Burritos and Awkward Conversations


Unmei is working slowly on her food issues, partly via learning to cook. Kunzite is helping! Sometimes helping means patiently chiseling apart unrealistic expectations. And talking about her parents' behavior. And having a conversation about that Unfortunate Kissing Habit. (Content warning: abuse mentions.)

Date: 2017-03-18
Pose Count: 54
Players:
Unmei Tama 2017-03-18 00:18:58 73527
Unmei Tama had made a bit of a mess. But, for the most part, she was doing well. A bit of cheese, a bit of rice, chicken, sour cream, salsa, tomatoes, a bit of mushrooms, some onions. Really, it actually smelled pretty good and actually LOOKED pretty good. Judging by how she was doing, it would be pretty good, too.

Granted, with the chicken she had to have his help because she was absolutely terrified of undercooking it and making them sick, But other than that, nothing bad.

Soon, the burritos were done and she put some on a burrito for both of them. She then made her way to the table and sat down, nervously looking up at him, not taking a bite of hers yet. "W-what do you... think?" she'd ask softly.

A simple recipe... but at least it was tasty. She stared up nervously, chewing on her lower lip. "Is it good?" she asked gently.
Kunzite 2017-03-18 00:28:54 73529
The chicken, like everything else, came with him talking her through the things that are actually concerns and the things that aren't, and what to look for, and how to be careful when she can't actually use a meat thermometer to test. And how careful is too careful, since chicken that's acquired the consistency of sandpaper and glue isn't much good, either.

(They made the salsa earlier. That part has already passed muster.)

The question prompts Kazuo to lift eyebrows back at her. "That's something you're going to need to test yourself," he says. "Try a little. It's your creation; you'll need to know what it turned out like to know if there's anything you need to change."

That's something he's absolutely consistent about. The process of cooking, to slow things down, yes. The formalities, likewise. That she has to stay in practice with eating, yes. The question of what things taste like, of noticing the details of flavors - of analyzing the qualities of food rather than the quantity of it - that's a little of an experiment. Seeing whether giving her something to concentrate on helps distract her from her Gluttony-born troubles.
Unmei Tama 2017-03-18 00:37:21 73532
Unmei Tama nodded and stared at him for a few moments. Then, gently, she smiled. "R-right. I...I can do this," she said firmly. Gently she wrapped the burrito up. Then, with a quick bite, she chewed into it and...

She tried. She tried really, really hard. But after a few moments she kind of retched a bit and had to spit it out, coughing and holding her mouth, making light retching sounds. She looked up at him with a look of worry and shame.

She'd been trying. She'd even made this on her own. Because she knew she couldn't just eat hard, dry things forever. She had to get over it. She thought if she'd made something herself, cooked from scratch, a little wet wouldn't be so bad. Besides, it was a lot of things she liked.

Sadly, it wasn't enough. "I-i'm sorry. It... it tastes okay. I just... I can't s-stand the consistency. I... I can try again..." She picked it up, but she stared at it, a worried look on her face.

She had been doing better, though. The other day she even ate an apple. Well, a few apple slices. It had been the softest, wettest food she'd been able to stomach. Oh, and carrot sticks.
Kunzite 2017-03-18 00:45:00 73534
Kunzite regards her for a long moment, thoughtful. Steady. Then rises, steps into the kitchen, and returns with a bowl with just a little of the chicken. No sauces. Nothing but the spices that went into it in the first place. "Try this by itself," he says. "You don't need to swallow it. You don't even need to chew it. Just try holding it in your mouth for -- say, five seconds. Then you can take it out again."
Unmei Tama 2017-03-18 00:50:42 73536
Unmei Tama nodded and, slowly, took the chicken and gently popped it into her mouth. It was a little softer than she liked. It made her jerk, just a little bit, but... it didn't make her dry heave. She slowly managed to make it through the five seconds, before she began to relax. She even chewed on it a little bit, before... actually managing to swallow it. She then held her mouth, her eyes wide. She waited for some reaction, but nothing came.

She then made a small yay sound. "I... I think I'm full, though," she mumbled. "T-thank you, Kun..." she said with a smile to him. She'd... probably need to eat a bit more than that. Just nothing too soft. But he was taking really good care of her, at least.
Kunzite 2017-03-18 00:57:11 73538
"I think that's what we need to aim for," he says, tipping his head toward her steadily. "Not putting pressure on you; things that there are no consequences for. Not pushing farther than you're ready for. Just teaching your body, a little at a time, that it's safe to be near these things again. If you don't have to actually eat it, there's no threat; if the test is only 'hold this for a few moments,' then those few moments will build over time, and you'll be able to tolerate it longer. Every time we push enough to make you a little sick, your body learns to be afraid. Every time you can relax a little like that, your body unlearns some of the fear. So we move gently, and slowly. There's time. You'll want to be able to handle things better by the time the hormone treatments really start to take effect -- but this is not something to rush."
Unmei Tama 2017-03-18 01:02:24 73539
Unmei Tama nodded and smiled up at him, giving him the biggest grin she could muster. "R-right. I need to... I need to be strong. And slow. Thank you, Kun... I..." She looked up at him, hugging herself a little. "I... thank you so much for helping me with this. I don't... know if I could have done this without you. I-I don't mean to be weak. I don't mean to be... so useless..." He could already hear her mom's voice, yelling at her.

