2019-07-21 - Mochi and Demarcation

From Battle Fantasia MUSH
Jump to: navigation, search
Title: Mochi and Demarcation

Mikoto and Setsuna do not eat together.


Mikoto Minagi and Setsuna Meioh


Akihabara Electric Town

OOC - IC Date:

07-21-2019 - 06-17-2015

<Pose Tracker> Mikoto Minagi [Ohtori Academy (11)] has posed.
<SoundTracker> Homestuck - Sweet Dreams, Timaeus https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GhVCvz1sRdw

'It's on him that he chose duty over you. You were a child and it should have been his responsibility to protect you - and he didn't.'

Mikoto wants to deny it as another attack, but it's just too hard. (It's supposed to be easy to shoot the messenger.) They're feelings she's barely gotten to process - the way they haven't talked about it, here in his Palace.

Maybe that's why she talked about it, out there in Tokyo.

She was afraid her Lord Brother would be displeased, but he smiled the same magnanimity she has always known from him. He just seemed concerned, when he saw how troubled she was. Because he loves her, she insists, to herself; he cares about her; he's good for her.

He didn't make her talk about it, and it's got to be a relief.

She's curled into him on his throne, now, resting against his side. Small hands ball loosely into his jacket; his are broad and strong, and one plays idly through her hair, soothing the pain he can see so plainly. His heart beats, slow and steady, and by now hers has matched it in its edges. There are no more tears on her cheeks. He wiped them all away.

(They're his, now, each glittering jewel.)

"Mikoto," he murmurs, low in his chest, and she feels it as much as she hears it. Her eyes blink open, and gold meet gold, so terribly bright. He looks at her as if she is his world; she knows he is hers. Gently, broaching no argument: "It's time."

And she can't feel sad or vulnerable any more, because he has taken care of her, and now she must take care of him, in complete equity. She can't, and by his side she does not, looking up to him with determined devotion. "Yes, Lord Brother."


Not only does Mikoto's assault not work, striking in Akihabara just means that everyone decides it was a cosplay shoot with amazing special effects by the end.

But that's fine.

She doesn't have to kill them. She just has to make them suffer.

She flees the scene just as soon as it's obvious it's not going well, and she pretends she isn't miserable.


Here's what the magical girls don't see, when someone like Mikoto makes her exit: the depletion. She is a furnace; she burns energy. She is more than they are, eyes which catch every detail in the half-light and glare of nighttime Tokyo, and it is not without cost.

It didn't get better, when she started to fulfill her true calling. It is a fundamental flaw in her design, the limitations lashing at excellence. She can no more overcome it than deny there is blood in her veins.

It's frustrating.

More frustrating would be collapsing in the middle of Tokyo - Mikoto knows what happens after that. (Mikoto knows what happens; Mikoto knows what she should know will happen; both are terrifying.) And so, after fleeing under a moonless dark sky, the Obsidian Lord's very own HiME does not go far. Far enough to evade immediate suspicion from the girls involved in the fight, at least.

And that's how a girl in full regalia - vambrace about her arm, spaulder across her shoulder, cape fluttering behind it, a sword-case on her other side - comes to stride into the KAWAII KOTATSU KAFE.

Its theme is right there in the name.

Of course, the kotatsu aren't heated, right now; it's summer! Regardless, it's a particular maid cafe with a lower turnout in these hotter months, which makes it the perfect place for /Mikoto/ to slip inside. They have fashioned their eatery like a dozen little loungerooms, separated from each other by sliding wooden doors; the maids themselves are all dressed up in overwrought pyjamas, as if they've all checked out for the day.

A woman in a fox kigurumi waves to her, cheerfully. "Welcome! Please --" Mikoto heads right for one of their lounge-booths. "-- oh, be seated... we'll be right with you!"

"Mm," Mikoto nods vague assent, a braid brushing over the scrapes of battle.

Well, she's not about to start trouble for people who are just trying to serve food.

