2019-04-19 - Black Blade Revelation

From Battle Fantasia MUSH
Jump to: navigation, search
Title: Black Blade Revelation

Mikoto Minagi works exactly as intended.


Fate Testarossa, Mai Tokiha, Endo Naoki, Mikoto Minagi


Shitamachi Low City - Keiyou Industrial District

OOC - IC Date:

2019-04-19 - 2015-05-30

.**************************** Shitamachi Low City *****************************.
*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+ Keiyou Industrial District +*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*
 Stretching across eight districts, Keiyou Industrial Zone is like a small
 city unto itself, consisting primarily of factories, power plants,
 warehouses, refineries, and other heavy industry. Boxy, soot-stained
 buildings, multi-story chemical tanks, and baroque masses of pipes and
 girders dominate the architecture, and a distant clanking or hum can be
 heard at all hours of the day throughout most of the district. Cranes,
 forklifts, and other heavy equipment are common in this area, as are metal
 gratings exhaling steam, dizzying catwalks and ladders, and tall stacks of
 shipping crates.

 The buildings closest to the bay are often the most presentable, so as to
 avoid besmirching its beauty overmuch. The district cannot help but encroach
 upon the bay, however, for it is its lifeline, providing thermal power,
 naval shipping, and copious quantities of water for industrial purposes.
 Keiyo long ago outgrew the land allotted for its uses, and so artificial
 islands have been built up to permit its continued expansion.

 Since its relatively low potential for civilian casualties (particularly at
 night) appeals to magical girls, and its profusion of powerful industrial
 machinery appeals to their foes, combat is not infrequent in this area.
*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+* Players +*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*
<Pose Tracker> Mai Tokiha [Ohtori Academy (12)] has posed.

There's a buzzing, quietly, in the middle of a rain-soaked street. It's a subtle sound, hard to hear over everything going on - the pouring of water from a grief-torn sky, the rumble of a truck engine, the grunts of exertion from those who are lifting one box after another. Subtle - but insistent at the same time, enough that one of the workers finally holds up a hand and steps to the side.

She reaches into the pocket of her jeans - damp as they are - and pulls out a cell phone. It's buzzing, not with text notifications but with an incoming call. The girl frowns, preparing to answer - but then her eyes light upon the ID of the caller. Her gaze hardens in an instant, and she taps the button that will silence the device's insistence. Tucking it away, she turns to pick up the next taped-up cardboard box.

"...Tokiha, aren't you going to answer that?"

"It's just my brother. Whatever he has to say can wait."


The day has been a long one, and even with twilight darkening the horizon it just doesn't feel like it's ever going to end. Mai's footsteps down a puddle-strewn road are slow and methodical, despondently carrying her to a destination without haste or interest. Her cardigan, at least, was spared the worst of the rain - but the t-shirt and jeans she wears are soaked, and she tries to pretend her sneakers aren't squishing as she walks.

The one highlight of the afternoon is a bitter treat. A rush moving job on a Saturday afternoon paid considerably better than some part-time jobs she could name, and having a pocketful of her day's pay helps a bit - but it's a paycheque fated to contribute toward medical bills and plans for the future. Plans that seemed a lot more different, a lot more involved just a day ago...and now whatever progress she carries seems bittersweet.

Her footsteps come to a halt outside a brightly lit building. A simple konbini, with low-end goods at a price a little higher than really warranted, stocked with unhealthy snacks and packaged meals. There's almost certainly groceries at home, so she doesn't really need to stop in-

And then Mai freezes, the morning's clash returning to mind, remembering how much of their pantry went to waste in the last few days of Mikoto's 'help'.

A scowl on her face, she storms in to find some kind of prepackaged bento for herself. Working for a moving company was hard work, she skipped lunch, and the cheap coffee she fueled herself with all day is not sitting well. Mai is tired, and hungry, and kind of angry, and right now...

