Incident Analysis

Kyouko talks with Kazuo about her fight with Naru, and how to manage anger issues when they're interlinked with survival skills. Kazuo's personal answer is apparently 'practice on Nephrite.' They try for something that scales a little better.

Date: 2017-06-01
Pose Count: 21
Kyouko Sakura 2017-06-01 14:20:28 77623
    Kunzite has, of course, been aware of the momentary strife in the Kyouko-Naru relationship. At the least, Naru texted him in its immidiate aftermath. It's been a few days since then, and it's possible that Mamoru has warned Kunzite that he told Kyouko to talk to the eldest Shitennou. Whether he has or not, though, it's on this particular afternoon, with the house relatively quiet, that Kyouko chooses to follow that advice.

    Recently returned from a shift at the conbenie, wearing jeans and a plain black t-shirt, she enters the living room from the direction of the door, glancing around to determine how habitated the apartment currently is, before makign her way towards the kitchen to seek out potential snacks, which always have a bolstering effect on her morale.
Kazuo Takeba 2017-06-01 14:38:58 77624
Kunzite did indeed receive a text in its aftermath. That, and the bandaging, came without context. Interactions with Mamoru have focused on other things: curse-eating dolls, Riventon's behavior, reining in Kunzite's own immediate problems. He's been aware that something happened; he doesn't as yet know what.

There are, however, potential snacks. Pieces of some kind of cashew brittle, and little pastries something like tiny spiced date-walnut pies. No muffins. Naru has not invaded the kitchen today.

"Welcome back," Kazuo notes in the living room without actually looking up from his textbook. Midterms are tomorrow. That's not helping with communications either.
Kyouko Sakura 2017-06-01 14:46:50 77625
    Oooh, cashew brittle. Some of that. And some little pies. Mmm. Kyouko's mood is considerably improved. She walks back into the living room munching, and as such, looking a bit happier than she had before (not that she had appeared in particularly poor spirits or anything).

    She pauses near the couch, observing for a moment Kunzite working with his textbook. She hadn't known midterms were tomorrow- she doesn't generally keep up on that sort of thing unless someone informs her. For a moment, she feels mildly guilty about interrupting.

    After dithering for a few more of those moments, however, she moves to one of the plush chairs and sits down, still munching. This proceeds in silence for a few yet further moments, before she says, "Hey, can we talk for a minute? If you need to study it's okay though.. I can come back later."
Kazuo Takeba 2017-06-01 14:52:50 77626
It's that pause to observe that stands out; normally Kyouko would've enchaired herself before eyeing him. So a slip of folded paper is slid between pages, and he's closing the text and setting it and his notes aside just about when Kyouko reaches the word 'talk.'

"You're considerably more important than grades," he replies, in the same matter-of-fact tone he uses to remind Jadeite to deal with his dishes before getting distracted out of the room. Basic facts of their existence, check. "What's on your mind?"
Kyouko Sakura 2017-06-01 14:58:46 77627
    Kyouko can't help but blush just a little at that line, as one formerly not used to being considered very important to anybody except in the 'annoyance to be removed' category. She should be used to it by now but she really isn't. Anyway, that's neither here nor there- the basking in feeling loved only lasts for a few moments before the seriousness of the topic reasserts itself.

    "Um," She says, fidgeting mildly as she glances down at her lap. "I dunno how much you've heard from Naru or Mamoru but.. well, Naru and I kinda had a.. incident the other day." She then hastens to add, almost too-quickly, "It's fine now! We made up again and everything is fine. And Mamoru already yelled at me." An exaggeration, there was no yelling, but there was definitely chastisement. "But.. well. He said it might be a good idea to talk to you."

    She takes a breath. "I lost my temper and did something dumb. It wasn't serious, really, but it could have been, if I or Naru had been any more reckless than we both were. I wanna make sure something like that doesn't happen again. Mamoru said I should talk to you about.. how to control my temper better. He said that's something you have experience with. Zo-nii, also, but.." Well, she doesn't need to say that Kunzite is the one she'd go to first. She trusts Zoisite as much as any of them, but Kunzite will always be the primary nii-chan in her worldview.
Kazuo Takeba 2017-06-01 15:11:15 77628
Mamoru very rarely actually yells. That's one of the things that makes being chewed out by him particularly painful; he doesn't put himself in a place that makes it easy to see him temporarily as an opponent.

