Miki - Masks without Masks

Description: Miki meets Kiyomi at the abandoned shrine, and quickly assumes she's there to hunt down Azumi. The two of them try to feel each other out, while pretending to be friendly and polite to varying extents. Kiyomi drinks tea. Eventually, Kiyomi agrees to leave.

It late at the night, and the snow is bright from the full moon hanging overhead.

A girl in an elaborate kimono wearing walks up the shrine stairs, her geta clanking through the snow against the stone, her long sleeves hanging down far as she holds her arms out to her side for balance.

Altogether, it's a scene that could've happened a hundred years ago, if it wasn't for the fact that she's carrying a duffel bag in each hand, straightarmed.

...And that she's singing the Kamen Rider Black opening song, mouth spread wide, fangs glistening in the moonlight.

The full moon lies in the middle of the dark tapestry in the sky. It is impossible to resist the moon lust, the call of the wild, especially so close to the forest. A fox with a snow white pelt has been roaming through the forest, howling at the night much like a wolf would, though for those who saw a glimpse of the creature, it's slender and graceful frame were differently too light to be a wolf. Strangely though, the creature seemed to have multiple tail behind...

Alas, anyone who might have seen a glimpse of the creature would have failed to see any trace in the snow, as if it had been just a dream. Miki might have not noticed, but the creature lurked not far and had smelled the different scene in the air... A new scent, yet not unfamiliar for some reason. Someone returning to the shrine?

"Hello there," Comes a soft, feminine voice. Seemingly out of nowhere, a mature woman clad in a similar fashion sense than Miki is standing near the shrine, as if she came out from it. Her arms are folded in front of her, the hands hidden within the sleeves of her kimono. "What brings you here, at this time of the day?" She asks, her lips curling into a gentle, caring smile.

Upon hearing a voice, Miki immediately stops singing, mouth snapping shut. Maybe her fangs weren't visible? She glances over to the mature woman, perfectly calm. "Good evening."

She finishes climbing the steps, lowers the duffel bags carefully to the ground, then bows to the older woman, a respectful bow, perhaps even a bit more respectful than her age would merit.

"I was bringing some clothes and a phone to a friend of mine who's been camping out near here. I was going to leave them here for her, since I believed it was abandoned, but it seems I may have been mistaken?" She takes in the older woman's clothing carefully, looking for quality and the era that particularly style might have been made in, then glances up to her eyes, trying to take in as much as she can in a brief glimpse... before lowering her gaze respectfully.

The woman closes her eyes and her smile widens at Miki's respectful bow. Not the sort of thing you'd expect of most youth these days. She bows her head slightly in return, "Really? At this time of the day?" The woman asks. Despite the disbelief, her intonation seemed more curious than anything else.

The woman turns her eyes off toward the forest for a moment, then back at Miki, "It is a bit cold out there to camp... Has she been taking shelter in the shrine?" The woman asks, before turning her eyes back to Miki. If that's the case, this woman has probably just arrived to the shrine, it seems.

Upon closer inspection, the woman's kimono appears to be made out of silk, and has obviously seen some wear. Recent scratches have been partly concealed, while others have been patched digilently. A particular feather adorns her hair, bound near the barette that holds most of her hair up on her head.

The woman shakes her head, "Mostly abandonned..." Kiyomi answers, glancing back, "It is a place for lost souls, in a way... For those seeking refuge," She adds with a slow nod, "I will not staying here for too long.. Your friend should be able to stay here," The woman admits, giving a wink at Miki.

Miki's kimono, on the other hand, doesn't have a trace of wear to it - either she takes extremely good care of it, or it's very new. She shakes her head at Kiyomi's question. "No, she's just been visiting here a lot. She's staying somewhere else, I think." She hardly moves her mouth as she talks. Her brow furrows a little at the revalation that she won't be staying here for long, and she glances up at the woman's face. She walks closer, step by step, nostrils flaring slightly as she sniffs the air, until she's only a foot away from the older woman.

Her eyes move up to fix on the woman's, staring without the air of respect she was showing earlier. "Mmm. I suppose I should ask why you're in this area. What you're up to, exactly. Because now that I think about it, you being here during this time of day is very odd." Her tone is still respectful, despite her words and her invasive gaze.

The woman doesn't move an inch when Miki approaches her. The expression on her visage remains the same : a gentle smile, her eyes closed, with a stray lock of hair that frames her visage as if she had hastly groomed her hair. Few wrinkles are apparent, barely, but her expression seemed to conceal a sort of silent weariness being that smile, perhaps the fatigue of age, or merely due to the weird time of the day.

"Star-gazing," The woman replies, with no hesitation in her voice. She lifts her gaze up in the air and says, "The sky is beautiful, tonight... Hardly a cloud in the sky, the stars and the full moon offers quite the scenery, wouldn't you agree?"

The woman turns on her heels and she strides inside of the shrine, "Would you like some tea?" She asks, a sudden change of conversation, "You must be cold, I am certain a hot tea will warm you up," She offers as she fetches a few branches that she must have had gathered during the day to prepare a small fire. "Tell me, what is your name, young lady?" She asks.

