|Standing on the sidewalk just beyond the reptilian reach of acidic green lights, guestlist divas, and the velvet rope, Miki chewed her lip and scrolled repeatedly through the numbers in her cellphone. Midori. The first and foremost option in her moment of weakness. But... but.... It didn't seem right, to go to her with this.|
Coming in a close second was Tetsuya. Somehow, she knew that option would suffice. But wasn't that running? Besides, he had no interest in hearing her sob stories, and probably hadn't a comforting word to share. But she'd wake up in the morning having forgotten her woes - provided he was even available.
Likewise, there was no guarantee Midori was available either. The fact that she wasn't joined at the hip with her boyfriend quite possibly meant she had other engagements.
After suffering enough indecision, Miki punched speeddial two and hopefully pressed the phone to her ear.
Minamoto Midori had other engagements: with Picasso and the rest of his cubic friends and this week's chapter for the Legal Environment of Business spread out over her bed for tonight's hot date. One or two nights a week the Elite took herself out of social commission, blitzing through one week's worth of homework to free up the rest of her week. She'd even dressed to the nines for the occassion; sporting a ponytail, an old cloud8 t-shirt, and a cutoff pair of sweatpants. She couldn't have looked more thoroughly unelite if she'd tried.
Blinking in surprise as a particular ringtone announced a particular caller -- number three on her own speed-dial -- Midori reached over to turn down the sleek speakers connected to her laptop and quickly answered.
"Micchan?" Miki asked, sounding particularly wistful - though, this was more due to the racket nearby and the futility of attempting to hear through it. "Are you busy?" Hedging was for calmer times.
The book flipped shut; already, Midori was mentally rearranging the week to make accommodations. Whatever problems there were inherent in her relationship to both of the Takatsukasa twins were a priority over cubist art and contract law. "No," she said simply, organizing her notecards so as to hold her place. "What's up?"
Miki wasn't sure if Midori could hear her over the hubbub nearby, so she cupped a hand around the phone. "Are you sure?" She asked to confirm. "Could you pick me up -- or wait - I can cab it over there? Are you home?" This she realized as a few cabs pulled up nearby to deposit more clubgoers into the sticky metropolis.
"Mhmm~" confirmed Midori brightly, to all questions. Sure as there were stars in the sky, perhaps surer. Absently playing with the ring of emeralds on her right hand, the Elite wondered what it was that had created this particular crisis, since that's what it seemed to take these days to get calls from Miki out of the blue.
"Just catching up on some school work," she explained, in order to set aside any of the other girl's lingering concerns. "So I'm home."
"You don't mind if I come over? I'm sorry, I just, it's really stupid but I--" Miki rambled on. It had seemed wrong to call on Midori for this of all things, and the sentiment lingered. Mixed in with a few drinks, she was a bit slow on the uptake.
"Miki." Flatly, and spiked with a little emphasis, Midori's response was designed to cut through any remaining shreds of doubt. "If it wasn't okay, I'd tell you I was busy and carry on with my life."
"Okay. Okay. I'll be there soon." Miki slid her phone closed and lassoed the nearest cab. The ride to Midori's apartment made her vaguely nauseous, but she suspected this had less to do with the drinks and more to do with the storm in her head. Leaning her head back against the seat, she let the breeze whipping in through the window cool her down as best it could. After what seemed like far too long, the cab pulled up in front of Midori's complex. Miki made haste from the vehicle to the apartment, texting the girl from the elevator as she rode up. Am here, don't want to wake your roomies by knocking. It was late, after all.
Not so late -- both of Midori's roommates were out, having failed to coax their younger compatriot into joining their evening party. She came out into the hall, the only addition to her exceptionally unstylish ensemble being a pair of flipflops, and these were off at the door when she let Miki in. "So what's up?" She asked, when the door closed behind them both, making in the general direction of the kitchen to play good host. "Can I get you something?"
Miki shook her head. "I ran into Aki." She said, her expression sharing more than it usually did. "At a club." Choked with a frown and a saturated tone, she continued thickly. "I think...I don't even exist to him anymore Midori." She looked up, meeting Midori's eyes, just barely containing what for the first time, in this longtime friend's presence, threatened to spill over. "He thinks I'm a slut, and that he's better than me." And here, they started to fall. "And," her voice hitched, "he's right, because I'll never be as good as him!" Without her defenses safely about her, the dam broke, and she burst into tears. The utter disgrace.
