2021-02-11 - A Day Just For Me

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Title: A Day Just For Me

Mikoto shares her excitement about her upcoming birthday with Setsuna -- and when Setsuna notices something else beneath the surface, she asks after Mikoto's feelings, only to find a lingering regret. Demon Lords can be so stubborn, huh?


Mikoto Minagi, Setsuna Higashi


Juuban Public School - Rooftop

OOC - IC Date:

2021-02-11 - 2015-11-02

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

"You've all gathered here to improve your scientific knowledge," says one Terada-sensei, adjusting the cuffs of a very nice suit. "This is an extracurricular activity, but your results will of course be communicated to the appropriate teachers in your schools, so please do your very best. And remember to have fun!"

One Mikoto Minagi, who could really use help with her science grades, wrinkles her nose as she leans down to examine the beaker. She's not the only one in an Ohtori uniform, though it's a fairly small crowd here today; some Juuban science enthusiasts, and a handful of Sister Schools students who were kindly (or otherwise) directed by their teachers towards something which could help them catch up.

It's not so long ago that Mikoto wouldn't have bothered with optional cross-school activities to try and get some extra credit; she simply wouldn't have seen the point at all. Her future of battle was prescribed to her. But now it's so much more like it matters, like one day she will have to think about what happens, when she gets older. Like she'll have to think about who she wants to be!

And so, she carefully reaches out to the apparatus... and...


Here are three facts about that grades-bolstering activity:

1) Nothing exploded. (Although Setsuna had to stop Mikoto from making a terrible mistake at one point.)
2) No one got hurt. (Although Mikoto did spend a little too long being fascinated by the changing colours of a bunsen burner's flame.)
3) Everything went better than expected. (Although Mikoto definitely didn't rank highest in that activity, or even towards the middle.)

Afterwards she escaped upwards, because she has learned the value of high places from cats; and Juuban's rooftop is more easily-accessible, than Ohtori's. (Which is not to say that Ohtori's rooftops are INACCESSIBLE, at least when one is willing to climb out the window and find footholds in the intricate detailing.) She leans against the chain-link fence, with only an idle thought about how easy it would be to scale it; it's a one-shouldered affair, given the case slung over one shoulder, but Mikoto is used to managing that extra cumbersome weight.

"... we did it!" Is her cheerful summation, to Setsuna, and really it's the most talkative she's been this afternoon; much of her time in the science lab was spent in deep concentration, which meant she communicated more in grunts than anything else.

<Pose Tracker> Setsuna Higashi [Juuban Public School (10)] has posed.


Setsuna Higashi is primarily here to help her friend, though she also has some enthusiasm for the scienec in and of itself. She's one of those awful people who are actually pretty good at school, in part because of her willingness to work at it and in part because she comes from an 'advanced' society. Of course, a lot of things she knows are things that Earth calls different things than what she's used to, so it's not like she can just coast...

But here and now, she is looking to the teacher and then to the beaker, and when Mikoto reaches out she smiles encouragingly and--


Setsuna, too, knows the value of high places, because a dark general is a lot like a cat. Also because Mikoto is here and went first. Regardless...

Setsuna is not leaning on the fence at the moment but instead taking a seat nearby, setting down her things and turning to look at Mikoto because she remembers at the moment that it's nice to look at people when you're talking to them, she's pretty sure.

"We did," Setsuna answers. She's been mostly quiet herself except when needing to explain something, but she is usually quiet. And here...

"Good work," she says to Mikoto. "I knew that you could."

That she could goes without saying. This time.

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

Dark Generals are a lot like cats. Especially the ones under her Lord Brother. (Well, the one. It was just Mikoto fighting out there, right?)

"Thanks," Mikoto chirps, bouncing back against the chain fence, using its innate sproinginess to sway herself back and forth. It's like moving around, but she's staying still! A genius invention. "Setsuna's real good at this! I didn't know half that stuff!"

One notes at this point that Mikoto Minagi is, in fact, in the grade above Setsuna Higashi, and really ought to know half that stuff by now.

But then, that's what activities like this are for!

