Sub Rosa


Date: 2016-04-12
Pose Count: 26
Makoto Kino 2016-04-12 00:37:37 38013
Makoto has been good. Since she got home from the ill-fated skating trip on Thursday, she's followed Ami's instructions; she's rested, mostly stayed off her feet, gotten plenty of fluids and only occasionally complained about being bored out of her mind. She's napped a lot, watched parts of a lot of movies.

It hasn't helped.

She's still exhausted. If anything, the more she rests, the more tired she feels. All the frequent napping has done has left her disoriented, her time sense completely shot, her dreams fragmentary and disjointed and unsettling, nightmares of airplanes falling out of the sky with engines choked by profusions of climbing vines.

By Monday afternoon she's not answering her phone. She's missed the first day of the new school term.
Nephrite 2016-04-12 00:51:26 38016
This is something new for Nephrite. Worrying about illness. What do people do in this situation? Searching the internet proved to be the worst possible idea, as it gave him nothing but doomsday scenarios.

But he has seen enough cheesy dramas to know a bit of the script for this scenario. So after enduring the first drudging day of school, he's soon standing outside her apartment door with flowers, a takeout bag, and what he hopes is an encouraging smile. He decidedly does not think about how WebMD told him his girlfriend might be dying in seven different ways. Mamoru told him that at least five of those are probably not possible, anyway.

He winces a little when he hits the buzzer. He doesn't want to wake her if she's asleep, but leaving her all alone would be worse, he reasons.
Ami Mizuno 2016-04-12 01:02:09 38018
Someone should probably tell Ami that knocking is a good idea, even with your best friends. It's not that she doesn't know she should knock, it's just that her waypoints are in convenient places, and one of them is Makoto's livingroom.

A tear in reality opens in front of Makoto's couch, and Sailor Mercury steps through, then frowns just faintly. "I brought your schoolw--" she cuts off at the sound of the buzzer, then looks towards the door. Banishing her henshin, Ami reveals herself to still be dressed for school, and looking just a little frazzled. "I wonder who that could be," she says, then looks to Makoto. "Want me to get it?" she asks, but she's already on the way to open the door.
Makoto Kino 2016-04-12 01:09:32 38020
At the sound of Ami's voice, Mako rouses a little bit from a fitful half-sleep, stirring lethargically where she's sprawled over her sofa. Getting there was about all she's managed today, by the looks of things; she's still dressed in her pink PJs, her hair a disorderly tumble of curls for once not restrained by the usual ponytail.

There are dishes in the sink - not many, but since when does Makoto ever leave dishes in the sink? - and a number of the smaller and more tender potted plants around the apartment are wilting.

The buzzer rouses her a little more, enough that she lifts her head to try to look muzzily that way. It's not a very large amount of distance from the couch to the door, but right now even that small distance seems impossible.

"Please?" she says to Ami, though the other girl is already making good on her offer.
Nephrite 2016-04-12 01:25:51 38024
Nephrite has his "get well" smile all prepared, so the door swinging open to reveal a petite blue-haired girl instead of the tall brunette he expected throws him off. He quickly recovers, friendly smile returning. "Ami! Came to check on her too?"
Mamoru Chiba 2016-04-12 01:35:10 38025
Seconds after Ami lets Nephrite in, Mamoru's stopping the door from getting closed behind him and thumping him on the back. "You're welcome," he tells him irritably, holding his school bag over his shoulder. "Zoi and I cleaned up the lab." And he leans around Nephrite to wave to Ami and peer past them both at Makoto--

--and instantly looks a combination of impressed and alarmed. "Mako-chan. Are--" 'Are you okay' is stupid, of course she's not. "--you sure you don't want me to send Kunzite to do your dishes? He said he loves doing dishes for you."
Ami Mizuno 2016-04-12 01:38:55 38026
Ami opens her mouth to object to both boys coming in, but they're already here, and she knows Makoto will want to be a good host. So instead she just sighs, mumbles, "Sure, come right in," then stands aside so they can come in.