So Midori definitely took that as a no, stunned for a moment as she stared back at the girl who she'd never once seen cry. "Oh, Miki," she said, once the shock had passed -- heading away from the counter to direct the girl to the nearest available seating, which in this case was a sofa in the apartment's open living room. An arm around the other girl's shoulders, Midori did her best to be comforting; trying to envision the situation the only way she could relate to it -- like those times when she and Ana were younger and she'd come to him in tears after a particularly scary movie. "I don't think I ... believe any of those things," she said, softly -- not coming straight away to Aki's defense but speaking more to her own beliefs on the complicated situation. "Tell me what happened?"
Fat sobs squeezed their way out of Miki's throat; her mascara smudged beneath her eyes. "He-- he called me a slut. You know, because of Tetsuya." Not bothering to try and stave the flow of tears and hysteria, Miki let it all go. "I asked him if he hated me," she continued, "he said no, b-but it'd be better if he did. H-he just doesn't care." Miki blinked through the tears to look up at Midori. "All he's ever done is get in trouble, and s-still, he has everything - even you. It-it's not fair. If I do the same things as him, I'm the bad one, b-but not him. Never him!" A fresh round of tears sent further salt trails down her cheeks; her shoulders nearly shook with it. She scrubbed viciously at her eyes.
"Whoa, whoa." Suddenly aware of what she felt were some seriously distorted perceptions on the part of this long time friend, Midori shook her head, tugging Miki further into the warm circle of her arms. "Miki. I don't know anyone who thinks Aki's the good twin, and look at how many times he was expelled in the past -- his grades and everything are fine now, so of course they're letting him stay. That doesn't mean his slate is clean at all or that anyone thinks he's better than you." Slender, feminine hands rubbed circles on the other girl's shoulders, trying to soothe the sobs she shook with. "I don't believe for one minute that he doesn't care about you. And I never will."
"He thinks he is," Miki replied, vehemently. "I make one mistake -- no. It's not a mistake, I'm not even going to say it is -- and my name's smeared. His isn't." And when it came down to it, whose opinion mattered most? Aki's, and their family's. Miki had, for all her academic excellence, never managed to attract the attentions of anyone but Mika, who encouraged her to be more like herself, settled and boring, and Jiro favored Aki. Their parents afforded some degree of concern and remote attention, interfering if and when someone stepped out of line - which was Aki's department, not Miki's. Now that he was working to his potential in school - as she'd always hoped he would - she'd lost even that edge on him. "What's the point, Mi? I tried to talk to him." She blinked wet lashes, sluicing a few droplets from her vision. "And I get 'sucks for you Miki, you're a girl, you have to this and that' and I fucking hate it! He tried to tell me he looks out for me, while telling me I'm just 'one of them' now... one of those stupid typical girls." Whatever calm Miki had assembled fled her now. "Am I just one of them!??" She asked, her features marred by the onslaught of confusion and rage, emotion and pain. "Because I don't beat him up anymore, and tried to have a conversation with him?" The thought of their conversation, and the fact that it had ended with Aki opting to chase some tail - one of them- as opposed to talk with her, put salt to wound, and her eyes welled again.
"His name is plenty smeared," Midori responded mildly. She'd heard all about it from her own mother for some time and if his reputation was that far reaching then it was obviously the case that Takatsukasa Kimiaki was not widly considered to be a saint, regardless of his improvement in the past few months. Furthermore, Miki'd said so herself not so long ago -- that all Aki did was drag the dancer's name through the mud. And now even that was gone from Miki's sometimes selective interpretation of the way things were. "Has it ever occured to you that he doesn't know any other way to look out for you besides being a little bit hostile? It's how you both are. So instead of a gee, Miki, I wish you wouldn't see that guy, you get it in Aki-speak and at the end of the day it means exactly that."
Miki shook her head, hard. "He could be nice." She objected. "He's nice to you." Maybe that was where all his niceness got used up.
"I've never beaten him up," Midori replied logically, still a voice of reason -- reason without judgement. "I don't have years of buried problems festering with him, I don't have jealousies and I don't have envy. I don't have anything I'm holding against him. And I haven't spent the last few months not speaking with him at all. When he came to Fujiwara and I saw him after the first day in class when he was so ridiculous I told him directly that it bothered me that we weren't friends anymore," the Elite went on to explain. "And those are the differences between you and me."