'Stop being such a baby, finish your plate! You're wasting your food, thee are starving kids in africa!'

She sighed. "Should... I throw this away? Or..."
Kunzite 2017-03-18 01:27:59 73541
"We don't throw away food unless it'll make someone sick," Kazuo says, but it's an unremarkable tone, matter-of-fact as always. "We'll put it away for later. Kyouko or I will eat it, if no-one else does."

(To part of his mind, refrigerators remain a miracle more wonderful than any magical girl. Because they set ice, that might as well be magic, in the hands of anyone.)

He studies her for several moments, after that, the way he does when he's considering what to say. "You say that often enough," he says. "But you were strong enough to leave your family. To leave the place you grew up in, and the language you were used to hearing, and everyone and everything you knew. You made these," he gestures over the burritos, "very nearly from scratch. As much so as I could. That's a useful skill. Why then do you still call yourself weak? Why call yourself useless?"
Unmei Tama 2017-03-18 01:33:15 73543
Unmei Tama stared down at her plate. "N-no I didn't. I... i didn't do that. Pin did that. He did everything. He told me all I had to do, then Eclipse did it. I didn't have to do anything but smile and nod. They gave me a home, food, school. They gave me everything I needed to survive. I didn't do anything but let them decide where I did and how I did it." She slowly looked up.

"And I only made these because you were watching. You were there all along, helping me. It's more your accomplishment than mine. I mean, you're the great cook. I'm just kind of... your student. I mean..."

She gazed off to the side. "Even... now. With you doing everything. I... I still sometimes wonder about going back... there. Back to mommy and daddy. To just giving up on being Unmei and I... I sometimes think it would be best for everyone. How is that not weak?"
Kunzite 2017-03-18 01:44:17 73546
"I'm not the great cook," Kazuo says gravely. "That's Makoto. She's been teaching me for a year. I used to be able to cook back when -- you have to, when you're watching a couple of kids thirty miles' walk from the nearest town -- but that was all rough work, mostly boiling things over a fire. I didn't know how to turn a stove on when she started showing me what to do. A year ago I couldn't turn a dial; does that make me weak?"
Unmei Tama 2017-03-18 01:49:43 73547
Unmei Tama stared at him. Him, weak? She REFUSED to believe that. He was way, way too awesome to be weak! And cool! And nice! he was amazing! And, well, awesome. Finally she shook her head. "No. But i bet you never wanted to go back to those people who hurt you, did you? You're way too strong to do something that dumb."
Kunzite 2017-03-18 01:56:32 73549
Kazuo lets his eyebrows lift, and he regards Unmei steadily again. "To the person, know; Beryl is dead and gone. To that way of life? It would certainly be easier, in a number of ways. There are several people in the city who would be much less of a threat to the people in my charge if they were suddenly, conveniently dead. There are any number of types of attack that I can defend relatively poorly against now, that I would be able to turn to my advantage if I let certain self-imposed restrictions slacken. Not to mention that, when I adopt dark energy, I'm able to use it to enhance my capacity to hold energy; it literally makes me stronger for the duration. Of course it's a temptation. That's its nature. And therefore, of course, now and then I think about it, and am tempted. And occasionally I can even, for a little while, convince myself it would be the better choice. I use Mamoru's sense of ethics and moraliy as a guard against these things; as the conscience that I am not myself particularly well-equipped with. Does that make me weak?"
Unmei Tama 2017-03-18 01:58:47 73550
Unmei Tama stared at him. "Wait, sometimes you think about... but why? Everything here is so... perfect! Everyone is so nice and kind and--" Then it clicked.

"O-oh. You mean... oh my gosh. Kun... I never, I didn't mean to. I just meant that I..." She stared at him for a few moments, then lowered her eyes. "I'm sorry. I've been so stupid. Of course you have feelings like that. I'm just being selfish and... and greedy and only tihnking about myself. I'm sorry..."
Kunzite 2017-03-18 02:16:50 73553
"Unmei," Kazuo says calmly. Just her name, by itself, its own separate sentence with a little pause afterward. She's seen him do that now and again with some of the others -- 'Mamoru.' Or 'Jadeite,' on the occasions the blond boy's actually showing his face. It's a shorthand, sometimes for 'you are going down the wrong track, stop for a moment,' or sometimes outright for 'you're talking nonsense.'

