Kunzite has information for Ami. Ami has a housewarming present for the boys. Makoto has second thoughts on ever listening to Ami and Kunzite talk business again...

Date: 2016-04-27
Pose Count: 24
Kazuo Takeba 2016-04-27 01:24:08 39797
Kunzite asked Makoto to pass on to Ami that he had information she might not yet; nothing urgent, so far as he knew, but all the same. Technically, he could just have contacted Ami directly. But there are rules of etiquette, outmoded though they might be, and there are rules of practicality: make sure that Mercury knows that Luna hooked the guys in to the Senshi's communications network /before/ using it to reach her. And he's not entirely certain on that.

And then ice skating and injuries happened, and then Makoto almost got eaten by a flower, and on the whole it's been a little distracting for all concerned. Particularly Makoto. But slowly things have settled, and people have recovered, and, just as important, Mamoru's boys have acquired an actual physical address; it's no longer necessary to go prodding into unlikely pocket universes to *find* them.

Even if at this rate they're going to finish renovations and unpacking someplace around October. Usagi's family's house took priority. (But the hole that Venus put in the wall of Mamoru's apartment on one particularly memorable occasion has been patched and painted over.)

So, all in all -- things haven't been put back to rights /yet/. But when Makoto and Ami arrive at the place that used to be a regular nexus for travel and information, well. It's lived-in again. There's someone there to answer whichever door they use, normal or balcony, even if that someone has white hair instead of black. And the kitchen has not degenerated into disuse, clutter, /or/ a horror of unwashed dishes in Makoto's absence.
Ami Mizuno 2016-04-27 01:45:04 39803
It's not that Ami has been avoiding Kunzite--or Nephrite, or Jadeite, or Zoisite (well, maybe Zoisite). It's just that she's been busy, and really hasn't felt comfortable going and saying hi to them all. Not only are they boys, they're Usagi's Boyfriend's Closest Companions, former Enemies, and in at least one case: someone she feels will embarass her with a debt she doesn't want to hold him to.

Nevertheless, the lure of Knowledge She Does Not Have, and Makoto's encouragement means that she does, eventually, make her way here. She even manages not to completely behind Makoto while the (much) taller girl knocks on the door for them.

When it's Kunzite who answers, Ami's eyes widen a little, and she swallows in uncertainty. "Hi," she says by way of greeting, then offers over a small, glass-cased clock that shows all the inner mechanisms and gearworks. "I thought I'd bring a housewarming gift to congratulate you guys on finally finding a stable place," she says. Because awkward.
Makoto Kino 2016-04-27 01:59:19 39805
Makoto, on the other hand, has pretty much completely acclimated to having the guys around. A lot of that is Nephrite, a good bit of it is working with them on Project Fix-Usagi's-House and with Kunzite on cooking for Project Fix-Usagi's-House, and most of the rest comes from the fact that she's maintained a habit of showing up once or twice a week to take over the kitchen because, she claims, she still doesn't trust most of them with it.

But being acclimated to the guys doesn't mean she doesn't appreciate the awkwardness that Ami's feeling about the whole situation, which is why she offered to come along in the first place. "Hi," she says almost in unison with Ami when Kunzite answers the door, and offers a cheerful smile that turns slightly sheepish when Ami presents her offering. "--I didn't think of a housewarming gift," she admits, half joking and half apologetic. "Now I feel bad."

Although really it's just as well, since Mako's idea of a housewarming gift would probably have been a plant. Even now, the absence of any makes the place seem unnaturally vacant to her sensibilities, but she can hardly begrudge the guys the precaution.

Something to remember when Fiore's dealt with.

"As promised," she adds in Kunzite's direction as the two of them come in, "I remembered to tell Ami-chan you wanted to fill her in on some things, so here we are. Sorry for getting delayed by killer plants."
Kazuo Takeba 2016-04-27 02:15:00 39811
That's a lot of capital letters. Pile them up together and they might actually be taller than Kunzite. He can't actually help looming over Ami to some extent - a foot in height difference will do that -- but he can step back and out of the way. There's a momentary blink at her offering the clock; a second one, a moment later, as he manages to dig up some dim reference to the custom out of his still-mangled memory, and accepts it with due caution and with a small bow. "Thank you. "

He even manages to say that without further complicating the matter with queries or blank looks about a stable place (as if they'd have found any other place than this one? -- no, he neither says that nor hints at it). It may possibly be evidence of Makoto's general civilizing influence. Mamoru did take steps to make sure he was exposed to that. A lot.

