There He Go

Mako, Mamo, and Kunzite meet Fiore at a street fair. It goes about as well as might be expected.

Date: 2016-03-26
Pose Count: 16
Mamoru Chiba 2016-03-26 03:06:16 35811
It's not the proper farmer's market-- they already got twelve gallons of raw honey there. It is an outdoor street fair, with lots of different stalls involving exotic foodstuffs, spices, natural food dyes; there are, of course, many many other pretty and interesting things for sale, but they're here to see what else can be put in chocolate effectively.

--and ofc Mamoru is eating a corn dog as he trails along after Makoto, next to Kunzite.
Makoto Kino 2016-03-26 03:32:28 35817
Makoto is, as one might expect, having a grand old time. Now that they're out of the farmer's market proper, she's at least stopped getting distracted by every single display of fresh produce and all the things she could make with it, and has settled back onto the task at hand.

"...pepper," she's saying over her shoulder to the guys as she walks along. "I tried cayenne in one of the original batches and it worked pretty well, though I went with sea salt in the end. Just enough for contrast." She makes a thoughtful little humming sound, eyes more for the stalls she's walking past than particularly where she's going. "Jadeite thought I should try coffee. I couldn't quite figure out how to make it work, but it'd be worth trying again... and you know, I'm not really into white chocolate very much, but I bet we could do something really good with it and the rose honey and green tea..."
Kazuo Takeba 2016-03-26 04:04:21 35825
Despite the handful of fragmentary memories that Kazuo provides him, Kunzite is still not entirely sure he isn't lapsing in his duty by letting Mamoru eat that. On the other hand, protecting his prince from his own bad decisions is a poor plan in the long term, and has once managed to be an even more spectacularly poor plan in the short term. The corn dog is therefore left in peace for the brief term of its remaining existence.

He's also reasonably sure that this trip is in part Mamoru running a stress test on him to see whether he'll start overreacting in distraction-ridden crowds. The answer so far is no, but he is keeping more of an eye on the crowd in question and anyone Makoto might be about to walk into than on the conversation.

After all. He's had a few days to sample food at all again, after having dealt with it maybe a half-dozen times in the previous several years. It'll be a little while before he has anything to contribute to conversations like this one; though given certain of the people he knows, that little while probably isn't going to be too long. In the mean time? He watches. That at least he can manage.

(After all. This is the sort of area he would've targeted, himself.)
Fiore 2016-03-26 04:19:03 35834
It's truly remarkable how easily someone can hide in a crowd. One might even look directly at a person and not see them there.

Or, perhaps, they might see things that aren't there at all.

Makoto, out of the corner of her eye, might see a tall boy with dusty ginger hair standing by a stall of flowers -- until he isn't.

Kunzite, ever the watchful guardian, might feel the hair on the back of his neck rise, as though they are being tailed -- until there's nothing behind them but shopgoers. Simple paranoia, perhaps?

Mamoru, for his part, might catch glimpses of a familiar figure, always smiling, appearing and disappearing as the bustling throng passes in front of him. Until someone's in front of him, out of nowhere, too suddenly to avoid collision.

"Mamoru-kun," Fiore says, looking at his friend with a chilling kind of curiosity, "what are you doing?"
Mamoru Chiba 2016-03-26 04:24:47 35838
"Coffee would work fine!" Mamoru tells Makoto stoutly, swallowing his bite of corn dog and waving the popsicle of breaded meat around in emphasis. "I mean, what's mocha? Also, honey in coffee is amazing. Also also, if you make it like the stuff on green tea pocky--"

That's where he's cut off as he slams into Fiore, then immediately backpedals.

For a half-second, his eyes are wide...

...and then he says with a scowl, "Eating. Mako-chan? Kazuo? This is Fiore."

And then he very deliberately takes a big...


...bite of that corn dog.
Makoto Kino 2016-03-26 04:44:46 35843
"Well I know the flavors go together," Mako starts to toss back to Mamoru--

--but suddenly there's a person in Mamoru's path who was definitely not there a moment ago, because if he had been she would've had to walk right through him. Makoto stops short, brows drawing together uncertainly as she turns to face the guys fully.

She'd been too caught up in what she was doing before to really pay attention, but now that she's looking at this person, didn't she see that hair at the edge of her vision just a few moments ago?

When Mamoru says the name 'Fiore,' everything clicks, realization sweeping over her face. Her eyes find Kunzite's for a split second before Makoto is moving past Fiore to place herself not quite between the two boys with her shoulder just a bit in front of Mamoru, visibly ready to make a human wall of herself at a moment's notice.