Well, right now she's putting the fear of fire gods into some poor underpaid cashier. A few minutes after that, she makes her way to the nearest bench, digging into her bag for her bounty. It's not much - overseasoned rice, a cold pork stir-fry, a collection of vegetables - but it's food, and she didn't have to be the one making it. She deserves this much, right?

Mai has been contemplating it for a minute when there's a pitter-patter of footsteps behind her. She looks up, eyes widening at the face before her, before there's a quiet little question. A little request for a bit of time.

Looking down at her uneaten meal, Mai sets it on the bench next to her with a sigh. "...I suppose I can spare a few minutes. What is it?..."

<Pose Tracker> Fate Testarossa [Infinity Institute (5)] has posed.
<SoundTracker> Rain - Cowboy Bebop - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l9_p-nhZXLg

The raincoat Fate wore was not cheap. When it came to her health, Lindy Harlaown did not skimp on it by giving her something flimsy. It was thick, warm, and utterly waterproof, the hood having a second layer that even protected her bangs.

Right now the hood was still up just in case it started to rain again, though that was growing less and less likely as the afternoon faded away into evening. Shed just been at a cross campus dodge ball tournament with Suzuka.

Normally she wore her Chevaliers pin with pride during such things. Just a little clip onto her P.E. clothes. She hadn't today.

And that thought bothered her when she realized she hadn't - bothered her so much that shed decided to walk home rather than let Suzuka give her a ride. As she walked, she turned over the little thing in a hand. Smokestacks and lattices of metal rose in the skyline as she did along the streets lined with shops and convenience stores, car engines both coming and going droning in her ears.

To her the thing represented second chances. A world that gave girls like her second chances. A world that offered Shepherds ... Dark Fall alike, something better. It gave it to her. It gave it to Setsuna Higashi. It gave it to the Wolkenritter.

Why couldn't it give that to Mami Tomoe ... or Sayaka Miki? Why did only they get second chances ... while others used up their only one ... just to give them those second chances?

Is that the way the world worked? That to give girls like them these chances, it had to steal them away from other people?

Did hers only come because her Mother forfeited her own?

The rain comes anyhow.

Allowing her arm to sag away from her face, her eyes catch sight of- Oh!

For a while the girl debates whether to approach her right now assessing more than just how the other girl looks-

Westar's still trying. Looking for help. I don't care, but Fate oughta know.

-but other things too, as others walking the sidewalk have to curve around her at the last second to avoid her, before she looks both ways and hastens across the street.

Feet pitter-pattering into puddles, she comes up to where she sits on the bench.

"Um ... excuse me. Mai-?"

Waiting for her to turn, the girl slowly peels off her hood, and shakes out her long twintails so that they unravel and fall back down.

"Can I trouble you for some of your time? It's about... Mikoto." Fate doesn't sit down on the bench, she stays standing.

"You see. I've spoken to her several times recently and there's something about her situation that... feels... familiar-"

Then suddenly theres a synthesized warning cry from within her jacket.

<Warning. Massive Energy Signature Detected ... Identified. Fallen Stern. Second Energy Signature Detected in Close Proximity ... Analyzing. ... ... ... Confirmed. Miroku.>

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

The conversation starts innocuously, but Mai is well aware of exactly who she's talking to. The...'replacement daughter' for Precia Testarossa, a formerly antagonistic girl who went through a terrible life at the hands of a grief-maddened sorceress. Simply saying a situation is 'familiar', especially a situation involving Mikoto Minagi...

There are weighty implications in that kind of statement, possibilities that make Mai's blood go colder than any rain-drenched outfit could manage. Her face pales, a limp hand crinkling into the konbini bag, and she works her jaw for a moment.

She's speaking to a girl who was abused, who had to live through terrible things at the hands of a terrible woman.

She's speaking to a former member of Dark Fall, who used to attack magical girls for forbidden artifacts.

"When you say familiar, do you mean..."

Bardiche interrupts with an important announcement. The name of Fallen Stern is a difficult one to place for a moment; Mai isn't quite as familiar with the names of Devices as those who wield or interact with them. It's one that Mikoto might have mentioned, once or twice, as belonging to one of her...allies? Enemies?