Comfort-seeking was now replaced by wariness, and it helped sober the younger girl. "He's my twin brother - that should count for something. But brothers who call their sisters a slut shouldn't be surprised if they're ignored for a long, long time! Do you think I beat him up just for no reason, Midori? You know - well, you knew - he's a jerk. I don't have witty comebacks to throw at him when he called me all sorts of names, so I threw fists instead. You know, we actually got along, when we were little. Then he got kicked out of school and ever since then it's been like this. Then he went too far, and no, I didn't punch his lights out for calling me a slut. I left. And I'd call our silence pretty damn mutual, there is no way this is all my fault. It's not like he called and I didn't pick up, you know." Envy? Jealousy? Festering problems? The terminology made Miki evermore nauseous. Unfair standards, neglect, and general lack of understanding were a bit more along the lines of the problem.
"Oh, absolutely. He's an asshole." This was what had made Midori a surprisingly excellent senpai in that last year of highschool -- her ability to agree without losing an inch of ground. Despite Miki's sudden change in attitude, the dancer's arm remained firmly around the Academic's shoulders, still one hundred percent supportive. "Listen, Miki. You don't have to defend yourself to me. I'm not judging you. If you want to be more daring, be more daring -- if you want to go out, if it's making you happy, do it. But what do you want me to say about this? One of you has to be the bigger person for both your sakes and don't tell me you expect that to come from the men of our species. They barely know how to talk in the first place, and rarely the way you want them to. Should he have called you what he did? No. Is he Takatsukasa Kimiaki, and therefore it's at least somewhat unlikely that he'd act any differently than how he is? Yes." She paused, searching for the other girl's gaze. "And you can say what you want about that but in my opinion the facts are as follows: if you didn't care about him you wouldn't be here this upset right now, and the him that you care about is the one with all the rough edges, because he wouldn't be him without them. You need to decide why you're here crying right now -- whether or not it's because you're insulted, or because you're worried that he's right, or because, at the end of the day, you miss your brother."
Miki fell silent, but not for long. She stared across the room at the far corner where wall met floor. "I've missed him for 10 years." Maybe nine. "Everything that was awesome about having a twin brother ended when we went to separate schools." She leaned her head on Midori's shoulder, attempting, perhaps, to get her brain closer to wherever the logic was residing in the room, and glean some via osmosis. "And since then, I haven't known how to talk to him, how to be his friend, or how to understand him. When I beat him up for no reason - that was more recent - it was because I was just...angry. Like he took himself away from me, and now all he does is take himself away more and more..." Realizing she sounded ridiculous, Miki quieted for a moment. "It doesn't matter anyway." She said, resigned, and closed her eyes.
"It does matter -- because that's the problem, that's the thing that's been bugging you both." Knowing that Miki was a Science girl, the lawyer-in-training presented her logic with phrasing that would be familiar to the Takatsukasa. "The rest -- everything else -- is a symptom of that disease." The dancer rubbed her friend's shoulders again, digging up what she hoped was her best reassuring smile, looking thoughtful for a moment. "I think that if you asked him to come here right now he'd be here in a heartbeat -- but I don't think you have before. Maybe because you're afraid that he'll think you're ridiculous or weak, or maybe because he'll walk off while you're this upset? Aki's a jerk, sometimes, yeah. But he's not that deliberately cruel, not to people he cares about. I think he'd come and I think he'd stay."
"That's....yeah." Miki agreed with a sigh, energy depleted after her outburst. "I don't have any reason to believe he'd give a crap, though. That he wouldn't laugh, call it a day, and leave. No reason at all." Drawing her legs up onto the couch, she rested her forehead on her knees. "It'll never happen any other way. Can you honestly see him suddenly 'getting it' and making it better? The last time he knew anything about making 'amends' was when we needed bandaids after a scuffle in the sandbox." Miki frowned into the darkness of her knees. "I can't call him here," she mumbled. Her pride could handle this much, but another blow would be one too many.
"What do you have to lose?" Midori reasoned gently, tilting her head against Miki's slender shoulder. "Send him a text message, like, hey, come to m's. And if he doesn't reply, doesn't come, then you know what? You're right about everything and he's a jerk -- in fact he's so much of an ass that he's not worth the time of day, not worth the dust under your shoes." The elite didn't believe this about the boy -- not for a minute. But progress was made with concessions. "...But if he does show up then it's different, right? Because he wouldn't come at all if he didn't care."
"There are other reasons he might come," Miki muttered, certain that duty (which did not count as caring) and/or curiosity were plenty probable, the latter moreso than the former. "And I risk losing my dignity." At this she frowned. "I wouldn't quite say I have him to lose him."