"Hello," she says shortly to Fiore, regarding him with green eyes gone sharp and wary.
Kazuo Takeba 2016-03-26 04:54:00 35847
That split second is enough. The second boy, the white-haired stranger, Kazuo, was about to place himself between Fiore and Mamoru in a motion almost identical to the one Nephrite had used a bare few days ago. The glance tells him that Makoto is moving, and Makoto is always direct; therefore Kazuo keeps moving, and another two strides bring him to Mamoru's other side, dropping back just enough that he and the girl have Fiore's friend between them. So that if Fiore vanishes in the crowd and reappears again, there's no convenient angle from which he could reach the boy without one or the other of them being able to interfere.

It's after he's placed himself that he spares the time to look directly at Fiore. Gray eyes are steady, without any evidence of emotion or conscience, even as he inclines his head politely by way of echoing the greeting. Words, apparently, would be extraneous.
Fiore 2016-03-26 05:19:15 35856
If there's some kind of message the other two humans are relaying, it's lost on Fiore, who keeps his bizarrely empty-looking eyes trained on Mamoru. He notices that the girl from the flower shop's not with him today.

That's good.

Fiore's smile relaxes into one more genuine at that realization, and when Mamoru answers his question, he lets out an amused laugh -- one a bit more enthusiastic than would be proper.

"Eating. I remember," he says, glancing down at the corn dog as he bites down on it. "You did that back then, too. You haven't changed at all." Well. Apart from his new habit of choosing unpleasant company. Makoto and Kunzite each receive a glance -- sharp and dismissive, his face falling into flat disdain -- before he relaxes again and reaches out to take Mamoru's hand.

"Anyway. Are you ready to go yet?" Fiore asks. "I have so much I want to show you, Mamoru-kun."

He flashes another smile that might seem innocent, were it not for the hint of possessive hunger reflected in those hollow blue eyes.
Mamoru Chiba 2016-03-26 05:29:13 35860
And here's where Mamoru shows at least Makoto and Kunzite that he has changed-- even in the relatively brief time they've each known him in this life.

He takes another half-step back, letting the two of them decide to make a wall in front of him if they choose to. Letting them stand in front of him. Letting them protect him.

"No, Fiore. I can't leave this planet-- and I don't want to. You've been gone eleven years. I have a life here. I have friends, I have family. I finally found everything I was looking for."

He keeps his eyes on Fiore, but he speaks to Makoto and Kunzite: "He's fast and strong. Uses shielding. He deflected my attack."
Makoto Kino 2016-03-26 05:46:26 35868
When Fiore moves to reach for Mamoru's hand, when Mamoru takes that half-step back - in that moment the intention that was stated by the way Makoto positioned herself becomes action, and with a sidelong half-step of her own she's fully between them. Feet apart, shoulders squared, braced and solid. Her hands curl loosely at her sides.

"It's great that you're excited to see Mamoru-niisan again," Mako puts in rather flatly, eyes steady on Fiore as she speaks, "but maybe you should back off a little. I definitely don't think it's a good idea to be going anywhere with somebody who doesn't know that humans need to eat to survive."

You know. Among other things.
Kazuo Takeba 2016-03-26 06:00:51 35878
Makoto isn't alone in her defense; Kunzite steps into -- almost into; just before -- the place Mamoru just vacated as if the two of them had coordinated the motions, practiced them. He doesn't entirely like it. But Fiore was alone the last time, and he hasn't seen anything else that's a clear threat. Not yet.

And if Fiore's fast, they may need the both of them.

"A good host considers his guest's nature," he agrees. Echoing Makoto's comment about eating, and Mamoru's flat denial, both alike. His hands come up alongside the words, an apparently casual gesture. If they're particularly lucky, it might even stay casual. But Mamoru's preparing otherwise, and therefore so is he.

-- it occurs to him only now, belatedly, that confrontations in a crowd might now be something to avoid.
Fiore 2016-03-26 06:32:35 35896
Fiore's hand remains outstretched even as Mamoru retreats, even as the other two humans interpose themselves between them, as the oaf at the flower shop had. It's his face that changes: in mere moments, it shifts from the look of tainted innocence to one of hurt and confusion.

Eleven years? Did Mamoru lose hope that he would ever return for him? Is *that* why he's acting so withdrawn towards him, and why these strangers keep trying to interfere?