The name of Miroku, however, is achingly familiar.

"Mikoto! What in the world is she getting into now? She's supposed-" Mai digs frantically for her phone, checking to see if there was a plea for help she missed, a panicked call - but none of the half dozen missed calls are from the one she worries for now. The morning comes to mind in a heartbeat, and Mai's shoulders slump. "She's not supposed to - she said she wanted to start doing normal things. Not fighting, just- what could be happening that needs-"

Stuffing her phone back into her pocket, Mai pushes off the bench to surge to her feet. Her sneakers slip on dampened pavement, determined footsteps carrying her forward as she takes deep breaths of all-too-humid air. Bardiche can tell them where the trouble is, and what those two might be up against.

Assuming there is some common enemy, this time. If the truce over what used to be Sayaka Miki has come to an end...

Flames hiss against the memory of rain in the air. A half dozen steps, and they're burning away the moisture near Mai Tokiha; a half dozen more, and they have become swirling spirals; a half dozen later, her Element is incarnate. There are precious few steps on the ground after that.

Only a konbini bento, abandoned on a bench.


There's a blade, rending the earth, inexorably bound to a fate of blood and death. It has traced this path before, but perhaps this will be the last time it travels to this particular destination.

The motives of the fight are lost to a newcomer, An ancient rivalry, a determination to avenge past defeats, the reason for the many holes in dormitory walls. Here, perhaps, it might end.

Before the end, though, there is fire. An abrupt abjuration of flame, a winding snake, blazing into the clash to intervene with an unexpected bite. As Mikoto charges, as she begins that bloodthirsty swing, her blade catches on the fire itself - a tendril where there was none, unable to burn the obsidian but just barely capable of binding it for a moment.

There's a roar of flame, burning rings blazing a trail into pavement as Mai desperately hauls back on her fiery lasso, pulling against Mikoto's sword with as much strength as she can muster. The screech of her magic's fury is almost as loud as her own shout, commanding anger rising above the tide of battle.

"Mikoto, STOP! What in the world do - You said you wanted to - " She sputters, trying to find a polite way to ask what's happening, and then abandons the attempt entirely. "Why are you doing this?!"

<Pose Tracker> Fate Testarossa [Infinity Institute (5)] has posed.

"It's - when I say that - it means - it's about -" Mai is panicked, and she feels like she has to try to calm her down, "It's about where she-" There's a pause, and the girl makes this frustrated noise.

Like she wants to articulate something, and realizes how difficult it is to articulate a hunch in the middle of a situation like this. And realizing she can't decides something else is more urgent.

"There's no time. We have to break it up right now." She unbuttons a button of her raincoat and draws out a Golden Triangle - "Before things go too far. Bardiche can you pinpoint their position for Mai?"

<Yes Sir. Get Set.>


OST - The End Is Where We Begin - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IPQ7mvL5_04

A white blur descends, holding her chosen weapon. Fate Testarossa wields the lightning. A Greatsword slashing into the fray, streaming Lightning Bolts.

It seems like to create a three way bladelock if noone gives. And yet as her slash hits the ground in a flash explosion that disintegrates rubble, she twists her blade in a mid-air pivot, Bardiche beginning to change course towards not Miroku-

-but Fallen Stern. It glides up in a diagonal slash in lockstep with her boots touching down meant to parry the Belkan Device and hold it at bay. As if she trusts someone else to make certain Mikoto is stopped. It's holds not intent to harm, but to hold him back as she digs her feet in. "Endo that's enough!"

"I know you don't really want to do this! I know!" The girl says as she tries to pressure him to stay away from engaging Mikoto again, "You just think you have to right!? You think you have to beat a monster before it hurts anyone else!"

The look in her scarlet eyes holds a certain sadness - but with it conviction, "But she's not a monster! She's not! I know it! Because Monsters don't feel bad about the lives they destroy! They don't wish they were kind!"

