others require students to stick to
 the default antique furniture. Many dorms have at least a small balcony,
 which provides an escape route for particularly rebellious students when
 curfews are instated.
*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+* Players +*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*

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

The sun rises.

Mikoto's eyes scrunch shut, in the way they do before waking. They blink once, twice, as that soft warmth resolves into Mai. Frightening things seem so much further away, against her. She sleeps easier here.

It takes her a moment to realise how enveloping the warmth is, arms around her. Tired eyes - there is darkness, below them, because though she manages to come back in time for dinner it is after a day with so much movement - soften in the knowing. She sighs, gentle breath against matching pyjamas.

And then the most gentle of shifting, as she prepares to slip bonelessly from her grasp. She thinks she is good at not disturbing Mai.

Even though it looks so sad, when they're apart.

She has to keep moving, doesn't she..?

<Pose Tracker> Mai Tokiha [Ohtori Academy (12)] has posed.

It's a bit cold, in spite of the arrival of the dawn. A long night of darkness only now being warmed by sunlight still has plenty of chill in the air. Beyond the reach of the blankets, beyond the warmth of the bed, there's that deplorable coolness where bare toes meet unheated floor...

Maybe there are slippers, close at hand. Maybe not.

Mai's arm had wrapped around Mikoto at some point during the night, holding her precious person close. Even unconscious, she worries about everything Mikoto has gone through, everything she might yet have to deal with. But still - she's a teenage girl, not a warrior or judo artist, and the depths of slumber only let her wield so much strength. That grip can be escaped, with just a little effort. Just a bit of movement, to escape the embrace and leave Mai holding nothing but a cold bed.

Sure, her hand might grab blindly at the blanket for something, anything to hold on to. Sure, a peaceful expression might shift into the faintest of frowns, distant displeasure heard in an unspoken grumble. Sure, she might shift uneasily at the first sign that she's about to be alone.

But it wouldn't be that hard to escape Mai Tokiha, would it?

<Pose Tracker> Mikoto Minagi [Ohtori Academy (11)] has posed.
<SoundTracker> Masashi Hamauzu - Face It Later https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=382SvgexJ3A

It wouldn't be hard.

Mikoto did it yesterday.

She saw Mai's expression change, heard her mumbling incoherent complaints, the way her hand grasped for something to hold. She witnessed all of it - and it's so easy to imagine it again.

Leaving a note.

The exasperation of Mai Tokiha as she hands over a bento laden with eggs.

It's the simplest thing in the world, and Mikoto has so much to do.

It's the hardest thing in the world.

Something in those gold eyes shatters and Mikoto sinks back down, muscles relaxing with a defeated little grunt of her own. The pale pink light of the dawn masks her own cheeks as she thinks that perhaps this much is fine. Taking a little time for herself isn't so bad, if it's to make Mai happy, right..?

And, Mikoto wants -

... Mikoto wants to be here too, more than anything.

Her eyelids slide closed again as Mikoto breathes out, nestling against Mai. She'll just doze until Mai wakes up. It's okay. It's okay to do that much, because Mai would be cold if she were alone.

<Pose Tracker> Mai Tokiha [Ohtori Academy (12)] has posed.

Just for a little while, right?....


Discord and dismay, as a harsh melody fills the air. Mai's cell phone has an alarm set for the morning, and it is far from pleasant. Not so much a song she likes as one she knows she can't stand for more than a minute, and turned up loud enough to rouse even the dead.

Some mornings it takes Mai five minutes to work up the strength to finally go shut it off.

"Already? Ugh. On with the morning, I guess..." Not today, though. Once those notes hit the air, Mai was already beginning to move - almost as if she was awake before those tones, merely resting in bed alongside Mikoto. She's swift to summon silence, though - biting back a curse as her own bare feet touch floorboards, half-hopping over to find and end that abominable alarm...!

And then it's over. Mai rubs her arms together for a moment, looking back at the bed that continues to beckon...and then out the window, at where the sun is well above the horizon. Hours to go before school, but the morning is firmly established. Back to the bed, where Mikoto rests, and Mai takes a moment to settle the blankets around her to keep her warm.

A few more moments spent cursing under her breath as she hunts for slippers.

And then, not too long after, the familiar click-and-fwoosh of the stove being lit, the crackling click of the rice cooker deciding to work another day, the open-and-shut of the fridge as ingredients are arranged.

Maybe Mikoto will wake up before the smell of hot oil reaches her. Maybe not.

