Asking For Help

Kazuo checks in on Unmei post-disastrous-apartment-party, and discovers that it's fifty-fifty whether she's going to be buried first under unopened boxes or under Pin and Win nagging in her head.

Date: 2017-08-26
Pose Count: 24
Kazuo Takeba 2017-08-26 02:06:41 81806
The knock on Unmei's door comes not long after the text exchange. Not instantaneously. Kazuo actually came over the mundane way, instead of cheating with a teleport; he generally does that when things aren't actual emergencies.

He doesn't try to let himself in, either. It's Unmei's place, and Unmei's privilege.
Unmei Tama 2017-08-26 02:16:43 81808
Unmei Tama came over to the door and let him in. She looked... fine. Mostly. She hadn't seen him since. There were boxes.

The boxes were unopened. Except one. That one had one Sailor V statue missing from it. Which was on a shelf. That... was it. Aside from some pots and pans. She was cooking, at least. But she somehow... didn't... she looked a little thinner. And if he saw into the fridge, he might see not much had been eaten.

Of course, that was if he did a cursory inspection. The first thing he'd probably notice was the tension. When she saw him, she tensed up. And it was obvious she wanted to hug him. Heck, she probably needed to hug him. So tight. But she didn't. She was 'good' for now. She just stared at him. Barely moving. Then moved aside. "Come in! Come in! You know you never have to knock. I mean, you guys can just come in. I guess. If you want. Sorry. I mean, you should get a key. Or something..." She nervously brushed her hair back, looking at the ground. "Sorry. Hungry?"
Kazuo Takeba 2017-08-26 02:22:10 81809
"That might not be a bad idea," Kazuo says to the mention of the key, closing the door behind him and slipping off his shoes. "It's usually wise to make sure that someone else can get in in case of emergency. A friend, or a neighbor if you meet one who proves trustworthy, or your girlfriend."

Technically the guys can teleport in, too, granted, but that's not something you can exactly explain to the police or an ambulance crew in an emergency.

He studies Unmei for a moment, then glances over the room. Then offers a hand toward Unmei. "Been having trouble adjusting?"
Unmei Tama 2017-08-26 02:30:27 81810
Unmei Tama blinked and shook her head. "No! I-I've been fine, I... I..." She pauses. Takes his hand. "It's... lonely. So lonely. You know? I'm used to... I've never lived alone. First mom. Then.... them. I mean, sometimes I had to... sleep at the Eclipse building. But there were people there. Then I was with you guys and... even if some of the group were... messier than others." Gave him a knowing look. He probably know EXACTLY which members. "Or smelly sometimes, or.... well, all that. It was nice. There was always... someone. Someone near by. If I needed it. Or if I couldn't sleep I could come out and see one of you guys. And... it was nice."

She glanced to the couch. "Now though. Yuyu is busy a lot so she's rarely over... and... I just.... don't have a lot of other... friends... at all. I don't... know people. Who aren't magic and I'm, well not. And it doesn't help that Pin and Win WON'T! Shut! UP!" she glowered.

"He started it!" Pin said in her head.

"I started it? You told her to leave the seat up!" Win objected.

"I'm the only one living here!" Unmei snapped to the air. "Seriously! I keep the ring part down, the lid doesn't need to be down too! What is wrong with you?!"
Kazuo Takeba 2017-08-26 02:36:36 81811
Kazuo is the one whose bedroom looked like one of the guest rooms that someone had randomly left a single bunny eraser in. Odds are he knows not only which members, but how to determine which person left which thing out at what time.

He studies Unmei for a moment, as she's talking about it being lonely. Then as she's arguing with the air. At least he says, "We should take a little time this weekend to go and buy some gifts for your closest neighbors. I don't know if that's something one does where you're from, but here it can be a way of making introductions, and indicating that you're interested in your neighbors treating you as a person they know rather than some anonymous stranger."

He surveys the room. Specifically, the sea of boxes. "And we should also figure out a way to break down the task of unpacking so it's not so overwhelming for you. Once you have things set up the way you want them, and you can feel safer about inviting people to visit if you want to, the rest might seem a little more manageable."
Unmei Tama 2017-08-26 02:57:20 81816
Unmei Tama blinked a few times. "Wait, you do that? That's so cool! I wish I'd thought of that. And... yeah. Meeting people would be nice. It feels... awkward. Being a teenage girl on my own here and..." She trailed off. "I get... looks sometimes. And I know they say things about me at school. A lot of things," she mumbled, crossing her arms. "Is there... any news about... Clotho?"

