Misinterpretation Station

Fiore catches Mamoru sort-of alone and Just Wants To Talk. Considering this ends up with Fiore, Endymion, and Kunzite all in henshin on the street, talking obviously escalated quickly.

Date: 2016-04-03
Pose Count: 20
Mamoru Chiba 2016-04-05 03:38:00 37154
The problem with having friends is that even if you're tired and just want to go home and read in a room by yourself with a little Satie playing quietly in the background, if you're with them and they want to go into a cute store with a clearance sale going on, and you're trying to be social for the good of all, you end up getting stuck going into someplace like Fairy Drop Fashion. And because there's a clearance sale, it's packed with a veritable sea of excited short people who are very noisy.

It takes roughly two minutes before Mamoru can't cope anymore, and in that two minutes, someone has loaded Kunzite's arms up with potential purchases and stuck him to keep a place in the line for the dressing rooms. 'I'm not going far,' Mamoru had told him, while taking a canister from his pocket and popping what certainly looks like a mint, 'just outside. Not even moving away from the window. I'll call you if I need you to take a break from being a clothes rack, I promise.'

So it is that Mamoru Chiba, absurdly tall rich hipster who wouldn't be caught dead wearing anything in the store he's leaning on, is leaning on the plate glass picture window and looking faintly frazzled, thumbing at something on his phone. Probably playing Words With Friends with someone in Australia or something.
Fiore 2016-04-05 03:55:15 37157
In the mild wind of the afternoon, the newly budding trees sound like they're whispering. It's easy to miss -- with all the noise of the boutique, not to mention the traffic, the music of the plants and wildlife is easily overwhelmed. But if one listens for it, it is there.

And the trees *are* whispering. In a language only one man can understand.

(Dotted along the planters and cracks of the street are tiny pink blossoms, too small to notice yet, twisting up from the Earth to drain imperceptible amounts of energy from passersby. Mamoru has his backup, Fiore is entitled to his.)

A tall woman, laden with Fairy Drop bags, passes roughly in front of the boy as she leaves. When she apologizes and continues on her way, he is there, several feet away, hands stowed awkwardly in his pockets as usual.

"Don't run," Fiore says, in a bizarre mix of pleading and authoritative. "I only want to talk to you, Mamoru-kun. Please don't run."
Mamoru Chiba 2016-04-05 04:05:11 37161
Although Kunzite, attentive as he is, will not be able to help noticing the sudden spike of focused alertness and angry fear from Mamoru, it's accompanied in that same instant with reassurance, and the reminder in image form that dramamine looks like breath mints. But also the acceptance of and expectation that Kunzite will in fact intercede if anything starts going really wrong--

Mamoru draws himself up, shutting off his phone and pocketing it. "You can start by backing up a few more feet and staying in view of the window," he tells Fiore, not unkindly, but absolutely matter-of-factly. "I won't go anywhere, for now, as long as you don't try to touch me or take me anywhere."
Fiore 2016-04-05 04:15:18 37163
Hurt -- undeniable hurt -- flashes in Fiore's human-yet-inhuman eyes. He'd *told* himself to be prepared for this. After his last two encounteres with Mamoru, he knew now that the people of this world had him under their spell, and that breaking it would take a long and concentrated effort, until he had enough strength to defeat his so-called 'guardians' by force.

Still. His only friend telling him to back away from him hurts. The person who cried bitterly at the thought of him leaving now pushes him away...

The brief image of his childhood innocence disappears as quickly as it came, and though begrudgingly, Fiore does take several steps backward and to the side, until he thinks he can see the white-haired brute standing inside the store. The one that can teleport.

(He's never getting away with that one again. That much he knows.)

"Mamoru-kun," he begins, using magic to carry his voice to Mamoru as though he were standing two feet away instead of ten, "I...want to apologize to you. In my excitement to see you again, I've been very rude." He doesn't *really* think so, but he has to appeal to him in terms he'll accept. "I didn't take the time to explain anything, and for that, I am truly sorry."

Fiore attempts a genuine smile. It's less than successful -- but it's a start? Maybe?
Mamoru Chiba 2016-04-05 04:32:41 37167
"You've hurt people," the teenaged human boy says gently, hooking his thumbs in his pockets and leaning lightly again. Well, one thumb-- the other hand comes up to push his glasses up on his nose; they reflect the late afternoon sunshine, making the lenses flash gold and obscuring his eyes for a split second. Then that hand's down and idle, too. "I'm not the only one you should be apologizing to."

