Cutscene: Her Mother's Daughter
Her backpack closed, her sword covered up, she began moving down the stairs slowly and silently. She wasn't alone at home but thankfully it was early, she could sneak out before anyone woke up and her parents would be none the wiser. Her footsteps creaked on the wooden steps leading to the first floor, Mai's lips twitching in a faint wince every time she heard that sound. Her pace remains steady, she's almost -
"Ahem." Crap. Her foot hovers over the last step, eyes slowly turning toward the right to catch the sight of her mother wearing her morning robe . "Heading out early, dear?" grey eyes make brief contact with the shorter woman's eyes, and then lower. "I...I'm meeting with my friends, we're doing things together today." was not a lie, just leaving most details out. Given the look she gets back it was clear mom isn't buying it. "Mai-chan, come with me."
Was she grounded? It's with some apprehension that she followed her mother back upstaurs to the room they used mostly for storage. The room that was meant to be Himeru's room, unpainted, undecorated with boxes and other objects just laying around. It was unpleasant just to walk in there before, but nowadays that feeling had dimmed as it was just an unused room. Yet in this room Harumi takes out a large and deep wooden chest, opening it to reveal old mementos and belongings, kimonos and other nice clothing that deserved to be carried in something a little less flimsy than the average cardboard box. What lies inside seems of no particular surprise but just as Mai was about to turn away there is the strange clicking sound that draws her gaze back, the hands of her mother pulling out of the chest and pushing the lower and secret compartment open.
"Wh-Mom, what are you...why did you..." as she often did, her use of honorifics and proper terms had a tendency to fade when shocked or surprised.
"Oh, well, I couldn't just get rid of it after all the good times we had." she says, as the relatively petite woman pulls out a leather jacket with a crimson snake sewn upon the back. "There it is!" she says a moment later, putting the nicely folded jacket aside and pulling out a bat that CLEARLY had seen some 'mileage', judging from some of the crimson stains that had dried in the wood itself. The nails added to it for 'extra impact force' weren't even rusted, showing some degree of care and proper maintenance that had been done until now. And she holds the 'sports' tool turned weapon toward Mai with a smile so disarming that the younger girl doesn't even know what she could do. The very sight of her mom's old weapon not to mention the other objects inside that chest were a complete shock to her.
"I know you don't want to tell your mother about the things you do dear, but I was your age once and I recognize the signs, the bruises, the cuts and the fatigue you've shown lately. You don't need to be ashamed of it at all, I know you're a strong girl and I want you to know I'm proud of you - your grades are even better than mine were at your age too. But I know that look in your face, you're headed to fight a rival gang with that young man and your other comrades, and I want you to be adequately equipped. It served me well and earned me the nickname 'Bonebreaker Harumi' back in my days, and I want you to have it. So please, take it, so your aging mother can at least know she did all she could to protect you?"
Like a deer in front of a monster truck, she doesn't know what to do, if she should move or not. The bat is placed in her hands and Harumi closes Mai's fingers around the taped grip, smiling gently toward her daughter while lifting her right hand to catch a tear with her finger, a tear Mai didn't even realize she had shed. To hear words like these, approval, love and worry for her sake so suddenly was simply too much for her to bear stoically and in silence.
Thankfully her father would not wake for at least an hour still, and her departure, her gift and her crying in her mother's arms like she was a child again would be their little secret.