"Nothing here is perfect, Unmei. Nothing anywhere is perfect. We have certain advantages that make it easier for us; Mamoru has a great deal of money, Zoisite is clever and sneaky, Nephrite has access to unusual sources of information, Mamoru's powers make it easier for us to find the weak places in our own thinking. But that only counterbalances the ways in which we are broken.

"Of course you think about going back. It was familiar -- literally so; family -- and the rest of this is strange, and frightening, and sometimes hurts. That's reasonable. And it's reasonable to remember the good parts, and to miss them. That isn't weakness. That's being human. Being human is, in general, far to be desired over the alternative.

"I find it interesting that you almost always say those things in that order, though. You insult yourself as weak, and then useless. Or as stupid, and then selfish, and then greedy, and then self-involved. Those aren't really your words, are they? Those are words that other people used to you."
Unmei Tama 2017-03-18 02:28:39 73555
Unmei Tama glanced up when he said that. Oh, she wasn't used to that. Well, okay, she probably was. But she knew it meant 'stay alert'. They weren't perfect? But...

And then he said that! Her eyes widened even more and he could feel the tears starting to form. "I... I guess... s-sometimes. Mom used to... call me... stupid a lot. When I didn't... agree with her, I guess. Or... or selfish for not doing what she said and then..." Oh, he'd definitely hit that one on the head. "B-but... but she was right. A-all I do is take. I mean. I don't... contribute anything, do I? I just... I just take. I'm not like you guys. I don't... I'm not clever and sneaky. I don't have access to any information. I don't have any special powers that actually help people, all I have is the whole... using used things thing. I don't even have my powers any more, I can't... help you guys fight or... or anything..." The tears started to flow down her cheeks. "I'm just taking your energy and being whiny and... and you all deserve someone so much better than me I'm sorry i shouldn't be talking about this I-I know you're going to t-tell me it's not true b-but what do I even do? What use am I to any of you?"
Kunzite 2017-03-18 02:42:19 73560
"Unmei," Kazuo says quietly. "Your family is not always right. Disagreeing with someone does not make you stupid. It may mean that you have not thought things through. It may mean that they have not thought things through. Calling you stupid for disagreeing with her only means that your mother was bad at being a mother.

"It is not the job of a child to be useful. It is the job of a child to learn. Some of that involves learning to do things that are useful, and why to do them, yes. But no-one comes fully equipped with skills and information and powers. Everyone has to learn to do things.

"The job of a parent is to protect their children, help them to survive, and teach them what they need to learn to become a functional adult.

"What your parents did was harm you, make it more difficult for you to survive, and teach you things that actively made it more difficult for you to become a functional adult. They taught you lies. They taught you lies about yourself, and demanded that you believe and reinforce them. Those insults you use against yourself? Those are some of those lies. Because they were, however terrible at the job, still your parents -- and children believe that what their parents say is true.

"You were able to see through some of the lies, and hold to a little of the truth. Now you need to learn to see through more of the lies, and see more of the truth. And you need to learn what they were failing to teach you of the skills that you need to live in society.

"We are teaching you some of those skills, and some of why to use them. There are others that you'll need, badly, to learn, especially about how to treat people you come into contact with, and why certain behaviors that you were taught were all right are not, in fact, all right. We'll teach you what we can of those.

"But the fact that you do not have those skills is not your fault, and is not some inherent flaw in you. It is because your parents fucked up. It is because they were bad at being parents. That may or may not have been their fault; I don't know, and I don't particularly care. But it remains not your fault. And it is not your job to be useful. It is your job to learn. And you are putting your heart into doing that."
Unmei Tama 2017-03-18 02:50:09 73561
Unmei Tama blinked and stared at him. Even as the tears flowed down her face, she listened to every word. Wanting confirmation. Him to say at least something, anything she did was contributing.

But he didn't. In fact, he as much as told her that she COULDN'T do anything to contribute.

And it was so, so much better. She started to full on bawl, covering her hands with her face as he said everything. She wasn't wrong. Or rather, she was wrong. She was wrong in so, so many ways. But it wasn't her fault and they were going to fix her and help her and she was going to learn.

"T-thank you..." she whispered, wiping her eyes. "T-thank you... s-so... so much... I..." She quivered in her chair. "Can... can I please have a hug? Please?" she asked gently, wiping her eyes as they kept flowing, trembling and making herself as small as she could in her chair.

Honestly, had anyone else told her those things, she wouldn't have believed them. But when he said them... they all made sense and locked into her mind.
Kunzite 2017-03-18 02:55:39 73562
He's already risen out of his seat, before she asks that; but it's only when she does ask that he comes around to rest a hand on her shoulder, then a moment later to slide an arm around her and lean against her other side. Not a full-on hug, but the sort of sidelong one that siblings sometimes use, or one old friend peering over another's shoulder at lunch.

