2021-04-26 - Remember That It Matters! I Don't Know What I Don't Know, But I Know Parfaits Are Delicious!

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Title: Remember That It Matters! I Don't Know What I Don't Know, But I Know Parfaits Are Delicious!

Mikoto invites Lera out for parfaits, and ends up telling her the truth about her Lord Brother's involvement in her party. Thanks to Lera's questioning, she reveals how uncertain she is that it was just that one time -- and has to confront some more of the cruelties implicit in his message. Lera, after all, has listened to Mikoto for a long time; and Mikoto isn't the only girl from Dark Fall she's helped, either.


Mikoto Minagi, Lera Camry


Yamanote - Linden Baum

OOC - IC Date:

2021-4-26 - 2015-11-16

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

It's not uncommon for Mikoto to summon Lera out after school; so, too, is it habitual for these invitations to by and large involve snacks. Today, the missive implores her to come with Mikoto to Linden Baum, which is apparently trialling a new, even fruitier parfait. How would Mikoto obtain this insider goss..? Three guesses, and the first two don't Mai. Uh, count.

Mai isn't working today, but news of the new treat has spread amongst the student body - everyone's here, with a particular representation of Ohtori yellow, considering how easy it is to get to this part of the city from Southern Cross Island. (Mikoto has another name for that island, but... perhaps she's just a particularly quirky girl.) In a competitive environment like this, it seems impossible to get a table, but --

Mikoto, who so often gets in the way around here, is well-known around Linden Baum. It doesn't take long for someone to notice her, and get her situated in a little table in the corner. It just sits two people, but that's enough! Pulling out her phone, Mikoto relates her success. A minute later she pulls it out again as she remembers to relay her position.

Of course, when the waitress comes by, Mikoto asks her to bring them two of those parfaits, because Mikoto definitely assumes that's what Lera wants to try. They're busy, so it might take a while, but that'll give Lera time to find her!

(She, of course, is one more speck of yellow in that patchwork of students, as she hasn't bothered to change after class. There's her cute little pink backpack on the floor... and there's Miroku's case, tilted to rest against the table beside her.)

<Pose Tracker> Lera Camry [Infinity Institute (11)] has posed.

Lera Camry is always happy to take Mikoto up on an offer to meet. For one, Mikoto is a friend; for another, though, there are snacks involved. Mikoto has excellent tastes in snacks. Lera is also familiar with Linden Baum -- and thus she is there, too, walking through the door with a bit of hurry. She wasn't running late, but she came close. A bag is over her shoulder, and flower-rimmed sunglasses are parked on her forehead.

She has her uniform otherwise, though the tie is loosened and the jacket is unbuttoned. She spots Mikoto right away -- and she gets waved over a staff member. Lera isn't such a regular that she gets recognized, but a tall 'American' girl has a way of being recognized quickly.

"Mikoto!" she calls out, as she comes over. She plops down in the seat across from her. Her bag falls down, too, with a rattle; Lera slumps back in her chair, then, and lets out a sigh.

"Aaah, I was almost late," she says. "I'm glad I made it in time, y'know? The trains just weren't cooperating today."

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

Mikoto and Lera can always agree on one thing: snacks. All the time. Snacks!!

She perks up when she spies Lera standing out in the crowd, waving to her. "Lera, Lera!" She chirps, in cheerful greeting, grin slung from one ear to the other not unlike flower-glasses. That glorious pair of petals earns a long, wide-eyed look from her, as Lera transforms from towering to sitting down.

(Americans are tall. Then again, lots of people are tall compared to Mikoto.)

"Don't worry!" She assures her, with that same cheer. "I got us parfaits!" There's a beat of a pause as she looks over the crowded diner, and she adds: "Might take a while..."

Waitresses work very hard. It is hard to be a waitress, especially when things are this busy. This is the deep waitress lore Mikoto has absorbed.

"Trains, too?" Mikoto asks, looking back to her, and it might not be immediately obvious if she means 'they're late' or 'they're busy'. Maybe it can mean both of those things! She wrinkles her nose, and says: "It's okay. Trains are hard."

(To Mikoto's sensitive ears, the dozen-dozen conversations going on in the background are a lot of extra noise, but at least they have a table here and aren't squished up next to like six other people, UNLIKE SOME TRAINS MIKOTO COULD MENTION.)

<Pose Tracker> Lera Camry [Infinity Institute (11)] has posed.

Lera, of course, isn't an American. But she looks like someone of European descent and faked it well enough. (Arguably.)

"The new parfait?" Lera says, with a grin and a tilt of her head. There isn't any argument from her. "I was meaning to try it, y'know? I heard it's really good..." She glances at the kitchen for a second -- paying attention to how busy it is -- and then she looks back at Mikoto.