"Like what? He's either an asshole or he isn't, Miki." Almost seeming to read her friend's mind, Midori noted, "there's nothing about why you're here tonight that he wouldn't suspect he could ask me about later, not that I'd tell him anything. So he's got nothing to gain by showing up. And to be frank with you -- sure, you can keep your dignity. But your dignity's not going to bring your brother back into your life and it's not going to keep you from crying and it sure isn't going to comfort you when you're down." There was a certain Minamoto frankness that both Midori and her brother possessed and it came to the surface now, less harsh than Kegan would have been but just as straightforward. "I couldn't count on fingers and toes all the times I've cried in front of Anryoku, Miki. And so far it hasn't cost me anything but those negative feelings I wanted to get rid of. So if you really want to know what I think, that seems like a pretty stupid thing to hold onto, given the circumstances."
"Whatever." Miki sighed, propping elbows on knees and pressing fingertips to her browbone to ease the headache steadily forming. "If you think there's a chance in hell... why not. I don't have any better ideas, that's for sure." She peeked sideways from behind her hands at Midori. An unreadable expression filled her eyes. "If he doesn't come, you'd still date him." She said this with neither malice nor accusation, but as a fact comparable to the sky being blue. And somewhere in this, she risked losing Midori as well.
"I don't even know what to say to that, Miki." Midori's eyes narrowed, dimmed briefly. "My brother," she added darkly, "is halfway around the globe and yours is at the tip of your fingers. So if you think I overlook, or would overlook that particular discourtesy so easily, without consequence, you're wrong. Or that I would so quickly forgive something like that done to one of my best friends. But it doesn't matter, because he's going to come. You should take advantage of that opportunity before you learn what it's like for him to really be gone."
"Fine." Miki said curtly, not entirely keen on that turn of topic herself. It was a fact though as far as she was concerned. And if it wasn't -- well, it remained to be seen what good there was in people.
She pulled out her phone and begrudgingly punched in a text message to Aki. Before hitting send, she paused. "Maybe you should ask him to come." :|
"No," Midori said, disentangling herself momentarily from the other girl -- headed to the kitchen for a pitcher of water, three glasses, and enough tissue to wipe away the amazon river of mascara black that had swept down Miki's cheekbones. "Because if I do that he'll think he's coming here for me, and that doesn't help you."
"Right," Miki sighed. Hitting send, none too gently, she set the phone on the table and padded off after Midori to help or get in the way, whichever the case.
As it turned out, Miki was neither help nor hinder; she was victim. The pianist turned, armed to the teeth with those kleenex she'd been after, tilting Miki's head down with swift fingertips that quickly attacked the other girl's trail of tears. Satisfied with the progress, Midori tossed the the trash, and reached forward to hug her friend once again. "He'll come." She promised. You'll see.
Miki demurely allowed the cleaning, then made haste back to her phone as she heard it buzzing across the table. Grabbing it, she sent a quick message back, another incoming on its tail. "He's coming." Miki said, not sure whether to be happy or outright afraid of what was to come.
Midori bit back an of course he is with a noncommital "mm," carrying the pitcher and glasses into the living room. She sent them on the coffeetable, pouring two out of three with the crisp, clear icewater. "Drink."
"Yes Mom," Miki replied, sticking her tongue out. Drink she did, and felt plenty better after doing so.
In response, the dancer reached out and almost kittenishly batted the other girl's nose: an innocent swat. There were few mothers Midori liked being referred to! She let Miki finish her drink in relative silence, happy to be physically there for her friend while the other girl contemplated what to say -- but also hoping that the other Takatsukasa wasn't going at speeds too breakneck on that motorcycle of his.
With the arrival of Miki's summons, Half Pint had been abandoned at the bar with her lipstick smudged, but otherwise left chaste and intact. The word chaste could be considered a stretch, but Aki didn't bother thinking about what else she did with her time. He'd cited a family obligation, but in truth was relieved the excuse had come up. He'd not been planning to take her home, but certain girls were harder to shake than others.
He checked himself out carefully, ensuring her sloppy attacks hadn't left him with any smudges for Midori to become concerned about, and then headed over towards her apartment. He hadn't taken the motorbike at all, planning on drinking himself into the ground. That goal had been accomplished to a large extent, and thus the ride back to the campus had been done via taxicab. It took little to no time to arrive, whereupon Aki checked himself out a second time. The last thing he needed upon approach of another encounter with his sister - two in one day, fucking hell - was the ominous looming of an encounter with his girlfriend.