"But...Mamoru-kun," the disguised alien says, his voice rising in not at all concealed pain, "you always knew I was going to come back, didn't you? You knew I wouldn't leave you here forever, all alone. So why..."

His thinking aloud is cut short by Makoto, who interrupts with something or other about eating. Fiore's eyes shoot to her, immediately hostile.

"I don't care about humans. I care about Mamoru-kun," he snaps -- then, suddenly and profoundly, the missing piece of this puzzle snaps into place.

His hand clenches into a fist. All along the street, petals begin to rip themselves out of their flowers of their own accord, blowing away in the chill wind that kicks up from nothing.

Has the sky gotten darker, or was it always this cloudy?

"I understand now," Fiore says, as a multicolored tempest of dead flowers encircles the four of them. "These humans lied to you. They made you think I'd abandoned you, so that you would be theirs instead." Further down the street, a child cries out as an errant cherry blossom strikes her cheek, drawing blood.

"I won't let them have you."
Mamoru Chiba 2016-03-26 06:39:50 35900
Something is crawling up the back of Mamoru's throat and filling it, cutting off his air, choking him. His eyes are still on Fiore's, and instead of taking a half step back, this time, he reaches out and grips Kunzite and Makoto, quick and frantic.

In those eyes, there's anger, but overriding it is fear, increasingly unreasoning. Fear of Fiore. Fear of something else. His breathing is quicker, more shallow.

He forces out words.

"I don't. Belong. To anyone."
Makoto Kino 2016-03-26 07:07:58 35912
"Hey!" Makoto's voice rises loud and sharp as the petals begin to swirl around them. Mamoru's hand gripping her shoulder keeps her, only just, from taking a step forward to get right up into Fiore's space, but her face is hard now and her eyes are bright with anger.

At her sides, her hands clench into fists, and one of them is gripping her henshin pen. She is one hot second from transforming right here on the spot and damn the consequences.

"If you cared about Mamoru-niisan," she snaps fiercely, baring her teeth, "you'd care how he feels! You're just being selfish!"
Kazuo Takeba 2016-03-26 07:17:15 35915
There are things that Kunzite might say, here. If you care about him, then consider his nature, perhaps. Or you have that exactly reversed, but that's not true for Makoto, and Mamoru has significant issues with that idea anyhow.

He doesn't say anything. He's too busy.

His own hands shift ever so slightly, shaping the air, the flow of certain subtle energies; the time it takes is covered by Mamoru's slow syllables, by Makoto's anger making her the obvious threat. And indeed, what he's doing is not a threat. Not to Fiore, not to those around them -- not if Fiore's anger is as focused on Kunzite and Makoto as it seems to be. Not if the others here are as much scenery to Fiore as -- well. As Kunzite has to make an effort to remember not to let them be.

Shadows flow out over the three of them, hidden by that storm of dead blossoms. Maybe it's a counter, a defense? No. The energy that flares in the shadows is a startlingly floral pink itself, and as it fades the shadows go with it. And take Mamoru and the two humans with them as well, leaving Fiore alone in his own storm.

That's not a trick that's going to work twice. The best that can be said for it is that it's better than fighting him there.
Fiore 2016-03-26 07:52:04 35931
"*Selfish*?" Fiore shoots back at the girl's interruption, the whirlwind of flowers picking up speed with each passing moment. "I already know how he feels! I'm the *only* one who knows!" He steps forward, making to part the two obstacles between he and his friend. "Mamoru-kun, don't you rememb--"

'How everyone left you,' he was going to say. 'How you were always, always sad.' But before he can get any more words out, a great shadow overtakes the three of them, obscuring them -- obscuring Mamoru -- from his sight.

The chill of dread settles in his stomach.

"Mamoru-kun!!" he screams, diving forward to grab hold of any shred of him, but it's all too late. The forms in shadow waver and disappear as his outstretched hand grazes the place where Mamoru used to be. And when all is said and done, he stands surrounded by his great power, but once again alone.

*/ Punish them, /* a familiar voice says in his mind. */ Punish the humans for what they've done. /*

Fiore needn't say anything in reply. His eyes simply flash crimson in assent. With a single tensing of his hand, the swirling petals freeze in midair, perfectly still -- then shoot outwards, a hail of razors that cuts the fabric booths to ribbons and sends the crowd running with shrieks of fear.

If anyone saw him do this, it doesn't matter now. The only trace of him is a peculiar kind of pink flower, growing in a crack in the pavement where Mamoru once stood.