Not less intent, for all that. If only because Unmei is one of those rare people who makes him realize that, for all that he grew up mostly-parentless in two different ways in two different lives --

-- there are still ways in which it might have been worse.
Unmei Tama 2017-03-18 03:00:54 73565
Unmei Tama latched onto him around the waist, hugging and holding on. In the way only a teenage girl who was heavily driven by emotions and hurting could do. It wasn't an affectionate or loving or even caring hug.

It was the hug of someone who just needed comfort. Who needed someone to be there for her. To let her cry and whine and get everything out and just feel all the pain melt away.

Eventually, the pain slowly began to leak away, like her tears, and her arms began to loosen, her eyes began to close and she just... laid there.

Her head pushed against his. Not in the way that was romantic or anything. Just... in the way sometimes a child needed an adult to be there, needed them to allow them to hold on and just have that presence nearby. That feeling of safety and knowing that nothing would be allowed to hurt them like this.

"Thank you. Is... is there... anything else you needed to say?" she mumbled softly, not wanting to pull away. Wanting to just be near him, for the time being.
Kunzite 2017-03-19 03:28:56 73611
Some people are made whole by comforting others. By being a source of stability and consolation. Kunzite is not remotely one of those people, except perhaps, to some extent, where two or three specific people are involved. He is, however, practiced. He's taken the role of the adult for a child to lean on for a very long time. And while he doesn't have the capacity for sheer endurance that Jadeite does, he's learned a great deal about patience.

And about -- from a certain bemused and not-always-comprehending distance -- the ways that most human beings need contact.

All of that means that he's there, and steady, while Unmei cries. That there are no complaints; that there is no rushing her. That, when her arms loosen and her head nudges against him, he ruffles her hair gently. The silent answer of of-course-it's-all-right that meets the question that bit of pressure never actually asked.

"There are things that you're going to need to hear," he says quietly, "at a time when you have it clear in your mind that the problems we need to talk about are problems that other people taught you, and not your fault at all. That might be now. But you also might need a little time for it to hurt less, first. So if we take a few minutes to let you breathe and relax, and then perhaps go out on the balcony to let you get some air. Will that be all right? Or will it still be too soon?"

Always questions, when he can. Even for things like that. Always trying to offer her at least a little bit of control.
Unmei Tama 2017-03-19 03:34:16 73612
Unmei Tama was silent for a long, long time. She laid there against him, just feeling his presence. A rock in the storm that was her life. Every word, every comfort there to support her.

She could never, ever do this on her own. She knew that. She was nowhere near strong enough. She tried, of course. She tried her hardest and worked so hard, but she always fell flat when she did it on her own.

And then he was there, to help her. She just waited, then, gently, she took his hand. "I... don't know if I'm ready or not. But... but I don't want to be held back. I want to... to keep going forward. Whatever you have to say... I'll listen. Because... because I know you'll be there for me regardless. And that means it'll be okay." Slowly she got to her feet, still holding his hand a little, but giving him a little space and a weak, gentle smile.
Kunzite 2017-03-19 03:47:00 73613
He leads her out on the balcony -- the one where the household's particular pet rosebush is; there are a lot of rosebushes around here, granted, but this is that one. The one that somehow always has thorns in the right place if someone treats it roughly, the one that the guys joke about spilling dirt out of its pot if it's not tended properly and on time, the one that they've given a name to. Sometimes some of them go out and talk to it, quietly. Sometimes for a long time.

Whatever they tell it, being a plant, it keeps their secrets.

There's a chair out there if Unmei wants it. Kazuo just leans against the railing, without taking his hand from hers.

"A lot of the things you were taught about people," he says, "hurt you. Some of them hurt other people by hurting you. Some of them hurt other people directly.

"You do a good job of not hurting other people when you know what you're doing it hurting them; much better than a lot of people do. But there's one behavior of yours that we need to talk about, because you were taught that it was harmless at worst, and doing people a favor at best -- but it actually hurts people. And that isn't something you've shown you want to be doing. So we need to talk about what it is, and why and how it's a problem, and how to tell when it's all right; all the things that your family should have taught you."
Unmei Tama 2017-03-19 03:53:45 73614
Unmei Tama followed him. Had... probably talked to that plant a few times ehrself. She didn't know why they did, she likely assumed it was just a plant. But, sometimes you needed someone to talk to who wasn't real, you know?

She looked worried then. "I've been hurting people? What have I been doing? I'm so sorry, I never meant to. I... what... what is it? What have I been doing? I'll stop it immediately, okay?" she said quickly, looking worried and a little frantic, as always.
Kunzite 2017-03-19 03:58:02 73615
(It's funny how the human mind works. It's so easy, talking to that plant, to convince oneself that wind in the leaves is like one of those noises people make to indicate they're paying attention, go on...)