He was fine. Drunk, but fine.
Miki's eyes widened and any haze of intoxication lifted, if for a moment. Had it been that long? She had not the faintest idea of what to say, and here he was. She was without plan of attack, and looking mostly bedraggled. This did not sit well with the Academic.
Midori's eyes flickered to the door, and rather than answer it herself, she squeezed Miki's hand. "It's open~"
It was indeed, the younger twin's considerable height filling the gap a moment later. He looked much as he had from the club, if a little underpolished, just a little tousled around the edges.
"Sup, girls," It was a jovial greeting that spoke of liaison with alcohol, and the Socialite leaned against the door to shut it. "I hope you've got carrots, the Horse is hungry."
Aki bared his teeth in comical fashion, and then sprawled on the first piece of furniture he saw.
Miki, for all the words she'd thrown at Midori not long prior, was silent if a bit wary about the eyes. She glanced sideways at Midori; the look was telling. What's the point if he's drunk?
Sighing heavily, Midori poured a glass of water, thinking about a time when she'd been similarly daunted by alcohol not so long ago. She did what the boy had done then; pouring another glass. "Drink," she said, without preamble, shooting Aki long look that suggested she was hoping he'd find a way to use his head. "Horses need water."
"No, horses are hungry," Aki said. He wasn't that drunk, and he knew what his stomach needed. Nevertheless, he took the water, swilling it down with appropriate distaste. Then he rose, as swift as only a drunken teen could, and vanished into the kitchen. He returned almost immediately with a box of chocolate coated cereal, most likely put there on an earlier visit for precisely this purpose. He set to.
"Right, ladies," he said, after a mouthful of chocolate had set his laughing stomach to rest. "What's this all about?"
Miki assumed this to be her cue, but was more than ready to pass this turn. A more discreet glance at Midori implored that she somehow pave the way. It was her suggestion after all - the logic behind it was hers, not Miki's.
Aki saw the surreptitious glance, and got a faintly queasy feeling in his stomach. Girls only ever looked at each other when they were about to flay a guy to shreds. He put the chocolate aside on the table within Midori's reach. A buffer, you could say, and less baggage weighing him down on the offchance he had to flee the room.
And this was exactly where Midori didn't want to be -- between the twins instead of somehow with or beside them. A brief glance to Aki suggested that he wasn't in deep water with the redhead, at least, who helped herself to a handful of the chocolate cereal when Aki set it down. Midori figured she'd earned as much, or would earn it, in the course of the evening. Popping three kernels of the sweets into her mouth, she chewed, swallowed. "Right," echoed the Elite, fixing her eyes on Aki for the time being. "Some things you said ... made Miki upset," Midori explained softly. "So she came here, and I ... suggested she text you." The Elite's nose wrinkled a bit; clearly the sit-down-hold-hands-and-talk-about it approach was not among her favorites, especially with two people who weren't sit-down-and-talk types by nature.
So far nothing she'd said wasn't obvious, though, and, figuring that they'd had ten years of cutting corners, she went straight to it. "Basically, Aki. I think you need to admit you care about your sister. And Miki needs to admit that she misses you." There it was, laid out on the table as simply as she could put it. And if it made them both annoyed with her then at least they were on the same side again.
Aki said absolutely nothing, nor did he move. His only response to Midori's lay-on-the-table practicality was the uplift of not one, but both eyebrows. Then, his eyes swept to Miki; tearstained, bedraggled, and definitely not the tigerlily flame he'd left at the bar. A further raise of his eyebrows suggested she speak. Fast.
"Well, she said it." Miki said, nerves and exhaustion preventing original wording. Ever the failure at verbal communications, she shrugged, diverting her gaze. "I don't know what else to say." This, the honest truth, though brusque and a bit defensive.
"You could start with why the fuck you got me to come all the way here to talk to me through my girlfriend." The response from Aki was not accusing, but it spoke of a tightly controlled anger, held in check by general practice. "You have a tongue, Mikiami. I'm assuming you can use it for more than sampling fish. Try it. Surprise me."
Perhaps it was this flare of anger, thinly veiled if not raging, that called to Miki in all familiarity. Her own sparked, and with it came a much more comfortable state of mind. "Perhaps if you learned to speak to me decently I'd actually want to say something to you," she snapped, instinctively.
