2021-12-23 - That's How It Is..? I'll Protect You!

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Title: That's How It Is..? I'll Protect You!

Yumi visits Mikoto's dorm to offer her support, and learns just why the smell of death unsettled her so much. Mikoto regains the strength to resist after days of fear, because Yumi won't let her be sacrificed.


Mikoto Minagi, Yumi Ohzora


Ohtori - Dormitories

OOC - IC Date:

2021-12-23 - 2015-12-29

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

Mikoto has been, by and large, attached to Mai over the Christmas period. (This may or may not be entirely literal.) Something -- she, at least, hasn't said quite what -- has led her to be particularly clingy for this holiday, and even after Christmas, she's been shy of spending time alone. The fact that she's been latched onto Mai as she furiously studies for her entrance exams doesn't seem to matter to Mikoto in the slightest.

Luckily, Yumi is here to help! Right now Mai is not here, because she has to go shop for ingredients for New Year's snacks, and the reason Mikoto can bear remaining in the dorm is because her witchiest friend has come over to visit, instead. They've taken down their Christmas decorations, now it's been a few days since the event -- but there are still plenty of decorations in the living room. There's a singing fish on the wall, and a painting of the kanji for 'cat' all deformed in such a way that it looks like a cat curled up in the sun. Even Miroku has a nice, hand-made set of pyjamas, black case all held in a cosy as it rests by the door.

It's a little messy, but, be fair, it was just Christmas. There are snacks in the fridge, at least, and fluffy cushions to sit on, where Mikoto has presently landed. The television is helpfully playing all the greatest cooking show hits, and she's canted over... and over... until she's thonked right against Yumi's side, without a single care for propriety.

<Pose Tracker> Yumi Ohzora [Infinity Institute (11)] has posed.

It's OK, Yumi knows about it. She's had a lot to do over the Christmas period herself! She's had to see Mother, and she spent some time with her friends after all, though not so much on the day of, and...

Well, she's had concern about Mikoto, obviously. So with presents over with and the holiday done-ish, waiting for the next holiday, Yumi has shown up. She is wearing the scarf Nori gave her, along with her uniform, complete with non-regulation tights because it is entirely too cold not to.

And she showed up cheerfully and took over, and now here she is on the couch, paying rapt attention to a cooking show and leaning back on Mikoto a little as she thonks against her. "Oh I like this one," she says. "I should take notes..."

She doesn't.

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

Mikoto grunts, sceptical, when Yumi says she should take notes on the cooking show. It's not that Mikoto doesn't believe in Yumi, it's just...

... well, Yumi's talents with a pot have always been more alchemical than edible.

Her weight sinks into her, warm like an idling engine; jaws opening wide, Mikoto yaawww-awww--awwwwns. She hasn't complained of sleepiness. She's still not sleeping well. "Tasty..." Mikoto trails off, when she looks at the way they prepare their hot-pot. It's a traditional dish, this time of year.

<Pose Tracker> Yumi Ohzora [Infinity Institute (11)] has posed.

It's fine. It's super fine. Yumi makes a vague, "Phbbbbt" of complaint at the skepticism, but that is all, because she knows Mikoto's right. She laughs a little despite herself, and keeps leaning. She is chilly, as a rule; Mikoto is a great source of warmth.

"Yeah," Yumi says. "I want to try it, too..."

But it gets her thinking of that day, that evening with the hot pot they had, too. "...So how're you feeling, Mikoto?"

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

Yumi blows out her lips, and Mikoto chirps out a smile, audibly, head tilting into the taller girl's shoulder in a cosy little headbump.

"Maybe Mai'll make hot pot..." It's a cheery thought, and Mikoto smiles, with unveiled affection. She's a source of warmth in more than one way, judging by the warmth of those words.

But... how is she feeling?

Mikoto reaches out for Yumi's hand, as if they weren't close enough. She's pensive, as she looks down at their fingers. "Mai's working hard... I'm happy I can be with her. But, if something happened... it'd give Mai something else to do, at least. Right?" Certainly she has answered a question; whether it's Yumi's question is another thing entirely.

"But... it's a burden, I think."

Trouble enters her eyes, tilts her head down.

