2019-10-21 - Options

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Title: Options

Mai tries to catch Mikoto. Mikoto can't let herself be caught.


Mikoto Minagi, Mai Tokiha



OOC - IC Date:

2019-10-21 - 2015-07-10

.***************************** Yamanote High City *****************************.
*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+ Shibuya Shopping Ward +*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+
 Any rural ingenue looking to come to the big city and get swept away at
 first sight would be well-advised to get off at Shibuya Station, where you
 could fill a high school yearbook with the people teeming over a single
 crosswalk, and a legion of ten-story department stores offer a choice so
 broad it resembles existential crisis. Shinjuku might administrate Tokyo,
 but Shibuya is its style capital. Its densest concentration of boutiques,
 retailers, and restaurants is bound together by Shibuya Crossing, a bustling
 pedestrian intersection resembling an even gaudier Times Square.

 Within walking distance to Harajuku, Shibuya is less whimsical, and far
 grander. Its most iconic symbol is the Shibuya 109 department store, a
 cylindrical grey monolith famous even outside of Japan. Each floor of 109
 has about a dozen shops, and with ten flights of escalator to ascend, it
 doesn't take a mathematician to realize that even this single store can be a
 lot to take in. But Shibuya too has its side streets and quirks, and it's
 not hard to find a chic little cafe to rest in. Those who find themselves
 energized instead have recourse to the night clubs that trade on Shibuya's
 stylish reptuation.

 Shibuya Station has a humbler landmark as well. It was here that the loyal
 dog Hachiko waited for his owner each day, even after the owner had long
 since died. A bronze statue of Hachiko waits here still, a reminder that
 love and loyalty never die.
*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+* Players +*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*

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

Shibuya is a busy sort of district. It's the best place for shopping, and the main streets always have a few dedicated travellers looking for good deals. But this late at night, there's less traffic on the streets - certainly still enough pedestrians, but a good deal more have found their way past Hachiko's loyal gaze to catch their trains home.

But those are the main streets; Shibuya, in the heart of the city, is home to many more than that. And there's a flash of black, as someone turns off the main road into one of those winding asides. Black skirt, black shirt, all in magenta trim...

Without her cape and spaulder, Mikoto could almost pass as a normal girl with eclectic fashion tastes.

She walks with purpose and she walks away.

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

The hour is late indeed; shops and family restaurants both are closing up shop for the night, and while salarymen might wander for hours yet the streets are largely quiet. Apart from commuters, bored curiousity is the only reason to be out and about.

Mai is neither bored nor curious; she is on her way home from work. Waitressing or staffing a register, it matters little - hours of mundane routine punctuated by argumentative customers. She's heading home, to where a dinner for one needs to be prepared...

A flash of magenta catches her eye.

It's eclectic and jarring and frames a familiar sight, and Mai hesitates only a moment before picking up her pace. Not running just yet - that might draw attention - but power-walking towards the girl who was always wonderfully abnormal.

Maybe Mai won't be cooking for one...

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

Footsteps echo, in the nighttime.

Mikoto hears the fall of a pace picked up, and almost imperceptably from her there's this little sigh, as if frustrated by the utterly mundane intentions of some civilian with a bad idea.

She keeps walking. It is not difficult for her to maintain a good pace, even walking.

She rounds the corner of a building, flat brick like something trying to be deliberately quaint.

And there, she waits.

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

She wasn't sure, at first, but Mai's feet are far more certain than her face.

Maybe this is a bad idea. Mikoto's said, again and again, that she's changed, that she's dangerous. Misled and watchful for a double-bluff, Mai missed seeing certain events in person - but she's heard just how dangerous her former companion can be.

And yet she follows, even as that cape flutters around a corner. A hasty pursuit, and she rounds the corner herself -

"Mikoto, wait-"

- what might it say of Mai's expectations that she was looking up toward the roof's edge as she rounded the corner, not to the ground below?

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

Someone rounds the corner, and the heel of Mikoto's palm flashes out --

-- and that's Mai's voice, calling for her to wait --

-- which means that the impact of shoving a girl up against the wall, hand to the brachial plexus by her shoulder, isn't the only one felt. Her other hand is already halfway up, to swipe away whatever ridiculous little weapon a late-night mugger thought they could get away with, except that Mikoto wasn't being followed for that reason at all, and that initial flash of irritation is flooded out by her shock.