The 'incident' mention prompts one corner of his mouth to turn down slightly, but it's a transient thing; he focuses on Kyouko again, and hears her out. Considers for a moment after she's finished.

"First," he says, "you're already taking the right step. Too many people, after something like that, think that making up for what happened is the important part, and when they've done that, they can stop. No. That's a necessary part. But avoiding it happening again is more important. And not blaming the incident on the circumstances or on other parties, but examining how your own reactions contributed to it, and what you can do about that ... that's more important still."

He shifts where he sits; leans forward a little, one hand falling to the edge of the couch cushion to keep him propped up. "So. A question for you, then. How do you know when you're getting angry? Do you know, at all?"
Kyouko Sakura 2017-06-01 15:19:16 77629
    Kyouko shakes her head. "I realized right away, like two minutes after, that this wasn't a thing I should be doing. Naru and I didn't talk for two days and it was the worst thing ever. I couldn't live with myself if I seriously hurt her. Minorly hurting her was bad enough. She forgave me, cuz she was pretty rough on me too.." She touches the now-vanished spot on her cheek which had sported a bruise from a thrown mug full of scalding hot soup, "But it's not the same. Mamoru pointed out, rightly, that I stand a far better chance of doing her serious harm than she does me, just because of our different skillsets and abilities."

    She blinks, at the latter question. "How do I know? Um.." She pauses, having to think about it. "It's.. usually not that simple. I mean sure, sometimes it is. If somebody is grating on me or annoying me, it builds up, and I can feel it like a fire burning, demanding I do something to stop whatever it is that is annoying me. But that I can deal with. This was like.. it's just like a flash, y'know? Something happens.. in this case, it was Naru throwing a mug at me. And I just react. Instinct takes over."

    "That's saved my ass a hundred times in fights. I trust my instincts, usually. I don't want to get rid of that ability. But.. I need to be able to stop it when it's not the right response. This time, she threw a mug at me, and it was like my instincts were just like "threat, enemy" and I responded with force before I even thought about what I was doing. I didn't make the distinction between it being a serious threat, and it being someone I loved in a moment of anger."
Kazuo Takeba 2017-06-01 15:25:40 77630
There's an inclination of Kazuo's head to Kyouko, acknowledging what she's saying. (And remembering that injury to her arm, and the bandaging.) But what he says is, "We're going to break that down a little farther. She threw a mug at you. Could you see where she was standing when she did that? Was she standing, or sitting, or something else? Did she pick up the mug, or was she already holding it? Did it happen with no precursors, or were the two of you already arguing?"
Kyouko Sakura 2017-06-01 15:30:36 77631
    Kyouko thinks about this, recalling the events of that unfortunate evening three days prior, as she frowns slightly. "Um.. we were definitely already arguing. High School has been stressful for her, and she was cranky, and I was annoyed because of something minor and dumb, and we had been sniping at each other verbally all evening."

    "But it was just.. it wasn't really serious, or at least I didn't think so, but I guess she was more pissed than I thought. She was sitting across from me at the table, and I made a dumb accusatory comment about that minor thing I mentioned.. and she just chucked it at me across the table. There wasn't really a whole lot of warning, which probably made my reaction worse. I mean, if I had seen it coming I probably wouldn't have reacted so severely, but it took me by surprise."
Kazuo Takeba 2017-06-01 15:34:32 77632
Kazuo leans back a little, at that, though not so much as to remove his attention from Kyouko. Something there that made sense to him, somewhere. "Ah." He considers her for another moment. "Another question, then. Tell me: what is anger for?"
Kyouko Sakura 2017-06-01 15:38:14 77633
    Kyouko responds without hesitation. "Anger is for giving you strength to take down your enemies. It's what fuels you in a fight and gives you the determination to not give up, and to win when you have to win, when there's no other option. It's what keeps you from giving in, even when it seems hopeless."
Kazuo Takeba 2017-06-01 15:56:56 77634
Kazuo inclines his head to Kyouko, still leaning back, oddly relaxed. "Those are accurate descriptions of uses for anger," he agrees. "But there's a more fundamental answer. Anger is for protecting. This is not necessarily a good thing; it may be turned to protect a self-image, or a mistaken belief, or the possession of something that is not in fact yours. But the universal prompt for anger is that something you believe is important to you is under threat. Yourself. Your territory. Your ideas. Your pride. Your status. Your people. Your heart. Everything else that anger gives you -- strength, determination, perseverance -- comes from first perceiving a need to protect one of those things."

