Polite Among Foxes (Reprise)

Kunzite stops Ayana and Ikiko for a moment on their way out of the Virtue-sponsored dance. Since the last time Ayana saw 'Saito,' he was being literally disintegrated by a collection of heroes, this is a little of a surprise...

Date: 2016-03-21
Pose Count: 15
Kazuo Takeba 2016-03-21 03:12:07 35082
For some people, the dance in Seiyou's observatory was filled with argument, or at least ended with it. For some people, it was filled with -- other things. Certainly, once Ikiko and Ayana had the chance to dance together, nothing else that happened was likely to come too much to their attention.

It's as they're leaving, once they're out of the building and on their way off of the school grounds, that someone tries to change that.

It's not the scent that's the clue. Not entirely human yet -- give it a few more hours; it's still claimed too much by rose flowers, soil, petrichor, sun on the sand. And not the same as the one he had before, anyhow. That one had only passed for human, at best.

No, it's the voice that's the same. It comes from behind them, at a little distance. Far enough to give them space for defense, if that's what they wanted. "Ayana-san."

Ayana's heard it several times. Ikiko only the once. At least, if that particular individual's following them again, this time he's not following either of them home.
Ikiko Hisakata 2016-03-21 03:20:24 35089
Ikiko Hisakata paused with a hint of a frown, then calmly turns around towards the voice. "Hello again," she remarks. "I don't think I had the opportunity to thank you for your assistance the other day."

She gives him a small bow. "Thank you for keeping an eye out for us during the ritual," Ikiko smiles. "But... somehow I don't think that's why you're here tonight, is it? There's something else on your mind."
Ayana Tasogare 2016-03-21 03:25:24 35091
Ayana stops cold at that voice. It's not one she's expected to hear again. He's dead. He's supposed to be dead. She watched him die.

She watched him kill people, and then die.

Turning, Ayana's eyes are wide, half full of tears and disbelief, as she regards the man warily. The last time she saw him alive, she fought him to a standstill in her own mind, until he visited upon her so many pains that she felt like she should have died.

It wasn't real, of course; just a figment of the imagination. But those pains were real to him.

And then he died!

And here he is, tall as ever, with that same beautiful white hair and those confident (arrogant?) grey eyes. Ayana opens her mouth to try and greet him, but all she manages is a little squeak.
Kazuo Takeba 2016-03-21 03:43:59 35105
Tall as ever, but not the same. Some of it's how he's dressed: clearly in uniform, pale gray trimmed with darker, but not a uniform of any military this history remembers. It's not the one Ayana saw him in last, either. Lighter. Symmetrical. The cape's almost the same, white as his hair -- but it's lined with a rich red-brown, like fertile earth, and that binds him visibly to life rather than to the ghost-paleness he had before.

Most of it's just that he's shed half a decade, somehow. Not so many years, for an adult. Until it puts someone on the teenager side of the line.

Ikiko's phrasing prompts a wry little twitch at the corner of his mouth. "You're right," he says to her. "I did little enough, and it proved unnecessary anyhow; nothing significant came near."

The boy who is not, quite, Kunihiro Saito turns to Ayana directly then, and gives her a small bow, hand to his chest. "I'm sorry," he says. They are not words that seem suited or familiar to him. He may have had to practice to get the pronunciation right. "You were trying to help me, and I used it to hurt you badly; you deserved better. And you did help me, though it wasn't visible at the time. You helped to make it possible for friends of mine to rescue me. Thank you."
Ikiko Hisakata 2016-03-21 03:57:41 35112
Ikiko Hisakata gives Ayana's hand a little squeeze of encouragement. "Still, the sentiment was appreciated, even if the effort turned out to be irrelevant," she remarks to Kunzite.

She shifts her weight back half a step; this apology was for Ayana, and what Ikiko can best do right now is to bear witness and be support for her girlfriend.

Still, Kunzite is looking more hearty than he did the last time she saw him, even if his age has dropped to a teenage level.
Ayana Tasogare 2016-03-21 03:59:00 35114
Ayana's eyes widen at the reminder of that event. It was on her mind. It was heavily on her mind. But having him confirm it--and tell her that it wasn't in vain--is enough to break through the wall of disbelief. "Saito-senpai," she whispers, then rushes forward. She lets go of Ikiko's hand, and rushes straight for Kunzite, then wraps her arms tightly around him. "Saito-senpai," she repeats the name, this time a little more pleading. "You're real. You're here. I watched you die. How are you here?!"
Kazuo Takeba 2016-03-21 04:11:55 35120
-- detaching Ayana from Ikiko was very definitely not part of the older boy's plan, and the glance he gives Ikiko's way a moment after impact is good evidence. It does not, mind, reach anything near the level of 'help, please collect your girlfriend' panic.

He feels different, when Ayana has that contact. Solid. Breathing. Heartbeat. All the subtle cues are right for a person, now, rather than the things that told her predator before --

All right. Granted. There's overlap. But person, all the same.

"The body I was trapped in was made out of dark energy," he answers, as if it were a sentence that made sense. "The friends I mentioned destroyed it, and found a way to give me a new one. A real one, rather than poison."

