2019-05-14 - Intermission 2: A Small Happiness

From Battle Fantasia MUSH
Jump to: navigation, search
Intermission 2: A Small Happiness

Madoka and Mai talk about life over parfait.


Madoka Kaname, Mai Tokiha


Linden Baum

OOC - IC Date:

5/14/2019 - 06-02-2015

<Pose Tracker> Madoka Kaname [Ohtori Academy (10)] has posed.
<SoundTracker> A Small Happiness https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_DZCE9K6gfA

Waitresses at Linden Baum don't do a lot of food preparation, but there are one or two major, cute exceptions, and foremost among them are the preparations of parfait. Having those frothy confections MADE by the cuties in the uniforms is part of their sales appeal (this is also why they pull shots of espresso and make fancy coffee drinks).

It must be a really busy day because the need for sundaes is apparently endless. Sunlight is pouring in through the big glass windows that dominate the space -- the first kiss of summer, maybe, putting everyone in that choco-cream mood?

Fortunately, there's a lot of staff, so instead of being asked to rush around taking or delivering orders, two waitresses have been put to the task of a full-time parfait assembly line.

Curiously there aren't any actual instructions, but in this dreamy place, where neither of them belong anymore, that doesn't matter. There is just a broad stainless-steel counter, unlimited bowls of vanilla soft-serve, and a rainbow of toppings. What they make from here is, ultimately, just to them.

Madoka crushes a few raspberries by accident, in between picking them up and sprinkling them over a bowl, and smiles in a contented way as she looks down at the stains on her palm.

She is visibly resisting licking it off. Health codes.

"You always were better than me at this, senpai," she remarks to Mai, who's standing next to her, without jealousy, and without embarrassment either. There's an ease to her right now that's uncharacteristic, a sort of comfort within her own skin.

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

Some tasks always called for just a little bit of dramatic flair, a bit of a show. That little flourish before delivering a dish, or adding a special swirl to the steamed milk, or telling a small child that there's a secret to that slice of cake.

To say that she grew to resent the theatrics would be a bit of a stretch, but some days they took a bit more effort for Mai. Just a little bit less luster, just a bit more hesitation. It still had to be done, but some days were harder than others.

This must be a good day, though. Mai is laughing as she tries to drizzle an intricate spiral of chocolate sauce over a final layer of whipped cream. Tries might be the word - she keeps glancing over to her kouhai's battle with the raspberries, and what should be elegant has turned into a much weirder spiralling pattern.

It can't be changed now, though, so onto the shelf it goes. Someone will wonder, and then it'll be eaten.

"It's just practice, experience, how many of these jobs I've had." Unlike her adorable kouhai, Mai does seem a little embarrassed by the flattery. She tries to cover it by accepting the bowl from Madoka, carefully spooning in and smoothing out a layer of vanilla soft-serve. "I know you weren't sure of yourself starting out, and there were a lot of things that went wrong early on."

She hesitates for a moment, unsure which option from the rainbow to choose next. Eventually she goes for the lemon curd - a little sour, but likely to pair well with the fruit. "You stuck with it, though. That's what's most important - stick to it, and soon you won't need to look up to any senpai!"

There's a hint of a grin as Mai passes that parfait back. She grabs a fresh bowl, and starts another basic ice cream layer. It's easier, admittedly, than picking which topping to start with.

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

Madoka's smile softens further, like a bowl of the good stuff, set out in the sun. In a few minutes it's only a fine line and a little bit of texture away from being soup, but it's so, so good. The perfect temperature.

"Thanks," she says, as she switches from raspberries to slices of banana. She tosses them like frisbees. Not too hard. They... MOSTLY go on bowls of ice cream. She never would have been that sloppy at their real job. She never would be enjoying herself quite so much, though, either.

She nods, her fluffy twintails bouncing alongside her face. "Thanks," she repeats, more firmly.

Abandoning her toppings for a moment, she uses her clean hand to scratch nervously at the pink tufts of hair springing from the nape of her neck. "That isn't really what I meant, though. Not how good you were at cooking... but how good you were at sharing your feelings with people, through cooking. I always really admired that."

She's seen a lot of Takumi's lunches, and Eri's lunches, and Mikoto's lunches, over the last couple years.

"It's... important, huh? To let people know you care..."

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

Have you ever seen a banana fly?

The job is a job, and maybe that's all it was supposed to be - but maybe a little bit of fun is allowed. Ducking one stray banana slice, Mai sighs. "Well, if that's how we're going to play it...too many people are ordering these as it is."

The whipped cream has a very big spoon, and is fairly stiff. Practiced skill could probably land a spoonful perfectly into a parfait bowl.

But perfection is boring. The spoonfuls Mai tosses are...a little more accurate than the banana frisbees, but not by much.

Once the fun's done, though, Mai does go to start evening out the cream a little bit, pausing to brush hair away from her ear. The feather-shaped pin that was there all along gleams in the summer light as she considers the question.

