CONTENT WARNING: This scene contains emotional and psychological abuse. Ayana finally gives much-needed energy to Takashi, allowing him to leave the hospital. In the process, she reveals the reason it took so long, and Takashi takes it poorly.

Date: 2015-11-29
Pose Count: 18
Takashi Agera 2015-11-29 08:39:05 16932
Takashi is still trapped in the hospital room - and he's been getting restless. Bad dreams, self doubt, stir craziness. While people have come to visit him before, in their earnest attempts to help they may have only made it worse, by causing him to consider things, to see things from angles that make everything more unhealthy.

There is one thing that Takashi Agera is very sure of, though. He never wants to be this weak, to feel this weak again.

Takashi also can't help but notice how long it's taken Ayana to return. He's been more than slightly upset by the delay. And as much as he's tried to get some work done, trying to work on a laptop - even an advanced DARK Electronics laptop - has proven to be implausibly difficult. He needs to go back to his lab again.

He needs to be powerful again.
Ayana Tasogare 2015-11-29 08:41:34 16933
Ayana did promise she would find him energy, and energy she has found. After signing in at the front desk as his little sister--Ayana Agera!--the girl made her way through the halls to his room, and finally entered without even a knock.

Closing the door behind her, Ayana stalks her way to his bed. "That girl ... Deadmaster? Whatever her name is. She gave me no end of grief," Ayana notes unhappily. She studies Takashi in the bed, thoughtful as she approaches. "Little Fate-chan, however, was far more helpful."
Takashi Agera 2015-11-29 08:47:52 16935
Takashi sits up in the bed. All of the bandages that indicated his wounds are gone - the malady affecting him is no longer medical, but a sort of spiritual thing. He smiles when Ayana comes in the door - not only is he happy to see her, but he's also happy about what he hopes she brought him.

"Deadmaster... Yomi... she's very stoic." he admits, nodding. Talk about Fate-chan brings a smile back to his face. "She's very talented. I'm glad to hear she helped you out - I'll have to take everyone out on a fun day or something once I'm better." he adds, alluding to what he's looking for without just trying to snatch everything from Ayana to look for the energy.

Not that he actually has the energy to do that.
Ayana Tasogare 2015-11-29 08:50:32 16937
"It wasn't enough, though," Ayana says quietly, as she pulls out one little gemstone. "All the energy from one nine year old isn't enough." Wait, did she drain Fate?! "Still, Fate did well to bring it to me, and followed my instructions to the letter. It's not her fault some stupid magical girl came along and tried to stop her. But she made a deal: all that girl's energy in exchange for giving what she had taken, back."

Ayana doesn't give the gem over, just whirls it through her fingers in a show of sleight of hand, rolling it from one knuckle to the next. "So I had to get more."

She hesitates a moment, then asks, "Taka-kun, why can't I feel your emotions? Why can't I reach your mana? Is it because you are in this state? Did whatever happen to you affect us?"
Takashi Agera 2015-11-29 08:54:53 16938
Takashi listens intently as Ayana talks - and he did nearly berate her for draining Fate, until the way she continued made it clear that wasn't the case. "Well, it was probably for the best to have all of you working together anyways. It might've taken even longer if not." he adds. It's obvious from his tone he's very impatient.

"I'm not sure, Ayana-chan." he says, careful to use her name - something he doesn't do often. "That's one of the mysteries I really want to work on back at the lab. I don't like the idea that we might have had the link that binds us damaged somehow." he admits. "I... I think that might be putting you in terrible danger. You need me to live. The idea that something might have tried to cut that link... whatever did it, is very dangerous to you."
Ayana Tasogare 2015-11-29 08:57:34 16940
Ayana pulls a second gem out--this one pulsing with as much energy as the first, and sends it to whirling between her knuckles as well. Two little gemstone full of dark energy, both dancing through her knuckles.

"I love her," Ayana tells Takashi quietly. "I drained her until she fell unconscious for you. But I love her, and I'm not proud of doing it. Taka-kun, I don't know what you have planned, but this is her enegy," one of the gemstones pops up into his view. "And I took it from her, for you. And she did not get mad at me for it. When you take over this world, I want her. Please don't take her from me." And then, she very gently places both stones down on his chest.
Takashi Agera 2015-11-29 09:07:45 16942
Takashi takes both gems from her hand as she presses them to her chest. There's a look out of the corner of his eyes for the things she has said to him, and he doesn't answer immediately.

