Virtue Under The Stars

Mamoru asks Kukai to meet a friend of his and explain what Virtue is to him at the Seiyou Planetarium.

Date: 2016-04-03
Pose Count: 29
Mamoru Chiba 2016-04-03 03:44:32 36944
About half an hour ago, Mamoru mass-texted the Guardians he had the numbers for with a note he'd be dropping by the planetarium with a friend he wanted to (in)formally introduce to Virtue, more like a Virtue 101 class sort of thing than a 'hi he wants to join' thing, and the pingback he got was from Kukai -- for various reasons this made the prospect slightly less anxiety-inducing. Not least of which was the potential of the word 'prince' showing up at some point in conversation. Just potential, not likelihood, but still.

Now he's coming up the path with said friend -- a white-haired boy even taller than he is -- and telling him wryly, "Last time I was here, I was a girl. First time I ever found out I could sleight-of-hand my top hat whilst out of henshin."

He's definitely not a girl now, and he's dressed like a damn street-fashion model, because Mamoru is as Mamoru does. Hauling open the big door, he steps into the relatively cool dimness of the big building and glances around. "Yo-- Kukai-san?"
Kazuo Takeba 2016-04-03 03:58:04 36950
Mamoru borders on absurdly tall. The white-haired boy in question merely /is/ absurdly tall. And not, as many tall people run to, just an elongated rack of bones. He might perhaps have been recognizable in passing from the dance, if Kukai hadn't been so thoroughly distracted at the time... maybe even if he was, given the way that even as a wallflower he towered over most of the people he was around. Nagihiko, for instance. Nagihiko was one of the taller ones.

"I'm not going to ask why you wanted the top hat," Kazuo notes as he follows Mamoru inside. As if that, not the 'I was a girl,' were the notable part.
Kukai Souma 2016-04-03 04:08:06 36957
The inside of the planetarium is quiet and peaceful, an excellent place for a private meeting - not where Kukai's used to being, but it's fine all the same. He's sitting in a seat, turned to one side, dressed in comfortable, basic street clothes, with a small box of chocolates on his lap, his feet up on another chair, sharing the sweets with Daichi, and looking up at roof of the planetarium, where there's still a few stars appearing from time to time from the projector.

He sits up from his leaned back, reclining position as Mamoru opens the door and puts his feet down, standing and waving. "Hey, Mamoru-san! Come on in! When I got your text I was curious as to who else was coming with you..."
Mamoru Chiba 2016-04-03 04:28:21 36967
"Too bad, you get to find out," laughs Mamoru after waving to Kukai and starting to head over. "There you are!" he calls to Kukai cheerfully. "This is Kazuo Takeba; he's my..."

There's a pause.

He glances at Kazuo. How the hell does he even introduce this guy? He looks back at Kukai. "Oldest friend." Slightly offbalance there. "A lot of things! Anything else you can say yourself," mildly irked look in white-haired direction.

"I was just about," he says a little bit slyly, "to tell him what happens when you say the word 'prince' in front of Tadase-kun." He turns slightly on his heel to look at Kunzite and take a deep breath, drawing himself up and lifting an eyebrow, "The only way to cut short the result is to put something over his head. We didn't have a bucket handy, so, top hat."

Then he beams at Kukai and offers a quick and slight bow in greeting before he drops himself into a chair across from Kukai. "I didn't get to tell you at the dance, but I was glad to see you. Usako wanted to nab a dance with you, I think, but there was a lot going on."
Kazuo Takeba 2016-04-03 04:40:58 36971
Possibly literally oldest, given that Kazuo tops Mamoru's age by a year or two. He inclines his head to Kukai by way of greeting, modifies that to match Mamoru's slight bow a moment later, then adds a nod to Daichi without a word. Mamoru, on the other hand, gets: "I'll remember to watch my vocabulary, then." There's just the faintest shadow of amusement underlying the words. Just barely enough to suggest that he might, possibly, have met Tadase. Or have met Tadase when he was being ... imposing.

