Clearly Living in a Reality Show

Nephrite and Makoto come to the palaces after school, where Mamoru's been annoying Kunzite all day. News is caught up on. Picnic is set to. Hair is challenged.

Date: 2016-05-31
Pose Count: 18
Mamoru Chiba 2016-05-31 01:53:26 43053
They're not in Jadeite's palace, because dear god Mamoru spent enough time there that he literally only goes now if he needs to zen. They're not at Zoisite's palace because Zoisite's still mad at Kunzite and Mamoru doesn't especially need the palace of purification and healing right now. They're not at Kunzite's because Mamoru's watch says school's out--

Endymion pushes the door from Kunzite's place into Neph's place open with his shoulder, regardless of whether it usually is a pull door from that direction or not, and he's waving his iPad around at Kunzite behind him. "I can understand not getting reception down here, but seriously, can't we run a cable down the stairs so I can at least charge my stuff if you're out or if I don't feel like asking you to be a human generator? And as long as we're doing that, we COULD get internet to the house up there and then just run a string of wifi repeaters, or god forbid ethernet--"

He's complaining instead of angry or silent, which is a good sign. Not as good as him laughing would be, but good nonetheless.
Kazuo Takeba 2016-05-31 02:14:54 43056
"I hear they make things called portable rechargers now. And I invite you to consider the potential consequences of," Kunzite closes the door between pocket-worlds behind him before he continues, "the caracal, say, discovering Reddit."

It is just possible that dealing with Endymion in this mood all day might be wearing on even his patience, just a little. On the other hand, he never actually strangled the prince when he was twelve, back in the era before the Internet was invented and it was possible for him to become even more bored.

Not that Endymion doesn't have a point. But there are always complications.
Nephrite 2016-05-31 02:28:29 43059
The palace's owner is hailed by an unnecessarily dramatic flash of lightning across the otherwise clear sky. Nephrite is still mid-sentence as he and Makoto land ankle-deep in ferns, his arm drawn about her waist. "...right on his face. In the middle of the gym. He's damned lucky he tried to insult Zoi in front of witnesses. Teachers tend to frown on arson indoors."

Hearing voices, Nephrite turns to the particularly large tree a short distance away that always has sand trailing from its base. "Oh good, the slackers are here! Must be nice to hang out in a desert oasis instead of sitting in class all day."
Makoto Kino 2016-05-31 02:39:14 43061
"--Implying it would've been okay to set him on fire as long as you guys kept it outside?" Makoto wonders aloud. She's laughing, but with the slightly wide-eyed not-sure-I-should-be-laughing-at-this expression that so often accompanies stories about Things Zoisite Has Done.

She's also toting the picnic basket that is her usual means of transporting food for several people. The smile she turns toward Mamoru and Kunzite is a faintly rueful one, accompanied by a small shake of her head at Nephrite's teasing. "No new explosions since the weekend," she reports. "Unless you count Zoisite humilitating jerks in gym."
Mamoru Chiba 2016-05-31 02:54:12 43066
"I *approve* of the caracal discovering reddit. I mean it's not like he can actually leave the palace, and it might teach him a thing or two about manners if he threatens to eat people and gets banned," insists the prince, pulling his top hat out of nowhere and then jamming his tablet into it before vanishing it again. "I could set him up with--"

And there's Neph and Mako, and he manages to look smug at the accusation, though it's pretty clear that it's stomping hard on the frustration that backs both the boredom and the crankiness. "Envy doesn't suit you, Lady Lovely Locks," he says, flipping a hand out. But as soon as Makoto's assuring him that there've been no new explosions, he gets a familiar look on his face--

--preoccupation. And then he claps a hand over his mouth and unsuccessfully tries to stifle a surprised (loud) explosion of laughter. Once done, he gets the Shipper On Deck look.

"Well there was a minor explosion," he says slyly, jamming his hands in his pockets and rocking back on his heels, one corner of his mouth turned up. "But it was sorted pretty quickly because I told Usa of course I didn't mind if she kissed Ami-chan."
Kazuo Takeba 2016-05-31 03:02:09 43069
There are several unexamined assumptions in that first string of protests, but there is also lightning, and that is a truly welcome sign that someone might be arriving. Someone right there. Two someones right there. The glance Kunzite gives Makoto's way can't possibly be relief; that would imply that he had the capability for that reaction. "Nephrite. Kino-san." -- still comes more naturally than her first name, yes. "Everyone lived, I take it?"

Presumably that also includes Usagi and Ami. Not a word about the gossip. Though he might be watching Makoto a little more closely than usual.
Nephrite 2016-05-31 03:07:02 43070
Nephrite sweeps his hair back. "My hair is lovely, I know. Who is truly the jealous one here?"