"I can't tell Mai what happened... she wouldn't like it. My Lord Brother's so generous... it's suspicious, right?" Her tone grows dismal, as she blinks, overlong. "I just want to stay with Mai, but..."

She's talking like it's her fault he keeps contacting her.

'Contact' is a kind word for it.

<Pose Tracker> Yumi Ohzora [Infinity Institute (11)] has posed.


Mai making hot pot is a nice idea, even if Yumi is unlikely to be there for it. But she does ask--and there's Mikoto taking her hand, which is easy. Yumi's fingers are a little chilly, as usual. Poor circulation, probably. It's normal for her.

"I'm glad you can be with her too," Yumi answers first.

But a burden...

Yumi looks over Mikoto's face, and shakes her head. "...You're not suspicious," Yumi asserts. "Sometimes you tell people things they wouldn't like because you know they care to know. ...It's not like it's your fault that he keeps 'giving' you things. It's his choices, his actions. ...You want to help him and make it better, but... it's still his choice to do what he does, not yours."

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

Mikoto rubs Yumi's fingers with her own, without even really thinking about it. It's normal for her, and it's normal for Mikoto to try and warm her up, too.

Her head dips in a nod, with an unsettled little noise, as Yumi speaks. Mai cares to know..? ... it's not her fault? There's a shade of distance, to her voice, reflective. "Lord Brother said, he'd make the tough decisions... I didn't have to make choices any more. It made me happy, until I realised... I'd choose something else. Then I blamed myself... guess I still am," she adds, a shade apologetically.

It's so hard for her just to accept he's at fault, even knowing what she does now.

"I still don't know if... he's trying to be nice, or he's getting back at me," Mikoto says, after a moment's hesitation. "But, I'm scared. What if he gives me another gift..? Or --" here she flinches, "or what if he decides I'm ungrateful? I stopped practicing... in case he knew. Maybe I was pushing too hard, and, that's why." It's as if she can't even conceive of the idea that he might be cruel for no reason, just to see what explanation Mikoto makes for it.

Her fingers tighten, momentarily, around Yumi's. "Mai's getting snacks for New Years... but I'm scared. What if my Lord Brother wants to celebrate again..? I wanted to go to festivals and stuff with him, but, but... the way he's giving me what I want feels so bad, Yumi."

<Pose Tracker> Yumi Ohzora [Infinity Institute (11)] has posed.

Yumi curls her fingers. It's normal, so she appreciates it more as something she's used to than as a novel idea. ...And besides; her mind is on Mikoto's words more than her fingers. That distance...

"It's okay," Yumi says of blaming herself. "Nobody's mad at you for feeling bad, okay?"

Of course it's hard. Yumi doesn't entirely get it, she's sure--she thinks she doesn't have much experience like that, but she can imagine it, of course. And...

"I couldn't say what he feels," Yumi admits. "It could be either, or it could be something different. I only know what I've seen. And what I've seen is he's acting unfair to you."

"...You don't have to stop. It's not your fault--you're not pushing too hard. If he wants to 'celebrate'..." Yumi shakes her head. "Well, I'll be with you, OK?"

"He's not giving you what you want--or else you wouldn't feel so bad about it. He's giving you things he can say are what you said you wanted... but it's just words, I think. He's really good with them--and I know you have trouble with words. ...But he doesn't, I think."

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

Yumi says he's acting unfair, and Mikoto glances aside, with a little nod. It's unfair..? ... it's unfair, she repeats, in her mind. Her hand repeats that squeeze, too, when Yumi says she'll be with her. "Mm," she agrees. "I'll be okay, 'cause I'm not alone." The fact that he seemed to anticipate those feelings...

But, what she said she wanted -- it's a key semantic difference. Mikoto is no good with those details, and she nods, when Yumi notices. "My Lord Brother... learned how to lead," she explains, with a shred of hesitation, lingering guilt over revealing their private faces. "I learned how to fight... so I didn't have to know about talking good. I... didn't need to express myself, 'cause Lord Brother already knew. I felt like I was so close to him, he understood, but... it wasn't always how I felt. I didn't... want it like this. Sometimes I think I'm the one being unfair... but," she shakes her head, interrupting her sad thoughts with the fact of the matter, "I was raised to think that way."