His body language, at least, seems to have relaxed slightly with the increased physical distance. "Aside from hurting people-- I can understand not having any idea what is or is not appropriate as far as being social goes. Believe me, I know. But one thing you very much need to learn, and quickly, is that people are not objects, or pets. You can't own them. You can't disregard them. You can't dismiss them just because you may find them inconvenient."

Then-- then, he gives Fiore the slightest smile back, kind, softer around the eyes-- so very much like the one he had when he was small. "And if you can stay on my planet, I'd like very much to hear about where you've gone and what you've seen. I did miss you. After a while, I wasn't even sure if you'd been real-- I'm so very glad you are, and I'm very sorry if you've suffered more hardships while you've been gone. But I can't leave, any more than you could stay when you were small."
Fiore 2016-04-05 04:49:10 37170
"Hurt people?" Fiore blurts out before he can stop himself. "I haven't hurt people! No one's dead --"

'-- yet,' he's about to add, but the omnipresent force of the Xenian Blossom stills his tongue by force.

*/ Hush, Fiore, /* she says in his mind, */ We mustn't ruin the surprise for your dear Mamoru-kun./* And she is right. Once the brainwashing is broken, he'll be delighted to learn that the people who left him all alone are going to die. So he'll save the news for then.

The swallowed word instead comes out as an awkward pause, one that he covers up with another attempt at a smile.

"I don't think you're an object, Mamoru-kun," he continues, sweet and devoted, like he'd been so many years ago. "You're the best person I've ever met. The realest person. I've been to many worlds in this universe and met many people, and you are the *least* like an object out of all of them."

Well...it's sort of a compliment. He means it like one.

But that hurt comes back to Fiore's face, bare and honest and deep, the moment after Mamoru says he wasn't sure he was real. Anything else he has to say disappears in the wave of betrayed shock that takes him.

In all those years of searching, all those years spent fulfilling his promise, Mamoru was the only thing he knew was real.

"...why?" the disguised alien says, trying for all the world to appear calm, but trembling all the same. "Why would you think that?"
Mamoru Chiba 2016-04-05 05:03:12 37173
Mamoru can see that sometimes 'alien' really actually does literally mean 'alien', like as in the way Fiore thinks is super duper not human at all. It's a little unnerving. Somehow-- probably because he's Mamoru-- he's still positive that that shouldn't impact the ability to have a friendship, as long as both alien-to-each-other mindsets respect boundaries set...

He's seventeen.

He chews on his lip as Fiore goes on, and then looks honestly startled when Fiore looks so hurt. "No, listen, it's not an insult. I was pretty sure I wasn't even real half the time. For a really long while, all I knew for sure was that there were supposed to be people in my life, but someone'd taken them away from me-- that and the fact that for so many years, my only friend was someone I only saw when I was asleep and dreaming."

The third-year laughs a little uncomfortably, a little ruefully, and he reaches up to rub at the back of his neck, embarrassed. "I've had a pretty surreal life. Lives. Whatever. Sometimes I still have dissociation problems."
Fiore 2016-04-05 05:25:45 37175
Fiore can't hide anything. He just doesn't understand human social cues well enough to recreate them with anything resembling accuracy. That simple smile reads awkwardly enough. The nuances of concealing the way his eyebrows shoot up, the way his mouth twists, the way his head cocks to the side...those are entirely lost to him.

So it is painfully obvious that Fiore is one confused alien right now.

"Does...does 'real' still mean what I think it's supposed to mean here?" he says, wondering if there's been a massive miscommunication between them. "Wouldn't you being alive be enough to know you're real? That you, um...exist?" Concepts like dissociation and existentialism are far beyond this boy, who is in many respects a child in a more mature body. Travelling for years in the void of space with no company will do that to you.

Then Mamoru starts talking about his experiences on Earth after he left, and all thoughts of real vs. not real fly from his head.

"That was me, Mamoru-kun!" Fiore says, taking a few involuntary steps toward him, his condition of parley forgotten in his excitement. The brainwashing must not have been as bad as he thought, if Mamoru had dreamt about him all this time. "Every night, I prayed my feelings would reach you. I prayed and prayed that they could cross the stars and remind you that you weren't alone. I'm so glad to hear that they made it -- even if the people of this world convinced you that I'd abandoned you, I was with you all this time."