Most of his attention stays on Kukai, all the while. Gray eyes thoughtfully steady; taking some measure, evaluating something, more by reflex than anything else. Maybe the same kind of reflex that leaves him on his feet while the other two are seated, though there's no point made of that. As if it were just the natural course of things.
Kukai Souma 2016-04-03 04:56:17 36978
Kukai Souma huhs, looking back and forth between Mamoru and Kazuo, noting that skip in introduction. "Well, ok! Hi Kazuo! Any friend of Mamoru's is somebody I can yell at later." He grins, that infectious Jack's Grin, warm and cheerful, which turns into a laugh as they talk about Tadase and 'prince'. "Oh no. You put the top hat over his head? Oh man, I wish I'd seen that!" He nods. "Yeah, one of the things we're learning real fast is that people with Guardian Charas have flaws as well as benefits."

He holds out the little tray of chocolates to the two of them to take one if they want and nods. "I wish I'd had a chance, but first Blue grabbed me, and then Nadeshiko, and then Amu, and then before I could finish dancing with Utau there was a fight. It's so complicated. I really wish I'd been able to see both of you before you had to go, but honestly I think I had to dip out before you did." He looks amused for a moment. "I was also a couple of cups into the spiked punch, too, because at the time the end of that night sucked."

He nods to Kazuo as well, then shrugs. "Don't bother around me. I've heard all the best cuss words before." He grins. "So. Sit down, sit down. Mamoru says you wanna know about Virtue. I assume that means you have some magic of your own, yeah?" He looks back over at Mamoru to double check that, even as Daichi comes up to investigate the two of them closely and give them a thumbs-up.
Mamoru Chiba 2016-04-03 05:08:54 36982
Kazuo was doing this at the dance, too. A wall behind-- or to the side of-- Mamoru. It seems to be something the black-haired boy's used to, takes as naturally Kazuo does. Mamoru'll notice in a minute, though.

He leeeans forward to snake a chocolate gleefully, then gives Daichi a thumbs-up right back before sitting up and sticking the chocolate in his mouth. He listens while he chews, and grimaces in sympathy. "Usa and I ditched before the fireworks, but I heard about them later. Sorry stuff got dramatic. The punch was worth it, though!"

Then the guy nods and gestures at Kunzite. "He's one of mine. It's cool."
Kazuo Takeba 2016-04-03 05:17:39 36983
"Dances with you people around are always complicated," Kazuo notes. His definition of 'you people' is questionable, though the brief glance Mamoru's way seems to suggest he's included. "Though that time no-one seemed to be taking their frustrations out on furniture. It's a start."

He's definitely paying attention to Kazuo, though. Being yelled at later might be par for the course, or at least he doesn't react to it; the urging to sit down ... well. There's a moment of not-expression on his face, but he unbends enough to actually do it, and before Mamoru can elbow him or anything at that. And does he have magic? "Some, yes," he agrees, even as he's likewise glancing Mamoru's way. -- yes. 'One of his' is a good way of putting it without being excessively alarming. Another brief nod toward Kukai confirms the confirmation.
Kukai Souma 2016-04-03 05:35:35 36987
Kukai Souma nods at Mamoru, grinning. "Well, the fireworks ended in nice sparkles." He frowns, though. "Then they left ashes everywhere. ...But that's my problem, not yours."

He looks at Kazuo and shrugs. "Yeah, but I wouldn't trade them for the world. It's so great to have everyone together in one place like that."

He nods at the comment. "Ok then. Well, Virtue is a loose confederation of magical boys and girls and groups and others who have banded together to make sure we can help one another when we need to. We have a leader, Platinum Royale, who directs policy and makes decisions about who can join and who can't, but we're pretty much open. Everybody gets a private phone with the latest up to date Virtue contacts on it, and you're expected to guard that with everything up to your life, but otherwise it's up to you how much you want to be involved. We've got a few people without powers at all who're still magical with phones, just in case they need someone to help them if somebody decides to kidnap them or something." He rubs his chin, leaning back in the seat. "Hmm. I think that's the short version. What do you have to ask?"
Mamoru Chiba 2016-04-03 05:45:11 36988
Oh no, it's once Kazuo actually sits down that Mamoru elbows him, and it's for the 'you people', because he knows damn well he doesn't just mean the Guardians. Very brief ghost of a stinkface, and the prince sits back slouchingly comfortably to listen to the spiel.

And promptly blinks in the middle of it. He waits until Kukai's done before he lifts a hand from the arm of the couch and waves his fingers. "Hang on, before you do, I just want to make sure I got things straight--"

He does not look at Kazuo during this.