Her free hand comes up, to clasp at her heart. "I... I know," she says, her pronoun staggered. "It's not my fault. He's being, really mean, even though he's so nice about it. He knows I'm worried about everyone now, so -- so he put everyone in danger with the Orphans he caught, and now he put the whole world in danger with the bad memories, and... and I know it's not, but, it feels like my fault," Mikoto adds, quietly, looking away. "'Cause I left, now my Lord Brother has to take advantage of things like that." Her shoulders curl in, as if she could make herself even smaller, there beside Yumi. "Sometimes I think... if I apologised, really apologised, would my Lord Brother stop hurting everyone..? If I showed some humility... he deserves that much, right? Since I left him alone for Christmas..." Mikoto swallows, tension all at the edges of her lips. "He said I was, in the nick of time... what if I'm too late next time? My Lord Brother doesn't care about hurting other people... what if the whole world got hurt? A lot of people could die. Can I just stand aside and not take responsibility? And let people die 'cause it's easier for me, again..."

... again.

<Pose Tracker> Yumi Ohzora [Infinity Institute (11)] has posed.

Yumi knows it takes time and effort to believe things like this. ...She's not sure why she knows that exactly, but she's sure of it. "That's right," Yumi confirms when Mikoto says she's not alone.

And it is a very key difference, and Yumi sees it... because Yumi, too, learned how to lead. She sees Mikoto's guilt, but Yumi understands, right? "You were," Yumi confirms too when Mikoto says she was raised to think that way. It's important. It's good, that Mikoto knows it. Even if it's hard for her.

"...But he doesn't have to," Yumi says softly when Mikoto finishes. "He doesn't have to do the things he's doing at all--he might feel pressure to, but just like you, he gets to make his own choices."

"...I understand that you feel that way. The thing is, though..."

"...We promised," Yumi says, "That we wouldn't sacrifice people anymore. And you're a person too, Mikoto. We won't sacrifice you because it might save some people--we'll stand with you, instead, to try to save those people our own way."

"Whether or not he'd stop--and I'm not so sure that he would, because he was doing it before you left too, right?--...you matter enough. You're important to us. OK?"

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

He doesn't... have to.

At first Mikoto's lips part, as if to contest that he feels he has to, this thing they were trained to do from their births. But Yumi addresses the very point before she can make it, extends that charity to him, and reemphasises the role of his own choices.

That's what he chose to do..?

She looks up to Yumi, eyes wide, when she declares that they're not sacrificing her, either. Is that... what she was talking about? Doing that to everyone, just like Mai did... she can't deny the idea that he might not stop, either. He has something to believe in, too. (He believes in her.) "Even though... my Lord Brother's consideration is causing trouble for everyone else? It's okay..?" She releases Yumi's hand, here, but it's just so she can wrap her arms about her midsection, attaching firmly to the side of the taller girl. "I don't want my Lord Brother to make me a burden for everyone! I want to stay! It's nicer up here, really, really! I don't wanna be tricked..!"

Would she have really made a decision like that..?

Mikoto buries her face against Yumi's side, with a sniffle. "I mean, I, I know why he feels like he's gotta... but... how can my Lord Brother choose to do this to me? I miss him, too, but -- but when it's like this -- it really hurts. It's mean, but, he's sweet and gentle and, and happy to talk to me, and I get so mixed up... it's on purpose, right? Lord Brother is clever, he knows what to say... and... and he must've planned this for a long time," she adds, with sinking realisation, as she puts together her conclusions in the context of him. "Just 'cause he was curious if I could make it... just 'cause of that, he sent us to a boat like that... like dead deer, and... my Lord Brother knew I had to kill him, right..? It, it was his rules..." She trails off, all uncertainty and dread.

<Pose Tracker> Yumi Ohzora [Infinity Institute (11)] has posed.

He chose it! Yumi is certain on this point, though certainly she's sure it might seem like he doesn't have a choice to him. ...Well, sure it might seem like that, because she's not so charitable to him in her private thoughts, but if Mikoto believes then she will at least entertain the possibility.

It's Mikoto's hope; it's not hers to crush.

