Neil vs Aunt Sandra's Worrying. Kazuo vs THEY DO WHAT WITH THEIR BURGERS. Neil and Kazuo vs good sense and an interest in a non-fractured skeleton. In other words: Kazuo finally asks Neil to organize some team sports.

Date: 2017-08-28
Pose Count: 16
Kazuo Takeba 2017-08-29 20:52:50 81976
It's probably not the day after Makoto visited with Breakfast Cake. It might be the day after that one. It might be later. What it is, instead, is the day that Kazuo figures -- from the tone of Neil's voice in idle everyday conversation, from overhearing whether or not he laughs at Mamoru's jokes (or at Mamoru's confusion, equally useful), from how many controllers got left tangled in which configuration, from the patterns of movement on the roof in the small hours -- that Neil has his feet back under him. Not perfectly. But enough that even without Makoto around, he won't give ground or retreat back to a bottle if pushed.

(Within reason. If pushed by some Puella-opposed monster turning up -- that's a different story.)

That's when he goes looking for Neil. Because he's had a push waiting for a while now, and given a chance remark Neil made at Kyouko's, it can't wait much longer.
Nephrite 2017-08-29 21:15:57 81977
A few days of cake and clinging to Makoto, of sometimes hiding in his corner of the frat house, and sometimes inserting himself aggressively into the more socially-active rooms. It's less time than Nephrite spent hiding out in his palace after the memorybean binge, and that feels like progress. Kunzite will find him pacing in his living room, coffee in hand instead of alcohol. He's speaking English into his phone, and even if Kunzite is not proficient enough in the language to understand his rapid replies, his tone of voice conveys enough exasperation to make it clear that Aunt Sandra has already smoothly transitioned into nag-mode after only a few weeks' grace period. That, rather than any more dire upset, likely accounts for the pacing.

"Yes, I am eating enough, what do you think I -- I told you, Makoto cooks, Kazuo cooks, we've got enough cooks to feed an army." He gives Kazuo a vague salute with his mug as he appears and pauses in his pacing. "I can promise they have both heard of vegetables, and occasionally even use them. Look, I have to -- yes, I'll call -- I'll tell him to call you too." It takes several variations on this statement before Neil is finally able to hang up his phone, and promptly chucks it at the couch where it makes a soft landing. "I swear, she's still not convinced that I'm over the age of 14."
Kazuo Takeba 2017-08-29 21:38:30 81978
It may or may not be largely because Neil has nothing throwable in hand that will not lose him caffeine that Kazuo answers this by cocking an eyebrow in Neil's direction. "Is she wrong?"

He paces further ito the living room after that (presuming his survival without either being knocked unconscious by ceramic or drenched in scalding liquid), and glances toward the gently abused phone. "At least she's not asking pointed questions about when her grandchildren are scheduled. Or did I miss that part of the conversation?"
Nephrite 2017-08-29 21:49:53 81979
Lucky for Kazuo, Neph is more offended at the family member who appears to legitimately not understand this than the joke about it. Neil may be inhibited by the presence of an easily-sloshable mug, but that does not stop him from gesturing broadly with his other hand. "I have negotiated multi-million yen deals with some of Tokyo's biggest hardass businessmen! I have been to space! I have a high school diploma!" Either he ran out of marks of his adulthood at the end, or he considers that last one just as difficult to achieve as the first two.

He makes a face at Kazuo's suggestion. "Oh God, don't let her hear you mention that. She already adores Mako."
Kazuo Takeba 2017-08-29 22:00:38 81980
"So when she visits," and it's already a when rather than an if, even with him, "we never let her and my father be in the same square kilometer at the same time." Kazuo takes a moment to glance ceilingward himself. He is still, by rote, visiting his father on Sunday mornings. He doesn't say much about it, but those meetings are probably still not particularly improved.

"I can, granted, understand her concern about vegetables. I'm looking forward to the day that you explain to us that you found a place that does burgers, but that rather than bread, the buns are also made out of meat. Still. Was that Mamoru you told her you'd have call?" Kazuo's eyes flicker to the side, off in the general direction of Endy's part of the place. "I'm sure he can soothe her worries. He's good at that. And usually doesn't admit that the nutrients he's assuring people we're consuming are mostly caffeine."
Nephrite 2017-08-29 22:41:20 81981
Neil snorts. "I would love to see what would happen if my aunt and your father were ever within each other's orbit, but I suspect the universe might implode on itself from the sheer weight of their personalities. Or a small part of it, at least." The room in which such a meeting took place would already be a write-off.

Neil looks at Kazuo with absolute sincerity. "It's called Shake Tree, and their meat-on-meat burgers cost 1,450 yen."

He takes a sip of coffee, then makes a face--the lecture went on long enough that it's gone cold. "Yeah, she's also convinced he doesn't eat his vegetables. Skinny as a rail, she says."
Kazuo Takeba 2017-08-29 22:53:49 81982
That projected consequence brings a knowing nod from Kazuo -- complete agreement, there -- before he pauses at that look Neil is giving him. Absolute sincerity around this place is absolutely never good.

And indeed, about four seconds later Kazuo is covering his eyes with a hand, then letting that meld into a pinch at the bridge of his nose before he lets his hand drop. Round yielded to Neil without question.

Fortunately, they have someone better to pick on, who's too absent to complain. "She's not wrong about the second part of that, either. He's still running enough to keep in shape, but running by itself isn't going to put any muscle on him." Kazuo shakes his head; gray eyes flicker sidelong to consider Neil again before he's finished returning to facing him. "None of us have been doing much in that regard but Kyouko and Makoto, honestly. And Kyouko needs a different kind of practice. Needs to get to know how the rest of us move, so she can recognize us without spear-in-the-face issues." So that she can tell the difference between Naru throwing a cup at her in a moment of mad, and actual lethal intent. ... but bringing that up would be counterproductive, right now.

