2019-04-11 - Rain, Ramen, and Worry

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Title: Rain, Ramen, and Worry

Terrible secrets have been revealed; a pair with secrets of their own comes together to process them.


Kasagami Araki and Setsuna Meioh


Taiyou Ramen Stand

OOC - IC Date:

4-11-2019 -

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

It's a horrible, rainy, black night in Tokyo. Just after midnight, Taiyou Ramen Stand is a rare refuge from the heat, rain, and horrific humidity that makes tonight a distinctly unpleasant time to walk the streets.

A bit of discomfort is fine for one Kasagami Araki. Flicking closed her umbrella, she takes a seat and runs a hand through her hair. It's not the first time she's come in here in a variety of moods after a good romp against a youma or three. But she's unusually quiet, without any of her small talk to the owner of the stand as she orders her two bowls of Double Spicy Ramen for her late night trip out.

One leg crosses over the other, boots clonking lightly as she reaches into her jeans to pull out a phone. The light of the thing illuminates her face in the otherwise semi-dimly lit ramen stand as she waits for something.

Even after her food arrives, she's not downing it with her usual gusto, picking it at with chopsticks. Slurping half-heartedly, her gaze never moves from the phone. One could almost say that Kassie is nervous or anxious.

As though she'd ever admit it. Her hands tremble a little despite the humidity of the night.

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

An umbrella of her own shields Setsuna Meioh's upper half from the wet, leaving rain to paint a drenched ombre along the cuffs of her dark pants. Because of who she is, this has an artful rather than an unbecoming effect; because of who she is, she carries her disquiet within her, with shoulders back and head high.

Her footfalls sound through the chaos of falling raindrops, distinct in their precise tempo. Upon rounding the shop's corner she folds her umbrella to step beneath the cloth-panel canopy and murmurs a quiet order to the proprietor. It's too small a space for her to not have seen the other girl in this illuminated island amid the rain-washed dark. Still, Setsuna stays at the counter a moment after her order is filled, with her back to Kasagami.

Then she's rotating on the low heel of one dressy boot and crossing the distance between counter and boot in a few of those long-legged strides. "Kasa-chan," she greets upon sliding into the seat opposite her girlfriend, and long strands of evergreen hair settle slowly in her wake. She's got a fresh cup of tea with her.

A night and a day have passed since the mahou converged upon Haneda together. Setsuna has not slept since, save in fitful spells. The weariness shows to someone who knows her well, in the low flutter of long eyelashes and the way she allows the bench's back to bear her weight. In turn, the senshi feels the tension, and her eyes find the swordswoman's hands, so dear to her.

With the faintest ghost of a smile she offers, "You wear the weather well," with a glance for those wet black locks. Then it fades and she is somber once more. "In all my time standing watch over this planet... There was no hint. No clue. There are more secrets in this world than there is knowledge." The Soldier of Revolution was one for most of her existence.

"And now..." Now Sayaka Miki and Kozue Kaoru are dead. Now... now what? "How are you holding up?" She has not touched her tea.

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

Kasagami stares into her ramen even as her beloved arrives. She doesn't need to look, in some ways dare not. As if she'll look and find that Setsuna Meioh too has become just another ghost in her life: A Mami Tomoe, a Kozue, a Sayaka. A Mother, a Father. All up and gone with nothing but aching memories.

It's as she speaks, so with that smile tinged by sleeplessness and weariness and the darkness of events that her heart feels like it's beating again. She's alive. That, at least, shatters the irrational, evil little thought.

Everyone has to die. But why do they all seem to go before her?

Here, in this tiny little ramen stand, she feels no need to project power or confidence. Not now, when she's so tired and worried, and horrible implications swirl in her mind that put her on edge. She wants to scream. She wants to carve ten, thirty, three thousand monsters into pieces. She wants to cling to the Puella she cares for and beg them not to become /that/.

The warmh of Setsuna's hands is a balm, and despite more personal worries, she leans against her girlfriend as the senshi finds her seat. It's not merely affection, though it's there in droves. All of the tension in her gives way to a full body shiver.

Hands clench. She's not wearing gloves.

She forces a smile, a grin. Hers is more than a ghost, more of a porcelin mask tossed over her features. She does not, however, hide the confusion and just how lost she is in her eyes.

"Well I'm glad to hear that. It's the kind of night where you either wear it, or get drowned by it. And I'm not ready to stop, yet, Setsu-chan. I can't!" There's a growl in her voice. Frustration given form. Her good eye looks a little wild for a second.

Running her fingers over Pluto's knuckles, she pulls them back and shovels in the spicey food. Her face starts to turn red on the good side. She's soon sweating. The burning sensation, so far away from fire, feels good. It always does, spicy things fill her with energy.

Secrets. What an awful word. Her heart feels a little colder.