"Mm-hm," Yumi says. "Even though." Yumi reaches to put an arm around Mikoto too, and then the other, hugging her as she's clinging onto her. "And we want you to stay."

How can he do it...?

"I don't know," Yumi admits. "...I know he's smart. I know the things he's done. But I can't know his heart. ...I know his actions, though. And..."

She bites her lip. Someone Mikoto had to kill....

"...That's something I don't know either," she admits. "What all you had to do because of those rules. I know it's hard. ...But I'm willing to listen if you want to talk about it."

<Pose Tracker> Mikoto Minagi [Ohtori Academy (11)] has posed.
<SoundTracker> Kawai Kenji - Giwaku https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p8ZuVJRxhdE

"... I know... my Lord Brother's heart," Mikoto says, quietly, a shade muffled. "I can't keep up with him... I don't know a lot. But I know... I know we're family. We love each other... we just never learned how to do it nice. That's why I gotta save him. Before it goes too far, and someone makes him memories in a hole, too." She doesn't speak on the similarities between her and the other evildoers of Dark Fall, this time, but it wasn't so long ago she expressed that the only difference between her and the people who couldn't be saved was a fluke of ramen and understanding.

And in that lull, she doesn't quite realise what she's admitted, speaking freely to someone like Yumi. It's only when she trails into admitting she doesn't know what Mikoto had to do that, that she stiffens up in Yumi's arms, chin lifting for a sharp breath. "I --"

She settles back in against her, a moment later, all her strings cut. "I..."

She worries: would Yumi think badly of her? But what did she say, just then? She said she killed someone, didn't she..? ... so even if she said it wasn't important, the damage is done.

"I was brought up to serve my Lord Brother," Mikoto says, finally, and the words are numb about the edges. "Brought up to love no one other than my Lord Brother. But... one day, he left. Our Grandfather took over my training... I worked really hard so my Lord Brother would come back. Grandfather was the only one who was kind to me, after that. But one day, I told Grandfather I loved him, too... it w-wasn't allowed." Here there is a pause, a break in her words, a break in her voice, and her hands clutch fistfuls of that wonderful scarf Nori gave to Yumi.

"I couldn't apologise enough... he told me to get dressed and come outside, even though it was bedtime. I had to kill him. If I didn't, he... my Grandfather was good with swords, too. He wouldn't hesitate, so there was an enemy in front of me... and, without thinking, I... I didn't, either." There's a certain distance to her tone, but the occasional wobbling of her voice stops her tone from being truly dull. "The moon was out, so I could see it, on the grass... it smelled, it... he held my hand and said I was a fully-fledged HiME, now. 'Cause, I... that's what it took. He was proud of me for doing it... 'cause I could only love Lord Brother. Grandfather told me and Miroku we had to look for my Lord Brother, told me where, and, and... I just... I left him there, in the grass. They took me away to go to Tokyo, then... so I don't know what happened to Grandfather." Her voice ratchets down, a touch quieter, a touch more miserable, a touch more foreboding. "The people I kill... I don't stay to find out. I don't know about funerals at all..."

<Pose Tracker> Yumi Ohzora [Infinity Institute (11)] has posed.

Mikoto knows, and Yumi has already promised herself that she won't be the one to crush hope today. So she doesn't; she nods. She says, "Right. If I can help you... I will."

She doesn't like him; she doesn't approve of him. She isn't sure he has anything 'good' inside him. ...But he's not hers to give up on.

Mikoto admits something, and she settles, and....

Numb about the edges. Yumi knows that tone, though she couldn't say from where. But she listens, and she listens, and... there's...

Yumi blinks. She is stunned, for an instant, by the story. Mikoto might have an agonizing half-second to worry if Yumi does disapprove. But only that long, because--

"Oh, Mikoto," Yumi says, and there is warmth and love and worry in her voice. "That's awful," she says. "That you would have to do that..."

She can't forgive Mikoto's Lord Brother in the moment. For all her high-minded ideals about not crushing Mikoto's hope, the horror she feels in the moment is far, far from hope.

"I'm so sorry," she says, and blinks away tears of hurt for Mikoto. She hangs onto her tightly--Mikoto could surely break free of her grip, but she holds all the same.