<Pose Tracker> Setsuna Meioh [Infinity Institute (U)] has posed.
<SoundTracker> The Future Sound of London - Moments of Isolation https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_o6ElL7vsGg

At least one magical girl in Akihabara is not involved in the 'special effects extravaganza' at all; she is, instead, a few blocks away on her own mission. This is not so unusual for Sailor Pluto, Outer Senshi and Guardian of Time. She searches Electric Town tonight, as she has searched other neighborhoods in this nigh-endless metropolis on other nights: alone, from rooftops and alleyways, her progress meticulous and methodical.

It's beautiful out, warm and clear, and the breeze as it lifts dark strands of her hair feels pleasant. The Moon shows only her shadow to the Earth tonight, though, and Pluto feels her loneliness more keenly. She surveys the streets below and the city's nocturnal sorts from atop a bright "MANGA" sign the size of a small bus attached to the side of a building, trusting its red glare to blind passersby to her dark silhouette.

Such a very small span of time has passed since she last laid eyes on Hotaru Tomoe, at least in the grand scheme of things for the Guardian of Time. A blip, a sliver of a segment of an eyeblink amidst eons of experience.

Still it feels like it has been very long, indeed.

Having spent hours out and seeking, Sailor Pluto is forced to admit to herself that tonight is unlikely to change that. She will return to her Tower and her penthouse apartment, to spend the night's dwindling hours running simulations on her research desktop and poring over maps of the city, perhaps to permit herself a short nap before university classes in the morning...

Sailor Pluto drops straight down several silent stories into the darkness of an alley, with the comet's tail of her hair fluttering as she falls; there's a burst of dark illumination from the shadows; Setsuna Meioh strides out onto the sidewalk in a pastel violet skirtsuit.

Feeling a weariness she does not show, she punches a quick text into her phone to request her driver Etsuko come pick her up. The reply back is swift, giving an ETA twenty minutes. Setsuna is already striding through the doors of KAWAII KOTATSU KAFE as she reads it, eyes down on her phone screen. (They advertised marshmallow mochi in one of their larger window advertisements, and she can think of no better way to tip her driver.)

The woman in the fox kigurumi offers to seat her, which has Setsuna looking up again politely to demur and make a to-go order, and that's when she spots Mikoto in her booth. A short pause follows as she takes in the strange new garb... as she considers.

"No, thank you. I am here to join my friend." Setsuna says it because it has become true, in the moment.

A few moments later she is standing just outside Mikoto's booth, hands folded before her, still and unmenacing -- but also tall and unbending. "Mikoto-chan? May I join you?" The Outer Senshi has never been so casual as to just slide in and join without asking, but there is something more than politeness to the request tonight. She was not there when Mikoto attacked her friends, but she was there for Kasagami, after.

A certain awareness lives in her question.

<Pose Tracker> Mikoto Minagi [Ohtori Academy (11)] has posed.

Mikoto doesn't hear Setsuna talk about joining her friend, and has no cause to pour scepticism on the statement.

She doesn't hear her, because she walked straight into the booth and laid her head down on the table, nestled in the crook of her arm. It's fine, she assures herself. She just has to hold out a little longer.

She really should have gotten something to eat before. She just saw an opportunity and took it.

Thinking ahead has never really been her area of expertise.

She scrunches her eyes when she hears footsteps approaching, though - something doesn't /quite/ fit. With a little grumble, she straightens sitting, just in time to see someone who is distinctly not in pyjamas at the sliding door.

Her lips curl over her teeth, and her hand reaches back for the strap of her sword-case, where Miroku rests beside her just as she does. "You..."

Not 'Setsuna', with all the joy of meeting, but imperious and cool.

"Hello, hello!" Greets the enfoxed girl, waving behind them. "Is everything to your liking?"

Mikoto's lip scrunches at the corner of her face as she weighs her options, and finally she grunts affirmatively, waving a hand in weary acceptance. Palm down, movement at the wrist, it's the same motion used to urge someone forward.

She's too hungry for this.

"Well, how about I just give you the menus, here, and you can see what you want, okay?" The maid chirps, pushing two cutesy menus into Setsuna's hands before she hurries away to see to her other customers.

... customer.

The only other person here is a girl in cat ears at the other end of the cafe.

"Later," Mikoto says to Setsuna, with finality, once she's gone. "I'm eating now."

