How IS Being a Rosebush?

Kazuo, Mamoru, and Minako get back to the ECFH and find out that Fiore is actually sapient inside that haunted rosebush.

Date: 2017-09-23
Pose Count: 21
Kunzite 2017-09-23 23:57:57 83378
No longer attending Infinity means that Mamoru and Kazuo have something new in common with the Seishou girls, the last few months: Saturday classes. Their terms are still skewed from Seishou's, granted, so they've had an extra couple of weeks clear, the fiends. But today ... today that's not the case.

Which is how Minako got picked up from school by two university boys in an absolutely ridiculous car. Because obviously the only penance for having TWO ENTIRE EXTRA WEEKENDS is starting the fun kind of rumors.

Kazuo lets himself in first, doing a quick and absent check to make sure nobody tried to set a bomb in the living room while the boys were out at classes, and then starts, predictably, for the kitchen. Because he is still slightly off-balance over the idea of Minako as a guest, and therefore falls back on trying to make sure she has anything she wants virtually every time. "Minako, would you like something to drink, or a snack? Mamoru, would you mind checking on Fiore?" Given that technically they have more than one guest, after all.

Has anyone actually told Minako that the rosebush on the balcony is named Fiore?

That's a good question, isn't it.
Minako Aino 2017-09-24 00:10:03 83380
    Minako is picked up from school. In a fancy car. She likes rumors. She'll lie later about the older man she's dating and no one will take her seriously anyways. Kazuo! Kazuo-kun! She didn't know she was being picked up or she'd somehow aquired caradmon cookies. That doesn't happen so she thinks. "Milk. I want milk." she says. "Wait. No. Chocolate Milk." she insists.
    Fiore is a name that's familiar to her. Because Daisuke told her his woes in the past. HOWEVER, the fact his name is being mentioned in the present tense seems confusing to her. "Wait. Fiore. Green guy. Died? You guys aren't keeping a DEAD BODY in here!?" she calls out in that antagonsitc Mina way of blowing things out of proportion.
    "I mean of course you're not. It smells mostly okay in here. What's up with that." she asks coyly, and eyes Mamoru to see where he goes. She'll stealthily follow afterwards.
Mamoru Chiba 2017-09-24 00:12:41 83381
To be perfectly honest, Mamoru does not consider Fiore a guest. He did, after all, replace the rosebush he destroyed. He's a resident. 'How are you at catching mice?' indeed.

"Does that include sneaking him more of Neil's whiskey?" the prince calls over his shoulder, carelessly dropping his satchel and jacket on the dining room table (never used for dining) on his way past, headed for the balcony. Of course he's checking on Fiore. Fiore is pretty damn hardy, but Fiore is still a rose. He picks up the watering can from beside the balcony door as he opens it, then slips outside.

There's a thump and a splash.

They can see Mamoru through the glass doors perfectly clearly, standing there, frozen like a deer in headlights, with the watering can spilled everywhere and on its side on the balcony floor.
Fiore 2017-09-24 00:34:43 83384
In some ways, Fiore thinks he's a better plant than he was a person.

It's almost objective. Yes, as a person, he found Mamoru. He explored the universe, gazed upon the wonders and mysteries of the galaxy, known more than possibly any human on Earth. And, in the end, he was able to save the one thing the world -- and his friend -- needed most. If he'd never been a person, he'd have had none of that.

But he never would have suffered, either. Mamoru never would have suffered. He'd never have done the horrible things he did, and the world he helped saved would never have needed saving at all.

He was the one who almost destroyed it, after all.

Being a plant is easier. Safer. He can't move anymore, it's true, and he can't truly talk to the ones who take care of him so vigilantly. But he has the morning sun, and the breeze, and more friends than he could have ever dreamed, back when he was alive and alone. He can see firsthand the life Mamoru has found for himself, and even if he's only halfway part of it, his happiness was all he ever wanted when he came back to Earth.

Maybe it would be better to stay the rustling rosebush, and let that happiness continue, undisturbed. But he's been here, steadily gathering up energy in his soul, for a year and a half. And he can't help it. For just a little bit, Fiore wants to be a person again.