He does let his eyebrows arch at Makoto, granted, but she's had enough exposure to him not to be concerned by that. "Didn't you?" he says to the one who's been taking over the kitchen on a regular basis. Then turns to find a reasonably safe space in which to set down the clock. One not likely to have anything accidentally thrown through it in any incidents never to be spoken of outside the apartment. Fortunately, he's only looking for a short-term one; he'll figure out something long-term later.

(Or someone will become obsessed with the workings of the mechanisms and take care of it for him. That's probably the safer bet.)

"I'm reasonably certain that the delay by killer plants is the killer plants' fault, not yours," he says over his shoulder to Makoto. "And a little more urgent, given both the personal effect and the possible long-term consequences. I'm not sure of the details there, but they have Mamoru considerably upset. May I get either of you anything? Tea?" Coffee, cocoa, God knows what else people have bought and stashed -- but the two of them both know the fundamentals of what's in the cabinets, he's moderately sure.

He has, himself, not quite gotten over the oddity of offering to fetch people consumables when he's only actually needed them himself for six weeks or so. But that's among the many things he rarely lets show.
Ami Mizuno 2016-04-27 02:18:44 39812
"Tea would be nice," Ami pipes up as she looks over the place. Calling it a frat house might be an understatement. The smell of boy is strong in this place. "Or cocoa." Stronger scent to wash out the boysmell? Or maybe she just prefers cocoa.

Curiously, she wanders through the livingroom, inspecting the differences between how it is now and how it was then. "Where is everyone?" she asks curiously as she wanders.
Makoto Kino 2016-04-27 02:31:42 39813
"Annoying niisan by rearranging his spice rack doesn't count!" Mako quips back at Kunzite, no longer remotely fazed by those arched brows. "Cocoa's fine for me, too, thanks." On the basis that she knows for a fact they have it, and there's no sense asking him to make something different for each of them if Ami's having cocoa. Besides, cocoa is delicious.

With this volunteered, Mako kind of steps out of Ami's way a bit, looking around with a milder sort of interest that marks any changes between now and when she was here last. Fortunately Mamoru is too much of a neatnik for the place to need a cleaning blitz, generally speaking.

(She would, otherwise. Just ask Motoki.)

When her interest is satisfied, which doesn't take long, Mako looks toward Kunzite again with brows lifted, curious herself in the answer to Ami's question.
Kazuo Takeba 2016-04-27 02:45:32 39816
"Zoisite and Mamoru are visiting Usagi; I believe Jadeite is with them. I try not to have to know what Nephrite is doing." Possibly communing with his palace in iieu of the stars proper. Possibly something to do with Masato Sanjouin's business. Possibly something else altogether, which might be auspicious, might be disastrous, and might have something to do with truly bizarre television. Kunzite's detour to the kitchen does not actually evade any followup questions; it only gives him an excuse to ask, "Do either of you have trouble with milk?" before occupying himself with remembering which things he needs to be careful about regarding the stove. It's still a mental checklist rather than a conditioned reflex. But he has that mental checklist, which means it's reasonably safe for Makoto to be looking at other things.

The place has evolved somewhat since Mako's last visit. Boxes have shifted and been swapped out; one wall is marked with masking tape, heaven knows for what. There's a little dust, but that's more an artifact of what they're doing with other walls elsewhere in the place than evidence of neglect.

For Ami, the changes are considerably more marked. The living room is actually lived-in, rather than put together to magazine-illustration specs. The tangle of video game controllers alone speaks a small volume, let alone the chair repositioned to get better light, or the shift of the coffee table so that there's space to sit in front of one of the couches rather than in it. It's a slightly frantic assertion of something like normality, yes, but it's probably an improvement all in all.
Ami Mizuno 2016-04-27 02:47:35 39818
Ami finally slips her shoes off just inside the door and moves into the livingroom proper, then smiles and rubs her hands along the back of the chair. "No, no trouble," she calls to Kunzite, before moving to kneel down at the video game controllers and start untangling them. Someone needs to do it, and it gives her something to distract her from feeling uncomfortable, at the moment.
Makoto Kino 2016-04-27 02:54:43 39820
Makoto's reply is slightly delayed; she's momentarily busy trying not to laugh at that comment about Nephrite. It takes a few more seconds after Ami answers before she calls out brightly, "No problems here!"

