one passing night

the evening is spread out against the sky


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[010 ☿] Birthday Cruise
ami ♥ private smirk
waterfell wrote in onepassingnight
It's been a pleasant day, Mizuno Ami's birthday, and the summer heat has gentled to a cool autumn evening. As night falls, a golden sun sinks into the sea and the water shimmers in its fading light as a luxurious cruise ship makes its unhurried way down the Sumida River.

Onboard the ship, humanoid robots dressed in tuxedos serve the guests (also robots), carrying drink trays and food trays heaped with delicious-smelling delicacies. The background conversations do nothing to compete with the classical music provided by a robot pianist.

In fact, it will take awhile to find the single human that seems to be here: Mizuno Ami seated at the head of a banquet table with, of course, more automatons. She chatters with them, vibrant and seemingly content to bask in this mechanical attention as they exclaim over the tiny details from the crystal goblets to the vases of blue sweet-pea flowers. It's never real.

Ami looks up and a sudden deafening hush falls over the room as all heads turn in unison the moment someone new enters.

(ooc: not necessarily themed, HOWEVER, people are free to turn it into a nightmare or PM to plot one if they'd like. The piano music is also composed by a machine, the famous program Emily Howell. The album is titled 'From Darkness, Light'.)

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[Cloud... doesn't do social gatherings.

At all.

He also isn't fond of boats.

At all.

So when he glances over the side, he really IS contemplating jumping.

But he's got a rather poorly wrapped blue package in his hand. Delivery. It's what he does. Now. It gives him something to do while he waits to... while he waits. Blinking he looks down at the blue paper wrapped box in his hand. And - he wants to do this. Wants to deliver this.

One of the few things left he can do right...

The water gets another glance though. Maybe he can come back some other time.]

[It's not until Cloud's been waiting awhile that Ami comes from what seems to be one of the main rooms on the ship; apparently she feels like watching the waves and getting some fresh air while she's in her element.

She notes Cloud, and the package. She eyes first the delivery, then the delivery man.]


You're pretty good to have gotten on this ship while we're already away from the docks. I congratulate you!

[The robots, at least, seem to be sparse and minding their own business here.]

he missed his calling as a social director

[his head turns at her approach and he shifts, turning one side of his body away from her. At her words though, the memory of a smirk touches his lips.]

It's my job. Make sure I make my delivery - even if they've already tried to leave without me.

[the package gets an awkward jiggle and then he holds it out to her.]

Happy Birthday.

[She displays no real girlish eagerness, though she takes it readily enough. The way her eyes stay on the package even when she speaks to Cloud suggests her actual interest.]

The sender?

[the back of his head gets a slight rub before he drops his hand. He gives the way the present is wrapped a pointed look.]

Me.

[Hey, he presented himself as just the delivery boy. But now, she gives him an actually uncertain look, almost suspicious.]

You? Why?

I'm going to go out on a limb and say socalization isn't their strong point

[the look she gets back is almost suspicious because - what kind of question is that?]

It's your birthday?

XD you would be correct. hence the robots.

What are you expecting in return?

[She asks the question only because she hasn't found the answer herself yet. Her mind, so quick to chase after motives, hasn't found a negative one here.]

[for just a minute, his eyes flicker, the blue dulling and he looks out at the water again. When he looks back at her it's with a shrug and a quiet:]

Remember me on my birthday?

[She watches him for a moment, rather than answering easily. He has so many people, doesn't he? Tifa. Marlene. Who knows what others?

He has no need of Mizuno Ami. But then why is he asking?]


When is it?

Next year. August. 19th.

[he adds the day as if it's an afterthought. It is.

He won't be around next year.

His hand gestures awkwardly to the gift in her hand.]


Even if you don't - the present's still for you.

I'll remember.

[She always remembers. Everything is stored in her mind. She wishes it was the same for her former 'friends'.

But like any teenage girl on the cusp of adulthood, she's interested in the present most of all. She finishes opening it even as she asks the greedy question.]