"I kind of want to call that practice, too. It's been years since my brother and I have been able to talk properly - things just got too painful. Telling him I cared didn't seem right, so...I tried to show it." She starts dropping cherries onto the cream, one bowl after another, not really caring where they land.

Wasn't it supposed to be one per parfait? A shame there's no recipe.

"It's kind of hard to tell if those kinds of actions get noticed - if a homemade lunch made that big a difference. But I guess...I guess I had to do something. Keep trying to connect." For a moment, Mai's out of bowls to decorate, and just rests her hands on the counter's edge.

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

Perfection is boring, but there's a tenderness to how Madoka applies herself to each of the bowls, now. Each one is unique, individual, but she adorns them all. A slivered almond here; a crumbling of cookies there. Bananas and cherries are two thirds of the way to a face, and there are a million kind of lips she can add. Orange slices. Gummi worms. Some of them have four red noses and one banana eye, but they're all beautiful, in the end.

"Mmm," she agrees with Mai, a little more softly this time.

Soon she will never be able to stop working again.

But this is not that time.

Not yet.

She wipes her sticky hand on her apron, and moves it next to Mai's. Lets their pinkies slide alongside one another's.

Madoka's is much shorter.

"I think it mattered," she says quietly. "Like it mattered when you came to my house, that day. I don't even know how Mama and Papa got ahold of you, but... even though, it was in the middle of everything... you were there."

She looks up, looks Mai full in the face.

"Thank you," she says, a third time.

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

They're precious. Each little one, each unique little whim and idea and spark of joy. Every one of those parfaits has gone from 'ice cream and fruit' to a little piece of artwork, and Mai can't help smiling at the sight of them all.

Their job says that these faces need to be delivered, forgotten so that more can be made.

For now, though, there's a moment where they can all exist here.

Mai Tokiha turns to face Madoka Kaname for the third expression of gratitude. For almost a third time, she tries not to let it land on her - but she can't ignore it, not face to face.

"...you're welcome. I just w-" She bites off a word, glances down, swallows. "I regret...that I couldn't do more. Everything was falling apart, but...grief can lead people to terrible choices. A promise made when everything's broken can become the most important thing, and..."

She looks at their hands, fixed on how small her kouhai's seems to be. "I'd hoped I could protect you from that kind of life." Lifting her chin, meeting Madoka's gaze again - it's hard, but she makes the effort. "I'm glad it mattered, though. That I could help my adorable comrade-in-waitressing kouhai."

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

"Nnn," Madoka finally disagrees, shaking her head without her expression fading. She's warm, and she's gentle, and most of all, she's so, so grateful. "You did protect me. Again and again, you protected me."

Her hand is over Mai's now. It can't cover it, but it can hold it.

"Now it's my turn..."

Now, at last, her smile is fading. Not her happiness -- it dwells inside her, now, joy with a life all its own. But something more solemn has stilled her eyes from dancing, even if they still shine.

"...but I can't do everything. It's... it's going to keep mattering, senpai. What you do. How you keep trying, and trying, and trying to connect, even though it's hard."

She squeezes.

"Don't stop practicing, okay?"

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

There were so many moments over the past couple of years. Burning warehouses and New Year's celebrations and schools invaded and trees run amok. So much - and so much Mai just put out of mind.

Mai turns her hand, just enough that she can hold Madoka's properly. It's small and important, just like those little bits of cookie that make the parfaits so special.

"To tell the truth, I...I'd hoped my turn was done, once. But there just kept being...more. More times to step up, even as the reasons started feeling less important." There's guilt in her eyes as she glances fleetingly away from that solemn gaze. "...but you're right. It's hard, but...I'll keep trying. I owe you that much, for what..."

She meets Madoka's eyes again, squeezing her hand in return, and then chuckles. "It never is fair, how all these heavy duties keep getting thrown on shoulders that shouldn't have to carry them. And yet...I find I can't bring myself to try to stop you. You shouldn't have to do this, but I'm so grateful that you are. I just regret..."

Mai takes a half-step back, turning away from the counter, gesturing beyond the kitchen with her free hand. "...that we didn't get to work together here longer. Sure, the management was awful, but I really regret not getting to know you better, Madoka-chan."

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

"I'm only allowed one wish," Madoka points out jokingly, her little smile returning. She follows Mai's gaze, which gives them both a little break that they clearly kind of need.

"But, uehihi, I'm really not very complicated... I think you saw all of me. Silly and scared and with skinny shoulders."

She steps away from the counter fully, leaving Mai with the bowls of friendly parfait, and turns to face the window.

The sun is beginning to set.

"No one should have to carry this stuff, you know?"

She takes a step towards the threshhold, then another, and looks back over her shoulder at Mai right there on the edge. The light shades her hair to the same color as her ribbons. They sparkle, and so does she.

Oh. There is no sun.

It's just her.

"That's why we all carry each other..."

And the warm light carries them away.