Crossed Arms (Miho Kagami)

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Crossed Arms (Miho Kagami)
Date of Cutscene: 21 May 2018
Location: Kagami household
Synopsis: Miho has always had a habit of crossing her arms and grasping her left arm with her right whenever she's worried or nervous (which was all the time, after she moved to Tokyo). The day after her first close encounter with a youma, she learns where she got it from, and gets a faint inkling as to why.
Cast of Characters: Miho Kagami

Miho came back to the Kagami family's apartment on Sunday, looking disheveled and lightly scratched. "Hi, Mom ..."

Her parents were inside, sitting around the TV. "Miho!" said her mother, radiating concern.

"We heard on the news about some sort of incident on the pier where you said you were going!" said her father. "What happened? Are you hurt?"

"I ..." There was no way she could tell her parents that a monster had tried to kidnap her and that she'd been rescued by a trio of magical girls. Miho shrugged and shook her head. "I dunno what happened, I sort of got caught up in the stampede when people were running away, and a car almost hit me. And someone misgendered me." A perfectly mundane excuse for the state she was in, while at the same time not being something her parents could actually do anything about besides comforting her.

Both of Miho's parents promptly wrapped their arms around her. "While you were wearing a skirt, too," said Mom, who'd always understood that the misgendering would have hit Miho harder than anything else. "What a jerk!"

"Yeah," said Miho, clinging to her parents. She felt bad about lying to them, but what was the alternative? "I, uh, I did get a meal with, with a friend of a friend from school, and another girl, who helped me up. I'm ... I'm not feeling that bad ..."

Dad gave her a gentle squeeze. "I'm just glad you're safe," he said, and Mom nodded.

"... Me too," Miho said softly.

Miho had slept badly on Saturday night, but on Sunday night she managed to sleep even worse. There were no nightmares or anything, she just took a couple of hours to fall asleep, and woke up a couple of hours too early. She still had a couple of scratches here and there, but at least she wasn't bleeding or even particularly hurting anymore.

Regardless, her condition wasn't bad enough to keep her out of school, and so Miho put on the Seishou middle school uniform, stashed everything she needed in her backpack, and headed to the door a few minutes after her father. "I'm heading to school, Mom!" she said.

And then she noticed that she had subconsciously crossed her arms, with her left arm grasped by her right. She quickly dropped her arms.

"All right!" said her mother, hurrying over to give her a hug. "Oh, you've started doing it, huh?"

"I what?" Miho made her face settle into an expression of honest confusion, helped in no small part by her actual confusion.

Her mother smiled. "It seems that the girls in my family have that habit of doing that grabbing-your-arm thing when we're worried or upset."

Miho's smile at that was genuine. "Just the girls, huh?"

Mom chuckled. "Yes indeed, my little girl!" she said. "We all broke the habit as we got older, though. I did it, my mother did it, Grandma Miho started doing it after the kidnapping incident ..."

Miho willed herself to let out a giggle. "I see!"

"Well, I'll see you this afternoon." Her mother gave her a big hug and a light kiss. "Stay safe at school, okay? I love you!"

"I will!" said Miho. "I love you too, Mom!"

Miho headed out of the apartment and hurried over to the elevator. She stepped in, waited for the doors to close, and then dropped her proverbial mask. "Wait, what!?"

Miho Oujino, Miho Kagami's great grandmother and namesake, had been kidnapped at the age of ten in 1949. However, she'd apparently been drugged or something and was unconscious the entire time, and neither Miho Oujino herself nor her family and descendants had ever learned the full details of what had happened on that night.

Miho looked at her right hand. Mamoru Chiba had been the first person to notice her habit of crossing her arms with her left arm grasped in her right, and Miho herself had subsequently noticed that she did it whenever she was worried or stressed. And then yesterday, when her left elbow had gotten scraped during the youma attack, she'd gripped her arm in that exact position ... and then her left arm had started emitting wisps of green-black shadow exactly like the black shard the youma had left behind, and her right hand gained a more pleasant minty-green glow; when the dust had settled, the wound was gone, healed completely as if it had never been there.

A small voice of doubt told Miho that it might just be a coincidence, that it was possible that the gesture was just an odd mundane habit passed down through some quirk of genetics, but she didn't believe that for a second.

As the elevator descended, she got out her phone (with its newly-cracked screen), scrolled to the name "Hokuto Minase" in her contacts, and tapped "New text message."

She typed "Found anything? Because" and stared at the phone for several seconds.

And then she sighed and put her phone away. Social anxiety mixed with sleep deprivation was a terrible combination. Knowingly and deliberately, she crossed her arms, grasping her left arm with her right. This didn't actually comfort her at all, but oh well, it was worth a shot. She was probably getting the cause-and-effect backwards, anyway.

The elevator doors opened. Miho took a deep breath, and stepped out. Well, first things first: she still had to go to school, and presumably so did Minase-san. She'd find out the truth whenever it came to light, and until then, she had to keep on living.

In the meantime, the Death Curse continued struggling to get in through her negative emotions. The Life Blessing continued keeping it out. The balance had nearly shifted in the Death Curse's favor on Sunday, but Miho's staunch faith in the heroes of Tokyo had given victory back to the Life Blessing. And so it went, and so it would continue to go, until and unless something pushed it so far that either the Blessing or the Curse would completely gain the upper hand ...