Bounce, bounce, and that's when TRAGEDY STRIKES: one of Mikoto's braids bounces back a little too much, and gets caught in an errant bit of chain. She squeaks as her movement is interrupted, stilling for a moment as she frees herself from where it's tangled itself up, one eye closing and all the tension of her face pulling to one side like a bed in the middle of being made. But she untangles herself, and cants her head back the other way, cheer returning to her face. "... I'm okay!"

She seems pretty chipper today.

<Pose Tracker> Setsuna Higashi [Juuban Public School (10)] has posed.


"Mm!" Setsuna answers, noticing how much Mikoto is moving around today but not finding that strange, just notable. "And now you do!" she answers brightly, spending little time on her own expertise because--well. She does know this stuff, and even she's not as good at it as some of her friends are. Ami or Honoka, for instance...

But they aren't here! And... Well. Mikoto maybe should know it but she can learn at her own pace! Part of the nice part of Earth schools is that it's okay to have some differences here and there, too.

Bounce bounce--Mikoto squeaks and Setsuna tilts her head, watching her free herself. She... doesn't move much, this is not a terrible crisis. Instead she waits, and then smiles when Mikoto is free. "Great," she answers.

Setsuna looks up to the sky for a moment. She has friend. She has open sky. It is... a nice day so far.

"I like Juuban's roof," she comments, after a little while. It doesn't appear she's going anywhere with that though.

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

Now she does..! She hums cheerful affirmation, at that. Mikoto might be playing catch-up, but that's okay, because it's not like the fate of the world or her wellbeing is hanging on her ability to distinguish covalent and ionic bonds.

At least she's pretty good at the health questions in physical education. Mikoto know an awful lot about how the human body can be damaged. Little-known fact: she's also good at massages.

One might think that Mikoto, having learned that playing with the chain-link fence results in injury, would stop messing with the fence. This is incorrect. Mikoto turns and laces her fingers into it, leaning back and regarding Setsuna and her world all upside-down as her neck exposes itself to the sky and her braids dangle down to earth. "Yup!" She declares, smiling. "This place is great!"

Hup she pulls herself upright again, and looks up, up, up. Her fingers tighten in the chain-link, and loosen, experimentally. Her head cants just so. She shrugs at the weight on her shoulders, letting Miroku's case drop to the ground and rest against the fence, and her hands settle a little higher.

All a sudden, Mikoto springs upwards, hefting herself up from link to link, the toes of her sensible Ohtori flats seeking those little ridges in the chain as her arms handle the heavy lifting. Up she goes, until she's three metres in the air; she swings herself around, and perches precariously on the top of the fence, legs swinging against it.

She looks terribly pleased with herself.

She doesn't actually say anything about it for a while, though; having found a perch, it seems Mikoto is happy to look up to the sky, just like Setsuna. Eventually, though, her attention comes back down to earth, and for once she's looking down rather than up at her friend.

"Hey, Setsuna," Mikoto wonders, all out of the blue, "birthdays are weird, right..?"

<Pose Tracker> Setsuna Higashi [Juuban Public School (10)] has posed.

She has time to catch up! It's fine. And she has the chance!

Setsuna does not really expect Mikoto to stop playing with the fence by any particular means. It's just a thing that is going to happen, and Setsuna keeps watching the sky for a little longer as her friend climbs up and around the chain-links. The roof...

"Mm!" Setsuna acknowledges Mikoto's declaration, and then glances at her once she springs up, tilting her head to consider her for a moment. It's a precarious perch indeed, but...

Well, she's fine. It's just what she does. Setsuna goes back to watching the sky for a while. Until...

"?" Setsuna reacts at first, tilting her head at the question and remembering again to look at her when she considers an answer. 'Up' is a different direction for her, but at least she's not looking into the sun to see her. Instead...

"Mm," the girl from Labyrinth answers, and considers. "Mm," she agrees. "Not bad weird, I don't think. But a little weird. Or maybe we're weird..." 'We', of course. "Well they're nice, I guess."

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

The fence rattles, each time Mikoto's heels impact it, like chimes or bells or chains. Her fingers have locked around the upper limits of the fence to keep her up there and not falling down the other side; luckily, she's too light to send it all crashing down, even if she's heavier than one might initially give her credit for. No doubt this fence was built to withstand all the ravages of teenagers, after all.

