Best Birthday Ever

Nephrite's come home from his memorybean retreat in time for Mamoru's birthday, and he's brought gifts-- and plans.

Date: 2017-08-06
Pose Count: 24
Nephrite 2017-08-06 03:54:16 81203
It has been a few days. Well. Weeks. It has been a few weeks. Nephrite emerged from his palace late in the early dawn hours when nobody would be around to comment on the campfire smell. Mamoru was gone for the day. That was expected. It gives Neil time to do some laundry, catch up on things. It's not until late evening that they're in each other's orbit again. When Mamoru comes home around 10 pm, Neil is waiting for him. "Hey," he says with his characteristic grin, and plops a bottle of sake on the living room table. "Happy birthday."

There are some things important enough to stop moping and come be a human being for once. This is one of them.

"So the good news is, I'm not a hot mess right now. The bad news is I'm still rubbish at containing my thoughts, so just, like, give me a heads up before you do any touching, so I don't give you my memorybean cooties."
Mamoru Chiba 2017-08-06 04:15:14 81206
Honestly, Mamoru did sort of expect to get ambushed-- and very much hoped he'd get ambushed by Neil, but wasn't holding his breath. That was at least a peanut-butter-jar-sized dose of concentrated trauma the guy downed in one night, so he's been respecting Nephrite's privacy--

--but he is so glad to see him. SO GLAD.

"Okay heads up!"

Instant remora. Remoru. Memora. Whichever. "Man, all you gotta say is you're a walking trigger warning and I'll leave my walls up and you won't have to worry. Dude I'll even leave 'em up one way only. It's way easier for me than you." Unless he's getting held away by the forehead, he is hugging really hard, right here. And probably muffled by nephshirt. And definitely more interested in that than in the sake. He'll be interested in the sake later. He needs physical Neph presence.
Nephrite 2017-08-06 04:29:55 81208
There is, if one is generous, exactly one second between the warning and the hug. And no, Neil does not push him away, because he would have to use his bare hand to do that, so instead he splutters uselessly while Mamoru crashes into him. But his spluttering quickly dissolves to laughter, and he folds his prince into a bear hug. "Okay, noted. You've got this, as per usual. I won't argue." Neil has significantly cleaned up since he got home, the shirt that Mamoru is buried in is clean, and his chin is even clean-shaven when he rests it on Mamoru's head. "Sorry I took so long. Glad I made it back in time to give you your present. Well, the first one, anyway."
Mamoru Chiba 2017-08-06 04:40:01 81209
With Neil's chin on Mamoru's head, there's contact -- and it's one way, as promised, because there's no distress coming from the black-haired birthday boy, only joy and sheer relief. Well, 'only' -- of course there's the golden presence of one part of what 'home' means to Nephrite. Then there's muffled laughter, and the bearhug is being returned, too, if not as enveloping. "You put the second one on the table. You coming back today is the first one. Are you telling me there's a third?"

The prince's head tips back, out from under Nephrite's chin more easily as he straightens (without letting go), and he looks up, eyes shining. "You're ridiculous. Also is it sweet sake? I mean obviously it is, but is it?" He'd swear he wasn't babbling, if asked, but he's about a second away from it. "Can we open it now?"
Nephrite 2017-08-06 05:06:18 81210
More laughter, brought on this time by the mix of bright emotions Mamoru is sending him. "Oh, so you did miss me? I figured by now you'd have gotten Jadeite to sculpt you a replacement out of clay."

He moves off now to the couch, and pulls out a pair of sake cups he'd stashed under the table. "I was going to suggest that myself. Yes, it's sweet. It's not made from bishounens, though." He cracks the bottle open and pours some into each cup, setting Mamoru's down in front of him. The label says Aiyu Daiginjo.

"Alright, gift number three." He reaches back under the table and pulls out a box that is a little too professionally gift wrapped for Neil to have had a hand in it. (If he had, the wrapping would have been questionable. He cares enough about presentation to pay someone else to do it.)
Mamoru Chiba 2017-08-06 05:17:54 81211
Honestly Mamoru would love whatever it is even if it were a macaroni-on-construction-paper portrait of Deep Space Nine wrapped in newspapers, but he also appreciates presentation. So it is that when he drops himself down on the couch next to Neil, but before he picks up the graciously-poured sake, his eyes widen at the beautifully wrapped present. "Oh my god, a box!"

He takes it and hugs it to his chest. "I'd put things in it but I can't bear to ruin the exterior-- I'll make sure to hang it from the ceiling in front of the door so everyone can see it--"

He doesn't duck.
Nephrite 2017-08-06 05:27:33 81212
Mamoru must have also missed the hard punt he receives on his arm, since he made no effort to duck away from it. "Open it, you jerk. I didn't come over here for your sass." Now that's a lie. The sass is part of the package deal, and Neil would not trade it for anything.

