As The Sky Clears

Nephrite's still holed up in his palace dealing with the lingering effects of his memorybean bender. Makoto checks in on him and reminds him that he's not in it alone.

Date: 2017-07-14
Pose Count: 26
Makoto Kino 2017-07-14 23:52:12 80420
Makoto gave it a little time after she got Kazuo's message. It seemed best, she felt, to let Neil have some space, and a chance to come to terms with his feelings.

Not too much time, though. After several days have passed with no sign that her boyfriend has yet emerged from his palace, she decides it's time to look in on him.

So come the afternoon, Mako finds her way through the doorway from Jadeite's palace to Nephrite's with a tote bag slung over her shoulder. She'll know pretty quickly, she reckons, whether Neil's ready to welcome visitors or not - if he doesn't want to be found in here, there'll be no finding him.

He'll know she's there already, but that doesn't stop her from calling out, only a little tentatively: "...Neil?" Still getting used to the name a bit.
Nephrite 2017-07-15 00:27:05 80421
The sky that greets Makoto is cloudier than she has normally seen it. Heavy stormclouds hang overhead, rolling and rumbling as though a tumultuous storm is only just passing. Of course, storms are not altogether a negative thing, given who it is that enters now.

"I'm here," he calls from within the trees. He is not hard to find. Mostly because perched above him, crackling and sparking in echo of the sky overhead, is the Thunderbird. Nephrite leans against a tree to make craning his neck up at the giant bird slightly easier. He looks--well, tired perhaps. Like someone who has been camping, mostly. Not particularly clean-shaven. T-shirt a little more rumpled than usual. He smiles as she approaches, sort of subdued compared to his usual self, but genuinely, and moves to give her a hug. "Hey. I've missed you."

On the burned half-tree, the great Thunderbird rumbles. "The one who shares my name. Welcome, daughter of Jupiter."
Makoto Kino 2017-07-15 00:35:43 80422
Even before she reawakened as Sailor Jupiter, Mako knew the feel of a storm in the air very well. She can taste the difference between a storm that's on its way in, and one that's spent. Arriving as the storm is passing... she'll take that as a good sign.

Hearing him answer her is a better one, and she wastes no time in finding her way to him, with the Thunderbird as an excellent mark to navigate by. When the guardian beast greets her, she responds with a polite bow. "Thank you."

Even as she's straightening back up, she turns a fond smile toward Nephrite; leaning into the hug, she wraps her arms around him. "I've missed you, too," she tells him. "How are you feeling?"
Nephrite 2017-07-15 00:58:14 80426
The Thunderbird tilts his beak at Makoto's bow. Probably the closest to a bow that he'll give.

Nephrite wrinkles his nose up. "Like someone scooped me out and ran everything through a blender and then did a very poor job of putting it all back." Attempts at humor: another good sign. He strokes her hair. "Sorry I've been gone so long. Did Kazuo tell you everything?"
Makoto Kino 2017-07-15 01:29:35 80430
"Not everything." Makoto hugs him a little bit more snugly, an offering of warmth and security through the contact. "Just what I needed to know. It sounds like you've had a very messy and unpleasant experience."

She says it lightly, matching his tone, but there's sympathy in her voice as well. "You don't have to talk about it, unless you want to. I'm sure you'd rather not think about that stuff any more than you have to, right?"
Nephrite 2017-07-15 02:08:33 80437
"Messy," Nephrite laughs. "Yeah, that's a good description. Good thing Kazuo's so good at dealing with messes, huh?"

He runs a hand through his hair. "It was just... it was being back there again, you know? In the Dark Kingdom. It's not like I forgot that part, really. But having so many of those memories back all at once, it was like reliving it all. Except now I knew how wrong it was and..." he sighs, smiles at her again. "Sorry. I'm rambling. Anyway I wanted to steer clear of Mamoru while my brian's all scrambled. He doesn't need this stuff back in his brain again. And... you've kind of already gone through the ordeal of dealing with me when I was in that place. You don't need me whining about it all over again."
Makoto Kino 2017-07-15 02:17:01 80438
"Hey." A note of gentle reproach comes into Makoto's tone, and she rocks back enough that she can look up properly at his face. "It's not whining. And you don't need to worry about troubling me. I get not wanting to leak it into Mamoru-niisan's head while you're still sorting through things, but that doesn't mean you have to deal with it all by yourself."