Fiore stops abruptly as he realizes he's come *way* too close, then skitters backward in a hurry. He doesn't want this conversation to end. Not yet. Not when it's the most he's heard from Mamoru in years.
Mamoru Chiba 2016-04-05 05:45:29 37182
"... they probably helped me feel less alone; prayers always help somehow," Mamoru says, drawing up against the window as Fiore comes too close and tensing a little, "but the person in my dreams was the Moon Princess. And the people I was missing, who'd been taken away from me-- who I only just got back-- were my guardians, my Shitennou.

He exhales and relaxes a little when Fiore skitters back, but not all the way. Even for an alien mindset, it's clear to him that Fiore's not the most stable of people at the moment. "It turned out I had such problems with reality because I'd forgotten who I was, but who I am, even when I didn't know it, is part of the way I see everything. You remember, I couldn't remember the people they told me were my parents? I didn't believe them when they said my name was Mamoru Chiba-- because it wasn't. It's my name now, I've had it long enough, but I'd forgotten my real name. I'd forgotten my family, my Shitennou, my Princess, my job-- my place in this world. And all the while, the world called and called and I didn't know how to answer. Nothing seemed real. I thought, a lot of the time, that I was a dream that had escaped into the waking world."

Another uncomfortable laugh, and he shifts his weight. "Maybe it's even true, but if it is, it's because dreams are also real."

Then Mamoru shakes his head. "I told you back in the flower shop -- you have no idea who I am. But how could you? When we met, I didn't know either. You did something inexpressibly precious for me, Fiore-- you kept me company in that first horrible week. I was devastated when you told me you had to leave. But you weren't stolen away from me like the others were. You left."
Fiore 2016-04-06 00:03:00 37240

Mamoru's not making any sense right now. Fiore's seen much to the galaxy by now, he knows that there are strange things out there -- for example, there's a planet in the Mermaid system where people have fish for heads! But, even so, nothing coming out of his friend's mouth makes sense right now, and it's making his apparent confusion even worse.

(One might be reminded of a puppy tilting its head to try to understand where his ball went.)

"Shi...tennou," Fiore repeats, the word sounding odd in his mouth, like it doesn't quite belong to this time. "Mamoru-kun, if you had guardians, where did they go? Who took them away? Why didn't you remember them?" He's all questions now, trying to puzzle his way through the bizarre things he's hearing. This doesn't fit with what he knows. It doesn't fit at all.

"If your name isn't Mamoru...then what is it?"

*/ Fiore, /* the voice of the Xenian purrs, a perverse mix of sultry and motherly that stopped disturbing him long ago. */ Don't you see? They've fed him this fantasy to keep him away from you. They want him to think there are guardians and Princesses, just so they can have him and you can't. The people of this world are cruel./*

...yes. Of course. He should have seen it before.

A change comes over Fiore. The creases in his brow disappear, the distress writ large on his face softens back into the sweet yet predatory smile he wore at the flower shop. He puts his hands back in his pockets and lets his shoulders fall. (Did his eyes flash red, or was that a trick of the light?)

"If these guardians are real," he says, calm, eerily so, "where are they now?"
Kazuo Takeba 2016-04-06 00:12:43 37242
It's an excellent question, really.

Surely it has no relation to the minor, ignorable fact that for a little time now, that white-haired brute has not been visible through the shop window.
Mamoru Chiba 2016-04-06 00:20:40 37245
He's about to answer, earnestly and truly-- it's in his face, it's in his clear dark ocean eyes--

And then the change comes over Fiore, and it's so very like things he's seen, things he's experienced all too recently, that it slices him through with fear and sympathy and anger all at once, and his blood runs cold and his face gets hot. He goes preternaturally still.

"Kunzite," he says softly. Too softly for anyone who's inside the store to hear, certainly.

Then his tone is gentle and firm all at once, and something in his carriage, in the way he holds his head, speaks strongly of 'his princess' being no figment. This boy Fiore met once upon a time, lost and alone and bereft, is royalty: indeed not the modern sort, some of whom carry echoes of this youth's bearing but none of whom bear anything remotely resembling his sheer presence in this moment.

"I am Endymion. My guardians are a thought away."
Fiore 2016-04-06 00:44:44 37251
"Endymion?" Fiore repeats. His smile deepens even more, notes of condescension reaching his eyes, as though Mamoru is six years old again and telling him he's a prince. Somewhat adorable -- but sadly mistaken all the same.

