Cake For Breakfast

Neil had a terrible night. Makoto has a solution.

Date: 2017-08-25
Pose Count: 15
Makoto Kino 2017-08-25 23:35:04 81788
It's a much saner hour of Sunday morning by the time Makoto lets herself into the frat house. Some of the residents are probably up and about, but Mako is only concerned with one particular resident right now - she's quiet as she moves through the common areas of the adjoined apartments toward the one that is Nephrite's personal living space.

She's cleaned herself up since earlier this morning when she met Kunzite at her apartment door wearing an apron over her pajamas. Now her hair is under control in its usual ponytail and she's dressed in a t-shirt and comfortably faded blue jeans, carrying her tupperware cake caddy tucked securely under one arm. At the closed door of Neil's apartment, she pauses to shift her grip on it slightly, then knocks, a careful tap-tap-tap against the door.

"Neil?" Loud enough to be heard through the door, soft enough not to carry through the whole place. "You awake?"
Nephrite 2017-08-25 23:59:44 81792
Makoto's tapping is met at first with only a silent pause. But before she is forced to knock again, there is shuffling behind the door. It swings open abruptly to reveal a haggard-looking Neil. He's still wearing the same t-shirt and jeans he wore yesterday, and dark rings are forming under his eyes. It was late already when he returned from Kyouko's place with the last of her whisky (formerly his whisky, now reclaimed) in-hand, and a few fitful hours of sleep on his couch are all he managed to get.

He blinks once at Makoto, startled to see her at such an early hour. But that is all the hesitation he has before he is draping himself around her, pulling her in for a much-needed hug. The giant tupperware just barely manages to not get crushed beneath them, thanks to some agile maneuvering. He talked himself out of texting her multiple times last night, but here she is anyway, like she heard him all the same. "Hey. I'm glad to see you."
Makoto Kino 2017-08-26 00:18:39 81794
She blinks at him as he's blinking at her, a look of concern beginning to come over her face as she gets her first sight of how haggard he looks. Before she has the chance to say anything, his arms are around her and the breath is going out of her in a soft little whuff of surprise.

In the next moment she's curling her arm around him and tucking her head close against his shoulder. "Hey yourself," she says softly. "I heard you had a really crappy night."

Somehow, without looking, she manages to finagle setting the cake caddy down on a more or less flat surface. It might be risky to leave it there, but it lets her get her other hand free to rub soothingly against Neil's back.
Nephrite 2017-08-26 00:37:10 81797
A soft laugh blows into her hair. "How'd you guess? You--oh. Kazuo, right?" Well, that is not entirely surprising. She was getting updates from him while Neil was hiding in his palace, too.

He sighs against her. "Yeah, it was--not great. A lot of badness went on. And I may have wallowed all over Kyouko's living room."
Makoto Kino 2017-08-26 00:52:29 81799
"Yeah." He can't see the faint, fond smile that curves Mako's lips, but he can hear a trace of it in the way her voice softens. "He gave me a head's up... though I kind of had a feeling something was wrong, even before he texted me. I just didn't know what."

She's quiet for a couple of breaths, just holding him, hand moving in slow, absent circles against his back. "...Want to talk about it?" she asks eventually. "Or do you just want to bury it in cake? I'm okay with either."
Nephrite 2017-08-26 01:16:37 81800
"Sorry," he mutters. "I didn't know if you could feel something, and I didn't want to wake you in the middle of the night if you didn't." Of course Kazuo would consider the obvious, that a single text was not going to wake her up if she was not already awake. But thinking clearly was not exactly on Neph's to-do list last night.

He pulls back to look at her, suddenly animated. "There's cake? Oh my God, cake please." He pulls Mako in to squeeze her once more, because holding her is all he has wanted to do all night. Mamoru's healing and acceptance, Naru's muffins, Kyouko's solid assurance, Kazuo's steady presence, all of these were vital antidotes to his shakiness last night. But he didn't feel complete until he could hold her again. He finally turns to notice the container she was carrying when she came in. "Why do you have cake? Is today special?"
Makoto Kino 2017-08-26 01:37:20 81802
Makoto reaches up to brush his hair back from his face, smiling against his shoulder. "It's okay. No need to apologize."

