Ace Asc Asking


Kazuo, Minako, unintended guilt bribery. Family matters and Phantom Ace talk. Minako always does manage to surprise Kazuo.

Date: 2017-08-14
Pose Count: 13
Players:
Kunzite 2017-08-14 02:17:22 81441
It is, granted, true that for someone a head taller than most adults in Japan and with eye-catching hair, Kazuo Takeba can go unnoticed remarkably often: he's got a talent for moving quietly and for blending in with the architecture.

It is also true that that talent is pretty useless in the Game Center Crown, because white hair really does *not* blend in with arcade games, junior high or high school students, or the blue wall panels.

Therefore he's well aware that going into the place means it's likely that anyone who knows him will spot him first, if they're not actually involved in a game or concentrating on a date or something. Fifty-fifty odds, maybe. Right now, he's there anyhow, circulating through the cabinets, giving slightly bored-looking glances at the players. Whoever he's looking for, he hasn't found any sign of them yet. (Yet.)
Minako Aino 2017-08-14 02:29:07 81442
    Minako Aino is here! She doesn't stick out as much as Kazuo, probably. She's just another blonde haired girl in a sea of different hair colors after all!
    She's currently playing the Sailor V arcade game. She doesn't nearly attract a crowd like she used to early on, because everyone's seen her beat it a thousand time! The entire scoreboard is practically 'MINA' down the entire strip with some other names down the very very bottom. 'AMI' probably appears near the middle or top every so often probably. Maybe.
    Another high score! The game bleeps it's win jingle. Not Artemis today. He's off probably doing whatever it is talking moon cats do when they're not around their people. Maybe he's off on a not!date with Luna.
    The first thing she does is look at the checkout and counter area towards Motoki-kun. Then she spots way too high hair. That can only be... Kunzite! Well. Kazuo probably. Right now. You can practically see the devil horns as she moves to try very hard to sneak up on Kunzite, moving through the crowds and then trying to come up behind him. She probably won't surprise him and she knows it. But she can try.
    "Hello, Kazuo-kun!" she says spreading her arms wide as she exclaims as such!
Kunzite 2017-08-14 02:40:04 81443
The elaborate win sequence draws Kazuo's attention, which is what it's designed to do, but perhaps too late for him to make his way around to see the winner in person. (Perhaps not. Perhaps he won't admit it if so.) Definitely in time to see the scoreboard, though, and his mouth twitches upward at one corner at the long stripe of MINA with its occasional interruptions.

"Are you going to play?" asks a younger boy, when Kazuo remains watching the screen at a little distance. Kazuo shakes his head and gestures him on --

And then turns at the sound of his name, surprised or not (devil horns or not), and bows to Minako. "Good afternoon," he says. "Victor once more, I see. Congratulations."

It sounds polite and formal enough to be a little distant, on the surface. But his eyes have warmed, and creased a little at the edges, and his expression rests rather closer to that half-smile than to the habitual little frown he was wearing before.
Minako Aino 2017-08-14 02:53:47 81444
    Minako can sense these little things and facial expressions. Because Kunzite is usually stone faced and while there's a little of that, there's also the half-smile and warm eyes.
    "Yup!" she says. "I always win that game." because it was designed specifically for her to train her. Not that anyone else knows that. She thinks she needs to throw Daisuke into that now. That'll help right? Put an 'ACE' in there somwhere, she thinks.
    She looks around. "Come on. Let's sit. I was going to get a victory milkshake. Do you want one? I bet you do!" she says.
    She finds an empty booth and settles in.
    "So last I heard. There was something going on about your dad. And Neph's real parents? How'd that all go? Is it still going?" she asks with wide eyes.
    When someone like a waiter can be flagged down. She orders a strawberry milkshake. Kunzite can order whatever he likes!
Kunzite 2017-08-14 03:08:38 81445
"The victor shouldn't have to buy her own milkshake," Kazuo remarks in passing, or at least in transit. "May I?"

Kazuo does not, apparently, drink something sensible like milkshakes. Kazuo orders coffee even if it's the middle of August and determined to turn the rain into a citywide steam bath outside. Maybe it's just because they're inside, where it's relatively safe from the humidity. Maybe there's something fundamentally wrong and thermodynamics-breaking with this particular reincarnation. Hard to tell.

"Still going," Kazuo confirms. "My father walked in while I was, ah --"

He actually stops. Backtracks. "Mn. I'd taken a hit from a weapon designed to do something particularly unpleasant to a particular small group of people, and it had ... unexpected side effects. Visible ones. My father walked in while they were still visible, and panicked. Naru and Makoto," there, he actually managed to use her name instead of referring to her as if she were an adult he didn't know well, "between the two of them managed to patch over the worst of the damage, but matters on that front are rather unsteady.