Kazuo lifts his far hand just a little, as if to ease her. "Not since you've been here," he says. "But before, sometimes. Unmei, here's a question for you; I'm not looking for any right answer, only to see what you think right now. When is it all right to kiss someone?"
Unmei Tama 2017-03-19 04:04:34 73616
Unmei Tama blinked a few times. Then turned bright scarlet. "O-oh. That was... oh." She covered her face with her hands. "I-I know not to... not to do that," she squeaked. "T-that was... I-I mean, err... I mean... I..." She wanted to die. Oh gosh, she was so embarassed. "It's... err... I-I mean unless s-someone likes you or they... o-oh gosh..."

She sat down and covered her face with her hands. "I-I won't k-kiss people anymore." Oh she wanted to dieeeeee! So embarrassed. "I'm sorry. I just kind of got... caught up in the excitement of finally being allowed to hug people and things like that... and then when Gluttony got more... powerful, it was so easy to turn hugs into kisses and... oh..."
Kunzite 2017-03-19 04:10:22 73617
The balcony is a good place for being embarrassed. Kunzite's looking over that way, he can pretend he sees nothing of that. He doesn't, granted, keep his reaction entirely invisible -- there's a faint note of amusement in his tone, though it has nothing of mockery. "That's appreciated," he says. "Though your girlfriend might object, if you decide not to kiss anyone at all, ever. But that's not quite the question I asked. If it's only something you're not supposed to do, then it's easy to decide that that's not a real problem; easy to get tempted into doing more. If you have reasons behind it, it's easier to resist the temptation. So. When is it all right? And why is it all right then, and not all right other times?"
Unmei Tama 2017-03-19 04:13:06 73618
Unmei Tama squirmed in her seat. It was a different kind of squirming. Normally she did it because she was scared or upset or any number of things. This time? She was just embarrassed. Like a child learning what they did was wrong. "B-because... they might not like it."

Her cheeks were burning. "And I should only do it when someone likes me in that manner. Like... I guess Yuzu does. Right? I won't do it anymore, honest." Oh gosh she couldn't be more embarrassed, she was certain.
Kunzite 2017-03-19 04:16:34 73619
"Let's say that a couple of people you knew were dating," Kazuo says. "And one of them also liked you in that manner. Would it be all right for you to kiss her, then?" He cocks his head just a little, echoing the query physically, without -- again -- actually turning his head to see that blush.
Unmei Tama 2017-03-19 04:19:12 73620
Unmei Tama hummed and thought about it for a moment and... "Yep!" Oh dear. "Because they like me and I like them then, right? So it's okay for us to kiss!" oh Unmei, nooooo! She gave Kun a big grin, awaiting his approval.
Kunzite 2017-03-19 04:25:46 73621
Kazuo glances aside at Unmei now, steady. "So," he says. "By that logic, if someone likes you, that's reason enough for you to be able to ignore that they may have made a promise to someone else about who they would or wouldn't kiss. Or to be able to ignore that they might or might not want to kiss you in that moment, or in front of that group of people. Or at all."

He glances to an otherwise empty corner of the balcony for no immediately obvious reason. "You're doing well in a number of ways, but I think there might be one or two conditions you haven't thought of yet."
Unmei Tama 2017-03-19 04:28:06 73622
Unmei Tama stared at him. "W-what? But i thought you meant if they... I-i mean, if they want to kiss me, and I want to kiss them, then it's okay, right? But... but if they don't want me to kiss them, and I want to kiss them, it's not alright, right?" she tried again, her cheeks burning bright red.

"I'm sorry. I'm not... good at any of this, b-but I'll try!"
Kunzite 2017-03-19 04:45:46 73624
Kazuo leans a little more on the railing -- sideways, now, one forearm propped against it. He has a lot of confidence in its structural integrity, apparently. "Mamoru kissed me for the first time out here," he says, straightforward. "But he and his girlfriend were already seeing one another. If he hadn't talked to her about it first, and gotten her permission -- not reluctant permission, but real -- I'd have been appalled. If he'd tried to kiss me over at the Crown, where people could have seen it, where it'd have been made a spectacle, where given the way other people react to same-sex relationships in this country it would have damaged his reputation and Usagi's both, and possibly injured his chances of getting into medical school -- I'd have been appalled for entirely different reasons.

"So either of those situations -- whether or not he'd talked with Usagi, or where and when he'd chosen -- could have made it not all right for him to kiss me regardless of whether I wanted to kiss him.

"I asked you a little bit of a trick question, Unmei. I'm not certain that I have a solution for it myself. The best I've been able to come up with is 'when everyone involved agrees that it's all right.' Bearing in mind that sometimes it's tricky to figure out who everyone involved is.

