2018-10-28 - Complicated Communication

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Title: Complicated Communication

Mikoto tries to make her feelings known. Lera tries to understand. They don't quite reach each other. They're trying their best.


Mikoto Minagi, Lera Camry


Yamanote High City - Haneda Airport

OOC - IC Date:

2018-10-28 - 2015-05-25

.***************************** Yamanote High City *****************************.
*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+ Haneda Airport +*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*
 Built at the juncture of Tama River and Tokyo Bay, Haneda launches its
 planes over the water. Its control towers command a view of a landing strip
 that seems to have ambitions of becoming a bridge across the sea, jutting as
 it does against the bay, surrounded by a rectangle of bright green grass.

 As each of its three terminals was built about a decade apart, they have
 different styles. Terminal 1, deemed 'Big Bird,' is the oldest, and has
 rounded, boxy construction, with an interior similar to an opulent gold-hued
 shopping mall. Terminal 2 features wavy, cylindrical architecture, and its
 mall is sleek silver. Terminal 3, the newest, has a downward-curving roof
 that swoops weightlessly toward the sky, and a more businesslike, modern
 interior. All three feature numerous restaurants and amenities, including
 some oddly traditional-looking eateries, though Terminal 3 has a tendency to
 turn into a ghost town at night.

 One of the busiest airports in the world, Haneda is also one of the most
 orderly and punctual. It handles domestic flights, while its sister outside
 the city, Narita, handles foreign flights. The recently opened Terminal 3,
 however, has taken some international traffic, mostly from Asia. There is a
 lesser-known fourth terminal, as well, that handles VIP traffic away from
 prying eyes.
*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+* Players +*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*

<Pose Tracker> Mikoto Minagi [Ohtori Academy (11)] has posed.
<SoundTracker> Nine Inch Nails - The Hand That Feeds https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qn7HvnMJZd4

Mikoto Minagi is a perpetual motion machine. There are so many things she must do in a day. Foremost, searching - though her efforts yield so little for all the energy poured in. She must see to class, to make Mai happy... and not return too late, so Mai won't worry. She must help Eri with the unpleasantness of survival, and try to pressure her into any scrap of solace, though Eri does not even think she needs Mai's bento any more.

And she must see to the thing which was once Sayaka, though it feels so unnerving to work alongside girls who would happily decimate her for her crimes.

She has not spoken to Eri about her fears, that perhaps even with a cornucopia of Grief Seeds she will not be able to keep her from the drowning dark. Nor has she spoken to her about the offer she made to the enemy, though she knows how they treat them, the patronising things they must think.

It is not just to keep Eri out of this for her own safety - though certainly Mikoto has taken measures to keep the Chevaliers from trying to involve her.

She does not want to be told she is wrong.

If it were Eri - she'd believe it.

She'd do as Eri asked.

And in naive youthful hope, Mikoto still wants to believe she can do something, even if the world isn't fair.

If she can just do this one thing...

She is trying to do so many things.

At least she can make the excuse that she wants to help Mai with breakfast. No more slipping out at dawn. Another thing defined by someone else - another little method by which she is replaced. And seeing to her friends helps her, too, in times like those. Just like the way she slowed down for most of a day to drape over Yumi, when Yumi was in pain. It's better this way.

It's better to be consumed by someone else's shadow than to be alone.

Because when Mikoto is alone, it all threatens to catch up to her. Perhaps that's why she works so hard, why she never stops moving.

She can't keep moving now, though. She is kept stationary by her watch, but for the times she must ward warm bodies away. That is her method, after all - to make sure she's the only prey nearby, so if the Witch begins to prowl, it will draw close enough for Mikoto's too-sharp senses to taste it. She can't do anything about the construction work going on in the airport, but she can try to maintain some manner of perimeter.

It's a flawed plan, but she is not a gem who can track Witches, after all.