A momentary pause, and then Mako softens those words with a lopsided smile. "Anyway," she says, "for me, that stuff is practically ancient history. You're the one who had to live through it again. It's okay to lean on me a little if you need to."
Nephrite 2017-07-15 02:41:12 80444
For a moment, Nephrite blinks in surprise at her reproach. Then he sighs, smiles, and leans his forehead on hers. "Sorry. You're right. I don't want to unload on you, but I shouldn't shut you out, either."

His arm shifts around her waist as he looks down at her again. "Well, as long as we're here, we could make the most of it, huh? Do you want to sit and chat for a while? You can tell me about totally normal things happening in your life that have nothing to do with, you know, stealing energy and other creepy stuff."
Makoto Kino 2017-07-15 02:53:12 80446
That's all that it takes for Makoto's face to brighten. "If that's what you want," she replies, "it sounds great to me. Here--" She wriggles a little until she can lift the bag she brought without having to pull away from him. "I brought you some things. I don't know about you, but good food always makes me feel better, at least."
Nephrite 2017-07-15 03:12:11 80449
Nephrite gasps, and the joy in his voice almost sounds like normal levels for him. "Girlfriend baking! You are too good to me!" He hugs her again, because it has been a few days, and they need to catch up. The Thunderbird does not watch as they move away from him, choosing instead to preen electric feathers.

Nephrite excitedly points at the tent as they enter the campsite. "Look, I pitched it again without any major disasters! You and me, we are camping pros now!"
Makoto Kino 2017-07-15 03:26:14 80450
"Nice!" His enthusiasm is almost always infectious, all the moreso now when it's especially good to see him perked up like this. Makoto's eyes sparkle as she admires the campsite. "The practice has really paid off."

Before they get settled in, she opens up her bag in order to pull out a container of homemade amaretti and offer it to him. "I put together a bento for you too, but this really seems like a 'dessert first' situation," she says with a bit of a laugh.
Nephrite 2017-07-15 03:50:05 80453
"Now I know you're spoiling me," he says when he sees the box of cookies. "Definitely a dessert-first situation." Surprisingly, he's still got non-alcoholic beverages left in the cooler. Perhaps Kazuo was responsible for that. He produces two cans of iced green tea, which seem like better companions to the sugary confections than pop.

"So there's more. There were some memories in there of the old days. My old life. Not everything, but lots more than I had before. And there was this Jovian goddess... " his expression softens, a smile playing on his lips as he looks at Makoto. "I think she really knocked me off my feet, you know."
Makoto Kino 2017-07-15 04:09:58 80456
Pleased with herself, Makoto makes a soft, playful 'hmm~' sound. "I'm pretty sure spoiling you is my job as your girlfriend. Especially at times like these."

Her attention is caught by his talk of that other life, and a trace of pink begins to color her cheeks. "I'm glad it wasn't all bad memories," she says, the look in her eyes turning wistful. "To be honest, I wish I remembered more of that time myself. The parts before it went wrong."
Nephrite 2017-07-15 04:21:45 80457
He leans his chin on his hand. "I guess that means I'll have to make up for it by spoiling you back later."

It's his turn to be pleased, as the blush colors her cheeks. "You were the good among the bad. You, Endy, Kunzite, Jadeite, and I guess sometimes Zoi. That helped keep me going. That, and Kazuo being made of solid rock." Pun absolutely intended. "But maybe you will? Not in candy form. Dear god I hope there aren't any more of those suckers around. But maybe some will come back over time."

He reaches for her hand. "Either way, as amazing as it is to remember who you were, having you here now, the way you are now, is better than anything I can imagine."
Makoto Kino 2017-07-15 04:49:53 80463
The wisecrack about Kazuo prompts a short, startled yelp of laughter from Mako, and an amused shake of her head. "I'm gonna tell him you said that," she mock-threatens, as though Kunzite would take being described thus as anything but a statement of fact.