Slowly stopping the pressure on Bardiche, she implores quietly, "We've lost so much. I don't want to lose you too. Please. Stop this. We need to take a step back and think about... what this all means for the kind of Chevaliers we want- no... the Chevaliers we need to be."

COMBAT: Fate Testarossa transforms into Barrier Jacket Blaze - Full Drive Mode!
COMBAT: Mai Tokiha transforms into Mai-HiME!

<Pose Tracker> Endo Naoki [Juuban Public School (12)] has posed.

Endo has never really gone away from things attacking him-Mikoto is no different. The path of her destruction is set and while all good sense would say to stay out of it, Endo is set to meet it. There's no substitute for direct force, and no faster to want to determine a victor. His weapon rises to meet hers, burning with purple flame and crashing down with meteoric force-

Until the blade comes to abrupt stop, Fallen Stern and Bardiche crashing together in a flare of color. Endo's eyes widen in surprise, his stance softening at the appearance of his small blonde friend. His arm gives a few inches, feet shuffling back backward as he meets unexpected resistance.


"Fate..." Though the pressure from the girl's device eases, she'll find his side solid once more. "I'm sorry." There's a rawness to that apology, to the look her gives her. Something that's all too quickly melting back into steely resolve. "You're wrong about her." He says. "Someone needs to do this."


"We lost Sayaka because we didn't do what we should have. More people will die if I just walk away. How can you all just ignore it!?" Now Endo is stepping forward, applying pressure of his own. "Fate--"


"This is our enemy."

<Pose Tracker> Mikoto Minagi [Ohtori Academy (11)] has posed.
<SoundTracker> Icon for Hire - The Grey https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2-8Vobn5nM0

Miroku is an executioner's blade. Perhaps Endo and Fallen Stern are not in accord over their killing intent, but Mikoto and Miroku are of much finer craftsmanship. She was born to this.

As she has told him - she is well-trained.

There is little which can stop a rampage fueled by darkness.

There is one thing which burns past every one of her defences.

All at once she finds herself caught and swung on tendrils of flame which catch and drag on obsidian, redirecting it, pulling it away. Mid-air, there is no hope for her to reposition herself, no hope to respond; she flies away as if she weighed nothing at all. It takes a moment for her mind to catch up - eyes widening - grip loosening, as she realises how familiar that heat really is.

She crashes into a rain-puddle, and Miroku embeds itself in the earth between them, reflecting Bardiche and Fallen Stern in its dark mirror. An obsidian bead has slipped from the confines of her winter uniform, hanging loosely about her neck on red cord. Endo has seen it once before. Mai has seen it many times.

She let go, because...

'Mikoto, STOP!'

"Mai..." Mikoto trails off, the bleariness of battle numbing her words as she comes back to thought again. She looks to the crossed blades, blinking in surprise. Fate... again.

... oh, that's right.

Fate did say she'd always stop her.

And Mikoto said she wanted to...

In anger Mai asks, and Mikoto looks back to her, and there is no anger in her eyes any more. Her brow creases in sadness, hands wet against the concrete as they curl in. Perhaps she has said her piece so much more eloquently, before. Now ice clutches at her lonely heart, and she can scarcely recall the shape of words at all.

Not so far away, Fate speaks of things shared in fragility, and Endo condemns her. And Mikoto sags in rainwater and does not meet them - does not argue them - does not even point out the threat which looms. Mai is angry. Mai is angry at her. Mai is demanding answers.

"'Cause... I love Mai. I didn't want Mai to be destroyed... so I fought... and I got enemies instead." Here she looks to Endo and Fallen Stern, as they name the truth of her, and there is so much less venom in her voice than his as she calls attention to it. "... that's why."

She draws in a trembling breath, looks back up to her. "I had to, do better... right?" Better than being broken, better than needing Eri to steal into the dorm and heal her between Mai leaving for groceries, better than hospital beds and beep-beep betrayals. And perhaps it is clear what doing better means, to someone who should never have tried to be normal.