Inside the tastefully immaculate wrappings, Mamoru will find a rectangular leather pouch, with pockets and straps inside for holding an assortment of tech devices and cords. MC is stamped on the outside in small script. "It's not much. I know you can buy yourself anything you want. But I figured this would be handy for university, or when you go hang out in one of the palaces and need to bring extra batteries to charge your phone."
Mamoru Chiba 2017-08-06 05:35:39 81213
There is smirking and arm-rubbing in the wake of that punt, and the smirking turns into grinning at Neil's demand; he opens it. And then opens and opens and opens, it has a LOT of compartments, comparatively! His eyes are wide, his expression on the 'glee' side of appreciative; this is a guy who is definitely down with pockets and zippers and compartments and things to put things in, especially with the idea of organization behind it. "Dude! There's buying myself anything I want, and then there's useful shit I would literally never think of getting that's also classy AF. Thank you!"

Okay, another hug. This one's a sideways arm-slinging hug. And if Neil wants Mamoru to drink sake and converse he's going to have to start fast because the look on the ALSO-NINETEEN-YEAR-OLD's face is that of a man about to start putting things in other things right now immediately.
Nephrite 2017-08-06 05:44:05 81214
Neil basks in his triumph a little at seeing Mamoru's glee. Appealing to his need for organization was clearly a solid choice. He picks up his own sake cup and takes a sip. "So I'm thinking of going home right away. My other home. Canada-home. Honestly when I was sitting in my palace I considered just hopping straight over there. But you wanted to come, and I want you to be there. You and Mako. You found them with me, you should get to meet them for real."
Mamoru Chiba 2017-08-06 05:55:18 81215
There's a-- Mamoru starts out enthusiastic, yes for sure, but there's a little frozen moment of not-a-twitch when Neph says he almost went straight there from his palace. It's very little. I mean, he kept going. So it's tiny and it's immediately gone, replaced by Mamoru putting down his new toy and not even picking up the sake yet because he's gone to grip Neil's arm. "I definitely want to come. And Mako definitely wants to come. I can translate! I told her I would-- and I also just got done telling my parents I'm greedy for family. And that I'm calling them my parents because it's okay because Aunt Sandra calls you her son. And besides if you went straight there after living in the woods for weeks you'd knock everyone out with the stench and have no one to talk to. Are you going to call her first? ...should I put off the sake?"
Nephrite 2017-08-06 06:09:44 81216
His smile turns softer at the mention of her calling him her son. But he puffs out a laugh at Mamoru's comment about the stench. "Yeah and can you imagine me trying to convince them that I'm doing okay after that?" He does not even make an effort to deny it.

His hand moves to Mamoru's arm. "I would have still brought you there. I would have introduced them to you. I just--had this wild idea of running out and just showing up at their door and that would have been absolutely a dumb thing to do and I should add that I was drinking at the time. Like, it would be kind of a shock, wouldn't it? I don't want--I don't want my coming back to hurt them. Any more than being gone has."

He fiddles with his cup, such a little thing in his big hands. "Actually--I was hoping you could call them. Sort of ease them into it. You could pretend to be a cop or something and tell them I've been located."
Mamoru Chiba 2017-08-06 06:23:12 81217
Mamoru definitely relaxes-- and he picks up his sake after all, judiciously sipping it as Neil continues. 'I was drinking at the time' is definitely a thing. He makes an effort -- a sake-assisted effort -- to calm down further, to be serious. It's easier when Neil's gone even more serious himself, and displays the telltale body language of the nervous and uncertain; this, all aspects of the prince know how to deal with.

He sets his glass down, long scholar's fingers lacing loosely atop his knee, and he leans forward a little to look at Neil a bit sideways, a smile playing at the corner of his mouth. "I'll call them, for sure. But judging by how Kazuo's dad took the cover story I tried first, I don't think lying is a good idea. I can limit spilling what sounds insane, and gloss the magical aspects, but I'm thinking -- from what I saw of her -- Aunt Sandra would be able to take it. Moreover, she'd be able to tell I was lying from another continent. I'll just introduce myself and tell her you had amnesia from trauma, but have remembered who you are, and want to come home. We can go from there, right?"
Nephrite 2017-08-06 06:32:48 81218
Neil pauses, thoughtfully. And then he laughs. "Oh man. Yeah. Yeah, she'd see right through you." He runs his hand through his hair. "I don't want to scare her. But there are things I think she'll understand better than most people would. I don't think we have to worry about her running off with anybody's slippers." He gets out his phone, pulls up his contacts. Aunt Sandra is already listed. He added her the day he remembered her, and has looked at her number on and off for days now. "Should... we do this now? I wasn't planning to drop heavy stuff on you today of all days."
Mamoru Chiba 2017-08-06 06:36:48 81219
"You're not heavy, you're my brother," Mamoru informs Neil, eyes twinkling. "Besides, I'm good. It's out of my system for another year. And you brought me you and sake and a cool thing to put things in and the chance to talk to The Aunt Sandra!"

He makes grabbyhands for the phone for a second, then pauses, doing a quick calculation. "Uh. It's a little past six in the morning there. You think she's up yet?"
Nephrite 2017-08-06 06:46:44 81220
"...Did you really just quote that at me? And yes, of course all along the real gift I brought you was Aunt Sandra herself."

