Cheating


Nephrite, Jadeite, and Mamoru make fun of a rock. Then the rock speaks up. I'm not crying, you're crying.

Date: 2016-03-07
Pose Count: 21
Mamoru Chiba 2016-03-08 00:33:17 32536
After the girls leave, and strategy stops being a concern they are trying to deal with after having saved Tokyo and killed Kunzite, and it's just Mamoru and Jadeite and Nephrite and a sometimes-pink rock, in Zoisite's palace...

...Mamoru comes back to the table and reaches down to pick up the sake again, and put it back within reach, and then very carefully sits down in the chair he'd been in earlier, next to Nephrite, with the empty chair next to it where Usagi'd been sitting. His hand's closed over the rock, and he exhales slowly, then puts his forehead down on the tabletop and starts laughing.

(hiccup)

Muffled, "--a necklace, she thinks he'd make a good necklace--"
Nephrite 2016-03-08 00:54:28 32538
Nephrite claps his hand down on Mamoru's back and leaves it there, chuckling. "Well, he would. And then you would never lose him. Hmm, but we wouldn't want anybody drilling holes in him. Maybe a nice wire wrap. Gold or silver, do you think?" The fact that Kunzite may very well hear what he is saying pleases Nephrite immensely.

He grabs the bottle and takes a long swig. It's not bad as far as sake goes, but it's still not whisky. "Anyway it beats my idea of putting him on display in the nearest museum with a placard that reads, Crystalized Wet Blanket. Essence of Sternness. Fades in the Sun."
H~T;PzS
Jadeite 2016-03-08 01:00:52 32541
Wherever Jadeite just was, he's come back around to sit in the chair that Usagi had vacated. It's very clear he has little to no interest in being separated from either Mamoru or Nephrite at the moment, although he does end up hunching a little like he might be able to see the stone under Mamoru's hand. "I'm not very adept with jewelry settings." He volunteers after a while, eyes flicking up to the faces of the other two. "I can help with a clay golem, but necklaces are beyond me. Silver, though. It's only poetic, given his hair. Don't you think?"
Kunzite 2016-03-08 01:05:08 32543
The presence in the back of Mamoru's head is silent for the moment. Possibly pointedly so.

Okay, there is no 'possibly' there.
Mamoru Chiba 2016-03-08 01:20:39 32551
"Oh my god--"

Mamoru's voice is, in fact, even more muffled than before; he's moved his rock-free arm up and around to bury his face in it, and with Jadeite scrunched down next to him and Nephrite's arm clapped to his back, he's just laughing until it hurts. And Kunzite's pointed silence is not helping.

When he catches his breath, he lifts his eyes up just enough over the line of his forearm that he can see Jadeite trying to see the rock in his peripheral vision, and opens his hand, still fighting giggles. "No, no jewelry. That is so mean. Maybe I'll get him-- s-set in-- my armor--"

He cracks himself up, but fights to contain it, dragging his hand down his face as he sits up and basically hee-hee-hees his way through calming down. "Kunzite chill out, we wouldn't really... oh man that one was not intentional I swear--"
Nephrite 2016-03-08 01:34:04 32556
Now Nephrite is cracking up. He is picturing Kunzite's stern face superimposed over the faceted pink surface of the rock in Mamoru's hand, and the image is too much. He pounds his fist on the table, rattling the sake bottle.

"Yeah, lighten up Kunzite. Why you gotta be so," his snickers redouble into giggles, "so s-stony?"
Jadeite 2016-03-08 01:37:56 32561
Jadeite makes a quiet sound, once he's able to see the stone. It seems to settle him. His fingers flicker, but he doesn't reach out to touch it. Instead, he reaches across Mamoru, to put his hand on some part of Nephrite's arm, whatever's close enough to touch. It's like there was no schism, no darkness; this is a Jadeite who's casually tactile in a way he basically never was in the Dark Kingdom. "Nephrite, please, don't be so *hard* on him. This kind of thing is just part of his *foundation*."
Mamoru Chiba 2016-03-08 02:00:38 32567
"Shit," Mamoru starts, covering his eyes and fighting a grin so hard, oh my god. "I don't want to put him down but he's so annoyed-- when Zoisite gets back just watch he's going to ghost again and he'll have that look on his face..."

A beat.

"...and you know Zoi's just going to glare at us and tell us Kunzite has a lot of facets we just don't appreciate. And even the fact that he does is amazing, b-because..."

Straight face. Straight face. Mamoru turns his hand over and sliiiides it away from him on the table. "...of his p-perfect..."

He lets go of the rock really quick and says triumphantly, "CLEAVAGE!"
Nephrite 2016-03-08 02:12:18 32576
Nephrite howls with laughter as he simply collapses on top of Mamoru. Zoisite will certainly be annoyed to return to his palace and find the stonework just a little bit less stable after how much the walls have been shaken.

