Bonne Anniversaire

Kunzite meets Mamoru's parents. Follows

Date: 2017-08-03
Pose Count: 16
Mamoru Chiba 2017-08-05 20:38:56 81163
Finally, Mamoru falls silent, tying the braided grass into a ring and draping it off the top of the stone. He lets his fingers trace over the kanji again, parrot and parrot, and he sighs. No tears this year. Not yet, anyway. "Should we have brunch while we wait for Kazuo? He'll come, I know he will. I asked him to. I think--"

His hand drops. "I think he wants to apologize," the prince says wryly. "He was all of thirteen and thinks he could have done something to save you. Thinks he should have been there. I wish you could tell him it's not his fault. And boy, do I wish you could talk to his dad... I keep messing things up with him. He's so broken that any attempt I make to fix him is altogether too hamfisted. But you'd been planning to, hadn't you? They were supposed to come to the school that day... but the accident happened, and it sent Kazuo to the hospital too, and when Takeba-san came to see the school, the magic had cleaned it up and it looked abandoned. And all that time you were sitting on the door to Jadeite's palace..."

Endymion shakes his head again, reaching up to knuckle his eyes. "You're a thirteen-year-old mystery, the two of you. And that house. And everything about us... but I can tell you one thing for sure. Unless my birth parents think I'm dead, or are dead themselves, then I don't care about them at all, blood aside. And that's one thing I have to-- no, just want to-- want to insist, over and over, but I don't because Kunzite's doing it even if he doesn't want to-- his father tried to find him. He tried. He made the effort. That's worth more than all the blood in the world if they're alive and haven't even bothered to look for me."

Silence, then a half-laugh. "Kunzite," he says without looking up, "are you going to keep lurking, or are you going to come say hello? This is Chiba Hinata and Chiba Chiyoko-- oji-san, oba-san, this is Takeba Kazuo."

And there: ocean-dark blue eyes look up and over at Kunzite, and they're finally overbright, though Mamoru's face is smiling. "They talk even less than you do."
Kazuo Takeba 2017-08-05 21:08:53 81164
It's not that Kazuo has been hiding, per se. Certainly not. When he received the message, he came at once, or at least only with whatever delay Mamoru requested. It's only that -- well. Mamoru was mid-conversation.

He is not entirely sure that the people Mamoru is talking to can't hear him. He is not entirely sure that Mamoru can't, in some sense, hear them -- not aloud, not consciously, but somewhere. The boy is made of connections. And ones that have been there for long enough, and are dormant or steady-state, might simply parse as part of him by now.

He bows to Mamoru, now, and bows to the stone. "Hello."

That is, of course, all he says for that first moment. But he has the excuse of glancing at the incense, being certain that there isn't room for more, then setting out the other things he brought for the grave. White lilies. Halvah.

He glances to Mamoru only after; then to the gravestone again, the markings on it. "I'm sorry," he says a little more quietly. "If I'd been in better time, things might have gone differently for you." If I'd had better sense, once, things might have gone differently for all of us. He doesn't say that. That apology will always be too great a thing to give in words. "But you should hear from someone besides your son, sometimes, that you did well with the chance you had with him. That he's done well. I trust Kino-san told you as much, last year. You should hear it again. If life were fair, you should hear it always."
Mamoru Chiba 2017-08-05 21:38:24 81165
Going from sitting on his heels to sitting properly on the grass -- this really is a lovely memorial park, with space around the stones, surrounded by and scattered with trees, rather than the cityside cemeteries with their cramped tiers and narrow stone walkways -- Mamoru inclines his head and gives Kunzite a small smile, not interrupting. There's room for more incense, yes, and the holder for flowers is empty to receive the lilies, and the halvah joins the anpan and little candies in the bowl set into the base of the stone.

It's only early August; the roses Mamoru planted are still blooming, and he's cheated a little to make them stronger, hardier, more vibrant. He's cheated a little in having transplanted them from Zoisite's palace in the first place.

If his connections with the Chibas are still present, they are most certainly background noise, cluttered and obscured by years of assigning false lives, fantasies, to them. They were fantasies that kept the connections alive, but masked; now that the masks have crumbled, the ties are to memories instead of even ghosts. If his heart can hear them, he'd never know it unless the tie existed and then were severed. The prince's hands fist in the fabric of his shorts, heels of his hands digging into his thighs as he looks back at the stone and listens to what Kazuo says.

After a moment's silence more, with a slightly jerky motion, Mamoru pulls his bag over again and unzips it, taking out lunch. Four cans of coffee, two bentos packed by Makoto, and madeleines enough for the two of them and two extra. He sets things out really deliberately, not quite able to look up and away from what he's doing. "You know," he says in a really low voice, still not looking, "that you had no idea where to go. That you had no reason to believe the school, if your dad even told you anything about it-- I don't remember-- had anything to do with what you were looking for. And you're not one who made the appointment. You were thirteen and your life was already complicated and difficult. And I think getting hospitalized was punishment enough for something that wasn't your fault, don't you?"
Kazuo Takeba 2017-08-05 22:00:08 81166
Wasn't it? answers the glance that Kazuo gives Mamoru's way -- but Mamoru's looking at what he's doing, and Kazuo's grateful for that, because that answer is one of those that's true but not helpful. "I was reading his mail," Kazuo says instead, with a brief half-apologetic glance toward the roses and the stone. He seats himself by Mamoru, and makes his addition -- halvah for the two of them, and stuffed dates, shared out like the madeleines.

