What Do I Do

Kokoro finally opens up to someone.

Date: 2017-06-14
Pose Count: 23
Kokoro Akakuma 2017-06-14 02:49:27 78563
    It's night. Close to closing time for the Korma Chameleon, in fact. A time when only those getting a late dinner or the most dedicated of regulars can still be found within the restaurant itself. The proper 'dinnertime rush' has come and gone, and even the street traffic (both foot- and vehicle-) has died out. Or at the very least, it's died out enough that it's much easier to see across the street.

    Thus, it's hard to miss the girl leaned against a wall. It helps that the 'cutoff denim vest and bluejeans' look is pretty uncommon, and probably helps even more that she's deliberately chosen to stand in the pool of light a street light provides, ensuring that she's well-illuminated. But mostly it's the fact that there's very few people there, making it pretty easy to spot Kokoro Akakuma, leaning and waiting. She's been out there a while. She doesn't plan on going in, but rather waiting for Rashmi to spot her and come out.
Rashmi Terios 2017-06-14 02:52:33 78564
And so Rashmi does spot Kokoro, from her window on the second floor of the restaurant, and in short order the window is open. The redhead seems about to call down, but thinks better of it, and the window is shut again. A few minutes later, she emerges from the alley off to one side of the Chameleon, what can only be described as a tentative smile on her face as she approaches. "Hey, Akakuma-san," she says, once she's on Kokoro's side of the street. "...You doing better?"
Kokoro Akakuma 2017-06-14 02:56:09 78565
    Kokoro lifts her head up slightly. That one visible eye tracks Rashmi the entire way across the street, and only when she's crossed does the brown-haired girl lean away from the wall and uncross her arms. Judging by the look on her face... well, she's seen better days, but at least she seems to have slept since Monday morning. Rather than answer, however, she shoves her hands in her pockets, and asks a simple, "Got time to walk?"
Rashmi Terios 2017-06-14 02:57:51 78566
"Of course!" Rashmi chirps, gesturing for Kokoro to set the pace. "I've been kind of worried about you since Saturday, honestly."
Kokoro Akakuma 2017-06-14 03:09:21 78567
    Kokoro nods her head a little, then leans away from the wall. And, hands in her pockets, she starts to walk. There's a turn onto a side street, and another down through an alleyway; she seems to have learned her way around this area fairly well, for only having been here a couple months. One turn, another, a street crossed, and they're at a small public playground, abandoned at this time of night. Somewhere they can be alone, without worrying about prying ears. What sane parent would bring their kid here so late, after all?

    But even still, Kokoro doesn't talk yet. Not until she's picked a smallish picnic table, sat herself on the actual table surface, and put her feet up on the seating bench. And even then, she remains looking out an away, rather than at Rashmi.

    "...'m sorry," she finally mumbles. "...'bout Sunday night." It comes out a little hoarse and hesitant, as if it's still bothering her, and also as if she's unused to apologies.
Rashmi Terios 2017-06-14 03:15:52 78569
Rashmi hops up onto the other end of the table, perfectly content to wait until Kokoro has words to speak. When they're spoken, she nods a few times, looking down at her hands. Finally, she takes a deep, deep breath.

