Leaving Scars

Sailor Mercury and Endymion combine her research (that is, her repurposing some of Lacrima's and Miss White's techniques, in combination with the Maze card) and his magic to give Alexis another chance at being a human being. Well. A teenager, anyway. Close enough. (Content warning: language, detailed injuries.)

Date: 2017-04-27
Pose Count: 23
Mamoru Chiba 2017-04-27 23:53:33 75349
It's twilight, what some might say is the most auspicious or powerful time for bridges and gateways, though others may claim dawn or noon or midnight. In this case, of the four, twilight is the most convenient for all concerned parties, given school schedules and preferred activity windows. It might take hours, after all, and no one wants Ami to have to go through another day of school without having slept.

The apartment with Naru's murals and the the tiled mosaic floors is currently filled with the scent of rose honey and cardamom -- perhaps Mamoru is apologizing to Kunzite for something. Perhaps he's been distracting himself. Philip Glass is playing in the background again, but this time it's a collection of piano etudes: nothing frenetic, only mellow and liquid, sometimes melancholy and sometimes wistful.

There's a rather rebleached and weathered cotton sheet draped over a plastic sheet draped over the couch, this time. There is much more aesthetically pleasing burfi on the counter, cooling before it can be refrigerated, too.
Alexis Raskoph 2017-04-28 00:12:46 75350
Tap, tap, tap, the telltale sound of footsteps echoes from further down to mark the approach of one (1) Alex-- assumably coming from the way of his very own dedicated hangover room over thataway. The german vampire's dressed much the same s usual, save the shirt that Norie brought him before has been replaced with a collarless button-up.

He doesn't make any vocal announcement of his presence-- not that anyone really needs him to do so, at this point, considering everything. That is-- he doesn't do so until he's come rounding the sheet-covered couch to study the thing with a faint, thoughtful frown, at which point he murmurs, "I guess this is going to be my seating for the day."
Kazuo Takeba 2017-04-28 00:17:32 75351
"Our seating," Kazuo notes, from where he's standing. Which is presently leaned against the back of that couch. "Or at least yours and Mamoru's. I'm not absolutely certain where I'll be more useful, this time."

He is not eyeing the counter. He does not even have line-of-sight on the counter. Right now.
Ami Mizuno 2017-04-28 00:20:47 75352
The wall parts, revealing a subspace corridor with Sailor Mercury standing only a step away. She enters and lets it close behind her, then glances over her shoulder in thought. For a moment she seems uncertain. That moment passes, and Sailor Mercury leaves the kitchen for the livingroom.

"Hi," she greets the others. "Sorry if I'm late." Because she is the last one here. "The Maze got a little ... distracted. Anyways," she says with a smile, "how is everyone?"
Mamoru Chiba 2017-04-28 00:31:42 75353
Prince Endymion comes in from the hallway leading to where his bedroom is, and he looks like he just washed his face and ran his hands through his hair, all capes and military-looking jackets aside. The armor's not in evidence-- just the clothing under it. Not even pauldrons. He looks composed.

(He took a Xanax.)

"Good," he says with a short breath that's almost like a laugh. "Mercury, Raskoph," he greets with an inclination of his head. "Not sure how long it'll take without Hansuke present to assist. The ideal location would've been the Palaces, but I don't want to let dark energy loose there if it can be helped. Second best location would be outdoors, on the ground, but the dark energy might be even more of a beacon if we're secluded-- and if we're not, there's too much of a chance of being happened upon by the unwary jogger. So, here it is, unless it turns out I can't summon enough energy, in which case--"

Here's where Endymion lifts a hand to rub at the back of his neck. "I took precautionary dramamine." (He did. Loaded up, this kid.) "If we need to relocate in a hurry, I'll be busy; can the two of you handle our transport?"

'Good' apparently means 'nervous and putting it away by going straight to business'.
Alexis Raskoph 2017-04-28 00:36:58 75354
"...I suddenly have this very distinct feeling," mutters Alex with a look sent to Endymion first, and then to Kunzite and Mercury. "...That I am being treated like an active atom bomb. Not... sure how to feel about that." His head is shook quickly after that statement. "... I should probably sit down, shouldn't I?"
Kazuo Takeba 2017-04-28 00:41:45 75355
"Of course not," Kazuo says to Alex, deadpan. "We haven't yet designed a robot to send in to deal with you."

