Evasion Is Highly Effective

An afternoon at the Crown finds Sora, Naru, and Kazuo discussing Naru's exercise habits, Sora's exorcism habits (and tutoring job), and Kazuo's embarrassing incompetence at the Sailor V game.

Date: 2017-08-31
Pose Count: 53
Kazuo Takeba 2017-08-31 15:52:26 82013
It's not like it's all that uncommon to find Kazuo Takeba in the Crown. Maybe meeting somebody. Maybe checking in with Motoki and reassuring him that Mamoru has not, in fact, been consumed utterly by his university studies.

... it's just that he's not usually downstairs. Upstairs, where it's quiet and there is food, sure. Downstairs, no.

And definitely not patiently and repeatedly losing to the Sailor V game.
Naru Osaka 2017-08-31 15:55:46 82014
It's not all that unusual to find Naru at the Crown. Often trying to keep up on food intake with Usagi or Kyouko (practice makes perfect!), or sketching somewhere that isn't the library, or ECFH.

It just hasn't been common recently. Summertime makes otherplaces more appealing, clearly, but some days just require milkshakes.. ice cream smoothies.. and this is one of them. Naru hefts her bag higher on her shoulder as she passes through downstairs on her way towards upstairs.

Save that there is a Kunzite playing a video game.

Naru pauses, close enough to watch, if not close enough to be entirely distracting.
Sora Hisakata 2017-08-31 15:58:15 82015
Sora is still in possession of a nice bandage on her shoulder, peeking through the neckline of her shirt. She also notices Kazuo play games, but unlike Naru doesn't know him nearly well enough to realize this to be unusual. "Hey Takeba-san. What are you playing?" She either doesn't notice or doesn't recognize Naru, it's not like Sora interacts much with her upperclassmen.
Kazuo Takeba 2017-08-31 16:27:10 82016
It's not that Sora's question is distracting. It's just that Kazuo's already made the series of tiny mistakes that collectively cause him to be too low on energy to block the gout of flame that the dragon-boss he's fighting breathes at him. On screen, the caged cat that the dragon is guarding gives him a Look even as the tiny blonde figure collapses into ashes. He exhales, eyes the screen's bright query as to whether he'd like to continue the game, and turns away from the screen. "Apparently, I am playing a lesson in why not touching these things during school is going to be embarrassing later in life." Or possibly a game called Let's Be Embarrassed By One's Not-Quite-Girlfriend. Kazuo would not be surprised if Artemis specifically programmed the thing to be harder only when he's playing it.

He didn't even manage to finish the first stage.

"Good afternoon to you both," he adds, glancing between Sora and the slightly more distant Naru. "Have the two of you met?"
Naru Osaka 2017-08-31 16:34:19 82017
"Not touching them during school tends to be better for one's homework." Naru points out, likely having witnessed that first hand with classmates who shall remain nameless.

Naru's attention settles upon Sora as Kazuo looks between the pair of them. "I don't think so." She shakes her head a little, a touch of a furrow on her brow as she tries to remember. "Hi."
Sora Hisakata 2017-08-31 16:37:20 82018
"On the other hand, people making choices like that is good for my wallet." Sora adds in cheerfully, and then at Kunzite's question Sora takes a closer look at Naru and sheepishly says, "I think we have, once. I think I set your hand on fire when that happened, Takeba-san." The way she says that, it's clear Sora doesn't think that was one of her proudest moments. "Sora Hisakata."
Kazuo Takeba 2017-08-31 16:45:48 82019
Kazuo inclines his head toward Naru. "Also better for one's race times, in the long run," he says to Naru. Then he assures Sora calmly, "I'm one of the people with the least grounds on which to hold that particular incident against you. Are you a tutor, then? No --" He's just caught the twelve-year-olds eyeing their group around the machine dubiously. "Rather. Are either of you inclined to play, or shall we go upstairs and clear the area for those more competent at this than I am?"
Naru Osaka 2017-08-31 16:50:15 82020
"I'm fairly pleased with my time." Naru decides as she gives her answer on the video game by taking a few steps in her original direction. "Long runs are so much nicer than sprints."

