Takamatsu_Royal Hawaiian

What is it, where is it, and why should anyone care? (The last, of course, being optional)

Takamatsu_Royal Hawaiian

Postby Oskar » Sat Nov 15, 2014 10:11 pm

Here and there—Kate was herself, and she was Maud, fifty years old again, and greeting Matsu in the block-long, red-carpetted lobby of the Royal Hawaiian. She gave him both cheeks to kiss, and didn’t feel dumb doing so.

"Did you know,” Maud told Matsu, “when I first came here, the front gardens were acres of fragrant flora. Now they’ve built that awful shopping mall and you can scarcely even see it from Kalakaua Avenue!”

"Everything changes,” he said gravely. “And only some things improve.”

Maud invited Matsu to dinner in the Monarch Room, and offered him an exotic rum drink from the Mai Tai bar, but he declined.

"Well you just aren’t any fun at all!” she teased with a practiced pout that made the handsome young man in the overly correct suit crack a smile for the first time.

"Fine, you old Goodie Two Shoes, let’s walk down to the beach then,” Maud suggested, curling her fingers about the inside of his elbow. He crooked it for her, and Kate wondered at them both--at the casual power of Matsu’s body, and her own seductive fluency with his beauty and youth.

"You said you had a favor to ask of me.” He held out a hand for the shoes she’d kicked off on the last pink stair down from the hotel. “I assume it is my work with patterns to which you referred last night, when you asked for my ‘special skills?””

He was teasing her, but Maud suddenly couldn’t rally more than a wan blush. She gave him her shoes and looked out at Diamond Head. “It’s beautiful isn’t it?”

"Lady Pelham-Gambirnet,” he said.

"Maud,” she corrected.

"What did you want to ask me?”

"You’ll think it’s silly.” Suddenly, even Maud thought it silly--a ridiculous concern for an absurd thing that didn’t matter--but she looked out over the cycling waves and gathered her courage. “I’m a doctor, you know.”

"Yes.”

"So it’s not a medical opinion I’m looking for. I know as much as anyone about the heritability rates of epilepsy.”

He cocked his chin at her then, his inquisitive eyes dark in the gloaming. “Are you having seizures?”

"No.”

"Because if you―“

"Yes, yes.” Maud waved him off. “Because you’d feel duty-bound to report anything of that sort to the group. But the thing is, I’m not. I’ve never had a one.” She hesitated. “And neither did my father.”

"I’m glad to hear it.” Matsu somehow managed to inflect the statement as a question.

"You are our pattern shaman,” Maud said.

Matsu wasn’t going to say anything more, not even, “Yes.” He wasn’t going to cajole or draw it out of her. He’d be curious--he was too intelligent not to be so by nature--but he was circumspect, even more. They walked over the white sand toward the water.

"I want to know whether I’m a true Pelham-Gambirnet,” Maud said at last. “Actually, whether Papa was. He was born in such an extravagantly obscure outreach of Canada, you see, that family lore has it he was a changeling, inserted into the family to purge the bloodline of epileptics. I don’t believe he ever knew the truth. Certainly, I never asked him, and the rumors mostly stopped when it became quite clear that his third wife was barren and that my sisters and I were to be his only offspring. The title went to his younger brother’s eldest son, and the whispers died out with their whisperers. But I want to know. I want to know what you think.”

"Why?”

"Because you’re the pattern shaman.”

“Yes, but why do you want to know, Lady Pelham-Gambirnet? The title could not have come to you, your father was your father, and you’re scientist enough to know blood doesn’t actually run blue.”

"It does,” Maud muttered. “No, never mind. You’re right of course. I don’t know why it matters to me, but it does.”

The beach was empty, but Kate could feel Felicia and perhaps another Incrementalist or two near them, and she had a moment of embarrassment at the pettiness of her concern, but Matsu’s dust ritual wasn’t making her look good. Matsu transferred Maud’s hand to his and cupped it between his palms. He wasn’t a tall man in that Second, but his hands were huge around hers, corded with veins and warm. You could almost see the power radiant in them, but it was for the unutterable kindness in his eyes at that moment that Kate had chosen this memory.

That was what she wanted to show anyone who cared enough to grieve him, even if Ramon was probably already working the ritual bringing him back. Kate had a flicker of worry that perhaps the dust and spiking rituals ought not to overlap, but luau fires, reflecting light out over the waves distracted her, and she brushed away the idea as silly anyway. Besides, this was what she had wanted Felicia and the rest to see: Matsu in his first second, using his sorrows to salve Maud’s.

"I understand,” he said. “I was the last Shinobi. Not because any secrets died with me, please understand. I taught to others everything I knew. I spoke to many people, trained many. I gave my sword to a man I hoped would take my stub, although we never spoke of it. When I died, it went to Peter Lee instead. He was a good choice for my Second, trained in judo instead of ninjutsu because who knows the difference, eh? Not our Gaston. But it would not have mattered. Ninjutsu is not just a training, not only eighteen skills mastered. It is an opposition. I am Takamatsu, the last ninja, and I am also not, because Peter Lee was not. You are a true Pelham-Gambirnet, and you are not.”

Kate saw the pattern, felt it really, of how names describe a border around something fluid, like Hawaiian orchids leis adrift on the water. She didn’t remember hugging Matsu, but her arms were around him. She didn’t want to let go, but that was the end of what Maud had seeded, and Kate opened her eyes back in her den with the empty ice cream.
"Victory always casts a new light on the defeats that led up to it." -- Trotsky
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Oskar
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