She nods her head. "Mm-hm. It took me a long time to figure them out, when I first came here." She grew up in a more rural part of Midchilda; there were buses and regional trains, but not ones connecting different parts of the city.

"How've you been?" she asks.

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

Hey, Lera's American cover fooled Mikoto!

... Mikoto might not know much about the world outside Japan.

"Yup!" She says, with a bob of her head which sends her braids bouncing uppity-up only to tumble back down. This may be both an agreement that she ordered the new parfait, and an agreement that she's heard it's very good. That's the word economy!

She listens, humming affirmation, as Lera shares the Trials of Trains. "Me too," she agrees, with echoes of past confusion. "I didn't get 'tickets'..." With the emphasis she places on that last word, she's probably saying she didn't understand the concept, but the other reading - that she didn't buy tickets to the train - is probably just as valid. "... trains are weird." This is Mikoto's summation of the public transport experience.

"Good!" That brief period of rail-based bafflement cedes ground to her everpresent sunniness, though, when Lera asks how she is. "We went swimming! And hiking! And donuts!" Those are probably separate activities. Probably. "And," here there's a brief flicker in that sunlight bulb, "nothing's attacked me again, so that's good."

Sure, Mikoto is carrying her sword around, but that's not because she expects to be attacked. That's just a thing she always carries with her. Miroku is her plus one. It's totally normal don't worry about it.

<Pose Tracker> Lera Camry [Infinity Institute (11)] has posed.

"Yeah, there's so much around them... lots of little rules. Weird," Lera agrees with a nod of her head. She tilts her head to the side as she thinks about it for a second -- and then she shakes her head once, as if to clear her head of the stray thoughts of the train system.

"That sounds like fun, y'know? I like all of those things." She scratches at the back of her neck -- honestly, 'hiking with swimming and donuts' sounds like a day she might spend with Setsuna. But, really, anything with donuts is the sort of day she might spend with Setsuna. There is an association there.

"...ah, yeah," she says, then. Her expression falls a little. "I'm glad... I was a little worried--I mean... I know we'll handle whatever happens. But still."

She sighs. "The timing is something else, too, y'know?"

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

There are little rules about so many things in Tokyo and Mikoto is so nettled by them. But she's getting better at them!

For instance: using her words. Well, her first response to Lera declaring she likes those things is just to nod and hum agreement, but she used her words to tell her that in the first place, so it still counts.

(She did, in fact, eat donuts with Setsuna. Lera was right on the money for one of those activities, at least.)

Mikoto actually looks a little sheepish, though, as Lera goes on to share what she thinks about the timing. "Not really..." She says, and the words trail off into the way her fingers press against each other at the edge of the table.

"Um," she explains, after that moment of silence, "'cause it was my birthday. My Lord Brother told me about it... he said we'd celebrate. And, um..." Mikoto reaches up, with a hand, to scratch at the side of her face, still bizarrely shamefaced about it all. "... I found out after it was my Lord Brother who put that Orphan in a box so it'd attack me... so, it's not really weird."

A crowded diner might seem like a strange place to relay plain details about a Dark Fall plot, but with Mikoto's voice lowering into the gravel of her grumbling tones, and the chatter rising all around them, it would be quite difficult for anyone to overhear this specific conversation.

<Pose Tracker> Lera Camry [Infinity Institute (11)] has posed.

Lera has found the rules aren't the ones she knows -- and she isn't the best with rules in the first place. She has always been the type to act first and think about it later. Some of the conventions in Tokyo -- and Japan, and Earth -- are still lost on her. She can fake it, though.

"...a-ah," Lera says, her voice hesitant for a second. Mikoto's Lord Brother -- the one who led her down that path, that she left recently -- and much of what he says. She glances downwrd; she doesn't really fret too much about openly speaking of this. There is a quick glance to see if anyone nearby picked up on it.

But, inhibition recognition, the chatter, and Mikoto's low voice handles it.

"That makes sense," she says. "Well... I'm sorry he did that. Do you think... is it something that he's going to keep doing?"

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

Mikoto doesn't seem worried about being overheard at all, but she might be too busy having emotions. She doesn't say she's feeling things, but that hesitancy in her voice, and the sadness which enters her bright eyes...

She hums consideration, fingers curling at her cheek, not quite meeting Lera's gaze. (It's not difficult; her eyelids hood over her eyes, like pulling the blinds to stop the sunlight getting in.) "Dunno," she says, after a moment. "It's, um..."

