Born to Be a Mother

Ikuko is very pleased that Mamoru is her 'surprise.' Flowers, candy, anxiety, and a bit of secret healing leads to a motherly hug.

Date: 2017-06-22
Pose Count: 14
Mamoru Chiba 2017-06-25 22:35:42 79558
Early Wednesday afternoon, the 21st of June, and Mamoru Chiba is more terrified than he's ever been in his life. Even when the Dark Kingdom captured him, he wasn't this scared. Even on the asteroid, he wasn't this scared. Even when he thought his worst nightmare was coming true--

No, he is practically shaking, he's so completely out of his league, out of his frame of reference, out of control, out of his depth.

On the other side of that hospital room door -- as if hospitals weren't bad enough by themselves, as if this hospital in particular weren't the scene of so many past really bad situations -- Usagi's all-seeing, all-knowing, all-hugging, all-affectionate, all-MOTHERLY mother is in a hospital bed after a burst appendix, and she's got to still be on painkillers, and heaven knows how terrible Kenji is at keeping secrets. Keeping secrets like 'Sailor Moon' or 'Princess Serenity'.

He's carrying a bouquet of (normal) roses and a box of (rose honey) cardamom burfi (which he made himself and had to section some off of so Kunzite didn't eat them all), and he's dressed in a light linen summer suit, and even though his collar's unbuttoned and he wears no tie, he tugs at his collar as if it were too tight. And then he adjusts his glasses. And runs a hand through his hair. And shifts his weight. And looks up and down the hall.

And then he dives in headfirst and knocks before he can turn and walk away.
Usagi Tsukino 2017-06-25 22:54:14 79564
Ikuko shifts restlessly in her bed, only stopping when she feels that tug that she knows should be pain, but isn't.

She's bored. And listless. But at least she's in pajamas (her daughter obviously chose then, brand new, little bunnies frolicking on purple pastel) and not the hospital gown.

She hates being idle. She may not have employment, but she's spent the past sixteen years with the best career in the world. There may be no pay, no vacation days, but she loves it. And she can just see the kitchen sink piling up with dishes, she can almost smell the take out containers piling in the trash.

When Usagi told her yesterday, wiggling, that she might get a surprise today, Ikuko had quipped: "Is it housework?"

Of course, her daughter's nose scrunched up with a giggle. "No, but you'll like it more!"

When pressed for more information, it was clear that it was one of those times where Usagi would keep a secret. She only got one tiny hint about liking this surprise better.

When the knock comes, she at first expects it to open right away with Nurse Too Chipper or Nurse Too Cranky strolling in and making a fuss. When the door remains closed, she wonders if it's a new nurse. "Come in!"

Her voice is perhaps...a little sharp. A little exasperated. And a lot 'I have spent the past several days on my ass while the housework piles up this had better be good.'

When the door opens, she blinks in momentary confusion. The bite is gone from her voice and replaced with something more pleasant, something affectionate. "Mamoru-kun?"

And then, as the painkillers she's on turns pain into dull tugging, it also wreaks havoc on her emotions. Her eyes get a bit misty. "Are you my surprise?" She clears her throat and tries not to look too hopeful in case he isn't. "Usagi said I might get a surprise today. Come in!"

And she wants to stand and hug him tight, but Usagi says he's not always fond of hugs, so she just sits up the best she could and clasps her hands to her chest. "Even if you're not, you are still better than housework."

And as he comes in, she has to bite back a watery smile because he reminds her a lot of a nervous young boy coming to pick up a date. Flowers and candy and everything!
Mamoru Chiba 2017-06-25 23:05:16 79566
It's funny, Mamoru was so nervous about Ikuko herself that he forgot that the reason for painkillers is that she's hurt. All of a sudden he has something else to worry about: personal ethics (fix it!!) versus practicality (she'll find out!) versus USAGI'S MOTHER IS IN PAIN.

He grimaces, then realizes abruptly how that must look, and ducks his head and laughs nervously, self-deprecatingly, as he comes in the rest of the way and closes the door over behind him, leaving it open a crack. And he offers Ikuko a very small smile, embarrassed, still affectionate, but a little uncomfortably nervous still. "Tsukino-san-- I'm the surprise, I think, yes, hi. I brought-- flowers..."

This as he glances around the room and sees the zillions of other flowers, then thinks, kuuuussssoooo he didn't bring a vase, he's an idiot, and wow what is it about moms anyway? So he just sort of stands there for a second before saying lamely, "I'll... find something to put them in. But, uh, here--"

This as he takes a step closer and hands Ikuko the box of sweets. "It's not-- they're not very much, but I hope you enjoy them, I made them-- my housemates think they're good, it's an Indian treat called burfi-- made of milk and rose honey and cardamom and-- I hope you can have milk, oh no..."
Usagi Tsukino 2017-06-25 23:21:01 79569
Her watery smile turns affectionately amused as he starts rambling and the mother in her just wants to pull him in for warm hugs, hair ruffles, and hot cocoa.

