Alma - Of Subletting and the Subliminal

Description: Alma seeks a roommate for his upscale Southtown apartment and unthinkingly posts a suspiciously low rent request. Mimiru seeks a room for her frequent globetrotting visits and is the only one with enough guts to pursue an offer too good to be true. But when the young woman triggers a startling fragment of memory for the psychic, cohabitation may become a means not only to friendship but to self-realization.

The newly constructed apartment complex gleams in the autumn sun, towering above the bourgeois enclave north of Southtown Village. Conveniently located near cafes and bars, surrounded by greenery now auburn and umber, the neighborhood is the epitome of urban upscale. The metal and glass of the modern buildings, despite the occasional deliberate rusting for aesthetic effect, appear impeccably clean. Perhaps, for those used to grungier environments, too clean.

There is something lonely about such a sight.

Or so Alma has concluded from the vantage point of his penthouse, rented with the monetary rewards that have come with his catapulting to artistic fame. He initially had used the additional bedroom in his apartment for storage and casually took up the central living space himself for art, but as time passed he concluded that it might be better to seek company, that it would be pleasant to share this space with another and not experience his return home as such a withdrawal from the city and the world. He advertised online and in the paper for an open house today and posted a shockingly low rent request for a subletter, confident that given the quality of the living space he would have plenty of candidates.

Trusting by nature, it did not occur to him that people would be extremely suspicious of an offer that seemed too good to be true. Having had no visitors so far today, Alma, the sleeves of his tailored dress shirt rolled up, quietly paints as he always does, easel set up in the living room. Leaving the front door open a crack so that anyone who has taken the elevator up can easily enter, he focuses his attention on the unfinished work before him, hair brushed away from his sylvan features and intent gaze.

After years spent away from her hometown, Mimiru had finally returned. The Siren's Call had brought her back to this place, as if a mysterious spell had been cast on her and compelled her to come back to this place. For the first time in her life, Mimiru had known what true courage meant. Being forced to face the one person she felt like she had disappointed the most left her emotionally drained, but also alleviated her from a great burden.

Alas, despite her mother's hospitality, Mimiru didn't find the strength to remain with her for too long. In the end, even if it allowed her to restore the broken bridges between her and her mother, too many things brought painful memories to her and she had to leave once more.

But unlike her first running away, Mimiru wouldn't go too far.

After some searches in the papers, Mimiru noticed an offer that seemed too good to be true. Cheap rent, nice spot... It was, more or less, the only sort of rent Mimiru could have afforted due to the nature of her job and how she kept travelling for it.

"Great, there's an open house today! Let's have a look, Max, shall we?" Mimiru says to her dog. The large bernese mountain dog whines softly at Mimiru, expressing his worries -- as well as Mimiru's own, as if the worries she tried to repress were directly sent into the dog.

She ruffles the dog's hair and replies to him, "Don't worry, I'm sure he'll love you. And I'm about 75% certain it's not some kind of psychopath either,"

What did she have to lose aside from her kidney, right? Right...?

There's finally a knock at the door. "Hello!?" Mimiru calls out as she slowly opens up the door. "Anyone home?" Mimiru calls out as she slowly walks into the room. That's it, Mimiru's going to walk in right into some sort of crime scene of some sort, she's got that feeling.

She looks up at the piece of paper on which she scribbled the important information, "Huh, I came to visit the place... Huh, for the rent and all..."

She glances over at her dog, as if asking him what to do. She's barely in it wasn't too late, she could still flee.

Alma does not notice Mimiru at first.

She will have a full view of the living room as she hesitantly enters with her big dog at her side: well-furnished but clean to the point of seeming unlived in. Yet the sunlight streaming through the wide windows is reassuring, and it wreathes the tall bronze-skinned man standing there in a halo of sorts, the effect magnified by his lofty, entranced expression. The brush in his hand flickers lightly across the canvas before him, his whole body subtly at work in the enterprise, completely absorbed in the activity. Neither woman nor dog enters his awareness for several long moments, giving her time to scan the surroundings.

At last his brush lowers and, with a tranquil air, Alma smiles faintly at what he has produced: an impressionistic image of a young woman in a shrine maiden's garb, her features in repose, exuding a sense of tremendous relief, as though she has been relieved of a great burden. It is a powerful effect for a painting with at times undefined lines and unusual use of color, sometimes taking on sharp or muddy hues rarely seen by the human eye alone.

He turns then, as her presence gently fades into his awareness, broadening his smile at his new guest. "Pardon me," he murmurs. "I ... was ..."

He trails off, gazing at her, his expression slackening as--


'Let me show you, Alma...'


--a blush creeps up his cheeks.