"Perhaps if you stopped fucking twisted the nice things I say to you to your own fucking ends, I'd stop using insults. It seems they're the only fucking things you can't destroy." The youth's features were flat, his tone icy. He'd yet to roll onto being deliberately insulting, which was a plus, but mockery hovered around his words like a winter blanket, smothering and thick.
Torn in any number of directions, Midori briefly entertained the idea of melting into the sofa cushions, pooling there invisible and safe from hard tones and decade old grudges. For the time being, she held her tongue, tension flickering in a little muscle on the side of her cheek where she bit -- a nervous habit. It came from was born of putting up with her mother, of all things.
Cornered, by Aki's reluctance to be anything but rude, and her own inability to say anything mildly sappy, Miki looked at Midori, then back to Aki. "This was a bad idea." She said, ruefully.
"Sit. Down." Midori's tone took a sudden turn, a far cry from the passive observer she'd been ten seconds before. Hand on one of Miki's bony wrists, and not letting go, she looked from one Takatsukasa to the other. Even her language took a turn for the fouler side of polite. "Aki, that's exactly the type of bastard attitude that keeps Miki from feeling like she can talk to you in the first place, and Miki, that is the type of passive aggressive bullshit that makes him feel like what he's said gets twisted."
Dark eyes stormy, she shook her head. "And you're both wrong and you're both stupid and if you keep this nonsense up then someday -- and this terrifies me -- one of you is going to ask me to make a choice and I don't want that to happen ever."
Aki rose, abruptly feeling old and creaky. Perhaps that was the speed he'd played with earlier. Perhaps not. He looked at the ceiling, either asking for guidance or just counting the cracks, and then let out a heavy breath.
"Sit," he said to Miki, clipped and short. Then he strode over to the window, tension evident between the set of his shoulders. He didn't seem inclined to leave, instead allowing the silence of heavy thought overtake him.
Miki did not sit, but the coiled springs of tension that made her seem ready to leap for the door eased, and she tossed her purse on the sofa. Compromise.
"Aki?" Still successful in holding them both to a room, the authoritative power left Midori's voice for a softer tone, slightly pleading but by no means weak. "If you had a choice, what would this be like instead?"
Miki's mirror turned to face her. His eyes were dark and angry, mouth a thin, compressed line. "I don't get you," he said, with characteristic bluntness. Midori's question was ignored. "The only times you come to see me is to fight. I try to talk to you, I tell you I'm here for you. You laugh at me. How is that supposed to make me care? I don't give a shit about what you want to do to yourself, because if I try, you tell me I don't understand, wah wah. Newsflash, Mik'. I'm not going to understand, and nobody ever will. Not to the extent you seem to want. Nobody fucking understands anything. Anything. You don't fucking understand me either; you never have. Do you see me crying about it? No. I fucking deal, because every time I didn't, I got your fist in my face and a bunch of laughs. Haha. Very funny."
"All you managed to do for years is throw insult upon insult at me, and maybe you thought it was funny, or a joke, but I definitely didn't. Who else is there to give a shit, Aki? Mom? Dad? Jiro and Mika? They don't have a clue. It's easy to say or act like none of it mattered, but it fucking mattered a lot. I never asked you to understand me before, and you never asked me to understand you. We pretty much had an unspoken agreement to just not understand, you didn't exactly step up and try to change it either. Forgive me for not keeping up my side of the bargain when your insults really struck gold. You're right, Aki, you'll never understand me the way I want you to, and I don't know the words to explain myself. But I can tell you this much - I let your opinion of me matter too much. And that's a mistake I'll never make again." Eyes flashing, Miki fell silent, having said her piece.
"You're both still dealing in ways that don't leave any room to manuever," Midori observed, drawing her hair out of its ponytail. She began to braid the silky strands; something to keep her hands from falling idle. "in absolutes, in you'll never get me's and I won't let you matter anymores that don't do anyone here any good. I don't know. Maybe the first one's true -- maybe you spent too much time apart, or fighting, or whatever -- but that seems too defeatist to me for either of you, like you're just going to say, okay sure we've beaten ourselves and now we surrender because we are too weak to overcome. And that second half -- that's not true at all. It wasn't true yesterday, it's not true now, and it won't be true tomorrow. Nobody wins like that. Everyone loses. Every time."
Aki looked from one female to the other. The anger had not drained from him, nor had resignation come. He felt extremely fed up with the entire situation. He remained silent for a stretch of moments, during which he examined the two of them - one more than the other. Miki was the recipient of the weightier stare, a hooded thing which drank in every line of her.
