Naru checks up on Kunzite's dad. Kunzite's dad is ... apparently starting into a full-on conspiracy-theory-style panic. Naru performs a gentle interrupt. Okay, mostly gentle.

Date: 2017-06-21
Pose Count: 27
Kazuo Takeba 2017-06-21 18:28:22 79210
Early morning before school: a house in Tokyo. An actual house, not an apartment. Not a large one; two of it would fit in the Tsukino residence. Maybe three if one counted the little pocket garden in front of Usagi's house. But it's a house all the same, not an apartment, well-lit and all quietly efficient use of space.

At this hour, given Hiroshi's normal schedule, he should be just about out the door; his mornings are an absolute minimum of time spent in the house, hygiene and dressing and breakfast and gone. At best they might catch him locking up. On a normal day.

Instead, the door is closed, yes, but half of the lights in the house are on.
Naru Osaka 2017-06-21 18:34:49 79211
Even if Naru is fairly confident she has possibly missed catching Hiroshi on his way out the door, although one never really /knows/ around here, she still gives Kyouko a kiss as she hops off the bike, and collects the bento wrapped in a cloth that was tucked into a saddle bag. Because that's clearly how this goes.

Naru has visited before, with mixed success on actually finding Hiroshi Takeba home, but treats left for him do seem to get to him eventually, or at least the empty containers seem to make it back to her eventually. It all sorts out in the end.

Naru moves up towards the door without hesitation, already in her school uniform, and knocks briskly.

Just in case.
Kazuo Takeba 2017-06-21 18:39:14 79212
There is no answer to her knock.

But the door is not quite shut, and not locked; it drifts open a little more at the tap, providing a few inches of view of the entryway.

The first time Naru visited, the guest slippers had collected dust. Hiroshi corrected that before the second time she actually found him; since then they've been in exactly the same places each time she put her nose over the threshold. Disorder is not permitted.

He must have stumbled when he came in; one of them was kicked out of place, and is still lying there. In the walkway.

It's quiet inside. There's a distant sound like a page turning.
Naru Osaka 2017-06-21 18:42:23 79213
"Hello?" Naru nudges the door open further, and steps inside. The call is sufficient to ensure that she's at least not going to completely startle the man, but it seems likely that she is going to completely startle the man anyhow.

A glance down at the slipper, waiting in the middle of the walkway, and Naru kicks off her flats, to claim it and its mate. Too big on her, and she usually is barefoot, somehow that seems weird here.

Still with bento and schoolbag, Naru follows the sound through the house.
Kazuo Takeba 2017-06-21 18:52:52 79214
The call does not get a reply of 'Go away!', or in fact a reply of anything else either. Does that count as permission to come inside? Close enough, perhaps.

The public area of the house is not large. There is a small main room, suitable for a family gathering on a Sunday evening. There is the little unassumingly beige-toned kitchen off of it. There is the flat lack of individuality, as if the place had been sold furnished and were still waiting for new owners to give in. Everything always in the same place. Always.

The main room and the kitchen counters look like an office exploded.

There are papers laid out, some stacked, some weighted down. Photographs, notes, calendar pages, documents, charts. There might be some order -- the stacks are all separated, for instance, and there seems to be some kind of progression along the length of a low table -- but it's hard to tell at a glance what there is, and walking space is at a premium. One foot in front of the other and step over a row of Things In The Way.

Hiroshi has shed his jacket somewhere (it is not visible) and is crouched in a corner, studying what might be a school photograph, frowning at it, turning it over to repeat with the next in the stack, turning it back. He does not lift his head when Naru walks in. He is also still wearing the slippers from Mamoru's apartment, now rather the worse for street wear.
Naru Osaka 2017-06-21 18:56:38 79215
Naru pauses before she steps on anything, and surveys the scene in front of her. A moment, and then another. Considering the stacks, the papers, the man who is examining this bevy of documentation closely. She takes a half step back, to be able to set both bento and school back down on the last available clear flat surface.

Careful steps bring her through things, to look at the tops of piles as she approaches Hiroshi.

"What are we looking for?" Naru asks, as simply and calmly as if she'd arrived to a group study session in progress.
Kazuo Takeba 2017-06-21 19:12:01 79216
The tops of piles tell Naru a number of things. Kazuo's original scores on the standardized university admissions test, for instance. (He did well, but not so well that Ami wouldn't have despaired of the results and huddled in a dark corner in shame for weeks.) Which elementary school he attended. The location and date of a funeral for someone named Akemi Takeba. The amount of a hospital bill for a Kenta Takeba, dated 1999.

Hiroshi does not lift his head. "A curse."
Naru Osaka 2017-06-21 19:19:36 79217
"Any in particular?" Naru asks as she kneels next to him, and reaches for a paperweight to lift and read the top paper underneath.