There's a temptation to lay his hand over Mamoru's. He lays it on the grass beside, instead. "Not punishment, though. And not guilt. And not the important part. That they did not fail, and that we know it, and remember -- that part is important."
Mamoru Chiba 2017-08-05 22:16:05 81167
"...yes," Mamoru says, finally, and because he is a roil of unwelcome emotions that hasn't yet settled into the last of what Kunzite's spoken, he doesn't brush his fingers over Kunzite's hand on the grass. Not yet. Instead, he cracks open a can of coffee and soothes himself with the rituals involved in eating. "Itadakimasu," he mutters, then takes a swig of the coffee and stuffs a madeleine in his mouth.

Eventually, after some protein and some more carbohydrates, his shoulders relax and he brushes crumbs off his fingers to reach over and lightly touch the back of Kazuo's hand. He's all right. He'll be all right. There's a burning anger in him that's intertwined with the mystery, and there is, as always, grief and the remembrance of a lifetime of loneliness, but it's mitigated by gratitude for the memory of what he had before the accident and the knowledge of what he has now, and by the utter safety he feels whenever he's in Kazuo's presence, and by the fierce love that's always there.

Maybe the anger is good. Maybe the anger is an improvement, is progress. "Trying to do right by you is also important," he says to the stone, and his voice holds the weight and confidence of Endymion's side of him. "Tsukino Kenji-- the Princess' father-- looked into your deaths years ago, and he's made what he found out available to us. We have more resources than he does, and he's still willing to help solve it-- it's his case. We'll keep looking."
Kazuo Takeba 2017-08-05 23:31:16 81168
The word's echoed, almost in unison, and perhaps not entirely referring to the meal. There is, after all, another responsibility Kazuo should have received -- has, now. An implicit promise woven into the etiquette.

There is also Makoto food, precious on an additional level besides the usual ones today. After all. She met them last year.

The touch to the back of Kazuo's hand finds what it always finds: steadiness, calm, focus intertwined with love. And, this time, a match to that anger. Not as bright or as hot as Mamoru's in this moment, no. But this, too, is seeded in him. Something that can go badly wrong, and has, yes. But also the same thing that made a much-younger Kunzite turn toward Elysion's offer rather than away from it; the same thing that made him a guardian; the same thing he recognized in Nephrite, in Jadeite, in Zoisite. In Endymion. The capacity to reserve that anger for the right things. And in Endymion more than any of the rest of them, to keep it under control.

Anger, after all, is the emotion that says something or someone is threatening something or someone I want to protect.

"We have," Kazuo says quietly, toward the stone. "We will. There are steps we needed to take first, so that we don't miss important cues. I don't believe my family was the only one you were watching for. But Nephrite's reached for his memory, and is reaching for his kin. If you were watching for him, for them ... that will surface, I think."
Mamoru Chiba 2017-08-06 00:01:30 81169
There's no more crumpling, no more inability to talk, no more threatening to let grief overwhelm him-- that's another thing this sort of anger is good for. So for a second, Mamoru's hand closes around Kazuo's from the back and squeezes, and then the nineteen-year-old withdraws it. The touch leaves, in its wake, resolution and feeling better, as well as the lingering happiness intertwined with affection that's the result of Kazuo having come in the first place.

Then Mamoru leans in and says conspiratorially, "I get to go with Mako and Nephrite-- Neil-- to visit his Aunt Sandra. From everything I saw of her from his memories, really, she's really really amazing. She stood up for him all the time. She called him her son... just like I can call you my parents. She understood him. I'm so excited to meet her, and Neil said he'd share--"

All of a sudden he's sitting up and looking sheepish, laughing a little, lacing his fingers together, and he's nothing of Endymion -- just the most open of Mamorus, young and a little uncertain, a little shy, too honest. "I'm so greedy for family. No one will ever replace you, oba-san, oji-san, but more family, and more and more, is always what I hope for. I'm very greedy and presumptuous. I should be more respectful, maybe, but I don't want to be."
Kazuo Takeba 2017-08-06 00:39:42 81170
"You should have more and more," Kazuo says quietly. "Families grow, and intertwine, and join. It's what they're for: keeping people safe enough that they can keep more people safe. So how else should you be respectful, than to reach for more?"