She dug her nails into her side a bit. "And you don't need to do that. I mean, you guys all helped me pack and move all the heavy stuff in, this is the least I can do..." Almost a week and one statue and some pots and pans. Yeah, she was over whelmed. And lonely. She needed help. Just like always. But she was just a kid so maybe that was okay.
Kazuo Takeba 2017-08-26 03:09:39 81818
"Infinity isn't the best of schools for polite students, no," Kazuo replies. "There are a couple of second- and third-year students there that I still know, that I could introduce you to, if you like. They play Go and other strategy games, so you'd have something in common with them." And they have his actual phone number, so they have an emergency contact if something targets Unmei at the school. This is not a small thing.

About Clotho -- he shakes his head. "Not that I've heard," he admits. "Not yet. It's a big city." And he's been occupied with trying to help make certain that a particular guillotine Witch didn't leave methods of reproducing itself. Though that's more Kyouko's bailiwick than his.

His hand tightens on hers as she digs her nails into her side. "Unmei," he says quietly. "It's all right to need help. You're doing the best that you can, but this isn't something that you've done before. It's an intimidating job, and you have no experience with it; of course it's hard to figure out how to start. So we'll start with one box, and figure out where you want everything in it to go, and put it away. Once you've gotten through one -- then that will be something you know how to do. And you can do another one tomorrow. One at a time isn't too much work; it'll leave you time to take care of yourself, and to keep what you've already put away in order, and perhaps to get out to one of the beaches before they close for the fall. And eventually it will get through all of the boxes."
Unmei Tama 2017-08-26 03:17:17 81820
Unmei Tama nodded. "I... I guess... I..."

"Unmei, is this the kind of virtuous girl you are?" Win asked. "This is a task you should be able to perform yourself. You shouldn't be struggling so much. Just look at how much he's--"

Unmei frowned. "Oh shut up, Win. If Kun says it's okay, then it's okay. He's a heck of a lot smarter than you are."

"W-why, I never! I was a personal minion of lady Clotho herself, I--"

"And I'm her chosen. And I say Kun is one of the smartest people I know and if he says I can take help, I can take help. So knock it off."


"Nyah nyah~ See?" Pin said. "She can use anyone she--"

"I'm not using anyone! I'm just asking for help! Because..." She trailed off. "Because Kun cares about me. So he helps me. That's all..." She suddenly realized while he couldn't hear Pin and Win, he could hear her. She stared for a moment, then lowered her eyes. "Sorry. They're... a bit of a handful sometimes. Pains in my bum. Yeah. I'd like to meet these people. And... and a bit of help. If... if you would... please?"
Kazuo Takeba 2017-08-26 03:25:20 81821
'Oh, shut up, Win' prompts Kazuo to frown, but it's at a random patch of air beside Unmei, not at Unmei herself.

The rest doesn't improve matters much.

What he winds up saying, though, is: "Pick a box, and we'll get started. It doesn't have to be the open one; that one already being open might make it easier for you tomorrow."

It's as he's slitting tape on the chosen box that he adds, "You've seen how our household operates, haven't you? We help each other out there; each of us has a specialty area that he takes care of for the others. It balances out; we each wind up putting in a roughly equal share of work, around the household, or dealing with finances or computers, or just working to recover. And it's much more efficient than everyone trying to do everything on their own; it leaves us more time to breathe, and recover, and do the things that help keep us on our feet. Now. Where do you think you'd like this to go?"
Unmei Tama 2017-08-26 03:34:44 81824
Unmei Tama sighs and sits by him. "Ummmm.... well this one is the train girls, so I actually wanna have them over by the hall because I have the least amount of them, just one box. On the small self and..." She actually knew where everything went. She just... couldn't do it herself. Of course... once they were near the end, she just kind of... stopped and stared at one. Finally....

"Kun... can... do you have to..." She then trailed off.

"Unmei, you shouldn't be more of a drain on him..." Win said. "You can do this, it's just picking things up."

But it wasn't. It was so much more. "Can..." You stay tonight? Move in? Help me? Live here? Take me back home? "Can you help me with another box?"
Kazuo Takeba 2017-08-26 03:37:58 81825
Train girls are put away, passed from box to Unmei for proper placing for display. Until she stops.

It's when she gets a whole question out that he rests a hand on her shoulder for a moment.

"Yes," Kazuo says. "But there's an important question first. Have you eaten tonight?"
Unmei Tama 2017-08-26 03:42:21 81827
Unmei Tama blinked and stared at him. She then shook her head. "I... haven't. I haven't been hungry. I've been...." She trailed off. "Busy." No she hasn't. She's been staring at her boxes. Struggling to cope. She stared at them. "I have food in the fridge..." She did! She had... a veggie tray. But not much really cooked. A bit of dry chicken. Nibbled at.

Of course, when the plates were made up, he might notice she tended to... eat slower than normal. When she did, it was more she just stared at it, as if questioning, measuring every bite.