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

Mai isn't alone in trying to defuse the situation. Fate arrived alongside her, rushing in to arrest Endo's attack. It's a great help - in that if this fight continues Mai is honestly not sure what she'll do.

Threaten to go scorched earth with Kagutsuchi, maybe.

Her gaze snaps to Fate for a second at those words about monsters and ruined lives, her mouth feeling dry at the implications. The Chevaliers and the Shepherds have had a brutal war for months, one only recently turned to ceasefire - but Mai doesn't know what Mikoto did in that war, how many lives were imperiled or ended as Endo implies.

She never asked.

For the sake of her conscience, for the sake of being able to pretend, she never asked.

Miroku escapes both their grips, embedding itself in pavement, and Mai falls back into a puddle much like Mikoto. Her cardigan, kept dry through a day's effort, is drenched in the end - and yet this is if anything the least of the offenses tonight. She staggers to her feet, gaze firmly locked on Mikoto, awaiting that demanded answer.

When it comes, her gorge rises. Trembling feet stumble back, stumble a couple of steps away from Mikoto as her hands hang limply by her side. "For...me?"

Mai's gaze drifts to those enemies Mikoto has earned for her actions, to those implications of assaults and murders. Memories come to mind of endless torn clothes, endless stained uniforms, and just how long the war for Eri's morality lasted. "You fought...you did all those things...for my sake?"

It's not a warm voice. It's one that's rising in volume and pitch and panic.

"I never asked for that!" Temper explodes as Mai takes a step forward, a puddle splattering at her footfall. Another, and another, with each punctuated sentence. "Protecting Eri-chan's chance to choose a path - it was hard enough to look away from that - but the fighting was supposed to be over, Mikoto! Those grudges were supposed to be done already!"

Her hands tremble in fists by her sides, standing in the damp, the echoes of nostalgic and recent arguments both ringing in her ears. "You weren't supposed to do things like this - you were supposed to be better than me!"

<Pose Tracker> Fate Testarossa [Infinity Institute (5)] has posed.

"I'm not asking you to do nothing!" Fate protests, as she lowers her blade, listening to Mai and Mikoto behind her - but she can't follow the thread of conversation - not entirely. She's wholly focused on Endo right now. "And I'm not ignoring it-!"

<No Sir.> Bardiche answers to Fallen Stern. In his own simple way.

"I was your enemy too. Don't you remember?"

She says as she meets his eyes head on. She understands the convictions that Endo is wrapping himself in. She meets them head on. "We lost Sayaka because... there was something bigger going on that we don't understand. We still don't understand it. Mikoto isn't responsible for that."

Lowering Bardiche's Zanber mode at a low angle, so close that it forms a connection between the pavement, small arcs of lightning conjoining it to his long greatsword blade. "If we let- grief drive us... then we'll never understand. Nothing will ever change."

The smaller girl stands there and bites down on the inside of her lip. "Endo... you have to trust me. I didn't understand before and I still don't understand now... not entirely..."

The girl heaves in a small breath, her cape fluttering in the charged atmosphere of the day. "... but... in a lot of ways..."

The child thinks back to her time growing up - training, wholly devoted to her Mother. She thinks of how Mikoto reacted.

How could Fate understand? Fate was five.

"... in a lot of ways. She's like me." Her eyes level on Endo, as she thinks of their time in the Lotus world - with a dream where Endo could stop fighting and be a normal boy again. Yet at what cost? "As I was back then - it was only a matter of time before... I did something that couldn't be taken back."

It's... a tough admission, but one she makes freely. "I could have put you in this position just as easily Endo. Please..." She says as she takes a step forward, something unthreatening, "...stop - before this drives you to do something you can't take back."

<Pose Tracker> Endo Naoki [Juuban Public School (12)] has posed.

"Fate..." Endo's voice is quiet, his weapon lowering to his side. It still burns with violet intensity, plumes of black and purple sheeting off the dark metal. His fingers still grip the weapon tightly, eyes meeting those of his young friend.

<DO NOT FALTER.> Fallen Stern warbles insistently.