He tips his head to Endymion on the subject of transport, and includes Mercury in it with a little arc. "Preferred destination if we need to relocate in a hurry? If we're risking joggers, we should pick a locale; if we're risking the other -- mine's not as conducive as some, but is less likely to have immediate consequences before we can handle cleanup; if we choose that one, though, I should take a moment to make sure someone's not in a pranking mood."
Ami Mizuno 2017-04-28 00:47:35 75356
"W...well," Sailor Mercury starts to correct Kunzite, as she pulls out the ring, "there is a miniature computer in the ring, now," she says with a faint grin. "So it's not a robot, but ... it's close." She giggles at the irony, then reaches up to summon her visor by pinching one of the earings in her left ear.

"Transport shouldn't be necessary," Mercury says as she approaches Alexis. "Have a seat," this last to the patient in question. Mercury reaches up to touch Alexis's forehead with her palm, and holds it there for a moment, as if using her hand like some sort of sensory device. The numbers and letters scroll across her screen quickly, then she nods and steps away.

"Alright, first some explanations, for Prince Endymion's sake," Mercury says. "This procedure should be relatively simple. The ring is programmed to inhibit all access to the dusk zone. Furthermore, it has a link to my visor so that I can keep tabs on the process as it goes. Five to ten seconds after the ring is in place, he should be entirely purged of Dark Energy. At that point, I will begin feeding him Light energy from a battery I've put together. I have enough power to keep him alive for thirty minutes. During that time, you will need to repair his physical injuries. Meanwhile, I will be surgically severing him from the Dusk Zone on a more permanent basis."

Ami clears her throat, then looks to Alexis, "Risks: if Endymion cannot heal you in the time alotted, you may die. You may also wind up in a partially healed state which can be repaired over more time. However, once I completely sever you from the dusk zone, there's no going back. You won't be able to draw on it to sustain your life force any further."
Mamoru Chiba 2017-04-28 01:10:44 75357
"...there's about fifteen pounds of assorted sashimi in the fridge," Endymion offers Kunzite-- and then Mercury's explaining, and the prince looks intrigued-- and then relieved. "Ah," he says, shoulders relaxing slightly. "I can't heal that amount of bone damage in a half hour, even without the darkness fighting me and without having to also provide life support. But I'll at least be able to get you stable," he tells Alexis, turning to look at him instead for a moment, "heal you enough that I can continue the life support while we do move you."

He glances at Kunzite again, then back to Mercury, and shrugs lightly. "I can channel energy much more directly there. And with the cutoff you've designed, this wouldn't make a mess like I was afraid of. But it's all right-- we can start here, and it'll be safe to finish there."
Kazuo Takeba 2017-04-28 01:14:43 75358
"Cartilage, do you think?" Kazuo asks Endymion. "Or not time for even that? Just so that I know the degree of caution we'll need." And whether he'll need to improvise a stretcher. He sounds ... immensely unconcerned, in some ways. As if what Mercury and Endymion have been saying makes sense to him, and is something he interprets as meaning everything really is now under control.

His eyes do flicker Mercury's direction, when she mentions the battery. But he says not a word.
Alexis Raskoph 2017-04-28 01:19:50 75359
All of this, that is spoken around him, Alex takes in with the kind of solemnity of a patient listening to doctors giving estimations on the likelihood of a life-saving surgery being a success. Which, considering the situation, is perhaps not that far off comparison either.

It all leaves him silent for a moment, and staring at the floor.

"...So," he sighs out, then. "Either I get cured or I die. Is what you are saying." The last time the ring was brought into play, he already had his moment of considering his own mortality-- so it doesn't take all that long for him to turn to lowering himself sitting upon the couch, carefully, with his hands going lightly onto his knees. A deep breath taken in with that.