And those flowers are so lovely. The last time someone brought her roses she'd just given birth to her son. Of course, at the time, there'd been eleven remaining out of the dozen. Not that she minded when she realized this, and of course she was beyond pleased when discovering the reason for the odd number.

She opens her mouth to say something, about the flowers and lack of vases, but then he's handing her sweets. Homemade sweets. And her eyes start watering again, dammit. "You made them?" Because her favorite thing has always been homemade things from her children. Even charcoal cookies made by her daughter were better than anything store bought.

She takes the box and clutches it to her chest, and she realizes after a moment that she's staring at him with warm adoration and he probably needs a moment because he's nervous. She clears her throat. "I, ah, cleaned out some flowers already." She leans forward to whisper. "Don't tell the nurses. I needed something to clean." She settles back. "There's some vases drying in the bathroom, if you want to use one of those."

The flowers, of course, aren't thrown away. They're bundled together on the small table near the window, ready to be hung upside down to dry.

"I don't know if I can have milk. Will they keep if I can't?" Suddenly worry flashes in her mind. "If not, could you take them with you? Put them in your fridge? I plan to have one anyway, but I want the rest, too."
Mamoru Chiba 2017-06-25 23:55:57 79576
"Well-- if you've had milk before, you should be all right, or you'd know," says Mamoru a little absently, casting about for-- there's the bathroom door. A task is good for helping bull past nervousness. And human health is something he's very good at. Very as in 'rote'. "And your appendix being out isn't something that'd object to milk-- unless they've still got you on clear fluids, but they shouldn't, it's been enough time. But either way, it's all right, they'll keep for a while. Long enough to make it home with you if you don't finish them first," he teases, coming out of the bathroom with one of the now-dry vases, except half filled with water.

The new roses get put in the vase and set by her bed, then fussed over and set next to her bed, on the non-mobile side table, as they've less chance of being knocked over. He just gives Ikuko another small smile, reserved but real, amused, full of affection. "I did make them-- I've been practicing, Kazuo really likes that kind of food, and it's a bit less complicated than making a full meal... and the rose honey, our friend Mako-chan makes it."

That's when he finally pulls the visitor's chair closer, and being that close--

--he can't. He can't help it. He can't let her stay like that, he can feel the numbed pain from here, the tugging, the delicate state of Usagi's mother's insides, after being blitzed by toxins and scoured by drugs and cut with knives and sutured--

--so Mamoru holds out a hand, something both incredibly shy and immensely worried behind a steam engine of determination. "Tsukino-san-- if I could help you heal faster-- would you let me do that, and not tell anyone?"
Usagi Tsukino 2017-06-26 00:31:02 79581
She listens and nods along. "I've had grape juice. That's not clear." Still, her face relaxes into relief. "And good. I wouldn't want them to spoil, just in case." Her eyes dance at his teasing and she's holding the box a little closer to her chest. "Well. I doubt there will be. They sound delicious." And she knows even without trying them that they will be. Even if they taste like ear wax, which is highly unlikely.

(How Usagi managed that to happen with caramel once is beyond her.)

Ikuko is happy when he brings the vase next to her bed. She reaches over and moves the book she's been reading so she could pull the vase that much closer. Her eyebrows raise. "Mako-chan makes rose honey? She's a talented young lady."

He keeps shuffling, pulling a chair close, and there's nearly an entire conversation that plays out on his face, but she can't quite hear the words.

When he speaks again, she blinks at the offered hand. She almost takes it right away before she hears his words. Her fingers hover about an inch from his own as she considers him for a moment. "Only if you keep one of mine."

She leans forward best she can, eyes bright and twinkling despite the drag-laden haze. "Before Shingo was born, Usagi would pretend she was a princess and she was going to marry her prince with eyes as blue as the ocean." She leans back, her hand still hovering near his. "I only remember that because I'd ask her if she was going to steal Prince Eric away from Ariel. She was very adamant that his eyes weren't blue enough." And then she gets a sly smile. It's more effective than Usagi's probably ever will be. "But yours are."
Mamoru Chiba 2017-06-26 00:51:47 79586
That one makes Mamoru swallow; he has to fight not to grimace again, and instead just sort of smiles uncomfortably. "Before Shingo was born, huh? That-- then-- I wonder if she remembered, too..."

He reddens and shakes his head. "I'll keep it secret, for sure. Nobody needs to start talking about destiny or fate, right?"

