On the Same Side

Makoto and Kunzite talk shortly after the latter's reawakening. Unsurprisingly, there are a lot of practical details discussed, alongside the general question of 'what now?'

Date: 2016-03-20
Pose Count: 30
Kazuo Takeba 2016-03-20 02:53:20 34861
After the collapse, or perhaps collapses. After the prince and princess have been taken care of and settled, very much in that order. After people have finally convinced themselves enough that it really did work. After Nephrite ran out of bad jokes -- no, that's not likely to happen anytime in the next decade; it's like Jadeite running out of ideas and images, or Zoisite running out of temptation toward arson.

After people began, slowly, to disperse again. After Kunzite slipped silently away from notice, something easy to do in a place he controls, and returned out of uniform. Jeans and a dress shirt, which fit him decently enough. Shoes that also fit him, somewhat harder to arrange. Preplanning went into that brief absence, and maybe a little conspiracy.

On the whole, though, he'd far rather face some of the next conversations not wearing any kind of uniform, even the one he --

He can't entirely say he's proud of it. It'll take a long time before he can quite escape the feeling that he shames it by wearing it. But that's still infinitely better than the one he was wearing a couple of weeks before.

After all of that -- he goes looking to see who he can still find; who might be lingering in the palaces greener and more comforting than his own.

(... let us all pretend that it is the greenery that convinces people to go elsewhere, and not the caracal.)
Makoto Kino 2016-03-20 03:37:32 34874
The caracal didn't really need to ...'persuade' Makoto to leave. She was fairly well preoccupied with getting Usagi taken care of, and that's taken some time to sort out once the initial pile of feelings began to settle itself.

Now, though, Ami is taking care of Usagi, and Rei has gone off someplace or other and so have the guys if they're not with Mamoru. Mako's not really clear on all the details. At the moment she's not sure she needs to be. At long last, after all the stress and anxiety and trauma, after the roller-coaster that was D-Point and its immediate aftermath - now, finally, it's really over.

Finding herself at loose ends, maybe it's not surprising that Makoto has wandered off from the very structured beauty that is Jadeite's palace into the wilder greenery of Nephrite's. Just a little ways off from the doorway between the two, she stands with her head tipped back and her hands laced behind her head, taking in the sight of the great trees like she'll never get tired of it.

At least until she realizes she's no longer alone. When Kunzite comes through the doorway, Makoto looks over and - after a blink to process the change of clothes - offers a smile. "Hi," she says, and then, "Um. Sorry about punching you that one time."
Kazuo Takeba 2016-03-20 03:51:20 34877
The only remotely surprising thing about this situation is that Makoto has set so much as a foot in Nephrite's palace, and Nephrite is not there himself to greet her. (Yet. 'Yet' is occasionally an important word.)

Kunzite clears the vicinity of the door, and incidentally steps aside from the shortest path between it and Makoto, coming up beside her instead. Not too close. He leaves her a little space.

"I have no idea what you're apologizing for," he observes. "Unless it's that it was only once."
Makoto Kino 2016-03-20 04:10:04 34889
She lets her arms drop to her sides as she turns to face him, standing with a relaxed and open stance. "After that first time, it didn't seem like a very good idea to try it again," Mako notes with a little laugh, and shakes her head. "Well, I guess it's fine, anyway."

Falling quiet, she studies him briefly - brows slightly raised, expression curious rather than guarded. Wondering, a little bit, what one says in this kind of situation. Eventually she settles on, "Welcome back."
Kazuo Takeba 2016-03-20 04:20:50 34891
He's not looking at her, at least not now. His head's tipped back, studying the silhouettes of the treetops against Nephrite's preferred sunset; studying the deeper darkness beyond them, and its promise of the stars.

"Thank you," he says, the expected words. A heartbeat to anchor them to the welcome, before he adds, "For the questions you asked."

Which ones -- that's not specified.
Makoto Kino 2016-03-20 04:40:04 34900
"Huh?" Kunzite might not be looking at her to see the surprise and vague incomprehension that flashes over Makoto's face, but that single involuntary syllable sums it up reasonably well. She has to take a few seconds to think back, trying to remember what questions she asked Kunzite after that first one.

