It hadn’t been long since he returned from the House of Ichijou, but his whole body was filled with fatigue. Luckily he managed to get that heavy kimono off, but it left his whole body feeling sluggish. Ah, what was he supposed to do now? All he could do for now was sit on the couch and drink this green tea. Hopefully it’ll rejuvenate him before the time to meet Chie would come.
Ah…Chie. It was such an honor to have her want to hang out with him. She was just too cute — it made him feel that she was almost too good for him. Since she was willing to be with him, at least it would be okay to get his hopes up a little, right? Maybe this might be his chance — the opportunity that he was waiting for. Should he ask her out? …Only if the timing proved to be right, of course. There was no way in hell that he would do something to make things worsen between him. He’d rather die than have that happen.
His chain of thought was harshly broken by the sound of his phone going off, wondering who it was now. Half-anticipating it to be some stranger wishing him a happy birthday, he was in for a surprise as he read over the text. Chie-san…was outside?
Whoa! Chie-san was outside of his house!!
Now in a panic, he rushed to his room to dress himself, making sure to smooth out his hair. Wanting to make sure everything is perfect, he examined himself in the mirror, a smile growing on his face once the check came positive. Okay, he was ready to go. He quickly took a breath mint before heading towards the door, a relieved expression etching itself on his face.
"C-Chie-san, I’m so glad to see you here. Uhm, s-shall we go?"
In anticipation, the only thing the Chariot could do was sit patiently. She kept checking her phone, poking at the inbox, but she didn’t receive anything. He was home, surely, and yet she seemed lost in midst of her waiting. Her fingers moved to readjust the necklace she wore, grasping her jacket and pulling it so it was straight — she fixed little discrepancies that came up, and eventually, she heard the door swing open.
Her head lifted and she scrambled to her feet in order to properly greet her friend. In correspondence with his expression, she grinned widely and it met her eyes, lighting them up and displaying a warm hazel. Her hands moved and she tucked the present at her side — the box was slim enough to hold that way, after all.
"Yup! I’m all ready to go. Now, where to..? I’m sure your family kept you stuffed, right? So we probably shouldn’t eat.. Oh! I’ve got the perfect idea." Her hand reached out, grasping his own, and instantly she began lightly tugging him along. "C’mon, birthday boy."
A week had risen and diminished into ashes like a phoenix that had lived its first life out. The day had come quickly (more quickly than Chie had anticipated, that was for sure), and the phoenix rose again from the ashes. Her footsteps had carried her along, chasing the sun until she found herself mingling in the Shopping District. She had promised herself that she’d find Kou that day — she needed to give him his gift. It was something that she had worked so hard to buy for him, and if she couldn’t give it to him on the day of his birthday.. She would never forgive herself.
She carried her own weight near where she’d find his house to be after taking a pit stop, eventually pulling out her phone and deciding to send him a text before she barged in out of absolute nowhere.
> To: Kou
> From: Chie
> Time: 5:29 PM
> hey! happy birthday!! is it cool if i come in, or are you still busy with family? we can hang out later, if you need to, but i’m right outside and i’ve got something for you!
Her thumb pressed against the ‘send’ button as she waited, sitting on the front porch and keeping a hold onto the present that she’d wrapped in blue paper, adorned with a silver bow and a tag that had his name written on it in a somewhat messy scrawl.
He was sure to love it. And if not, well, at least he had her company. That was something, right?
Artemisia hissed, like steel dragging through thick ice, dismissing the once-challenging Chariot in front of the heiress and goading her to finishing her off, ensuring that she would remain leader of the pack. Mitsuru ignored the tower of arctic vengeance that brimmed with overprotectiveness bordering on pure territorial, and sighed out what primal reaction had welled up within herself. Now was simply not the time for it.
She had been rather greedy, it seemed. Realising her mistake, the glacial anger receded to an understanding chill, stepping back and allowing the Empress to regain full control and cognition with proceedings. Still, the damage had been done: the younger girl was a shade of her exuberant self and she was visibly upset.
"Satonaka… I suppose our time together had greatly cut into your normal rituals, and that you’ve not seen her much since we…" A pause, and a clearing of her throat ensued. "Regardless, in our time together, I give Yukiko nothing but my all. Nothing but my rawest being, the minimum is always everything. And she does the same. Such intensity brooks little break, and the result is as what happened."
"Please understand that I love her. I care greatly and deeply for her. If you are that concerned or upset without seeing her… I’m not keeping her under lock and key, nor have I banned her from returning home and seeing her friends. Simply ask her, and if that’s her wish, I’ll oblige."
Her Persona remained silent, allowing her to take stock. This isn’t what she wanted to happen by any means, and she found herself wondering if this always happened to those getting into relationships; was someone inevitably put out by it? Angry enough to try stop it? In any case, Chie’s budding tears had to be addressed.
"Satonaka, listen. You haven’t made any mistake that I can identify, and this is how things are and will be, but don’t— don’t cry. This isn’t the end of anything, surely? You can still see Yukiko whenever you please; she is your friend after all.”
Unless there was something she was missing, which in the entire mess was a plausible thing indeed.
She could feel the blade just dance across her neck — the desperation to end her right then and there for any and all brash thoughts that had waltzed across the terrain of her mind. But what she was expecting didn’t come, and Chie was surprised. Her head lifted, and she stared up at the redhead with the few pearls of water slowly trailing down along her cheeks, dripping from her chin onto her plaid skirt. Her heart was an off-beat drum, rhythmic and desperate in its beats, as if it were ready to open up and swallow her own soul in its pitiful wake.
Apologies would never be enough to span across the spectrum of the Chariot’s emotions. But she’d give the Empress a thousand and one of them if it meant easing the pain and the icy temperament that she had unleashed upon her — through way of Artemisia and otherwise. But she’d toned it down, and she swore she noticed that dull scarlet orbs seemed to ease and soften. Her heart popped up once, as if questioning, and perhaps hoping..
The tone of her voice caused her to drag in a shuddered breath from deep within her. Tomoe sent an icy chill through her as if to soothe her, but it proved to set her more upon the pedestal of unease than she would have liked. It made it more possible to somehow scrape up her bearings, shaking her head once as if to deny her thoughts and awaken others.
"Kirijo-san, I.. I don’t blame you for anything. I’m sorry.. all of this was my fault. I don’t know what came over me. You’re.. you’ve got Yukiko safe and sound. That’s all that matters to me. I guess.. it just happened because I really miss her, and I didn’t think I’d ever get the chance to see her again when all was said and done."
The faintest remnants of a smile graced her lips as she tilted her head back against the wall, the rest of the tears making their descent, staining her cheeks. She wanted to be strong, wanted to prove her strength to her — if it meant anything at all. And if it didn’t, at least it made her feel a little bit better.
Her hands raised and she wiped at her eyes with emerald sleeves, sniffling briefly, and slowly (somehow, she realized; maybe Tomoe willed her) she clambered to her feet and smoothed out her skirt.
"It’s all a mess. …I hope I can see her again soon. If I can find her, anyway. She’s always been busy with the Inn. I mean, I don’t blame her. It’s what she has to do. But I worry about her a lot when she works that much."
Aww, this is really sweet! Thank you~!
"Daddy’s always been a little busy out in the city. And he doesn’t look at other ladies. I have faith in him — he wouldn’t do something like that. He’ll be back soon. I promise."