What he does do immediately is pull the energy, like little motes of black shadow, from the crystals into his hand, drawing them into his body. The tainted, stolen energy courses through his body and acts like giving a car a jump... whatever that malign power he's always posssessed is, it begins to function again for the first time since the Escalation.

The difference is immediate and clear to Ayana. His skin seems to almost glow compared to the dullness of before. His eyes shine - though perhaps with a tainted light. And in that moment, the energy that Ayana and Fate stole brings Takashi Agera from a bedridden, nearly infirm victim back on the path to being the dangerous entity he was.

He sits up more fully now, and turns to face Ayana - the first time he's moved so quickly in weeks - and looks at her dead on.

"You /love/ her?" he asks, his voice somewhat incredulous. He sits the two spent gems loudly down on the table next to him. "You... don't feel proud? You feel guilty?" he continues the questions, which seem almost more like a pointed interrogation. He takes a breath. "Ayana-chan, how can you feel guilty for doing something I told you to do? You're my familiar. You shouldn't feel that way for just following orders. You should GET pride from that, not feel shame."

"Ayana-chan... what's happened to you?"
Ayana Tasogare 2015-11-29 09:12:56 16944
Ayana takes a faint step back, away from him; as if she's concerned he might use his power to immediately turn on her. But he doesn't, and so she mostly just looks craven, instead. "I don't know, Taka-kun. And I am very proud to have brought this to you, all on my own. I figured out to get Deadmaster and Fate to find you energy. And then when it wasn't enough, I went and got more all by myself. My plans. My thinking got this for you."

She takes a breath, then says, "But I also wish I was smarter. Smart enough to get you more energy without having to hurt her. I love her, Taka-kun. Like I love you. Seeing her hurt was hard. And I'm ashamed to have hurt her. I should have drained Reiko-chan, instead, but Reiko-chan is younger; she couldn't have given as much. And she also doesn't trust me as much, and probably wouldn't forgive me."

Ayana shrugs a little, then says, "But I did it for you. I got energy for you, even though it hurt my best friend. Isn't that what you wanted?"
Takashi Agera 2015-11-29 09:24:12 16947
Takashi just stares at her. He stares at her as she talks, almost like he can see right through her. There's a moment, and he stands - again, for the first time in a long time. He walks over to Ayana. But he doesn't strike her or lash out at all. He grabs her by the shoulder and pulls her to him, hands running through her hair and scratching behind where her ears are hiding.

"You love her. Like you love me." he says, softly. "And you wonder why you can't reach my mana? Why you can't feel my emotions?" he sayhs.

"Ayana-chan. You are my familiar. I created you with a piece of myself buried deep inside you. To help me, to aid me, to be my hands and eyes when I could not. To increase my power. By saying something like that, you're turning your back on me. One day you'll try to avoid hurting her. Maybe the next day you'll hurt me instead of her. Is that what you wanted to do - to let me lie here, weak? Is that why this all took so long? Because of your quandry!?" he says, raising his voice and stepping away from her.

"Ayana-chan... what part of you loving her, of you caring about her - how does that help me even a little bit?" he pauses. "She's the one that's broken our bond, then. Either she has, or you have chosen to on her behalf..."
Ayana Tasogare 2015-11-29 09:27:52 16948
"No!" Ayana replies, her voice half a whimper. "No, I chose you over her!" Ayana reiterates unhappily. "I chose to hurt her for you. I couldn't do that to you," she explains.

"It took so long because Deadmaster didn't bring me the energy I asked her to. I trusted her, and she never did it! That's when I went to Fate. And then I went and stole the rest of the energy myself. Yesterday. I did all of that yesterday. I gave Deadmaster the week, and she wouldn't .." she trails off, then lowers her eyes, and those foxy ears droop to either side, suddenly visible. "I'm sorry, Taka-kun. I should have drained her sooner. I shouldn't have relied on Fate-chan or Deadmaster. I didn't ... I just ... I was so weak. Until my friends fed me, I barely had the energy to hold my human form. But then they gave me food enough to put me back to rights, and I was able to do this for you. That's how it helps you. Her love for me helps you, because she wants me to be strong. So she bathed me, and she gave me food, and made sure I was strong. And then she sacrificed her energy so that you wouldn't be sick anymore."