When Mamoru walks out to the balcony with his watering can, he drops it because he sees the face he last saw on that desolate asteroid, standing in front of the rosebush the grew to keep him from disappearing. The sun shines through him, just slightly; he's a ghost, he hasn't found some miraculous way to come back to life, because he gave that miracle away. But he is smiling.

"Hi, Mamoru," he says, quietly. "Please don't be scared. It's me."
Kunzite 2017-09-24 00:37:30 83385
"When we understood that Fiore was not acting of his own will, but that the thing compelling him was physically intertwined with his body and there was no way to remove it without killing him," Kazuo says, his tone an easy and matter-of-fact rhythm as he gets out milk and chocolate syrup and proceeds to combine the two for Minako, "I tried something egregiously stupid. It isn't something I'll repeat. But we wound up with a somewhat interesting rosebush as a result. The one on the balcony."

Which Mamoru apparently feeds whiskey to, let alone whatever the less responsible members of the household might do. Apparently it's survived so far.

And then there's a thump and a splash, and Kazuo's setting down the glass in the same instant that he's looking up. He doesn't actually bother with the door out of the kitchen, when he sees Mamoru frozen. He just takes himself over the counter, head ducked to keep from hitting it on the top of the window, still careful not to knock over Minako's drink, and starts for the open balcony door.

Minako does not have obstacle to contend with. Minako is probably responding faster.

Which is probably a good thing, because as soon as Kazuo can see what it is that Mamoru's seeing -- before Kazuo ever even reaches that open door -- he stops dead in this tracks.
Minako Aino 2017-09-24 00:45:36 83387
    While everyone is dead in thier tracks, Minako has noticed Mamoru stood stiff and the thump and splash and she's dashing and kinda throwing herself in front of Mamoru to tank the Nega Dark Force laser that's certainly coming for him.
    Oh. No laser. Just a ghost guy. Who is smiling. And not really expelling dark horrible energy at all. In beam form or otherwise.
    "Oh. Uh. Hi." she has the foresight to say when everyone is dumbfounded. "Are you the rosebush guy? Oh man I'm glad I never had private conversations on this balcony now. You'd know all sorts of sorrid stuffffff." she whispers to no one in particular.
    She turns to the others. "Hey are you guys are okay?" she says stepping out of the way now, because. No danger. Right?
    Or should she be getting shears for the bush or something now? She looks at Kunzite. Who is also dumbfounded. She doesn't have nearly the same wow connection here obviously these two do. Maybe that's why she also isn't dumbfounded.
Mamoru Chiba 2017-09-24 00:58:17 83389
"H-hi..." Mamoru manages to get out, and then his hands come down lightly on Minako's shoulders. She'll feel his gratitude for the instant protection reflex-- moving to protect him even if he's not Usagi-- but he's not scared, just shocked. As she moves out of the way, the prince glances over to Kunzite and then at Minako, and finally, he straightens up.

"I'm not scared. You're a ghost. Which, uh--" he flounders for a second, "--isn't actually that surprising, but really, you're using too much energy."

He starts glowing a little, like he did the last time Kunzite was a rock ghost, and to everyone else, it looks maybe like Fiore's slightly more solid for a second before going back to where he was at before. For Fiore, it's just that he doesn't have to spend anywhere near as much of that energy to appear as he did a moment ago.

He finally moves to start wheeling the rosebush past Minako, then probably past Kunzite, into the living room from the balcony. Because chocolate milk, and even better, chairs. "And yeah he knows all kinds of sordid things. People complain to you all the time, don't they, Fi?"
Fiore 2017-09-24 01:22:29 83391
When Minako jumps between them, Fiore's eyes go wide. For a split second, it's like it was back then, when he first came back to Earth: not being able to speak so much as a word to Mamoru without someone coming to whisk him away, with good reason, he's realized more than anyone how much he couldn't be trusted back then, even in the beginning. But he's not like that anymore -- the Xenian wasn't him, and it can't reach him at all like this, he just wants to talk --

But she backs down, and Mamoru says he isn't scared, so it must have been nothing. At the comment about too much energy, he cocks his head a bit, confused.

"Too much energy? I'm sorry, I'm not sure I..."