"How about," Ami suggests to Mamoru, "you two could do the dishes for her, since you've come to invade her space when she ought to be resting." She glances at Makoto worriedly, then admits, "I came to bring her homework. I had expected her to have recovered by now."
Makoto Kino 2016-04-12 01:47:56 38027
"Neph." With some effort, Makoto sort of pulls herself up along the back of the sofa until she can lean against the cushions in something more or less resembling an upright position. "Niisan." One hand reaches up to shove the mess of her hair out of her face, and Makoto offers Ami and the guys all her best attempt at a smile, wan and weary though it is.

"...Thanks for coming to check on me. I'm sorry for making you guys worry." Foggy eyes settle on Mamoru, and Mako's brows lift slightly. Kunzite said he loves doing dishes? "Pretty sure you made that up," she murmurs, voice quivering with a breath of laughter.
Nephrite 2016-04-12 01:56:23 38030
Nephrite would stumble forward at the thump on his back if he weren't built like a brick house. Instead he turns to Mamoru with raised eyebrows. "Oh hey, the lab? Hey thanks." He gives Mamoru a grin that is highly unlikely to work on an empath, but he is always willing to give a shot anyway. "I was in a hurry, you know how it is."

He breezes past Ami's subtle signals of unwantedness, flicking shoes off without bothering to put down any of the things he's carrying. "I know she's supposed to be resting, which is why I brought her soup, so she won't try to make her own gourmet artisanal bisque. And also flowers, because she likes them. Homework doesn't seem very restful," he adds.

Upon seeing Makoto on the couch, looking bleary and disheveled, Nephrite loses all chill. "Mako!" His voice is a full octave higher as he rushes to kneel beside the couch, dumping the bag of soup containers and flowers on a coffee table. "Are you feeling any better? Are you drinking fluids? The internet says it's bad if you don't drink fluids."
Mamoru Chiba 2016-04-12 02:02:09 38032
Giving Mako one of those smiles that's mostly around his eyes, Mamoru puts his hand to his chest. "Accurate," he tells her, then dumps his books by the door and toes off his shoes. He's about to call Nephrite on his BS, but instead Neph's first got Ami's objections handled and then magically transforms into a fretting mother hen.

One corner of his mouth twitches, and he moves to go pick up the soup and deal with that while he talks to Ami. "I honestly thought Neph was exaggerating. You check her out yet?" he asks in a low voice. "I thought maybe she was just overdoing it, and came over to see if I could help with at least her energy levels, but I can't do anything if she's legitimately sick with something..."

But he's also moving toward Mako's kitchen, and he calls in a slightly louder voice, "I promise not to alphabetize your spice rack." But at least he can bowl the soup Neph brought her. Or put it in a mug. He decides mug. Handles are good for shaky people.
Ami Mizuno 2016-04-12 02:09:13 38035
Ami's glare is cold and shrewd as she watches Nephrite and Mamoru both ignore her request. It is especially cold and shrewd for Nephrite. The poor boy really hasn't done anything wrong, except that he's here and Makoto needs space.

Luckily, Ami's glare is waylaid by Mamoru's quiet question. The ire is lost immediately, as Ami turns to regard him with a worried look instead. "I inspected her at the rink. It's just ... a lack of energy. Not sickness, nothing magical I could find," she admits quietly. "I came by on Saturday to check in and nothing had changed." She sighs and looks at the apartment. The wilted flowers seem to be the most clear statement on Makoto's health.

"I think you should try it," she notes quietly, "but meanwhile, I'm going to have a look around the apartment. Something just isn't right, and at this point the only thing I haven't ruled out are environmental factors. But it just doesn't make sense."

And so, Ami picks up Makoto's watering can and begins filling it, in anticipation of watering the plants while she investigates the apartment on the whole.
Makoto Kino 2016-04-12 02:20:25 38038
"I told Kunzite I'd put that back the way it was when we were done," Makoto protests at Mamoru's comment about the spice rack, not very loudly, before she turns most of her attention toward Nephrite. One hand, the one not helping to keep her propped against the back of the sofa, reaches out to tug at his arm, as though encouraging him to sit next to her. "I've been drinking a lot," she promises.

It's mostly true, and there's a glass with about an inch of water still in it sitting on the coffee table to prove it. She hasn't done as well today as she should've, though. Getting up off the couch was she was on it took too much effort.