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

No shock rounds Setsuna's eyes when Mikoto snarl-greets her; she is not a person prone to shock, and what is more, this reaction, it is not unexpected. Saddening, yes. Unexpected, no.

Deeply worrisome? Absolutely.

Sadness is no stranger to Setsuna, and worry regarding Mikoto has a fresher sort of familiarity for her. Only... it has previously been worry /for/ Mikoto, and now it is also worry /about/ Mikoto.

She does not sit down after that cool 'You...' and hand-wave but does half-turn -- only half -- to listen to the fox-maid. Only half, because Setsuna knows well what occupies that case. Once upon a hospital visit she delivered Miroku's case to Mikoto. The girl and the yet-sheathed weapon stay in her peripheral vision thanks to battlewon caution another martial sort might notice and understand.

"Mm," comes the polite and utterly unresponsive sound to the maid's first question, and, "Thank you, we shall," upon receiving the menus. The maid hurries away, and Setsuna remains standing at the booth's edge.

"Later for... what? For you to come after me?" Garnet eyes do not leave Mikoto, now, not even for a moment -- as unwavering as her words.

And then the ever-polite and respectful senshi does something which may be unexpected. Mikoto has not indicated she can sit down, has demonstrated through /ample/ body language that company is not welcome. Setsuna sits down anyhow, sliding into the booth seat across the table.

She holds out one of the menus to Mikoto rather than dropping it on the table between them, and points out, "You are not eating yet."

<Pose Tracker> Mikoto Minagi [Ohtori Academy (11)] has posed.

Setsuna doesn't turn her back on Mikoto.

Mikoto can respect that.

It's much more sensible than - than approaching her and asking if she wants a /hug,/ Eri.

"I don't have orders." Gold meets garnet, and she meets her unwavering question with an impassive reply. In its strictest sense it is true: she has not been ordered to come after Setsuna, /specifically./ "But if you're here to stop me, choose better place." Does she just not like fighting around food..?

Fashioned after a kotatsu, these booths are low to the ground, cushions rather than chairs; thankfully, the heater isn't switched on, under the table. For a long moment she just stares at the offered menu, eyebrows raising, her top lip tensing.

She does not take it. Perhaps it's a mercy. It didn't go well, last time someone tried.

She grunts accord to Setsuna's next point, at least, with a small nod, and folds her hands on the table. It's the first gesture she's made which makes any peace at all, because they're where she can see them.

A short while later - is she the only person working out here at the moment?! - the girl in fox kigu returns to the door of their booth, smiling, brightly. "What can I get you?" She asks, smiling.

"Anything's fine," Mikoto replies, short but polite. "... just nothing spicy."

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

"Stopping you is not what brought me to Akihabara, or even into this cafe. As for why I came to your table..."

The eternal observer bends her attention to Mikoto's impassive affect, her movements, and finds it all too easy to reconcile this red-trimmed girl in the booth with the friend-focused aggression she heard tell of. Setsuna lets that sentence end unfinished, and instead says, "Orders from your Lord Brother. You found your purpose, after looking for so long."

She smoothly retrieves the menu after holding it out for a few seconds, untouched by awkwardness, and flips it open to scan the offerings. Both of her hands are in sight as well, her wrists against the kotatsu-table's low edge. Bright and cheerful treats fill the laminate pages, but by the sad solemnity of her face Setsuna could be browsing coffins instead.

"I would like an order of marshmallow mochi for carry out, please. And a cup of green tea, for now." She orders no sweets to eat alongside Mikoto, not this time, just something slightly bitter for herself. The maid's left to figure out for herself what to do with Mikoto's order.

Setsuna waits until she's out of earshot again. "I wonder why your Lord Brother wants your friends hurt. You know most of us would help you, if you only asked. Yet he calls us enemy. He must be very sure we would oppose him, no matter how well you are loved." Setsuna presses her lips together until they make a thin and dark-painted line.

"Your duty must be grave, Mikoto-chan," she says finally. The Outer Senshi knows something of grave duties and the opposition they generate; she and Mikoto have spoken of such, many times. Despite how guarded the Guardian is, that honorific is still warm as she speaks it.

<Pose Tracker> Mikoto Minagi [Ohtori Academy (11)] has posed.