After a moment, he finally recovers enough breath to speak again. He eyes the stone on the table through the curtain of hair that has fallen over his face. "Is it possible for a stone to frown? Because I think he's doing it right now."
Jadeite 2016-03-08 02:14:01 32578
Likewise, Jadeite is lost to helpless laughter, all too willing to make a puppy pile of giggles with Nephrite and Mamoru. He ends up turning one of his hands over and making a beckoning gesture with his fingers, although to whom he beckons is guesswork at best. "If you give me a marker, I can make him frown, definitely."

These may be the least helpful brothers anyone has ever had.
Nephrite 2016-03-08 02:41:43 32591
"All we need is a marker, and then he'll be just like the old Kunzite." Still giggling, Nephrite extracts himself from the pile, though his hand remains, clutching Jadeite's arm and half-slung across Mamoru's back. He picks up the sake and takes another swig. "I know you said you'd have Kunzite's share, Endy, but I think he deserves a double tonight."

He slides the bottle over to Jadeite. "And you need an extra 'welcome home' drink."
Mamoru Chiba 2016-03-08 03:08:33 32598
Warily, and once he can breathe again, Mamoru de-squishes slightly (but mostly not) as Nephrite gets up, and he crosses his arms on the table under his chin. His eyes are still a little watery from laughing so hard, but he looks contritely at the rock.

From under Neph's arm and Jadeite.

"I'm sorry, Kunzite. I'm done. Thank you." For all the parts of that. "While you're drinking-- yeah. Hollow clay likeness of Kunzite that we can plant roses in. And also Kunzite in. I'll find you the clay."
Kunzite 2016-03-08 03:20:25 32602
And when Mamoru actually looks up at the rock, finally, there's the ghost-image. On the far side of the stone from him, arms folded, appearing to be leaning against the nearest wall. His expression is perhaps best characterized as 'why did I never strangle any of you in your sleep, again?' This too is long, long familiar. "Well," he says, audible to Mamoru, and to the others only if there's skin contact, or a chain of it. "If he didn't need that drink before. I suppose I should be glad they probably won't try to draw on the damned flowers." ... probably.
Jadeite 2016-03-08 03:26:59 32603
Alas, at this point, Jadeite has also released Mamoru from his clasp enough that he doesn't get that echo of the image chained along to him. Instead, he's nodding, absorbing the instructions for what they are. "I can do that. It will take a lot of clay. Possibly I will also need some extra space to work with. And a large kiln, if you want him to be fired." It's possible Sailor Mars could stand in for the part of 'a large kiln' but at the moment Jadeite hasn't thought it through that far.

Instead, something goes only faintly subdued as he starts to consider the rammifications of making a clay body for Kunzite and filling it with the essence of those flowers. It feels familiar, in a gross sort of way. He ends up reaching for that sake, reflexively looking around for cups.
Nephrite 2016-03-08 03:46:11 32615
Nephrite, too, missed the ghost of Kunzite giving him the Look. It is probably for the best, as it would have certainly set him laughing again.

"Hey, we're basically just shifting him from a very tiny container to an extra large. And... growing a body inside." Nephrite winces. "Forget that bit. You've got the pottery part. Infinity has an art department, don't they? If they do pottery, no doubt their kiln is state-of-the-art and show-off-ish. Zoisite's got the flowers. Endy's got the power. I've got the timeline and moral support. And the snarky caracal will undoubtedly provide commentary when we can't.
Mamoru Chiba 2016-03-08 04:05:26 32625
"Why, just because the plan sounds so weird?" Mamoru asks the air across the stone from him, looking at the far wall. He starts sitting up, which is easier now, and then braces his arms against the table and locks his elbows in a stretch. "Don't worry, Jupiter would help me maul them if they did."

He eyes Jadeite looking for cups, then takes the bottle from him and takes a swig from it, then puts it back down in front of the blond. "No cups. If you're afraid of cooties I guess you could go look in the cabinets over there," he gestures vaguely, "but that's only if you're afraid of cooties." Then he glances toward Nephrite. "Actually that'd be difficult to move. Probably just easier to get Mars and Zoi on it. Mako and I are tending the roses themselves, it's Mercury's plan, Moon kicked it off with that massive purification, and--"

He cuts himself off, then squints at Jadeite, then eyes Kunzite, then reaches over and puts his hand over Jadeite's.

"Wait. Yo. It's not like we're going to ask you to wake up the clay figure. And there are no needles. So quit it. It's fine. We're done with that now, right? Not anybody's fault."

With the skin contact comes... exactly what Jadeite met when Mamoru Chiba healed him in that alley; with that comes that calm; with that comes love, boundless and fierce. "Nobody's but the monsters that are going down as soon as we get to the North Pole."