He raises his eyebrows, first at Mamoru's mention of 'explosions' and 'kisses' and now at Kunzite's question. "Why do all of you complain about my reality shows when we are clearly living in one?"
Makoto Kino 2016-05-31 03:09:26 43071
Makoto is suddenly managing not to look at any of the guys (though at least there is, as always, plenty else about the grand redwood forest around them to occupy her attention). "I was counting that in the weekend," she says. "Ami-chan stayed over at my place after Agera went nuclear, she told me about it."

One might be getting the sense that she's not as amused by this as Mamoru is. Fortunately Kunzite provides a distraction; his question draws her eyes in his direction. "So far," she confirms, with a wry little twist to her mouth that belies the airy tone. "That all kind of escalated faster than I expected, but Ami-chan's okay and she's going to talk things out with Usagi-chan. For right now we're pretty much waiting to see if he's gonna do anything stupid."

Mako dares a glance toward Nephrite, but she can't really say anything to that. It's not as if he's wrong. She looks back to Kunzite instead, somewhat sheepishly. "I, uh, might've volunteered you as a research assistant," she tells him. "Just so you know."
Mamoru Chiba 2016-05-31 03:26:54 43078
Mako might think Mamoru's amused by it, but she probably just hasn't seen his shipper face before. Or doesn't remember it. Granted, Usagi didn't tell him anything about Ami's reaction, so he's probably missing information that would have him considering it as 'a brighter topic' less.

Makoto's very next sentence confirms that, and his expression shifts more toward the subdued. He eyes Neph for a moment, then folds himself into sitting on a fallen tree and eyeing Mako's picnic basket. "I don't complain about your reality shows. I'm just kind of boggled by them," he corrects, not quite primly. "And if I wanted to have long hair, who would stop me?" That's an idle challenge sent up toward Neph with a growing half-smile, but then Endymion looks at Makoto again.

His expression's clearly conflicted over something, but all he asks is, interestedly, "Researching what?"
Kazuo Takeba 2016-05-31 03:36:00 43081
Who is truly the jealous one there? The narrow look Kunzite gives Nephrite says everything that the answer there needs. Someone might still be annoyed at having spent a week or two at risk of displacing Luna from 'local favorite living plush toy. "I will let you reclassify your reality shows as research only as long as that is not the research I'm being asked to help with."

Kunzite lets out a breath, then, and retreats into a deeper patch of shade, not so much near Mamoru's fallen tree as with a decent view of it. "I'd almost prefer he do something stupid. If he gets angry, we can manage that." If Takashi gets subtle, that's trickier. If he falls deeper -- much worse.

Besides, Mamoru asked the question that's really worrying him.
Nephrite 2016-05-31 03:40:03 43082
Nephrite's forehead creases as he looks down at Makoto. "But it's like, a given that guy is going to do something stupid, right? Like, every moment of interacting with that guy was like a giant flashing sign that said 'danger' in red neon lights."

He rounds on Mamoru, and his unspoken challenge. "I dunno man, what is stopping you? Could it be you're worried that you just won't compare in the end? Better to play it safe, right?"

At Kunzite's words, he grins. "Thank you for your belated permission. I have already taken extensive notes, which I am going to start leaving for you to find. I think you'll find my relationship diagrams particularly insightful."
Makoto Kino 2016-05-31 04:00:28 43086
"I don't know what in specific, I didn't ask." Makoto's shoulders hitch upwards in a jerky little shrug; she looks away again for a moment, strangling back a sourceless irritation. "Ami-chan's overloaded, and she's got this idea that it's all her job to come up with answers to everything by herself." Letting out a sigh, she looks toward Kunzite again, faintly apologetic now. "I volunteered to help too, but let's face it, there's not a lot I can do when it comes to crunching information. And I couldn't suggest she ask Zoisite for help."

Because Nephrite is right there, Makoto reaches to curl her arm around his and lean against him for a moment. "That's what I thought, too," she answers him, "but heck if I understand how that guy thinks. All I know is he's hopped up on dark energy and in a fit because Ami-chan broke up with him. She seems pretty sure he's going to do something, though." She can't quite help the trace of guilt that creeps into her expression as she says it.
Mamoru Chiba 2016-05-31 04:15:21 43087
Mamoru's eyebrows lift at Nephrite. "You literally already saw how amazing my hair would look long. It's just that I was a girl at the time. I just prefer to not have a freaking hot back of the neck in summer, and to be ABLE to be overlooked if I want to be. With long hair I'd be SO amazing that no one could EVER look away. I have enough stalker problems as it is." He's almost smirking. Almost.

Then he cranes his neck to glance back at Kunzite and his shoulders fall, and he sighs and looks at Makoto. "It's not your fault, even if you think it is. You just said what we've all been thinking for months, and haven't wanted to be the ones to put the kibosh on something Ami was enjoying, even if we all thought it couldn't work out. Talk about Senshi of Courage," he says wryly.

His mouth twists into another conflicted sort of thing and his brows furrow. "And more fool me for having tried to bury the hatchet with him. It just seemed like someone who owns being a jerkbag couldn't also be a Nice Guy."