"No," he said. The word had a note of finality to it. Each side had said its piece, each side wanted something the other couldn't give. "Nobody can win from this." The words, although sounding like they agreed with Midori, were belied by his tone, and he went on to explain, walled-off gaze never leaving Miki. "This isn't a competition, Midori, it's not rivalry between siblings or anything like you're used to. It's not fun for either of us, and it's not going to be fixed. What it is, is over." His words were for both of them, and now his eyes swung to the girl of green. "I will never make you pick," he said. "I will never make you choose, and I will never make demands of the time you want to spend with your best friend. Don't ever make the mistake of thinking I'm that kind of guy. Also, as much as I like you - love you, even - if you ever interfere with this again, I won't be happy." An understatement at best, and a warning rarely given. "I don't see that it involves you directly barring your own need to fix it. We are not your problem. It's not for you to make a decision over what we feel, nor to diminish it to what you class as being childish competition, nor make assumptions that we're giving up too easily. It's patronising, and beneath you." As he'd been speaking, the darkly clad youth had moved away from his window spot. A big fucking party was calling Aki's name, and the location of its Fun Times was Not Here. One final glance at Mikiami, and the broad shoulders of the Socialite passed her by.
It was not the stare but the words which came from her twin's mouth that doused the firestorm that clouded Miki's head. She could only hope he could see this - but since when did the soul truly speak through its physical vessel? And if it could, what would Miki look like?
"It's true," she'd echoed in the wake of his well-worded diatribe. His parting words were left to settle. Miki looked at Midori - she, a pillar built of straight lines and articulation - and dropped her gaze. "I'm sorry." Her voice did not waver as it had before, both with emotion and fury. She grew stronger with the truth as Aki had laid it out. "I told you it would be like this. But," she looked up at Midori, "I wanted to try." Because you make it sound possible.
A line was a thin thing, easy to cross, easy to break. Miki's words were a little thing, delivered, as far as Aki could tell, in genuine apologetic mode. However, they came across with the full force of Miki's talent for passive aggression behind them, and snapped that fragile barrier with strength her martial teacher would've killed to see.
"Shut. The fuck. UP!" The Socialite spun with a growl that sounded more feral than human, forgetting his alcohol intake, forgetting his previous intention to leave, and forgetting the presence of his girlfriend standing just a few feet away, and aimed a punch that would preferably clear Miki's head from her shoulders if it struck.
Fortunately for the intended victim, Miki had been on the path towards sobriety as opposed to that of further intoxication. Tipsy or not, the girl had in her arsenal but one perfected art, which she employed now. Blocking the maligned fist with a cry, she threw her bodyweight against the bulk of his, steering it to follow the once-trajectory of his fist. On the floor in a flash, knee to stomach, she cranked his offending arm with a twist.
"I may not have your silver tongue, but I. Am allowed. To apologize for it." She said, deadly calm but for the iron tension clenching her jaw. Her eyes locked with his, hard and familiar.
Minamoto Midori went very pale.
Eyes wide as saucers, the dancer watched the two in stunned silence, mouth left slightly agape at the unfolding scene. Sure, Kegan fought people regularly -- and she'd heard by now the basic stories of both twins. Seeing a fight break out in this style, however, was new, entirely.
" -- stop --"
There wasn't much to stop. Aki was held, and he knew both his own and his sister's abilities well enough to be conscious of it. He barely heard Midori, caught up as he was in a history of sullen losses. Their heights had changed, their ages had increased, the scales had twisted as a result. This was something familiar, and infinitely understandable. He held very still, silent in the heavy way only Aki could achieve, and scowled into Miki's eyes.
It was as though the flow of Miki's blood had resumed its natural course. In the position of vantage, she studied her face in the mirror. "I'm sorry for a lot of things." Clarity, for the moment, had found her, though the electric thread of tension still wound through her words. "Letting every word you ever said matter to me is one. Beating you up for it is two. Not living up to what you want me to be is three. Not knowing what you want from me is four." Her expression gradually freed itself from the clutches of angry defense. "Not knowing you is five." Midori had all but ceased to exist, as she stared down into her reflection. "Do you need me to go on?" She asked, steadily, tone clipped.
