2020-05-17 - Uminari Matsuri: Retto Contrario

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Title: Uminari Matsuri: Retto Contrario

Blue near a yellow appears most excellent, and Sayaka brought out excellence in Mami - but she left an impression on Mikoto, too. Two veterans remember someone still gone, and forge a path forward.


Mikoto Minagi, Mami Tomoe


Uminari Seaside Park

OOC - IC Date:

2020-05-17 - 2015-08-29

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


Sated by FESTIVAL SNACKS, perhaps Mikoto Minagi won't eat her own booth out of all its delicious food. That's not on purpose, or anything; there's no devious plan behind her quashed hunger. She just happened to run into a friend who was willing to enable her snacking.

That friend might have been someone she'd tried to kill, an aeon ago. But that's okay. This is a world where Mikoto and Endo can eat wispy wata-ame, like floss for fairies.

Now Mikoto weaves back through the lines of the festival path on her zori sandals, towards her booth, but it's not a laser-focused retreat. She's easily distracted by the feats of people attending those booths, shooting out targets or throwing hoops over milk-bottles. Or by the impressive spread of prizes. (She's carrying a ball in a cup, herself, and an ornate paper fan in her other hand, the kind with the nice wood slats. The orange dragon emblazoned on it doesn't really match her light blue yukata, but that's okay.)

She's also easily distracted by snacks.

There's always room for one more snack...

<Pose Tracker> Mami Tomoe [Ohtori Academy (11)] has posed.

Someone has to eat the festival snacks. The food wouldn't want to not be eaten, rigt? Maybe so. ...And friends can be kind of like that.

Mami Tomoe is on her way from farther out than Mikoto, maybe, and not carrying a ton of prizes. Does this mean she hasn't been playing yet? Or does it mean something rather different? For now, it is a mystery...

But nevertheless she stands out in her blonde drills, carrying a paper fan (ah! one prize!) that much better matches her light yellow yukata and proud red obi. Rather than being a prize, or a snack, however, she instead is turning just at the same time as Mikoto--

"Ah, excuse me," Mami says, as they do not run into each other through mutual being good at things. "Oh--"

It's Mikoto!

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

Sniff, sniff... is that ayu fish sizzling..? Tasty...

That's the shape of Mikoto's thoughts as she leans to the side, lips parting, turning mid-step to better look in that direction. It just so happens that someone happens to be in that space, but as she adjusts in one way Mikoto adjusts in another, taking a sweeping step to the left and in the process swivelling to see what just threatened her personal space.

It's a bit like a dance, really, except neither of them planned it.

The pleasant scent of flowers and that vague hint of something a little sharper beneath it belongs to golden borelike curls, and those mean --

"Mami," Mikoto blinks as all the information resolves in her mind, surprise blanking the vague feline sense of offence that she was almost seen running into something. (She would have apologised after - really! - but that first instinct is hard to shake.)

Maybe it's because it's Mami that the expected apologetic expression never resolves, and Mikoto just ends up looking kind of embarrassed, instead, glancing away and tapping at her cheek with the folded fan.

"Umm..." She hums awkwardness through her lips, for a moment, before she looks back up with all the resolve of someone who's at least going to give it a shot. "Having fun?"

<Pose Tracker> Mami Tomoe [Ohtori Academy (11)] has posed.

There are many snacks Mami Tomoe has yet to eat here, too, and quite a few she plans to. But she does one thing at a time, and until now that thing has been walking. Then it's not-walking, and maybe not every dance has to be planned but on the other hand they're not the likeliest pair.

"Minagi-san," Mami finishes her thought, "Hi." She wouldn't usually hesitate on a greeting like that but it took her a moment; after all, they have a... fraught history. To say the least. But after a moment Mami smiles, her drills bouncing lightly as she tilts her head to look over the other girl. "Yes," Mami says, "Though really I'm just moving through for the moment--I'm on my way through the festival. But even if i'm not stopping for everything interesting yet, it's a lovely atmosphere. You can really feel the festival spirit, I think."

Mami tries 'normal', where otherwise it might be awkward. It... might work? "You?"

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

Mikoto has tried to scare Mami many times; certainly she has been scary, in a more ambient sense. She isn't, now. It's in the way she averts her gaze, the tentative smile she wears afterwards.

She's trying!

She cants her head as Mami shares that she's just passing through, and this is an appeasing gesture, too, braids falling over her cheek, away from her neck - it's bare, now, after years of that mysterious red chord. She hums acknowledgement.

"Yeah," she confirms, and it's more comfortable but perhaps not the most comfortable Mikoto has ever been. "It's really fun! I played games with Endo! I won this for Mai!" She fiddles the fan open - she doesn't have the femme levels to snap it open - to show the coiling dragon printed on it.