Endo's gaze returns to Mikoto, dark eyes focusing on the girl with the obsidian sword once again. She seems so different now, just after a few words. His eyes turn toward Mai Tokiha after, the girl who crushed Mikoto with more deftness than he could ever muster.

He had convinced himself at Mikoto Minagi was a monster. He had denied the evidence, but it comes back now. The tears streaming from her eyes as they locked swords. The words of loyalty she spoke. And now, Mai provides Fate's proof of Mikoto's nature in the flesh. Everything that Fate Testarossa believes, it could be true after all.

He thinks of other things too. Lera and her assurances that everything would be alright. Ren and her own support. The Chevaliers and the belief that there could be a better way.

And then he thinks about the people he's lost.

Endo whispers, "I can't."


Purple light cuts through twilight, exploding outward in a violent arc.

<Pose Tracker> Endo Naoki [Juuban Public School (12)] has posed.

When the weapon falls there's a gap to the left of Mikoto, a long line of sheered concrete and bisected metal. Purple flames burn in the wake of that deadly arc, but none touch the girl that slumps just several feet away.

"I can't." He repeats.

Can't fulfill the contract. Can't let down the people who he believed in and believed in him. Can't forsake the best ideals of the departed, and the last message from a father:

You should always take care of other people.


Again, violet light. This time it burns across Endo himself, light sheeting off his barrier jacket and extinguishing abruptly after. The sword becomes a stone, jagged and lifeless. There are no knights here now, no soldiers. Just Endo.

"I'm done."

<Pose Tracker> Mikoto Minagi [Ohtori Academy (11)] has posed.
<SoundTracker> Les Friction - Love Comes Home https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mAOMYf7pxqU

Mai never asked, and...

Mikoto's gotten a little better at telling her, since Shinjuku. She still doesn't share everything, but... she's tried to make it more clear. She tried to tell her about the weight bearing down on them. She tried.

Maybe she didn't try hard enough. Maybe she was too scared of what Mai might think.

'I would have had to be a monster to help her.'

Maybe she already knew.

Mai storms forward, and Mikoto draws into herself, bowing her head in trembling deference. She nods, numb, as Mai asks, and does not fully realise what she asks. She's still helpless; she still can't beg for mercy. Mai is angry because the fighting was over. Mikoto cannot find the breath to say that she did not seek out this battle.

(Mikoto does not realise what drew Endo to her.)

She flinches as Mai admonishes her, a motion carried further by the way Mai admonishes herself. Her breath catches in her throat. Mai condemns herself and in that moment brings herself into question, and it is a painful, painful thing to think that perhaps the girl who guided her to good things was not so good at all.

Mai is a good person; Mikoto is not.

Mikoto can't be better than Mai. It's too much to ask.

"I - I can't," she says, and her voice is small and she is small. "'Cause, it already can't be taken back." Oh, she hears Fate, too. She hears them all.

Because little girls named Shigeko aren't alive any more, and because Yumi was trapped under a tree she felled. Because Mami learned to fear her. Because Endo was battered with spires designed to destroy titans. Because she brought Miroku down on Peridot with singular intent. Because she would have torn Reinforce to nothing. Because she fell on Vita without realising what she was doing. Because she mercilessly advanced on a fallen Cure Passion. Because she punished Fate for trying to save her. Because she discarded what few ethics she had to fell Sayaka as a normal girl. Because she cleaved into Cassandra and Kozue despite her feelings.

Can she even say she did what anyone would do to Westar? He is worth opposing, but she did so much more than that. She went so much further than that.

She's always crossing the line.

"... I'm supposed to do this stuff," Mikoto says, dismal as she looks to the ground. "I can handle it... Mai can be normal..." And she should not have tried to join her in that world. She swallows against the lump in her throat, eyes squeezing shut for a moment. "I love Mai, so I want to protect..."

And perhaps it brings to mind blankets on a rooftop.

Perhaps it becomes clear just what Mikoto's protection means as purple light arcs towards her - and without thinking she is bending in the water, without thinking she is throwing herself to the side, without thinking she rolls and rises. The attack did not hit her. The attack could not hit her.

