Feelings Are Hard

Nephrite and Kunzite go to look into where, exactly, Naru's been going in secret. Well. No. Kunzite does that. Nephrite is here pretty much to smack Kunzite upside the head, deservedly. Terrible idea: arguing with the person who is better at figuring out where you're screwing up than you are. (Content warning: language.)

Date: 2017-01-12
Pose Count: 22
Kazuo Takeba 2017-01-12 02:16:44 67138
Kunzite warned Nephrite earlier to keep this evening free; they had something to do. In practice this means that he hunts Nephrite down after dark, in roof or in rooms as need be, with ... a camera case.

No, an actual camera case. For the kind that takes film. Why he is carrying this is completely unclear; not only have they been largely superseded by digital, but he has, historically, been so averse to figuring out how the things work that in the Dark Kingdom he literally created a youma to deal with them for him.

The mystery will wait for a moment. "You wanted to talk," he says, without other preamble. "Here, or is it something we can do on the move?"
Nephrite 2017-01-12 02:27:43 67145
Between the cryptic instructions and the camera, Nephrite is both intrigued and mildly unsettled. "Keep your evening free" could imply anything from "we are hosting a big party" to "there is a being of unspeakable evil that needs to be destroyed" around here. Unfortunately, the fact that they're not staying home probably means he can cross "party" off the list.

He gives Kunzite and the camera only a quick questioning glance before he plops his mug down on the coffee table and goes to find a jacket. "Moving's fine. Lead the way."
Kazuo Takeba 2017-01-12 02:40:40 67155
... right. Coat. Kazuo finds the one that was given to him, likewise, and is shortly thereafter wrapped in black wool. At least his hair will probably keep him from being hit by a car in the dark. The camera case is weighed for a moment, then half-offered toward Nephrite. "You any good with these things?"

Regardless of response, it'll wind up coming with them. Out the door, down the elevator. "We're headed for Mitakihara," Kazuo says. The ward isn't that far away, and the part of it he mentions when he drops street names a moment later is one that Masato Sanjouin would likely be familiar with. Luxury high-rises, not that different from, say, the one they're living in now. "Might not be trouble. But I wouldn't bring anything you don't want broken."

Probably not the car, then.

Either way, forty-seven floors of elevator by itself gives a substantial amount of time to talk.
Nephrite 2017-01-12 03:02:17 67169
Nephrite is also clad in wool, but his coat is blue instead of black. And he bought it himself, because he puts considerably more thought into what he is going to wear at any given time than his companion. He takes the camera off Kunzite's hands. "I can take a shot at it," he says with a grin. Well. Mamoru would have appreciated the pun.

He grunts as they enter the elevator. "Mitakihara, huh? At this time of night, I'm guessing we're not going over there to sign a business deal. That's the only reason I've ever gone by there."

As the elevator ticks down, Nephrite opens up the camera bag to inspect its contents. That's a camera, alright. "So, Mamoru's super grounded, as far as Zoi's concerned."
Kazuo Takeba 2017-01-12 03:13:10 67174
Alas, given the audience, there is no appreciative groan or facepalm or shove. There is Kazuo closing his eyes for a moment, in silent appeal to any unspecified Providence that might or might not exist, before he lapses back to pretending that sentence never existed. In its fashion, this in itself is a victory.

"No," he says, matter-of-fact. "We're going to pay a completely illicit visit to an apartment that may or may not be under watch by a sociopathic killer mage with a side hobby in explosives." He probably does not mean Zoisite. "If we're lucky, it'll be empty. If not, we have a camera." It even has actual film. It even has actual film that the camera in question actually takes.

... Mamoru is super grounded. "We need to remember that Zoisite can enforce Mamoru being grounded from another continent. This is something both priceless and previously unguessed."
Nephrite 2017-01-12 03:28:06 67182
Nephrite whistles. "This seems like spy stuff. I didn't know we were spies. Should I have worn black?" This is a shame if he should have. For a businessman, Nephrite owns precious few items of clothing that aren't in some way colorful.

He laughs at Kunzite's assessment. "Zoi can make someone's life miserable from anywhere he pleases. He'd find a way." He pulls the camera out and looks it over. Film, wow. People use film still? "But I guess it won't work if you're not on board with the enforcement part." He glances up at Kunzite for a moment before returning his focus to the camera's buttons and settings. "An energy vampire, though. That's something."
Kazuo Takeba 2017-01-12 03:37:58 67188
"I wouldn't have bothered. Change when we get near the place, and see if we can teleport in. It'll leave a signature, and Perry -- the mage -- likely knows mine, but that can't be helped. And it keeps the neighbors out of it." Besides. Zoisite. Italy. And truth to tell, Kunzite would've balked at sending Zoisite in without escort --

-- hell, he balked at sending himself in without it.