"...On the off chance that something goes wrong," he murmurs then, with his eyes slowly going closed. "...Can you arrange to make it seem like... I just ran? My parents. They can deal with a failure of a son. I'm not sure if they can with a dead one."
Ami Mizuno 2017-04-28 01:40:10 75360
"It'll be fine," Mercury replies to Alexis quietly. "Endymion's healed worse than this." Probably. She smiles, then sets the rings down on the table beside Alexis. Then, she summons another device from nowhere: this looks almost like a small plastic bag, except that it moves like it's got some gelatin within it. And it glows with a soft white light; not brilliant, but certainly beautiful to behold. The senshi takes the light and holds it up above Alexis, where it begins to hover entirely on its own.

"If everyone's ready," Mercury says, looking to Endymion, "We can begin with Alexis donning the ring. It should be far less traumatic this time, since the ring is tuned to wean you from the darkness so that I have time to apply the light energy."
Mamoru Chiba 2017-04-28 01:53:45 75361
Endymion shakes his head at Kunzite. "Don't want to go into order of operations. Don't want to think about it--"

He reaches to lightly and briefly touch Kunzite's hand, taking a half-step to do so; the request is simple and clear, the image of cloth covering Alexis' face. "But no, cartilage is later. A gurney would be helpful but isn't necessary; if you want to drag it out of the hall closet now, that's fine. I'll be fine unless I'm not, and you'll know."

He gives Alexis a crooked smile and nods toward Mercury. "I have. This asshole," he indicates Kunzite with his thumb, "has gotten himself impaled way too many times. Mercury only once that I know of... but the worst was when Kunzite was impaled on stalagmites at the bottom of a forty meter drop, and I put him back together just fine. I mean, it was forty meters to spiky stone. Honestly the spikes were the least of his problems. Also? I was eight and had to learn how as I went. You're not going to die. But you are going to have to take your shirt off, please."
Kazuo Takeba 2017-04-28 02:03:12 75362
Kazuo covers the prince's hand with his own for a moment, nodding back to him. It's to Alex that he speaks, though. "On the off chance," he says, "yes. But as they're telling you. You're going to live."

Granted, that may not have been the desired result, necessarily.

He paces quietly off to fetch that gurney. He's in uniform when he returns with it, cape and all.
Alexis Raskoph 2017-04-28 02:22:46 75363
"I'm not the kind of guy to not be prepared, still," Alex insists with a shake of his head-- though it turns to a nod directed towards Kazuo's direction over his own assurance. It's a gesture that speaks faintly of gratitude.

In the meantime, though, he's taking to unbuttoning his shirt already, without complaint. This isn't exactly something he's very queasy about, apparently. Once the garment's slid off-- there's no actual visible sign of the wounds that are the most immediate concern, but that is most certainly on account of the dark energy interacting with him. There *are* scars, but no one in the room is likely to mistake them for anything other than something gained before this whole mess. And once the shirt's been tossed away, he holds out his hand towards Mercury, palm up. "Ring."
Ami Mizuno 2017-04-28 02:40:53 75364
Mercury inclines her head just faintly, and drops the ring into Alexis' hand. "Very well," she says quietly, "let's begin."

Once Alexis puts the ring on, Mercury reaches up and touches the glowing orb over his head. She concetrates a moment, then draws a line of light from it like a tendril of power. She leans down and affixes that light to Alexis' bare chest, right over his heart. But it doesn't seem to be doing anything. Not yet.

A few moments later, as Alexis' wounds begin to reappear, Mercury taps the light ... and power begins to flow clearly into him, pulsing and humming softly as it fights against the damage that the dark energy had been hiding.
Mamoru Chiba 2017-04-28 03:24:00 75365
There's a brief and grateful smile at Kunzite, and then the prince is shrugging out of his cape and jacket, letting them pool on the floor behind him; it's not a fear of getting the magical cloth dirty, as the shirt beneath the jacket is white, it's just less distraction, less weight, less pull of fabric against motion.

He stays standing until the ring Mercury's handed over is on Alex's finger, and steadies him as the wounds reappear and the lights go out again; he lowers Alexis gently and swiftly to lie down on the couch, one glowing hand already over the gaping wound.

