When The Phone Rings After Midnight

Makoto, plagued by unsettling dreams, gets an update from Kazuo on what might have caused them. Some nights, sleep is not the best option after all.

Date: 2017-08-24
Pose Count: 18
Kazuo Takeba 2017-08-24 23:25:03 81724
The text message arrives at a thoroughly uncivilized hour of Saturday night -- or perhaps more appropriately of Sunday morning; and therefore it is entirely possible that it isn't seen until ... well, a somewhat more civilized hour of Sunday morning.

    TXT from Kazuo: If you are awake, I must ask to presume upon your time as soon as possible. Unless Nephrite's reached out to you already, in which case I'll leave it to him.

It can't be an explosive emergency. Kunzite goes monosyllabic in those.
Makoto Kino 2017-08-24 23:30:41 81726
Under normal circumstances, a text wouldn't wake Makoto up. Circumstances aren't normal at the moment, though, and Makoto's sleep has been fitful and uneasy, her dreams plagued with disjointed and unsettling images.

The chirp of her cell phone at stupid o'clock in the morning comes almost as a relief. Something has happened.

It takes her a few bleary minutes to actually crawl out of bed and focus on the text, a little longer to parse it enough to reply.

    TXT from Makoto: what happened?

If it were an emergency he wouldn't be using phrases like 'presume upon your time.' But clearly something is up, and that something involves Nephrite at least tangentially.
Kazuo Takeba 2017-08-24 23:50:59 81728
    TXT from Kazuo: Labyrinth. Several victims. He was one of two survivors. Endymion is looking for the other one. Nephrite brought Kyouko the grief seed. We calmed him down enough for him to let go of his uniform, but it's not us Neil needs now.
Makoto Kino 2017-08-25 00:04:35 81730
    TXT from Makoto: oh. shit.

There is a bit of a pause after that text, before Mako pulls her thoughts together enough to send a second one:

    TXT from Makoto: thanks. can I ask a favor?
Kazuo Takeba 2017-08-25 00:10:58 81732
There is no prodding during that pause. Apparently her first text was more than enough of a signal to give her a moment.

There is no pause at all, though, after her second.

    TXT: Always.
Makoto Kino 2017-08-25 00:19:18 81735
She's all the way up now, switching on the lights and pacing into her kitchenette, phone in hand.

    TXT from Makoto: could you bring me some merlot?

    TXT from Makoto: or beer wld work too. brown ale.

    TXT from Makoto: 1/2c is enough

    TXT from Makoto: also the bag of dark chocllate chips from Mamoniisan's stash, I know he has them

The last of these texts probably provides sufficient explanation for the rest of them, if Kunzite hadn't already guessed the purpose of the request to start with. Makoto has two main methods of crisis management and they're well past the point at which punching anything would've been helpful.
Kazuo Takeba 2017-08-25 00:22:49 81737
There is no text in response.

About five minutes later, though, there is a quiet knock at her door.

Heaven only knows what he's expecting to do if she doesn't answer. Maybe leave it giftwrapped just outside.
Makoto Kino 2017-08-25 00:28:46 81739
He would probably figure something out. Fortunately he's not required to; the door opens soon after that quiet knocking. Makoto has pulled an apron on over her pajamas and dragged her sleep-mussed hair carelessly back out of her face with an elastic ponytail holder, and despite a lingering trace of bleariness in her eyes she is very much awake.

"That was fast," she observes as she moves back to let Kunzite in. "Thanks. It was really bad?"
Kazuo Takeba 2017-08-25 00:35:30 81741
At least he had the sense to drop back out of uniform himself before coming into the building. Kazuo steps in, offering Makoto the bag he's carrying solemnly: there is merlot and dark chocolate contained within. No brown ale. Possibly that would've required raiding Neph's part of the apartment.

"Yes," is Kazuo's undetailed answer. "Endymion healed Nephrite's shoulder, at least." But Makoto knows more than enough to know the physical damage was the least part.

His phone chimes while he's talking. He ignores it.
Makoto Kino 2017-08-25 00:53:09 81742
Mako accepts the bag with a distracted little inclination of her head, takes a moment to glance into it (mostly to confirm that the chocolate is what she thought it was. It is). Satisfied, she totes it off toward the kitchenette, where she's spent the past five minutes lining up containers and utensils and bowls along the countertop. Flour and white sugar and brown sugar and cocoa, a stick of butter out to soften in a bowl.