"You should eat more, you're just skin and bones," Pin said. "Besides, it's not like you have to pay for it."

"You must eat only what you need, not a drop more. That leads to gluttony, is that what you want?" Win asked.

And Unmei, caught in the middle between them, a confused look on her face.
Kazuo Takeba 2017-08-26 03:47:06 81828
"Then let's take a look at the kitchen," Kazuo says. "And clean out anything that's going, and get you something new."

Which means that there is a decided interlude of distraction, between fridge-cleaning and shopping and either cooking or stopping for takeaway on the way back --

But that doesn't change what happens when they're finally settled to eat something.

Kazuo frowning, of course, is more or less saying 'hey, ground exists.'

"Are they giving you trouble again?" he asks.
Unmei Tama 2017-08-26 03:52:47 81830
Unmei Tama nodded and sighed. She placed the fork down and shook her head. "I just... don't... know. You know? They... I mean..." She trailed off and then reached up and gripped both pins and unhooked them, before laying them on the table, away from her. "Sometimes it's okay. They actually help me. I think... I'm supposed to have them. They.... support me. Warn me of danger. If something is coming. But... then..."

She glanced to them and shook her head. "I don't know who to listen to. You know? Pin... Pin hurt me. So much. He used me and hurt me and I... I almost fell apart because of him. So I want to listen to Win. But... but sometimes what Pin says makes sense. But then I worry what if I'm going bad again. Then stuff Win says makes sense. But then other times he goes too far. Or not enough. Or I wonder if..." She trailed off and sighed. "The only one I know I can listen to all the time is you and I don't know what else i am supposed to listen to if you're not around..."
Kazuo Takeba 2017-08-26 04:05:23 81832
Kazuo listens.

Listens all the way through; and in that time the frown only shows when he's glancing at the pins, not when he's looking at Unmei.

When she finally trails off, he says quietly, "Have you noticed that when we're talking about things, I try to explain why things work, how they work, or why things are done a certain way?"

He waits for a signal one way or another -- a yes or a no, a nod or a shake of her head -- before he continues, "Listening to other people is all right when you need to. When you're a child, you don't know how the world works; you need someone to tell you what to do. You're not a child anymore. But you're not quite an adult, either. Part of your job right now is to learn how to tell yourself what to do. Sometimes that will be listening to what other people say, and either doing it because you agree with it, or doing it because you don't understand the situation and you believe that they do. Sometimes that will be listening to what other people say, and deciding they don't know what they talk about. Always, though, it will be learning how to make your own decisions. So that you can listen to yourself -- whether that decision is to go and get advice, or help, or to work on your own. This isn't something you need to be perfect on right now. But it's something you need to be learning. That's why I try to give you explanations. So that you'll have more tools you can use to come up with answers for yourself."
Unmei Tama 2017-08-26 04:12:22 81833
Unmei Tama nodded, listening. She then smiled. "Y-yeah. I... I do think i'm handling it better than I would have before... you. i think... I think I would have broke days ago if not... I think I can handle them. I am sure i can." She looked to them. Then frowned again.

"What... if they were wrong, though? I mean... Win and Pin, they've been telling me things, about who Clotho was. About who I'm supposed to be." She said gently. "She wasn't the strongest, or the smartest. Or... maybe she was both. But the eldest was smarter, the second eldest was stronger. And that's what they chose. Who they made theirs. But... they say..."

She stroked the pins. "They say what Clotho gives me is a chance. That she won't give me power, or strength. What she'll give me is the potential. As long as I keep trying, as long as I work at it, nothing will be outside my range. If I want to become a doctor, I can. If I want to become the best doctor, I can. I just have to work hard, never give up, and I'll just... not have the limits I did. That most people do." She stared and then sighed again.

"And they say, when i... if I get clotho's gem back, the same thing will happen. I can save the world... or destroy it. Or somewhere in between..." she whispered.

"But... Win was gone. He was locked up. What if I'm... not. Supposed to be the chosen? What if someone else was, and him being trapped, the positive aspects trapped, changed it to me? What if I'm the 'bad guy' choice? And there was someone who really was supposed to save the world? He says it's probably impossible but... I mean..." She sighed again. "I was never strong when I fought. I lost all the time. I don't think I EVER won..."
Kazuo Takeba 2017-08-26 04:23:51 81834
Again, Kazuo doesn't interrupt. He listens; he listens closely -- and this time he doesn't glance to the jewelry.

When she stops, he doesn't answer at once. He weighs the words for a moment, considering, before lifting gray eyes to look at Unmei again.

"Does it matter?"