Finally, he runs his hand through his hair and grips it at the back of his head for a second, looking tired. "I've never really gotten the chance to work with Ami like that. By the time you guys trusted me, it was almost too late, and then we were all just too busy and I was too underground. And now I'm underground again." There it is, there's the frustration-- though it only bubbles up to visibility momentarily before it's buried again and he makes himself relax. "Once all this is fixed I'd love to be her research assistant. Unless any of it is stuff she can do down here...? Then I could help--"

Oh wow does he ever look hopeful.

"Um-- in the meantime, yes, not letting Ami take the world on her shoulders is a good idea..." he finishes, scrubbing at his hands a little. "And if you have time that's cool, Kunzite, just-- nevermind, it's fine."
Kazuo Takeba 2016-05-31 04:36:02 43088
Extensive notes. Relationship diagrams. Kunzite eyes Nephrite just a moment longer. "I see you've already found ways to abuse the 'no arson in the apartment' rule." There is, however, no attempt made to dispute Nephrite's estimate of Takashi. Pretty accurate. The two of them should know.

"She's right. He won't be able to keep himself from trying to do something. His self-image is most of what's keeping him from drowning himself in the dark; he needs to reinforce it somehow or lose his grip, and his worse side stands to benefit either way." Kunzite inclines his head toward Makoto. "You're right; we need to get some of the load off of her shoulders. Preferably before whatever the Agera boy is doing surfaces, so that she'll have the resources to cope with it. And Endymion's also right; the more we can spread that work out, the better."

It's just coincidence that his eyes go from Mamoru to Nephrite while he's saying that, right?

"We'll see how much we can do that with, and what we'd need to support it. Too early to make plans right now."
Nephrite 2016-05-31 04:47:54 43089
Nephrite folds around Makoto automatically, dropping his school bag (a little heavier with Mamoru's homework as well as his) to take her picnic basket from her so she can lean more freely, and propping his chin on her head. The sky above fades into a blushing pink sunset.

"Since I'm pretty sure most of Tokyo is gonna take Ami's side on this one, I think it's a given that there will be many volunteers lining up to give this guy a smack if he needs it. And if he goes on a rampage because a girl broke up with him then he so has it coming."

He listens with some amusement to Mamoru's defence. "Hey bro, ever hear of a ponytail?" He sweeps his hand up the back of Makoto's neck to rest at the base of her own ponytail to demonstrate. And then leaves his hand there, fingers moving slightly to massage behind her ear, because ponytails are indeed useful.

He blinks at Kunzite's glance. Ugh, is that a hint? Is he being voluntold? "I can help out too, I guess. If Ami actually wants me in her lab." The last time he hung out with Ami ended in plant monster nonsense and the time before that he may have been overheard yelling at her now-ex-boyfriend. Actually maybe that one is a point in his favor now.
Makoto Kino 2016-05-31 05:10:52 43090
Much of the fretful edge comes off Makoto once she's leaned more fully against Nephrite, tucked securely under his chin in that way that has yet to entirely stop being a pleasant surprise. She does squirm a little, though, at the first ticklish brush of his fingers over the back of her neck, breath catching slightly with a little laugh. "Hey."

Then she's sighing contentedly, shoulders dropping a little as the tension leaves them, and her eyes seek Mamoru's. "It might be," she offers. "Stuff you could do down here, I mean. I can suggest you to her, while I'm volunteering people for things. I mean, I really have no idea what kind of things she might need people to do."

Only now that she's no longer holding the basket does she think to add, "Also I brought you guys dinner, whenever you want it. And crepes."
Mamoru Chiba 2016-05-31 05:17:37 43091
"Yes please, Mako-chan," Mamoru says, just shy of diffident, for a possibly unnerving change of pace. It's gone in an instant, though, when he squints at Nephrite. "Look. Does Rei put her hair in a ponytail? No. Do you know why? It's straight and fine and thick. If I tried to put it in a ponytail it wouldn't hold. Are you trying to dare me or something? If you are, dare me next year once I'm in college, for godsake."

He huffs and unfolds from his fallen tree, then beelines for the picnic basket. "'Whenever you want it' she says," he says, eyebrows up. "I hope now is fine, I'm tired of eating raw rodent meat, as much as I love the caracal and as gracious as he is for sharing his hunting." His face is completely straight. He does not look at Kunzite.
Kazuo Takeba 2016-05-31 05:25:32 43092
"We'll see what she needs," Kunzite agrees to Makoto. He might have gone on to say something else, or to make some comment about Nephrite and Ami -- or Nephrite and the picnic basket -- but Mamoru provides that helpful image instead.

Kunzite closes his eyes, tips back his head, and finally regards the foliage overhead, and the hints of color in the clouds occasionally visible between leaves. "Next time," he advises Mamoru, "when it asks you if you like gerbils, say no."