"Please don't be mad at me," Ayana begs him. "Please don't take her away from me."
Takashi Agera 2015-11-29 09:38:13 16950
Takashi turns as she pleads. It's easier to turn his back than look at her when she's this upset, and he is too. He starts to stack up papers, getting them ready to leave. By the time he turns around he's rid himself of a lot of emotion that might have caused him to act out.

"Yes. You should've drained her sooner. You should've never hesitated to do whatever it took to get me healthy as fast as possible." He leans down a bit. "The issue, Ayana-chan, isn't that you eventually chose to do what you were supposed to do. The problem is self evident in the fact that you hesitated. The moment you hesitated is when you turned against me. Against your purpose as my familiar. Against what you were created to do."

He turns back momentarily. Still talking now, back turned to her. "You draw your energy off her - you steal strength from her - because you've turned against me. Because you've seperated yourself from what made you great and strong - your place as my familiar - and traded it for some foolish girl. And you expect me to not be upset. You expect me to not act on this?"
Ayana Tasogare 2015-11-29 09:42:01 16951
Ayana's whimper is soft and uncontrolled; his every word hits her like a blast of dark energy, and slowly she just sinks to the floor, tears flooding her eyes. But she can't argue with him; she's been asking herself whether she was responsible this whole time. She still doesn't even know what she did to break the bond, but she knows it's broken, and unless he lied to her it can't be his fault.

Which means Ayana is responsible for breaking the bond. Which means she must have done something wrong. But what? Could it be the bond she's forged with Ikiko? Probably. In fact almost certainly. But she didn't mean for that to happen.

Sunk to her knees, Ayana simply weeps openly at his words, offering only a quiet, "I chose you," in her own defense. Because no other words hold meaning.
Takashi Agera 2015-11-29 09:44:49 16953
Takashi turns around again. He rounds on her, feet making heavy sounds on the floor that echo in the room. He doesn't strike her, but already that dark energy is back, swirling around him like it always does when his emotions are running high and he's not working to control his cover.

"It should NEVER have been a choice." he says, glaring down at her. "Not even for a moment should there have been a CHOICE. I created you. I turned you from a fox to a girl. I supported you. I fed you. When you wanted more I created a device I made JUST FOR YOU. And you would even dare to THINK for a single MOMENT about throwing that all away for ANYONE ELSE."

"No wonder you can't feel my emotions anymore. No wonder you can't draw strength from me anymore."
Ayana Tasogare 2015-11-29 09:50:40 16954
He's right. It shouldn't have been a choice. That freedom should never have been allowed to her. But the breaking of the bond gave her all sorts of new thoughts and feelings; things she never dreamed of before.

And now, she regrets those very feelings. Or maybe she regrets her choice. Whatever the case, despair seeks to overwhelm the foxgirl, as she sinks even more fully to the floor. Soon she is lying on the ground, curled up in a little ball, clutching at her ears with both hands and crying silent tears of emotional distress.

If he had struck her it would not have hurt so badly.

She's a failure. She's a failed experiment, just like the retrievers. Except the retrievers do what they're supposed to. Ayana can't even do that.

And what happens to failed experiments?

"Are you going to put me back into a fox?" Ayana asks through her tears.
Takashi Agera 2015-11-29 09:57:44 16956
Takashi frowns down at her. Somewhere deep within him is a desire, to pick her up, to hug her, to make her stop crying. It's buried too deeply now, though, with his emotions running so high and the blackness in his heart returned.

"Why do you fear that so much? This isn't the first time you've asked me that question." he pressures. "Do you fear dissapointing me... or do you fear losing her? Do you fear losing the ability to help me, or do you fear not being the magical fox girl?"

"Maybe I should turn you back into a fox - and then back into a familiar. Maybe that will reset our connection - and whatever's wrong with your mind that's causing you to act this way. Maybe if we start over you won't hesitate anymore." he says. He sits on the bed.

"But who knows if that would even work. Maybe you're too tainted know by all this foolishness. Maybe you've just decided to be a traitor to your Master - to turn on him." He looks down directly at her. "I was at my absolute weakest, Ayana-chan. This is when I needed you so much. I needed you to help me - and you hesitated."
Ayana Tasogare 2015-11-29 10:03:17 16958
Why? Oh she could write volumes as to why, if she could figure out how to put it into words. Being a fox was grand, but being a girl is so much greater. Ayana sniffles faintly, but offers no defense for herself. Instead, she just shakes her head quietly and wipes at her eyes.