"Nephrite, on the other hand, is apparently neither Mifune Wright," thankgod, "nor Masato Sanjouin," unfortunately, because that leaves several questions wide open about that identity, "but Neil Burke, from Canada. His parents died young, and he was adopted by an aunt. He and Makoto and Mamoru went to meet her a few days ago. Apparently that went well."
Minako Aino 2017-08-14 03:23:44 81446
    Minako Aino flutters her eyelashes. "Of course she shouldn't. Thank you." she says. She leans back and listens a bit as she winces at that. "Yikes. He /saw/ something like that? Huh.". Kunzite seems to omit the part where 'Also I was a rock!' purposely. Probably because she'd get upset. Or worry. Or try to murder Miss White!
    Probably maybe both of those things if things went just wrong enough.
    "I'm glad for that. I'm glad you guys are starting to reconnect with the stuff you guys lost- and that it is good that things went well in Canada land!" she says. A pause. "You didn't go? You must had been crawling up the walls in worry about Mamoru-kun. I know I would if Usa-chan went too far." she squints.
Kunzite 2017-08-14 03:31:19 81447
'Also I was a rock!' is true, and is something that Minako should probably know about, but there are times and places where it's worth risking people getting upset enough to draw attention. He'll tell her later, he promises himself.

(He makes an internal note to remember to follow up and actually tell her later. Ideally in a situation that will avoid her finding out about the ongoing problems resulting from it by seeing for herself how long it takes him to henshin just now.)

"I didn't go," Kazuo confirms. "Nephrite and Makoto are perfectly capable of punching into oblivion anything that's foolish enough to give him trouble. Besides, there were things I needed to keep an eye on at home. Unmei -- do you remember her, the girl who's been staying with us for a few months? She's mostly recovered, and we've taught her enough of how to take care of herself that she's in the process of moving into her own place. I've been overseeing that and making sure she doesn't run into trouble."

Translation: Kazuo is a lot better at putting up with being wept on by an overemotional Unmei than Mamoru is.

Also translation: ... so he was probably crawling up the walls twice over.
Minako Aino 2017-08-14 03:55:05 81448
Minako Aino listens and nods and then smiles. "I remember her! Of course! We got her that. Pen thingy." she says. "I'm glad she's getting self-sufficent. I'll need to go visit her." she says. "Maybe grab some Sailor V posters." she winks.
    "I know the thing with Miss White went as planned. It sounds like my forest idea was a great plan." she almost sings out.
    "I need to drop by soon anyways. No good reason. Just hang out." she says. Of course she means- 'I'm bringing cardamon cookies.'.
    "Um, anything else going on? Everything quiet? Everythings quiet on my side. Artemis keeps saying when things are quiet that's when you should worry."
    "I agree of course. But can't do much about it until you know what may happen!" she insists.
    "Not that I haven't been patrolling with Arty and D---" aisukkkkke. "unno if we saw much of anything save for the random monster or thugs." she says.
Kunzite 2017-08-14 04:09:33 81449
"Your forest idea was," Kazuo confirms. "A minimum of injuries. I don't know if it will have any effect on Miss White in the long run, but at least she's stopped doing damage for the moment. And Unmei would appreciate your looking in, I suspect. She has a housewarming party coming up on Friday, that marks more or less the opening of the visiting season. Which reminds me."

He glances up as their drinks are brought, waits to be certain Minako's milkshake is in fact strawberry versus any other inexplicable pink, then glances down and reaches for something in a pocket. "We were finishing up getting her what she needed to live on her own, and it occurred to us that she was missing a significant part of her wardrobe, so I stopped in at OSA-P with her. This seemed like something you might like."

The box he slides across the table contains a pair of earrings. Not ostentatious. Not that version of what she might like. But sunstones set in gold, simple drops, taking their impact from the intensity of their orange color and the bright gleaming fire of the facets.

"I don't know when your birthday is," Kazuo says, straightforward. "So it seemed appropriate to make up for missing it."

Which does not get him off the hook for the rest of the question. "As for other things ... always. The most recent random monster I ran into turned out to be Riventon rather than random. There were some interesting other people involved in the fight." He glances up at Minako's face, and sets down his coffee a little to the side, where it's less likely to spill at him if she shoves the table. If this one is news to her, earrings are not going to save him in the slightest. "One of them looked like Phantom Ace."
Minako Aino 2017-08-14 04:48:46 81450
    Minako Aino smiles. "I'll make a point to try to attend!" she says. "I mean. It isn't easy to actively seek help from something like that. Ya know? So positive stuff needs to happen after too." she says.
    She eyes the box. Jewerly...? Ooooh her god. They're beautful and gorgeous. She doesn't particularly care how much they cost. Just they look pretty and /Kunzite/ bought them for her. Though in practice. They could be poop emoji earrings and she'd still be stunned because of that fact. "O--oh! Thank you, Kazuo-kun! They're pretty!" she says as she begins to actually put them on. Right now. She's changing up right now. "Um. Oct 22nd! That's my birthday." she says.
    Then Kunzite mentions Phantom Ace. "Oh my gosh!!! Reallly!?" she says with wide eyes leaning forward a little.... then she suddenly feels SUPER guilty. Because earrings. And she's lying and---
    "Ugh. Look.." she says. "...he's probably gonna tell you guys himself when he feels ready? He's still--- Kind of settling into that role." she says. "--and he's doing the sneaky investigative things I can't do on my lonesome anymore like I promised." she says.
    "Anyways that's Ascy-kun. Surprise! I've been training him SUPER hard and teaching him my investigating tricks! Has that been helping during this investigations into the Sailor Earth?" she asks with wide eyes.
    "-and if you wanna blame anyone for that. Blame me. I'm the one who picked him. The last guy... you know." she says a little uncomfortably for more than a few reason of various shades of awful and sad.
    "He's kind of like the polar opposite of that. I think it's doing a lot for his confidence though!"
    She leans forward howeever and asks the important question, the super important question. "Have any chicks dug his mask yet?" she asks.
Kunzite 2017-08-14 05:19:26 81451
If Kunzite ever buys anyone poop emoji earrings, granted, the best response to that gift is probably going to be a Crescent Beam, because obviously he's either been replaced or possessed. Again.