Understand, but he doesn't have to. A second later, concrete, anchoring energy is rushing into him, so much that he almost lets out a small gasp as he eases away from the life energy stored up so painstakingly in his stone over the past year. Once he's not firing at all cylinders, and getting used to the steadfast energy of the Earth that Mamoru has gifted him, Fiore smiles again.

"I didn't know you could do that," he says. "I think I can stay longer now, if that's okay with you." He assumes it is -- he hopes it is, though he'd understand why it might not be. A plant is one thing, the face of an old enemy is...another. "Not that I haven't been happy. Because I have been. I just missed being able to really talk, that's all."

As unobtrusively as possible, Fiore follows Mamoru into the living room, and the observant will notice how his eyes instinctively flit to the place he lay dying, what seems like an eternity ago. But they don't stay there, because he looks first at Minako, who he never did much to, and then at Kunzite, who suffered almost as much as Mamoru did. He smiles at them both, with a touch more shame and apology towards Kunzite.
Kunzite 2017-09-24 01:34:37 83393
There was carpet here, when Fiore lay there. There isn't now: the floor is tiled, the tiles covered with a clear finish to make cleaning them easy. There were barren walls. Now they're full of life, if not so much so as the view of the city out the window. The kitchen doesn't have the mural, but its paint is brighter, full of color.

It's the same place. And like the rest of them, it's hardly the same at all.

Kazuo draws a breath, and then nods to Minako. "We're okay. Only startled." That may be a very small understatement. He steps back to clear Mamoru's way, and as a consequence Fiore's ... and hesitates. Till Fiore smiles, and the uncertainty resolves into answering that smile with a bow.

"I said I did something egregiously stupid," he says quietly to Minako. "I tried to extrapolate from certain of the things Beryl did with me, and give him what might be a safe haven. I was sufficiently fixated on trying to save what we could that it didn't occur to me until afterward how many things could have gone wrong. It was ... a good lesson in boundaries not to cross."

He bows toward Fiore again. "I don't know whether you were capable of hearing when I apologized to you before. If not, I will do so again. But I won't waste the time you can talk with it unless you prefer it so."

That, apparently, is the most important thing he had to do. The second most important is fetch Minako's chocolate milk and offer it to her.
Minako Aino 2017-09-24 01:41:00 83395
    Mamoru is super important to Usagi. And Kunzite. But Also to Usagi and that's the primary motivator of throwing herself in front of Mamoru like a secret service agent because Usagi would cry at her forever if she didn't protect him! Then again. Usagi might cry at her forever at being hurt for protecting Mamoru so maybe she just didn't care either way.
    "Well you're a friend of Mamoru's so I'm sure it's probably okay most likely OK!" she says throwing her hands in the air.
    She looks to the spot Fiore looks to then back up. She makes a note of that somewhere in the notefile in the back of her head.
    "So what's it like being a rosebush? Is it rosey?" she asks curiously.
    Minako isn't so angry about slow chocolate milk right now. This is intresting- and- she furrows her brow.
    "....Yeah. I'd say the word.... eagerlyiously supports that." she says. Totally mangling that word completely beyond all comprehension.
    "Well it seems to have worked? Mostly. I Mean. He's here." she says. She looks back to Fiore. Smile!
Mamoru Chiba 2017-09-24 01:55:07 83396
"I'm capping apologies at one per person to any one person," Mamoru says mildly, "or else I'm bringing Koji in."

That's a slightly mean threat. Mean to Koji. But only slightly. And only because he's not here to hear it. But Mamoru would say it in front of him, so he figures that's all right. He parks the rosebush on the tiles on the far side of the couch from where Fiore almost died, with the couch in the way of the bush's line of sight, even if it does nothing to help Fiore's line of sight...

"Anyway you live here, Fiore. But if you mean stay as in 'stay talking', whatever you like." As Mamoru straightens up from pot-wheeling, he smiles at Fiore, and it's bright-- it's bright like Fiore's memory of him always was. Lifting a hand, he briefly hovers it close to the side of the image of Fiore's face, as if touching, then lets it drop. "Like Minako-chan said: you're my friend, so it's okay-- but you're going to have to explain to a lot of people. I'll see if I can..."