Kunzite's gone off to get the gurney, so Mamoru just yanks the sheet down to settle lightly over the boy's face before he--

(it was pitch black, he couldn't see, and that made it possible)

--puts his hands, both of them, inside the immense and rapidly welling wound--

(he'd learned to shove the concept of 'person' away, of 'most important person' away, and deal only with the details)

--and begins to seal things rapidly to prevent more blood loss, first. The energy is part of the life support; it means his own energy can be used for the tasks of re-growing tissue and muscle and artery and vein and capillary, of nerve and sinew-- but the other part is directing that energy, making sure it keeps his brain and what's left of his spinal cord prioritized while Alex's heart is stopped, is being rebuilt. Once the heart is rebuilt and the blood flowing to the brain again--

(endless ice and snow stained red around them, pouring so much ener--NO)

--he can divert the magical energy IV toward the vital organs that depend on Alex's damaged CNS, on the autonomic, and rebuild the f-- no, the life support goes to the brain and heart, the blood won't do anything for his brain while his lungs have a gaping hole through them; it's more complicated when it's not his own energy, when it has to be directed, when it's not sapient like an assisting healer would obviously be, and Mamoru is breathing shallowly.

(Keep it in order. It's all interdependent, yes, but: just keep it on his brain, and everything else can synchronize with-- the heartbeat of the small boy in the deep, dark hole, the breath that clouded where it couldn't be seen.)

It's easier after that, and easier still when Endymion remembers to close his eyes, because he doesn't see the past behind his eyelids; he forsakes vision entirely, and his other normal human senses fade to the background, and he loses himself in his connection to the deep tissue and vital organs he's repairing. His hands move only to hold things in place as the glow brightens to speed their rebuilding--

(this son of his planet is as much a part of it as he is, as the trees and rivers and mountains and meadows are, and that connection is harder to hold on to up here, but it helps to ground him anyway; Kunzite helps even more, and can feel Endymion's reaching for that help even if he's managed to bury his panic in a time when he could stay calm)

--and by the time the half-hour is up, Alexis is still far from healed, but he's stable enough for transit-- and Endymion still has enough energy left to keep Alex's vital functions in synch with his own while they're moved. Not much of a buffer, but a little. It's a buffer that wouldn't have been there without the magical PHEM Mercury devised, and it's a buffer that wouldn't have done anything at all had the dusk zone been fighting him, and Endymion can't even stop to thank or praise the Senshi of Wisdom yet.

There's only a short-of-breath "Palace. Now."
Kazuo Takeba 2017-04-28 03:51:46 75366
Odds of Alexis flailing cloth off of his face are nonzero. Kunzite shifts, even a the beginning, to bring his cape up between Alexis's face and Mamoru, between Alexis's eyes and any hint of the work being done -- what he can probably feel is likely bad enough without any risk of being able to see -- but unconsciousness may come again, and may be a mercy. He keeps well clear of the light, and of the light's channel that Mercury drew --

(It's when Endymion closes his eyes that Kunzite lifts his own hand and places it on the side of Endymion's face. Not a contact he'll necessarily register as physical, and not a contact that will go live unless Endymion begins to draw on him -- but if he needs that external calm, that quiet stability, he has a source to draw on.)

And when the reason he changed at the beginning of this is called out --

Darkness begins to well up around himself and Alexis and Endymion before the first word's finished being spoken. It's a callout to Mercury of where they're going, more than anything else; Kunzite can only take a highly limited number of passengers.

They are in the apartment. They are nowhere in the dark, but Mamoru's connection and the darkness around them keep them together.

They are in a courtyard, under a more southern sky, stars fiercely bright without a trace of cityglow to dim them. The center of the courtyard is a broad channel with a low trace of water reflecting that sky; there's the scent of living, growing plants in the dry and cooling air, but none have grown tall enough to become a concern of any kind.

And there is an immense shape shifting in one corner of the courtyard, and a deep voice of gravel. "This can't be right. You brought me lunch?"

"Shut up or help," Kunzite says flatly toward it.

"Corpse disposal is helping."

"He's not a fucking corpse. Endymion has fifteen pounds of sashimi if you do something constructive."