"That's good," she says, in a tone that suggests she'd assumed as much. The oven is already preheating, but she checks the temperature setting on her way past. "Is he - is he at you guys' place now?"
Kazuo Takeba 2017-08-25 00:59:55 81743
"He was when I saw him. Kyouko provided him whisky for company, so I doubt he'll be going far." There's no particular judgment going into that sentence; it's just matter-of-fact, as usual. Something Makoto needed to know.

Kazuo doesn't say a word about the oven, either. It is occasionally useful to Makoto that he can calibrate temperatures more or less at a glance. But she knows her oven better than any calibration. The best he can do, in her kitchen(ette), is stay out of her way.
Makoto Kino 2017-08-25 01:16:59 81744
"Okay." It's received as the statement of fact it was presented as, and no more. Makoto does pause, after setting the bag with the wine and chocolate down on the end of the counter, to survey her preparations with a momentarily critical eye... but with a little shrug, she goes on with her work, pulling her little kitchen scale to the open countertop of the island that divides the kitchenette from the living room and serves in place of a kitchen table. This way, she can face Kazuo while she's weighing out the dry ingredients.

"...You said he was one of the two survivors," Mako observes quietly, hands occupied with the familiar rituals. Once she's measured out the flour, the canister goes back into its place, methodical and orderly. "Who was the other one?"
Kazuo Takeba 2017-08-25 01:25:53 81745
"Sakura Kinomoto," Kazuo answers. "Cure Gull says she's taking care of her." He exhales through his teeth, quiet, though his expression doesn't flicker. "Apparently there was a card by the labyrinth when it opened. In the labyrinth, after. Neil has it now. I'll look for something to keep it entertained, later. After we arrange for Kyouko to do a pass through the problem area to look for stray familiars. This isn't a witch we want to risk leaving any remnants."
Makoto Kino 2017-08-25 01:34:38 81746
The sound Makoto makes is quite similar to the one Kazuo did, a sharp little hiss of indrawn breath through her teeth. "Dammit," she says quietly. Just that, for a space; it seems to sum things up.

"...it's good Gull found her," she adds after a moment or two more, once she's done measuring out cocoa powder and has turned to put the canister back into the proper cabinet. "Those cards are enough trouble, without tossing one into a witch labyrinth..."
Kazuo Takeba 2017-08-25 01:38:27 81747
Makoto has been dealing with Kazuo long enough, by now, to know that the arctic shading to his reply is not aimed at her. "It locked the exits."

He glances away, down to his phone, scanning whatever text he received and starting to absently thumb out messages in turn. It's enough distraction that his tone returns to what passes for normal. "If I didn't have substantial evidence that it wouldn't help, I'd've let Kyouko burn it."
Makoto Kino 2017-08-25 02:24:22 81748
Makoto's mouth tightens, and something in the set of her shoulders hardens as she bends her head over measuring a teaspoon of salt. "Maybe you should anyway," she says, flat and clipped.

Then she sighs, quieter. "Well, I guess that kind of thing can wait until the mess is all cleaned up. I'm glad that you texted me." She turns again to put the salt canister away next to the cocoa powder. One good thing about such a small kitchen space - she never has to reach very far.

"...You don't have to stay," Mako says presently, as she pops open a box of baking soda. "If there are things that need taking care of. I feel like there's more I should be asking, but I really can't think of what."
Kazuo Takeba 2017-08-25 02:34:41 81749
There are a dozen rational reasons to leave the cards alone. And some very strong irrational reasons not to. Kazuo does not try to argue the rational just now; his eyes half-lid, and he tips hs head toward Makoto, instead.

Quiet for a little, then. Till Makoto makes that last suggestion. "I'm not inclined," Kazuo says, not loud, "to leave anyone alone too long tonight. If my presence doesn't disturb you." If it does -- he can go. If it doesn't ... if Kyouko finds anything, he can be there in short order. And in the mean time he can do his best to be quiet company.
Makoto Kino 2017-08-25 02:47:03 81750
At this, Makoto shakes her head. "I don't mind," she says, and the corners of her mouth relax a little. She measures out the baking soda, then taps the box closed and looks up across the countertop towards Kazuo. "I can start some tea, if you'd like."

Quiet company really seems pretty good, all things considered.