The cake was clearly a good idea, judging by his reaction; Mako's smile warms as she follows his look towards the contained. "There's cake because Kunzite woke me up at dark-thirty this morning and it was too early to come over yet. And I thought you might want cake." She'd had the recipe in mind for a while, thinking it sounded like something he might like - not under these circumstances, maybe, but it was as good a reason as any.
Nephrite 2017-08-26 02:02:47 81805
He pauses, eyebrows raised. "You've been up since the wee hours of the morning baking this for me? You're--you're the absolute greatest, you know that? I don't know what I ever did to deserve you." He leans in to kiss her, but stops. "Wait, no, I've been up drinking all night, you definitely deserve a better kiss than that. Hang on, let me put coffee on and I'll brush my teeth and let's do this properly." He breaks away to dash into the kitchen. It's not nearly as nice or as well-stocked as the kitchen proper. The fridge really only exists to hold alcohol and whatever Mako goodies and occasional takeout boxes he does not feel like sharing, and the stove and oven only see use for the purpose of reheating said Mako goodies. But it is stocked with a French press and coffee, mostly for when he's pulling all-nighters on the roof and does not want to wake up the whole ECFH going in and out of the kitchen.

In the living room is evidence of Nephrite's late night. An empty whisky bottle, an open star journal (some failed effort at distracting himself), a pillow mashed into the corner of the couch. He pulls out coffee ingredients. "You must be as exhausted as me."
Makoto Kino 2017-08-26 02:16:31 81807
A look of disappointment begins to flicker over Mako's face when he stops short of the kiss - until he explains himself, anyway. Then she glances down with a lopsided smile, because okay, maybe he's got a point there.

While Neil busies himself with starting the coffee, Makoto rescues her cake caddy from wherever it was that she'd shoved it a minute ago and moves it to a safer spot on his coffee table. She takes in the signs of his restless night as she goes, lingers for a moment or two more after she's set the cake down to pick up and fluff out that pillow and then set it back in place on the couch.

"I'm pretty sure I got more rest than you did," she tells him, following him into the kitchen. "Besides, baking relaxes me. Coffee sounds good, though."
Nephrite 2017-08-26 02:43:51 81813
He glances up at her as he measures out grounds. "Was it bad? I mean, the residual nightmare stuff? Mamoru said he was getting echoes even while he was blocking me." He turns away to fill the electric kettle. "I froze up. In the labyrinth. Soon as it opened I just--couldn't."

Kettle is filled. He sets it onto its stand and flips it on, his tone lightening again. "What kind of cake did you make? Not that any kind of cake you make could be anything but amazing."
Makoto Kino 2017-08-26 02:52:32 81815
"Well," Mako admits, glancing away briefly as she speaks, "it wasn't much fun, but it was just some bad dreams. I don't even really remember what I was dreaming."

Once he's got the coffe started, she wanders over to slip an arm around him again. "I woke up feeling like something was wrong. Then Kunzite texted me and I knew what it was."

Cake. Cake is a good thing to focus on. "It's a dark chocolate and merlot cake. I've been wanting to try making it," she says, tipping her head back so that she can look up at him from this angle. Her eyes crinkle a little at the corners, brightening with the sparkle of an amusing secret. "I had Kunzite raid Mamoru-niisan's chocolate stash for me since the stores weren't open. Don't tell anyone."
Nephrite 2017-08-26 03:12:40 81819
He looks like he wants to say something more as she describes her bad dreams. Instead he slips an arm around her too. "Well. The night is over with. And now there is cake."

But now she shares her dark secret, and Nephrite looks almost delighted. "Oh, that is fiendish. He guards that stuff with his life. I promise, your secret is safe with me." Of course, since Kunzite was the one who took it, and Makoto was the one who used it, odds are very high that it will be replaced before Mamoru even knows it's missing.

He leans down again, nearly kissing her--"Right. Teeth. Dealing with that right now." He pulls reluctantly away and dashes toward the bathroom. "Please excuse me while I make myself presentable, my lady!"
Makoto Kino 2017-08-26 03:30:08 81823
She can't help it - faced with that delighted look on his face, Makoto looks momentarily very smug. Never mind that Kunzite has probably already replaced the chocolate, what's important is that it's chased some more of the shadows away from Nephrite's face. "You're welcome," she says, sing-song.

She blows a kiss after him as he heads for the bathroom, and turns to see about hunting up a couple of plates and some utensils for the waiting cake.
Nephrite 2017-08-26 03:48:19 81829
Neph returns a moment later, wearing a clean shirt and smelling of toothpaste. His hair has been messily tied back to mitigate the bedhead. "Alright! Now I'm less of an ogre and more of a boyfriend." His feet hardly touch the kitchen's laminate floor before he races across it to sweep her up off her feet and plant a kiss on her lips. "There! Better?"
Makoto Kino 2017-08-26 04:03:33 81831
The silverware Makoto was holding clatters onto the counter, and her breath hitches in a surprised little squeak that quickly turns into pleased laughter. She loops her arms around his shoulders, welcoming the kiss and tipping her head to rest her forehead against his after it's done.

"Much better," she agrees. She'll never get tired of how easily he can scoop her up off her feet, but the real treasure right now is seeing him looking more himself, less haunted. The nightmare isn't gone for good, but if it's been pushed back for now, that's a good start. "Welcome back."