(Even if most students know better than to pull something like that. Luckily, they're alone on the roof, so there's no one here to tell on her. Well, someone could look up and see her from the ground, but as Setsuna has settled on, looking up isn't generally necessary in a student's life.)

"They look nice," Mikoto says, "but I never had one before. It would have been a distraction... I guess." The corner of her lip scrunches at that guesswork, nose all a-wrinkle. Her expression brightens, a moment later. "But now I know mine's almost here! So, I'm really happy!"

Her head flops to the side, braids dangling as her brow rises in thought. "But," she adds, "I feel weird, too." That's not precisely the word for it, but Mikoto doesn't really have a precise word for it.

<Pose Tracker> Setsuna Higashi [Juuban Public School (10)] has posed.

Rattle rattle. Clink clink. The little noises that are part of life on Earth, little digressions from whatever someone's task might've been, if they even have one. Voices far off; Mikoto moving around. Sure, most students know better than to pull this particular kind of thing, but they're always pulling something!!

Setsuna is used to these little noises but still notices them now and then. She doesn't comment; instead she focuses on Mikoto's guesswork. "Yes, I suppose it would've been," Setsuna agrees with the guesswork. In Labyrinth it would've been a distraction, but mostly it just wasn't important; it being important is the weird part. Nice, though.

"Oh, is it? Congratulations," Setsuna says, reasonably sure that that's the right thing to say. But the weird aprt...

A normal person might sympathize, might draw a connection between their feelings here because Setsuna herself would feel weird, too. But Setsuna is not quite that, doesn't quite think that way first. It sort of goes without saying.

"Yes," she says first. Acknowledging her feeling. But then, "..."

"...Do you know why?" she says. "Even if you don't, I'd... like, to hear about it."

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

Mikoto, who isn't really sure what the right thing to say is, feels entirely confident it's the right thing to say. Why wouldn't it be a congratulatory matter?

Her head rights itself from its extreme tilt at the sound of what Setsuna would like to hear, which, itself, might be a head-tilting gesture now she's tilted her head as far it can tilt. "Umm," is the noise she makes, hummed through her lips, kick-kickie-kick as her gaze goes up to the sky.

That's not so much a grunt of dismissal as much as it is a thoughtful sound; perhaps Mikoto doesn't, entirely, know how she feels. She has to think about it. And she does!

"I guess... growing up, I was supposed to focus on my Lord Brother," Mikoto says, after a silence which is surely not long enough for either of them to find it awkward. "But birthday parties are all about, celebrating someone, right..? So it makes sense we never had them... since they're supposed to be special." Every day was about celebrating him, for Mikoto; she couldn't pay attention to herself.

But, well, that's why she needs to practice. Just like make-up classes.


Her weight redistributes as a matter of long practice, but it still looks precarious as she lifts one hand from the fence, reaching up to brush one of those beleaguered braids behind her ear. "But," she goes on, after that halt in dialogue, "I wouldn't know it was coming up if Lord Brother hadn't told me, back then. He didn't have to... but he praised me, and... and even though he was so important... it must mean I'm special to him too, right..?" Her voice grows in pensiveness with her expression, fingers lingering at her cheek.

"He gave me a day just for me..." It's a complicated feeling woven through those words; for all he's hurt her terribly, still there were those windows into someone more complex than a tyrant. Her hand drops, to clasp at her heart; her gaze drops from the sky, too. "Maybe... part of me wanted my Lord Brother to be here, like he said. I'm scared of seeing him again, but... stuff like that... it makes me feel like I could reach him."

Her shoulder shrugs, as her hand returns to the chain-link, and her gaze finds Setsuna again. "... but I feel a little shamed of that, too. If I could celebrate with Lord Brother... I guess it would've meant I never chose to get away, back then. And that's not what I want." She shakes her head, demonstratively. "I want to have a big party! And sing happy birthday, and eat cake, and stuff like that! I want to spend it with my friends! And, I can decide what seventeen is to me!"