He trails off, then turns slowly to eye Minako's chocolate milk. Then eye Kunzite. Then look pointedly at Minako's chocolate milk again.

"...restore your energy, if you can show me where or how you're keeping it, so you don't need me here to interact with people. You've definitely got it better than Kunzite did, I could never charge up his rock... huh. I wonder if it's because technically, you are alive..."
Fiore 2017-09-24 02:17:09 83399
How *is* being a rosebush...?

It's not the first thing he hears them say, but it is the first thing that noticeably shakes him out of observing the mural, the tile, the little touches of life in this apartment that weren't there before. He's seen it before -- sort of -- he hasn't spent all his time out on the balcony, which may be why the contrast didn't stand out to him until just now. But there's a clarity he can see it with, as a person, that he doesn't have when he's a plant. For one thing, he has eyes, not vague spiritborne senses, and everything he sees is that much brighter, sharper, more beautiful.

How to explain that to this girl without overwhelming her?

"'s difficult to describe," he says, cutting off the apology before it can escape. If he's only getting one, he's saving it. For who yet, he's not quite sure; Mamoru deserves it most, but he may already know, and he may not want it. "I'm me -- but not me. I can hear things. I can think, in a way. I can feel happy, or irritated, or content. But it''s different. Than being a person, I mean." Fiore blinks. "I hope that makes sense. You don't have to worry, though. I'm very happy." Happier than he's ever been.

He turns to look at Kunzite.

"I do think I heard you. The first days are fuzzy. I think I was still getting used to being a plant, but I remember hearing you. And you don't have to apologize," he says. "You didn't do anything wrong. You helped me. All of you did."

When Mamoru touches his face -- the best he can, anyway, under the circumstances -- Fiore goes very quiet and closes his eyes. And when he opens them again, there's a longing there, both indescribably happy and devastatingly deep, because that's as close as he'll ever get to touching him again. He looks away before it can become uncomfortable.

"I'd like to tell you how, but I'm not quite sure. It may have to do with my stone. But I don't know how much of me is in the stone, and how much is in the flower. I'm sorr --" whoops, caught himself. "Who's Koji?"
Kunzite 2017-09-24 02:23:56 83401
Chocolate milk is fetched to Minako first. Only after that does Kazuo go back, fetch another glass, pour more milk, pour more chocolate ... surely he did not leave the important part till last on purpose.

He does actually bring it to Mamoru rather than leaving it on the counter. Maybe he's opting to be an adult, or maybe he's still opting to conserve Fiore's time.

"It makes sense to me," he observes quietly to Fiore's summary of being a rosebush. "But then, those parts don't sound that much different from being a rock. So it would."

(If he disagrees with his not having done anything wrong, he doesn't argue. Not now.)

"Koji is a young mage," he supplies, for Fiore's sake and Minako's. "We met him a few months ago. Very earnest. Very sincere. He doesn't apologize more than every third or fourth sentence or so."
Minako Aino 2017-09-24 02:36:09 83402
    Minako Aino now has an awesome chocolate milk mustache that makes her look dignified. Wait not. The opposite of that. She wipes it off as she listens. "Oh. So. There. But not a person. Okay I get it." she says. Wether she's lying or not is anyone's guess. But sometimes people know the 'dumb Mina act' is just that.
    Minako says on the sly. "Want some of this chocolate milk? I dunno if it's a good idea to feed rosebushes chocolate milk. But now I'm imagining chocolate smelling roses." she admits.
    She looks left and right slyly. Need to experiment with a bush out of the way on top of Mamoru's rooftop soon now. And buy a lot of chocolate milk.
    "Is this a permenant thing? Or have you been spending all this time just gathering energy to do this?" she asks, wonderingly.
Mamoru Chiba 2017-09-24 02:39:22 83405
Mamoru takes the glass of chocolate milk, and in passing, there's both sheepish gratitude and a mildly unsettled feeling. It's not that he doesn't think Fiore will keep the secrets he's been told over the past year, it's just that he's not sure how people will feel about it.

He downs some of it with obvious relish. "Thank you~" he tells Kazuo, and then deposits himself on the arm of the couch.