Ami is watering her plants. Mamoru is in the kitchenette putting soup into a mug for her. Nephrite brought her soup and flowers, keeps bringing her flowers. This time last year, if she'd collapsed of exhaustion in her own apartment, there would've been nobody to come check on her, not until her landlady came in search of overdue rent.

"You guys..." Unexpectedly, Mako finds her eyes welling up with grateful tears that she is far too tired and out of sorts to hold in.
Nephrite 2016-04-12 02:35:45 38045
Mamoru probably has good reason to think that Nephrite has been exaggerating. He spent most of their chemistry period reading out increasingly unlikely diagnoses (and being utterly unhelpful in the lab, of course) and requiring Mamoru to talk him out of tying himself into worried knots. But he wouldn't exaggerate something as big as Makoto collapsing. Makoto, queen of thunder, who could probably beat Nephrite up with her bare hands, collapsing.

At her urging, he scoots to sit on the couch beside her, propping her up against his shoulder so she no longer has to make an effort to sit up. His arms wrap warmly around her. He thinks he can take a guess at the reason for her tears, unexpected as they are. "We're here, Thunderbird. Sorry my soup won't be as good as yours."
Mamoru Chiba 2016-04-12 02:46:35 38048
"You don't have to!" Mamoru calls cheerfully out of the kitchenette, "I can spell, it's okay!"

Then the prince nods to Ami and puts the lid back on the soup container. "I'll do that, then. And don't worry," he says quietly, smiling lopsidedly, "I'll do the dishes. I just wanted to make her laugh." Then he's on his way back out and Makoto's getting teary-eyed, but Neph's got that-- and his expression gets warmer still.

He doesn't say anything-- he just hands her the mug of soup, then with a brief, brotherly mooshing tousle of her hair, crouches down in front of them both. He doesn't get in Nephrite's way, or Mako's, but he reaches up to put a hand lightly on her wrist; it glows faintly.

"I can't do anything about the sick, but Ami-chan said it'd be all right if I at least got you some energy back. Let me know if anything happens that hasn't before, or if it's uncomfortable, or if there's something wrong I don't pick up on, okay? All this Fiore business, I've had to keep a lot more walls up than usual."
Ami Mizuno 2016-04-12 02:49:35 38049
The promise earns a grateful look from Ami. At least one of these two is sensible! Nephrite gets another very brief glare before Ami reaches up to touch her left ear. The triple studs gleam briefly before her augmented reality visor manifests before her eyes.

While Mamoru is busy feeding her best friend both physically and magically, Ami begins her rounds on the apartment. Mostly she's watering the plants, but she also takes the time to catalgue absoluttely every energy signature in the place, curiously inspecting the plants, the furniture, the knick knacks, even the kitchenware--everything, in search of something that has caused Makoto's condition.
Fiore 2016-04-12 03:14:30 38059
More.

The plant cannot think -- not in the way humans understand thinking -- but that singular impulse drives and defines the parasite that sits at the windowsill, drops of fresh water refracting sunlight on its glossy pink petals. More. More. More life, more energy, more power for the Mistress and for the roots that will rend the planet from its core.

This host had provided much, but it was flagging, withering as the flower siphoned away its last drops of life. Soon there will be nothing --

More.

Yes, there is more now. Like rays of summer sun, three new hosts have come to her, and somehow brought to bear a surge of energy from the old, succulent nectar rising from the depths of the flower's stalk. Excellent.

Soon more will be enough.

A barely perceptible glow, easily mistaken for a glint of light on water droplets. The plant expands her roots into each fresh (and not-so-fresh) life and siphons away what is hers.
Makoto Kino 2016-04-12 03:33:42 38065
It's a relief to stop making the effort to stay upright, and instead to be able to snuggle into Nephrite's arms and let him take her weight. Makoto lets her head rest against his shoulder. "Soup I can eat is better than soup I'm too tired to make," she observes with a little smile. "I'm sure it'll be delicious."

She doesn't quite raise her head when Mamoru brings the mug of soup to her, but she does manage to wrap both hands around it and her smile gains a little strength as her hair is tousled. "Thank you," she says, heartfelt despite the weariness. "All of you."

And then she quiets and sits still, letting Mamoru do his work and Ami hers.

It helps; she can feel the warm golden glow of that energy flowing into her, the fog pulling back from her thoughts, the weight lifting from her limbs. But it's like pouring water into a cracked vessel. What should be filling her with renewed strength is already ebbing.