"No. You are Mamoru."

The trees start whispering again, as though a breeze struck them suddenly, though the air today is still. Across the way, seedlings unfurl their petals towards the sun in a fluid motion, forced into maturity by his will. He is prepared now.

"You might find this strange, Mamoru-kun," he says, emphasizing the name in a way that's almost possessive, "but I have guardians too. They're around us right now, in fact." His eyes narrow. "Not that anyone here can see them. Not for what they are. Not until it's too late."

The rustling of leaves against leaves grows louder, a fuzz of white noise bearing down on their innocent conversation.

(Fiore doesn't know this -- the Xenian Blossom won't let him understand it -- but these plants aren't bending to his will. They are screaming at the foreign *thing* that's defiled Earth's soil with its roots.)

"Something to consider before this 'Kunzite' tries anything," he says, leaving the threat hanging. "What a shame it would be to ruin this lovely day."
Kazuo Takeba 2016-04-06 01:19:47 37267
"As much as it would be to spoil a pleasant conversation." The voice that answers Fiore's is deeper than Mamoru's; and it's in the instant in which Fiore might reflexively search for its origin that a smoothly curved wall of darkness draws itself up between them. A barrier between the alien and the prince that still permits them to talk --

-- and that decreases the likelihood of glass shattering into the shop. And that gives a visible cue to the people on the street that something may be about to happen, and perhaps they'd be better elsewhere, five minutes ago, where their memories can fail them on the details to their hearts' content. The last time Fiore started making threats, he wasn't content to stop when his initial targets left.

Kunzite himself stands at the edge of Fairy Drop's roof, two storeys above Mamoru and Fiore and a little aside; a heartbeat away, no more. White-haired, gray-uniformed, looking down with a calm and controlled frown. His hands are still lifted from the summoning of the shield.
Mamoru Chiba 2016-04-06 01:52:04 37279
He can feel things going wrong around him; he shields his mind and heart even as Kunzite shields his person, to keep the whispering, the distress, from distracting him. That's not entirely Fiore in front of him, and the prince knows it.

"You can talk as long as you like," says the black-haired boy, expression neutral. He pushes himself off the glass easily, motions loose and graceful. "But you don't get to define me. You also don't get to hit first and call it defense. Stand down. No one will hurt you if you don't try anything, Fiore."

His voice lowers as a line of gold cracks and sparkles over his body, leaving a different figure in its wake. "And I can tell something has hold of you, something is telling you it knows best and making you turn your doubts into convictions. I know that brand of evil. If you keep listening to it, it will be your ruin."

Prince Endymion's expression softens. "Let us help you free yourself from it, and you and I can be friends again."
Fiore 2016-04-06 02:33:48 37292
Fiore flinches backward as the air in front of Mamoru darkens, forming a barrier that he senses is solid, despite its transparency. With an angry noise in the back of his throat, he glares up at the voice that accompanies the magical intrusion. And it's the silver-haired brute that stole his friend away the second time they'd met.

He should have figured as much. Of course this 'guardian' would have to shepherd Mamoru around everywhere he went. He must know that, if left without surveillance and brainwashing for one moment, Mamoru would come running back to him.

When Fiore looks back down, the boy in front of him has changed -- donning now a cape and some peculiar brand of armor, a sword at his belt and a wholly unfamiliar look in his eyes. He can't help but stare. Not because of the transformation itself; he'd seen Mamoru transform before his eyes before, and he'd long since learned that this planet was not without its own magic.

But because, in some way, this man before him really *isn't* his Mamoru. There's a history in his glance that isn't his -- and has never been.

It's terrifying.

*/So this is what they've done to him in your absence,/* the Xenian scoffs, and in his mind's eye, he can see her wrap her blossom pink arms around his shoulders. */Very well. Their malice has forced our hand. You must show them the true face of their enemy./*

He listens with a trance-like mask of emptiness, the false Mamoru's words ringing meaningless as he's pulled into the blossom's warm embrace.

"What a coincidence," Fiore says. "I can do that too."

And he does. A whirlwind of petals kicks up around his feet, encircling him until all vestiges of the lanky red-haired boy disappear. In his place stands a true alien, green skin and pointed ears, bedecked in regalia of navy and white to contrast the black and red in front of him. His cape unfurls and billows out upon the unseen breeze that carries the flowers away.

A flower bud is pinned to his chest, but she does not bloom. The time is not yet right.