"The sky is indeed beautiful tonight. It would be even more beautiful without the glare of light coming off from Southtown... but those lights are beautiful too, in there own way."

Miki bows politely again. "My name is Miki. Pleased to meet you." A short pause. "Ah, the cold doesn't bother me, I'm a martial artist. Please don't trouble yourself." Her voice makes it sound almost as if she's refusing to be polite, although she doesn't entirely hide the mistrust of taking a stranger's tea in the middle of the night in the middle of the woods.

"What do you do when you aren't stargazing?" A tone of polite curiousity, her eyes not leaving the woman for a moment.

"Very well," The woman replies softly. Her intonation did not sound like she took offense on Miki's refusal for some tea. Her movements are slow and graceful as she starts a small fire and then prepares all the objects needed for her tea : a bowl, a tea whisk and other things on a small tray.

"I travel," The woman replies, fetching some fresh snow into an old kettle. "Ever since I've been your age, I've left Japan and traveled across the world... But fate brought me back here," The woman says, "I did not expect to meet someone here... Nor at this time of the day," She says, with a hint of amusement in her voice. She settles down near the fire she started, sitting on her heels, and suspends the kettle over the fire. By the looks of it, the small setup she had for tea was already there.

"I will leave shortly, in a few days, but will eventually return..." She looks up at Miki, her lips curling into a smile, "Why all those questions?"

Miki smiles, not showing her teeth. "It's very simple. I'm wondering if leaving you here will leave my friend in danger. If I can't trust you, I'll have to run you out of here so as to keep my friend safe."

"What sort of person would be here in the middle of the night, wearing a kimono torn in battle time and time again? What sort of person would make tea the traditional way out in the middle of nowhere? It seems to me the answers to these questions are 'a dangerous person'. Possibly a murderer of some kind?" A slight shrug of her shoulders. "It's not my job to stop murderers, but it is my job to ensure murderers don't attack my friends."

"Once you're finished with your tea, I ask that you leave this area and do not return to this place for a month. Is that acceptable?"

Kiyomi rests her hands on her knees as she waits for the water to heat up and boil. She listens to Miki silently, though her words make her smile slowly fade away on her face. The gentle and warm facade she had shown earlier replaced by a stern and cold expression, showing an obvious feeling of weariness by the way she lets her shoulder slump down.

The woman turns her gaze into the fire and seems to hesitate, as if she did not want to get into an argument, though she says nothing to contradict Miki. After a moment lost in her thoughts, Kiyomi closes her eyes and heaves a faint sight, "You're very perceptive, Miki," She says with her soft, weary voice.

When steam finally comes out of the kettle, Kiyomi takes a wooden stick to pull it off from the fire. Using a special ustensils she transfers some water into her bowl and adds some matcha tea into it, before she uses the whisks to slowly turn it into a green paste of sort.

"It is a very commendable thing to want to keep your friend safe," She flails her wrists back and forth to prepare the concotion, "I will leave tomorrow," Kiyomi says, in intonation severe, almost harsh. "After I have made my preparations to leave with someone," She adds. "Not before..."

"I might be being unfair to you here," concedes Miki. "But I'd rather be cruel to a thousand strangers than betray a friend once." She doesn't sound angry or condescending, but her voice doesn't contain a trace of pity, either. She's just as calm talking about it as the stars or the weather. She falls silent, watches Kiyomi's work to make tea.

She furrows her eyebrows a little as Kiyomi talks about her preparations to leave with someone.

"And here again we run into you saying things that I find somewhat worrying."

She walks closer to Kiyomi, squats down near her, laying her overly long sleeves in her lap, staring at her again, having left all pretense of acting human behind.

"Let's simplify this: who exactly are you planning on leaving with?"

The woman puts the tea whisk aside and she lifts the bowl up, glancing at the past she had done with it. Once she approves of it, she puts the bowl down and adds more water to dilute it properly, whisking it some more to get the consistency she desires. "We've had a misunderstanding," Kiyomi replies, "I am not leaving with someone.. I am waiting for someone... I need to talk to them before I leave," She explains.

Kiyomi takes the bowl into her head and closes her eyes, lifting it up to her lips to sip the hot water. Her lips curl into a faint smile and Kiyomi adds, "I doubt it will ease your worry, but I have no intention of killing anyone on the on the shrine's ground or the forest around it,"

She glances at Miki as she squats near her and she offers her the bowl, her smile widening a moment. "If you are afraid for your friend's safety, you should stay with her..." Kiyomi offers. There was also another possibility, though the woman doesn't mention it. After all, the last thing she wants is having to leave this place earlier than she expected.

Miki raises an eyebrow. "That's a very specific denial of killing." She sounds almost amused by it. At the offer of tea, she holds up one hand, shakes her head slightly. "I know it's extremely rude and a violation of tea ceremony, but I can't trust you that far. Even if I was to believe you have no intention to kill anyone around here, that doesn't preclude drugging someone and taking them off somewhere." Still an almost friendly tone. "I just came closer to get a better look at you."