Her eyes drift half-closed, lashes still wet.
Nephrite 2016-04-12 03:45:38 38070
Nephrite watches the soft glow pulsing around his prince's hand and Makoto's wrist. If Mamoru allowed his focus to drift at all, he would see the quiet gratitude on Nephrite's face. Surely that golden light can heal anything.

And perhaps his anxiety was greater than he thought, because with the slight unwinding of tension, Nephrite feels himself sag. His arms flop heavier around Makoto even as her eyes begin to drift closed, and they melt into each other. "Endy can fix it," he says softly into her hair. "Endy always fixes it."
Mamoru Chiba 2016-04-12 03:49:54 38072
"Ami--" comes Mamoru's voice, steady and calm and mildly inquisitive, clamping down hard on all the alarm and fear he's feeling, "when you have a moment, can you have a look at what the energy's doing? I can't really tell."

Where is it going? Why is she-- he can feel her slipping away, like he could feel Takashi's life leaving him. She's not injured. She's not ill. He's giving her energy, and she's not ruled by the dark; he locks himself down harder, preventing panic from taking hold of him; harder still, dissociating himself the way he'd learnt to from the man who didn't necessarily ever want him to, compressing his own emotions into a small box and shelving it somewhere to deal with later. At this point, that 'somewhere' looks rather like Warehouse 13.

But she's slipping away.

There's only the faintest edge in his voice, clinically denoting urgency. "Actually, not at your convenience-- please look now."

Meanwhile, Mamoru can't even begin to notice that he himself is being drained; the energy he's pushing toward Makoto becomes a river, then a torrent. He's pale, too pale; he grips Nephrite's wrist and his other hand moves to the side of Makoto's face. "Neph, help me out. We need to keep her afloat until Ami-chan finds out what's going on." He glances to his now-sagging guardian, and his eyes widen and he lets go of Nephrite really fast. "No-- that wasn't me--"
Ami Mizuno 2016-04-12 03:53:05 38074
Ami would be glad to help Mamoru with this idea, but she's too busy looking everywhere else. "What the hell?" Yes, Ami said 'hell'. This is probably how you know something is very, very, very wrong. "There's ..." she trails off, blinking, then whirls around, shivering. "Get her out," Ami says worriedly, eyes hastily hunting everywhere for the source of the sudden lines of power arcing through the apartment. "Out, now, out out!" Ami says worriedly, backing away towards the door in concern.
Fiore 2016-04-12 04:27:16 38081
...more. There's something more here, the plant senses, even as it steals from the news lives that have come before her. Powerful, each of them, bright and brimming with energy -- but there is a hint of something far more ancient here. The echoes of millennia ago, from a world so changed by time that it too might be alien now.

And it is powerful. More powerful than her, possibly more powerful than the Mistress --

She must have it for herself.

The flowerpot shatters, an explosion of dirt and pottery that cracks against the window, and from the wreckage comes a living tangle of vine and root that carries the bloom like a juggernaut towards its prey. It doesn't take long to find: she'd been unknowingly resting in its shadow her whole life, something must have activated its strength or *surely* she would have noticed. Golden sunlight and honey, the might of the past and all its history, blossoms above her, but only for now; the roots of the Xenian will snuff it out.

With whip-like speed, the tendrils loop up and around the bush's limbs, crushing leaves and petals, showering the table with their remains. The prince's flowers could resist the intruder, but these are memories and shadows, and this is what she does: she rends and drains and kills, and roses are not grown to fight. When her blackened vines twist around the roots beneath her, the ambush is complete.

Gold turns to magenta as blossoms spring up along the Xenian, the energy of this world converted to that which will destroy it.
Makoto Kino 2016-04-12 04:43:01 38083
Something is wrong.

Mamoru's hand is against the side of Makoto's face and he's pouring energy into her; she's only halfway cognizant of what he's saying, or what Ami's saying, but there's something in the tone of their voices - buried in Mamoru's, clear in Ami's - that reaches her and tells her she must not go to sleep. Marshaling as much effort as she can, drawing on the borrowed strength that's already slipping away again, Mako struggles to open her eyes, to lift her head a little from Nephrite's shoulder. "...niisan...?"