What is it?

[her question pulls his lips up on one side the smallest bit. He's bad at giving gifts and it occurs to him that, whatever she's expecting it to be, she's going to be disappointed. You'd think in dreams, even subconsciously, Cloud's mind would give him the perfect gift. Instead all it gives him is something he saw in a store in Kalm a month ago that made him think of her before he realized he was thinking about half-remembered dreams.

It's a little box, with an even smaller gift inside and all his shaking of it hasn't left it as neatly displayed as the clerk that would have boxed it would have intended. So when she lifts the lid, stars fall out into her hand. Not putting up a very good defense of his gift, Cloud manages a:]


The clerk told me they were lucky.

[You'd think in dreams, someone like her would demand the finest, the most expensive, the best. Instead, she receives the nice but simple gift with a sudden feeling of emotion that she's left at a loss to name.

It's what she wants: to be seen as simply who she is, away from the gifts that so obviously pander to the things that others believe can define her. To receive a gift someone would give to any girl, rather than tailored to the lofty genius or the legendary soldier.]


Thank you for the gift.

[And now it's her turn to play with him.]

Put it on for me?

[he looks at the necklace in her hand and then back at her. With a straight face, he says:]

I don't wear necklaces.

[She takes it for a humorous refusal, and holds the necklace up against herself before putting it aside. She lets the chain slither back into the package.]

I'll wear it a little, later tonight.

[it's not the first time one of his jokes didn't make it off the ground. He holds out his hand.]

But I will put it on you if you'd like.

[A quick glance up at Cloud, then back to the package. She deliberates before holding the small bundle out to him wordlessly as her eyes return to his face to read his expression.]

[he meets her eyes with his and if they're a little brighter blue than usual, they're still honest and clear. Without looking away he lifts one of his hands to his mouth and catches at the gloved tip of a finger with his teeth. His other hand works too and the worn black leather comes off. Without bothering transfer it from his mouth to his hand, he takes the necklace from her and shifts behind her, moving her hair out of the way so he can concentrate on the impossibly small clasp. The silver drapes over her collarbones and with a surprisingly small amount of fuss he gets it fastened. His grunt behind her is his indication that the job's done.]

[Ami lets her hair go - helpfully held out of Cloud's way by her hand - and turns back around to face her friend with a smile.]

How does it look? [The vain question of any girl, anywhere, in any period or world.]

[the glove gets transferred to his now free hands but at her question, instead of instinctively answering the way any male that was well trained would, he actually tipped his chin down a little, eyes narrowed as he looked at the small stars against her skin. He's not an expert or even sure if his taste in matters of jewelry or fashion can be trusted but... the very edges of his lips soften and hook upward briefly and his shoulders relax the smallest bit. His eyes lift back to hers and he gives a slow nod.]

Good.

Sunset is close. Want to watch it from deck here?

[There are, conveniently, plenty of comfortable chairs; and of course there's plenty of room along the railings. The robots walk in pairs and groups, occasionally pausing to enthuse over Ami's taste in the decor, the food, or some other part of the evening.

It's so much better when she arranges things the way she wants them.]

[sunset? How many more of those does he have?]

Sure.

[he'll pull his glove back on before following her.]

[She doesn't plan to stay here much after the sun finishes sinking. She has no real desire to meet the moon. The memories its reflection unleashes are memories she's decided to put aside and forget.

Ami avoids leaning against the railing, watching the sea beyond it without touching it.]


If I jumped in, how long would it take to catch up to the ship if I swam?

[this will be the second time they've watched the sunset together and he refuses to wonder if there's anything metaphorical about that. Instead he rests his hands on the railing, looking out at the sunlight reflecting off the water and remembering another time the sea was the color of blood and fire. That was his fault. This time it's not and the color isn't a symbol of anything but the end of another day. At her question though he looks down at the water, seriously considering the speed they're going and the drop as the wind ruffles his hair. When his eyes slide back to her though, his question is:]

Wouldn't the ship stop for you?

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