Perhaps it's for this purpose that Mikoto does not transform during her watch, though it's so hard to be unguarded around her enemies. Without her vestments about her, she thinks she must seem a much more attractive snack. Miroku's case lies beside her on the concrete slab she so often colonises, sword and power hidden away. She's in light clothes, because even in this cloudy morning, summer is fast approaching - a teal shirt, black bike-shorts.

A jacket in unusual style, considering the sorts of people who usually inform Mikoto's wardrobe - did anyone really think Mikoto bothered clothes shopping by herself? It's white cotton with intricate traditional red patterning, uncannily Akamira. She lost her denim, after all. Utena needed it more than she did.

It's uncomfortable for other reasons than Mikoto's selectiveness about the textures of fabrics against her skin. But it is a debt taken and rendered; it means nothing but settling a score.

Nothing but a score settled - and another little signal that she's not here to fight. She brings them food when she relieves them. She tries not to snarl too much. God help her, she is trying.

It's not easy.

<Pose Tracker> Lera Camry [Infinity Institute (11)] has posed.

The karaoke session has left Lera with purpose... but not feeling better. She felt better by visiting the Yagamis, talking to Setsuna, and the usual things. She does not yet feel -- and doesn't know that she will ever feel -- comfortable working with or talking to many of the Shepherds. There is a distinct discomfort, because it wasn't so long that they were impossibly at odds -- and hoping that could change doesn't make it likely.

And, beneath that, there is Endo. She still hasn't told anyone what he said.

But, standing atop one of the smaller hangars at Haneda Airport and looking at it, at where the monster that used to be Sayaka is, his words lie heavy on her heart. She may care for all of her allies -- but she is sick with worry for only one of her oldest friends and comrades.

She is here to watch, too. Many of the watches came in twos; it was safer, that way, if the Witch began to move and they knew it. Lera flies up into the air, a ring of light billowing out under her feet. The redhead turns, flying, and leaves a trail of golden light criss-crossing through the sky. She isn't subtle.

The mage sets down, not too far from Mikoto, near the concrete slab. She recognizes it; she had a tendency to lean against it in her watches. She turns her head, and she blinks at Mikoto once, before she smiles. She lifts a hand, waving once at her. For her part, she is in her jacket-less Barrier Jacket: white shirt, black pants, and fingerless gloves.

"Hey," she says. She looks back to the airport. "...No sign of her so far, huh?"

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

Perhaps it is the greatest mercy that Mikoto and Endo have managed to avoid crossing paths throughout all this.

Mikoto is trying her best to play nice with Eri's enemies - to try and bring Eri closer to that dream she once had.

But her own enemies...

Where the watch has twinned with enemies, Mikoto says little. This, too, might be a blessing: she has not been anything but a terror to the Chevaliers at the end of her obsidian blade. If she's all business, there's less room for error.

Of course, that doesn't account for politeness.

Golden eyes glance to Lera as she alights, and of all things, confusion flashes over Mikoto's face to see her smile. Her head cants, slightly, at the wave. It doesn't make any sense to her.

"No," she answers Lera's question, simply. She's noticed nothing from her own vantage point, and she sees no reason to waste words on what hasn't happened.

What has happened, on the other hand...

Mikoto turns her gaze back towards the airport, and for long moments she is silent. It would be better for her to keep her silence; she knows how bad she is at this. It would be better, but - "Lera..." Mikoto ventures, and her name an unsure question with no rise behind the trailing mora. She is giving her room to cut off the conversation. She is so sure Lera has no reason to want to talk to her. She is so sure she should not want to, either.

<Pose Tracker> Lera Camry [Infinity Institute (11)] has posed.

"Mm. Yeah..."

Lera's smile doesn't linger. It doesn't turn into a glower or a glare; it turns back to that pensive stare, towards Haneda. Part of her wants the Witch to make herself known, so this can be over. Another, far more rational part of her knows better than to wish for such terrible things.

She steps up to stand next to Mikoto. The taller of the two practically towers over her, though Lera doesn't think much of it. Sensitive as she can be about her height, in times like this, it doesn't register. She glances down, when she hears her name.