He shrugs at those last couple of words. "He has some experience with her; he thought he knew the risks. He hadn't thought them through, though. I talked him through the ones he'd missed. He got his color back eventually."
Nephrite 2017-01-12 03:52:56 67195
"Hmm, leaving a signature for a killer mage to recognize? Should we put you under security for a while in case he decides to retaliate?" Nephrite is only sort of joking. Usually Mamoru's the one under guard, and the idea of turning that around on Kunzite seems, well, weird. But still, caution and all that.

Red-brown eyes narrow at Kunzite's shrug. "And, what, that's it? That doesn't bother you?"
Kazuo Takeba 2017-01-12 04:09:00 67201
"She. Madison Perry. If she were going to target me, she'd have done it already; I've wounded her inconveniently a couple of times at this point. Nothing to keep her down permanently, unfortunately. But enough to be certain that she's sticking to her employer's agenda, not her own." Kazuo pauses. "I don't know if the apartment in question is hers, her employer's, or neither. But she may be watching it all the same. Let's hope she's busy elsewhere."

Narrowed eyes aren't missed. Gray ones glance back at him, infuriatingly difficult to read. Even for him. "Should it? Still? It was a bad idea. He knows it. Zoisite argued with him. I argued with him. He was feeling unsettled and guilty over it on his own. For the most part, it's settled."

Infuriatingly difficult. But just the faintest bit harder than those eyes ought to be. Just a little defensive.
Nephrite 2017-01-12 04:28:22 67203
Nephrite lifts the camera and takes a test shot. Of Kunzite. With the flash on. "Aw, it sounds like you two are frenemies. Well we can always hide you in your palace for a few days if she decides it's the last straw."

But Nephrite catches the all-too-neutral look in Kunzite's eyes, and he lowers the camera. "Yeah, he knows it. I talked to him already about it. I'm not talking about him. I'm talking about you. This didn't bother you?" He tilts his head, his dark eyes searching. "This wasn't a little too close to home for you?"
Kazuo Takeba 2017-01-12 04:40:25 67205
Test shot therefore catches Kazuo wincing, with a hand half-raised. He can't absorb light in this form. The glare thereafter is undoubtedly worth the price of admission, whenever that gets exacted.

Not helping Kunzite's mood, undoubtedly: the knowledge that once Nephrite has the scent of something, he doesn't let the hunt go. "Let me think. Our idiot prince decided to do something ill-thought-out, that I'd warned him out loud never to let that particular individual do, while wearing that damned shirt. No. I wasn't irritated in the slightest."

He exhales and shakes his head. "But no. We argued. We settled it. It's done. And the argument was, ultimately, necessary. We need to learn that we can be angry with each other, that we can argue, that we can fight, and that we can come out the other side of it. He needs to learn that, especially. It frightens him too much, right now, and that makes it harder for him to think straight."
Nephrite 2017-01-12 04:50:15 67207
It appears that Nephrite may have struck a nerve. Unfortunately for Kunzite's mood, of all the things Nephrite may be scared of, Kunzite's ire is not one of them. He snorts. "Irritated. Okay."

He sticks the camera back in its case, adjusts the strap on his shoulder, looks at Kunzite again. "And which part of that frightened you?"
Kazuo Takeba 2017-01-12 05:18:51 67209
"The part where it's conceivable that enough going wrong in that room might have pulled the fucking planet farther into the Dusk Zone than Beryl ever got." The cranky tone is good. It's presumably genuine. The tactical error is in the choice of swear word; if that were the honest answer, it would've been some variety of 'damned' instead. And, of course, Nephrite is Nephrite. Nephrite will notice.

Not to mention that Nephrite was there for the Wraith fight on the rooftop, and saw the tinge of clearer gold to the energy that Kunzite lashed out with.

Kunzite lets another breath out, and this time his shoulders shift with it, just a little. "And the part where he's been giving me enough of his excess, the last few months, that the whole damned thing felt like a threat. He insisted. I can't -- back then," back before the Fall, "I could tap the power in the Earth directly, if I needed to. I can't do that anymore, not without him to mediate. Recharging from ambient sources is slow; I wasn't getting enough to handle the number of problems people were dropping on us. So he took steps."
Nephrite 2017-01-12 05:33:16 67210
It is almost convincing. The perfectly logical complaint, the annoyed tone. That Kunzite is so determined to sell him on it, distract him with entirely reasonable annoyance, is a story in itself.