It is... profoundly, profoundly wrong. She is not certain, in the moment, that she can forgive Mikoto's Grandfather, either.

"...Most people don't like to think about funerals," she says softly after that. "You're not alone in that, either."

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

Is it strange, that Mikoto can speak of her hopes to save him, and so soon afterwards speak on the horrific test of loyalty her family thrust on her for his sake? Perhaps, thinking of it that way...

It's an agonising moment. Until Yumi speaks, Mikoto is very, very still.

She could break out of her grip, certainly, but it's the last thing Mikoto wants to do. Her shoulders shake, and no doubt she's crying, hidden there against Yumi. How could she not? Yumi's crying, too.

"That ship, I thought it was a ritual... like one of Yumi's assignments... I didn't mean to hurt him," Mikoto says, all wobbly-kneed, all muffled. "It was something being used... I didn't see a person. And I treated her like that... I'm still mean, too!"

She takes a breath, tries to calm the pulsing hammer of her heart. "It's... it's okay," she says, swallowing down those tears, trying to calm herself. "Back then... Eri said it's the only way my Grandfather could protect me. If I'd broken the rules and, didn't prove I was loyal... my family wouldn't have liked it. He gave his life for that..."

Mikoto pauses, regret seeping into her voice. "I... I wish he'd protected me. I was only little... but I had to train every day... it was hard for me. But, our destiny was bigger than us. None of us could say no... we had to fulfill our duties. I -- I got to say goodbye, in Obon -- when we went real far to visit another one. Ever since I remembered... even before I remembered... I thought it was my fault. 'Cause I killed him." She shifts, in Yumi's grip, to look at one of her curled hands. "... with these hands, I kill people I love... that's what I can do. It was very hard for me... it's still hard. I'm still all shamed, sometimes. But, I didn't have a choice. It... it wasn't my fault," and each time it is strange to say, and each time it is vital she says it.

"That power... that's what my Lord Brother wanted from me. He needed someone like that on his side... a murderer, who wouldn't hesitate, even if I loved my enemies. I had to be a warrior who could defeat any enemy... I think I would've had to do something like that, even if I did everything right. 'Cause it wasn't my choice." Mikoto glances aside from Yumi's uniform, now, a brief reveal of the deep frown on her face, the tearstreaks on her face. "But... I don't know if it was my Lord Brother's choice, either. Or if it was just the rules they made for us... Lord Brother never talked about Grandfather. Not even during Obon..."

<Pose Tracker> Yumi Ohzora [Infinity Institute (11)] has posed.

Yumi feels a little guilt, for not thinking of the possibility that he'd been protecting her in the only way he could. It lingers, and will trouble her later as she considers it. But for now...

"I thought so too," Yumi admits. "I didn't think it was a funeral, I thought it was some kind of awful... spell."

But it's okay, she says. "...That makes sense," she says. "You had to prove it..."

But... protection. "I see..." She nods. "...That's right. It isn't your fault."

"You've got it, I think. He needed that warrior. ...I think you're probably right; it would've come to something like that sooner or later either way. Because it wasn't your choice."

She squeezes Mikoto lightly, and looks at her for a long few moments. His choice...

"I don't know," Yumi admits. "...Who are 'they', Mikoto?"

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

Mikoto nods, looking up to Yumi, catlike eyes still glossy with tears. It wasn't her fault; it wasn't her choice. When her Lord Brother makes the tough decisions... that's what it looks like, right?

It's not a nice thought.

She blinks in surprise, though, when Yumi asks an unexpected question; a few more tears fall down her cheeks, freed from the prison of her lashes. "It's..." She starts, uncertain, with an evasive glance aside.

She's silent, for a moment, humming doubt through her lips. "I thought of them as my uncles, 'cause they were involved in family business too, but no one really explained it... they came to the shrine sometimes, but they spoke with the men, not me. They weren't too friendly... and they dressed different to us, too." She could never see their eyes... it was unsettling, to her.