She sinks back on her arms, with a crooked smile. "But... I can't forget him, I guess." Her shoulders shrug up, and shrug down, with a little jerk of her head as if to say, 'feelings are hard.' She's explained as well as she can, it seems.

(Mikoto doesn't really feel the need to explain that statement fully; she takes it for granted that Setsuna knows what it's like, having someone who used to control so much in her life still take up space in her head.)

<Pose Tracker> Setsuna Higashi [Juuban Public School (10)] has posed.

Setsuna takes Mikoto's gesture for its meaning; this one she knows, has learned from observing Mikoto in particular that it is one she does too, and so she waits for her to think out what she's going to think out. Kick kickie kick...

Nah, Setsuna doesn't find the silence awkward. She waits patiently for Mikoto to organize her thoughts, as she would want someone to do for her. So when Mikoto thinks about it, and finally speaks up...

Setsuna reacts in silence at first; it makes sense, the logic, but she's thinking about it and forgets to say as much herself. All about celebrating someone... That does make sense. Lord Moebius doesn't have a birthday, after all.

It does look precarious. Setsuna trusts Mikoto's balance, and focuses more on that. On... Hm. Special...

"It's hard," Setsuna agrees at length. "...They expect you to, I think. To just forget, unlearn... years of what you've known. Not everybody--and even the ones that do will try to understand. But... It's not that easy."

"I don't know what he meant or intended by telling you. Maybe it does mean that. But Mobius-sama gave me a special tool to use, and... still ordered what he did."

"But it's hard. It's not what you want, but you can't just forget."

"...I think it's okay," she says. "Not to forget. To wonder a little."

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

Mikoto says a lot, by Mikoto's standards; Setsuna says a lot, too, and perhaps it can even be measured with the same yardstick. Not at first, but in time --

What they expect --

Here Mikoto wonders if it's really what they expect, or what she expects them to expect; regardless she cannot deny it is easier to share some emotions about what happened with friends like Eri than others. Her familial anger and betrayal finds a home amongst the girls who rescued her, but...

... those aren't the only things she feels. It's not that easy. In the end, Mikoto wasn't simple in the slightest.

Her gaze drops away, as Setsuna invokes Mobius-sama's actions; she's never been able to argue on the awful things the masters did, and these days can even appreciate why she couldn't bring herself to. It is far too eminently believable -- even when only her dreams knew -- that someone could be THAT cruel, THAT callous.

She hums acknowledgement through her lips; she's still listening.

Her legs have stilled against the fence, though, and in her arm-braced silence she is not unlike a tower stretching up into Tokyo. Still decorated in obsidian; still calling them in.

"I don't know how to feel about it," Mikoto says, and she's responding to Setsuna devastatingly directly, but perhaps not the way it sounds.

Did he know he asked too much for her, or did she simply fail to meet his expectations..?

She moves on, as her heels tap against the fence again. "Yeah," her attention comes back to Setsuna, too. "Sometimes I think... I'd like to introduce him to everyone, so Lord Brother could see everyone was actually really nice. And we could have a party together... and... and if he'd just talk to us, we could figure out how to fix what was wrong!" Her fingers tighten, in the fence, her shoulders hunching with her frown.

She still thinks of that thing which weighed on him so much that he had Mikoto break herself upon the rocks as a problem he's trying to fix. All for Japan, and the peace of the world. Perhaps the alternative is too horrifying to contemplate.

"But he thinks everyone here's an enemy, so he won't even come to my birthday party," Mikoto huffs, finally bending her arms and springing down to earth, landing in a crouch with hands to ground to absorb the impact of three metres of airtime. "I guess that's why everyone expects that, huh? 'Cause - 'cause they can be so - so --"

Up she springs, brushing off her skirt. (There's another little tear at the hem, but that's normal, for anything which dangles around Mikoto's person.) "Stubborn!" She decides on, finally, and it's a telling word she chooses.

Stubbornness is not, exclusively, a negative trait. If Mikoto's friends weren't so stubborn in the face of her own efforts, she'd still be suffering, after all.

But neither is it entirely positive.