Nothing significant comes to mind; Makoto cracks a lopsided smile and dips her head towards Kunzite. "I don't remember doing all that much," she says easily, "but you're welcome."
Kazuo Takeba 2016-03-20 04:53:02 34908
"Are you really okay with that? Turning the Prince into someone else's puppet?"

"Where's --"

The name she was using for him then didn't matter.

"You asked the right questions, for the right reasons, even before you asked about him. Between that and --" Kunzite doesn't look down; he gestures without needing to, out toward the open space, the faint glitter set into the ground. The symbol she drew in lightning, over and over. "I had two other plans to try to reach him. But you had a better chance than both of them together."

Did more than both of them together. He doesn't need to speculate on that. They wrote the answer in light themselves, in a moment too recent to bear thinking on long.
Makoto Kino 2016-03-20 05:17:37 34919
There's a momentary pause from Makoto, before: "Oh." She's still processing, a little, still clearly not quite getting it, but now she at least has an idea more or less of what he's thanking her for and she ducks her head, reaching up distractedly to rub her hand over the back of her neck.

"I'm just glad everything worked out," she says. "You might've had plans, but I was pretty much making things up as I went."

When she looks up again Makoto is still smiling, bright-eyed with self-directed humor. "Doesn't matter. We all got through it, that's what's important."
Kazuo Takeba 2016-03-20 05:33:44 34924
Now he finally looks toward her, turns toward her a moment later. His expression varies if anything even less now than it did in that encounter; all the same, that's the product of more honesty rather than less. "The right things," he says, "at the right time."

(Which is all any plan can hope to provide, in the end.)

He considers saying more; but she's evading awareness as hard as she can, even now, and in a moment more he lets her turn away from the topic unchallenged. "We did. Which leaves the question of what next -- beyond shepherding a handful of people through their finals." And dealing with whatever's affecting Usagi, and restoring a ruined house, and arguing out what to do and what not to touch about Mamoru's plural-of-apartment. It's not that they lack for things to do; it's only that the scale's changed, for a little while.
Makoto Kino 2016-03-20 05:46:00 34928
Makoto's response to that is not predictable only because Kunzite hasn't been around her in any of the right contexts to predict it: "Ugh," she says. "Please don't mention finals." She's laughing again, not entirely serious - Ami and Mamoru have both put considerable effort into helping her study, and with that level of help she'd have to be *trying* to fail - but it's obvious that she's placing herself with those who have to be shepherded rather than those doing the shepherding.

'What next.' That does seem to be the question they've been asking themselves lately, in various ways. Beginning to look thoughtful, Mako makes a short, quiet humming sound. "It'd be nice if we could get a break and give everyone a chance to recover," she comments, "but I'm starting to wonder if that'll really happen."
Kazuo Takeba 2016-03-20 05:55:25 34931
"We don't get breaks," Kunzite observes. "We fence them around, guard them fiercely, and occasionally preserve a little quiet. That said, it might be a little easier now; you won't have to look after both of them unaided." It is entirely unclear whether he means that the girls will primarily only have to worry about Usagi, since Mamoru has his network back -- half-broken as much of it still is -- or whether he means Makoto, personally, has been looking after them. Alone. Or might as well be alone.

Usagi's condition is not precisely an elephant in the room. It's not crowding either of them, for one thing. It's definitely there. But he isn't pushing the topic onto it directly.

"They should both improve once Endymion has a chance to recover. We'll do our best for that, but he's always tried too hard. And his standards are twice as bad now. Half the challenge will be keeping him from doing himself damage trying to force himself to heal."
Makoto Kino 2016-03-20 06:15:07 34934
What Kunzite says draws a rueful sigh out of Makoto - not a sound of discouragement so much as faintly wistful, like he's just given words to something she more or less knew but - like finals - was optimistically putting off having to acknowledge quite so directly. "We really should bother Luna about getting you guys communicators, before another emergency happens."

Reaching her hands upwards towards the canopy of leaves overhead, she stretches, rolls her shoulders. "I can't really hold it against him," she says. "It's tough to make yourself stop thinking that everything should just be fixed, even when you know better. You guys might have to sit on him or something."
Kazuo Takeba 2016-03-20 06:31:27 34935
Somehow Kunzite can't quite imagine Luna agreeing to give those four anything, other than possibly claws to the face. He may yet be surprised. "In the mean time, you can reach Endymion, and he can reach us. Awkward, but generally viable."