The pressure at the base of her hand eases; her fingers tighten in the fabric instead. The fingers of her raised hand curl, pulling in on themselves. That intense expression is something complicated, for a moment, instinct warring with something a little less defined. Her lips part for shaky breath, too-bright eyes scanning her face.

All a sudden she realises her position, and the fingers buried in her fabric release and Mikoto roughly takes a step back, another, curling her hands in closer to herself as she looks away with a scowl.

"I told Mai to stay away from me," she says, and maybe it was meant to be intimidating but it just comes out unsettled.

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

A palm flashes out, shoving against a wall, striking at the breath of the one that followed. The followup strike to disable or worse never comes, though - and the opening that relaxation might leave finds no assailant.

Mai's hands never rose to strike - never rose to defend. She's pinned to the wall, and the eyes that Mikoto finds...

Relief and regret, just the same as they were long ago.

There's no space for words between their breath, what the two of them seek left unspoken - and then the moment passes, Mai's light cardigan left askew as she slumps against the wall.

Finding air of her own to breathe, for all that she had pursued, Mai doesn't look directly at Mikoto. Their gazes don't cross, now, and for a moment she seeks the stars above the rooftop. "I asked you to come home. I figure we're both bad at listening."

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

Why is it always those eyes?

Those are the only eyes Mikoto just can't stand to see her carnage.

One hand comes to hold the other - the one which grasped Mai just a moment prior. Her fingertips trail over her knuckles, as Mai looks to shining stars and Mikoto stares forlorn down at the ground.

"I did come home," she says, and there's something leaden about the words. "Every night... I come home... to my Lord Brother." The words have weight, and guilt is amongst the anchors. He is kind, when she comes back. He has always been so kind.

She can't possibly feel anything but good about that.

Which doesn't explain how subdued she is as she says: "That's all I can do."

Mikoto shakes her head, and looks back to that girl, first amongst girls, finally. "Mai..."

It wasn't so long, forever ago, that Mai told Mikoto what she ought to do if someone wasn't listening to how she felt.

She remembers. She just can't.

"... just let me keep Mai out of it," Mikoto says, finally, and there's a strained sort of edge to something which could almost be quiet enough to be pleading. "It's getting worse, Mai. I'm not... normal. There's --" her hands curl in, here, not grasping each other but instead clutching at the obsidian bead about her neck, "something inside me. It kills like me. And I can't stop it."

She looks away again, sadness shadowing her gaze. "... maybe it's just me without weakness. I don't know. I really... don't know."

Everyone says it isn't her, but from what little she remembers...

... it's not so different to being deep in berserkergang, is it?

"I... don't want Mai to..." For some reason that's a trailing sentence which pales her face in the moonlight, and her arms press in against her core and she shakes her head. Firm again, she insists: "Just listen to me."

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

Mikoto found her home, and it wasn't with Mai. That's an assertion that hurts worse than the bricks of the wall, a blow more breath-stealing than a trained assassin could manage.

Mai doesn't answer right away, because all she can do is not even that much. Silence hangs heavier than a wall between them.

Until Mikoto trails off. Until that command, in a direction different to what once was.

"...don't want me to get hurt. Is that it?"

For all her weaknesses, stubborn defiance is nothing new to Mai Tokiha. She lowers her gaze from the sky - the angle's wrong for even that one crimson star to see the two of them - and faces Mikoto more directly.

"...I know you've been raised differently, Mikoto. It's something I tried to put aside, tried to pretend wasn't there, but...I saw your claws before that day in the garden." A pause, to hold the unsaid things that happened afterwards. "If it's getting worse, if you're losing control more..."

A deep breath, hands unclenching to brush at the hem of her skirt. "...I can at least try to make sure you don't hurt anyone else. If you'll let me stay close."

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

Mikoto does not mention all the times she has lingered at the outskirts of the dorms, looked up at one specific balcony.

Just looked. There's no way she could climb up there. Not any more.

Sometimes she wonders if Mai closes the window these days.

But that doesn't mater.

Mai fills in the rest of Mikoto's sentence, and her brow draws in, sorrowful in its tension as her lips press together and her head inclines in something like a nod.

And Mai knew, so no wonder Mai... tried to control her, too.

Maybe everyone knew before Mikoto did. She thinks the thought and feels all the more miserable for it.