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

There's a tightening of Mikoto's facial features, mumbled incoherent complaints at the noise. It's a familiar sort of noise, and it's over quickly. There's movement, and Mikoto grasps, but not even she is strong in the midst of slumber.

She told herself she'd just doze, but she's fallen right back asleep.

She is very tired.

Mikoto hums a mora which might have been the beginning of Mai's name, or might have just been the closest grumbling sound at hand. She folds in on herself at the absence of warmth, hands curling at her chest. As if to hug herself, perhaps.

She seems warmer when the blanket's resettled.

And Mai's left, by the time Mikoto's expression shifts.

... the dreams get worse, when she's alone.

"... Nn," Mikoto grumbles, halfway to coherency, as nostrils flare at the scent of oil. Eyes scrunch, blink, and she realises she is alone. They widen, briefly, as she wonders how long she has slept - but no. The scent of oil. Mai is awake. Mai wakes early, to take care of them all. It's fine. She hasn't failed them.

She pushes herself up, blankets falling away, and rubs at her eyes, with a gaping yawn.

Her uniform is set out, as it always is, though it is not neatly-arranged the way it used to be. Mikoto frowns. She could get it on her own. But Mai never gives her the chance. Mai's too busy trying to take care of her, even though Mai's got so much to worry about that she doesn't pay close attention to it any more...

Mikoto should leave, should start her day.

But she remembers what Usagi told her.

And Mai is an important part of her day, too.

Shortly, she dresses, and emerges into the dorm's kitchen. It's normal for Mikoto to just take a seat at the table until Mai is almost done with breakfast, and she needs plates dished out. Mikoto does not do that thing. She goes to stand behind Mai, tugging at the hem of her apron.

"I'm a girl just like Mai," Mikoto insists. "So let me help with bento!"

It's not the first time Mikoto has helped. She made sure to help Mai when Mai's ankle was hurt. But it's the first time Mikoto has insisted on helping when Mai hasn't even asked, knowing how difficult it is for Mai to accept help. Perhaps someone has convinced her that girls ought to be able to make bento..?

<Pose Tracker> Mai Tokiha [Ohtori Academy (12)] has posed.

It's warmer, now. The sun's had a few hours to bestow blessed heat upon the land, and the tools of the kitchen are in fact designed to make things hot. By the time feet touch the floor once more, the deathly chill has dispelled at last.

There are a few things Mai got ready earlier, such as her own uniform and the pile of schoolwork that is...mostly done. For now, though, her focus is on the kitchen, and the many things she's juggling all at once. A small pot of miso soup simmering away, a pan with a couple of sunny-side-up eggs frying, bread in the toaster, the rice cooker steaming away....and then the beginnings of lunch dishes. So much to do, so much to taste...

There's an unexpected tug from behind, and Mai turns in no small surprise. "Oh! Good morning, breakfast will just..." She trails off as Mikoto's offer sinks in, and is left blinking in surprise. It's a long, awkward moment of silence, mercifully broken by the sharp little ding of the toaster and a tossing of bread.

"Well, if you do want to help, ah..." She looks at the ingredients she's arranged, mentally working through what has to be ready when, and what skills might be best brought to bear. After a moment's thought, she slides a cutting board toward Mikoto. "I was thinking of doing karaage for you and me today - could you get a knife and cut the chicken into bite-sized chunks? I'll work on the vegetables while you do that."

Both involve knifework, but without thinking, Mai handed the task to Mikoto that involved something once-living...

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

There is silence, for long moment, as Mikoto looks up at Mai with wide eyes. The toaster dings; she blinks at the noise.

Mai slides her a cutting-board instead of protesting, and Mikoto's face lights up. She'd expected resistance; it's relieving to see Mai taking her up on her offer instead.

There is something dead on the board. It would be reasonable to flinch, to scrunch up her nose, to at least make it known that she is aware of how distasteful the act is. It would be reasonable for a girl like Mai to be disturbed.

Cheerfully, Mikoto takes up the knife. "'Kay," she chirps, as she begins to cut, and there is no hint she's worried at all. Perhaps she doesn't realise she ought to be. She knows so little of society's laws.

But she knows how to slice with the grain of the muscle, how to most efficiently carve flesh.

The truth is, she is designed to handle the impure presence of death. To grasp it unflinching in hands black with sin, so that his may remain immaculate.

And in the end - hasn't she been doing that same thing for Mai Tokiha, all this time..?

Mikoto smiles as she prepares the chicken, because she is helping Mai.

<Pose Tracker> Mai Tokiha [Ohtori Academy (12)] has posed.