She's well aware that Kunzite by now has that mental checklist in order, but it's a brief but visible struggle all the same not to trail after him and just... observe. She probably would've, but Ami's rearranging video game cables and after a glance that way, Mako decides to stay put and stick with the friend who seems more in need of moral support.

She absently buffs some traces of dust off the nearest piece of furniture while she's at it.
Kazuo Takeba 2016-04-27 03:07:39 39825
Ami has a few minutes in relative peace, then, to occupy herself with unknotting cables. Cables are safe. Cables in and of themselves do not speak of bizarre alien minds, like the ones attached to Y chromosomes. Also, that it's a few minutes says that the stove is the /only/ thing being used to heat milk for cocoa, and the one making it is not casually falling back on magic to speed up the process. This might also be slightly reassuring.

In either case, their drinks are fetched out quietly after. Rich, sweet, soothing. Entirely at odds with their company and the likely topics of conversation, but that's possibly a good thing?
Ami Mizuno 2016-04-27 03:12:17 39827
Ami manages to finish sorting out cables before the cocoa is ready, at which point she stands again and smiles at Makoto. Honest, she's not nerovus, what is that look for?

When Kunzite emerges with the mugs, she moves to take hers from him, and gives him that same 'honest' smile. "Thank you," she says. "So what did you want to talk to me about?"
Makoto Kino 2016-04-27 03:21:20 39830
Mako smiles back at Ami, just a little bit knowingly: uh-huh. That smile turns toward Kunzite when he comes back with the cocoa, accompanied by an easy "Thanks."--

--and then Ami gets to the specific reason for this visit and Makoto makes an 'ergh' face and risks scalding her tongue on a sip of cocoa. This is not a conversation she's actually looking forward to, even if her role in it is likely to be just listening. It was mostly for the sake of backing Ami up and the chance of maybe seeing Nephrite that she came. One out of two - good enough.
Kazuo Takeba 2016-04-27 03:29:52 39832
There's always the chance of seeing Nephrite. He might, in theory, turn up at any moment. Makoto being around might double that chance even if he doesn't know she's there, but -- well, doubling an unknown is still an unknown.

"I wanted to talk with you about information transfer, for one thing," Kunzite answers Ami. "You're better equipped for collation and analysis than we are; it makes sense for us to give you what we find out. The only question is how you'd prefer us to do that." Sorting out the mechanics. What he's wearing on his left wrist is a familiar design, yes, but their communicators are suited for emergencies, not for the day-to-day. Well. Mostly not. Reaching him through them regularly is probably fine at the moment; he's not going to be in class.

"Beyond that -- I've been thinking about the car accident, twelve years ago, and there are some possibilities you should be aware of." The car accident that left Mamoru alone and without memories, and opened the door to Fiore's contact with him. And Fiore's subsequent obsession. But it's the accident Kunzite's focusing on, not the alien.
Ami Mizuno 2016-04-27 03:33:51 39834
"Email," Ami says almost immediately, then hesitates, "Or you could just ... call me and invite me over for a chat. Depends on the kind of information. If it's sensitive. If it's personal." She shrugs, just a little, then suggests, "Heartnet is also a good way to get it to me. I monitor that regularly."

She considers the car accident a moment, then shakes her head, "Actually, before we go into that," she notes, "there's something I have been wanting to ask you. Scared to ask you, really. The day you um ..." she trails off, frowning at the wording. "Well, almost killed me," she explains. "You kidnapped another girl that day. She also had blue hair. Takashi told me about her, after-the-fact. What happened to her?"
Makoto Kino 2016-04-27 03:39:26 39836
Makoto, occupying herself with her cocoa as she listens, is suddenly very still. Holding the mug in both hands, she glances from Ami to Kunzite and back again, eyes a little wider.

She doesn't say out loud that this is something she hadn't known about. Expressive as her face nearly always is, she doesn't have to. She stays quiet and waits to hear the answer.
Kazuo Takeba 2016-04-27 03:51:25 39839
"That's Virtue's, isn't it?" Kunzite asks, regarding Heartnet. "We can do that, through Endymion. If anything happens to him -- well. You'll know, if anything happens." That would qualify as an emergency.