Mikoto grunts, again, the corner of her lip scrunching up. "I fought them before. In Shiyuba. Ge... another HiME was there, so she could summon her Child and beat it." Is that why Mikoto summoned Miroku..? "But, that's how I knew how scary they were..."

She presses her lips together, gaze shifting to the other corner of the table. "Maybe Lord Brother was watching that, and saw I didn't like it. If... if it was really a punishment... it'd make sense he'd take advantage of monsters I didn't like." Take advantage, she says, because Mikoto doesn't think he controls the Orphans.

('If it was really a punishment' is its own story, wrapped into one trailing doubt.)

"Or... maybe my Lord Brother set them free around me then, too... I don't know." With how lost she sounds, she really doesn't. Mikoto is operating on sheer conjecture, this far away from his standard operating procedure. (She was his standard operating procedure, after all.) "I was having fun with my friends then, too... but, I've had lots of fun since then, and, nothing's attacked."

Which hasn't stopped her looking over her shoulder, now and then.

Maybe that's the point.

<Pose Tracker> Lera Camry [Infinity Institute (11)] has posed.

"Ah..." Lera trails off, she hesitates for a second, and then she nods. "...yeah. If he did something deliberately to upset you. But... he shouldn't be trying to punish you. That's not... it's not right to do that." She runs a hand through her hair, as she looks thoughtful for a moment more.

"He shouldn't try to attack you--whatever the reason is." She does catch the glance over her shoulder. Then, she shakes her head once.

"...Whatever happens, we're all gonna help you, y'know? I know I don't know the full details--" And Mikoto may not be able to say them; because it's too hard, because she doesn't know.

"But we'll all help," she says. "And we'll make sure there's lots of good memories and fun times, even if some of them get interrupted."

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

"Lord Brother said it was a gift," Mikoto tries to explain; and she is hesitant, but she is also trying, very hard. "'Cause, my treasures were violence and victory. He said really nice things... I was happy about that..." Her teeth find her lip, applying pressure to soothe her nerves. "... but, what he did was make a scary Orphan attack. When I was having a good time with everyone. That's why I think he was punishing me. Maybe he thought it was nice... but, maybe he just said nice things to make me more confused. I don't know."

She certainly sounds confused, made masterpiece, but she does her best to name the horror regardless. Her first instinct may have been to retreat and hold it close to her chest --

-- and, indeed, that note is still close to her chest, but Mikoto remembers Lera struggles with kanji and so has not brought out the evidence --

-- but she managed to tell someone, and then someone else, and someone else, because just as Lera's said, she has help.

"But I know," she insists, looking to Lera, "I got friends! I feel bad he's sending monsters to attack everyone, but... but Lera's right. No one's blamed me... I'm not alone. It's," here she swallows, "not my fault." Even if he is trying to do a nice thing for her, he's doing it in the most evil way he possibly could, and that's -- that's not something Mikoto asked for!

It's hard to say, because she doesn't know, but she is still trying very hard.

She nods, with a small smile. "Setsuna said we can keep living," she shares, and perhaps it makes sense she's talked about it with her fellow expatriot. "So, I don't wanna worry about it all the time. Even if it happens again... I like being with everyone! There's parfaits!" That is probably not the only thing which makes for good memories, but, well, Mikoto.

<Pose Tracker> Lera Camry [Infinity Institute (11)] has posed.

"There's a lot more to you than violence and victory," Lera says, almost immediately.

"I... see why you think he's punishing you. I'm not sure... why he said that or what he did." She hesitates, and then she nods her head. "You're not at fault for what he does. And... I think everyone knows that. I certainly do." She hesitates for a second more, and then she smiles.

"There's parfaits," she agrees. "And lots of great stuff besides, y'know?"

She hesitates for a moment more. Then, she adds: "And... hey. Whatever your Lord Brother thinks, whatever he feels, whatever reason he has--it doesn't matter if you don't like what he does. If it makes you feel bad."

She frowns. "That's the important part about what he's doing, y'know?"

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

Mikoto hums affirmation, when Lera jumps in with that; it's the first thing she said, after all, even when her mind was most confused. She has lots of treasures.

Whether violence is one of them...

Ironically, it's Lera's very uncertainty which seems to put Mikoto at ease; her shoulders lower as tension releases from them, unnoticed and omnipresent. She smiles, because she thinks: if Lera is willing to say what she doesn't know, then Lera's certainty must carry weight, too.

"Yeah," Mikoto agrees, on the topic of parfaits and the world beyond them, and the mora are relieved.

She has to think about her next point, for a moment, before she realises: that's Lera's conjecture on his mindset. It drops a pit into her stomach, to think her feelings don't matter to him, but...

... didn't Mikoto say it, so often, when she was intimidating Lera and her friends?