Lera hasn't been particularly quiet when she was out here with the enemy. She doesn't see any point in spending hours in awkward silence. She looks at Mikoto, her expression screwing up -- like she expects there to be a question. She remembers Eri's warning...

But, it doesn't stick with her. She never found not talking to someone to help.

"...This is a rough break, y'know?" she says. "Finding out all of this. What the other Puella Magi are facing... I hope that Madoka, Sakura, and Kozue are right. If we can pull her back, we can save the rest of them, too."

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

Mikoto is a very small girl, even considering the growth Mai's food has inspired in her. Even standing, Lera has almost a foot on her. Sitting down as she is - the contrast is stark. She can't help but stiffen a little as she looks up.

But that's all.

She gives Lera room to abjure her, and finds her speaking her own piece, instead. Mikoto hums agreement, looking out at the construction. "It has to work," she says. "I won't give up." She is firm in her belief, though sadness shades at the corners of her eyes where they scrunch just slightly.

(Her name was Shigeko.)

"I promised," she says, and they are two words which encapsulate a novel. She does not say that she promised to take responsibility - to take care of Eri - to keep Eri fed - to keep Eri from turning black - to make sure Eri wouldn't hurt everyone. It is obvious; it is not the business of her enemies.

It does not stop those words from catching in her mind, and she is reminded of what she hesitated to say in the first place.

She pauses, for long moments - and then she looks back up, hesitancy in the tug of her lip and the upward arc of her brow. "Lera," she says, and her words are still gruff and unsure, "couldn't have broken sword on my own. Not while maintaining Miroku. I -" She glances aside, briefly, before returning her attention to her.

Mikoto swallows, lips pressing in thin line. "On my own... might not have gotten there in time to catch Eri and Kyouko." They were already almost swept away when she did. "So - thanks." Once again, she is grateful, for what little her gratitude is worth.

A frown crosses her face, because she has never been able to hide anything, and her struggle over acknowledging her missteps to Chevaliers is no exception. There's a moment's pause, as she tries to figure out how to approach the matter. "Know Lera's got reason not to listen to me, but - I wanted to say it." She is so sure Lera is angry, that it is the reason she looms over her so. She would be angry, after all.

Mikoto turns away, again, eyes focusing on the airport. It is a formality. She does not sense a Witch with her eyes. "... that's all." There's a subdued sort of tone to those final words - almost conciliatory, as if she is apologising for saying so much.

She knows she tests the bounds of patience by saying what she does, and she ought to stop before her nature betrays her and she causes an incident again.

In her lap, her hands curl loosely against each other. On her face, her brow draws together in light frown. Perhaps they are gestures of self-reproach for giving Lera credit. Or, perhaps...

She shouldn't care, and it shouldn't matter, but Lera is complicated.

<Pose Tracker> Lera Camry [Infinity Institute (11)] has posed.


Lera can only guess what Mikoto promised, or to who. She reaches her hand up, fingers on the back of her own neck, and they hold there. She looks down for a moment, and then she shakes her head. Lera's eyes are on the airport for a moment longer. She takes a second while she listens to Mikoto's explanation. She blinks, though. She never quite thought of it that way. For her, it was obvious.

It's always a group effort. She had never been strong enough to pretend she could do something alone. It almost never worked out that way -- the times she tried to handle something by herself, she paid for it dearly. Her fingers tighten, reflexively with the memory, about Sky's hilt at her side.

"It's okay," she says. "I was... I was there to help them. Sakura and Shimanouchi, I mean." She looks sideways. "All of the Chevaliers were--except the ones who left. We didn't want them to die. I may not like them much, but..."

She shakes her head. "...I didn't want them to die. And I thought, if we could stop Sayaka, and just talk to her, then... then, maybe, we could defuse things. But it didn't turn out that way. Still, I..."

She sighs, softly. "...I'm glad, y'know? That day ended terribly, but it could have ended a lot more terribly. We lost that blue-haired girl with a big, bright smile, but at least we didn't lose two more people, too. Or more."

She swallows, and glances back at Mikoto. "Don't worry. I'll listen," she says. "What's the harm in listening?"