Naru nods to Sora. "Nice to meet you again, Sora. We can start again, if our last meeting was /that/ sort. I'm Naru." She pauses and turns, offering the other a small smile.
Sora Hisakata 2017-08-31 16:54:13 82021
"Yeah, I'm a tutor. And sure, let's go up." Sora starts to head that way, though she too is taking her time. "Well, it's nice to meet you, Naru. Takeba-san has been helping me out some with my fresh start, though it's not always painless." Her eyes move briefly towards the bandages peeking out at the neckline, "But I like to think I'm making progress."
Kazuo Takeba 2017-08-31 16:59:12 82022
"We're all works in progress, to one degree or another." Kazuo climbs behind the other two, lending them a little of the protection of his 'I am tall and may actually walk over you if you get in my way' aura. At least it's likely to get Sora a little less jostling than usual; convenient for those bandages. "Healing all right? Sometimes these things have odd aftereffects, if they're not cleaned out properly."

Obviously he is totally worried about infection. Or something.

"May I ask what subjects you tutor?" Kazuo adds. "Or whether I might get the two of you anything?"
Naru Osaka 2017-08-31 17:02:06 82023
"Never painless. Just living, even without fresh starts, isn't painless if you actually /do/ anything." Naru slides into a booth, big enough for all three, clearly accepting that her copious solo time aside, getting out of sitting with people would be awkward.

"What happened to your shoulder?" Naru asks Sora with a note of curiosity and then looks up to Kazuo. "Lychee please. And fries. And something with protein." She really /is/ getting better about keeping up with Usagi and Kyouko on the food front.
Sora Hisakata 2017-08-31 17:25:26 82024
"Just a diet coke, please." Sora answers the latter question of Kazuo's first, then sitting down. "Mostly maths and science, but a bit of history and English too." The first follows, and as she sits down she takes a moment to consider how to answer Naru's question, "Some shady old man wanted a book I found, and he wasn't too keen on giving up on it." Pause, "I'm healing fine, though."
Kazuo Takeba 2017-08-31 17:32:46 82025
Shady. There's only a tiny flicker of Kazuo's eyes Soraward to appreciate that choice of phrasing; he nods to her statement about healing, though, and steps away to put in their orders. And to come back, after a few minutes, with lychee milkshake (check) and diet coke (check) and coffee, the last of which he as usual settles in with. Holding it between hands. Without actually taking a drink of anything.

He is, yes, not saying a word to either enhance or contradict Sorta's story.
Naru Osaka 2017-08-31 17:37:26 82026
"Mundane?" Naru asks with the sort of casualness that speaks to a lack of concern or surprise no matter how the question about 'shady old men' might be answered. She goes digging in her book bag, emerging out with her sketchbook only about halfway from her bag and then pausing. Barely enough to notice, really, before she tucks it back in and comes out with a school notebook.

Clearly what she was aiming for all along. Clearly.

"Thanks." Naru comments to Kazuo as her milkshake arrives via him, and she leaves the notebook aside to reach for it.
Sora Hisakata 2017-08-31 17:42:12 82027
"No." Sora answers Naru's question with a single word, and seems to be quite keen to keep the topic of her injury limited to that. She takes her coke, "Thanks." And then takes a good sip, before taking out her own schoolwork. "I hope I'm not intruding on anyone." She mentions.
Kazuo Takeba 2017-08-31 17:47:29 82028
Kazuo glances at Naru for a moment at the swap between books, but only for a moment. "No," he says in turn to Sora.