Looking past her, for a moment, as if she could determine her route just by her progression, Mikoto asks: "So... where's Mami going?" If she's moving through the festival, she must have some destination...

<Pose Tracker> Mami Tomoe [Ohtori Academy (11)] has posed.

It's worked!! Mami herself has put on an intimidating mien to deal with Mikoto in the past. But they are both trying at the moment it seems--Mami can see that much in Mikoto's demeanor if she reads her right, which she... probably does. Probably.

The lack of the red cord helps.

"Oh, wonderful!" Mami answers, smiling back. "I haven't run into him here yet, but I hope to. And this..." She looks over the fan, a little closer, and then her eyes seem to sparkle a little in decision. "That will suit her quite well," Mami answers, and perhaps now Mikoto may realize that that spark... was being impressed by Mikoto's taste. "A lovely gift."

"I'm meeting a friend," she says, "Though I'm also planning to go back to this one adorable booth with cork guns..."

She could talk more about that--but instead of describing her friend she looks down thoughtfully and say, "You and Endo-kun, hm? ...My. The two of you getting along well enough to play games... It's really something, isn't it?"

She looks into nothing in particular. "...I wish we could all do the same," she says in a soft, wistful moment that is not hard to gauge as briefly very serious indeed.

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

"Really?!" Mikoto's eyes light up when Mami does, with that final evaluation, and she hums affirmation with a nod.

There might have been a time, before, when Mikoto would insist that Mami didn't know anything about Mai, and had no grounds to make those evaluations in the slightest. But hindsight is a broad thing, and it's not like Mami doesn't know the HiME at all, even if she saw a different angle to them.

She's not a stranger.

She grunts understanding of Mami's ultimate festival purpose, nodding again. "I'm going back to meet Mai," she shares, finds commonality in their tasks. "We're cooking!" That probably means Mai is cooking and Mikoto is... what does Mikoto do again?

(Trick question. Mikoto has actually gotten pretty good at food prep. Especially where eggs are involved.)

And there are people Mikoto can be expected to be with, and people which are more surprising, and she folds the fan again, poking the edge at the knuckles of her other hand. "It was hard to believe when Endo showed me that stuff... us being friends. But, this is a world where things can be like that!" Mikoto smiles, again: "I like it better this way."

The two of them have a common purpose, of course: they are going to meet people, and neither much planned to run into the other here. Still, there's something in Mami's wistfulness which makes Mikoto --

Oh, that's a weird feeling.

Mikoto is worried about Mami.

When does that happen?

Glancing away, and then back to her, her invitation is shy but nonetheless genuine: "... wanna sit down a minute?"


The festival is bustling, but Uminari Seaside Park is nonetheless a park, and it's not such a procession to take a detour which leads to a park bench. Most of the crowd is packed into those carless streets: there are still people passing by, here, but there is more the illusion of privacy than when one is being brushed past on all sides.

Mikoto sits on one end of the bench, her sword-case propped up beside it, leaning on the armrest; her purse rests on that side, too, pinned between herself and the end of the bench, while her festival prizes are on her other side, between her and Mami. Her short legs kick up and down, a little, as she tries to arrange her thoughts.

"What's it like?" She settles on asking, after a moment just long enough to be awkward, hands folding in her lap. It's an open-ended question. Maybe that's on purpose. They're not strangers, but they've never been friends before this, either.

<Pose Tracker> Mami Tomoe [Ohtori Academy (11)] has posed.

Mami inclines her head again to underscore her point: definitely. Oh, there certainly would've been that time--and in that time Mami would have been unlikely to dispense even warranted compliments Mai's way. ...Not that she's even being especially effusive right now or anything. But Mai's not here, so that's fine.

"That sounds nice," Mami answers, and does not know the depths of Mikoto's facility for egg preparation. If she did, perhaps she might find a good purpose for this skill herself sometime...

"Yes," Mami agrees with liking the world better that way--but when Mikoto asks if she wants to sit, and truthfully? She does, actually. "Just for a minute," Mami answers.


A bench is nice; Mami will keep her seat for a moment on the other side of the bench, and arrange her own thoughts. She seems to have had a little trouble for a little while, like something hurt, because...

"...It's like walking out into a cold day," Mami says, looking up. "...I'll be all right. It just still hits me sometimes... Her being gone. Sayaka-chan."

"I wonder... why I could come back, and not her? And I wonder about if it's fair. But it isn't." She sniffs faintly, but is largely composed, turning to Mikoto. "I'm fine most of the time but... I still miss her," she admits.