His right hand settles on his thigh, just above his knee, fingers spread and palm flat against the fabric of his jeans. "So. Naru is a person that you let very close to you. We do not, generally, let people very close to us because we expect them to use that to hurt us. She is also a person who is very important to you. Both of these things are almost too obvious to need mentioning.

"Normally, though, your reaction to something being thrown at you by a friend you were talking to would be to see the beginning of the throw coming, and dodge or swipe it out of the air; to laugh, if it were harmless, or to shout at them, if it weren't. A mug in and of itself isn't a lethal weapon; for you, it isn't even significant unless it's filled with acid. So the physical threat was nothing significant to protect against; nothing that should have triggered a potentially lethal burst of anger.

"There are two obvious possibilities. One: that the argument, or the gesture, or some part of both, or some echo from your past that one or the other triggered, left you for an instant convinced that Naru had worked her way past your normal defenses with the intent to betray you. In which case, you might have had that flash of anger in a desperate attempt to protect yourself.

"Two: that the stress and the crankiness, and her being angrier than you'd estimated, and the sudden physical attack, left you for an instant convinced that that was not Naru. That she'd been replaced, as Jupiter was, or possessed by some unknown evil. In which case, you might have had that flash of anger in a desperate attempt to protect her.

"Do either of those feel right to you?"
Kyouko Sakura 2017-06-01 16:11:50 77635
    Kyouko listens attentively to what Kazuo says to her, her eyes lingering on his face. She nods several times during his assertation that anger is to protect. She hadn't particularly thought of it in those terms before, but it makes sense to her. Generally, in her life, it has been to protect herself, or her pride. But now, often, it is to protect her new family, the people she loves- though those original two motivations haven't gone away, either.

    She nods again as he describes who Naru is to her.. and looks mildly thoughtful as he outlines two potential scenarios and then asks if either seems correct. Her brow furrows, and she seems to be very seriously considering. "I'm not sure either of those is exactly right," She says after a few moments. "But definitely the former more than the latter, if anything. As awful as that is, because I really do trust her. More than almost anyone else. But.. well. I knew it was her. She doesn't show it to many people but she does have a temper.. this wasn't the first time I've seen it, so it wasn't like it seemed that alien to me that I suddenly thought she was possessed."
Kazuo Takeba 2017-06-01 16:27:13 77636
"So. Not correct, but perhaps close enough." Kazuo lets his eyes drop to the hand on his knee for a moment, frowning at it a little. "Then the question is how to convince your heart and your gut that when she lashes out at you, she won't follow up on the opening. Not fully, at least. Or that she's unlikely enough to do so that it's worth the risk. Or whatever else will give you a second or so to be able to realize who she is and that you don't, in the long run, want her dead."

His attention flickers back up to Kyouko, and he says more conversationally, "This is why I let Nephrite give me the hassle and backtalk that he does, you realize. Yes, it's an outlet for his independence and rebellion that doesn't result in his taking some urgent situation and digging in his heels. Yes, at times he does something useful with it. But also so that I keep in practice at not losing my temper at our own people. And if something goes wrong and I do lash out, it'll be at someone who can take the hit and handle himself."
Kyouko Sakura 2017-06-01 16:31:29 77637
    Kyouko nods her head after a moment.. and then gives a small laugh. "Well.. or how to convince my heart that even if she does lash out at me, I'd rather just take the hit than deal with the possible repurcussions of hitting back." She shakes her head slightly.. "I.. dunno if that'll be easy. But it's a start at least. It's something to think about. I think we're both shaked enough by this incident that it's unlikely to happen again for a little while. But I do think, eventually, something similar will happen. I just have to figure out to do what you're saying before that happens."