Mikoto looks to Mai, and there is something desperate, there, something wanting and lonely and sad. "I can't," she says, and her voice is thin like a glass of water spilt on the floor in an exuberant moment. "Mai, I'm meant to hurt people. That's why... it was different for me. Loving my Lord Brother, serving my Lord Brother... all so I wouldn't hesitate when I had to make everyone suffer."

She blinks, once and once again, because something damp has gotten in her eyes. "There's nothing I can do."

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

Things known, things suspected, things never said.

There's desperation in Mikoto's face, this mix of sorrow and pleading and maybe a little fury, and it's something Mai can't just fix. A hug might not be enough, might just drive her away, so she can't...

Summer's here, and the bright sunny days contrast harshly with those comparitively chilly nights. The sun has faded, and the chill is setting in - and despite the conversation, despite her cardigan, Mai shivers a moment. Her arms wrap around herself, then, in absence of anything better.

"...maybe that's true, Mikoto. Maybe that's what you've been intended for. But...we don't always do what we're supposed to, do we?" She should step forward, but she doesn't. She should reach out, but she needs the wall right now. "Maybe I should have stayed, or surrendered, or shushed - maybe I should have been honest to Takumi about all the HiME things before he found out on his own."

She can't keep her gaze on Mikoto after that admission - it flickers away to glare at some fallen bit of garbage on the ground. "...but at the same time, maybe I was supposed to focus on Takumi rather than make friends like you and Eri. Maybe I was supposed to work endlessly instead of going to those dances. What's intended for us is an option, Mikoto...but it's not the only one. It might be hard to do something else...even if it's better."

She laughs, once, and turns fully - not just her gaze, but turning her body partly away from Mikoto. "But what do I know? I made the mistake of driving you away, what kind of life advice can I give?"

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

Mikoto's eyes widen, as Mai admits issues with Takumi; her breath comes in sharp and lodges in her throat. All this time... was Mai dealing with that, too?

Was that why...

Mai looks away and Mikoto looks away; Mai turns away, and Mikoto turns away.

"Maybe I was supposed to," she says, quiet and dismal. "Learn everyone's secrets. How to hurt them." Her shoulders curl in around herself, a little tighter. "Or maybe I could've found him quicker if I didn't get distracted. I don't know. Lord Brother never told me. I guess I should just... know." As if it's her fault she can't divine the meaning behind his oblique statements.

Quietly, she adds, after a long moment: "... Eri says I should leave. But I can't, leave. I can't, Mai."

She cradles the pendant in a palm, eyes blinking shut. "I'm one of them, now. I'm part of Dark Fall. And my Lord Brother wants me by his side." A beat passes: "I belong there. I love my Lord Brother."

Mikoto glances back to Mai, along a shoulder, past a dangling braid. "... the only one I can love is my Lord Brother."

And there's something about the admission which aches.

"Eri's there for Mai. Takeo, too. Just - just live a normal life. I won't mess stuff up for Mai no more. There's some things... that can't change. Remember, Mai? When I wanted... so much... to save Eri, even when Eri couldn't be saved?" There's a little hitch to her throat, and she looks away, a hand rubbing at her face. A word she has picked up from somewhere: "I was, stupid. Someone like me could never make it better. This is all I can do for you, Mai. ... just this."

Her whisper is ragged: "Please."

And finally the tension is too much for her body to bear, and she starts running off, through those winding side-streets of Shibuya which are so quiet this late at night.

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

There's so much to learn, those secrets unearned.

A thousand regrets, those miswagered bets.

Mikoto's heart bared, if only Mai dared-

"...you can't know. Even if he's your brother, you can't just...know what he wants." A quiet objection to fill that moment - one with bitter weight behind it, a gravity too great for Mai to voice in the moment.

But maybe that's for the best. It involves a weakness, after all, and Mikoto is part of Dark Fall now. Secrets given to the enemy are dangerous.

Maybe treating her as an enemy would be easier. Maybe living that long-craved normal life would be easier. Maybe mistakes were made, in that long and brutal war - but Mikoto voices finality as she's leaving, too swift to refute or regret or anything-

A voice calls in Mikoto's wake, an assertion in final answer to the command that began all this.

"I was happier with you around!"

Maybe it's not an answer to the plea. Maybe it is. But the footsteps don't follow the words, and if Mikoto turns to view the speaker -

- with the company Mai keeps, is it so much of a surprise that she's picked up how to vanish around a corner?