Mikoto takes to the task with glee and skill, and Mai smiles. Part of her should be disturbed, perhaps, at how ready her companion is to apply blades to flesh. It is something of a taboo skill, particularly among schoolgirls...is this normal?

Mai has been cooking for ten years, and Takumi's diet is not a vegetarian one. Many a fish has been taken apart over the years, many meals made one way or another. It might be a 'dirty' skill, but it's one that needs doing - and Mikoto is a survivalist at heart. Naturally she'd know how to do this, and so she does. It's fine, right?

While Mikoto works at dismemberment, Mai works at elegance - carefully carving a carrot with long grooves, then slicing to make a score of tiny flowers. That, plus a dash of greens makes for a salad for the impending bentos. Then, what does she have to... "Right, the marinade! Ah, one moment..."

A bit of soy sauce, a bit of mirin, a few other seasonings, and she has a bowl with a dark liquid in it. "Right, put the pieces in here as you get them ready - they'll need to soak for a few minutes, then we'll dredge and fry them. Next is..." She glances at the state of the stovetop. "...a bite of breakfast, once you've got the meat ready? Though make sure to wash your hands."

Busying herself with the rice cooker, Mai pauses for a moment, glancing behind her. Mikoto...will wash those hands when her task is done, right?

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

Mikoto has, in fact, brought Mai many fish over the years, caught by her own two hands. Her survivalism is a known factor.

At least she stopped bringing in rabbits and birds after Mai put her foot down.

At least there's a reasonable explanation for why she would be so capable of bringing a blade down.

... there's a reasonable explanation, because Mai doesn't know the purpose behind the preparation Mikoto was allowed to participate in. Mai doesn't know why Mikoto learnt to carve flesh. Mai doesn't know why Mikoto learnt to hunt, learnt to kill the things she eats.

And Mikoto, smiling cheerfully, offers no explanation, because it's obvious.

"Okay!" Mikoto chirps, once more, as Mai directs her to place the chicken in the marinade. But then she gives her an obvious reminder, and it is this, not the taboo thing she is doing, which makes her lips scrunch up at the corners of her mouth as she frowns.

It's such an obvious thing, and it hurts all the more because of what she's trying to do here.

Humming frustration through her lips, Mikoto returns her attention back to the board. "I know!" She insists, offence instead of assertiveness to the words this time. "I'm not a kid, Mai!"

She is well-familiar with what to do after handling dead things, how to make herself presentable again. How could Mai not know she'd know something as simple as that..?

<Pose Tracker> Mai Tokiha [Ohtori Academy (12)] has posed.

Finding a recipe for rabbit has been a...challenge. Surprisingly, no one at Linden Baum had any good suggestions.

But in the end, it's obvious why Mikoto has these skills.

"I know, I know. It's just a rule of the kitchen, Mikoto - nothing else touches raw meat." It's the kind of rule she'd tell anyone helping her in the kitchen, no matter who - which, while not making the act any less condescending, makes it less personal.

Besides which, the kitchen has been her realm, as much as death has been Mikoto's. Who has the greater expertise where the two meet?

There's a sharp noise, and Mai bites back a curse. "Rice cooker really is on its last legs..." She switches it off, and with a rubber spatula, tries to nudge the loose cord out of its outlet. Looking over the appliance, Mai lets out a growl at the frayed state of the cord. "...at this rate, we're going to wind up with another source of fire. Guess it's finally time to replace this...think you'd be free after school, Mikoto?"

Without waiting for an answer, she busies herself serving some of the rice into a couple of bowls - the remainder mentally earmarked to go into the bento boxes.


After breakfast. On that note, she really should switch off the stove about now...

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

"I remember," Mikoto grumbles, "don't gotta keep telling me." She's always tolerated Mai's edicts without complaint before, so perhaps it's strange that she's protesting now.

But once the bite-sized pieces - it is strikingly obvious, isn't it? - go into the marinade, carefully slid in, guided by the knife just as she's seen Mai do it so often... Mikoto does, indeed, wash her hands.

There's overlap between Mai and Mikoto's skill-sets, after all, as much as both of them would rather think there isn't.

Placing the board back down is something which jerks, a little, at the sharp noise and smell. Mikoto looks sharply to the rice cooker, and she frowns. She's not really good at technology, but it's fairly obvious the fraying is the source of the snap.

Mai asks a question, and Mikoto blinks away her alarm, glancing up to her. There is a moment of silence as she thinks. She hasn't said she'd watch the thing which was Sayaka then. Eri doesn't hunt that early. She has to search, of course, but...