    She listens to Kazuo's comments about Nephrite, and grins a little bit.. chuckling in a way that says she understands what he means, even if she doesn't feel quite the same way about Nephrite. "That's something good to have practice in.. considering what kind of people our own people are, and I include myself in that."
Kazuo Takeba 2017-06-01 16:50:08 77638
"It's a cliche," Kazuo says, "but breathing helps. If you have time to draw in one deep breath and let it out again -- that's time that the worst didn't happen in." He tilts his head an inch or so to one side. "The problem is finding the time for that breath. You're not accustomed to having people on your side in a threat situation. You don't have all that much experience in telling the difference between a sudden move that's an enemy and a sudden move that's a friend coming up beside you; and that skillset is one you need to lean on for this. So. I think it may be time to change our policy about not assigning practice this time around." His right index finger taps lightly against his knee a few time. "If only for values of practice that mean -- mn. Which do you think would work better for you: video games, or team sports?"

Apparently he is actually serious when he says that.
Kyouko Sakura 2017-06-01 16:59:56 77639
    Kyouko nods again. Again, this makes sense to her, cliche or not. "Yeah. You're right. I kinda was hoping I was getting used to it.. I mean.. it's been three-quarters of a year since Mamoru gave me a Name, and more than a year since the North Pole, when we all came back together. But I guess sometimes its harder to undo habits than to form 'em.. and those are habits built up over a longer time than a year." She sighs softly.

    She blinks at the mention of practice.. and then at the question. A glance is darted to gauge his seriousness, but when she sees that he apparently means it, she gives the question due consideration. "Team sports, probably." She answers. "Ain't never much had time for video games." Her dad was a strict preacher and then she was homeless- she certainly never owned a Nintendo.
Kazuo Takeba 2017-06-01 17:05:38 77640
"There's a difference between knowing you have people you can count on, and rewiring your reflexes for it. We could go out team-hunting witch labyrinths -- there are enough of them -- but I'd rather start practice with a situation that doesn't begin with a spear in your hands." Not that they won't fight side by side if they have to anyhow. They trust her for that. Kazuo straightens, then unfolds himself from the couch. "The triathlon's coming up soon, too. May need to start after that. Since if you're still practicing for it, I think that makes four of us, and there are only so many hours in the day. It'll give us time to manage location and scheduling."
Kyouko Sakura 2017-06-01 17:16:22 77641
    "Yeah." Kyouko agrees with this latest sentiment too- that there's a difference between knowing something intellectually, and knowing it so that your subconscious really believes it. She laughs softly at the notion of team-hunting Labyrinths. "Well.. not like I'd ever refuse help hunting, but there'd be a danger of me trying to take charge, since that's sorta my territory, and while normally I wouldn't say so, that seems counterproductive to the point of the excercise."

    She shrugs slightly. "Whenever it works, I suppose. LIke I said.. I don't think there's any danger right away. But it is something I want to work on. Something I really have to."
Kazuo Takeba 2017-06-01 17:19:41 77642
"Yes." Just that. And then Kazuo detours around the table, steps up beside Kyouko's seat, and slows enough to lean and wrap an arm around her in a half-hug where she sits.

Only slows. Doesn't stop. Because there are pastries in the kitchen, and coming back with one necessitates making the rest of the trip.
Kyouko Sakura 2017-06-01 17:24:19 77643
    Kyouko smiles, and returns the customary half-hug, leaning up from her chair and into the embrace. "Thanks, nii-chan." She says, meaning it fully, and flashing a brilliant smile.

    By the time he returns from the kitchen with said pastry, she is already gone, the sound of the balcony door clicking shut behind her indicating the route of her recess.