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

Mikoto listens to Lera, and remembers someone else's words.

The contrast is stark.

They tried to stop Sayaka by talking to her.

She tried to stop Sayaka by killing her.

... in the end, neither method worked.

Lera will find Mikoto's eyes troubled, when she looks back down, lip indented by the light pressure of teeth behind it. It's a bizarre sort of feeling, knowing Lera is glad, too. Mikoto had been so scared for Eri - so relieved to see her alive, if not well. But Mikoto is Eri's friend. Lera is Eri's enemy.

"Setsuna said that, too," she says, finally, communicating more than she means to in the name she uses. "... not wanting Eri to die. But..." She supposes Setsuna might have been too hurt to intercede, considering what she looked like the last time she spoke to her. Her lips tug down, and she shakes her head.

She does not quite look at Lera, but even though her face is turned that way, she's not really looking at the airport either. "I don't get it," she says, that same hesitating awkwardness marking her words. "It's not that I want it and can't have it 'cause I messed up... I just really don't get it. I never have. Enemies are enemies... it's bad to care about them. But -" it's not how they feel. Neither of them wanted this. Perhaps it sounds like she's speaking of the Chevaliers wanting to avoid bloodshed when she says: "... Eri's worth anything. So I'm, trying."

<Pose Tracker> Lera Camry [Infinity Institute (11)] has posed.

"That sounds like Setsuna," Lera says with a small smile. That small smile can't hide her fondness for the purple-haired girl, though. She shakes her head. "There are a lot of different kinds of enemies, y'know? And the people who can think, decide things for themselves, are people... they deserve chances. They're people, just like us."

She slides her hands down to the pockets of her pants and looks up at the sky. "I don't think what Eri did is right. I'm not sure I could, really, get over that she killed Mami. But... Eri's got her own life, and things that make her happy. If she was gone, it would hurt a lot of people. I don't want her to die."

She sighs, then.

"...And a lot of people who used to be my enemy became important to me," she adds, after a moment. "I'd be the world's biggest hypocrite if I said some of them don't deserve a chance, and some do. What if Shimanouchi is someone else's Setsuna? I don't have the right to take her away from them."

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

Mikoto clicks her tongue against her teeth as Lera humanises her enemies, a frustrated little puff of air. It's as if she's speaking another language entirely. The gulf is no more evident than it is here.

She's different to them.

She frowns at the construction, lips pressed in thin line. "Eri's my best friend," she says, and there is more communicated there than either of them may realise, as well. Because if Eri is her best friend, that means she's thinking of Mai as...

Well, Mai's different, too.

"Eri was there for me... when I was alone." She hesitates over the words; it still feels wrong to say them to someone like Lera. There is something lodged in her throat which chokes her words as they come out, brow arcing up and cheeks tugging back in tension. "Eri was - a good girl."

Did she help Eri become a girl who keeps choking in the drowning dark?

Mikoto shakes her head, braids flicking every-which-way. Suddenly, the most important thing in the world is distracting Lera from these too-vulnerable words she has said, words from a girl who thinks she is so bad at lying.

Even if it drags her anger out. "Listen - Setsuna - I didn't mean to," and there is a desperate edge to the words, clustered just a little too closely together. "Didn't mean for it to be a real fight, but Setsuna transformed, it was a threat..."

<Pose Tracker> Lera Camry [Infinity Institute (11)] has posed.

"Your best friend? Yeah... I can see why this is hard on you," Lera admits, quietly. She doesn't have to think too hard on this: she would feel conflicted and panicked, if Fate or Ren made enemies like this. She feels that, already, about Endo. She can't quite bring herself to rank them. Her amber eyes half-lower, and she looks downward. She doesn't realize the implication about Mai, in the moment.

She looks back up, and then she nods once. She opens her mouth, and then her eyes widen slightly at the apologize. Lera shakes her head quickly. "It's okay," she says. "Misunderstandings happened. And... neither of you were seriously hurt, and Setsuna's not going to hold a grudge about that."