"But that still leaves the question of why that answer would be right, when other answers that might seem right, aren't. What the principles involved are. So. Might it be right, or not? And why? Do you have any ideas?"
Unmei Tama 2017-03-19 04:49:02 73625
Unmei Tama nodded and listened and then...

"W-wait. Dating someone of the same sex is... bad here?" The color was draining now. "But... but what about Yuzu? she wants to become famous and awesome! what if her dating me costs her that? What if she can't because of that?" she askes, looking mildly panicked now. "I-I was the one who pushed her and... oh no. I'm... I'm the worst girl friend ever... what if I... if I cost her everything?" she asked softly.

She was quivering a little. "I... I guess it'd be wrong if... if they didn't want to. Or... people they... respected were watching. Or when I'm a guy. Or if they're in the middle of something important."
Kunzite 2017-03-19 04:58:06 73626
"What if you're getting distracted," Kazuo says. "We'll talk about Yuzu in a few minutes." And maybe talk about her tendency to condemn herself a little more. No, there are only so many miracles that could be pulled off in one night.

"All of the things you suggested are covered by 'when everyone agrees that it's all right.' The fundamental principle involved is called 'bodily autonomy' -- the idea that, as a general rule, no-one else should attempt to dictate to someone what they do with their body. There are limits, obviously. Punching someone for no reason is an exercise in doing what you want with your own body, but it violates your target's body, and therefore violates that principle. Governments may tell you 'no, we believe that you have to wear a seat belt, and also clothing.' But as a general rule, not kissing someone without their active permission is a display of the same kind of courtesy, on the same principle, as not stabbing them -- or not making you suffer through living as a boy. Does that make sense to you?"
Unmei Tama 2017-03-19 05:01:22 73627
Unmei Tama would need quite a few miracles to break that FIRST hurdle. One step at a time. She nodded, listening and... "R-right. So... basically only do to them what is okay with both me and them, and don't do things with my body that... affect... them..."

Now she looked confused. "But... be trying to be a girl did affect them. Mom always told me how embarrassing it was and how I was humiliating the family talking like that. That's affecting them a lot," she said, sounding confused again. Well, she was really trying! Not doing the bed, but trying!
Kunzite 2017-03-19 05:04:16 73628
"Did it bruise them?" Kazuo says. "Did it make them bleed? Did the pronoun that you used for yourself, or what you liked to wear, in and of itself somehow lock them into a single room, or inject itself into their bloodstream?"
Unmei Tama 2017-03-19 05:05:52 73629
Unmei Tama looked very confused then and shook her head. "No? But... I don't see the difference? If... if I caused them emotional pain, isn't that the same as hurting them? Or does emotional pain not count? I-I'm sorry. I know I should know all this. I'm sorry..." She hugged herself again, lowering her gaze. To her credit, she was trying -really- hard to get it all right.
Kunzite 2017-03-19 05:20:23 73630
"We're talking specifically about bodily autonomy right now," Kazuo says. "Not causing people emotional pain unnecessarily is also a good idea, in general. But in that case --"

Kazuo shifts, straightening up, and gestures outward. "First, there's that for the most part, it wasn't your actions that were causing trouble; it was other people's reactions to them. Second, there's the question of necessity. Your mother was telling you that her being embarrassed was more important than you having what you needed to live. There are general terms for that kind of behavior. Most of them are extraordinarily impolite."

"Third -- I will not, this time, assert that your mother was a bad mother solely for saying that. It is possible that, for instance, your family's support depended on the opinion of people who disliked the behavior. But telling you that you yourself were inherently wrong was the worst possible solution to that kind of problem. One that damaged you, and damaged your family, and resulted in her sabotaging herself and her intent as well as you.

"And fourth. If their emotional pain counts. Doesn't yours?"
Unmei Tama 2017-03-19 05:27:24 73631
Unmei Tama opened her mouth to object, then froze. Doesn't hers? She hadn't really thought about that. Didn't her pain and suffering matter? She was the one most hurt by it. So... "I... I guess. But if I didn't... less people got hurt. And... and mom was... the supporter. And dad was. So doesn't that make them more important?"

She then sighs. "But... I guess it's why I ran away... so maybe it wasn't the... best... thing they could have done." She nodded slightly. "So... don't cause people... problems. When I kiss them. And only do it when they want me to do it there. Right?"
Kunzite 2017-03-19 05:46:29 73632
"It's a parent's job," Kazuo says quietly, "to take care of their children. Sometimes that involves doing something that hurts a child a little -- but there's a balance. Children don't like their doctors giving them shots. But a few moments of pain and a tiny risk of side effects are well worth immunity to diseases that used to kill children by the thousands, and could again. What your parents did, though -- well. No parents are perfect. But the term for intentionally making a child hate herself is 'abuse,' Unmei."