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

There's only one time Mikoto's heard that name - since the world rearranged itself, from its component parts.

'Yes, I taught you that. It was useful to me. I needed to kill Sayaka Miki, and there you were: a deadly weapon. You were ready to learn, though. You were willing to do anything...'

Is that strange?

Is it strange that, for all the horror and wonder Mikoto has seen and spoken of - there's one girl who's kept elided?

It is not as if Mikoto has not felt the legacy of Sayaka. She felt its effects in Eri, kneeling dogeza on filthy concrete; she felt its effects in Nori, who would not let it happen again. And Kozue, Kozue, who would not forgive her, who had good reason. But the name - the name! Oh, she has not heard the name!

Mikoto blinks but does not look away, does not do Mami that injustice when she finally turns to her. In her eyes is plain the way it hits her. Her lips part for breath, tug back rather than down, a screw tightening; perhaps that's not so different. But her eyes are not sharp with intent or malice, no - they soften; the slight lowering of her eyelids, the rising arc of her brow.

"It's... hard," she settles on, after a trailing moment. "I get Eri back, Eri gets Mami back, but Kozue doesn't get Sayaka back." There's something about that arrangement, those associations - she doesn't explain. Instead she amends her statement, slightly: "It... must be really hard."

With an unsettled noise in the bottom of her throat, Mikoto looks down at her hands, in her lap. "... I feel bad, too. I don't really think I ever would've been friends with Sayaka back then... 'cause Sayaka loved, justice, and protecting people, but even before the war I... defeated my enemies. But --" She shakes her head, and her braids whip at her face, one cheek and then the other. "But now I know more, and I can play games with Endo, and go to cat cafes with Nori, and get Lera ramen, and eat cake with Ren, and, and I can even talk to Kozue again! But I can't ever say sorry to Sayaka? I can't ever get to know Sayaka? I didn't know why the piano was such a big deal," and she sounds so honestly upset by that revelation, thready voice and white knuckles, "all I knew was Sayaka was my enemy!"

It's noise and volume which builds and suddenly dies again, in the still of the night, as Mikoto realises where her outpouring of emotion has taken her. She grunts, a hand coming up to rub at her upper arm, as she looks over to Mami again. "I... I wish she was here too," she admits, draws her conclusion, blinking glossy eyes.

<Pose Tracker> Mami Tomoe [Ohtori Academy (11)] has posed.

Perhaps it is strange. But maybe some things... Are hard to talk about. Mami is quiet for a little while still; she watches Mikoto, and internally, quietly, is struck by the way Mikoto is struck. It does not move her, itself--she is still in those next few moments, still and quiet like a flower silently waving in no real wind.

It's hard, Mikoto says, and Mami is silent still. It is hard. The way of phrasing those in particular, though--it sticks in Mami's mind, prickles the back of her neck in a knowing signifigance. It eludes her just what she's sensing, though.

"No," Mami agrees, and there is something complicated and quiet and sad in her voice. "Kozue doesn't get Sayaka back."

It must be really hard. That's true, too.

"Probably not," Mami assesses; if Mikoto has this kind of self-knowledge, it isn't Mami's place as... whatever she is now, to feed her happy lies about what might have been. Not when there is something real in the way Mikoto has changed, and the blonde actually stares at Mikoto for a little while in wonder. Her honey-gold eyes are soft, in that way; it's not the kind of expression she's shown Mikoto much. And they soften further still, at a different kind of mourning. "...You didn't get to think of it when it happened either, did you?" she realizes.

"...Yes," Mami says. "You really have changed," Mami says, finally looking away to shake her head and then focus down on her hands. "I believe you. I really do."

"...She was..." Words are inadequate to the task of describing Mami's relationship to her partner in the moment, and she does not find them. Instead she continues, "I think you understand. When I came back... It was done. It had already happened. Everyone learned before I did. ...It was a sneaky, dirty trick, too. It should've been me, the older partner--it was me. And then it changed."

"...Don't get me wrong," Mami says, and there's a little wryness in her voice that's a way to process an old pain from a distance, but not so much distance that it's easy. "I'm happy to be alive. I love being alive. It's only..." She trails off, and sighs, looking up to the sky.

She turns back to Mikoto with a small, distant smile. "...It hurts, to be the one left behind. I didn't think I'd feel that pain again. But it's that pain that reminds you you're alive, isn't it? So maybe that's a precious gift, too."

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

Mami realises something, there, and Mikoto nods, eyes squeezing shut a moment with a sad little noise. There is a story, there, long and long, and it is two shades of blue. But even if Sayaka isn't here, this world is still better, because Kozue is here: here to hold a grudge and point out her insecurities and talk to her, the way she never could back then. That old wound she never could talk about...