"...When the Prince put us all into those nightmares... I guess mine was pretty simple. He made me think that, well... He'd just blown away my magic, shut off Nicomachea, and left me to fall. ....But nobody noticed. Like, I was so useless, nobody could be bothered to turn around and see if I was all right, you all had a fight to deal with. So... I was just... left to fall to my death, y'know? Certain that it was an even chance if anyone would look for my body, afterward." Finally looking up, she manages a hesitant smile. "I was pretty messed up after the fight, Akakuma-san. That's why I was hugging everyone. If I'd've been thinking, I'd've asked first, and I'm sorry about that."
Kokoro Akakuma 2017-06-14 03:28:56 78571
    Kokoro's head turns, just a little. There's brief confusion, then the faintest frown. "...didn't even realize you were trying to hug me," she finally says, a quiet admission. Her brusque way of saying that it wasn't the attempted hug that drove her off. She almost looks like she wants to say more... but then there's that hesitation.
Rashmi Terios 2017-06-14 03:30:50 78573
Rashmi's head tilts to one side. "Y'know... you can say what's on your mind, Akakuma-san. You wanted to talk, I'm not going to stop you." This last, said with a small, encouraging smile.
Kokoro Akakuma 2017-06-14 03:37:41 78575
    "I-" Kokoro starts, then stops again. For a moment there, there was almost that old defiance of hers. "...I'm tryin'." She's not used to this whole 'talking' thing. And it's a little while before she can even bring herself to start talking once more. "...you were mine," she finally admits, her voice now surprisingly soft. "You 'n the others from the restaurant. It... it ain't right. Holdin' that against you. It was all bullcrap anyway. I'm... I'm pretty sure I looked at you like some kinda monster. 'n I'm sorry."
Rashmi Terios 2017-06-14 03:43:13 78577
Rashmi Terios blinks at the admission, shocked into silence for a bit. "I... didn't even notice how you looked at me, Akakuma-san. You don't have anything at all to apologize for... but... d'you mind of I asked you what you mean, that I was yours?"
Kokoro Akakuma 2017-06-14 03:56:11 78579
    "...yeah. Yeah I do have something to apologize for," Kokoro mutters after another delay. "...I know better'n anyone how bad it can hurt when someone looks at you like a monster." She shakes her head faintly. "'s all it was. You, all of them, looking at me like I might pop my top any minute. Telling me I'm scary, get lost. With your eyes, then with your mouth. The eyes were worse."
Rashmi Terios 2017-06-14 04:01:29 78581
"...Oh," Rashmi says, tugging her plait over her shoulder, and fussing with the brush at its end. "...Yeah, that makes sense." Her eyes close for a moment, and she takes in a deep breath. "Akakuma-san... I know you don't have any reason to trust me, but... I don't think you're a monster. I *won't* think you're a monster, not unless you do something actually monstrous. I mean, Norie-chan I won't ever call a monster, and I'm probably going to have to fight her one of these days!" Shaking her head, she looks up. "I'm just trying to say... If you need a friend? I'll be your friend. And if I can help you, I will. If you don't want a friend? I'll still help."
Kokoro Akakuma 2017-06-14 04:25:30 78585
    And there it is. Rashmi's said the wrong thing. Or maybe the right thing. It's a little hard to tell at first, beyond Kokoro's fists curling up into a ball. But then she starts talking. "...'s what they always say. All of 'em. They ain't gonna abandon me. They ain't gonna be like that. They'll be different. They think I'm just some girl that maybe gets a li'l grumpy now and then and I just only met jerks before them. And dumbass me believes 'em. And then they see me get angry."

    She leans forward slightly, enough to bring her arms up and rest them on her knees. "I don't half feel anything. I don't get grumpy, I get pissed. When something makes me feel like crap, I wanna crawl in a hole and die. And the last time I got happy, it wasn't some tiny little giggle, I was over the friggin' moon." Snort. "Happy. Wish I could remember what that's like. But every time I let someone in, they finally see the real me. They finally figure out I got real issues. They see me dent a wall or break a chair or kick some bully's ass for what they did to me, or someone else, and that's it. That's the end. 'Oh, I'm sorry, I don't think we should be friends anymore'. They look at me like I'm some friggin' werewolf about to pounce on 'em at any moment."


    The bottom of Kokoro's fist slams into the side of the table, a frustrated movement that matches the mounting frustration in her voice. "I got sick of it. I got sick and friggin' tired of opening up and getting slapped in the face for it. Kids my own age. Adults. I been through more orphanages and homes than I can count. So I gave the hell up on 'friends'. Not worth the trouble." Her teeth grit a little. "And then I get here. I get here and suddenly I'm a magical freaking girl, and Okana tells me I might not even be human and- and there's people with real-ass problems, not some meaningless crap like whether Tanaka's dating Yamada, actual real crap, and I spent so long just getting used to being alone and finally you all show up and- and what the hell do I do?"

    Wham. This time it's her knuckles into the tabletop. Her voice is getting a little... shaky.

    "The hell do I even do with all this? The hell do I do with a foster home where the only thing they say after I punch some bully's lights out is 'did she deserve it' and 'you didn't overdo it, did you'? The hell do I do with someone who knows what it's like to have real problems? And what the hell do I do when some freaky nightmare asshole shoves them all in my face and shows me the exact thing I'm freaking terrified they'll actually do?! I don't... I don't know. And then you go and say the exact same thing I've heard from every disappointment ever and- and- what do I even..."