"You're mistaken, Mamoru-kun," Fiore decrees. "I've never had a doubt in my life. Not since I met you. I know what I want now more than ever before." He looks back up to Kunzite, not making any move to attack, but not giving an inch of ground either. "And I will destroy anything that stands in my way."
Kazuo Takeba 2016-04-06 02:56:23 37301
Fiore's change would have drawn Kunzite's attention, if Fiore hadn't already had much of it. As it is -- there's a small corner, somewhere in the back of his mind, that wonders just for a moment what it is about flowers. Mamoru and Makoto are completely human, granted. This boy is definitely ... not. And Zoisite, to be honest, he's never been sure of.

The rest of him doesn't waste time on the irrelevancy.

"If you destroy everything between you and what you want," Kunzite says, "you'll find you've destroyed your desire, too. There are better ways."

Not making any move to attack. Not giving an inch of ground. Calm as stone, and as still, except where the breeze takes his cape or that silver hair.

Except where eyes move -- eyes that might as well be where the winter storms went to wait out the spring, and the warmer months to come -- searching the street. He heard Fiore speak of guardians.
Mamoru Chiba 2016-04-06 03:20:38 37312
"I remember what you look like," Endymion says irritably, waving a hand around-- but Fiore keeps going, and the more he says, the more the prince's eyes narrow; his face sets, actively angry again, like he was in the flower shop. It's the same concepts Fiore was throwing at him at the street fair, the ones that hurt him...

...but when he wears this aspect, he's well able to shut down those reactions as if they were only an inconvenience. Especially when what's dear is threatened. His eyes glitter dangerously, and the full weight of his attention is on Fiore for a moment: it's a crushing thing, ancient and aware, vital and immense and undying.

His attention briefly flickers up to Kunzite, and the faintest hint of a smile pulls at one corner of his mouth, eyes softening fractionally. Then he looks to Fiore again. "Want," he says very, very softly, "is considerably less important than need, and utterly irrelevant when that desire disregards the lives, freedom, and happiness of others."

He's safe within Kunzite's shield, so he crouches matter-of-factly and places his bare hand on the pavement; even through the shadow wall, perhaps especially through it, it's visible when faint gold light limns his form--

--and Endymion cries out in pain and collapses to his knees, jerking his hand back as if burned. His face, when he turns it upward toward Fiore, is betrayed; the hurt there is physical as well as emotional, and mired in horror; his eyes burn from the sting of unshed tears, unbidden and unwelcome, and they burn with fury.

"What are--"

His voice cracks and soars.

Fiore 2016-04-06 03:37:53 37316
"Isn't it obvious?" Fiore says, insulated from his friend's pain by the gentle mist and fragrance in his mind. "We're freeing you of it."

Talking to Mamoru today has been fun, but it's depressing -- not to mention boring -- to see him in this utterly foreign state, so awash in this planet's influence that the boy he knows is barely there. Not much else to do here now, he's afraid. The blossoms aren't truly ready to be ripened, and the overt use of magic has driven off most of the civilians anyway.

Better to leave now and plan his next move.

He'll have a close watch on Mamoru either way. Wherever there are living plants, so too are his eyes.

With a powerful leap, the alien takes to the air and hovers there for a moment, observing the fallen form of the prince beneath him. The pain is a condition of the brainwashing, certainly; when his chains are at last severed, he'll realize how glad he is to be rid of them.

"Goodbye for now, Mamoru-kun. I'll be back very soon. I promise."

Then he flickers, and is gone. The Earth screams in his wake.
Kazuo Takeba 2016-04-06 03:58:59 37317
Endymion cries out in pain and collapses, and Kunzite is already moving before Endymion can finish looking upward --

Not moving to attack Fiore. There hasn't been a direct attack. Not yet. Kunzite doesn't intend to be the first to open fire, today; he drops straight down, instead, his shields letting him pass with a thought. It's not as fast as the flicker of a teleport used to be, but it'll serve. It puts him beside Endymion, where he can reach to support his prince, to --

That expression. Even before the words, that expression.

And Fiore's answer.

"Isn't it obvious?"

"You can do better than that."

Kunzite has no expression at all when he pulls Endymion into his arms. He doesn't ask, or warn, beyond that. Only bends his head and concentrates, and a moment after Fiore's vanishing, the two of them and the shadows are gone as well.

Next to whatever it is that Fiore is doing ... a few minutes of being merely physically sick is nothing.