"October twenty-second," he repeats. Odds that he is going to take that date to Nephrite and demand all her secrets from the astrologer: actually pretty low, admittedly, mostly because Nephrite would probably feel obligated not to keep that secret from his girlfriend, so it'd get back to Minako in something under a half-hour. "I'll do my best not to miss the occasion this time."

(He does not volunteer his own. Being that much older than the rest of them is embarrassing enough already, under the circumstances.)

Wide eyes and leaning forward are a start! Wide eyes and leaning forward is not knocking anything into him, or accusing him of anything nefarious; that's better than he was worried about --

-- why is she looking like that.

Oh.

Kazuo tilts his head a little as she starts explaining, paying attention without, still, any hint of frown. Listening. Until she names the name.

That's when he looks startled. Well, startled by his standards, anyhow: eyes widening, drawing a little back and upward. Reaching for his coffee when she asks her first question, and actually taking a drink of it rather than holding on to it for Kazuo-it-is-August-WHY warmth.

"I haven't been keeping tabs too closely on his investigations," Kazuo admits. "Largely because I don't want to bias him with my own suspicions; I'd much rather see what he comes up with. But I saw him fight, and he did well; he had a better grasp of timing and coordination than any of the times I've seen him work as Asclepius, and he didn't sabotage himself wth doubt. So your choice and your training seem to be paying off. And I'll wait for him to make his own choices on identifying himself."

The last guy -- he knows. All too well.

But any brooding that might have ensued on that is interrupted by that last question: Kazuo's head comes back up from its incipient tilt, and he stares at Minako for a moment, for once caught off-balance. "-- I don't know," he says finally. "The girls there were a little busy fighting each other. After which one was busy leaving, as was Ace, and the other girl was busy bleeding. There were sadly priorities other than mapping romantic interests." He considers the matter for a moment. And Venus's usual preferences in style. "He did work an appropriate quip in first, though."
Minako Aino 2017-08-14 05:38:34 81452
    Minako notices the surprise. "I picked him because he's a pretty good guy who hates my guts." she insists. "Like I said. Polar opposite." she says cooly. "Well I wouldn't say hate. I would say super annoyed a lot!" she exclaims.
    "Well. He has an actual weapon now. Those cards are just like darts. Or Ninja Stars. He's faster and stuff too. But he also can't teleport as fast and his healing power is weakened in it. Though he can still use it." she says. "That's what we've learned practicing and training so far. I don't think he's used to not being able to teleport out as fast." she says.
    "-but he still has that ring! So it's not gone forever. It's more like a tactical choice for him now." she says.
    "Ohhh! He did!? Yes!" she says. "I've been trying to teach him to be smart with stuff like that. "-and ugh! Bleeding always ruining romantic chances." she says with an almost huff.
    "You seem surprised. How come?" she asks, innocently.
Kunzite 2017-08-14 05:47:58 81453
Hates her guts? Kazuo's eyebrows twitch upward, but her self-correction hits before Kazuo can ask whether she'd find it desirable for anyone to Do Something about the situation, which is probably a vast relief for all parties.

"He is a good man," Kazuo says instead. "And having an actual weapon not only provides him with another option, but means that he can't tell himself he isn't strong enough to help. That was his worst problem all along, I think."

(Parents do that, he thinks but doesn't say; he has no proof, on that one.)

THere's a little touch of wryness entering his expression, over the change in Dai's teleport speed. "That's a risk, till he figures it out," Kazuo agrees. "It'll be difficult for him to remember for a while that he can't just flicker out of the way of harm. Most of us have gotten through that stage. I'll try to remember he hasn't yet." ... out of the Shitennou, there's exactly one who's even half as fast as they all used to be. Zoisite, as usual, breaks all the rules.

He nods back to Minako at the statement about the ring. "I saw. We needed a healer to help with the bleeding girl. So I called Daisuke just after the fight." He deadpans that, and leaves the rest to Minako's imagination.

Unnntil she gets revenge on him. Yes. Another drink of coffee. "I wouldn't have thought him the type, that's all," he says. "I'm pleased to discover I was underestimating both his daring and your ingenuity."