He takes Mamoru's hand and shoves the phone into it. "She's one of those morning people--yeah, I don't know how that gene missed me either. And she's a teacher, so she used to always get up at like 5:00 to do stuff before school. Really, this might be the best time to call her." He glances down at the phone again, then up at Mamoru. "She really is going to love you."
Mamoru Chiba 2017-08-06 07:04:23 81221
The phone in Mamoru's hands is handled like it's made of diamond chocolate or something. The most precious desirable object in the history of ever. His eyes gleam.

He calms down, clearing his throat. "Sorry. No, not sorry. I'm excited. This is like climbing Mount Everest. I'm glad she's a morning person. She'll love Kazuo too, it'll be great, he'll have zero idea of what to do."

There's a brief one-sided touch of his hand over Neil's for a second -- reassurance; shared excitement; the breathless feeling of the future opening up -- and then Mamoru drops that hand and thumbs the contact to dial with the other, and holds the phone up to his ear. His face says 'it's ringing!' And then his face takes on the aspect of a student speaking respectfully to a teacher, or a teenager talking respectfully to a friend's parent.

His English is perfect because of course it is.

"Hello, Sandra Burke? My name is Mamoru Chiba; I'm a friend of Neil's. He's safe. We found him, he's safe--"
Nephrite 2017-08-06 07:17:12 81222
"Hello?" The voice on the other end is rich but not quite as warm as it sounded in Neil's memories. She answers Mamoru's inquiry with the cool detachment of someone who is likely expecting a telemarketer. But Mamoru keeps talking, and he says a name that causes a choked gasp to sound on the other end. There is a heavy moment of silence before her voice sounds again, smaller and more brittle. "Neil? You found him? Is he really--"

Beside Mamoru, Neil is still as a statue, almost afraid to breathe.
Mamoru Chiba 2017-08-06 07:24:44 81223
"He's really okay, ma'am," says Mamoru into the phone, and he reaches for Neil's hand to offer something to hang on to, physically and emotionally. Solidity, confidence, breathless happiness. His voice, on the other hand--

--his voice reflects calmer versions of this, calm and yes, confident; he's the bearer of the best news, but has enough detachment to make sure his tone communicates that there's no chance he's winding her up. "He had amnesia from trauma; he's been okay for about a year and a half now, but didn't get his memory back of who he was until now. He's enrolled at Keio University with me and our other friends, he has a wonderful girlfriend-- but he wants to come home. He's right here but he's holding his breath because he's a big dork-- can we come too? I mean, me and Neil's girlfriend, Makoto. How soon can we--"
Nephrite 2017-08-06 07:28:40 81224
"Let me speak to him." Her voice is not abrupt or abrasive. It is not an order. It is a request, but a firm one. "Please, if my Neil is there, I need to speak with him."
Mamoru Chiba 2017-08-06 07:29:55 81225
"Yes, ma'am, one second--"

Mamoru holds the phone out to Nephrite, and he's grinning like an idiot. "She needs to hear you."
Nephrite 2017-08-06 07:39:32 81226
Neil swallows the lump in his throat. If he had thought to refill their sake cups, he would take a sip of that, but instead he has to just deal with the thickness in his voice when he takes the phone. "Hello? Aunt Sandra?"

A sigh over the phone line, like she has also been holding her breath for a very long time. "Neil. Oh Neil, oh honey..."

"I'm sorry I was gone for so long. I'm sorry for what I put you through."

"Tell me that you're really okay. Just tell me that."

Neil's dark eyes flick to Mamoru. "I'm okay. I'm okay and I'm coming home. And I'm bringing the people who saved me to come meet you."
Mamoru Chiba 2017-08-06 07:46:14 81227
It's Mamoru's turn to hold his breath, eyes shining; he sits on the arm of the couch and tries not to actually let his fingernails cut semicircles into his palms, his hands are so tight with the effort not to move.

At the last, he opens his mouth to say something, then doesn't want to interrupt Neil hearing his aunt, so he explodes into motion and gets a piece of paper and scribbles on it 'we can be there tomorrow we just need to get Mako-chan' and holds it up in front of Neil's face.
Nephrite 2017-08-06 07:57:43 81228
Logistics are not really Neil's strong point when he is currently getting pummeled by a torrent of feelings, so the paper appearing in his field of vision cuts through the haze and gives him a directive to latch onto. "Tomorrow. We'll be there tomorrow." He looks up at Mamoru, joy and gratitude visible on his face. "I'll be there and I'll explain. I promise."

Neil reaches for Mamoru's hand, hoping he understands the offer to drop his filters. He made this call happen, and he should get to hear the rest of it. And to feel the wonderful ache in Neil's heart.
Mamoru Chiba 2017-08-06 08:04:17 81229
With some people, Mamoru does need empathy to read intent. Not with most. Certainly never with the people to whom he is closest--

Eyes still shining bright and overbright, Mamoru's hand closes in Neil's, and he lets go his mental filters and lets the older boy sweep him along into the happy ending that's been so needed for so long.

The happiest endings are always beginnings.

Best birthday ever.