She stands up, bites her lip. "Last time I came to this shrine, I saw some sort of... wolf person, on my way here. I'm not someone to attack people based merely on appearance, but when I put that person's physique together with your personality... it makes me worry for the safety of my friend. I don't know if you're that wolf person, but that both of you /and/ my friend would all be out here coincidentally seems a bit much."

The woman seems to show no offense in Miki not wanting the offered tea. She thought its scent and aroma might have been enough to allure Miki into sharing some, but she seems to understand her concerns about her tea. Kiyomi nods her head silently and averts her gaze from the girl, lifting the bowl to her lips and sipping more tea.

To say the girl's intense staring and behaviour was not unnerving would be a lie, though Kiyomi shows only serenity and tranquility on the outside. There was a little something around this woman, when Miki stared so longly, like the illusion of a mirage, like a disruption of light, as if air was gently waving around her, but mostly behind her. Perhaps it was just a little trick her mind was playing her.

When she rises up, Miki would feel something grazing the skin of her hand. Something soft, like fur. The sensation lingers only a moment though. "A wolf person?" Kiyomi asks. It seems to have roused her curiousity, "With my personality?" Kiyomi asks, amused. The woman hums softly and arches a brow, "Tell me, Miki... What does your friend and I might have in common that makes you think our presence here is not a coincidence? Was she a traveler, like me?"

...Okay, after /those/ occurences, Miki is definitely going to keep staring now. It might be she's just activating some chi, but that's more reason to keep an eye on her if anything.

"...if by 'traveler', you mean 'got thrown out of her house after she came out to her parents', then yes, I guess she is. And my parents aren't going to let me take a girl like that into our home, but that doesn't mean I can't try to help her out a little." A shrug. "As for the wolf person, I don't know if it has your personality, but I get the feeling you two or connected."

"Let's put it this way: If you meet a friend at a shrine, that's one thing. If on your way back, you see some kinda wolf person... that's wierd? But you can chalk it up to coincidence. But then when you meet a third person at the shrine, you say to yourself 'this has to be connected somehow'. Because it's just too many coincidences, you know? I mean, you can call it 'fate', or whatever, but that's still a kind of connection. So there has to be some connection between at least two of the three of you, if not more."

The woman remains silent as she drinks her tea. Miki is giving her plenty of food for thoughts and this is exactly what she is pondering about right now. "I see..." Kiyomi says with a slow nod of her head.

Kiyomi lifts her gaze up to Miki, her lips curling into a gentle smile, "Forgive me," She adds after a long moment, "I did not know how much stress this whole ordeal has put you through," The woman turns her gaze back to her tea, contemplating it for a moment.

"I will leave the shrine," She finally says, "... Once I am through with my tea," She nods her head, "No need for me to cause you more worry for you and your friend.."

"Appreciated. But what about the person you need to speak with?"

Miki is silent for a moment, continuing to watch Kiyomi, not looking away for a moment. "I suppose you could leave a note, or if you told me who you wanted to speak with, I could tell them you were looking for them if they came by while I was here. I could pass word on to my friend, too, in case they met up with them."


"I imagine you have your own hardships, so I don't want to get in your way more than is neccessary to protect my friend."

"Hopefully, we might meet mid-way," Kiyomi says as she finishes her tea. The woman then uses the remaining water in the kettle to quench the fire, and she starts preparing her things to leave, gathering all of her belonging (which was mostly the things related to the tea), into a larger piece of clothing she folds neatly into a bag.

She glances up to Miki and smiles, "That is very kind of you... If you see someone looking for Kiyomi, tell them I left to look for my brethren," She says with a slow nod of her head, though her intonation made it sound like she doubted she would meet such a person.

The woman rises up with her bag, and goes fetch her umbrella, "Take good care of yourself, Miki... And your friend,"

Miki furrows her eyebrows at Kiyomi's hope of meeting this person halfway, and as the woman turns to put out the fire, her eyes momentarily narrow, an entirely ruthless expression flickering onto her face, the fingers of her right hand flexing slightly. But just as quickly, that expression is gone.

As Kiyomi glances up to her, she smiles back, an earnest-looking smile, with none of the murderous gaze she had a moment ago. "I will certainly do so. I hope you meet your friend too, one way or another. I'm sorry I've behaved so rudely to you, Kiyomi."

Kiyomi glances over to Miki, her lips curling into a weary smile. It was not the first, nor the last she got this sort of treatment, though she'll never totally get used to it. She gives her a slow nod of her head.

The woman turns on her heels and she walks away, "Good night, Miki," She says. As she leaves, Miki might feel that same sensation one last time, a tickling sort as if something brushed her arms momentarily. And Kiyomi slowly makes her way out of the shrine, carrying what little belonging she had.

Log created on 15:19:07 01/28/2015 by Miki, and last modified on 20:32:14 01/28/2015.