"Yes," Mikoto replies, when Setsuna sums up where her orders come from. Not 'yup,' the way she says when she's happy. Not 'yeah,' in that casual manner she had even when things were hard. It's more removed, more practiced.


When they make their orders, the kigu girl claps her hands together. "Alrighty! It won't be too long!" And hurries off --

-- in the back room, muttering, "why can't any of these cosplayers break character and just tell me what they want, one of these days I'm gonna just, I swear to God," --

-- but that's how the sausage is made. Back in a booth designed like a family lounge, Mikoto listens to Setsuna's thoughts. She does not interrupt; she considers them. Finally she reaches her conclusion, and Mikoto's gaze slips from her, glancing aside to the black of Miroku's case.

She's tired. It's in the little things: the slight dip of her eyelids, the way her shoulders rest forward instead of sitting straight, the splay of her fingers.

There is interesting crossover, in the body languages of weariness and woe.

'You didn't do anything wrong - but if you keep thinking like that... ... that the rules are more important than the people you love. One day you're going to do something that would be... very difficult to take back.'

With words chosen carefully, and a tone more distant than cold: "I'm prepared to obey any order." In this at least she is sure Setsuna will understand: Setsuna has always understood duty.

And she's still calling herself her friend. She's still referring to her so warmly.

Mikoto shuts her eyes, briefly, breathes in, breathes out. She's just hungry, she assures herself. It's not affecting her, not really.

Those terrible gold eyes open; she looks to Setsuna again, grim in her determination. "Would you," she replies, not quite a question. "You'd help me... even though I'm Dark Fall?"

Maybe it's affecting her a little.

She shouldn't really be provoking her enemies like this, right now.

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

She notices the change in diction, much like she noticed that hand upon Miroku's case. And she notices the slumping of shoulders. Setsuna's own rise square and straight; her weariness, she contains far more tightly than her woe.

A slow nod, one communicating that expected understanding, follows when Mikoto says she is prepared to obey any order. In her stillness and her patience she waits while Mikoto's eyes close, understanding, too, that the other girl is not finished speaking yet.

When she does, Setsuna's eyes at long last widen from their naturally narrow state. She doesn't move otherwise -- this is, indeed, when her stillness becomes so complete it is noteworthy.

It is but a moment, a long and singular moment, between them. It changes nothing, and it changes everything.

Setsuna inhales. She shakes her head, slow as the nod, her eyes never leaving golden ones. This makes it easy to see how they narrow again.

"No," she says, as direct an answer as Mikoto's 'Yes' was.

It is, however, less distant somehow. There's a tightness to Setsuna's smooth low voice, one which expresses the sensation deep in her chest. "No, Dark Fall will never have my aid, however I care for you. I have my duty, too, Mikoto-chan."

It's still there, the honorific -- it and the sorrow. Unchanged.

"Your Lord Brother was right to name us enemies, however wrong his goals." Setsuna need not know any specifics of his plans to call them that, not in her judgment. Something implacable joins the sorrow, something the Outer Senshi has never directed at Mikoto before. Change.

Dark Fall...! She cages her horror -- the horror she feels for Mikoto, the horror she feels for them all -- because her friend is now also her enemy, and Setsuna Meioh has an unfortunate amount of experience in that. It means the firming of slowly lowered walls, a return of remove, among other things. She has her duty, too.

And her enemy is weary before her.

The air between them feels heavier, of a sudden. Setsuna Meioh's chin lifts... then lowers again. She shakes her head to herself.

To Mikoto, she says, "Later," in a conscious echo of the second word said to her, though without the hand gesture. Perhaps even soon. But not now, not in this kotatsu kafe.

<Pose Tracker> Mikoto Minagi [Ohtori Academy (11)] has posed.

No, Setsuna says, and Mikoto wonders for a moment if it is answer or denial.

No, Setsuna says, and there's this slight upturn of her brow, a minute softening of her eyes, a little tightness in her throat.

No, Setsuna says.

Mikoto couldn't.

And she proceeds with her answer, and Mikoto's lips tighten against each other. Setsuna is implacable, and those golden eyes narrow, chin tilting askance.

