How Not To Deal With People

Tsubasa comes looking for social advice. From Kunzite. Unsurprisingly, two of the more socially and emotionally stunted magical people in Tokyo do not manage this conversation well.

Date: 2017-07-21
Pose Count: 19
Kazuo Takeba 2017-07-21 23:45:24 80781
It is particularly unsurprising that the windows of the top floor of that building are lit. Not all of them, of course. But the important one, the one from which light spills out onto the balcony that houses a sleeping rosebush. The rooftop is empty even of its more usual nighttime inhabitant, his telescope left alone -- but there are lights there, too, little party LEDs strung around the edges of the roof as a silent warning of the edge. And the rooftop door, like the balcony door, like the door from the elevator hall with the 'use this one' sign on it, is unlocked.

The residents are never terribly worried about people coming in. After all, the people they are worried about tend to have ways around locks.

It's a quiet evening, by and large. The living room is almost unoccupied. Kazuo's seated at what would ordinarily be the dining table, but is almost never used for that purpose. Mostly because one end of it has pre-med textbooks stacked on it, and the other one currently has four books lying open plus a tablet and a laptop. Both of which Kazuo is using only for reference. Apparently he's one of those people who take the 'paper' part of paper-writing literally.
Tsubasa Kazanari 2017-07-21 23:51:14 80783
Tsubasa has never come in through the front door, so the 'use this door' sign is not one she's familiar with. Her uncle got her a ride with one of the choppers, and thus with her hoody drawn up the girl drops down a rope ladder onto the rooftop, and she approaches the door to give it a gently but swift series of knocks, one for each knuckle in her right hand. Then, she waits, not wishing to intrude further uninvited.
Kazuo Takeba 2017-07-22 00:00:24 80786
It takes a few moments for Kazuo to detach himself from sentence structure; all the same, it's not at all long before the door is being answered. He bows silently toward girl and hoodie, and backs down the stairs a couple of steps, inviting her in more by twitch of hand and tilt of head than by actual words.

Actual words aren't so much until they're at the bottom of the stairs, presuming that she doesn't opt to stay on the rooftop. "May I offer you anything? Coffee? Tea? Some of Mamoru's ridiculous pineapple soda?"
Tsubasa Kazanari 2017-07-22 00:03:52 80788
"Tea." Tsubasa answers as she sits down and takes a deep breath, "And maybe some advice?" It's sort of why she's here, after all, and despite her uncertain tone it's clear that she doesn't see any point in waiting around to get to the point of why she's here, but at least she doesn't presume to unload with whatever it is she wants advice on before at least getting some kind of confirmation on that.
Kazuo Takeba 2017-07-22 00:24:40 80796
Kazuo crosses into the kitchen and sets water duly to heating. This does not bar conversation in the slightest, given that the top half of the wall between the kitchen and the living room is largely missing. "To whatever extent we can give it. What's your trouble?" Not likely the Noise. Not directly. They're the ones who look to advice from her, for that.
Tsubasa Kazanari 2017-07-22 00:48:05 80802
"Two things. One, new girl, known associate of unidentified relic thief. Allegedly no longer associated with said thief. She is strong, and joined Section Two. I don't trust her, but they insist I give her a chance." Tsubasa leaves unspecified what advice is required regarding that, "More importantly. I really ought to get better at dealing with people. I can't just keep relying on fame to justify being as standoffish to hide that I have no clue how to deal with people."
Kazuo Takeba 2017-07-22 00:58:12 80806
Unidentified relic thief. That could describe any number of kinds of people, really. Kazuo restricts his comment to the twitch of an eyebrow, and busies himself with the matter of cups and the like as the water heats. He could speed it up, in theory. But speed isn't the point at the moment. "Interesting." There's a non-comment, but it's all he's in a position to give over the nameless new girl. "Is the advice you're looking for on her under the umbrella of 'ought to get better at dealing with people,' or is there something else troubling you about her?"
Tsubasa Kazanari 2017-07-22 01:13:10 80808
"Mostly just... ok. I nearly died when I fought her, I did something that should have killed me, and I still wasn't able to force her to relinquish the stolen relic. I don't know, if she betrays us, that I could stop her." Tsubasa's voice cracks a little as she relates this, and admits to the fears she has, "But we need the manpower, and she's strong, so I want to give her that chance, but how can I do that if I never get to know her as a person?" Or in other words, yes and no.
Kazuo Takeba 2017-07-22 01:27:32 80813
Kazuo does not look up from arranging items on a tray. "The first problem is generally addressed by having allies who can be called on, so that if things went wrong, you would not need to stop her alone. This is of course not a perfect solution -- it takes time to call in outsiders, and may be embarrassing -- but it is one possibility."

