2019-04-14 - Parks and Realization

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Parks and Realization

Madoka grieves. Steven helps.


Madoka Kaname, Steven Universe


Uminari Seaside Park

OOC - IC Date:

4/14/2019 - 05/30/2015

<Pose Tracker> Madoka Kaname [Ohtori Academy (10)] has posed.
<SoundTracker> Signum Malum https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ya_PILAheXY

It's after school, so the park is full of kids. Running, jumping, climbing trees. And jungle gyms. And slides. There are a million microcosmic pieces of everyday life playing out here like scattered puzzle pieces across the floor. A shrill little argument over whose turn is next in the sandbox. A merry game of ring-around-the-rosie. Laughing, laughing, we all fall down.

Madoka is looking at all of it, but she isn't seeing any of it.

There is a blank expression there. Even the genuinely blind have more life in their eyes than hers. They're a twin set of pink glass coasters. They're the shadowy bottoms of two empty mugs.

She's very pale, too pale. She's come into possession of the near-translucentness of one who has been pushed beyond all limits to the place past exhaustion where you're too tired to sleep. She looks like she's seen a ghost, and like she's aspiring to become one, at the same time.

She barely moves, but when she does, adjusting her position on the park bench, it is with the extreme care of someone who knows, either consciously or unconsciously, that if they fall over right now, they will shatter.

There's an empty space next to her. She didn't take up space like someone who's accustomed to being alone on the bench; on autopilot, she's made room for someone who isn't there.

Steven knows who. Madoka and Sayaka were inseparable.

And, though it was a long time ago, they used to come to this park together all the time.

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

He has yet to tell them.

This day has been a strange one. What felt like days of silence, a reprieve from the forces of darkness, was a lie. Many questions are cropping up, and yet, the heart to ask them was absent. The refrain present in their choice.

Even being an outlier, it hurt to know. It ached somewhere deep inside, that strange, almost physical feeling you konw you can't reach and remove.

Something was clearly on Steven's mind as he walked to park. A place that helped him gather his thoughts away from home. The King Penguin slide standing triumphant amidst his sandbox kingdom. It brought humor on a normal day.

FLip-flops click on the sidewalk path as he seems to stare a holo into each individual grain of cemented rock that makes his path. He is expressionless save for lips pursed thinly as he thinks.

The flutter of a deep pink tee passes in front of Madoka, but abruptly stops. A fluffy head turns left, now-attentive eyes spy a familiar sight. A pair of pretty pink twintails. A small frame. The appearance of the kindest individual you could ever hope to meet. And yet they appear devastated.

The boy stops moving, and takes a breath. Another. Another still.

"Ma... doka?" he asks quietly.

He has an idea why she might be here.

It doesn't involve having fun at the park.

<Pose Tracker> Madoka Kaname [Ohtori Academy (10)] has posed.

Madoka blinks.

She has to hear Steven three times before she moves. Once with her ears, once with her brain, and once with her heart. It takes too long. The body, the mind, the spirit, they are not well-connected in this moment. That's reasonable. There's a lot of noise there, on the line, and the line itself is a bit broken.

Her eyes focus, and she looks at him -- the sweetest boy she's ever known. Perhaps the highest compliment she could pay him is that he's the person she hopes her little brother is like someday, when Tatsuya's a bit older and more in command of language.

"Steven...kun..." she recognizes, eventually. She isn't always a first-off-the-starting-block person for given names; he's heard her mangle the many English syllables of his name many times. She always tries to get it right, though. She tries hard.

Inhaling sharply through her nose reveals that it's full of mucus, one of many byproducts of weeping. Her head rears back on its neck just a little in response, surprised. She was trying to clear it -- bring herself back to the present -- but LITERAL stuffiness is doing a good job of conveying the metaphor she's living inside.

Even so, she's here enough to try a slightly watery smile.

"Ano, eto," she stammers, trying to figure out what to say. The lively chatter of the park gives her an idea, a place to start. "Are you... here to play?"

'Play' is a dangerous word, it turns out. She didn't know it when she said it and she may not know, now, that it has worried a tear from the corner of her eye, which is threatening to descend down her right cheek.

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

It takes a worrying amount of time to garner a reaction in Madoka. his eyes are large, and focused entirely on her. He was never to leave a friend in need. Much of why how the earlier meeting bothered him so.

Upon hearing his name, whether incorrect or not, is good to hear. The boy smiles a small, little smile, one almost out of reflex despite how he feels. He's always been an empathic one, and smiling is just something that... happens!

It could help, but...

"Play? Oh," The boy brings a hand up to a cheeck, as he looks to the playground equipment and back. A sad shake of the head is his answer to her. "...No, not today. I needed somewhere to think. Are um," he starts with. His feet break the concrete trail onto grass toward her bench. "Is... everything okay?"

Concern is there, his voice laden wit his own emotion. Just seeing her upset-- signs of crying even, makes his throat clench up. Tightens, burns.