He leaves that stand, and breathes out; and says again, "The best rule I've been able to find is 'when everyone involved gives permission.' That covers situations, since it means that if the situation has changed, you should check to see if it's still all right. That covers problems, since it lets them choose what sort of problems they find to be worth taking on -- as Yuzu did, and does. Musicians often have license that other people don't. That covers the case when someone involved is dating a third party; that third party is part of everyone. And that covers the problem with 'when everyone involved is all right with it,' because Mamoru is the only person I know who can see when people are all right with it, and it's unfortunately easy to guess wrong; I have more than one friend who are in situations right now caused by people guessing wrong and the person they guessed wrong about refusing to say anything." He pauses for a moment, his expression going wry. "Even Mamoru guesses wrong, sometimes, too. And he and I both worry that the best rule we've been able to find might steer us wrong, sometimes. That's just something to live with."
Unmei Tama 2017-03-19 05:49:54 73633
Unmei Tama stared at him. "W-what? No! My parents never abused me!" she said quickly, shaking her head. "They just wanted what was best for me, that's all, and it just so happened that what was best for me made... me..." She then blinked a few times and stared, her mouth falling open. "I... I was abused?" she asked softly, sounding very confused and worried. "But I... but my parents loved me. Didn't they?" And now she seemed even more confused and worried. "I-I'm sorry... I don't even... I..."

She shook her head and focused on the other things. "Oh. So long as Yuzu is okay with it the, it's okay?" she asked with a smile. "I think I can do that."
Kunzite 2017-03-19 06:01:56 73634
"If your parents wanted what was best for you," Kazuo says, flatly, "then either they were incredibly stupid about determining what was best for you, they were badly deceived about what was best for you, or they were so deeply overworked by other matters that they were incapable of acting on their desire in any reasonable way. They scarred you sufficiently badly that you presume, every time that anything goes wrong, that you are at fault and the only reasonable thing for anyone else to do would be to cut all ties with you. This is incorrect. Fortunately, the people around you now understand that it's incorrect, and where that incorrect belief comes from, and do not blame you."

That last question prompts Kazuo's eyebrows to lift. "That's not what I said," he answers. "For it to be okay for you to be kissing anyone, there are at least three people all of whom would have to be okay with the kiss and the situation. Yuzu. You. The person you might hypothetically be kissing. Anyone that that person might be involved with."

Another moment's pause, and an amendment: "This presumes you initiating the kissing. If someone kissed you without your consent, it would probably not be okay, but your involvement in it would not be the problem."
Unmei Tama 2017-03-19 06:07:31 73635
Unmei Tama cocked her head to the side, then eeped. "N-no! I meant when I kissed Yuzu!" She then blinked. "Wait, kiss me? Why would someone kiss me? I don't think ANYONE has ever done that. I'm not really pretty enough for that," she said with a snicker.

Oh there was a whole barrel of things to talk about there... Maybe they needed some cocoa. She then glance out towards the night and sighed. "Kun... do... you think I'll ever be... right? In the head? Like... able to function like a normal person, I mean? And not be so... .awful? At all the things?" she asked, gently getting to her feet. "What if I can't end up figuring it all out in the end? And keep... messing up. Will you keep helping me then?"
Kunzite 2017-03-19 06:23:37 73636
"Well then. Kissing Yuzu yourself does simplify things tremendously." ... that time Kazuo might be teasing her. Just a little. "As for why -- well. Pretty is in the eye of the beholder. Or in the makeup skills. And not everyone worries about prettiness to begin with."

... Kazuo himself is definitely not in the 'not worried about prettiness' category, granted.

Her later questions are good ones, though. "I'm not the best person to ask that," he answers. "My head seems in order to me, but Mamoru thinks there are problems, and dreamwalkers get unreasonably alarmed by even brief visits. So perhaps I should say instead that apparently even people who aren't right in the head can learn to function on a day-to-day basis.

"As for the future -- I can't make that promise, Unmei. Not out of any disdain for you. But because I will not make any promise that might conflict with my responsibilities to Mamoru, and I cannot predict the future. If something happens that threatens him sufficiently, I won't have time or attention to spare for anything else. But he's concerned about your well-being, too. So he wouldn't leave you with no help at all."
Unmei Tama 2017-03-19 06:29:01 73637
Unmei Tama nodded. "I see." She leaned against the railing a bit. She didn't trust it all the way. But... She trusted Kun. She knew if anything happened to her, he'd catch her. But that was fine.