Right now, she still doesn't. But she smiles, a little, when Mami sees her. It's a wan and wavering thing, but it's there, in that moment.

She nods, when Mami seeks understanding from her, too, but she doesn't interrupt.

"It hurts," Mikoto says, again, and does not correct herself this time, "surviving." Mikoto has never died but so many times she has carried on in the wake of their deaths, at times carrying great sins with her, and each time it hurts and it hurts and it hurts. There's something distant to her, too, as she looks past Mami, to the distant lights of lanterns: "... it never gets easier."

She blinks, slowly; returns her gaze to Mami, a soft and edgeless thing. "I..." Wa-ta-shi, there's a beat between each mora, slow and elongated. "I went with them, in the end. To try and... reach Sayaka. I didn't really think it was - she was still Sayaka." Mikoto shakes her head, there, and clarifies her feelings, humming through her lips. "I guess I was afraid to think, she was still Sayaka. Maybe I knew, what could... happen to me... so I just said it wasn't true. But, Kozue asked for our help." Kozue is who Mikoto thinks of, looking back to that booth. "So I went anyway. Even though I said she was gone. It was..."

There's something haunted to her eyes, before she shuts them again, for a moment. "It shouldn't've been Mami," she insists, low and raw. "And it shouldn't've been Sayaka, neither. It's bad it happened to anyone. It made us all so, scared, and so mean. It wasn't fair! Sorry, Mami, but... I'm still glad it didn't happen to Sayaka now, even if Sayaka's not here no more." It is still a gentler fate than wheels in wheels in wheels, blood rushing past her ears.

But she apologises for her feelings, regardless.

Because even if it's a kinder way to go, Sayaka's still gone.

And Mami still hurts.

With a little shake of her head, she looks to her, again. "When someone's precious to you," the HiME says, "all of them's a gift. It's good. Having people like that... it's really good. I'm glad Mami had Sayaka." She smiles, even as emotion quavers the edges. "I'm happy Mami feels that way. But I'm sad Mami feels sad, too."

Was she always this reactive, when all she showed was grit teeth and a growl..?

<Pose Tracker> Mami Tomoe [Ohtori Academy (11)] has posed.

There's more to it still, of course. Mami can see that much. But she doesn't have to know all of it immediately; just seeing it in Mikoto already goes a long way. But...

"Yes," Mami answers, and shakes her head. "No, it never does, does it?" Mami has died, but long before that she has seen death. She has been left behind in that way... and in others. It's an old kind of fear of hers.

But... This--there is more, than she expected. More, than she had the chance to consider right then. Mami's eyes widen slightly, in surprise. "You..."

Mami listens through the fear, those haunted eyes. She understands too well, despite not knowing the specific experience. But...

"No," Mami says, "That's all right. I'm glad, too."

Mami does not dwell on what might have been there, or argue.

"...Yes," Mami answers after a little while, looking over Mikoto in a little wonder again. Was she always like this? ...Maybe not always, but there was always more to her; Mami could see some... but she didn't want to. That's all.

"It's a good way to think of it. Thank you, Minagi-san. ...For listening." Still formal... but there's less ice in it, now. It's not a wedge to keep the other girl at bay, in a place. "But," she says, and breathes in one more fresh breath, breathing out all of her worries at the same time.

...Well, maybe she can't do that, but a nice breath can feel like it, and if you feel like something's true, that's another step forward.

Standing, Mami smiles faintly. "But this is a festival, and we both have people to see. Life keeps coming, yes? ...You mentioned cake, with Ren-chan."

"I hope you'll consider trying mine sometime, too."

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

Maybe there's a lot in Mikoto Mami never cared to see, but there's a lot to Mami which Mikoto dismissed out of hand, too. She called her a threat, deemed her an enemy, and that was the whole of it. There was no room for honest feelings, in the box she pinned her in. No room for quiet, complex, painful things --

Like these.

Mami isn't the only person Mikoto has found deeper and brighter than she'd left them; perhaps it's why she doesn't seem surprised, to see what she sees in another pair of golden eyes. Knowing someone as more than an enemy is still a thing she appreciates, another small miracle in this world; but this miracle is one Mikoto has made for herself, with the help of all her friends, and perhaps that's all the more special.

But is a transition and so Mami does, and Mikoto looks up to her, smiling still. She hums affirmation as she nods, her hands relaxed in her lap, now. "Yup!" More comfortable, now, by degrees, brighter and brighter.

And a little brighter still, as Mami adds that last invitation: "Cake?! I want cake! Let's have cake, Mami!"

Maybe this time - she won't search for exits the whole time she's there.

Maybe this time can be better.