The Clydesdale-sized caracal yawns and lumbers closer. "You could have started with that part."
Ami Mizuno 2017-04-28 05:11:32 75367
Severing someone's connection to magic isn't an act Mercury has spent a lot of time dwelling on. In fact, she probably wouldn't really know how to do it, if it weren't for how much time she's spent studying dark energy beings like Takashi, Norie, Alexis, and Kunzite before he was reborn.

The truth is, if this were being done for any other reason, Ami would consider her own plans repugnant. One doesn't simply destroy someone's link to the magical realm. It's borderline evil.

And yet, knowledge is knowledge: it's not the knowledge itself that is wrong, nor even the application of that knowledge. It's all the why of it, and the how of it that really matters.

As Mamoru begins knitting bone and sinew together the hard way, Sailor Mercury adjusts her visor and looks downard, deeper into Alexis' core. There, she finds a small organ shared by most creatures--magical or otherwise. The Guardians of Seiyou would call it a Heart's Egg. The mages of Belka and Midchilda might label it the Linker Core. Hindu, Jainists, and Buddhists would call it the Solar chakra: the root of personal power, laughter, joy, and anger. Perhaps, on a philosophical level, there would be arguments why none of these descriptions are of the same thing.

But to Ami, the name is not what's relevant. Sailor Mercury finds the spark of magic in Alexis, and reaches out to it with magic all her own. It was the Puella who taught her this trick, truly: for this small little seed of magic is quite akin to their soul gems in its purest form. It is through this that Alexis channels the darkness from the Dusk Zone.

Having found it, Ami allows her magic to embrace it. With a tightly controlled bit of energy, she cuts the connection between this energy, and the rest of Alexis' chakra points. Holding out a hand, she concentrates. And slowly, carefully, she begins to remove this little ball of darkness that resides within Alexis. His core of magic.

When the little floating ball of darkness is fully away from her patient's body, Sailor Mercury leans back a little, then draws forth the Maze card. "Maze, form a cage around this and take it far from here. Reveal it to none save for me, and only after a test to prove who I am."

The card flickers briefly, and then expands outwards. But even as the Maze expands, Sailor Mercury places it back into the pocket of subspace she keeps near her. Soon, the dark energy is gone, trapped somewhere safe and far from Alexis.

It may be weeks before his solar chakra has regrown, but for now, the Senshi of Wisdom leans away and sighs. "Done," she murmurs to Endymion. It only took her ten minutes. Hannah could ahve used her Linker core gun to do it in less than one.
Mamoru Chiba 2017-04-28 05:33:59 75368
And it would have been awful and wrenching and wretched, all in one. In all that, there's only the faintest acknowledgement -- possibly even shared via Kunzite, with his hand to Endymion's face as it is, as he provides that stability that the prince needs, that unwavering focus.

When Kunzite enclosed them in the shield of his magic for teleport, giving Mercury a destination to follow, Endymion had already sunk his consciousness back into his task -- so all the grounding elements he needed not to lose all concentration with the loss of his connection for that moment of transit between destination were right there with him, both Kunzite and Alexis. And, well, dramamine means he doesn't barf on the wound when they get there.

There's a flicker of his concentration again on arrival as he hears the gravel-voice of the enormous desert cat, but he can't surface enough to process the words: it's all right, the dryness of the cat and the exasperation of Kunzite are in their voices, and he takes comfort and grounding from those, too. When the caracal pads over, one bloody hand lifts to sink into fur (he won't mind, and maybe he'll even clean Endymion's hands later)--

--and one thing Mercury will see with her visor that she hasn't seen before is the prince not only drawing from this side-pocket of concentrated and elevated stepping-stone Earth-heart, but from Kunzite to one side of him and the caracal to the other.

He doesn't need his hands in Alexis anymore, doesn't need to hold things in place when there's enough of a structure for it all to inter-support enough for him to regrow bone and cartilage. The glow is brighter, and the energy-channeling from his source here, with two strong foci beside him, into his own heart that resonates the same, has a strength like Usagi focusing Moon Healing Escalation with all of her might. This is all of his.

And this is why it only takes another fifteen minutes.