She sighs. "...Setsuna and I fought before, y'know?" she adds. "It's possible to work through a lot of stuff. Sometimes, things like that happen."

Even if she would not call the fights between herself and Eas something born of misunderstanding.

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

Mikoto braces herself for anger which doesn't come. She frowns, looking down at her curled hands. Perhaps, in her panic, she said more than she meant to. She can't worry about it now. It's already said.

"... it's okay?" Mikoto shakes her head. "Doesn't make sense, being casual about fighting." She remembers the way Eri had defended them - and named their foibles. The way they wanted to help, and didn't realise how helping could sign their death warrants in a moment of hesitation. "... could get real hurt like that."

It's almost like they think it's possible to still be friends - after trying to kill each other.

It hadn't made sense when Setsuna listened, either.

In the end, Lera is more right than she knows about how hard this has been, on Mikoto Minagi. Because when they were fighting youma together, the morality was simple. Now they're fighting girls, and...


Lera said there were different kinds of enemies.

Mikoto doesn't seem to have any distinction whatsoever.

<Pose Tracker> Lera Camry [Infinity Institute (11)] has posed.

"It's not being casual," Lera is quick to correct. "I've heard that before. It's... understanding that fighting, and that having a disagreement, isn't the sum of a person. They're not just how you disagree with them. I'll still protect myself. I just... won't do that by killing people, if there's any other way."

There are exceptions, perhaps. Lera doesn't get into them.

She looks sideways at Mikoto and shakes her head once. "I'm not happy you fought Setsuna, but... I forgive you, too. It sounds like it was a misunderstanding. Like you wanted to talk. And she misunderstood."

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

Mikoto puffs a breath out through closed teeth. "That how other girls fight? All that thinking?" She makes a skeptical noise, at the back of her throat. "Slows Lera down."

There were certain things sacrificed to her terrifying ability on the battlefield, after all.

If she stopped to consider her enemies - she might hesitate.

She can't.

But there is Lera's forgiveness, too, and it is something which takes her a moment longer to come to, scowling to herself. She shouldn't be worried about how Lera feels. "No," she explains. "Was... trying to defend myself with words, 'cause that's what I'm supposed to do when people use words to attack. But -" she hesitates, humming frustration. "Wasn't used to other kinds of fighting. I'm not... good, at words," she admits, though it is shameful to show her weakness to an enemy.

"But I was trying to play by the rules," Mikoto grumbles.

<Pose Tracker> Lera Camry [Infinity Institute (11)] has posed.

"Maybe, but... I'd rather be slow, if it meant doing something I'd regret," Lera admits, quietly. "And I think regrets slow me down a lot more than thinking."

She shakes her head, and she glances to the side at Mikoto. She raises an eyebrow at that. "Using words to attack? I mean... it happens, but I don't think that's what Setsuna was trying to do. She was trying to talk to you. Sometimes, she's not the best with words, either. But it's more than fighting with words, y'know? It's... all about how you feel, and sharing that."

Lera looks down. "Trying to find some common ground--or, at least, a way to coexist." She sighs. "Sometimes that's hard."

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

"Regret..?" Mikoto echoes the word in distant wonder, as if she cannot quite comprehend the concept of introducing feelings to a fight. It's so strange - that all these girls would feel things for their enemies, when there is only one course available.

There's a lot said in that one word.

She doesn't stop to clarify.

There are other things to clarify, instead. Mikoto frowns down at her hands, as Lera insists Setsuna was just trying to talk - that she's not good at it, just like Mikoto is. "Chevaliers kept hurting me with words. Looks like attack to me. Sick of it." Her hands tighten, in her lap, and her voice betrays the pain she has held onto. "Eri said I shouldn't fight unless Chevaliers caused trouble... so there was nothing I could do... but Mai said I could defend myself with words!"

Mikoto shakes her head, again. "But I messed it up. I always mess it up." There is a bitter edge to her words, born of so many errors.

<Pose Tracker> Lera Camry [Infinity Institute (11)] has posed.