Hesitated? Not intentionally. She didn't have the strength to gather the energy, herself. But she's already said that, and he's discarded it; clearly she should have found it anyways. Maybe if she had drained Hannah right away; maybe that would have been the right answer.

Ayana has no further words to give him. No arguments in her favor. She has failed utterly, and now she simply lies here, accepting his judgement and crying at the pain it causes her.
Takashi Agera 2015-11-29 10:14:30 16959
Takashi doesn't know what to say - how to act. His emotions are running wild, anger and sadness both being at the top of the list right now. He looks down at his familiar - a girl who he cares about - maybe the first person he ever cared about. Lying there, crying.

Even in all of his anger he cannot help but lean down and pet her momentarily. But just for a moment. He also considers going through with it all - hand down at her for a moment, negative energy rushing in, before he clenches his fist and it dissapates.

"Ayana... think about what's important to you. Not what you feel. But what's really important to you. What's vital to you. What makes you happy - what your purpose is. Who the most important person is, and what that all means." he says, walking towards the desks, picking up his papers and laptop.

"I still have faith in you, that deep down, you know the answers. If you still need to make a choice, if you don't know..." he takes a huge breath. "Then think about it and make a choice. But you cannot have both of us. You will choose and and forsake the other." he adds.

Then he opens the door. "I love you as well, Ayana-chan. Come and see me when you've made this choice."
Ayana Tasogare 2015-11-29 10:39:54 16963
Ayana lies on the floor in pain not born from any injury, as Takashi leaves the room. For a long moment she lies very still. And then the wailing cry she lets out is loud and full of so much grief it could break the heart of a child to hear it.

For a week she's labored over the oddness of the lack of bond; a week she's desperately scrabbled for food and energy in a way she hasn't had to do in her entire short life. For a week, she felt a growing sense of unease regarding Takashi, and a growing sense of self-loathing for how she treated Ikiko.

And now, in one short exchange, Takashi has given her reason to hate herself all the more, not for Ikiko's sake, but for his own. How can she claim to love him when she couldn't even help him? She had thought of draining Hannah, that day in the hospital; of simply taking her energy and giving it to him. She'd put the idea aside, because surely he wouldn't want Hannah to be hurt. Allies didn't do that to one another, right?

And yet, perhaps if she hadn't allowed the weakness instilled by her love for Ikiko--and her friendship with Hannah--to cloud her judgement, he would have been up and mobile a week ago. If she'd done that, perhaps he would have fixed the bond then, and rewarded her.

Instead, he has gone, and left her alone on the floor of the room where he spent the week. Self-hatred burns through Ayana like a hot knife, tearing more and more tears from her eyes until the girl has nothing left to give.

She should have chased after him right away; should have told him she'd already made her decision. But deep down, there is a wonder whether she deserves the choice he has given her. And if she doesn't deserve that, does she even deserve to remain a real girl?

And so she remains on the floor, crying, without the energy to hide her ears or her tail, until a kindly nurse comes along to find her.

"Dear?" asks the nurse, confusedly. "What's the matter?"

It's then that Ayana remembers herself, and she uses a small spark of power to conceal her heritage. Her shameful heritage. The trickster that tricked herself. "Nothing," she lies, through her tears, and wipes at her eyes. Glumly, Ayana picks herself up off the floor--and with the Nurse's help, to boot. Staggering, weakened from expending energy just to cry, she manages to stand wobbly on two feet.

"Honey, surely you need help," says the nurse calmly. "Where's the boy that was in here, anyhow? Come on, darling, let's take you to see one of the docto--"

The nurse cuts off as Ayana's ears become visible once more, and the fox-girl shares with her a grin that is half wicked, half manic, one little fang visible aboev all the rest. And then she says one little word. "Gloom." The word of power sparks an outpouring of dark energy that floods the room, empowered by Ayana's grief and despair, empowered by the darkness that fills her. The nurse faints almost instantly, but Ayana doesn't stop. She just keeps on draining until she feels better enough to stand on her own two feet without wobbling.

When Ayana leaves the room, the nurse is still breathing, but in such a state that she's a mirror for how Takashi has spent the last week: barely hanging on by a thread without energy.

Ayana banishes her ears and moves to follow Takashi. Choice? No, there's no choice. There never really was. And without the bond to his linker core, Ayana is able to see that more clearly, now.

All that remains is to tell him so.