Endymion will not believe it. He'll have to check the time on his phone and his watch when he de-henshins, and he still won't believe it.

He's silent throughout; he closes the skin before he's entirely done with cartilage and connecting tissue, and then-- then--

--his hand slides off; he's done.

There's a scar. There doesn't have to be, but he knows Alexis' pride, and he knows the mindset that likes to have cairns on the path behind, and reminders of what's been paid in pounds of flesh and stretches of fear and agony, as proof that it has passed, is in the past.

And he opens his eyes, and they're abstracted and gold, and his other bloody hand comes up to cover Kunzite's. He'll be a second, but Alex should awaken.
Alexis Raskoph 2017-04-28 05:54:43 75369
There's a great deal that has taken place. After it all begun, physical pain was not part of it for Alex for very long-- but even in his unconsciousness, there was an ordeal.

See, at some subconscious level, he was still aware of what was happening to his body-- both in the physical and metaphysical sense. The lack of physical substance, the effort in recreating it, and the interplay of darkness and light throughout the process of cleansing him of the Curse.

Where, for them, it was a moment of healing and cleansing; for him, a moment of reflection. Call it an out-of-body experience. Call it a journey through the center of the soul. In those fourty five minutes, everything of himself was laid before him, be it past, present or the potential future. And how that darkness would affect all of those. How the light would keep shining into it.

But all that is a story for another day.

For now, his eyes slowly open. To greet fabric of cloth, first. For that reason, his awakening may be more sensed than seen on the part of the Shitennou and the Senshi of Wisdom-- and even if it is not, eventually a hand stirs, rising up and sliding across his own body to push at the cloth provided by Kazuo, to bare out his features, and revel the unfamiliar world to his eyes (even if they have to squint briefly to adjust to the light).

His body shifts further from there. His other hand presses at the ground below, straining to push his upper body off the ground, only to eventually settle to just keeping himself propped by his elbows. This still gives him enough of a vantage point to look around with tired - but curious - eyes. To the Prince, to Kunzite, to Mercury, the giant cat-- and through that unfamiliar landscape surrounding him.

He doesn't say anything of any of those. He doesn't say anything of the new scar that his hand eventually finds itself running over. He doesn't say anything about how he feels, or wether or not Mercury's efforts worked. None of that. No. What ultimately breaks the silence is...

The sound of a stomach rumbling in complaint.

"...........I'm hungry."
Kazuo Takeba 2017-04-28 06:02:22 75370
Which is how it becomes entirely possible that Endymion's first inkling of Alexis's wakefulness, in turn, is that it becomes Kunzite's turn to consider the image of Alexis's face covered with cloth.

Namely, with a canvas sack being drawn over him head-first. Possibly also then sat upon, Alice-in-Wonderland style.

"Well," he says aloud. Never mind the lectures he's delivered to Alexis previously on Why Eating Anyway Would Have Been A Good Thing. "I have to pick up that sashimi anyhow. You could fight the caracal for it."

The giant cat blinks interestedly, and flicks a black-tufted ear. (There is a tiny, tiny cracking sound as some of the hairs manage to intersect the sound barrier at their tips.)
Mamoru Chiba 2017-04-28 06:27:14 75371
Finally, Endymion blinks, and then looks up at Kunzite disbelievingly. "After we just went to all that trouble," he says with immense incredulity. "If you're picking up the sashimi, can you just... I don't know... drop him off there? He can raid the fridge as long as he stays away from the burfi, which he probably--"

He's getting sort of wobbly-ly to his feet, for the express purpose of climbing onto the caracal and laying down flat atop him.

"--won't eat anyway since he can't identify it and has no adventure in his gastric soul, and I'm tired and I'm taking a nap now."

Regardless of where Alexis actually ends up, and whether Mercury is okay with having pulled out a (filthy!!) linker core, and whether Kunzite will actually reverse-goad the caracal or bring the sashimi or not, the prince dehenshins then and there, bloody hands and all, falling asleep on a desert cat the size of a Clydesdale.

And Alex probably still won't eat a deep-fried Big Mac.

At least he's not a vampire anymore.