There follows a somewhat awkward silence as Alma stares at Mimiru, still blushing, with a look of almost childlike bewilderment, before he startles and clears his throat. "Ah, er, hmm. Would you, ah, like some tea?" All trace of his earlier self-possession has vanished, the psychic jerkily turning to bumble his way to the connected kitchen. "That's, ah, a beautiful ... dog. That's a lovely dog. What's his name?" As Alma continues making his smooth as silk first impression, his mind races to struggle with the vivid image and overpowering sensations that thrust themselves upon him as soon as he gazed upon Mimiru's face for the first time. This is more than some sort of repressed memory.

He /knows/ he's never done /that/ before.

"Thank you for coming by," he finally says, beginning to recover himself and thereby hopefully seeming like less of a nutcase. "I'm Alma, Alma Towazu, the current resident. I assume you're interested in the room?"

As he speaks, he finds himself repressing a vague sense of regret. Those unfamiliar feelings that assailed him, the heat that rushed through him--

Has he been missing out on something?

Quick check. No corpse around, nothing too shaddy...

Mimiru strides farther into the impressive appartment, awe struck by the display of the living room. It was clean and had a modern look to it. Considering the sort of dirty places Mimiru had been living in the past years, and all the youth hostel she's been in, this place was like an appartment in heaven. Too good to be true.

The girl stays silent as she stares the furniture and admires the sight. Her dog makes more noise than she does, his claws 'clicking' on the ground as he follows after Mimiru.

Hearing Alma's voice startles Mimiru. She jerks up a bit from surprise and she turns around to face Alma, "Oh! I, huh, the door was open, and I... So..." Mimiru stammers, trying to explain, gesturing back and forth. She realizes none of this is making any sense and Alma is just staring awkwardly at her.

His intense stare, mixed with his silence and blush causes Mimiru's voice to slowly fade to silence as well. She folds her arms a bit uncomfortably in front of her, her cheeks blushing, though for an entirely different reason. She didn't know what to say and the way he was looking at her made her feel weird.

"Ah! Yes, yes, sure!" Mimiru says, letting a soft but nervous chuckle escape her throat as Alma speaks again. Mimiru's lips curl into a smile and she waves to the dog, "His name is Max... I hope that's not a problem? He's really a good dog, and behaves well, don't worry," Mimiru inquires.

After all, if Max would not be allowed here then there was no point in staying here.

Mimiru follows after Alma, feeling much more at ease after that first silent awkward staring is over. Mimiru's lips curl into a wide grin and she extends one of hre gloved hand at Alma, "Pleased to meet you, Alma. I'm Mimiru Kasagi," She licks her lips and adds, "Yeah! You bet I'm interested! With a rent so low and the sort of job I do, it would be perfect... I move around a lot, you see, so I might not be around most of the time, so I had to find something cheap but, I mean... Wow, where's the catch? I hope you're not expecting some kind of priviledge or something?" Mimiru says half jokingly.

Alma pours hot water into two mugs as Mimiru speaks, setting the tea to steeping and recovering his composure. This young woman is attractive, certainly, but he can't remember ever being quite so thrown off at a first meeting. Typically his interest lies in a person's aura, a far more vivid and evocative field of perception for him, such that their physical appearance pales into irrelevance in comparison. This is the first time he has found himself transfixed by the sight of someone's face--

"No, there's no problem."

--or experienced what he finally realizes was a surge of desire.

"He seems very well behaved."

Leaving the mugs on the counter and sinking to his knees, Alma smiles gently and reaching out his hand, palm down, toward Max. The dog is initially hesitant, staring at the man fixedly, but finally approaches, whereupon all seems well. Alma's powerful psychic presence tends to intimidate animals initially, but as long as he is careful to present himself as non-threatening, this initial hurdle can be overcome.

"If you travel frequently, that would suit me well," he replies, rising after petting Max for a while and smiling at Mimiru, interacting with the dog seeming to have calmed him down. He accepts her hand and shakes it, briefly wondering where he has heard the name Kasagi before. "When I paint, I have a bad habit of taking over the living room and tuning everything out, but I thought it would be nice to share that space with another from time to time. A relatively independent roommate would, I think, be a good fit."

Alma parts his lips to say more before pausing at her last question and staring at her again for a moment, expression blank. It's fairly obvious he doesn't understand the implication. Perhaps he would have continued staring uncomprehendingly, but in the intervening moment, his mind returns to the striking image of Mimiru preserved as a mysterious fragment in his mind--

"Oh... no."

--and he begins to blush all over again.

"No, nothing like that," he manages. "I've never subletted a room before, and rent is not currently an issue." He tries to put that mildly, but it's hard to say something like that without admitting 'I'm rich!' Well, maybe that will distract her from his getting flustured again. "I hope that's a believable explanation." Considering how hapless Alma is behaving right now, it probably is.