Cue nervous laugh. But he also doesn't take her hand. She has to make that last step herself. She has to agree. To consent. And-- to agree not to tell. "But I won't tell. But this is a secret-- it-- I'm not normal, Tsukino-san, and I'd rather that didn't get out in public, and-- even if you don't ... think I'm ... I don't think you'll want me to stay away from Usagi, but it's... it won't hurt, it'll be the opposite of hurt, but I don't want the hospital to find out either. It'll just be an unsolved mystery how you got better so fast. Right?"

He looks so anxious.
Usagi Tsukino 2017-06-26 01:13:37 79589
She shrugs. "Not sure. Any question aside from the eyes, she answered 'I dunno.' And this from a girl who had complete dosiers on all of her stuffed animals by the age of two."

The sly smile turns affectionate again. So easy to blush! Kenji spends more time with him, and he never mentioned that fact. "Of course not." Her face softens again, though, because she wonders if he's afraid of...well, something. And she's a mother and he's precious and she's drugged. "If it ends up not being fate or destiny, you're a very sweet boy and I will always adore you."

She shakes her head to clear out the fuzz. "Okay, sorry."

At his anxious face and words, she sighs. "My daughter's not normal." She is drugged. "I don't want to know how or why. So I don't ask. I think Kenji knows. It stresses him, but it also relaxes him. But...I don't ask, because then I will know, but I also don't want to not know, because...well." She tries to focus on him more. "So if you're not normal, it probably means you're not normal together. Which probably means you keep her safe. Or try. She's very stubborn. But I won't ask and I don't want you to answer. I'm just going to assume. And I'm rambling. She may be very normal. I may just think she's special because she's my daughter. But even if is very normal, you make her very happy."

She stops for a breath. Then she realizes he must be actually waiting for permission and a promise. "So, um, yes, please, and I'll hush." And she takes his hand.
Mamoru Chiba 2017-06-26 01:29:54 79593
Mamoru finally relaxes-- and he looks a little wry, and a lot full of stupid amounts of love and what's practically adoration. "She's the most special girl in the universe," he says with absolute belief, "and I'm so very, very lucky she loves me. I have-- no idea what I did right to have this kind of, of luck--"

--and he takes her hand, finally, and immediately Ikuko can feel exactly how much Mamoru loves her daughter, with this blindingly radiant incredulous joy. There's also a dim golden glow around their clasped hands, which spreads from the contact as, first, an anaesthetic: the aches and pains and the tugging sensations where there should be pain but isn't, they all float away, removed or unimportant, not even distracting anymore. "And I take as much care of her as I can. She gets mad at me if I jump into danger in front of her, and so do our friends, but I've gotten very good at getting her out of trouble without getting myself in it..."

There's a sense of connection to everyone and everything on this green earth with its blue oceans; there are golden flecks of light behind the boy's ocean-blue eyes, and there's a feeling of full acceptance without judgement, a feeling of true and honest belonging, of being part of everything in a very vital way. There's a sense of home, of a home unremembered but dearly loved, of an origin, of continuity with all of history.

And while Mamoru speaks, candid and unfiltered and preoccupied, he works: there's the damage from the toxins that spilled into her blood, into her vital functions, and it's mended carefully and gently; there's the raw irritated stitches still holding insides and outsides together, and the seams are healed to the point that they're complete inside and all the way to scabs ready to come off on the outside (a miracle but not an 'it was never there' miracle); there's the aches from favoring one side or lying in one place too long, eased and relaxed and sorted.

"And as much as she'll let me, if I can't keep her from getting hurt, I fix it when she does-- she's so very brave, and she works so very hard, and she loves so very much, Tsukino-san. You know all this about her already-- but there are reasons for her grades not always being the best, and you know she's very bright, and it's not because she's lazy-- she's not lazy at all."

And then it's done, and he withdraws his power carefully, slowly; the painkillers are still in her system, but she'll have something of a clearer head, and she won't need them anymore.

"She's much, much more special than I am. And I won't steal her from you. Your husband was worried about that-- but I won't. I couldn't."
Usagi Tsukino 2017-06-26 02:01:35 79600
"You were probably just yourself." It's murmured, and then she can't say anything else because oh.

It's overhwelming but she soaks it in, the sensations and his words.

She was born to be a mother. Even in a house with distant parents (who love her, she knows, but for a child who didn't yet understand propriety) she knew the kind of mother she would be and it's what she became. Loving, affectionate, full of pride, showing this even if only within their four walls. Fear, worry, that aching dread that makes her not look too closely at the question that's always on the tip of her tongue. And not because she doesn't want to know her daughter, but because she knows if she knew, her worry and fear would only get in her daughter's way. Because she's a mother and mother bears have nothing on her.

And she knows, without being told, how special her daughter is. She even knew it before that dozen roses somehow became eleven on the way from the flourist to her hospital room. And smart, so smart, and only part of her annoyance has been at her daughter and the rest of it at a school system who just doesn't see her.