"I think he's still kind of scared of me," he adds to the description of Koji. "His friend Rashmi says he's not scared as such, but he's definitely intimidated. I feel like there's not a lot I can do about that." Hands spread -- carefully, due to chocolate milk -- and then the faintly glowing prince leans forward to try and shove more energy, by touch, into the rosebush. "This, though-- I'm going to cut off the channel. See if you can use what I put there instead of using up what you've stored?"

Mamoru stops glowing. Kunzite apologized for doing what he considered Egregiously Stupid, and meanwhile Mamoru plays games with shoving energy at gems... and flipping soul-bearing gems over his knuckles... and joking about jewelry...

Mamoru glances at Minako. His head tilts, and he considers whether or not to burst her bubble by revealing, in the same sentence, what a terrible person he is. He almost doesn't say it.

He says it. "Well, his roses don't smell like whiskey."
Fiore 2017-09-24 03:05:23 83407
Fiore looks at Kunzite for a while after he speaks, piecing his words together in his head many separate times, trying to find an idiom there that he might be missing, or a reference to a conversation they'd had, or something else he didn't quite understand about humans, despite being around them for a while now. Finally, with a little embarrassment, he spits out his question.

"Are you a rock, Kunzite?" He doesn't *look* like a rock, but then again, he's technically a rock that looks like a rosebush, so anything could be possible. He never did learn much about Mamoru's friends; he never got the chance. "Is Sailor Moon a rock, too? Is that why --"

It might be good that he's cut off before he can finish that sentence. No one hear would rejoice at being reminded of the Ginzuishou's shattering, but he'd long wondered about that, why exactly she died after she saved the world.

Minako asks if he'd like some chocolate milk.

"I think I'd like some, if you have enough to spare," he replies. "I can sort of taste what people put in my pot. I taste it for a very long time, actually." Imagine holding coffee or whiskey in your mouth for several hours; this is Fiore's life. But he won't complain, they give him what they do out of love! And sometimes a desire to get rid of coffee grounds.

Like a beginning gymnast on a balance beam, Fiore eases away from Mamoru's channel and into the energy in his planter. He flickers a bit, things become a little less real to him, but he stabilizes soon enough.

"I think it's working!" he says, with a triumphant smile. "I don't know how far I could get from the bush -- but I still feel real. So I don't have to take your energy, Mamoru." At Minako's question, Fiore glances back over at her. "I actually didn't know if I'd ever be able to do this. I didn't even think about it, not until recently. But it felt like I had enough power, for at least a little while, so I just...appeared." He looks at the floor.

" you really not want me to apologize at all, Mamoru?" He can understand why he'd rather not talk about everything that happened. But being welcomed like this, greeted, apologized *to* -- he feels like he's accidentally wandered into the wrong Fiore's story.
Kunzite 2017-09-24 03:19:00 83409
In Kazuo's case, the answer to how he'll feel about it is 'desperately relieved,' but his reasons aren't exactly universal.

Minako's offer of chocolate milk to Fiore is even more unusual than that, though, and his eyes widen just a little as he glances sideways at her. The not-quite-rosebush interrupts before it can quite turn into staring, at least.

"I am," he answers Fiore. "Part of the time, at least." All of the time, just with a more efficient envelope to slip into. But that falls under 'at least.' And no, he is not answering the question about Moon. Either of the other two here have a better standing to make that call.

(The question about tasting what people put in Fiore's pot is an interesting one. Fear the future buried tidbits. Kazuo will put a moratorium on the really hot peppers, if necessary; there's no reason to turn him evil again.)

"I don't think it was you he meant to keep from apologizing," he says to Fiore. "But I also don't think you have anything to apologize for."

Says the man that Fiore nearly killed. And also set on fire.
Minako Aino 2017-09-24 03:34:48 83410
    Minako takes a sigh. "Basically, Fiore, whatever that was. It wasn't you. It was that weird plant thing. If Mamoru wants an apology, he'd had gotten it from that thing." she says. "I'm sure that's the reason." smile!
    She gets up and tip toes over and pours a little from her cup into the planter. Then a little more. "There we go!" she says. She steps back and eyes Kunzite. "What!? Rosebushes obviously like chocolate milk. He says so!"
    She tip toes back to her seat. "Ace----lepuiskus..." smooth save. "Probably will want to come by and do the apologizing thing. Given what I've talked to him about it before." she says.