"First, I was under the impression that if your Virtue phone was taken off you and someone you didn't want to use it tried to, it would brick-- and if they tried to open it, it'd be empty. I mean, because if that's not the case, you guys are all really lucky." Then he lets his hand drop. "The other's basically just, is he leader-leader as in gives Virtue orders, or he just gives your team orders? Or by leader, in this case, you just mean he's basically point man, arbitrator, and has veto power on members? Like I guess I'm asking, too, if Tsukasa's completely stepped back."
Kazuo Takeba 2016-04-03 05:50:24 36991
The elbowing is accepted as deserved. After all, 'teenagers' is a category that one should mock only when one is not temporarily (again) resident within it.

The explanation, though, and the request for query -- those are met by Kazuo opening his hand silently toward Mamoru after the latter is finished talking. Apparently, those questions covered the first ones Kazuo had, too. Or maybe were the first ones Kazuo had.

Also, apparently, one of these three is inclined to do a lot less talking than the other two.
Kukai Souma 2016-04-03 06:11:04 36993
Kukai Souma hmms, then shakes his head. "Well, yeah, if your Virtue phone gets taken off of you, and the contact list is enchanted and... " He raises a hand and wobbles it back and forth. "It's something I'm starting to realize. There are coordinated forces working directly against us, and if they knew we all kept in contact with one another and had some sort of... I dunno. Counter magic? It might be really bad." He shrugs. "This is the sort of thing I think about when I'm at home at night watching TV and the power goes out. You know."

"As for 'leader', he's... Well, he doesn't give anybody orders, but he might make a request from time to time. I do them because I get this cushy 'right-hand-man' job and get to meet new and interesting people. So probably the second option. He's the 'face' of Virtue."

He grins. "Second, I've yet to hear Royale say anything that isn't for the best of everybody, except in one condition, and that was at the dance. So." He shrugs again. "And as for Tsukasa..." He looks over at the back of the planetarium. "He's still the leader leader. I think he prefers to let us handle things ourselves, though. That answer your questions?"
Mamoru Chiba 2016-04-03 06:21:48 36996
Mamoru gives Kukai a double thumbs up, then gestures grandly to Kunzite because when push comes to shove, he's an affectionate jerk.
Kazuo Takeba 2016-04-03 06:32:12 36998
"So," Kazuo says, and that syllable and the next couple overlap with Mamoru's gesture; he waited for the start of it, certainly, but didn't need to see it finish. Whether the pause was for Mamoru's sake, or because of that brief nonexpression again at Kukai's mention of a power outage, well. "It sounds as if there are no great pledges, no binding vows -- only the expectation that members help each other when they can, avoid screwing each other over as much as possible, and expect to be called to account if they consistently fail. On the other hand, you mentioned that Royale also directs policy; are there any other current policies, suggested or enforced, that you're willing to discuss? Or is the organization relatively agnostic as regards tactics and goals, so long as they don't end in causing trouble for the members?"
Kukai Souma 2016-04-03 06:38:07 37001
Kukai Souma looks over to Kazuo and nods. "That's pretty much how it is. We help each other as we can and we ask for help when we need it, but we don't get mad when we don't get it, and we try not to play favorites. Everybody's equal. And if people fail a lot, well, sure, someone will go talk to them, but so far I haven't seen anybody have their phone taken away yet."

He leans back in his chair, eyes going upwards, thinking, grabbing another chocolate and breaking it in half (caramel cream) to share with Daichi. "...Nothing that comes to mind, immediately? I need to talk to Royale - well, honestly, you can ask him that yourself if you decide to join, but I don't think there's anything major going on. But I've been out of touch the past couple of days. And yeah. Do whatever you want, as long as everybody plays nice together."
Mamoru Chiba 2016-04-03 06:41:55 37003
Mamoru's head sloooowly rolls to allow him the impact of a premeditated sideeye at Kazuo. "You really think I'd make great pledges or binding vows to any organization? I was a jewel thief ten months ago." A beat. "I mean I put them back or whatever, but still."
Kazuo Takeba 2016-04-03 06:47:30 37004
Kazuo's gray eyes flicker back to Mamoru for a moment. "Yes," he says, "but that could have been normal, or could have been you fast-talking. Again."