Then there's this boy, so painfully shy at times, distant at others, social anxieties making for a facade of standoffish cold. And her daughter loves him because of course she sees him, just as Ikuko does (even if it's only in those moments of seeing him with her daughter), who teaches her pi with candy.

It's different, how she feels for him compared to how she feels for her children, but it's also exactly the same. Loving, affectionate, full of pride. Fear, worry, that aching dread.

She sighs when it's done and sitting up is so much easier now. Her heart is heavy, because she's gotten hints that what she agonizes over late at night is true, but at the same time, this boy sees her daughter. So very few people have.

She smiles for him, and it's watery, a little heart broken, a little proud. "In some ways, I think she's smarter than any of us."
Mamoru Chiba 2017-06-26 02:09:22 79603
"--I'm sorry," Mamoru murmurs, sliding his hand back. "I'm sorry I couldn't-- I couldn't just let you keep hurting. I couldn't stay back and not know if maybe they didn't do it right, if maybe there might be another infection waiting to bloom, or if they didn't get everything. I'm sorry I couldn't do it without--"

There's a slight motion of his hand, before they both fall in his lap. Without letting Ikuko know that yes, there was magic, and yes, there was danger. He looks down and away a little bit, red in the face, but it's not a blush of embarrassment, it's the hot flush of shame. It's practically in a whisper that he adds, "She's so strong, Tsukino-san. She's much stronger than I am, than any of us are. And we do everything we can to protect her, anyway, because she's so important to all of us. She's our world-- just like she is yours."

Of course. Of course he focuses on the negative part, on that aching dread. He's not a parent; he doesn't even have parents. But he's an empath, and in relieving Ikuko of one hurt, he gave her another.
Usagi Tsukino 2017-06-26 02:21:22 79605
It breaks her heart, a little, his reaction. She slowly shifts and turns as he speaks, legs dangling to the floor.

And he's hurting, thinks he Did a Bad when he really hadn't, and she's a mother and she adores him.

And she knows, knows he doesn't like to be touched. But she leans over before she can think against it, wrapping her arms around him as a hand soothes his back. "Hey, it's okay. It'll be okay."
Mamoru Chiba 2017-06-26 02:36:50 79607
--and it's okay, it's really okay, because-- she's being careful, it's against cloth, so he doesn't have to keep his guard up after the first wide-eyed second of 'oh she's going to hug me'; it's Usagi's mother; she already knows about the Thing he Does and she didn't draw away; this is the opposite of rejection.

For a second he's still stiff and uncomfortable and uncertain, but then...'s been such a long, long week, and it's only Wednesday. It's been SUCH a long week, and Kazuo only got put back in his body yesterday. It's been such a long, long week, and he screwed things up with Kazuo's dad again, being thoughtless, being eighteen, being ... being himself dealing with unsettledness, with worry. And Usagi covered for him, forgave him for running out of Hannah's apartment, forgives him again and again--

And she's warm and accepting and she's a mother and--

He finds himself missing his mother. Missing Endymion's mother, Demeter.

All of a sudden, he feels like a small boy, heartbroken because Kunzite had to be away for a little while doing something he didn't understand, and not feeling well on top of it, and being so very tired, and not getting along with someone he doesn't even remember, and pelting with small feet down hallways, crying. He feels like it, he remembers it, running right into the throne room during an audience and curling into her lap, all of four years old, and he remembers her gathering him up and her hand soothing his back, just like this, even as she carried on with the audience as if nothing had happened.

And suddenly he's hugging her back, burying his face in her shoulder, letting her let him not care how undignified, how unseemly, how immature he is in this moment. Maybe he cries a little. He doesn't think she'll ever tell. And he lets her see--

Just a little lean of the side of his head against hers, just the smallest contact without cloth between, and he lets her see. He doesn't want to talk about it, he doesn't want her to think of him differently, he needs to be a grown-up. But for just this moment, he's letting her give him that comfort: he misses his mother, and she understands.
Usagi Tsukino 2017-06-26 03:00:12 79615
Though she doesn't tense or make a move to, Ikuko considers slipping casually away from the hug as though nothing has happened. She'll pull back and away, tilt her head to one side, and ask him how school is doing.

But then he's hugging her back and she's happy. Her arms tighten, for comfort not restriction, and when he hides his face in her shoulder she cups the back of his head in a promise to keep him safe.

Then he shifts and she can feel things. There's a flash of a woman, and despite the darker complection and her clothes she just knows. Just as she knows, by seeing her, that this woman feels the same for her child as she does her own. Fiercely protective, so much in love with her children that some days it hurts in the best of ways.

She'll never tell, of course. Not even him. Shingo's salt won't wash out of some of her better blouses, Usagi's tears stain the silk of her favorite pajamas, but she never brings it up after. (The problem, maybe, but not the tears.)

Her own eyes sting but she ignores that. "Sweet boy. I won't tell."