He's had a body for less than six hours. Less than three. And he's already thought these things through. Then again, he had quite a while in the stone with little to do but think -- but for most of that time, the Dark Kingdom was a little more pressing.

"Sitting on him as necessary has already been arranged," Kunzite assures Makoto. "I expect he'll escape regularly, but we have margin for that." Especially now that he's less likely to have to worry about making sure someone sits on Zoisite as necessary. The matter between him and Jadeite being settled will help quite a bit. "Still. Those are temporary problems. Recovery, intermittent crises -- also temporary. Interruptions. When you're not being interrupted -- have the five of you thought about what you want to do then?"
Makoto Kino 2016-03-20 06:51:43 34936
"You mean besides make it into the ninth grade?" Makoto asks brightly, well aware that's not what he meant. He'd already covered that part earlier, after all. "Not really. Ami-chan and Rei-chan and I talked about it a little, but that was mostly just agreeing that we don't want to stop being Sailor Senshi now that the Dark Kingdom's out of the picture. As though that was really a question."

A beat, then Makoto amends. "--it might be for Venus, I suppose." Her attention's been steady on Kunzite, but now she looks up, eyes finding the sky beyond the trees. "I haven't talked to her. I know Ami-chan wanted to, and I'm sure Usagi-chan does, too, but..."

She lets the 'but' trail off, the rest of the thought unspoken, an implied 'things happened'.
Kazuo Takeba 2016-03-20 07:21:04 34937
As though that was really a question. And yet there's the faintest little shift in Kunzite's expression, as though -- even though he'd continued to refer to the five Senshi as a group, with things they'd be doing -- he hadn't, not quite, been certain they would be.

More than that. It has something in common with something in his voice in that meeting, when she'd asked that question, when she'd come close enough that he could provide half an answer. The sense of something not only expected and now made certain, but needed, and now made certain.

And then she mentions Venus, and even as Makoto's attention shifts upward, she can see that certainty withdrawn, made merely expected again.

"Venus made her choice," he says all the same. "She won't unmake it. I don't know what she'll make of it. Whatever it is, it will be worth seeing."
Makoto Kino 2016-03-20 07:45:44 34938
"She was with us in the end." 'Venus,' where she uses personal names for the other girls without really thinking about it - but still, Makoto sounds hopeful. If also not entirely certain herself. "We just need a chance to talk to her. Find out what she wants to do from here."

She watches the sky for a short space, but soon she's looking towards Kunzite again, once more wearing that curious expression. "What about you?" Mako asks. "Is there anything you want to do, when you're not dealing with temporary problems? Or is it a little too early for that?"
Kazuo Takeba 2016-03-20 19:11:07 34976
Temporary problems. Putting Mamoru back together, or at least providing him a structure to support his doing it for himself, now that he's finally been able to let go of holding himself to a mask and dissolve openly into the wreckage beneath. Helping three other teenagers who remember more of a dead past than their own lives to readjust and find their footing. School, for the heavens' sake, they need to worry about school. Rebuilding the Tsukino home. Building Mamoru's, in a sense -- taking the place he attached himself to, and making it a home rather than a place to exist. Their 'temporary' problems are going to last for months or years.

"Personally? Or as a group?" Kunzite turns partway toward Makoto, almost coming to face her. "We came back for a reason. Now that we finally can accomplish it, I don't think any of us is about to turn away." His expressions aren't the same as they were, thankfully. Now that he's alive again, they are too: there's a flicker of humor just barely visible at the corners of his mouth and eye. "Besides. Taking a lifelong introvert and giving him four roommates, with variously loud and not necessarily compatible habits ... the transition should be entertaining." They survived it before, but Endymion wasn't as inward-turned as Mamoru is; where they'll find the new balance is anyone's guess.

"Personally -- much of the damage that Beryl used us to do is beyond our present capacity to make good. There are enough exceptions to keep most of us busy. When Endymion goes back to tutoring the children at the orphanage, for instance, I'll go with him. And then there are loose ends to deal with. Some of the Dark Kingdom's youma were based elsewhere; many of them may have been restored with the rest of us, but some may still be active. Isolated and without the worst of their power, but still dangerous enough to watch for."

He studies Makoto for a moment longer. There's no internal debate on his part, not really. He's already made his decision. He's only checking to make sure his reasons still match reality.