Didn't she say what she thought, what she felt - it didn't matter?

She'd learned those lessons so thoroughly, she didn't even think to recall where she'd learned them.

And so Mikoto's assent is a wobbly little grunt, lips all scrunched up, and she nods but it takes her a moment later to actually talk about it. "It's about... what my Lord Brother wants," she concludes, because her violence and her victory are the things he values in her, no matter what she thinks is important. "And I'm supposed to be, grateful... even though it hurt me... if I wasn't happy, I was just looking at it wrong."

She looks quietly horrified to speak those gruff words; the reason doesn't come for a moment longer. "... it kinda worked, too. My Lord Brother... I guess he really is a leader of Dark Fall..." How is it she is always surprised, to think of how cunning and cruel he can be?

<Pose Tracker> Lera Camry [Infinity Institute (11)] has posed.

"...Yeah. He's doing it because that's what he wants," Lera says, quietly. She hesitates for a second and looks down. She is not, particularly, surprised that he is a leader within Dark Fall. He seems like the type. Her eyes are cast down on the table for a second.

She looks back up at Mikoto.

"It's... it's important. What you want and what you feel," she says. "Don't forget that, y'know? Even when--especially when--he's saying something nice, and hurting at you at the same time."

She runs a finger in a circle around the table, then looks back up at Mikoto.

Her expression is apologetic, even if what she is sorry about is for how the world ended up.

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

"My Lord Brother wants this..." Mikoto's hand drops to grasp over her heart, and her other joins it, grasping over its knuckles. She sounds so honestly upset, to confront something so simple; all her confusion, all her fear, all her pain, it's all what he wanted to happen.

How can someone that cruel occupy her mind in the same space as someone who is flawed but ultimately still family? All a sudden she is painfully aware of the contrast between what she knows and what she knows, the allowances she has made for him contrasted with the reality of what he inflicts on her.

When she looks back to Lera, she looks scared.

"I... want it to be different," she says, and these words halt, too, like a dodgy train lurching forward on the tracks. When she first rode a train like that, she thought maybe it was falling apart. She's been here long enough now to know she isn't falling apart. "It doesn't have to hurt... that's what I learned, 'cause of everyone. I don't want to question everything... when I don't understand, now, I think of what it was like down there. I couldn't be sure... I don't like that."

... is that why Mikoto has been coping so much more poorly with horrors she can't comprehend, these days? She used to be able to face down Witches without flinching, but...

... now, her mind goes back to reaching for him only for him to be somewhere else, turning and seeing nothing only to find him beside her, the way motions were so easily-mistaken in the darkness. Let alone the questions of what he said - and what he meant. Even the passage of time itself seemed to warp to his whims, down there.

"It makes me feel bad," she says, and 'bad' is a strange way to encapsulate her uncertainty and that constant undercurrent of horror, but Mikoto has never particularly had a broad vocabulary.

"And," she decides, lowering her hands and unfolding herself a little in the statement, "I don't like it, when I'm having fun, and bad things happen. It's mean to do that on purpose! That's what I think. I feel like I shouldn't want to have fun, 'cause bad things will happen, and that's really mean. I won't stop having fun with everyone just 'cause bad things might happen!"

There's something in the way she phrases that, but at the same time, she is trying to stick up for herself.

<Pose Tracker> Lera Camry [Infinity Institute (11)] has posed.

"Yeah," Lera says, quietly.

Her family was never abusive. She had her problems with her mother -- problems they since resolved -- but they never tried to undermine her like that. She looks down for a moment, then she nods her head.

"You don't have to stop having fun--and I don't think you have to feel bad because he might try to interrupt it, somehow." She hesitates for a moment. That seems easier said than done. "And... they're bad things he decided to do, not bad things that happen without any other reason."

She smiles, then shakes her head. "So we'll still have fun, and--" Her train of thought comes to a stop, as she catches something: a waitress, carrying a tray with two parfaits.

"Aaaah, look at them!"

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

Lera espies the way she still distances cause from effect, and Mikoto is a little sheepish, as she dips her head in a nod. "... yeah." Bad things don't just happen. They happen because someone decided to do something.

(Because her Lord Brother decided to hurt her, she interrupts her train of thought to insist.)

But as if Lera declaring they'll still have fun was a magic spell to summon good things, here approaches THE EXTRA-FRUITY PARFAIT. Sunlight dawns in Mikoto's eyes are they grow bigger - and bigger - and bigger.

"It's good!" She declares, volume returning to her, and this before she even gets her spoon into it. She will, of course, repeat the statement several times over the course of devouring the parfait.

... but it's not just good because the food is delicious.