    Her shoulders shudder. Her hand comes back up. She buries her face against her arms.

    She wasn't kidding, it looks like. She doesn't half-feel things.
Rashmi Terios 2017-06-14 04:33:01 78587
For a good while, Rashmi is frozen still. She may not have been great at making friends until recently, but that largely because she chose to observe, listen, and do her best to understand. And her understanding of the moment, added to her taking Kokoro's words completely at face value, has her second- and third- guessing her every reflex.

But, finally, Rashmi decides that if every instinct in her mind is all but forcing her to do a thing, it must be at least a worthwhile choice.

And Kokoro, face buried in her hands, feels a pair of hands on her shoulders, arms squeezing gently. "I'm sorry," Rashmi says quietly. "But you look like you could really use a hug right now."

"What do you do, Kokoro-chan? I don't know... but I know what it looks like, from out here. People who see you... maybe even understand you... and are willing to meet you halfway. Just... waiting for you to meet them there, in the middle."
Kokoro Akakuma 2017-06-14 04:38:39 78588
    There's a heartbeat where it seems like that might have been the wrong choice. Kokoro goes completely stiff, every muscle in her body tensing.

    But then something in her gives. She relaxes. Quietly, shoulders still quivering, the brown-haired girl leans into those arms. "I... I dunno how." It's a quiet, wounded admission. "...I... maybe... maybe start small. Just... just one or two. I... I ain't had a friend in so freaking long... what do I do if I screw up?"
Rashmi Terios 2017-06-14 04:40:28 78590
"With a good friend?" Rashmi asks, smiling gently. "Iunno... I'd say, you say 'sorry' and try not to do it again. That's what I hope my friends'd do, anyway."
Kokoro Akakuma 2017-06-14 04:48:29 78591
    Sniff. Kokoro finally lifts her head enough to look Rashmi in the eye... and then immeidately dips it down to wipe at her eye with one bare bicep. "...this... this's a trial, alright? I... I ain't just saying 'sure' to everyone who walks up and wants to be friends. Don't think I'll ever... that ain't on the table. But..." She pauses, falters for a moment, then reaches into a pocket and takes out her phone. Swipe, tap, swipe, and then the contacts list is open, and she hands it over. There's only two numbers there - 'home' and 'emergency crash pad'. The latter number, if Rashmi checks, is Lacrima's.
Rashmi Terios 2017-06-14 04:51:56 78593
Rashmi doesn't have to check the second number - it was saved to her contacts list after a shaken Norie ordered curry and asked that Rashmi be the one to deliver it. Without a word, she opens it up, adding her name, phone number, and email, just in case. Handing the phone back, she bobs her head. "A trial," she repeats. "I understand."
Kokoro Akakuma 2017-06-14 04:58:10 78595
    The phone is taken, and slid back into her pocket. And for the moment, Kokoro just rests her chin on her forearms, still sitting in a forward lean with her feet up on the bench. "...thanks," she finally mutters. Now, though, just about all she can do is stare off across the playground... in large part because she has no idea what to do, say, or even feel after coming apart like that and letting someone right through all her defenses. ...Or any idea what to do with 'having a friend'.
Rashmi Terios 2017-06-14 05:00:37 78596
"Thank you," Rashmi answers still smiling. "And hey... what I said before, about calling if you need help with anything? That wasn't just me being nice."
Kokoro Akakuma 2017-06-14 05:05:05 78597
    "...yeah." Kokoro turns her head a little, and gives Rashmi a faint nod. "I'll keep it in..." She stops herself short of saying something that sounds almost dismissive. There's a faint furrow of her brow. Then she starts again. "...I'll try."
Rashmi Terios 2017-06-14 05:14:45 78598
"That's good enough," Rashmi says gently, patting Kokoro's shoulder. "Hey... You're okay, y'know? Think of your fear like... like it's another bully. A bad one, that knows every button you've got." Tilting her head, she attempts to catch the bigger girl's gaze. "And you know just what to do with bullies, don't you?"
Kokoro Akakuma 2017-06-14 05:18:07 78599
    Snort. Does she know what to do with bullies.

    "Yeah, I... yeah. I guess. I... I ain't never had to deal with this crap before. Not like this. I..." Kokoro finally gives up on fumbling around for words, and just... blows out a long, slow sigh. "...I'll try."