... but Mai finds it difficult to spend money. Mai's probably looking for support.

"Sure," Mikoto nods, the answer sure and simple, as Mai serves out the rice. One more promise on her back.

It's fine. She'll just leave class early and search before school ends.

She'll make time for it. She'll make time for Mai. She won't let anyone down.

Glancing aside at the stove, Mikoto hums through closed lips. "What's next, Mai?" This is Mai's territory, after all. Mikoto knows she's just a visitor to these culinary lands.

<Pose Tracker> Mai Tokiha [Ohtori Academy (12)] has posed.

Strange, perhaps, that Mikoto's complaining now - but she's been through a lot this week. Surely that's it, that's the beginning and end of it. Still, whatever reason, it's enough - Mai drops the issue entirely.

She glances to make sure Mikoto does what she's supposed to, but there's just a smile.

It's a longer delay than Mai might have expected, but Mikoto answers in the affirmative. The older girl practically beams at that simple answer, sealing the promise with a flash of sunlight. Surely, she won't be let down...

"Next? I - well, we could get started on the omelettes, I suppose. Just need to start cracking eggs for those. I've got the salad more or less done, the rice is cooked, and the meat needs ten minutes to marinate - is there anything else you might want in your bento, Mikoto?" The smile is a little fainter, but still there - though there's a glance to the refrigerator. What do they have left to add, anyway?...

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

Surely it is just the stress Mikoto is under, and not an issue which has boiled under the surface for years.


Mai smiles, and the world lights up. Mai smiles, and Mikoto smiles, too, with a happy noise, joyous to see happiness in her eyes. To protect that happiness - it's worth taking care of a hundred extra things.

She'll be there. She'll push herself to be right there for Mai.

"'Kay!" Mikoto chirps, her offence forgotten as Mikoto turns to the eggs. She is good at eggs. Hopefully, Mai already has the amount she needs out, and hasn't just brought out the entire carton...

She considers, for a moment, as Mai asks what else she could want. "... tomatos!" Mikoto decides, suddenly.

Madoka's bento hadn't been as skilful as Mai's, perhaps, but that doesn't mean it left no effect.

<Pose Tracker> Mai Tokiha [Ohtori Academy (12)] has posed.

It's early morning, but the two of them are full of smiles. That's what matters most.

What also matters is that Mai did, in fact, bring out the whole carton of eggs. Mikoto's volunteering gives Mai more relief than is warranted, and upon the request she busies herself with hunting for tomatoes in the fridge. Thus, Mikoto is left completely unsupervised...

"Tomatoes, tomatoes...I have a few left over from that pasta the other day. I might toss them with a bit of dressing..." She emerges, carton in hand. "What's the occasi-"

Stops, staring at the amount of egg.

Eventually, she just sighs. "I...guess we're making an extra bento for Eri-chan today, too." Another glance at the amount. "...and having omelettes for supper. I'll...just get the whisk. Thanks, Mikoto."

Maybe she can focus on the karaage, and leave the rest of the omelette-making to Mikoto? Would that be safe?

And does 'safe' really matter that much for bento?

A few seconds after the thanks, Mai offers a smile in return.

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

Mikoto is left unsupervised around the egg carton.

This is a poor decision on the part of Mai Tokiha.

Here is the truth: there is something meditative to cracking an egg. It is like calligraphy, but it results in food, so it is infinitely better than calligraphy. Tap-tap-crack-slosh; it's a fascinating chain of events. The sound is pleasing, and the motion is edifying.

And being able to break something in half and it not being bad...

It's such an automatic thing, because it's so delightful. It makes Mikoto feel better to see two perfect halves, to produce the yolk inside.

She doesn't manage to get through the whole dozen, by the time Mai straightens up from the fridge. She's still broken far more eggs than they need. Tap-tap-crack and Mai sighs as another slides into the bowl. Mikoto looks up, blinking, with a questioning noise.

Mai hesitates at the eggs, and Mikoto tilts her head, humming uncertainty through closed lips. Did she mess up..?

But Mai thanked her, and Mai smiled.

"Eri needs food," Mikoto agrees, after a moment, not acknowledging for a moment how heavy that statement really is. Volunteers, immediately afterwards: "I'll whisk!" Mikoto is good at beating things to a pulp, after all.

<Pose Tracker> Mai Tokiha [Ohtori Academy (12)] has posed.

Breakfast is, technically, ready; Mai turns the heat down under the miso soup almost absent-mindedly, the toast and rice and fried eggs are long-since ready.