"Watch for all of the portents, and even if you keep your eyes stapled open...one person can't see everything. That's why allies are important. Don't blame yourself. We've all messed up, have blood on our hands. But /that/ secret is not our fault! It's the fault of whatever pathetic sadist or monster or /whoever/ is responsible for..." She's getting on a rant. She sucks in a breath and exhales.

"I want to know where Puella Magi come from." She whispers.

She laughs darkly. "I'm getting tired of dead bodies. So, not that great, my love."

"You?" Her eyes soften. Concern lights them up. She stops devouring for a second, taking her love's visage in full for the first time since she got here.

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

The observant eyes of the watchful senshi miss few details. They see even more when looking with the attendant worry of her heart. Setsuna doesn't know everything about Kasagami, but she knows some -- enough to know how heavily grief weighs on the duelist, who lost so much, so young. So she's looking for that haunted way in that good grey eye, and feeling for that shiver of emotion when they touch.

When Kassie says she can't stop yet, Setsuna nods, and says, "Good," in her quiet and approbative way. "We neither of us can, can we?" She is familiar with the necessity of moving forward, regardless.

And it further helps, somehow, to watch her fierce love devour all that spicy ramen and start steaming up from within. It encourages Setsuna to sip of her tea. She tries, and takes a mouthful, but is long in swallowing, like even liquid can somehow stick in her throat right now. But when Kasagami says they all have blood on their hands, the senshi looks down at her own, bequieted again.

She's reminded of another meal they had over hard conversation, reminded further by staring at her own hands -- Setsuna's primary view throughout that other evening. Kozue was still alive, then, despite her best efforts.


Her face, downcast, has a classical beauty and stillness to it: a statue's face lovely and sad, carved with tragedy rather than comedy in mind. "Ah, Kasa-chan," she sighs, and looks up again. "It is always too much, and yet... we go on." Garnet meets steel for a time, as long as Setsuna can get away with simply looking upon her love.

Then: "I go on." She shrugs, a brief gesture, and looks out into the falling rain instead of down at her hands. "I keep wondering how this could have been averted. If I missed seeing more clearly. And then... and then I wonder," and she looks steadily out into the rain, her face turned to give only her profile to the other girl, "Was Kozue right, when she came to me? She was trying to save Sayaka, and she did not even know yet what she was trying to save her from. But she knew that girl needed saving."

Her lips twist, a touch. "But if I had known... would I have done it any differently? Because the truth is, the world is easier for me to protect with them gone. I don't know."

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

Her fingers snap right towards Setsuna as Kassie slurps up an almost obscene amount of noodles and soup into her gullet, chomping it all down just in time to wink to her love. It's dramatic, performative, but Kasagami needs the little injection of unnecessary drama.

It is something wholly Ohtori, after all.

"There is no stopping for us! People with grand dreams and grand duties share something. Most people stand below the cliff of human potential, waiting for a rope to be cast down. The ambitious grip the rope in their teeth, climbing up the cliff even if their fingers go raw to the bone!"

A pause. "So we'll just have to climb hand-in-hand, and mix our blood to keep going if we have to!" She ends strongly, forcing out her usual confidence into her voice. If nothing else, she can believe in Setsuna if they're together.

It's like staring at a statue cast in despair and sadness. Kasagami once again finds herself hating that visage of Setsuna, even as she's attracted by the other girl's pain. It just feels so unfair, that another should suffer such depths of sadness.

And yet they go on. Kasagami's hand clenches suddenly. One chopstick snaps. It's put aside, even as it's quickly replaced by an attentive employee.

A single hand runs across her face.

She rubs the good side of her face, left briefly blind, feeling the sweat drip down her neck as she does so.

"Sayaka was a problem. To us, to Eri-chan, to all of the Shepherds. She made you her enemy. If Kozue was going to save Sayaka, then she would have dragged her off and ensured she didn't get involved in this utter pileup of a disaster called Puella Magi! ...AS much as I hate that girl, I actually believe she had the right intentions." Kassie sighs, and rubs her nose as the spices really hit. She chomps down more food.

"You're trying to look backwards with perfect vision. Stop, Setsu-chan! Averting this required the knowledge that a Puella Magi could turn into a /monster/! The exact kind of monster we all tried to gather together to kill!" Before there were Shepherds and Chevaliers. She remembers Charlotte all too keenly.

"...The only thing we could have done with forewarning is hurt Sayaka for what she could become. And what would that say about what Eri-chan could become?"

She looks up from her bowl to peer at Setsuna. Her teeth grit. And then she reaches over for Setsuna. Kasagami needs to be close.

"How can we stop Eri-chan from being /that/!?" It's a whisper, but desperate. Kasagami lets go, and voices her truest fear and unknown.

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

Despite herself, despite everything -- despite the very subject being spoken on -- Setsuna loses herself some in Kasagami's grandiloquence. The drama, the vivid and bloodily motivational rhetoric... It all takes the senshi away. Something eases in her face, before she makes that solemn turn. "Hand in hand, then, up and over and into the sunset." It's a nice thought.

Therefore it cannot languish long in this humid, heavy atmosphere.

