2019-03-11 - TIMELINE 3: Four Words

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Title: TIMELINE 3: Four Words

Mai finds the four words which secure Mikoto's devotion.


Mikoto Minagi, Mai Tokiha


Ohtori Academy - Gardens

OOC - IC Date:

2019-03-11 - 2014-09-17

.******************** Yamanote High City - Ohtori Academy *********************.
*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+ Garden +*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*
 Ohtori's grounds rarely miss a chance to include flowers, particularly roses
 and poppies, whether they be in planters, decorating terraces, or engraved
 into the stone walls. Nowhere is this theme more evident than in the
 courtyard garden, an open-air enclosure surrounded by the pillars of nearby
 walkways, permitting those traversing the facility to enjoy a bit of natural
 beauty on their way to class.

 The courtyard features a French formal garden, with nature kept in strict
 manicured order, man's dominion over nature turning shrubs and blooms into
 paint for the gardener's brush. A great glass jewel of a greenhouse
 dominates the courtyard, with the same lacelike white-painted cast iron that
 decorates the walkways supporting its cloudy antique glass panels.

 In contrast to without, the garden within the greenhouse is rampant and
 lush. Order is maintained with a subtler hand, and everywhere the flowers
 and trees are permitted to spill a bit, nature's cornucopia lovely in its
 excess. Exotic, oddly-shaped blooms that would wither outside the glass cage
 flourish within the winterless warmth, and small quantities of tropical
 citrus fruits are produced, most destined to be gifts for valued visitors.
*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+* Players +*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*

<Pose Tracker> Mikoto Minagi [Ohtori Academy (10)] has posed.

Yama Delta falls, and Mikoto does not pursue its rider. Alyssa makes a promise, but she watches them and they leave, they leave --

They leave.

Give her credit: she checks on Eri and Takeo and Georgia and Yukino and Miki before she flees the tower. But she does, with a final look to Yumi, because there is someone she is more concerned with, right now. Down the elevator, cast chiaroscuro with relief in her stance, bladetip down towards the ground, a hand lifting from its hilt to rub at her neck.

She finds Miroku's case first, entirely on accident, as she tears through the school searching for Mai; she sheathes her blade and is allowed to stand down from battle-readiness for it. And she calls, shamelessly, again and again: "Mai?! Mai?! Mai?!"

Ohtori's campus is large, and the draconic phoenix isn't circling any more. It just isn't possible to find her - right away. But Mikoto sees smoke rising, and where there's smoke, there's hearthfire. It's entirely reasonable logic which sees her rushing in towards the charred garden, roses smouldering.

Her voice announces her: "Mai..?!"

<Pose Tracker> Mai Tokiha [Ohtori Academy (11)] has posed.

The Golden Age has come to an end, at least for today. The army routed, the navy retreating or burning, even those ominous helicopters seem to have fled Ohtori's skies. The school is nowhere near back to normal, but it's free.

There's smoke rising, as a rose garden burns. It's probably fine - the school still has plenty to spare, even with tank treads having left their mark, and it's not like this one's in danger of burning down the dormitories or anything. The smoke is from those stems that smoulder, nothing more.

The place is rife with elaborate ornamentation, wrought-iron trellises remaining where true ivy has burnt to ash. The sight Mikoto seeks isn't hard to find, though; amid the black and grey of stone and steel and smoke, a mustard-yellow jacket and red scarf are easy to find.

She's seated on the ground, head tilted back to stare up at skies that are clear azure once more. The golden aurora is long since faded, the clouds scattered by a deathcry. So here she sits, eyes on the sky, her signature Element nowhere to be seen. If not for the fact that she's sitting alone, untouched among burnt desolation, one could almost mistake her for a normal girl.

Her lips are moving silently, some silent conversation with some imagined partner perhaps. She starts suddenly at the call of her name, turning her head to see who has invoked her - and revealing the tears that have tracked down her cheeks.

Mai blinks once, twice. "Mikoto?...Mikoto!" She scrabbles frantically to get up, tripping over her own feet and having to catch herself on the trellis. One stumble, and another, but she's alive and she's moving and she'll pull herself along the scorched flowerbeds if she has to, she needs to reach her precious person.

<Pose Tracker> Mikoto Minagi [Ohtori Academy (10)] has posed.

Golden age cedes to golden eyes --

(like the aggrieved glow of a girl and her oxen Child)

-- and Mikoto's are wide as she tracks the source of the smouldering garden, relief and concern and the weight of a war. And above them, beyond them, it is love, love, love. "MAI!" Mikoto yells, the joy a wide smile on her face, and Mai is tripping but she's not the only one charging forward.

And forward, and forward, and she's not slowing down, and...

She leaps into Mai's arms without a single care for things like gravity or footing, like she has so many times before. "Mai-!!"

<Pose Tracker> Mai Tokiha [Ohtori Academy (11)] has posed.

There's tears and frantic desperation and some strange hybrid of a run and a crawl, because after everything it's finally over and she's here and-

And Mikoto is even faster, tackling Mai hard enough to completely bowl her over. The colliding pair are airborne for a minute, before finally crashing into the remnants of the nearby flowerbed. At least the earth and ashes are soft enough for a landing - which is why Mai isn't too quick to sit up.

Her arms caught Mikoto, after all, and they aren't letting go.

"Mikoto, I- I'm sorry, there just wasn't any time and I thought I'd never see you again-" She hiccups, tears running freely. "I just couldn't - You had to be safe, and I had -"

She hugs Mikoto even closer, burying her face in the girl's dark hair as she's at a loss for words.

<Pose Tracker> Mikoto Minagi [Ohtori Academy (10)] has posed.