"Those are more necessities than desire, though. What I want to do ... I have reason to believe there was a plan, once. That your people and ours both were intended to meet in a less haphazard way, to learn the truth of the world at a reasonable pace and with reasoned guidance. I want to learn what the plan was. Whose it was. What happened to it, and why.

"So far as I know, we don't have enough information to pursue that now. So we can take time for those immediate crises, for the temporary issues. Still. There's a balance that needs to be struck, between remembering the greater threats and living our own lives. I want to make sure we don't forget either side, this time."

A moment later, dry as ever: "Fortunately, Nephrite has the second covered."
Makoto Kino 2016-03-20 19:51:30 34982
Makoto listens, attentive... if increasingly, quietly surprised and faintly impressed at how much thought Kunzite has clearly put into this, in how much detail. Well, she supposes, it is Kunzite. He would've had plenty of time to consider these things while spending time as a rock.

"...I see," she says at last. The comment about Nephrite has her turning a couple of interesting shades of pink; looking to the side for a moment, Mako stifles a laugh. "It's a lot to try to balance out. A lot of that is things I probably won't be able to help much with, but I'd like to do what I can." By the time she's finished saying this she's looking straight at Kunzite again, eyes bright and earnest.

A beat, and then she starts getting self-conscious again, absently reaching up to wind the end of her ponytail around her fingers. "That is, if you guys need. We're finally all on the same side, it'd be good if we could all be looking out for each other."
Kazuo Takeba 2016-03-20 20:04:42 34984
No comment is made, and from this source likely none will ever be made, about Makoto matching her flowers. She's spared that, at least. The only way Kunzite is ever likely to acknowledge a blush on her part is by giving an extra moment or two to let her recover.

"We probably will," Kunzite answers, straightforward. "I don't think any of us has a clear memory of this life, not before Beryl interfered. We'll forget obvious things; we'll have problems with the everyday. Mamoru will be able to take care of some of that, but not all. But we'll be able to offer support in turn when it's appropriate. We have the best reasons in the world to provide backup for you, after all."
Makoto Kino 2016-03-20 20:26:26 34989
"That goes both ways, you know," Makoto points out with a quick bright flash of a smile. "We're all in this together from now on, whether we like it or not." Despite the phrasing, Mako seems nothing but pleased with this state of affairs - pleased, and a little amused in a way she feels no need to try to hide.

It's what Jupiter had always been hoping for in that other life, after all.

"I've been helping at the orphanage now and then myself," she notes after a moment. "Although not as much as I'd like, with everything else that's been going on. So I can probably give you hand there, too." She takes a moment to try to imagine Kunzite surrounded by the orphanage kids. It's... actually surprisingly easy, and this time Mako does have to try to stifle her amusement.
Kazuo Takeba 2016-03-20 20:34:23 34994
"It does; or it will, once we've had time to prove ourselves." Instant acceptance from all parties is not a thing that Kunzite expects in the slightest. Damage like that takes time to repair. For most people, at least. Makoto started early, and took a rather particular view.

That she's been helping at the orphanage, still, brings an instant's flicker of surprise. (There are things he doesn't know about her, still.) Only an instant's, before he inclines his head to her. "It'll be appreciated," he says gravely. "I only know how to manage young boys; girls of the same age are a great mystery to me. I trust you'll manage not to laugh too often at my helplessly referring certain questions back to you."
Makoto Kino 2016-03-20 20:50:52 35003
She dips her head to him in an answering nod, much less gravely. "I'll try my hardest," Makoto promises. Notably she doesn't promise to succeed, but, well. She does try to avoid making too many promises that she won't be able to keep.

"Really, though, girls aren't that different from boys, especially when they're little. I'm sure you'll do fine, but you can point them to me any time you need to. It's no problem." With a beaming smile, she clasps her hands together behind her. "They're good kids. They'll be really happy to have Mamoru-niisan back."
Kazuo Takeba 2016-03-20 21:00:00 35007
Fortunately, 'too often' is very conveniently ill-defined. And maybe Kunzite can find a way to only deal with, say, eight-year-olds. Nine. Before the Awkward Questions can start cropping up.