Even Setsuna Meioh's grand mane has begun to droop, to cling to her neck and her shoulders from a mixture of rain and sweat. She tugs at the collar of her sleeveless burgundy blouse in an uncharacteristic fidget -- the senshi is ever the still reflecting pool next to the swordswoman's tempest.

"The right intentions... yes. For whatever that is worth. You're right. We could not have known, and neither could she. Too many variables... And all we can do is work with what /is/ known, when we know it."

She is still again what Kasagami reaches for her -- something in what was said struck Setsuna, it's on her face and the careful way she makes no expression at all. She reaches, too, a moment later. The fit of her arms around her love is as close and warm as ever; one tucks round one shoulder as always to cradle the back of a dear head, and the other cinches round the duelist's waist. They fit together, there on the ramen stand bench.

But when Kasagami lets go, Setsuna /withdraws/, into herself.

"The only thing we could have done..." She draws a long breath, and it sinks in her chest like a stone. "And that is the sort of thing I am here for, Kassie. To hurt a girl before she can become..."

She's whispering now, too -- her face is upturned, so Kassie can't see her eyes, so her words float into the rain and nearly disappear into it. "I asked Kaname-san, once: what if saving Sayaka does not work? Now I ask you. What if we can't stop Eri-chan...?"

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

Even their brief togetherness and purpose can't help but be dimmed by the solemn mood. That horrible feeling of something being /wrong/ creeps into every thought of Kassie's. She knows part of it, but doesn't know how to bring it up. She has enough tact to not rush in like a bull. Even trying to cut down the problem directly won't work when this beautiful senshi that she loves is being tight lipped.

That night on the train haunts her, even as more horrors haunt her still. Two things they share.

But the closeness /is/ a boon. A distraction for a moment, even as the withdrawal of Setsuna feels like an icey stab to the gut. The follow up question is that cold knife twisted. The mere thought of Eri becoming such a thing has her visibly flinching, one part physical and one part mental anguish, such is it's wrongness. Nevermind the empty shell that she saw Eri as when she last visited.

"You're going to make me say it out loud." A tiny, bitter little laugh.

Her eyes close. Speaking what they'll /have/ to do for their mutual friend feels like she's giving up on the girl a little. "It's the duty of Kings and Queens to mete out justice. To execute murderers. And Witches. It is also what we owe her, as friends, as Shepherds, and as family."

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

Distance amid closeness. The Guardian of Time thought herself used to distance, used to loneliness. She finds its pain is altogether different when she can clutch Kassie close and still feel apart from her.

Another twinge tightens her throat, sharp and sympathetic, to hear that black laugh. Setsuna has seen somewhat of the bitter dark in her girlfriend, the shadow in the lee of all that blazing passion. It worries her, even as she may have yet to appreciate its depth, but she has not yet flinched from Kasagami.

There's an apology in her eyes, though.

"I asked, knowing the answer..." And made the duelist say it for the both of them. "Where has my resolve gone? You are right. We both know it, we both see... what this world brings us to, time and again."

Setsuna studies Kassie's face while her eyes are closed, traces her chin and her cheekbones and her scars; she knows it so well, but never ceases wishing for more chances to look anew. She beholds beauty, and sorrow, and youth. Then she looks out into the rain.

A thousand thoughts run through her busy head, and it shows on her face. She thinks of duty; she thinks of a girl who is Small Lady's best friend, and then of the green Puella who is a dear friend of her own. She thinks of Kassie's brave blade being turned to such terrible mercies, and resolves to protect her love from such an act -- however she can, whether her love wills it or no.

Any number of things could fall from her lips when they part, but in the end, Setsuna is thinking of a grey kitten back at her penthouse apartment and simply whispers: "It's Eri-chan," and reaches for Kassie's hand. "Eri-chan." A protest, a prayer, whatever it is, her whisper is thick, and her eyelashes heavy and shining with rare tears.

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

That apology, at least, has Kasagami summoning a tiny little smile. There's the slightest of nods to her. It hurts, but...well, how could she deny her love? And it helps deny actually looking deeper, seeing more of their twin troubles. She can't handle it right now. It's an exuse she happily takes.

"You might be a guardian of things that are eternal, Setsuna, a legend, but you're still just human. Don't forget that. To live, love, and create a better future as a human, that's our gift." Her smile grows gentle, fond, and warm for her beloved. Oh, how her heart aches to see those many thoughts running along Setsuna's face.

A hand is reaches, and gripped. First one, then the other, Kasagami slipping off her gloves to do so. Around this beautiful senshi? It's easy to not hide herself. Except, of course, where it matters the most between them.

"Eri-chan. We can't let her be anything else." No matter what Eri might think about it. Or at least, that's what the Duelist whispers to herself in her own head while cursing her weakness.

Tonight, of all nights, she can't stop Eri. And she can't stop those tears upon her beloved's cheeks. It's a long, wet night of self loathing for Kasagami Araki.