"It wasn't easy," Lera admits, with a shake of her head. "Trying to talk to all of you about it. But... we were trying to get through to you. We didn't mean it as an attack, when we talked to you."

At least, she thinks, not all of them did.

Her eyes turn down at the ground for a moment. Lera's eyes narrow, as she does, and then she looks back up at Mikoto. "The war's over, now," she finishes. "Sakura said as much in the letter. We're not coming after Shimanouchi, and we're working together on this. The fighting's done."

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

Trying to get through to them - as if they're in flagrant error and the Chevaliers just need to correct them.

Mikoto absorbs the opinions of her friends so easily.

Lera reminds her that the fighting is done, and she becomes aware of the tension in her shoulders, the tight grasp of her hands. She hums frustration, looking out over the airport.

She wonders - can she really believe that?

Can she really believe something like that, when she still does these awful things?

But Lera says they're not coming after Eri, and Mikoto doesn't want to give her reason to renege. Her gaze lowers, again, and she puffs out a breath of a sigh. Her muscles shudder as she tries to stand down from the alarm she had gathered around herself, hands loosening in her lap. "... yeah..."

She swallows, finally, haltingly, looking up to Lera again. "Did I... do something wrong?" It is, of course, a loaded question, though Mikoto means it much more plainly than it might sound. In her mind, she has messed up one more time by saying the wrong things to Lera. She knew, didn't she? She knew she shouldn't say anything at all.

<Pose Tracker> Lera Camry [Infinity Institute (11)] has posed.

Lera shakes her head, slightly. Some of the conflict in Mikoto goes missed -- Mikoto looking tense is, really, a default state for most of their talks. Lera isn't so perceptive to catch the little changes. Nor, really, is she able to give context to the ones that she does notice.

"You did something I didn't think was right, but..."

She glances down. "...I understand wanting to protect your friends. There's people I would try to protect, as much as I could. And... with everything we found out... the war was built on a misunderstanding. I don't think, knowing what we do now, that it does a lot of good to harp on the differences. We're talking about could-have-beens and what-ifs, now."

She looks back at Haneda. She doesn't understand, perhaps, what Mikoto really asked. "We should focus on what we can try to change. We can't make what we learned untrue, y'know?"

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

It's hardly something Lera can be faulted for. Talking with Mikoto is an intricate process of recognising how she communicates, of understanding the things she says without words at all. She's gotten better at talking to people, over her time with the Shepherds - but she's still difficult to understand from the outside.

Unfortunately, Mikoto doesn't realise how obscure she can be.

She thinks it's obvious.

She looks up to Lera, frowning lightly as she answers a different question - but perhaps it's the one Lera needed to answer. She still remembers what Homura said. But Lera sounds like she understands.

'Thanks - it's great that there are people who can fight, huh? Great that you're here, fighting those...whatever they were..'

'Do you think that's meaningless Mikoto? It's not. It isn't for you either. Whatever you think of that... It's not a lie.'

She wants to be understood.

She can't allow herself to be understood.

But in that world she made for herself - she wanted them to understand.

"Can't forget something like this any more," Mikoto says, in distant agreement, and it is just another thing which says more than they might realise. "It's... complicated. I'm not, good at complicated. I..."

She turns her gaze back to Haneda. "Nothing makes sense any more," she says, and it tastes so much different saying it to Lera instead of Yumi. "But I won't give up. I can handle it."

<Pose Tracker> Lera Camry [Infinity Institute (11)] has posed.

One day, Lera might reflect back on this, and think how they were like ships passing in the night, in how they didn't understand one another.

She nods, looking down at the shorter girl. She catches the look in her eyes -- and she hesitates, before she smiles just slightly. "...It's all right," she says. "It is complicated. But..."

She trails off. Her eyes shift back to Haneda, and her words take on a deeper meaning, as she speaks.

"...I feel like we just have to handle one thing at a time." The first thing, she thinks, is what she is looking at: Haneda Airport, with whatever became of Sayaka Miki inside.