"They're welcome in the crowd," Kunzite says. He studies Makoto again, but again there doesn't seem to be a true evaluation going on, no judgment being rendered. "Is there anything that we might be able to do to assist you in turn? Outside the orphanage, not in. You've done more for us than I think you know."
Makoto Kino 2016-03-20 21:29:01 35012
Faintly surprised by the question, Makoto blinks at him, and has to take a moment to seriously consider it. Something she could use help with...?

"It's hard to think of anything in particular, now that the worst stuff is finally over," she admits at last, half pleased and half embarrassed. "Mostly... I'd just like to make sure we keep talking to each other, all of us. If we'd been able to do that properly back then, maybe--"

Catching herself, Makoto stops and shakes her head a little, a quick jerk of motion. "Well, what happened is what happened. But there's been way too much of people trying to deal with things on their own when they don't have to. We don't need any more nasty surprises."
Kazuo Takeba 2016-03-20 21:38:57 35016
"-- then at the least," Kunzite says in that moment when Makoto shakes her head, "you'd have had more warning."

It might not have changed the outcome. But it might have let them see sooner that something is wrong.

There's a brief, small nod to her later words, a shifting of the sharply-angled shadows that the ever-setting sun casts across Kunzite's face. "If we keep talking, then we'll know that trouble's coming when someone withdraws. Some of us withdraw as a matter of course, at times -- Nephrite for the stars, Jadeite when he's creating; Mercury, I suspect, and Venus. Mamoru, now. But we can note their patterns, watch them, make contact on our own. And for the others, silence by itself is unusual enough."

Quiet for a moment; then he adds, "Mamoru kept something of an open invitation for visits, didn't he? I doubt he'll change that pattern. And certainly he'll have space enough for guests."
Makoto Kino 2016-03-20 21:57:19 35020
"That's true," Makoto answers, after a brief pause for reflection. Acknowledging all of his points, but most particularly the last one. "I'm not sure if it was really intentional or if it just kind of happened and he went with it, but you're right, I doubt it's anything that's going to change now."

Something occurs to her and she laughs quietly. "I bet none of you has a clue how to feed that many people without ordering in, either." Don't look now, but there's a spark of an idea that's come into Mako's eyes and it probably isn't going to be going away in a hurry.
Kazuo Takeba 2016-03-20 22:03:48 35022
Five teenaged boys. Five Senshi, one of whom is Usagi. Indeterminate number of guests. There's a small glint from Kunzite's side, or perhaps that's just the reflection of the setting sun. "I used to. But open fires are probably frowned on these days. Particularly indoors."
Makoto Kino 2016-03-20 22:18:09 35024
Sudden delighted laughter bubbles up out of Makoto at that comment, and she nods again. "Just a little bit," she agrees merrily. "Although now that you mention it, a cookout sometime doesn't seem like a bad idea. Maybe when the weather gets warmer." She says, as though the 'weather' in the four palaces wasn't on a completely different clock than that of Tokyo.

"Well, anyway," Mako continues after a moment, all cheerful enthusiasm now, "that's probably something I can lend a hand with. I'll just have to make Mamoru-niisan cover the groceries. If Usagi-chan's family and Ami-chan hadn't been helping earlier, I'd have already broken my budget for this month." She doesn't really seem worried, just makes a momentarily rueful face. Five senshi, one of whom is Usagi, and the gradual addition of five teenaged boys - these things happen.
Kazuo Takeba 2016-03-20 22:26:05 35026
"I suspect he'll be willing to manage that. And we can always arrange for some unskilled assistance." Which of them exactly Kunzite is planning to volunteer for cleanup duties is left unspecified. Probably whoever provided the most notable headache the day before. The budget for this month is noted, but left without comment -- that's something that should be addressed through Mamoru, when Mamoru is in condition to think about things like that again. They'll find ways to make it good, in time, or ways to balance it out less specifically.
Makoto Kino 2016-03-20 22:39:43 35028
It's hard to say what kind of plans Makoto is beginning to spin in the back of her head, but she makes a pleased little humming sound. "Haha, that'll be fun. You guys could probably use an extra pair of hands getting things arranged and organized, while we're at it, huh? Not to mention maybe we can finally get something done about Usagi's house."

Judging by the smile she flashes over in Kunzite's direction, things are pretty good in Mako's world right now. "Things are going to be pretty interesting from here on, aren't they."