She then glanced over and... looked quizical. "Can... I ask what I'm sure is a stupid question?" she said. Then... "Should I want to kiss you and Mamo?" She frowned. "I... honestly feel I should? But... I don't. But I like kissing boys. And you two are definitely more than attractive. I mean, I love kissing Kukai which is something I'm going to not do anymore!" she added quickly. "But... when I'm close to you, that idea, that... want? Never comes up. And... I feel it should? Is there something... wrong with me? With that?" Oh yeah, just... just throw that at kun.
Kunzite 2017-03-19 06:34:18 73638
"Contrary to the ideas spread by American media," Kazuo says, "not everyone is attracted in that way to everyone else who happens to look nice and be of the appropriate gender. This is perfectly normal and reasonably healthy. And, in fact, it honestly does not matter whether you find everyone attractive in that way, or no-one at all, or any configuration in between. There is nothing wrong with any of those possibilities."
Unmei Tama 2017-03-19 06:37:25 73639
Unmei Tama nodded and then... "Ummm... I... I think that's everything I wanted to talk with you about. And... and I hope you wanted to talk with me about? But..." She inched a little closer. "Can... I have another hug? If that's okay?" she asked softly, chewing on her lower lip. "Sorry." Granted, once she was in them...

"... Is it... weird... that I want to hug with people so much? Mom used to say I shouldn't do it since... well... it was weird to want to hug as a..." She trailed off. "I just... really like it. It makes me feel... safe."
Kunzite 2017-03-19 06:47:41 73640
"This is one of those questions that is going to get you a stack of magazine articles," Kazuo says, but the dry note in his tone is getting familiar, too, and it hasn't proved to be a threat signal yet. He puts an arm around Unmei's shoulders, compromise half-hug. "I believe I may still have them in order from when Mamoru gave them to me, though for a different reason. The gist of them is that human bodies are wired to interpret certain kinds of physical contact as a signal that, yes, you are safe. That you are protected by other human beings, that the group has not abandoned you, that you have a place with other people where you are accepted. It eases the load of stress hormones on your body, makes you sleep better, makes physical and emotional pain both hurt less. One of them was about a study on professional basketball teams; the more comfortable the teammates were with touching each other at the beginning of the season, the better the team did at the end. So if you're weird. So are the basketball players. And nearly every human infant ever born."
Unmei Tama 2017-03-19 06:52:02 73641
Unmei Tama nodded slowly and then gave his hand a little squeeze. "And... you won't abandon me. I... I know that. So long as Mamo isn't in need or isn't mad at me, I know you guys won't abandon me," she said softly, closing her eyes and relaxing.

"It's nice waking up here. You know? Knowing I'm... somewhere I'm wanted. I... I'm happy I came to you when I needed help. I'm happy Yuzu brought me here to that party. I'm... I'm happy I left home even if I had to do bad things. I feel like... I feel like I really have a future now. That I can really, really be whoever I want to be. Once i figure out who that is. Who knows? Maybe I'll want to be a doctor, too," she said with a silly grin.
Kunzite 2017-03-19 07:02:56 73642
"Maybe," Kazuo agrees. "Or a therapist. Or an advocate. Or a politician, working on changing the laws; or someone in the media, working on telling other people in your old situation that there will be places they're wanted, too. Or maybe you'll find your heart set on working as an accountant, or at the Ghibli Museum. We're looking forward to finding out, too."

A breath's pause. "But if you find out by borrowing our textbooks this April, remember that we need them back. University isn't as demanding as high school for some of us, but we will need at least to pretend to do the work, and Mamoru is actually serious about it."
Unmei Tama 2017-03-19 07:06:18 73644
Unmei Tama nodded. "I would never steal books like that!" she said matter of factly. "That'd just be mean!"

Then she blinked. Her eyes widened. "W-wait. I could... oh my gosh! Why didn't I think of that! Maybe I could work in a museum! I could be a sexy archeologist!" ... Okay, the sexy wasn't needed. She then snorted. "Well, okay, maybe not. But museums are pretty cool places. My dad used to take me to them when i was younger, and we'd spend a lot of time just watching the history channel and he'd always tell me all these neat little trivia things and it was so cool."
Kunzite 2017-03-19 07:13:58 73645
"Mn. I might have to lend you a book or two, later." That's all Kazuo says to her enthusiasm.

... then again, his not talking about something is sometimes a signal that he finds it interesting, too. And the shows that he doesn't protest watching with her often enough invoke his telling her trivia about the time periods depicted, too.
Unmei Tama 2017-03-19 07:24:00 73647
Unmei Tama nodded and then started to tug him back inside. "Come on, let's go watch something, okay? I think they'res a really cool documentary on those clay pots and how they used to do them in medieval times!" she said happily.

Granted, if he came to sit with her, she'd... not lay on him or anything. Even gave him his space. Let him decide how close he wanted to sit by her, and if he wanted to let her nestle into his chest.
Kunzite 2017-03-19 07:29:37 73648
There is a general rule: unless there is a pressing reason, Kazuo usually seats himself away from other people. Even the other people he's dating.

... that usually doesn't spare him from Mamoru coming over and leaning on him or Zoisite actually using him as mobile furniture. But they have privileges.