"If he finds out you're able to be talked to properly. I dunno if he tried to apologize to you when you were a rosebush. Um. Purple haired. Guy." she says rubbing and messing up her hair for emphasis here.
    Then she makes a face in a 'why did I do that?' manner and begins trying to fix her hair.
    "I don't think I have any beef with you. So so sorry for not having anything to be sorry about!"
    She didn't wanna be left out of the apology fest.
Mamoru Chiba 2017-09-24 03:37:54 83411
"Yeah, everbody's got a rock but me. I've got six," Mamoru says with an air of infinite self-satisfaction, and he chugs the rest of the chocolate milk and lets its strength of chocolate infuse his limbs with the phenomenal power of delicious. He leans over to plunk the empty glass on the coffee table, then sits up again, still perched on the arm of the couch.

At the knowledge that Fiore can taste things in his dirt, he looks absolutely horrified, putting a hand over his mouth, eyes wide. "Oh god. Oh god. I am so sorry about whichever of the moon cats it was. If you want to tell me, I can give them a-- a very stern talking-to!"

Then he holds up his hands at Fiore's last, but also shakes his head at Kunzite. "I said one apology per person per person. Everyone can apologize to everyone once, and that needs to be the end of it." The black-haired college boy relaxes his posture a little and looks wryly at Minako, then nods. "Except me," he agrees, "And Kunzite, and Minako-chan. You didn't do anything except want to find me again and be happy and make sure I was happy. The rest of it wasn't your fault. I held your heart in mine, Fiore. I understand. And you already said everything to me that you felt you needed to-- I don't want to hear it again. And... we made sure everyone knew it wasn't your fault. Kunzite did what he did because he knew it, too."
Fiore 2017-09-24 04:04:17 83412
Ok. So Kunzite is a rock. Mamoru isn't a rock. Minako and Sailor Moon -- Usagi -- may or may not be rocks. And he already knows Kyouko's a rock, because she's a Puella Magi, and he learned all about them in his travels. It is sort of strange, how many of the people Mamoru's found and cherished keep their souls in a rock. He's fairly sure most humans don't do that.

But that's really not the point.

Taking Mamoru's lead, Fiore walks over to the couch and plonks down. Apparently he's able to be held up by it? Could he touch and affect things, if he wanted to? He doesn't know, and to be honest, he didn't push himself to appear here just to experiment.

"You're all very kind," he says, very small, his eyes rooted to the floor. "It just doesn't make sense to me. That I'd have nothing to apologize for. It doesn't feel that way. Everything still happened because of me." How can he tell them, that it never felt like he was being controlled, not until the asteroid? Would that make them revoke their forgiveness? Do they just not understand what it was like in his mind, when the Xenian was with him? Even now, so long after, remembering what he'd thought about Mamoru makes him feel...dirty.

Flowers can't grow unless they have good soil.

At least the chocolate milk seems to help. When Minako splashes some into the planter's soil, the anxious alien perks up a bit, almost surprised by how nice it is. No wonder everyone here likes this so much.

"Thank you, Minako. It's very good!" he says, before staring in confusion at Mamoru's horror. "...cats? I don't think I understa --" Oh. *Oh.* That clears up a lot about a particularly unpleasant day.

Fiore's face after he cuts himself off probably shows that he Gets It now. And maybe, if he weren't already a little green, he would be getting there.
Kunzite 2017-09-24 04:13:30 83413
Kazuo spreads hands before Minako's eyeing. "Who am I to argue?" he says. "We have an expert opinion on hand --" And Fiore is perking up. "Who appears to quite agree."

He manages to keep from trying to help wth Minako's hair, at least. He might possibly tuck hands behind his back. Some things one does not volunteer oneself for.

And he politely averts his eyes over the ... extra green. Poor Fiore. Maybe that will help convince him that all debts are paid.

Or maybe they'll wind up talking later. One-sided or not.