After a moment, he adds to Naru, "Neil's recovering reasonably himself, by the way. I thought he could use another distraction, so I tasked him with implementing a trial solution for some of Kyouko's ... less fortunate overenthusiasm. Apparently it may involve ultimate frisbee. I trust it won't only involve ultimate frisbee."
Naru Osaka 2017-08-31 17:55:09 82030
"As often as not, anyone that we know ends up piled in the booth at some point if we sit here long enough." Naru explains to Sora as she flips open her notebook. Which holds almost as many doodles as it does notes, if the truth be told. Silly little chibi figures of teachers and scenes from class, along with more fantastical scenes and situations. Marginalia for chemistry notes if one will.

"Do you know Sayaka?" Naru asks of Sora. "She's eternally in need of a math tutor, and I'm not a very good one. I should suggest she look you up."

The mention of ultimate frisbee brings a quirk of Naru's brown up as she looks at Kazuo and then nods. "I'm glad Neil's recovering.. and if you guys are all playing ultimate frisbee, I would like video please."
Sora Hisakata 2017-08-31 17:58:46 82031
"Name doesn't ring a bell." Sora answers Naru, and shrugs a little. "If she's in the same or lower grade than me I can probably help her. I can't make any promises if she's in high school, though." She raises an eyebrow at the topic of ultimate frisbee along with some more names she doesn't know, "Mutual friends of yours?"
Kazuo Takeba 2017-08-31 18:06:47 82032
"Last year of middle school, I think, though I may have lost track," Kazuo says about Sayaka. "Goes to Infinity, so it's little surprise you haven't encountered her."

About the other -- "Neil is one of my housemates," he says. "Nearly as tall as I am. Stronger. His hair probably takes up more space than some of your classmates."
Naru Osaka 2017-08-31 18:16:06 82033
"I know she goes to Infinity, but I've also lost track of what grade, exactly." Naru frowns a little, giving her head a shake and then sipping from her milkshake before going digging back into her bag for her pencil box.

Naru lets Kazuo carry the conversation about mutual friends, because clearly amongst the pair of them, he is the chatty one. Clearly.
Sora Hisakata 2017-08-31 18:32:13 82034
"I see." Sora seems to be quite unsure as to how to process this information about Neil, and clearly has decided to file it away and move on. "Anyway, Infinity's math program is supposed to be a little rougher, but I'm sure I'll be able to help if it's just middle school, might take a little bit of prep. Keep in mind though, I don't tutor for free unless it's for close friends and family."
Kazuo Takeba 2017-08-31 18:44:22 82035
"It's reasonably likely that if an Infinity student needs tutoring, their family can afford it," Kazuo says, mildly bland. It's possible to understate by more. Say, about Verone. But Infinity lets in on the basis of talent, money, or a family working for Eclipse, so... "If not -- she puts in enough work that if she needs the help, someone will step in to sponsor her."

Technically he is not the someone himself. Technically.
Naru Osaka 2017-08-31 18:49:28 82036
"Nor would a reasonable person expect you to tutor for free." Naru points out. "No one attends juku for free either."