He could not bring himself to hit her.

It is only when she realises she is safe that she relaxes from the tension which has seized her, that her eyes break from her blade and the only thought running through her head of how quickly she can get to it.

'I can't.'

Perhaps that's why Endo's stronger.

"I could," Mikoto says as she lets out a breath, sags against the cooling concrete, and there is nothing threatening to the admission. Neither can she give it in shame, though there is a sadness to the way she looks to Mai in the aftermath. "I did." And what she says and what she means - perhaps they don't always align.

It's how they met, after all.

Both times.

<Pose Tracker> Fate Testarossa [Infinity Institute (5)] has posed.

Trying her best to follow along with Mai and Mikoto, the child flinches at Mai telling Mikoto that.

Fate's known Endo for a while now. Not enough that she can always tell what he's thinking. Enough though. She came to know him in battle - and came to know him better in the quiet moments between battles. And came to know him more in the LOTUS world where his ideal reality came true.

She doesn't predict him though right now. She perhaps thinks she's reaching him - more and more - and then the purple twilight cuts down - and there's a gasp from the girl, who even as fast as she can be - can't move to prevent it.

Her head whips around, twintails following in the rotation as she looks at how purple flame leaves a line in the concrete - and Mikoto has dove off to the side. And her eyes slide back to Endo in a sudden shock.

And she sees the tears in his eyes. She takes a moment to make certain the battle isn't about to be rejoined. Then she slowly steps forward, and puts an arm around his side. She has to reach up just a little to the small of his back. As her gauntleted finger's come to rest right there.

"You're not worthless for stopping."

Fate says quietly, feeling a certain empathy for him in this moment. Because she knows what it's like.

"You never could be."

And then she whispers the words she always hoped to hear from a certain someone. And never did.

"I'm proud of you."

Mikoto may say 'I could' behind her. However Fate turns her head and looks back at her, from the side. There's something sharp in her eyes...

"I know you think that."

... and just in a few short seconds the look she has in her eyes...

...it becomes more like pity.

"I know."

<Pose Tracker> Mai Tokiha [Ohtori Academy (12)] has posed.
<SoundTracker> Fall Out Boy - Fourth Of July https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f_TiiEoR364

She's tired, and hungry, and so very angry at everything. Maybe if any of those weren't true, this meeting on a rainy night might have gone differently.

But maybe that would just be delaying the inevitable.

Mai is barely paying attention to Mikoto's opponents (enemies), with how intense and horrified her stare at Mikoto is. Maybe she could appreciate the fact that the Sayaka problem is resolved - but the Chevaliers are grieving, and it's not entirely clear that Mikoto isn't responsible.

Her eyes widen at that little subtlety, the small little truth that some things can't be taken back. It's true enough - there are things done and things undone that haunt Mai's own past.

Challenging, attacking Mami late one night out of a pure personal grudge. Unleashing Kagutsuchi's rage in places best left unburnt. Failing to watch a little brother. Just to name a few

She has her own regrets, but hearing Mikoto admit to them too shatters a hope, leaves Mai's heartbeat pounding in her ears.

"...what kind of..." The whisper escapes Mai's lips, but the question dies unanswered at Mikoto's self-judgment. Mai staggers forward, bereft of the furious intent that fueled her last few steps, as if wishing to get a closer look at the girl she's been sleeping with for a year and a half.

Or maybe just really seeing her for the first time.

"...how could you think that that's-" Mai bites off her first condemnation abruptly, as Endo lashes out to resume the fight. For a moment, a purely hopeful moment, Mai turns her ire on the boy here - turns a glare at the idiot who tried to resume hostilities.

The glare turns to something simply wary, though, as the sword and armor vanish, as peace is given a grudging chance. One source of bloodshed, at least, is out of the way - but the more likely one remains.

Mikoto is all too close to Miroku - though perhaps she can seldom be said to be far from it.