Attention goes back to Kukai, and he tips his head toward the other boy again. "Mn. I have some things to work on before asking Royale anything would be wise of me. But your explanation is appreciated."
Kukai Souma 2016-04-03 07:02:29 37008
Kukai Souma looks very closely at Mamoru for a long moment. It isn't quite 'judging and weighing' at this point, but it's getting there. He shrugs and looks back to Kazuo as he - wait. "...Does he do that fast-talk thing a lot?" He looks back over to Mamoru and grins faintly. "Are you saying you're a bad choice to be in Virtue? The scandal."

He can't help but laugh after a few seconds and shakes his head. "Sure, sure! I'm happy to talk to you about anything you wanna know." He grins at Kazuo.
Mamoru Chiba 2016-04-03 07:15:15 37011
For a half second, Mamoru looks surprised, and then briefly uncertain-- and he squints at Kazuo while the latter's turning his attention back to Kukai. Then he leans over and tags the older boy's arm, fingertips to wrist. Then he just looks miffed and sits back.

At the Guardian's almost judgey scrutinizing, Mamoru gives Kukai an arch look. "It's a really, really, really long story," he says overly mildly, not at all looking defensive or guilty. "I could tell you sometime if you wanted, it's not a secret. But you can check out newspaper archives for stories about a 'masked gentleman jewel thief' if you want to formulate theories first. Theories are fun to listen to."

Then he just grins. "And I tend to fast-talk when I'm trying really hard not to die. Comes of not really wanting to fight when I'm pretty sure it'd get me killed quicker. But you don't want to lose me-- I'm your out of network networking guy."
Kazuo Takeba 2016-04-03 07:31:24 37015
It's hard to tell whether it's the tag to his wrist, or the miffed look Mamoru wears for a moment, that prompts the change in Kazuo's expression; but it's something around one of them, anyway. It may be the most minimal smile Kukai sees this week. But it's actually there, corner of the mouth turned up a tiny bit further on the side toward Mamoru and all.

Does Mamoru fast-talk a lot? Kazuo amends Mamoru's explanation just a bit. "Ye-es. He saves it for when he thinks it's necessary. Or when he thinks it's hilarious." There's something about his eyes that echoes Mamoru's grin; it softens the look he gives Mamoru a moment later into a mock glare.
Kukai Souma 2016-04-03 07:43:50 37019
Kukai Souma watches the two of them communicate back and forth without words and thinks. It's a lot like the language he and the other Guardians share from time to time, those unspoken words. He'll have to mull it over at some point and try to figure out the syllables. "Nah. I'll take you at your word for now. Jewel thief, huh? Wow." He shrugs. "There's a lot of other people who do worse that work with Virtue, so..."

He grins. "I just run off when I'm trying not to die. It works sometimes." He then looks back over at Kazuo and laughs more. "It is pretty funny. I'll hear it eventually!"

After a moment he hmms. "Well. Is there anything else? Or should I set up a meeting for you at some point? If you want more time to think about it, feel free. There's no rush in anything right now."
Mamoru Chiba 2016-04-03 07:49:39 37020
The look Mamoru gives Kazuo is a combination of 'I am innocent of all but malice' and 'I'll fast-talk YOU', but then he airily waves a hand and returns his attention to Kukai. "Gotta talk to the other guys too, so probably a meeting in a bit; I'll text you about it or something. One other thing actually, unrelated-- Usa's still got a shard of that lost logia that was was possessing Cure Gull's girlfriend, stuck in her back? It's full of Dark Energy, and we were wondering if Hinamori-san would be willing to purify it so I can work with Dr. Shelby to surgically remove it. Usa'd purify it herself, but from what I understand, it's kind of like trying to give herself a bone marrow transplant. She doesn't get very far before she passes out, and when she henshins, the pain's even more pronounced."
Kazuo Takeba 2016-04-03 07:56:33 37022
... thankfully, Mamoru lets Kazuo off the hook before there's any risk of having to explain why Kazuo is a little wary of asking Tadase for anything, anything whatsoever, just yet. There are some steps that should come between. Like possibly meeting him under any circumstances in the entire world that are not their last meeting. Maybe a couple of times. Or at least being able to offer reasonably solid evidence that he's been working on making up for that last meeting. ... oh, yes, off the hook is good.