Naru extracts out a collection of pens, flipping to the back of her chemistry notebook to find a blank page, and settling to a doodle. A brush tip pen, it would be excellent for calligraphy, but Naru is reasonably deft with it simply for drawing. Practice, practice, practice and all that. "Just a thought. I am a perfectly adequate student, but not a very good tutor." The awkard level of tutoring one's girlfriend's ex is left aside for the moment.
Sora Hisakata 2017-08-31 18:56:52 82037
"Probably, but you don't want know how many times people have expected me to do it for free because friend of a friend, or because it's 'just this one time.'" Sora pauses a moment, "It never is, by the way." Then she drops that particular bit of frustration and moves on, "Takeba-san has my phone number, feel free to pass it on to her."
Kazuo Takeba 2017-08-31 18:59:47 82038
"I may have some idea," Kazuo says to Sora, still only mildly bland. "Granted, I do tutor on a volunteer basis, but that's an exceptional circumstance; there's an orphanage I'm still apologizing to. For the most part, I'm not your competition." He glances across at Naru's incipient doodle. He hasn't looked back at her bag since she put the sketchbook back away.
Naru Osaka 2017-08-31 19:04:30 82039
"I have faith in Kazuo's ability to pass your number on to Sayaka." Naru glances from one to the other, a brief moment as she looks up from her work. She lets her milkshake thaw a little more as a minimalistic forest scene starts to appear in her brush strokes. Less photorealistic than many of her doodles, shapes and creatures and plants implied by the swooping lines. "I haven't spoken to her in a while."
Sora Hisakata 2017-08-31 19:10:54 82040
"Pretty, you're good at that." Sora takes a sip from her soda as she glances over Naru's work, seeming to appreciate it quite well. "Maybe if I'd been better at art people wouldn't have been able to knock me back to my senses." There's a slight shudder when she considers that, "Let's not think about that." Instead, she takes out an antique-looking book chained down with silver chains, and loosens the chains slightly so she can look through it.
Kazuo Takeba 2017-08-31 19:13:05 82041
Of course she has it with her. Kazuo glances aside at the book, then somewhat resolutely returns his attention to Naru's doodle, as apparently the less unsettling of the two. "Style experiments?" he asks, and there's a note of actual interest won there.
Naru Osaka 2017-08-31 19:16:09 82042
"Thank you." Naru replies to the compliment to her work and then nods to Kazuo. "I'm trying to branch out some, work in new to me styles." She pauses a moment, adding a couple details with a deft touch of the tip of the brush. "And the pens were on killer sale at the art store."

"What's your book on?" Naru asks Sora, plainly enough and curious. Because books that are chained together aren't the most common cafe reading material.
Sora Hisakata 2017-08-31 19:22:36 82043
"An ancient treatise on harnassing the power of the wind." Sora answers Naru, and yes of course Sora has it with her. "Also known as my diary." And out comes a pen and she actually scribbles down some writing. If either of the two peek, and Sora isn't doing anything to prevent that, she's addressed it as 'Dear Boreal Tome' and continues to tell it about being asked to tutor a girl from infinity.

The more interesting thing, no doubt, is that the book answers, telling her that she should be careful to keep time for herself, too, and not to overwork herself. Sora makes an approving 'hmm' when that text props up, and responds with a simple, 'Of course. Thanks for being worried, though.'
Kazuo Takeba 2017-08-31 19:41:21 82044
Kazuo does not peek. What Kazuo does, as Naru's fries-and-burger are at last delivered (protein indeed), is thoughtfully move his still-held coffee further away from the book and out of any dangerous spill areas. "It's good to see that you feel confident enough to have it out here," he says. "Is it feeling better, then?" ... apparently he does not find this an odd question to be asking.
Naru Osaka 2017-08-31 19:46:34 82045
Naru totally peeks. There's a chained book that discusses harnessing the power of the wind. And that answers. Of COURSE Naru peeks.

The arrival of food also prompts Naru to set aside her book and pens, nudging her milkshake out of potential spill zone for school books or ancient tomes. Her phone bingles, catching her attention as she reaches for a fry and it at the same time.

The bemused smirk at the message waiting for her prompts a few typed replies as she absently eats fries. "Kazuo, have you seen a pair of red socks up at ECFH by chance?"
Sora Hisakata 2017-08-31 19:58:20 82046
"Yeah it is. It's still not in perfect shape, but we're working on it." Sora answers Kazuo, and to confirm her point there's not even a whisper of wind coming from the book, aside from it answering, it's just a regular book. Having taken her note, Sora tightens the chains and puts it back in her bag, then takes another sip of her soda. "You do know that your distrust is hurtful to it, right, Takeba-san?"
Kazuo Takeba 2017-08-31 20:10:26 82047
"Please assure it, if it cannot hear me for itself, that my concern is primarily along the same lines as making certain that I don't prod your injured shoulder and cause you to react out of pain," Kazuo replies to Sora. "I've seen no evidence of any malice on its part, and have no reason to attribute any to it. I cannot disclaim wariness altogether, since it remains a professional requirement on my part, but that is reasonably evenly distributed, and no slur upon it. For instance, I maintain methods of checking whether my own housemates are acting under their own will at any given time. If it finds proximity to that wariness uncomfortable, I can minimize that."