It's after he says that that he shows just the tiniest hint of frown. A trace of eyebrows knitting. Changes everywhere, this year. It's a sure bet that he never thought of applying that to himself before.
Mamoru Chiba 2017-08-06 01:00:50 81171
Mamoru's hand slips over to take Kazuo's again, and now Kazuo can feel where that one's coming from -- again, too honest. There's chagrin over Hiroshi, and still that desperate resolve, but such frightened doubt behind it. "Reaching and reaching even for people who rebuff, people who don't want to be reached, because you've decided it would be better for them and wonderful for you, and a very good thing for someone you love very much even if it's not something they want... how is that any better than what Locke does? Deciding things for other people. How it it any better than what anyone full of dark energy would be inclined to? Insisting it's for their own good..."
Kazuo Takeba 2017-08-06 01:07:40 81172
"There is a difference," Kazuo answers, "between reaching out your hand, and compelling someone to take it." He glances toward the stone -- then covers Mamoru's hand again, settling it between his own, before looking back toward him. "You invited my father. He chose to accept the invitation. He chose to return. More than once. You have also made it clear to him that he does not have to make that choice, that there is no threat involved. He chose to return all the same. You have not tried to force Agera to accept treatment. You have left a hand open to him. And Hannah ... she's asked. She does not want to admit that she's asking. But she's asked."
Mamoru Chiba 2017-08-06 01:13:35 81173
Silent for a long moment, thinking about this, Mamoru's intertwined fingers are tight and tense. And then he shifts over, leaning against Kazuo and holding that hand between his. "But," he says in a very low voice, "Mako and I have been giving him rose honey. All the sweets are made with rose honey. We even gave some to Naru to make hers with, when she's making them for him."

A beat, and the voice is smaller still. "She makes it with my roses, Kunzite. There's magic in them. We're basically drugging him with healing and empathy and connectivity. With the essence of those roses."
Kazuo Takeba 2017-08-06 01:19:37 81174
"If I thought that were a problem," Kazuo says quietly, "I'd have stopped you. I don't believe it is. If there is any magic in that honey beyond what Mako does to it, then I believe that magic can only affect people who are open to it, people who want to be affected by it. We've seen it before; people who choose to close themselves off won't listen, people who choose to fight purification -- well."

He draws a breath, thoughtful, and then leans his head down, pale hair mingling with dark. In front of the stone. "If, though. If you believe that this is parallel to what Agera did. If you believe that it may be affecting him against his will. Then you need to make that right."
Mamoru Chiba 2017-08-06 01:33:22 81175
Well. Mamoru told them last year that not only did he have a girlfriend, but a boyfriend too, and who-- he's a little hesitant to admit he has two boyfriends and a girlfriend because he's not sure how liberal and progressive they are, but they definitely know about Kunzite. So this in front of the stone isn't something he's worried about.

He tucks his head in under Kazuo's, and his voice is a little muffled thereafter. "I've been trying to figure out how. He gets so-- he's sometimes able to admit magic exists and that we deal with it, but it makes him so anxious, it makes him feel angry and lost and helpless. I want to tell him about it. But I also don't want to cut off his medicine. But it's not medicine if he doesn't consent. And he likes Mako-chan... and she's conspiring with me. And he already doesn't like me."
Kazuo Takeba 2017-08-06 01:38:44 81177
These things are an unknown mystery to Kazuo. But so many things are. He's quiet for a little while, letting Mamoru hide against him. And, ultimately, he speaks again. It's not an answer. It's only the thing most guaranteed to make Mamoru come up with one.

"I could tell him."
Mamoru Chiba 2017-08-06 02:32:59 81185
"Oh my god no," mumbles Mamoru into Kunzite's shirt.

There is the heaviest of sighs and the black-haired prince finally draws back a little bit. "Fine. Fine, fine. I'll figure it out. I'll just be..."

He glances at the stone again, then drags one hand over his face while he leaves the other in Kazuo's. Then he lifts it again to run it through his hair. "...really careful."

After a moment he takes his hand back again and starts picking blades of grass once more, braiding them deftly with his fingers. He looks-- and when he took his hand back he felt-- like the sudden stress is already bleeding off. He's also reverted to quiet, but it's not an uncomfortable shifting quiet. It's a familiar one, and his hand, his arm, his knee-- he's wearing shorts and has ditched his jacket, so, short sleeves. He's also still very close, he hasn't moved away. He just needs his hands right now.

It's a few minutes of this comfortable silence before he says, a little amused, "I'm going to be here for a few more hours. You can stay if you want, or go if you want... I like you being here, though."
Kazuo Takeba 2017-08-06 02:40:41 81187
"If you get uncomfortable," Kazuo says, "I'll go. But till then, I'd like to stay." They don't need to talk. They don't need to do anything. It's just --

-- he's never met them before.

In a little while he'll shift, and light some more incense, and maybe look around in the grass that surrounds the grave to see if there's any weeding to do that Mamoru hasn't taken care of already. But in the mean time, sitting quietly and watching Mamoru braid grass is more than enough.

Maybe he's a little greedy for family, too, in his way.