Mikoto closes her eyes, grasp tightening around Yumi for a moment. "When I killed my beloved Grandfather... they just watched. They got me to Tokyo... but no one asked if I was okay. I was my Lord Brother's most valuable weapon... but I really felt like a tool when I was around them. They weren't nice to me like my Lord Brother and Grandfather were, so I don't feel good about them. But sometimes I wonder... how many Minagis are still out there, still loyal?" She sighs, deflating into Yumi. "... I'm being rebellious, so I worry about that."

<Pose Tracker> Yumi Ohzora [Infinity Institute (11)] has posed.

Few of these thoughts are nice.

But an evasive glance, and an answer nonetheless. "Uncles," Yumi repeats, and is thoughtful, thinking for some reason of people in her own life for a moment. She shakes that off easily enough, frowning at the matter of just speaking with the men... and Mikoto holds tighter and that's fine.

"Just watching..." Yumi nods. "I see. Well..."

That doesn't answer who they are exactly, but it makes Yumi wonder. Mysterious people enforcing 'rules' of some kind...

"You're living your life," Yumi says. "And that's okay. And if there are more Minagis out there... then we'll have to give them a chance to live theirs, too."

"That's all there is to it, right?"

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

It may well be that Mikoto doesn't have the answer, exactly. The men made the decisions, growing up. And she...

"A chance," Mikoto echoes. "... yeah. I want to... help my family, too. I don't really understand everything... but I don't think it was fair."

She nods, with an affirmative noise. "That's all," she agrees, firmly, and she's quiet, for a moment.

"... but..." The trailing addition is quieter, as Mikoto looks up to Yumi, again.

"... sorry Yumi knew what death smelled like. It was... it was really horrible. I didn't know, but... Yumi did right? How it ends up... it must be hard." Even after a revelation like that, she's still worried about Yumi...

<Pose Tracker> Yumi Ohzora [Infinity Institute (11)] has posed.

Yumi thinks that's about as much answer as she's likely to get for now in any case, and it's good enough. She can investigate later. For now...

"Yeah. It's not fair," Yumi agrees. And that's all. But? But, a quiet addition, and Yumi tilts her head to listen don at her friend. That question...


Yumi doesn't go distant--not after this conversation--not exactly. But she sort of looks at a faraway place past Mikoto for a moment, seeing into her memory instead of into the moment.

"Not everybody left the hospital to go home," Yumi settles on saying. "...And I'm familiar with funerals and stuff, too."

"And when you're like me... Well, you think about it, you know? I can't really not. But it's okay. ...Thanks, though. I appreciate that you're worrying over me."

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

This time, rather than clinging to Yumi, Mikoto puts her arms around her so she can hug her properly, too. "Can't not... it's okay," she says, in echo.

"I... I don't wanna worry Yumi," she says, and in Mai's house, the implications may be obvious. "But... I'm happy Yumi's caring about me, too. My Lord Brother made it sound like he was giving permission for me to be with everyone, but, he said everyone was enemies... so I don't think it's 'cause of him Yumi's here."

She gives her a little smile, as she surmises: "'Cause that's Yumi's choice, right?"

<Pose Tracker> Yumi Ohzora [Infinity Institute (11)] has posed.

Yumi hugs back. It's nice. And...

"I'm gonna worry a little," Yumi says. "Just like you can't help it, neither can I. ...But you've got it exactly right, you know?" The implications can be obvious; Yumi knows about Mai's brother, for one. But...

"It's sure not because of him. I'm here because you're my friend. It's my choice. And one I'd make again."

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

Mikoto makes a happy little chirp of a noise, burrowing in against Yumi's side. "Yumi's my friend, too! I love Yumi! I want to choose Yumi, too!" And, well -- Mikoto applies the word 'love' liberally enough that the meaning is probably implicit, by now.

"Yumi's protecting me... so I won't be scared!" She decides, and perhaps it's strange, considering the differences in their grip strengths. Or... perhaps not. Yumi learned a different skillset to Mikoto, after all. "It'll be okay."

<Pose Tracker> Yumi Ohzora [Infinity Institute (11)] has posed.

"Yeah," Yumi answers, and beams back. She knows what Mikoto means by love; she's happy with it, even. And as her friend burrows in against her side, she thinks about Mikoto's decision.

"That's right," Yumi says, and maybe it is strange, but it feels... right, to take on this kind of position, too. "I'll protect you. It'll be OK."