She has never assessed Setsuna in such a way before, waiting for the moment she'll strike.

She has never looked upon her like an enemy before.

Her hands are tight on the table, now, in this moment, as they calculate. She sits straighter. Finally Setsuna breaks it, shakes her head, and Mikoto's weight settles back again. She breathes out.

Twists the knife of her own fear. "Learn to hate me." If Eri would hate for her to say it; good. She's supposed to. "I can't protect you no more."

She does not catch the ways she has betrayed herself, her particular choice of verb.

Nor the other.

At this point, the waitress bursts in again. "Thanks for waiting!" She chirps, sliding over two cups of green tea, and two serves of marshmellow mochi, to go. "Let me know if you'd like anything else!"

"I'm grateful," Mikoto says, to her, as one does when receiving food, and the waitress smiles and hurries out, sliding the door closed again.

Mikoto takes a bite. Slow, methodical. It is not the way Mikoto Minagi eats. She does not devour her food, even now she's hungry. She tastes the sweets, and the sorrow in her eyes is unvarnished.

It tastes good.

Chew, swallow. "Stay - if you want." There's a little beat between one word and the rest, as if it might have been a period. A longer, before she adds: "... Sailor Pluto."

She can't protect them any more.

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

Not once since sitting down has Setsuna's right hand strayed far from her violet suit coat pocket, where she keeps a transformation pen adorned with her planetary sigil. Nothing in her relishes this, but neither does the serious-minded senshi rail against it. She is, perhaps, too accepting of terrible injustices in this world.

But Setsuna has her duty, and Mikoto hers.

"Hate you? No." The implacable thing about Setsuna now is her empathy. She hears her friend in those revealing words, but hears something else, too. A frightened and fleeing Mikoto comes to mind, and the reason she fled...

How long has Mikoto been protecting them all?

Two teas arrive and one, at least, is fated to cool untouched by its recipient. /Dark Fall/. Setsuna knows what she should be doing, right now: she should be reaching into that pocket and taking on this newly revealed threat in this time of her apparent weakness, take whatever slight advantage to try and eliminate this agent of darkness.

She is not doing so, but neither can this be like all the other times they have shared sweets over deadly serious conversation.

At Mikoto's invitation, Setsuna slides free of the booth and unfolds to her full willowy height, only to dip in a bow which is abbreviated by vigilance -- Mikoto never leaves her sight, now more than ever. "I cannot."

Is it a sense of duty which drives Sailor Pluto from the table of her enemy, or is it the ache of a heart too loyal to stop thinking of Miroku's swordmaiden as a friend? Setsuna knows it is both.

"...Mikoto-chan. Until we meet again." She picks up her wrapped marshmallow mochi and drops a generous amount of yen in one motion. A half-turn and long stride allows Setsuna to give their hostess a polite "Arigatou gozaimasu," and a smooth dance-like pivot takes her the rest of the way to the door with a flourish of evergreen hair.

The shutting cafe door finally severs their eye contact.

<Pose Tracker> Mikoto Minagi [Ohtori Academy (11)] has posed.

'I cannot.'


It's a strange way for Mikoto to say that, too. Something about the tone, like she's echoing something else now.

She can rely on Setsuna, at least, to know the line between them, where they stand and what they must do. Even if she refuses to feel the way Mikoto thinks she should for her enemies, Mikoto was able to push her this far.

She wasn't honestly asking Setsuna to stay.

She wasn't.

Setsuna leaves and Mikoto watches, twin specks of gold, and she does not wish her well in turn, does not say another word. Once she is gone she returns her attention to her mochi, bite, chew, swallow.

It's some time, reflecting over what she has said, before she realises her error.

"I don't want to," she mutters, to herself, stubbornly. "I don't /want/ to protect you."

She tries not to think about a vague note in a window, penned by Mikoto's own hand. /I kept yours./

Mikoto has always hated the vagueness of pronouns, but context supplied meaning: your secrets.

They loved her, and trusted her, and she...

It's fine, she assures herself.

It's not like her Lord Brother has ordered her to say anything.

It's not like she's been protecting them, blade-edge turned aside, always some reason to stop short and retreat.

It's not like they still matter.