With it also comes Kunzite leaning against the wall across from them, and then Mamoru abruptly realizing, with wide eyes and a snap-to stare at Kunzite, that he is not holding the rock.
Kunzite 2016-03-08 04:27:25 32642
The casual comment about Mars and Zoisite working simultaneously on one project at close range is enough for the ghost-image to run a hand down his face. At least there's no evidence of wistful thoughts of fratricide thereafter. Particularly so as Jadeite proves out Kunzite's previous comment, reaching or the bottle. He reverts to his usual non-expression, but it's not the same as it was in the Dark Kingdom, not remotely, not for them. All the subtle ongoing changes that hint at life, at thought, at the possibility of reaction -- those aren't flattened out anymore, aren't stolen away by the darkness he was clothed in. Even as a stone and a ghost, he's more alive now.

"Not your fault then," Kunzite agrees, speaking directly to Jadeite and letting Mamoru stare. "You didn't know. And what you'll be doing now -- this is the inverse. Healing, and connection, and life. Let it redeem that, and be done with it."
Jadeite 2016-03-08 04:35:11 32645
Jadeite is *not* afraid of *cooties*. He gives Mamoru a brief look that's all scandal and vague insult, eyes rolling as they return to focus on the sake bottle. He reaches out, takes a swig, places it back on the table and screws up both eyes when he swallows.

Then Mamoru's touching him, and he's flooded with that *feeling* again. He's been better, being that he's been free of the evil of the Dark Kingdom longer than any of them. That's done a lot to heal his wounded soul. But then there's *this*, and it's so much more than just time and rest could ever be. He can't help himself, or the way he sucks in a sudden breath. He manages to make his accusation with an immense sort of fondness. "Ch...cheater. That's cheating."

And of course, now that Mamoru has him on the ropes, Kunzite comes in for the immacutely placed finishing-move, as he always does. Some of the tension runs out of Jadeite's shoulders, and one eye works itself open again to fix on the stone. He's grateful, for *all* of them, for their words and their comforts and their presences. "...I won't make you too short. I promise. I'll make you how you're supposed to be."
Nephrite 2016-03-08 04:47:12 32651
Nephrite blinks for a moment, as he listens to cryptic phrases that sound like they are part of only half a conversation. He looks from Mamoru to Jadeite and back again, his brow crinkling in annoyed confusion. And then he notices Mamoru's hand on Jadeite. "Oh for--are you doing touchy connections without me? No fair!"

He grabs Mamoru's other hand, and suddenly a ghost materializes across the room. And his annoyance promptly gives way to a grin. Nephrite leans back in his chair, his dark eyes glimmering. "Hey boss. You didn't hear the part about the marker, did you?"
Mamoru Chiba 2016-03-08 05:05:32 32662
Mamoru leans to bump his shoulder into Jadeite, tearing his eyes away from Kunzite and dropping the brief 'oh shit' look in order to grin back at Jadeite, eyes crinkling with absurd amounts of fondness, and the slowly re-gathering resolve that should always have been there, but has on-and-off been lost lately. "You know I'm a cheating cheater who cheats cheatily. And my cheating's got your back."

Then he looks at Kunzite again and his grin's subdued into a lopsided smile. "Yeah."

He's about to say something else, then laughs when Jadeite makes his promise-- and then sputters as Nephrite grabs his other hand and immediately Nephrites. "He SO DID. You are in so much trouble--"

And then he's shifting a little in his seat, and maybe it's the sake, and maybe it's the day, and maybe it's not any of those things. But he gets really serious, and he looks at each of them in turn -- flesh and blood teenagers, ghost of a man who's not technically dead -- and says firmly, "As far as I'm concerned, you guys-- and I think you know already, and I know Zoisite does-- anything any of you thinks needs forgiving, it's done." His voice gets a little wavery, and he blinks. "I'm just so-- I missed you all so much. I'm so glad you're here. I'm so glad I could find you again, that you could find me."

He's not crying, you're crying.
Kunzite 2016-03-08 05:21:51 32669
"I know," the ghost-image reassures Jadeite. "You'd be too worried I'd stab you in the ankle." And then, not joking at all: "Well done." All of it, these last months. Holding on, convincing the girls he was real, showing them by his example that the rest of them were too. Making the lost ones into people in their eyes. Surviving, and carving out a place where the rest of them might be able to fit.

And then there's Nephrite, and -- well."I hear everything," Kunzite tells the new arrival. Markers. Placards. Caracal snark. The narrowing of his eyes suggests possibly the conversations Nephrite has with Makoto when nobody's around. No, cancel that, he wouldn't do that. To Makoto, anyway.

If there's a glint in those gray eyes to match the glimmer in Nephrite's, the washed-out translucency ... completely fails to mask it.

Out of the three of them, it's Mamoru to whom he says nothing. But then, he doesn't have to.