Nephrite nods slowly, piecing it together. His voice is measured. "He took steps to give you access to the Earth's energy. Through him." The elevator dings pleasantly at them, the door opening, but Nephrite remains standing where he is, watching Kunzite. There is nothing sharp or accusing about his look. "And that bothers you."
Kazuo Takeba 2017-01-12 05:57:00 67212
The door's open. There's the perfect opportunity to just walk out, be among people who could be listening, drop the topic.

Kazuo's hand lashes out at the panel, and the doors close again apologetically. His eyes flick back toward Nephrite and hold, and it's as if there were only a certain amount of self-control to be shared out between the pair of them, and Nephrite had momentarily managed to corner the market. The calm gray is volatile now, bright and edged. "It bothers me," he says, "that three of his damned lightshows leave me next thing to bleeding excess energy, and him barely breathing hard. It bothers me that my capacity is down so far that he can ignore one fucking thing I said six months ago, and if he's bearing the wrong symbol at the time, I feel like he has no damned use for me anymore. It bothers me that I don't damned well know if I was justifiably angry, or if I've started feeling like I have some right to him. One of those I can't do anything about. One I need to learn to live with. One I need to watch very fucking closely, and find other sources in the mean time, because if there's any question, then that in itself is a problem; and if that prediction about attack frequency pans out, it's a damned bad time for me to be in the middle of a drought. Are you happy now."
Nephrite 2017-01-12 06:33:07 67216
The camera bag, it should be noted, has been carefully adjusted so that it sits behind Nephrite instead of between them. Not that he specifically anticipates anything happening to it, but well, he did poke the bear.

And the bear bit back. Is he happy about that? Well he was asking for it.

He crosses his arms and leans against the doors that Kunzite closed on their conversation. "If you were anyone else? If the context were different? I might be worried to hear you say that. Do you have a right to him? You're goddamn dating him, aren't you? If we were talking about him letting someone else kiss him, someone you guys didn't agree about beforehand, would you even be asking yourself right now if you have a right to care about it happening?"

Nephrite snorts. "Find other sources, are you kidding me? So the energy that he has freely given you, that he wants you to take from him, you're not going to take anymore? Kunzite," the brunette reaches out now and catches him by the arm. "You have never abused his good nature. That's not who you are. A moment of jealousy isn't going to make you start now."

He shakes his head, exasperated. "Why the hell is this the first I've heard about this? If you're struggling, that's what the rest of us are here for."
Kazuo Takeba 2017-01-14 02:03:33 67480
Sooner or later those doors are going to open again, and Nephrite is going to regret that lean. He's got a few moments of casual all to himself, though, and it accomplishes part of its goal: a shift in the quality of Kunzite's anger, eyes narrower, tone calmer and without the element of snarl. "Don't repeat that part about dating someone giving you a right to them around your girlfriend. Mercury was pretty firm about not being able to put one of us back together a second time." There's a sharp exhale, not a laugh, maybe the shadow of one. "There's a difference between someone promising you something because they want to, and your feeling entitled to take that thing. I need to stay damned sure which side of that line I'm on."

Because Nephrite's right: that isn't who Kunzite is. It's just who he was, for a while.

It's the last question that actually makes Kunzite glance away for a moment. Not an answer he wants to give. Not an answer he avoids, either, looking back to Nephrite directly. "Because the rest of you needed time to get your feet under you."
Nephrite 2017-01-14 02:58:22 67482
Nephrite was relaxed, leaning against those doors. But now his eyes flash and he pushes himself upright. "Seriously man? You know that's not what I meant. Or you damn well should! I'm not talking about being entitled to your partner, because of course that's not okay! That is not the same thing!" His voice crescendos nearly to a shout, and it becomes clear that this elevator might not be enough to contain both men and their competing fury.

But Nephrite runs his hands over his face in frustration, and when he drops them, his tone is quieter. "That's really what's scaring you, isn't it? You really think feeling any kind of jealousy is the same as wanting to take ownership of him?" He sighs, looking at Kunzite through his now mussed-up hair. "Let's call it what it is. He cheated on you. He didn't mean to, and he's sorry, and it's not going to happen again, but somehow you believe that you're a monster for being unhappy about it. It's like... " he shakes his head. "You act like anything he gives you, energy or attention or whatever, is just a gift or something. Like he's just bestowing it on you for his own amusement and might decide at any moment to just hand it to someone else. You act like you're not an active participant in your own relationship. Do you really not think there's some kind of reciprocity involved here?"