But she's in the middle of making bentos, and she's cooking -with- someone for a change, and frankly it's enjoyable enough that she can't bear to end the routine.

There's a beat, a pregnant pause at the unexpectedly heavy line - and then Mai nods firmly. "That would be great. I'll get a pan heated up - you could try your hand at making the rolled omelettes, if you're up to it! And I'll get started on this..."

She bustles past Mikoto, getting out a bit of flour to add to a bowl, and lining a plate with paper towels. Returning to the stove, she approaches the hot oil with trepidation. A long stare, a deep breath -

- and the hour of karaage has arrived.

With chopsticks, she plucks a piece of marinated meat from the fruits of Mikoto's labour. Into the bowl of flour, tossed a moment to coat, and then carefully placed in the oil. There's a loud hiss as it froths, roils, fries, and a delicious smell hits the air. There's no hesitation, though - Mai's already working on the next piece, and the one after that, and the one after that - carefully arranging them in a circle, to track which entered the bath of fire first.

By the time the last piece is in, it's time to pluck the first piece out. Not for long - just long enough to place the puffed piece of poultry on the papered plate, crack it cruelly with the chopsticks to expose a bit more of the meat within, and then back into the oil it goes. One, and another, and another - it's a rhythmic cycle, and she'll be at it for a few minutes yet.

"Just - the rectangle pan there. Pour a thin layer of egg in, roll it to one end, and...you've seen me do those before, right? Just do your best!"

She won't be paying close attention to Mikoto, admittedly....

<Pose Tracker> Mikoto Minagi [Ohtori Academy (11)] has posed.
<SoundTracker> Yuki Kajiura - Kyou no Hajimari (The Start of Today) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3SXniH95IHY

"Okay!" Mikoto chirps, excited that Mai is willing to rely on her, though she's never made rolled omelettes before.

She is entirely willing to try, because she's never been scared off by not knowing how to do things. She wouldn't have lasted a day in Ohtori if she were that sort of person.

As Mai works on the karaage - it's only natural that the fire HiME would work with something so hot - Mikoto whisks the eggs. She's good at something like this, something which needs strength applied with diligence.

No one would think it to look at her, taking a nap in the garden with her cat friends, but Mikoto Minagi is a remarkably diligent girl.

She just has... different priorities for her diligence.

Mai instructs her on how to make the omelette, and Mikoto nods, firmly. She's seen Mai do this a lot! ... unfortunately, seeing it and learning it are different things. Because when Mikoto is watching Mai cook, Mikoto isn't really paying attention to what she's doing. She's paying attention to Mai...

But perhaps it seems like she's trying to figure out how cooking works.

Mikoto hums uncertainty as she looks at the pan. Pour it in, Mai said, and then roll it. That seems easy enough. So she pours, but she's not sure how thin is thin. So she keeps pouring. And keeps pouring...

She finds herself with no more whisked egg in the bowl, but that's fine, right?

After all, Mai said the next step was just to roll it to one end of the pan.

So Mikoto does that. Immediately.

And it all cooks in one corner of the pan.

That counts as a roll, right..?

<Pose Tracker> Mai Tokiha [Ohtori Academy (12)] has posed.

Pluck, crack, sizzle. Pluck, crack, sizzle.

It's kind of monotonous, but still beats some of the jobs Mai's had to work. By the third time around the circle, things are looking good - the coating is puffed and crunchy, and a couple of minutes will be enough to make sure the chicken within is fully cooked.

Probably under-marinated, she did rush things a bit, but that's probably okay...right? Right.

"All right, that'll just need a few minutes of cooking. Mikoto, how are the omelettes doing..." She trails off, seeing the state of the omelette. A bit of a monster, with the number of eggs that have become one giant roll - still gooey in the middle, but rapidly crisping up on the outside.

That...was not what she intended to happen.

She could tell Mikoto what went wrong, but...she doesn't want to be discouraging. It's great to see Mikoto trying to join in on this kind of thing, so...encourage, right? Encourage.

"All right, that'll work - roll it back and forth, try to get all the sides cooked evenly." This is salvageable, this is fine, even if it's more of an omel than an omelette. "The karaage is almost cooked, so once that's done I think we can sit down and have some breakfast."

Mai glances at the clock, blinking in surprise at how much...earlier everything seems to be done. Even with the eggshells, even with the omel, this has been...


"Thanks for helping, Mikoto - it really makes a difference." She can smile, because...it's something new, but it's a step forward, and it's making life better.

(And it's likely that she'll continue being the head chef for quite a while....)