"I don't take much space," Mimiru admits, "I am often out and about, I need to move a lot, so I'm out jogging, taking Max out for a walk, I'm a social kind of girl, I doubt you'll see me around much, I just need a place to sleep and have my stuff around," Mimiru says, trying to offer Alma some good points for her as a potential roommate.

She smiles to Alma and thanks him when he gives her the mug. She lifts it up and inhales the scent of the tea, before she brings it to her lips to gently sip from it. "Also, I'm always taking Max with me when I leave, so you won't have to take care of him or anything," Mimiru explains, "But if you want to talk him for a walk from time to time, feel free. He's pretty friendly, so I doubt he'll be much trouble,"

Mimiru's lips curl into a wide grin as Alma blushes at her previous comment. She tilts her head back and laughs. The look on his face was priceless, "I guess," Mimiru offers with a shrug of her shoulders, "I've been through a lot, and..." She glances at Alma from head to toe, as if gauging him, "I like to live dangerously," Her smile widens a bit, "The unexpected, the thrill... That's what gets me going... I'm willing to take the risk of living here," She says, letting her words trail off a bit.

"You'll have to show me the paintings you do, one time..." Mimiru muses. She tilts her head to one side and hums softly. Noticing his reactions and blushes, Mimiru decides to playfully tease him and adds, "Who knows, maybe I'll let you do a nude painting of me sometime..." She bites her lower lips purposefully, as if to make Alma even more uneasy.

"That would be nice," Alma replies as Mimiru speaks about her dog, sipping from his own mug as well as he listens. "I've never had a pet before. There should be adequate room for him here." It is a very spacious apartment, though not so much that seems too large for one or two people.

As she laughs and examines him, Alma, having settled down for the most part, takes a moment to examine her as well. The rush of familiarity has passed, as often happens with these fragmented memories. Though he retains that fragmentary image -- which he is trying not to dwell on, as just thinking about it embarrasses him -- this young woman is otherwise completely new to him. Her aura is lively and adventurous, but with a hint of darkness and fragility. It is immediately arresting. Even without that inexplicable trigger, he would want to understand Mimiru Kasagi better. Her powerful personality bespeaks a new world, one that his art and training have not brought him into intimate relation with yet.

Her words confirm his intuitions. Alma smiles again, the mug steaming in his hand. "I appreciate it," he replies, when she speaks of her risk-taking nature. He is more prudent by nature, given his interests, but perhaps that will make for a nice contrast rather than conflict. "I look forward to getting to know you better." It sounds like the room's already hers if she wants it.

His smile widens at her interest, expression softening. "Of course." His work is currently on display in the Metro City Museum of Modern Art, as well, but he sees no point in mentioning that. "I enjoy see and hearing the distinct reactions of different viewers. It can be quite revealing."

tSpeaking of revealing--

"Would you!?"

At Mimiru's teasing suggestion, this time, Alma does not become flustered or embarrassed. This time, with a look of absolute sincerity, the artist leans in with great interest, by all appearance taking her offer seriously. "That's very generous of you," he enthuses. "I would find that fascinating." What better way to examine her body and aura as thoroughly as possible, and attempt to explore and trigger again his hidden memories? Perhaps with Mimiru's help, he can find another clue to piecing together this strange prior life secreted away in his dreams.

He's sort of failing to notice the conventional significance of nudity.

Well, this had the total opposite reaction than Mimiru was hoping for. It looks like Mimiru had misjudged Alma, or rather, she failed to evaluate his naivety and innocence correctly. The pink haired girl blinks a few times as Alma seems enthralled by her proposition.

"Woah there, woah there," Mimiru says, lifting both hands up as if to slow down Alma's passions about this proposition. "I bet you'd find it fascinating but I said 'maybe'," Mimiru says. Now she was being a tease. Her lips curl into a smile, "You'll have to earn that right first," Mimiru adds.

"Anyway, we've got a deal..." Mimiru says with a slow nod of her head, obviously happy on how things turn out. She takes a small enveloppe and waves it in front of Alma, "First month of the rent," Mimiru says, "In exchange for the keys. We'll do this a month at a time... So if things don't work out, you can kick me out with a month's notice and vice-versa," Mimiru says. "I'll come back in a few days to move my things... Time to find a friend or two to help me move my stuff in, or do it on my own..." Mimiru says with a nostalgic intonation. Were her old friends still in Southtown? That's a mystery.

[OOC] Alma "PR Dynamo" Towazu says, "Go for it"

Mimiru takes the key, almost forcefully from Alma, "Great!" She says, full of energy, "In the meantime, be sure not to daydream of me too much," She teases. And with that, she dashes off. "Cya later Alma,"

Log created on 17:17:22 11/13/2014 by Alma, and last modified on 18:21:35 11/14/2014.