"I've been affected by a few, but they are quite widely varied." Naru's tone is that of someone who can relate to a series of cold symptoms, or possibly that similar ache or the like.
Kazuo Takeba 2017-06-21 19:40:25 79218
A handwritten and extensive list of names (grouped, apparently, by families), locations, and birth and death dates, dated for a particular year. Hiroshi's handwriting is normally painstakingly neat; this is nearly a scrawl by his standards. It's still better than some of Naru's classmates, no names to be named.

"The one that --" Hiroshi halts. Stares at the photograph in his hands. Puts it down.

"The thing last night," he says, and it's only himself pulling the words out with pliers. "I saw it before. Or thought -- on the bad nights. On the worst nights. I wouldn't sleep, either. When I was tired enough, when it was bad enough, sometimes I'd think I saw something. But the doctors had cameras, when they did the studies. There was never anything there."
Naru Osaka 2017-06-21 20:06:38 79219
"Where someone's soul is not currently associated with their body?" Naru asks, as if she's double checking if that cough came with or without sniffles on the litany of summer cold irritants to compare notes.

Naru considers the paper, using it to not actually stare at Hiroshi and make him feel doubly awkward or judged. "Cameras aren't terribly relaible witnesses, all things considered. What would you see?"

Not what did you think you see. No, Naru is calmly confident that he did see something.
Kazuo Takeba 2017-06-21 20:10:27 79220
Hiroshi shudders, a sharp and unpleasant motion. "Something. Trying to come out of his head. Just a little of it showing. That thing." He draws a breath. Lets it out. "Then I'd wake the rest of the way up, and it would be just him. Just a nightmare."
Naru Osaka 2017-06-21 20:16:11 79221
"Mmmm." Naru considers the page as if it is providing answers to the great many questions she's just abruptly discovered.

No such luck, unfortunately.

"A ghostly thing?" Naru asks thoughtfully and then pauses a moment. "Sometimes nightmares are just nightmares. Sometimes conversations about the meaning and power of dreams is not entirely crazy." She pauses another moment. "That was a surprise to me."
Kazuo Takeba 2017-06-21 20:21:21 79222
"I thought it was just a nightmare." That's two entire sentences in one go out of three tries. Hiroshi might be improving. "But last night. That boy --" There's a place there, where he doesn't say something. "Chiba-san," he says instead, after a moment. "He was holding it. And my son. Was."

That sentence, on the other hand, is never being finished.

"It started when he was young. So the curse had to begin when he was small. Seven at the latest. Maybe before that. Maybe in his mother's family, though nothing like that ever happened to her."
Naru Osaka 2017-06-21 20:27:30 79223
Naru listens thoughtfully, settling back on her heels a moment or two and staying silent. She's not in a rush to push for that sentance to end, nor is she in a rush to prod more words out of Hiroshi than he provides. She is comfortable with silence, meaningful and awkward alike, and thoughtful ones especially.

Naru lets the paper in her hands settle into her lap, her expression one that those who know her would translate well as 'chewing through information, finding connections and linking some strings.'

"I'm not sure that you'll find much of a curse in family records." Naru finally decides upon. "I'm not sure most view it as a curse at all."
Kazuo Takeba 2017-06-21 20:35:14 79224
That last sentence is what finally, finally brings Hiroshi to lift his head and look up at her. He's visibly exhausted, red-eyed and unslept and haggard.

"Something has been trying to pull my son's soul out of his body since he was seven years old," he says. "It finally succeeded. And the boy he's working for plays games with it. The only reason most might not view that as a curse is that, in any reasonable world, no-one would have to deal with it at all."
Naru Osaka 2017-06-21 21:17:50 79225
"Have you ever watched children together?" Naru asks, in what seems like an abrupt change of topic. "Who are fast friends, and close in so many things. Have you ever heard them speak to each other, especially when there's something going on that's uncomfortable, or upsetting?"

Naru doesn't really give him opportunity to answer, the questions are, after all, rhetorical.

"The teasing, playing, 'picking on' is epic." Naru explains. "There's a fine line, I grant, between teasing with love and taunting that cuts, but when you are confident of the love.. the teasing, and games and joking helps to ease some of the sting and worry. Because it /is/ worrisome, especially to those of us who arent' connected to our gems the same way."
Kazuo Takeba 2017-06-21 21:25:03 79226
Children who are friends. Hiroshi's mouth tugs down into a hint of a scowl, but he doesn't interrupt; he listens. And at the last, his eyes focus on Naru with an effort. "To your gems," he says. And then looks down at the photographs again, and takes up a folder from another stack nearby, and begins sorting the pictures back into it. Beneath that is another handwritten page, copied-out poems; one is emphasized. Two lives there certainly are not -- nevertheless an extra body is visible, by reason of the shadow-sickness.
Naru Osaka 2017-06-21 21:37:49 79227
"I don't know what happened when Kazuo was a child." Naru adds quietly. "I don't know what nightmares you, or he shared. I don't know how they shaped you both. I don't know what his connection was to the gem was then either. Clearly he had one, you saw it, but how that all fits together.." Naru pauses there, shaking her head a little.