Finally Mikoto grunts, head jerking to the side to allieviate a crick, a hand rubbing at her neck. (Those might not happen so much if she didn't use her head so expressively, but never mind that.) "But even if Lord Brother did that for me," she decides, finally, "now it's my day. So I'm not gonna be sad. I finally get to do something normal like this! I'm really excited!"

She is, too; by the time her head rights again, she's smiling anew.

<Pose Tracker> Setsuna Higashi [Juuban Public School (10)] has posed.

Setsuna can't be sure, of course. She doesn't really know what everyone is thinking, as a rule, isn't very good at guessing... But that's something she thinks she's picked up, that most people don't easily understand this in particular.

Setsuna has trouble believing in cruelty even when she's experienced it. From Mobius, at least. She thinks about it sometimes. ..But here, now...

A tower.

How to feel about it. It is terribly direct, in its way. But Setsuna doesn't really know, either. Which was it? Some days, other days...

"Yes," Setsuna says. "That would be nice..." If it were possible. If it were what would happen. But they both know it's not. Instead...

"Yes," Setsuna agrees on stubbornness. She even probably knows who Mikoto directs it at. No, she must. "I wish... we could just talk to them," she says instead. "Show them..."

Setsuna Higashi is the last person to get onto Mikoto for having complicated feelings here. Perhaps the very last. "But," she says.

"...I think that's great," Setsuna says, turning to look up at Mikoto again with a small smile of her own. It does not dispel all the worries she's considering, either, but Mikoto has made a Choice, and Setsuna recognizes that. Recognizes what it is. That it's important.

"It belongs to you," Setsuna says. "...It's your own."

And with another little smile, "I hope I can do something for your birthday, too!"

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

It's a strange double consciousness, isn't it? Perhaps there's a word for that.

Mikoto isn't very good at words, though, so never mind that.

She hums affirmation, with a nod, as Setsuna expresses her own wishes; it seems the two of them are of one mind, even if they are, perhaps, thinking of different Lords on high. If only they could show them -- if only she could show him, the reason why they believe so steadfastly in their actions.

It's not just because they're the heroes of their own story, is it? How can it be a matter of perspective when they changed hers so much for the better..?

But Mikoto straightens up, and Mikoto makes a decision, and Setsuna hears that, too.

Refocusing one's attention doesn't mean the bad things go away; it's all about looking on the bright side, instead. It means Mikoto can smile, because Setsuna praises her resolve as positive, reinforces her hard-won belief.

It means a lot to hear it's hers, coming from Setsuna, and her smile is not so small any more; now it is broad and beaming, as if she means to give the sun a run for its money.

"Yup!" She declares, happily, springing forward to grab Setsuna's hand with hers; that's something she can do, now, and her world is better for it. "'Cause Setsuna's my friend, too!"

Struck by inspiration, she declares: "... let's go sneak into the theme park at night! We can find where they keep the puffy candy and go climb the big wheel!!"

This, Mikoto thinks, is a perfect way to celebrate with someone who tends to be as quiet and thoughtful as Setsuna.

Also trespassing is a crime but never mind that either.

<Pose Tracker> Setsuna Higashi [Juuban Public School (10)] has posed.

Maybe. Setsuna doesn't know it either.

But this, Setsuna knows; that Mikoto understads something that she can't really explain, that she doesn't have the words to impart to someone who doesn't. It's a wish that is no less dear because of it.

A hard-won belief is something worth protecting, for Setsuna. She smiles back at her. She feels the same--that focusing on the one thing doesn't mean pretending the other things are gone. And while maybe it would be easier if those other things were gone... It's not that simple, either.

So Setsuna enjoys being able to see something of just Mikoto's, when once she didn't get to have anything herself. Setsuna would once have had to recoil from how bright that smile is, but not now. She beams back.

"Yes," she agrees happily to being Mikoto's friend, and then she springs forward and--Ah? Setsuna blinks owlishly as Mikoto springs forward, surprised but not startled; she remains otherwise utterly calm in body language after all. But her friend...

"Oh!" Setsuna answers. She remembers well a time they had there before...

And this is a much better idea.

"Yes," Setsuna answers back. It's easier than going to a large gathering for her, too. "We'll find it!!"

...To Setsuna, it sounds like a lovely way to celebrate her friend.