"...maybe I made a mistake." It's cold, it's wet, it's late - for myriad reasons, Mai's shoulders slump at Mikoto's admissions. "I never wanted anyone fighting for me, Mikoto. I never wanted anyone protecting me."

She turns sharply away from Mikoto's gaze, turns away from everyone's gaze. Nails digging into her palms, she swallows heavily. "I wanted to see you living a nice, normal life. If that somehow made you think that was worth love, made you want to fight for my sake..." She flinches, a lump in her throat. "...then yeah, I made a mistake."

Mai takes a shallow breath, then another, and another and another and then the accusations just spill out as she whirls on Mikoto. "So what now, then? Am I going to have to follow you around to keep that sword from getting bloody again? Desperately try to fix whatever twisted idea of love you came up with? Add all your sins to the pile I already have to atone for? Or is it too late?! How many bodies-" She bites off the question, covering her face with one hand, practically clutching at the dampness.

There's silence in the wake of those words, broken by a shuddering exhalation. Mai turns fully away from Mikoto, her steps having passed through anger into resignation. "Don't bother coming home tonight, Mikoto. I can't deal with you."

<Pose Tracker> Endo Naoki [Juuban Public School (12)] has posed.

"Thanks." Endo says to Fate. He can't manage a smile, his eyes turned down toward the dim stone in his hand.

His eyes rise to regard Mikoto again. The words that Mikoto speaks aren't assuring, but his decision is made.

"I'm going." And he does. Maybe another day he could manage more. Today, he's done enough.

<Pose Tracker> Mikoto Minagi [Ohtori Academy (11)] has posed.
<SoundTracker> Nightwish - Ghost Love Score https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uN3yqMr3ffY

Here is what I am, Mikoto says, with inexpert words. Please love me. Please help me. I am afraid, and I am alone. I am not like you but I am trying so hard.

But what she says and what she means don't always align.

Mai made a mistake.

'I never wanted anyone fighting for me, Mikoto. I never wanted anyone protecting me.'

'You deserve better than being my assassin.'

And she does not understand. She doesn't understand what she's done wrong. She did everything she could to help them - all she could do to help them - and they don't want it. Eri rejected everything Mikoto could offer her, and now, Mai, too --

She does not understand because she tried, she tried to be a normal girl and Mai told her not to try, didn't she just tell her not to ever try to be a girl like her? A girl from Tokyo who does not react on instinct to danger, who does not cut down her enemies without hesitation?

But it's just as she says, Mikoto realises, as she looks up to her with wounded eyes.

Even if she managed to do the impossible, it would not have been worth Mai's love.

Mai regrets inviting her devotion.

Mai regrets her.

Mikoto does not think in this moment that perhaps Mai is like her, too.

She whirls and Mikoto shrinks back, breath shallowed over open lips. Fear and sorrow both are writ in the tension of her brow, the way her lips shudder as her chest rise-falls too too fast. With each question the expression crumples a little more, another little shade of horror in its strain. Teeth exposed by the fall of her jaw, eyes wide and so, so bright. Bright with tears.

All she meets as Mai breaks the silence is resignation, as if she is not even worth being angry at any more.

"Mai... my love's no good?" Asks a monster made of love and obsidian blades.

"... I'm a burden?" Comes the second realisation, as she processes what it means for her to have to mind her, to be forced to atone for Mikoto's sins. (Amongst others, she hears and does not realise.)

"Mai... don't want me around..?" Bad things come in threes, and so do her conclusions. They are fragile words, bird-boned and breakable.

Here the tears well overmuch, and they fall with a miserable sound, at first a shudder-hitch which descends into sobbing, loud and pained as she wails her sorrow to the sky. She is unresponsive, kept in the thrall of her grief.

The sounds echo through the night for some time.

Eventually they quiet; eventually she sways standing. Eventually she pulls Miroku from the concrete; eventually it drags a long thin line through the ground as she stumbles into the night.

Eventually she will remember to put it away.

It hardly seems like it matters.

She's never belonged in this place.