Aki answered by using his unpinned leg to sweep her balance out from under her, and rolling them so his superior weight was on top of the equation. It hurt like hell, but the change in position wormed his arm free without the bone breaking. Instead of pinning her, he rose with a step back. He massaged his wrist for a second, then offered her a stiff hand to rise with.
"I need you to tell me what the fuck you want me to do," he said, his tone showing their genetics; an exact clip recording of hers. He didn't apologise, it wasn't in Aki's style to do so. There were no further moves made to leave, nor towards violence. The blaze had left his eyes. "Right now, while I'm listening."
Overriding instinct, Miki took the hand, using it as leverage to pull herself up. Standing before him, level somehow despite the height difference, she looked him in the eye, loose fists hanging at her sides. When she spoke, it was without anger, accusation, or agenda, black eyes quiet. "Stop judging me." She started, simply. "Realize, that every name you call me, every insult you throw at me, makes me feel like shit and does not inspire kinship. Remember, that if you talk down to me, that I will respond in kind, regardless of blood. Be honest with me - if you want to know me, or if you don't. If you do, be prepared for me to be honest, too." She did not speak quickly, letting each suggestion form then deliver at a metered pace.
A demand for honesty, coming from someone even less honest than Aki himself. He eyed her for long moments, tucking his hands into the tops of his pockets. The silence ticked by, and then, when he spoke, it was without regret. "I'm not judging you." It was a short, simple statement, but one that wasn't quite finished. "I'm simply doing what everyone else is doing, except I'll say it to your face where others won't. I love you Miki, because you're my sister, because when we were kids, we had something nobody else did. I love you - but I don't like you. I don't like any of those girls. They're there for fucking and nothing else. If you dress like one, to me you are one. End of story. I'm sorry for that."
Midori curled up on the sofa, knees to her chest, starting on a second, thin braid. At the moment it was far wiser not to intervene.
"What exactly qualifies as 'one of those girls,' Aki?" Miki asked, temperately. There was plenty more she had to say to that, but figured short questions were the means to an end.
"I told you already. I don't need to say it again."
"Yes, you do. Because if you think for a second that the way I dress classifies me as one of 'those girls,' then you aren't just judging me, you're judging me on a completely superficial basis. And we have a whole school full of idiots who practically do that for a living. You don't need to fan the flames here." Miki's foundation crumbled as he broke her down, but she clung to the remnants with the ferocity of one who knows a last chance when she sees one.
"I can live with that," Aki said, shrugging her off. "I liked you better before all of this." He gestured to the remains of her makeup, her high fashion this and that. "You were hot, before. You're not my style anymore." Nevermind that he shouldn't be saying this to a blood relative so close, it was the only way he could put the emotion into words. "If I see a girl in a club looking like you, I'd fuck her in the bathroom, and then go home. If I saw a girl who looked like you two years ago in a club, I'd joke around, but I'd take her out, every time." He threw a glance over towards Midori, clad in cut-off sweats and comfortable looking study gear. "Case in point," he said, about a girl he'd teased and insulted mercilessly for well over a year. Another shrug spoke of his nonchalance when his gaze swept back to Miki. "Sorry, Mik'. I'm only a guy. I only see what you show me."
Miki was silent, eyes wide. She blinked, a few times. This was too much for her brain to process. "I... don't... even know what to make of that. I will never try and be your 'type of girl' because you're not supposed to be that to me." This, she said with the emphasis of one very convinced of its righteousness.
Aki's brows twitched, dismissive. "Bite me," he said, and then turned to Midori. "I am going this time," he told her. "I'll call you tomorrow."
Midori's eyes widened for a moment as she was brought back into the conversation by the very person who'd told her to stay out of it before. Quickly, she shook her head at the taller twin -- very aware of how terrible an idea it was to tell one's sister to be more like one's girlfriend. "..ne," she objected quietly. "I was inside studying and Miki went out." The two girls tastes had evolved; when out, both resembled opposite spectrums of what went out on runways. Mikiami had laid claim to reds and monochrome; Midori took up colors and prints. "I'd be dressed up, too." A glance towards Aki briefly pleaded that he not argue this point. However, Miki's comment had the effect of derailing wherever she'd gone with that statement; and soon thereafter her twin announced his intent to leave.
The two of them were permanently lost in translation.
Aki left her comment to fly unanswered. In his mind, comparing Miki and Midori was practically impossible, even best friends as they were. With no real answer to his farewell, he nodded to Mikiami, and took himself out - although not without a handful of chocolate. Horses were hungry, still, and no amount of arguing would change the status of Aki's stomach.