The effort means that her eyes are open to see the moment the mystery plant that she'd tended so carefully, and which had - she'd thought - rewarded her with its lovely pink blooms, burst from its pot and turn predaceous vines on Mamoru's little rosebush.

"No--!" Makoto cries out in alarm and horror, but she can't seem to move. The mug of soup she has not yet managed to taste slips from her numb fingers, spattering the carpet.
Nephrite 2016-04-12 05:01:01 38093
Nephrite jumps at Mamoru's hand on his wrist, blinking over at him. "What? Endy? What do--" he trails off at the sight of Mamoru's pale face, at him jumping back.

He's sluggish as he sits up. Too sluggish. This isn't right. This isn't ordinary tiredness, just as Makoto's isn't. He looks around the apartment as Ami's shouts cry out, his head swimming. Stupid! Why wasn't her apartment the first thing he thought to check? Embedding magic in physical objects was his trick. It should have been the first thing he thought of.

Ami is shouting and now something moves out of the corner of his eye. The plant. The one with the flower that he thought looked so cool, so exotic. It's apparently decided to eat the rose bush that was always blooming, the one whose petals, infused into honey, made him remember the truth. They can mourn the loss of a plant later.

Makoto is still limp in his arms. He can teleport her and Mamoru out, but that would leave Ami alone. Even if all four of them teleport out, that leaves this life-sucking plant in a residential apartment building, no doubt pulling the energy from the neighbors even now. No, if they can deal with the thing now, then better to do whatever they can do fast. Nephrite shifts one arm to prop up Makoto while the other raises, white starlight gathering in his palm. "Mercury! I'm taking a shot at this thing, so either keep clear or help me obliterate it!"
Mamoru Chiba 2016-04-12 05:13:31 38098
Nephrite's rising with Mako; Mako's just conscious enough to be horrified; the rosebush... is a rosebush. Yes: they can mourn the loss of a plant later. Right now?

Ever since Fiore's been in town, Mamoru's been taking anti-nausea medicine religiously every four hours, on the off chance he would have to teleport. His hand is still on Makoto; he's still giving her energy; it's still pouring out of her, out of all of them. Nephrite and Ami have the attack on the Triffid under control, so the prince does what the prince does best--

--rescues.

He scoops Makoto up in his arms, taking her from Nephrite, and concentrates for a moment, looking like he's preparing to jump into a volcano made of boiling snake venom. "My place," he says flatly, and vanishes with her.
Ami Mizuno 2016-04-12 05:14:27 38100
Mercury indeed; Ami doesn't even hesitate to throw her henshin wand into the air. Her nails flash with blue paint as she calls out, "Mercury Star Power, Make Up!" A cascade of water surrounds the senshi of knowledge, engulfing her. She emerges only an instant later, Sailor Mercury enraged. No one hurts her friends, like this!

Nephrite's warning doesn't go unheeded. Indeed, Sailor Mercury delays her own attack, shifting just slightly to the side to give Nephrite a clear line of fire. And when that white starlight is released, Mercury captures it in a crystal of perfect frost formed in her hands, amplifies the starlight with her own power and frost, and unleashes their combined energy with a cry of, "Radiant Hoarfrost!"

It's pure dendritic ice crystals, glittering and sparkling with a perfect beauty, yet cold as the darkest depths of space. How do you kill an evil plant? Why, you flash freeze it, of course!
Fiore 2016-04-12 05:35:32 38107
Just as roses are not meant to fight, she is not meant to withstand. She is an infiltrator, a thief in the night, and she has been caught. She has failed.

And she will die.

The last thing the Xenian feels are the bite of winter and the emptiness between stars, freezing the stream of life within her, and she cries that she has had enough, enough, *enough* --

The ice expands, the void collapses, and what remains of Mamoru's rosebush explodes, shooting spears of shrapnel into the walls and busting the windowsill it used to sit upon so peacefully. In its place hovers something not quite tangible, a cloud halfway between light and white mist that drifts apart at the edges, returning stolen essence to its rightful place.

But the bulk of that energy -- sparkling lightning and rumbling thunder, tinged with gold and steadfast earth -- remains where it is, hovering on the edge of reality.

Makoto's life waits to return to her. The rosebush, however, waits no more.