"Want some company?" he asks, feigning a cheery face. It is fairly evident, and not well at concealing the underlying feelings.

The desire to help someone who appears as though their world has shattered around them.

THere's so many things he wants to do wight now. Say a cute joke. Do a funny little improv thing. Say, 'Everything will be okay.'

It all felt empty at this time. Not insomuch that the emotion wouldn't be there, rather. But the truth behind it would be obvious. It would be like lying to someone's face.

"... No one can make it better. There's no way around. We can never go back to how it was..."

Steven quitely clenches his teeth.

<Pose Tracker> Madoka Kaname [Ohtori Academy (10)] has posed.

Madoka's own front of even remote pretension at composure crumbles when she's asked how she is. More tears well up when she closes her eyes and shakes her head. Flap-flap-flap go her twintails, with the motion. The beautiful red ribbons securing them jangle wildly about. One of the bows is going to come loose, if she keeps going like that.

It turns into a tiny "Mm," of affirmation at the offer of company, with an even tinier nod.

And she just sits there, next to him, crying quietly, for a long moment. Teardrops spatter her lap like rain. She's past the point of worrying about making a scene, but it's smaller than it could be because of how tired it is -- there's the distinct sense of life, just, wringing a few more drops out of an already thoroughly over-wrung dishrag of a girl.

"I'm sorry," she has the mind to say, after a while. "I'm not... I can't... I just..."

Her thought fails to leave the station of her mind and exit through her mouth. Maybe there wasn't anything there to think.

She swallows, and tries a sentence on for size that doesn't start with the word 'I'.

"It just isn't fair," arises from her at last, small-voiced and sorrowful... but clear. "Everyone... everyone was just... trying to do the best they could. Sayaka-chan and Eri-chan, and all their friends. But it isn't," she sniffs again, "It isn't that it went so wrong. It's that it was wrong... all along. They just didn't know it yet..."

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

Madoka begins to break down, and it tears at him inside. With her confirmation, he quietly slides onto the bench next to her. What does he say. What does he say. His little rotund hands grip the edge of the bench as he stares forward, much like Madoka was.

Madoka breaks the silence before Steven does. "N-No! Its okay! Just... take your time. Talk to me." He knows forming something coherent could be very hard for her right now.

"I... I just heard," he comments, fighting back his own emotion hearing her so despairing. The boy lifts a hand to bite on an index finger knuckle. "It isn't fair, you are absolutely right. They shouldn't have to have that hang over their head..."

The boy gently reaches over and places a hand on her shoulder. "It... It might not be much, but..." He stops and considers what he will say. "They saved many lives back in the day. I'll always be thankful for what they did."

"It must hurt..." he says sadly. "I wish I could say something to make you feel better," he gives a small, nervous laugh. "But I know it isn't that easy. This isn't a sprained ankle or a broken friendship. But I want you to know that despite everything, I'll be here to listen."

His own eyes become blurry. No, that's misting up. It was the best he could think of in the moment. He can only hope it could help in some small way.

<Pose Tracker> Madoka Kaname [Ohtori Academy (10)] has posed.

Madoka leans into the hand on her shoulder. A few moments later her own hand joins his there, sandwiching it. Hers is, despite everything, despite all her feelings, despite how tiny and still she is... still very warm.

She nods, wetly, at what he says about their saving lives, and his gratitude.

And again, less emphatically, at what he says about being here to listen. "That's usually my line," she sniffles. "But it feels... nice, to hear."

From the intensity with which she looks at Steven, as her eyes finally reopen fully, she's obviously wondering if it was nice for all of her friends, too. Whether it helped them at all, the way he's helping her right now.

They aren't blanks anymore.

There's something living behind them.

Something that sharpens and focuses on the tears, that match her own, forming in Steven's own eyes.

She shifts her hips, turning towards him -- reaching out with her other hand to rest it, in turn, on his shoulder.

"So I guess you just did," say something to make her feel better.

She smiles again, and this time it's watery but something above absolute zero. More than just a motion of the lips.

Which is to say, still bleak beyond belief.

But something is infinitely more than nothing.

"Can I... maybe buy you a hot dog?"

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

Steven can only hold his breath for what feels like an eternity. Being so unsure, his words could easily pierce her heart instead of comfort it. The glowing warmth of a gentle palm on his causes him to exhale sharply and look over.

He lets out a small chuckle as he smiles at her comment. "Is it? I think it is a good one, then."

A moment of silence, then...

"I was told once by someone important, to remember those that have gone, we should have our actions honor them."

A thought to a tall caretaker. To a video tape. To a portrait.

"Do things that would make them proud."

He feels a soft had on his own shoulder, Madoka exchangign that same gesture felt so comforting in this confusing time. "I'm... glad."

Then she offers something most unexpected. He practically glows. His smile shows as much. He points a shaky finger at her. "O-Only if I can get you a dessert somewhere! Deal?"

She is coming around. It would be a delicate process to actually come to terms with it, but this was a good step at least! And to know that he helped, even just a speck-sized amount, makes this day all the better.