Then he glances aside at Naru, and eyes her phone for a moment. "Several, over the last year. Is there anything special about these? Are they on fire?"
Naru Osaka 2017-08-31 20:16:47 82048
"Not on fire, but Kyouko managed to misplace them. My most recent suggestion to her was to try the sock drawer, but I fear she doesn't know where that is." Naru's voice is fondly amused at the hunt for socks. "Which keeps my running socks safe, immaterial of the fact that I have smaller feet than she does."

"Is the book sentient?" Naru asks, simply enough and curious about that too. The hunt for a sock drawer clearly is of long enough duration to let Naru put her phone down and pick up her burger instead. Mmmmm. Burger.
Sora Hisakata 2017-08-31 20:26:42 82049
"Yes, it is. It's old, too." Sora answers Naru, and simply smiles at Kunzite with a half-shrug. The whole socks thing she lets pass her by, uncertain what she could say about it, let alone should. Instead, she takes another sip from her soda. It's almost empty now.
Kazuo Takeba 2017-08-31 20:35:30 82050
Kazuo echoes the half-shrug back to Sora, and actually drinks some of his coffee, despite the fact that it's undoubtedly at this point cold and terrible. "It's had a bad time of it for a while," he says quietly to Naru, "till Sora worked out how to rescue it. Still. Doing better, now." He glances back to Sora, steady. "Is there anything else that it needs that we should be looking for, or is what you already did enough for the moment?"
Naru Osaka 2017-08-31 21:57:30 82055
"I can only imagine." Naru comments on the notion of the book having had a rough time. Generally one does not end up in chains, even pretty silver ones, when things are going well for everyone involved.

Socks have, apparently, been located or the hunt has moved on, as Naru gets to finish her burger without further updates on Sock Hunt 2017. Not that it takes her long to inhale the meal, even the fries vanish quickly enough. The bing on her phone that she pauses in wiping her fingers to check brings a snicker, but no comment.
Sora Hisakata 2017-08-31 22:16:29 82059
"That is the book that shady old man wanted, by the way. And I'm fairly sure he's also why the book was in trouble." Sora is using a pretty key word here, was. "Right now it just needs time, and the two of us need to figure out how to work together. I'm not sure how long that'll take."
Kazuo Takeba 2017-08-31 22:23:08 82062
Kazuo grimaces slightly at the mention of the old man again. "He tried to coax Lacrima," he notes. "She ... did not approve." To say the slightest. "Given what had happened to the book, I'm concerned he might try to make a more directed effort at her. She can, granted, take care of herself. And she has allies." Of various natures.

As for Sora and the book -- he pauses for another swallow of near-room-temperature coffee. "The two of you seem to be making a good beginning at understanding one another, at least."
Naru Osaka 2017-08-31 22:28:25 82063
"Is he likely to return?" Naru asks as she nudges her empty plate aside and, now with clean fingers, retrieves her notebook again to go back to her drawing. "To you, or Lacrima?"
Sora Hisakata 2017-08-31 22:31:52 82065
"If what I know of him is accurate... not unless he breaks out of his prison. He can reach through the bars, but that's costly and limits him a lot." Sora answers Naru, frowning slightly. "I don't think he's out yet, he wouldn't have given up that easily if he could fight at his actual strength. He may try again, but he's probably aware he missed the window of opportunity."
Kazuo Takeba 2017-08-31 22:33:41 82066
"That would explain why he was so easily set offbalance," Kazuo observes. "If he could only exert a fraction of his presence."
Naru Osaka 2017-08-31 22:39:05 82067
"How likely is he to break out?" Naru asks, thoughtfully. "Some prisons are not meant to hold indefinitely." She looks down at her work, the forest creatures hinted in the lurking trees not so much Wind in the Willows-esque.