He glances to Ikiko again, whom he never gave any name at all. "Saito wasn't quite a real name, either, only the shadow of one; you deserve better." A plural 'you.' "Kunzite. I have other names, but that's the oldest."
Ikiko Hisakata 2016-03-21 04:22:19 35125
Ikiko Hisakata giggles slightly at Kunzite's baffled expression. "It is nice to meet you in a more peaceful time, Kunzite-san," she smiles with a nod. "I am glad to hear that you are doing much better."
Ayana Tasogare 2016-03-21 04:31:01 35148
"Kunzite," Ayana repeats the name, then takes a deep breath and squeezes him before taking a step back. Now her tails are wagging uncontrollably.

"These friends of yours ... I'm so grateful to them," she says to him honestly. "Because you were such a big help to me when I needed someone just like you. I don't think I could have made it through that darkness without your guidance. I know it's stupid, but I felt like you were protecting me, sometimes, from the craziness that was consuming me.

"That night in Mitakihara," Ayana explains, "... I think I might have killed someone that night if you hadn't been there to teach me how to be more subtle. Or the night by Ikiko's house, I think I might have killed myself if you hadn't been there to let me lean on you just a little while before I went to see her."

She smiles at him, then says, "But we all made it out. All of us are free of whatever darkness consumed us. Except Riventon, but we're going to get him, too, somehow. And Fate-chan ... I have to help her get out of there. But ... but you look so much younger, now! Are you still ... can I still call you senpai?"
Kazuo Takeba 2016-03-21 04:44:07 35166
Kunzite rests a hand on Ayana's arm for a moment, then lets it drop -- he doesn't try to guide her with him when he takes a step or two toward where Ikiko's hanging back, just lets her make her own decisions on that front. "We'll be grateful to each other's friends, then." This time the small bow is to Ikiko. "Since yours gave me hope at a time when I needed it." And something to do that was actually helpful, rather than merely the least awful he could manage at the time.

But they all made it out. "Yes. And you rather more than free, if I remember correctly." There's a note of amusement as he glances at the not-decoration at her throat, but nothing more than his eyes moves to do that; he doesn't so much as turn his head, and no-one outside the little group would be able to tell it'd happened at all. "As for me ... I look the age I was when I made my mistake. I haven't lost anything important, or forgotten. You can call me whatever you like; that I've given you another name doesn't mean you have to use it. As for Riventon -- that's an interesting question, too. I met him briefly since the last time we spoke. He thought he might be able to learn something by studying me. That might mean that some of the things that were done with me might shed light on his condition, whatever it is. Perhaps we'll see, in time."
Ikiko Hisakata 2016-03-21 04:55:10 35169
Ikiko Hisakata nods back. "In the meantime, feel free to stay in touch," she replies, pulling out a piece of paper and jotting down both her number and Ayana's, then handing it over to Kunzite. "Just in case you've misplaced our numbers since the last time we were in communication."
Ayana Tasogare 2016-03-21 05:07:20 35171
Ayana straightens up in startlement wh en Ikiko hands over the phone numbers, then laughs a little. "Woops," she says, then smiles at Kunzite. "I guess I never even gave you my number, before. But I hope you'll use it, now," she notes.

"And if you don't mind, could I maybe have yours?" she asks him hopefully. "I don't really ... have anyone else I can look up to. I've got Ikiko-chan," she says, stepping back to grab her girlfriend's hand gently. "But we're partners, not mentors. But you were ... you were really special to me. You helped me through so much. And um. Well. I hope I can still ask you questions when I have them. Or just ... call to talk. Sometimes?"
Kazuo Takeba 2016-03-21 05:15:00 35174
"Soon," Kunzite promises Ayana, and then amends (despite there being no-one to eye him about his recent use of that word), "As soon as I can. Your lady here is right; I've misplaced your numbers. I was keeping my phone somewhere that doesn't actually exist anymore." -- there's another instant's flash of amusement. "As soon as I've replaced it, I'll send you mine. And you can call when you like, then. To talk, or to ask. I might have questions for you, as well -- but I've kept the two of you long enough." As rejoined hands witness.
Ikiko Hisakata 2016-03-21 05:20:39 35176
Ikiko Hisakata smiles warmly, then steps up to give Kunzite a one-armed hug with her free arm. "We look forward to it," she grins, letting go of the hug and stepping back to Ayana's side. "Again, it's good to see you doing well!"
Ayana Tasogare 2016-03-21 05:24:01 35178
Ayana squeezes Ikiko's hand just a little too hard as Ikiko hugs Kunzite. She also gives Kunzite a hug with her free hand at the same time. Double hugs!

Then she backs away, tails still wagging, and takes a deep breath. "Please do," she begs him. "I really do want to get to know you better. To learn from you. And if you have questions for me, I'll answer them," she promises.

Then she blushes and reaches back to grab her own tails, stilling their motion. "I gotta hide these," she says with a giggle. "Mama Hisakata would be so mad if she saw me walking around with them where everyone can see." Ayana squeezes her eyes shut, and forces herself to calm down. It takes a few moments, but eventually the tails and ears all fade away to nothing, and the orange-haired girl that's left looks only a little bit feral.

"We really gotta get home," she says to Kunzite. "But I'm so glad to know you're okay, Kunzie-senpai," because Kunzite-senpai just doesn't sound right. "So um. I'll talk to you later. When you call." A little wave, then she looks to Ikiko, waiting for the other girl to lead the way.