(Technically, he could fix the cold-coffee problem, but that would also be counterproductive; all the heat he has access too right now is wrathfire, and while he's bled off enough that it vanishes into the background noise for him, feeding it to other people seems less than wise. Especially when 'other people' means 'Neil.' He's too good at punching to start off with.)
Nephrite 2017-08-29 23:10:27 81983
Hand on face. Neil's face splits into a grin at his victory. "Also they don't let you use a fork."

He squints at Kazuo, trying to parse what he's talking about. "What, running? You gonna make us run laps now? Because I don't think enough centuries have passed for me to forget hating that." He takes another sip of coffee, makes another face, like he just forgot how much he did not like it before. "Oh. You're talking about training? Like, actually fighting together?"
Kazuo Takeba 2017-08-29 23:21:08 81984
Of course they don't. The household barbarian would not be nearly so gleeful if utensils were allowed.

Kazuo lifts a hand to forestall Neil's wariness, though. ""I've spent the last year getting up before you've gone back to sleep in order to go running," he says. "If I were going to try to sentence anyone else to that, I'd've done it months ago."

Say, when he sentenced Naru to it. Ahem.

"We need some kind of training. Not necessarily fighting together; we can, and Kyouko and Makoto are sparring regularly, but not all of us are up to that again yet. And Kyouko needs experience with us that's explicitly nonlethal. Right now, all her reactions are tuned to murder what surprises her. She needs to tone that down a little."

He shakes his head, after. "I don't have much in the way of solid ideas on that front. All of the sports I was involved in were solo. Any ideas? Or is your interest strictly in the televised games?"
Nephrite 2017-08-29 23:31:59 81985
Neil blinks slowly at Kazuo as he works around to what exactly he is looking for. He sets down his coffee mug, leans forward, spreading his hands on the back of the couch, and looks intently at Kazuo, as if making sure that he actually heard correctly. "Are you actually asking me," he says slowly, "to suggest a sport? For us to play as a group?"
Kazuo Takeba 2017-08-29 23:35:25 81986
Kazuo's eyebrows twitch upward again. "I'm certainly not asking Zoisite."
Nephrite 2017-08-30 00:05:18 81988
Kazuo must have known what he was getting into. He must surely have predicted that intense look that Nephrite gets in his eye when his brain has latched onto an idea. It is the kind of look that says "my time has come."

"Of course you're not. That would be worse than useless. It's only natural that you recognize my genius in this realm." He takes a moment to savor that, while thinking over the actual question at hand. "Okay, so we probably want something that's got a pretty low barrier of access. Like, hockey requires gear, and you have to know how to skate--although there is street hockey. Just need sticks and a ball for that." He scratches at some of the stubble he's got going on his chin. "What kind of numbers are we talking? The whole group? Potentially more or less? So probably something we can scale up or down as needed, right? Baseball... eh, might be too structured for that. Soccer? Maybe basketball. Most people would be at least familiar with those, right? Then you've got the less traditional stuff like kickball or ultimate frisbee... "
Kazuo Takeba 2017-08-30 00:13:33 81991
If there is any satisfaction in Kazuo from seeing that look, he's utterly careful not to let it show on his face.

(If there is the unknotting of a year and a half's worth of silent stress, he is eight times as careful about that.)

Genius commentary is allowed to pass, and the twitch of Kauzo's mouth only somewhat resembles a smirk. "At least us, or however many of us don't come up with excuses in a given week. some of the girls might want in. And there are other people we've been fighting beside, where we've had trouble from one person not knowing which way another one's going to jump. So varying numbers. Yes."

For the most part, Kazuo lets Neil's thinking out loud go uninterrupted. Although the momentary pained twitch at the mention of ultimate frisbee probably counts as a comment.
Nephrite 2017-08-30 00:32:38 81992
There is, right there on the living room table, a card with an unopened bottle of whisky sitting right on top of it. Unopened means he hasn't felt the need to drink it yet, but unopened also means heavy. Neil's current cheerful state exists despite that -- or more likely, because of the easy distraction from it.

The pained twitch is a little too obvious for Neil to miss. "Right, frisbee is getting moved to the top of the list."

He taps his fingers on the couch back, then leans down on his elbows. "How much of a contact sport are you wanting, then? I mean," he smirks, "any sport can be a contact sport if you try hard enough." Now might be a good time to recall that Sanjouin Masato was a tennis coach.
Kazuo Takeba 2017-08-30 00:47:39 81993
Kazuo bites back any urge to say 'a concussion-free level of contact.' That road leads nowhere but mockery. Well. Mockery and Endy looking exasperated at both of them, much later, because concussions are something he can heal but really, guys. Also, he's met their friends. Day one that Alexis gets involved...

Frisbee is answered with a carefully-moderated sigh; then Kazuo shifts in turn, one hand hooking a thumb into the pocket of his jeans. "Not sure that's something we need to set in stone now," he says. "We could try a few things. See if any of them work particularly well, or badly." Give the tennis coach an opportunity to cackle wildly at the less fortunate. Things like that.
Nephrite 2017-08-30 00:57:28 81995
"So no rugby, then." Neil smirks. He does not even bring up American football. Kyouko took being tackled just fine, but that was also during The Incident of Which Kunzite is Not Meant to Know, so he opts not to mention that.

"I'll make a list, then, and get some gear together. And possibly a camera and tripod, because this is bound to be hilarious. I don't know how you plan to break it to Zoisite that you want him to engage in physical activity."