Naru turns the page and then glances over, between the two.
Sora Hisakata 2017-08-31 22:43:17 82068
"No clue, but he's been imprisoned for a long time. I know he believes the book can help him break out, that's why he made a replica and why he tried to corrupt it." Sora takes a brief moment to pause and reflect upon something, "I wonder if I helped him, back them..." The mostly optimistic tone she's had so far fades with worry and guilt.
Kazuo Takeba 2017-08-31 22:50:25 82070
"Not impossible. Possibly he was managing to feed through you, in some fashion, or perhaps some of the locations targeted were significant in some fashion." Kazuo's eyes flicker over Sora for a moment. "Still. I'd personally suspect, though of course I have no actual evidence, that he was more likely to have had designs on escaping his prison at an odd angle by stifling you and moving into your body. If so, then you were able to evade him in the end."

Kazuo really needs to be gently removed from the vicinity of people who could use reassurance.
Naru Osaka 2017-08-31 23:03:39 82074
"You are the very soul of reassurance, Kazuo." Naru points out with a smirk that doesn't say that she's particularly upset about it herself. "If he's not using the book for energy, then I can see how he might try and hitch a ride on someone to get out. Evasion is highly effective. Does he move in dreams?"
Sora Hisakata 2017-08-31 23:07:50 82077
"Takeba-san, do you know what I was taught to do?" Sora asks softly, not remotely reassured by his statements. "Do you know how I ended up as powerful as I was in the end?" She glances towards Naru, seemingly trying to gage just how much she can speak of in this environment.
Kazuo Takeba 2017-08-31 23:14:05 82080
"Not a dream-creature, this one," Kazuo says to Naru. "That would be easier."

He regards Sora straightforwardly, then. His answer is no more loud than hers. "No."

This is not a helpful response for Sora's attempt to estimate what she can speak about. Apparently Naru gets to defend herself, or not.
Naru Osaka 2017-08-31 23:23:34 82083
"It would be easier." Naru agrees, on the topic of dream creatures.

Her attention settles on Sora at that consideration and the weighing on how much she can say. There's a quirk of her brow and a tilt of her head. "Yes, I know what you were at the end. Is that the question upon the table? Or am I misreading that look." She reaches for her mostly melted, but still delicious, milkshake, taking a sip, as casual and relaxed as ever with the current topic of conversation. "If you're worried about me being a mundane, I'd say that the worry should probably have been before I watched your book reply to you, and long before you assured me it was ancient and sentient. We're long past /that/ bit of conversation."
Sora Hisakata 2017-08-31 23:28:03 82085
"I know you know about magic. We covered that when you asked if it was mundane." Sora answers Naru, and decides to bite the bullet, "I was taught to place curses on people. Slow, lingering curses that would drain just a nudge of people's luck and turn it into magic for me to use. Each curse a trickle of power, but if you have enough trickles you get a stream, and at the end I had enough trickles to cause a flood." She explains, "I don't know what happened to those people after it ended. Did they break, or were they merely redirected?"
Kazuo Takeba 2017-08-31 23:33:08 82088
Kazuo's eyebrows arch just a touch. "That," he says, "would seem to be a question with a straightforward response. Work with your family, or with outsiders if there's no-one in your family who can safely detect such things. Look into the people that you cursed. See if the curses remain. Consider how to remove them, if they do."
Naru Osaka 2017-08-31 23:36:59 82089
"I'm quite certain that you were one of the many people who cursed me." Naru doesn't seem terribly concerned about that /either/. "Although I actively sought out getting my curses broken, when I could, so I'm not much help as a study participant." She gestures a little at Kazuo's reply. "That. Exactly that."