He pushes his hair out of his eyes. "And for the record? If Mako caught me cheating on her, I wouldn't expect to be her boyfriend for another minute. Because she is entitled to care about who else I'm intimate with. At the very least, she'd have every right to be angry and upset."

Kunzite's last comment earns a slight turn at the corner of Nephrite's mouth. "Yeah, well. We're starting to get our shit together. So maybe it's your turn to get your feet under you, oh fearless leader."
Kazuo Takeba 2017-01-14 03:38:55 67483
Shouting back is tempting. Shouting back is very tempting. But there's been enough giving in to temptation in this entire mess; Kunzite draws in a breath, holds it for a silent internal count, and by the time he lets it out Nephrite's hands are running over his face and his voice is quieter.

And his own voice is, therefore, quieter too.

"If it was just jealousy," he says, "that's fine. That's done with. That part he's more upset over than I was. If it was just jealousy, then you're right, none of this is important. But I don't know. And I can't afford not to know. If I stop watching that -- once you think you have a right to do something, it gets easy to make excuses. Then to make more of them. We didn't send Beryl back to hell just for me to start sauntering after her again. And I'm not inclined to make the rest of you kick the shit out of me more often than absolutely necessary; that spear of Apatite's hurts like hell."

He breathes out, then glances up (when did his head sink enough that looking at Nephrite was up) and adds, "And, for the record, if Makoto caught you cheating on her, the only thing I'd expect would be to get told about the subsequent exorcism after the fact. You'd have to have been possessed. And she wouldn't wait around for us to catch up to see it."

He doesn't say anything to the last. But the little twitch at the corner of his mouth mirrors Nephrite's. Just for a moment.
Nephrite 2017-01-14 04:35:42 67484
There is a pause, in the confined space of the elevator, as Nephrite digests this. "You're right," he says evenly. "We didn't send Beryl to hell just for you to become her creature again. Because you won't. That is not who you are."

He shifts, sticks his hands in the pockets of his navy blue peacoat. If Kunzite still feels like he has to look up, he will not have quite as far to tilt his head as Nephrite adopts a more casual stance. "There's a hell of a lot of steps between feeling a twinge of anger and getting speared by Apatite. I would like to think that if you were even remotely at risk of heading down that path, we'd be there to step in a whole lot sooner. You don't even have to get to the part where you're cackling over your evil schemes. Just the Diet Evil things, like never replacing the toilet paper or leaving nasty comments on YouTube videos."

He looks at Kunzite, and though the intensity has not faded from his eyes, there is warmth there too. "I get that you have doubts. I'd be lying if I said I didn't have them too. After what we went through, that's not really a surprise. But like I said. This is what we're here for. You're not doing this alone."

Now he chuckles. "I mean yeah, you think anything less than mind control could make me kiss anyone else?"
Kazuo Takeba 2017-01-14 05:01:19 67485
"You're right," Kunzite says, lifting both hands palms-out in surrender. "I'm done. My turn at being sixteen is over. You'd notice at the point where I started watching the YouTube videos." Says the man still voluntarily wedded to actual physical print books.

(Though, granted, no-one actually accused him of having been replaced by a clone when he finally gave in to Mamoru's constant hopeful noises about Pokemon Go.)

And when his hands fall and he straightens again ... it's not intensity, precisely. He's only a notch more present than he had been; a little more fully inhabiting himself. Able, finally, to relax and let go of another part of the things he's been watching over; if Nephrite's steady enough to take him apart that thoroughly, he doesn't have to worry about those anymore.

This time, when the doors chime and slide open again, it's in the middle of his saying: "I'd make a joke about 'drugs, and a very good actress,' but one, it wouldn't be believable, and two, if you both punched me, I'd break."
Nephrite 2017-01-14 05:26:06 67486
Nephrite laughs, unreservedly, in the way that always draws attention in a public place. At least in this lobby, it is a familiar sight. "Like a porcelain doll, you would."

Both of them freed at last from their self-imposed confinement, he slings an arm around Kunzite's black-clad shoulders. "So! I think we should have code names. I'm thinking a food theme. Want to be Creme Brulee?"