And then Ami brings up one of the reasons that Kunzite has not been pursuing personal access to Heartnet, or anything else of Virtue's, too strenuously. There's no real shift in his expression, but there so rarely is; there is, however, a heartbeat's worth of pause before he answers. "She wasn't precisely a girl," he says quietly. "One of Beryl's more prized youma, one of a set capable of concealing themselves. I was sent to retrieve several of them. I'm not absolutely sure which disguise hid which of them; but I suspect that Jupiter destroyed that one."
Ami Mizuno 2016-04-27 03:58:31 39841
Ami nods her head to the question of Virtue. But she's far more interested in the discussion about the blue-haired girl. Discovering that Beryl had her turned to a youma is not really much of a surprise for Ami.

With a slight inclination of head, the girl admits, "That's what I suspected." Not the Jupiter part, but the rest of it. "Although it does beg the question of why she was in the public, and then returned to Beryl. Was there some reason the Youma were not allowed to remain in public?" Pause. "I suppose it doesn't matter, anymore. As long as she was not, and never was, a real girl, I will be less concerned."

Here, she does smile, and this time it's almost genuine, yet still rather clinical. "Car crashes," she suggests. "Where have your thoughts taken you?"
Makoto Kino 2016-04-27 04:13:07 39844
Makoto knew, of course, that this was going to be a conversation she wasn't going to enjoy hearing. She didn't realize she was going to enjoy it quite this little.

Especially not when Kunzite mentions her specifically and it's hard not to remember a cavern beneath the surface of the North Pole and everything that she saw and did there. She's destroyed a lot of youma, of course, there's no reason that he'd have to mean one of those - but a set of youma, specially prized by Beryl. And the one in question, disguised as a blue-haired girl.

No, Mako's not contributing anything to this line of discussion. She's taking a healthy swallow of cocoa and trying not to think about cold. It's almost a relief when the topic begins to shift back to the unsettling implications she already knew about.
Kazuo Takeba 2016-04-27 04:26:14 39846
Kunzite shakes his own head to Ami, but it's confirmation in a sense. "Crafted, not corrupted," he says. "They were recalled to serve as part of Beryl's defenses, in the place of those of my brothers who'd come to themselves again. Why they were out in public to begin with, I'm not certain. I couldn't track them; they were hers alone, never under my command."

Perhaps it's out of consideration for Makoto that he doesn't say anything about dragonfly wings. Sadly, it doesn't entirely help.

Car crashes, then. The comparatively cheerful topic. "Endymion and I discussed this a little while back," he says. "At least enough to compare the memories we'd recovered, mostly from Jadeite's key. I don't think he's thought through the consequences.

"What he remembers is that he began by knowing who he was, and knowing who he was looking for. That the people who brought him up, when he was very small, were planning for him to start meeting us on his sixth birthday -- us," there's a small gesture of one hand that describes the part of the apartment not containing the girls, "and Usagi, at the very least. The car accident that day killed them, and took his memories; the plan was never followed through."

He shakes his head again, then reaches up to pull a few stray strands of white hair out of his face. The minor travails of having a body he can't control the substance of with his subconscious. He'll take them. "I was, Kazuo was, also supposed to have a meeting that day. Final interviews and paperwork about acceptance to a school; I don't have the name. I do have the location. Above Jadeite's palace. It looked different, then; it appeared like an actual school, with teachers, with a student body. There were -- medical concerns that prevented it. After that day, the place was as it is now, abandoned, empty. Kazuo's family forgot it soon enough."

He glances from Ami to Makoto, as if taking for granted that whatever concerns he sees in that would be obvious to Ami, as if checking to see if it were the same for Makoto.
Ami Mizuno 2016-04-27 04:34:40 39848
Ami listens to the information thoughtfully for several moments, thinking but not speaking as she mentally processes the data. When Kunzite clearly finishes, she arches both brows slowly, then leans back just a little.