Off the hook onto this topic is -- also useful. If involving rather less amusement. "The more that can be done to take away its power before the removal, the better the surgery is likely to go. The original literally attached itself to its host. Not something that would be easy to deal with, where the shard is located."
Kukai Souma 2016-04-03 08:02:27 37023
Kukai Souma blinks. "Wait. I heard Usagi got stuck with that thing in her back before the dance, for hell's sake! It's been in her all this time and you can't.. No, of course not, you need purification, and ... hmm." He sits back, then grins. "See, this is why Virtue is awesome. I actually know a big pile of purifiers. I'll see if I can get Amu-chan to help though, but if she's out of touch I can rely on several backups, if that's acceptable."

He shakes his head. "Man I can't imagine having something like that wrong for so long. It sounds horrible. But you say there's a surgery and things all set up for her to be ok?"
Mamoru Chiba 2016-04-03 08:11:40 37027
"Yeah," says Mamoru, reaching up to scratch the back of his neck and looking unhappily away, briefly. "It's been driving her nuts. And I don't blame her at all. I mean, we're both allergic to the stuff, but she's super allergic. Like, her powers are based on purification. It just--"

He makes a frustrated noise and waves his hand a little. "It's also dark energy, so it's also picking away at her judgement a little? She's compensating for it, but it makes thinking straight hard. And it took a little while to set up a viable surgery setup, since I do not have the confidence to manage the 'actually getting it out' part. Just the fixing afterwards."

Uncomfortable shift in his seat, and the upperclassman makes himself stop wanting to fidget. It's Usagi they're talking about. "But yeah. Stuff after the purification is all set up. I just-- if you could either let me know who the backups are, since I'm a little leery of who I'm comfortable even knowing about this, or just--... no, that'd work."
Kazuo Takeba 2016-04-03 08:18:23 37029
From the flicker of Kazuo's attention back and forth between the pair of them, it's good odds that he's got a couple of guesses as to who at least some of the backups might be. He's back to his silence, though. For some reason.

Okay, for about six reasons, some of which Kukai has a good chance of having figured out by now.
Kukai Souma 2016-04-03 08:28:11 37032
Kukai Souma nods. "Well, I'm specifically thinking about the Prism Keepers - you should know most of them. As far as purification goes, they're right behind Usagi-chan and Amu-chan. I try to keep an eye on them - not as close these days, but still - and while they're not very strong individually, most of their powers are focused around purification." He hmms. "Ought to make a note of that next month, anyway." He scratches the back of his head.

"And I'm sure they'd be willing to help Usa too. There's a couple others I know who might have purification powers, but I don't know how well-connected they are to Virtue right now, so they're on the 'call 'em if we need 'em' list. It's actually sort of rare and valuable to be able to do."

He looks over at Kazuo, then holds up both hands in a barrier between him and the white-haired boy. "Does Mamoru ever call you Wall-kun?"
Kazuo Takeba 2016-04-03 08:34:38 37033
Couple of guesses, check -- Kazuo returns a slight nod for Kukai's. There are, granted, some potential problems in involving ten-year-olds in surgery. There were bigger problems in involving ten-year-olds in D-Point, and Yellow far more than proved herself then.

And then there's a pause.

"No," Kazuo replies, and the degree of deadpan has to be intentional.
Mamoru Chiba 2016-04-03 08:44:18 37034
Mamoru can't help it. He has to laugh. But he tries so hard not to that a strangled sort of sound comes out, and he has to look away from Kunzite and Kukai for a minute until he can regain his composure. Then he coughs and even that sounds a little like a laugh.

"Uhh-- yeah. I don't. But. Yeah-- that's right, Yellow ended up purifying that whole section of--" And he doesn't look like he's laughing anymore; he trails off. "You're right. I was just really close with Red-chan, so even though I know more of them now it's still-- but you're right. I'll ask Hinamori-san first, but then I'll ask Yellow if she's not up for it."

The upperclassman gives Kukai a subdued and wry smile, then picks himself up off the couch. "Thanks," he says with a half-smile, affectionate and rueful, and maybe a little apologetic. "I'm gonna go buzz them. And hey, if you want in on some catered house-rebuilding loud-music work party fun, drop me a text and I'll give you the details."

He waits for Kazuo, then gives Kukai a slight bow with a bit more crooked of a smile, and heads out.