Then he's taking her hand, and Makoto moves to lace her fingers together with his, blushing more brightly. "'re doing a pretty good job of spoiling me back already. I'm not sure I'd know what to do with more."
Nephrite 2017-07-15 05:02:09 80464
Her startled laughter is almost enough to make him forget the past several days. Even the sky seems to clear a bit, patches of blue visible here and there between the clouds. He lifts her hand towards him and kisses the back of it. "Is there any limit to how much one must spoil a princess? If anything I don't do enough. What'll it be, then? Write your name in the stars? A thousand-strong choir to sing your praises? Or maybe... " he picks up one of the cans he retrieved from the cooler and holds it up. "Some tea?"
Makoto Kino 2017-07-15 05:15:44 80466
"Tea, definitely," is Makoto's immediate and firm reply. She's still giggling a little as she reaches to accept the chilled can that he's holding up for her. "Thank you. Please don't organize a choir, I think I'd sink right into the ground in embarrassment."

He's looking more at ease; that alone is enough of a reason to keep the talk going. "I finally met Kunzite's dad, by the way," Mako notes. "He came by the frathouse to deliver something for niisan."
Nephrite 2017-07-15 05:28:53 80468
"No choir. I'll just release a hundred white doves on your birthday, then." He's smiling, but the glittering in his tired eyes promises that he could do it if he set his mind to it.

But now he hears mention of Kazuo's dad. "Oh? I imagine that was way less of a terrifying experience for him than some of his recent encounters. Not the least being me." There is an odd sort of pride in his voice at that. "Is the man utterly charmed by you?"
Makoto Kino 2017-07-15 05:40:16 80470
Judging by the look that flickers across Makoto's face, she has no trouble believing that he could make good on his extravagant promises if he decided to, and she finds it both intensely flattering and also a little bit dismaying. Oh, dear.

"...he didn't quite seem to know how to behave towards Masato Sanjouin's girlfriend." The words are accompanied by a light, playful push at his shoulder. "He was kind of awkward. He didn't seem like a bad person, though."
Nephrite 2017-07-15 05:57:27 80472
Nephrite's smile freezes. "Sanjouin's girlfriend, huh?" He manages a strained laugh. "Yeah, awkwardness seems to hang over the guy like a dark cloud. We should get him checked for curses."

He pauses, and then sighs, squeezing her hand. "Sorry. I don't know why this is bothering me now, I just... " he runs his hand through his hair. "I'm not that guy anymore, right? I mean I technically still am. I still sign the checks sometimes. I still dress the part when I need to. That never bothered me before. But now it's just... too close, I guess."
Makoto Kino 2017-07-15 06:05:10 80473
Apology sweeps over Mako's face in an instant, regret for her careless words. "Sorry," she says, setting down her can of tea so that she can clasp both hands around his. "I get what you mean, I just... didn't think, I guess. After everything that happened, I hardly think of Sanjouin as a real person any more. He's more like - like an act that's convenient for you to put on sometimes, but he's not you. You aren't that guy at all."
Nephrite 2017-07-15 06:12:11 80475
"It's not your fault." Nephrite takes a breath, feels the hands clasped with his, warm and steady as always. "I mean, I just pulled that persona out to deal with Kazuo's dad a few weeks ago, right? You had no reason to think now... I mean I didn't even think it would bother me until this minute."

He leans his head against hers again. "I did so much bad under that name. I wanted to keep it to try and do good with it. Maybe I still can. I don't know."
Makoto Kino 2017-07-15 06:24:23 80477
"Of course you can." Makoto says it without a trace of doubt, tilting her head to rest it gently against his. "If it's something you want to do... if it's something that would help you deal with the stuff that happened before, you can definitely do good things with it. But nobody would blame you if you decided to leave that part of the past behind, either. It's up to you which way is best for you."
Nephrite 2017-07-15 06:37:22 80478
He lifts a hand to trail over the edges of her hair, coming to rest on her cheek. "Thank you. It means a lot that you still believe in me, after everything. I'll think about it." He pulls away to meet her eyes. "I love you. Thanks for being patient with me. And for bringing me cookies."
Makoto Kino 2017-07-15 06:45:39 80479
When he meets her eyes, she's smiling softly up at him. "Any time," Makoto promises, before leaning in for a brief, light kiss. "I love you, too, and I've got your back. You don't have to rush yourself."
Nephrite 2017-07-15 06:50:37 80480
He leans into the kiss, however brief it is. "With you covering me? I know it'll be okay."