"So, was the school torn down and rebuilt into housing?" she asks curiously, "or was it merely an illusion. Moreover, who created the 'school' in the first place, and what happened to the students who once attended? It seems likely their family had forgotten, as well. Did Mamoru's 'parents' set the whole thing up, as a safe place to educate him? As a safe environment for meeting with others? Or was there some other hand at work, attempting to use it as a lure for you and the others. There are a whole lot of possibilities," Ami points out, "but one thing seems most likely: that place was created for some unpleasant purpose."
Makoto Kino 2016-04-27 04:49:05 39851
Whether the concerns that Kunzite has, that Ami sees, are obvious to Mako is hard to say. In all likelihood there are nuances that she's missing, that simply don't occur to her, just because she is who she is: honest, straightforward, uncomplicated. There are things she can't see until they're pointed out to her.

But she's been disturbed by what Kunzite's suggesting since he gave her the thumbnail explanation back when he first asked her to pass along word to Ami, and having time to simmer the idea hasn't helped the sensation of creeping horror that touches the back of her throat when she thinks about it in much detail. It shows in her expression as much as everything she feels always does, as she listens to what he tells Ami, and Ami's response.

It's only at Ami's last conclusion that Mako draws up a little, blinking in surprise. "That doesn't make sense, though," she says, brow furrowing.
Kazuo Takeba 2016-04-27 05:06:55 39854
"It does, in the sense that it was bait," Kunzite says to Makoto. "I suspect that it was bait to convince Kazuo's family, and later any families that Nephrite or Jadeite or Zoisite might have had, that nothing was odd about the situation." ... might have had. He leaves that without further examination and turns his attention back to Ami. "The housing has been intact and largely untouched since. Kazuo placed certain things there some years ago that were still in reasonable condition last month. Unlike the gardens under Paris, we never came across that one while Beryl had us -- unless Jadeite did, but she had only the loosest of holds on Jadeite to begin with; he'd have been unlikely to corrupt it even if he did find the place."

There's no fidgeting in the breath or two of pause he takes to organize his thoughts. "It may have been an illusion. It may have something of the same nature as the palaces, and be something that can be reprogrammed by those who know how. The people in the school might have forgotten, or might have been illusion, or might have been of some similar nature to the lesser creatures in the palaces." Spirits. Dreams. Not entirely real, or real but in the same sense as humans.

"The interesting part is that the place changed on the same day as the accident. Endymion was intended to meet with someone; Kazuo had a meeting at a place significant to Endymion. It seems reasonable to presume that the two were the same, even if we are not certain. If I had been putting together that plan, I would have avoided putting everyone maintaining it in the same vehicle; but if there were anyone else involved in maintaining either the plan or the illusion, those people were removed from the board on the same day.

"It's doubtful that the accident was caused by one of Beryl's agents. Endymion still knew who he was, still had at least a small measure of his power. Even a youma would have sensed that; and Beryl's creatures tended to have a personal interest. The accident was either truly an accident, or caused remotely and not followed up on, or caused directly but by an agent without the ability to sense magics at work. Not one of Beryl's.

"Combine those, and we have the suggestion of a coordinated organization, not the Dark Kingdom, that either was aware of Mamoru's 'parents' and wanted them out of the picture, or was aware of at least some of us and for reasons of its own did not want us working together. Such an organization may not in fact exist; accident and poor planning might explain everything. But I'd rather watch unnecessarily for signs of such a thing than presume its absence and be unpleasantly surprised."
Ami Mizuno 2016-04-27 05:21:38 39857
Ami considers Kunzite's response for several moments, then shakes her head just faintly. "That seems less likely to me, but ... not impossible," she admits thoughtfully. "Still, if such an organization did exist, this begs the question of their agenda and objectives, and whether they still exist today." She sighs and rubs her nose in thought, then admits, "It's worth looking into, anyways. I'll start digging and see if I can turn up anything more than middle pieces with no edges."
Makoto Kino 2016-04-27 05:36:42 39859
There's a pressure building in Mako's chest as Kunzite talks about accidents that might or might not be accidents, about dead parents, about a plan to bring them all together and a conspiracy that may have kept that plan from coming to fruition. She's clutching the mug of cocoa tightly between her hands as she listens, trying to focus on the words and not the feeling that she's watching a horror movie and yelling fruitlessly at the screen to don't go down that dark stair, don't open that door, except the girl on the screen is herself.

Nightmares about plane crashes over the pacific. Jet engines choked with vines.

"Sorry," she says abruptly, in a tone that tries for 'casual' and misses the mark. She lifts the mug in her hands in illustration - "I'm going to go wash this out. I don't think this is something I can help with much, anyway."