Tea is set to steep, and he carries the tray out. There is a plate of small sweets, and another of various flavored crackers, both chosen for an assortment of colors. "As for myself -- I originally viewed dealing with people as a particularly annoying long-term set of tactical problems. It worked sufficiently for a while. Mamoru was upset over my internal mindset, though, so I've been trying other techniques lately. Acquiring a socially acceptable hobby, for instance."
Tsubasa Kazanari 2017-07-22 01:38:58 80815
"I don't have time for hobbies." Tsubasa objects to the solution proposed, picking up a cracker and taking a bite. "I wouldn't know what to go for anyway." She then returns to the other topic with a tone of frustration, "I'd been doing this alone for years, until Tachibana-san showed up, ever since..." Pause, and she deliberately looks down and away, swallows some emotion, "Point being, I shouldn't be dragging others into my failures."
Kazuo Takeba 2017-07-22 01:51:14 80817
"I avoided that problem by choosing something that needed to be done anyhow. We need to eat. Cooking is a socially acceptable reason to be out of conversation, without seeming antisocial, since the food goes to the people I'm avoiding talking with." Kazuo frowns at the teapot for a moment. "Also, it provides acceptable discussion topics. Humans eat. They have food preferences. Learning them gives a method of indicating amiability or dislike. And letting them talk about what they like or dislike often makes them inclined toward the listener. So: virtue of necessity. Others I know use other activities in similar ways. Swimming. Media. Fashion. Physical activity. There may be something you do already that you could use. Or that tactic may indeed be useless to you for the moment."

Words buy time for the tea to become acceptable. That might have been their main purpose. Kazuo pours tea, Tsubasa's first, and seats himself at last. Only then does he address that last sentence.

"Why would it be a failure?" he asks quietly. "And if so -- why would it be yours?"
Tsubasa Kazanari 2017-07-22 02:00:39 80818
"My job just takes up too much time." Tsubasa doesn't bother explaining what her job is, but continues, "But I'll think about it." She takes a sip out of her tea, and considers how to respond to the other thing, "Because the Noise, and phonic relics, are my responsibility. Not yours. If I can't even do that, then I'm just a broken blade." That's right, she's the one who describes herself as nothing but a sword.
Kazuo Takeba 2017-07-22 02:08:10 80819
"Mn. But your principals do not expect them to be only your responsibility." Kazuo glances across to Tsubasa again, steady. "Since there was a time before they were your responsibility. And since there is someone else to assist you now. That does not sound, to me, like an indication of a failure on your behalf. That sounds to me like an indication that you have been bearing up under stresses that would have snapped other blades long since."

He does not dwell on that; he continues on. "Further. The hypothetical is 'if this new girl betrays you.' If so. That betrayal is not the Noise, nor phonic relics. It may be associated with them. But it is in itself a different matter, one at your principals' level, not your own. It seems entirely reasonable not to require you to deal with it alone."
Tsubasa Kazanari 2017-07-22 02:17:09 80820
"It's been my responsibility since I was five." Tsubasa points out, calmly and without much emotion. It may help explain a lot about how Tsubasa came to be the person she is, "I'm a sentinel." This is said with some renewed conviction, and then the other thing is addressed, "She's using a symphogear, just like I am. Which means she's using a phonic relic. Which means it's my responsibility."
Kazuo Takeba 2017-07-22 02:33:02 80821
"In part," Kazuo agrees. "In part. But that a thing is your responsibility does not mean it is not also others' responsibilities." He lifts his cup, holding it meditatively between both hands. "My principal is the Prince of the Earth. He holds no political power; but there are certain senses in which the Earth is his responsibility, and since his welfare is my responsibility, the planet is also mine through his. Would it then make sense for me to attempt to solve every problem on the planet singlehandedly, refusing all assistance?"
Tsubasa Kazanari 2017-07-22 02:46:59 80822
"That's not what I'm saying. Of course I'll take help if offered, and look for it if needed. But I shouldn't be needing to." Tsubasa explains her stance, sounding a more than a little bit frustrated by it all. She takes a sip out of her tea, "The noise are a much smaller thing than 'every problem on the planet'" then a pause, "... and I don't want people to die because I'm not strong enough." Unstated, but carrying through regardless, 'not again.'
Kazuo Takeba 2017-07-22 03:18:00 80823
Kazuo takes a sip of his own. The traditional time-buyer. "There is a limit to every person's strength," he says quietly. "Every individual person, sooner or later, will fail. Some of us may hammer out more of the flaws than others -- but we fail.

"This is not a source of shame. One can be the best sword imaginable, and still fall short in a situation that requires instead a longbow, or a ribbon, or a cart. This is easy to grasp in theory. But difficult to recognize, and to admit, that a situation we feel as if we ought to be able to handle may require something as frivolous as a ribbon to bind it. Still. Your strength will not always be the kind of strength you need. No more than my strength is the kind that this conversation needs. We can keep trying. We can do our best. But that will not change that often enough, the best tactic we can use in a given situation is not 'increase our personal strength' but 'apply the strengths of others.' And that this is no shame."
Tsubasa Kazanari 2017-07-22 03:25:06 80824
Tsubasa finishes her tea, sets it down, and slowly gets up. "I know, you're right, but..." She looks towards the door, and slowly starts to walk over. "And thanks for talking but..." She sighs, and her voice cracks, "Knowing that won't bring her back, doesn't change that I had to watch it happen, and there was nothing I could do." And then she opens the door.
Kazuo Takeba 2017-07-22 03:35:56 80825
"Nothing changes that." Kazuo's voice, behind her, remains even, quiet, conversational. But there's an echo of that crack in it, something hollow. "All we can ever do is try to do better the next time. And hate it for a long time, when we understand that trying to keep control in our own hands will only make the next time worse.

"It gets better, eventually. If you find the right people. If you find the right ways to work with them. If you can come to understand that it's not a betrayal. But it's hell, first."

Unstated, but perhaps that carries through, too: and worse for you than for me.

She started younger.