There's a little lift of his hand to preclude an immediate answer; the question's rhetorical, and he gives her that cue that he's continuing. "When you fought," he says, "it was never fights you chose. Never that meant anything. It was fighting for Eclipse; it was doing petty, cruel things that didn't have your heart involved. It was doing things you knew were wrong and were convincing ourself were necessary -- but you didn't really want to. The one fight that you won -- was the one you needed to, the one to stay yourself instead of being devoured by your vice. So drawing conclusions from those fights is a bad idea. Those fights describe how you perform under duress. Not how you perform when you're fighting for something important."

He draws a breath, slower. Then lets it out. "If what this gives you is potential. Then it honestly doesn't matter if you were supposed to be the chosen, or if someone else was. The potential will by definition be the same. What will matter is what you choose to do with that potential. With your time. With your effort. With your ability to take care of yourself. With your joy and principles and will and heart."

He glances down to his own hands, then up to her again. "It doesn't matter what was. What matters is what you do."
Unmei Tama 2017-08-26 04:31:43 81835
Unmei Tama blinked a few times and stared at him. She then smiled. "I... I guess that's true. I never really thought about it. I never really.... wanted any of those fights. I was just doing as I was told..." She glanced to the pins and looked concerned. Then...

"They said... once I get it back. They'll teach me. How to... use it. How to really, really use my powers. I'll need teachers on how to use weapons. But my magic... it..." She trailed off again. Then she gently clenched her hands. "I... I have a lot to learn. I think. But I think... I think if I have you and... people like you to help me..." she whispered. "I think I can do it."

She sighed. "I never thought i'd have magic again. And here I am talking as if I'm guaranteed to get it back. This is all so weird... how did you deal with it when you first found out ab... oh. Right. Sorry."
Kazuo Takeba 2017-08-26 04:35:35 81836
"Badly," Kazuo says, deadpan. "In this life, at least. Before, I grew up with it; the odd thing was that it turned up in my branch of the family, not that it existed. But things were different, then."

Quieter: "I think you can do it, yes. I don't think it will be easy. But you've survived things that were much harder."
Unmei Tama 2017-08-26 04:40:23 81837
Unmei Tama turned red. "It feels... good. Having you say that. Aboud me. I mean. That you... believe in me. Thank you... kun. I..." She took a bite of her food. "Do... do you have to go home, tonight? Do you think you... could stay here? I mean, just once. If you don't mind. i mean, if you don't have anything to do and it's not too much or... I'm sorry... I'm just being childish...." she mumbled, putting a hand on her forehead.

"Just... at night here it gets so... and I feel so.... and there's a.... and..." She sighed again. "Win and Pin say if... Clotho comes back, they can let me know long before she's here. But.... thye don't think she'll come back."
Kazuo Takeba 2017-08-26 04:49:32 81838
"I do have to go home," Kazuo says quietly. That's no surprise. Once he spent three nights in a row away from the apartment, and by two people were twitching and going to check in on him. "But there's some time before that, and we can look at things that might help you sleep better."

He doesn't say anything about Clotho. Maybe because he doesn't know anything about Clotho to say. Or maybe because he doesn't think, in the long run, her returning or not is as important as whether Unmei's sleeping okay.
Unmei Tama 2017-08-26 04:54:01 81839
Unmei Tama nodded. "R-right. Sorry. I didn't mean to... Sorry." She moved stuff around on her plate. She glanced up. "I'm sorry. i mean. I know you don't mind. i know you're just looking out for me and protecting me. But I'm sorry. You shouldn't have to deal with any of this. But... I'm happy you are. I'm happy... I don't have to be alone. Being alone is... I do't like it."

She then glanced back. "Do... you think... did they like the cake? I left? I mean, the things and... the surprise cake and all?" she asked. "I know it's not Mako's, but I think it was still okay."
Kazuo Takeba 2017-08-26 05:04:18 81840
"There's no need to apologize. Asking is perfectly all right." Kazuo inclines his head to her a little when she glances up, familiar motion.

Then his eyebrows twitch upward at the further apologies. "No," he says, and his tone is not gentle, but not a blunt object, either. "You're the one who should never have had to deal with what your ostensible family put you through. I'm only helping you set a small part of that right."

A pause. "And I assure you," Kazuo adds gravely, "that cake not being Kino-san's does not make it not cake."

(A certain image may be texted to Unmei in the morning.)
Unmei Tama 2017-08-26 05:24:09 81841
Unmei Tama blinked a few times and then nodded. Finally... "I... never deserved. What they did to me. How they made me feel. Did I?" she asked, glancing up. "I thought I did. For a long time. But... I mean.... if I did, you all wouldn't be so... protective of me, would you? Or taken so much time to protect someone so... like me?" She nibble a carrot stick.

"I..." She trailed off. ".... You always felt more like one of my parents than any of them did..." she mumbled. Then blinked. "So they liked it, then? It tasted good?"