Gravity is inescapable, but Mai has already made efforts to give them a soft landing. Ashes and earth are so much better than a rosebush-bed.

(In Mikoto's defence, she only tackled Mai into one of those the one time, and she thought Mai wouldn't bowl over with enough forewarning.)

Here she has warning and they fall anyway, and Mikoto hardly notices because she has latched around Mai and her blood is warm in her veins and she is alive, she is alive, she is alive. Her breath comes shutter-step from her throat, choked by tears of her own, and perhaps Mai is buried in Mikoto but the inverse is also true.

"Thought -- I thought --" The words are thin because it's so hard to get enough breath between sobs. She sniffs against the tears, as if she could entomb herself in the scent of her. "I wuh-us so --" scared? Sad?


"Mai's gotta be safe too!" She wails, finally.

<Pose Tracker> Mai Tokiha [Ohtori Academy (11)] has posed.

In the heat of the moment, she'd been filled with conviction. Purpose, even when paired with sorrow.

In the cooling air of the present, the guilt hits home. Mikoto's wail is like an ice pick to break a heart, and the only reason Mai doesn't hug the girl even tighter is that practical limits have already been reached.

She's here, they're here, Mai never wants to let go again.

"I'm sorry...I'm so sorry, Mikoto! I just - after everything they've done, after what happened to Sugiura, I just...I couldn't stand them hurting you again. And it - I -"

It's kind of awkward, being pinned into a burnt flowerbed. One arm wrapped firmly around Mikoto (never let her go), Mai grips the edge of the stone wall surrounding it to pull the two of them into at least a sitting position.

They can be face to face, at least, able to see each other's tears.

"I won't leave you again, okay? The thought of leaving someone I love - I just - there's too much I want us to do together, Mikoto!" The tears run freely, freer than they should after the harshness of the last few days. "Everything I wanted to say, I...I..."

She blinks, meeting Mikoto's golden eyes, and the words catch in her throat.

<Pose Tracker> Mikoto Minagi [Ohtori Academy (10)] has posed.
<SoundTracker> Lacuna Coil - Enjoy The Silence https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v64rTpuDX3I

After what happened to --

Distantly a puzzle-piece clicks into place in the back of Mikoto's mind, and for a moment she does not worry about it at all because Mai is here, Mai is here and Mai is sad. She is determined not to let Mikoto go but she will find her match in the girl around her, who has no intention of releasing Mai in the near future.

(She really, really doesn't.)

"Mai got hurt!" Mikoto protests, as Mai pulls them up. The dismay on her face is obvious, face to face: brow arced from the grief she still remembers, breath shallow in her lungs, a laser-focus intensity to her eyes as if Mai might disappear if she looks away for a moment. Perhaps it's obvious. Mai, at least, is willing to reassure her.

It sounds like a promise and Mikoto can do nothing but put her faith in it, because Mai has said something she has never said before, and it is a word well-attuned to her. There are a hundred words Mai wants to say and Mikoto does not say any of them, detangling a hand from around her midsection to wipe the tears from her cheek.

Her fingers come to rest there, cupping her cheek, and yes, her heart flutters as she leans up to press her lips against Mai's. It is an inexpert gesture; she has never kissed anyone before. She has never let that stop her before.

<Pose Tracker> Mai Tokiha [Ohtori Academy (11)] has posed.

Mai got hurt.

Briefly, anyway. She can remember the sight of that golden lightning spearing down, interrupting her speech of conviction - and in the next breath, she'd finished that sentence surrounded by flame. It had been quick.

The more she thinks about it, the more she can feel footsteps on her grave, hear the echo of a distant beeping, feel the chill of a rushing river - and so she doesn't dwell on it.

She's here, now, faced with Mikoto's dismay and grief. She's here, her face writ with all the apologies she had no time for before. She's here, blinking at the intensity of Mikoto's stare, blinking at the tears in her eyes.

There's a hand on her face, wiping at her tears, and it's a tenderness she hadn't hoped to dream of until...until certain tasks were done. Guilt has its hooks in forever, perhaps, and there's wonder and hope tinged with apology and regret, and-

-and Mikoto leans in.

There's a gasp, briefly, a breath taken from between lips that meet. For an instant, Mai freezes.

Does she deserve this? Is she ever allowed happiness, when every action seems to hurt people she cares about, when her responsibilities remain incomplete, when her sins weigh on her back?

...no. She's done enough penance. She's died for those burdens and apologies once today.

It may be inexpert, and Mai is an amateur herself, but she leans into the kiss as tear-streaked cheeks meet.

<Pose Tracker> Mikoto Minagi [Ohtori Academy (10)] has posed.

If Mikoto knew about the terrible power she wields - the power to get Mai to put aside her self-loathing for a moment...

... well, it's a simple, elegant solution.

After a moment (or an eon, depending on one's method of time measurement), Mikoto leans back again, hand slipping down to Mai's shoulder, though she doesn't go far. It's a rare thing to see her blush, but her tearstained cheeks are coloured brightly, matching with her battered gown. She glances away - perhaps even she's a little bashful after something like that - and smiles. "... that's... what I wanted to..."

Mikoto's still smiling, when she looks to Mai again. "I'm really glad Mai's okay... 'cause Mai's the most important girl in the world."

<Pose Tracker> Mai Tokiha [Ohtori Academy (11)] has posed.

It's a moment, or an eternity.

Either way, it ends, and Mai glances away as well - she's not quite as red as her scarf but it's a close thing. She wipes at her tears for a moment, taking a deep breath.

But there's a smile on her face, even with the tears in her eye. They might have a different flavour than before. "...that's what I should have said. Sooner, before - what I wanted to say, as soon as I could finally see you again."

"I love you, Mikoto."