"I do know that I learn more all the time, about how they fit together, and how I play a tiny role in that puzzle." Naru explains thoughtfully. "For them, I struggle with finding a word that means precisely what I wish to say. Destiny feels too passive, but it is in the right genre. Fated, equally so. There is more at play than you or I or Kazuo or Mamoru alone. To call anything about our lives a curse paints something that is nuanced and facetted in a myriad of shades entirely with a matte black of negativity."
Kazuo Takeba 2017-06-21 22:49:19 79228
"He was sick as a child," Hiroshi says as he sorts papers back into the folders they came out of. Putting things away. Everything always gets put away. "Seizures. Sometimes only things like fits of fever, sometimes much worse. The doctors I took him would try things, and they'd make no difference; a few nights later, or a few weeks, it would be back. Most of them eventually decided he was faking them for attention. Sometimes I believed them. Then he'd have a bad one, and I knew he wasn't faking those. Most of them happened at night. I'd be up all night with him with the bad ones. That's when I'd see it. Something trying to pull it out."

He listens to Naru's explanation, though his hands don't stop moving. Much the way Kazuo listens while still working in the kitchen. "Your metaphors are mixing," he says at last. "Though I don't know what one would use instead of paint for gems. Do they tarnish, like silver?"
Naru Osaka 2017-06-21 23:11:20 79231
"I'm an artist, paint metaphors end up everywhere." Naru has the grace to sound faintly sheepish about it at least. "Some can. I'm not if all of them can. It's as bad a sign as one might fear, as best as I can tell."

Naru considers the reality of a small boy with unexplained seizures, and gems and nightmares and a worried parent without any answers. "That must have been truly horrific for both of you."
Kazuo Takeba 2017-06-21 23:16:28 79233
"Apparently not as horrific as the things that are happening now." Hiroshi's fingers tighten just enough to put a crease in an aged report card. "But that's your problem to deal with, or theirs to deal with and yours to observe. Isn't it."
Naru Osaka 2017-06-21 23:25:04 79234
"I would disagree." Naru shakes her head a little. "Because now, there is knowledge, and some degree of understanding and reassurances to be had, and possibly most importantly, there are people to share the experience with. To tease, and joke and lean upon. We are a community, and a support network, and that is valuable beyond anything."

Naru glances over a moment and then back, leaning over to set the paper in her hands carefully upon its pile again, neatly where it came from. "To be alone, uncertain of what's real and what's not, with no answers or support? That is truly a misery. I remember that position, and I did .. and do.. have the luxury of being able to ask questions and having a hope of answers."
Kazuo Takeba 2017-06-21 23:30:23 79236
Hiroshi breathes out, quiet. He smooths out the crease in the page, and puts it in its place, and lets his hands fall still. "I'm afraid you may also have the luxury of detention if you don't hurry," he says, still without looking up. "It is a school day, isn't it? My apologies for delaying you."
Naru Osaka 2017-06-21 23:38:21 79237
"It is a school day." Naru confirms, even if she doesn't seem /too/ concerned about being late. She's learned some tricks of the 'arriving exactly on time' trade from a lifetime of Usagi.

Naru reaches over to almost, but not quite, touch her hand to his arm. A gesture of support, without undue fuss. "I'll put the bento in the kitchen."

There's no question on if the bento is welcome or not, she'll leave it to be eaten, or not. Nothing fancy, fancy food is Mako and Koji's domain, but tasty and filling nonetheless.

Naru uncurls from where she's knelt. "Thank you for the visit."
Kazuo Takeba 2017-06-21 23:43:14 79239
Hiroshi rises as well, and picks his way carefully through the papers to escort her; his motions are contained, careful, not quite mechanical. His bow to her, at least, is more tired than precise. "Thank you for stopping by."

(... he's still wearing Mamoru's damned slippers.)
Naru Osaka 2017-06-22 00:04:25 79241
Naru collects up her school bag and the bento, moving the later to the kitchen and a flat surface that isn't the floor there.

Naru turns, just as she stands at the door. "If you have questions, you can always ask. There's not always good answers, but there's usually better than no answers. Sometimes, the answers just bring up more questions, but I vastly prefered knowing, even when the answers sucked, than not knowing. I don't know if you're the same or not."
Kazuo Takeba 2017-06-22 00:25:26 79246
Hiroshi regards Naru steadily for several seconds in silence. At the end of it, he says quietly, "It's not the questions, I think. It's the facets of the answers. Good luck at school."