The Nature of Fate


Hiroshi Takeba, Kunzite's dad, is staying at the ECFH for a few days. Mamoru has an awkward talk with him, not realizing that he ''has to take notes every day to remember any of this''.

Date: 2017-09-25
Pose Count: 10
Mamoru Chiba 2017-09-25 21:22:13 83565
No matter what else goes on and who else needed to bustle around and fuss over Hiroshi, and no matter what-all Hiroshi saw (Mamoru healing Masato Sanjouin, for one thing, who was dressed in as 'ridiculous' an outfit as Kazuo; Usagi not having been kidding about her outfit involving chiffon; lots of teenagers in equally strange outfits), heard (discussions of things like robot beetles, merging with devices, mirrors and monsters and purification, curry, a ghost alien in a haunted rosebush), or otherwise witnessed (really all these people do seem to be friends with Kazuo, what on earth)--

--as soon as Hiroshi had gotten some food and tea and potentially alcohol, Mamoru had left the duty of being host jointly to Kazuo and Rashmi and gently but firmly begun ushering the older man away from the bustle and fuss, down a hall.

"I do insist," he says calmly, politely, "that you stay here until we're certain there won't be any ill effects from your ordeal, and until some friends have checked out your house and made sure it's sound. I'll ask Kazuo to fetch some of your clothes for you, and if you make me a list, anything else you'll need for the next few days."

They pass a few doors, Mamoru pointing out his own bedroom and the bathroom reserved for Hiroshi's use, before they get to the guest room in question. It's large but not ostentatiously so (for the apartment's standards, anyway), and it has all the standard furniture a guest room might, including inoffensive wall decoration. The color scheme is one chosen specifically to be calming but not depressing. "If you'd like to rejoin the chaos in the living room, please don't let me stop you-- it's just that I've had enough of it myself, and I thought you might appreciate some quiet as well."

The boy seems to be well beyond socially tired, past it into 'tell it like it is, but politely' territory. There's no mask, not this time, and there's no caution, either. "If you're staying put, is there anything I can get for you? Or should I just-- leave you be? I know I'm not your favorite person."
Kazuo Takeba 2017-09-25 21:49:17 83566
Hiroshi appears to have three modes of functioning just now. One is somewhat dazed polite responses to people speaking with him gently, kindly, or politely, which more or less means Rashmi and Makoto and Koji can maneuver him, and Usagi can shut him down immediately by offering gentle and kind and enthusiastic statements or questions that he just can't process. That's just about as useful as the first. One is ... well ... the way he reacts to Kazuo. Which is if nothing else useful for getting him to do things like 'move' and 'try to push himself harder.'

When neither of those two are invoked, he's as liable as not to do an excellent simulation of a dazed mannequin. The level of Not Coping is high, here.

Tea helped. (Tea always helps with Hiroshi, Kazuo admitted quietly to Mamoru in passing.) Food helped to some degree, but the informality around food in this crowd left Hiroshi a little off-balance. Alcohol ... well, that's win-some, lose-some: it stripped away more of his ability to cope in the moment, but that may well be better for his ability to cope in the long run.

Certainly it gave a good excuse for escorting him away from the noise.

"I can't stay here," Hiroshi says, automatic and confused. "I have work in the morning."

He keeps forgetting that ten days have gone by. After all. They haven't for him.

He also doesn't connect 'can't stay here' with 'perhaps should not continue walking beside Mamoru.'

When they stop, Hiroshi blinks at the guest room. He doesn't seem to be connecting that with 'can't stay here' either. "It -- I --" Gears spinning, but not engaging. Not quite. "I need paper. And something to write with. I -- need that before I can lie down." Perhaps he's thinking he can just lie down for a little while. Perhaps he doesn't know what to do with Mamoru's last sentence.
Mamoru Chiba 2017-09-25 22:34:13 83568
"Easily done. And don't mind work, please, remember who else lives here; it'll be sorted," Mamoru says, steering Hiroshi toward the desk chair and pulling out desk drawers. He comes up with a notepad and a pen that doesn't write. Automatically he checks his pockets, but no, that's a stylus. "I'll get a pen, just a moment," he tells the dazed man, and withdraws from the room.

He comes back about thirty seconds later with a fountain pen and two tupperwares: one of familiar madeleines, one of some other kind of cookie. The pen he sets on the surface of the desk next to the notepad. The containers go on the corner of the desk. "I'll get some more tea, too. I-- the madeleines should help, sir." He straightens up, hesitates a moment, reaches up to rub the back of his neck. "There's-- the honey in them. It has magic in it. Healing. Like mine." A beat. "Mine, actually. Mako-chan makes it with roses I--"

The boy chuffs out a sound that's half self-annoyance and half something else, and he's wearing a short-sleeved shirt, and he still apparates a perfect red rose out of nowhere. That's laid on the desk, too.

It smells achingly sweet, like an unreachable memory.

Mamoru's voice sounds almost far away. "I didn't want you to be disconnected. I wanted to bring you back home. To life. And I couldn't think of any other way that wouldn't have you shutting us all out-- so, thank the gods Mako-chan and Naru-chan-- and Rashmi-chan, Rashmi Terios, the girl who was holding you when you came to? That they're so reasonable, so normal."

His hands go in his pockets, and he takes another step back from the desk. "Let me get you more tea. The other cookies are just regular Oreos."
Kazuo Takeba 2017-09-25 22:42:04 83569
Hiroshi seats himself in the desk chair automatically, reaching for the notepad, turning it and examining it as if he weren't entirely sure which direction it were best suited for writing in. By the time Mamoru comes back, he's tracing lines on it with a fingertip, frowning just slightly: familiar little expression. "Thank you," he says at the arrival of the pen, and reaching for it. The first strokes are made even as Mamoru's still talking, quick and scratchy, as if there were something he were desperate to get down. Why else would his attention be allowed to go away from his host --

'It has magic in it.'

The pen stops.

Hiroshi does not raise any protest. He does not push the chair back. He does not accuse Mamoru. He just sits, for a moment, quiet and still.

"I see," he says finally. Nothing else. But when Mamoru starts to speak again, he listens.

If he were reacting the way Mamoru's seen him react before, the way Mamoru has seen in his mind that he would react, he would not be listening. But Mamoru is not the first one he's heard something like this from. Not with as much detail. Not with certain kinds of honesty. But something like this, and that as much as the rose honey and the madness opened the way for him to hear.

He draws a breath at the end. Lets it out, slow. And then says, not about tea, "Do I seem like a dead man to you, then?"

Perhaps Mamoru isn't the only one to have lowered a mask.
Mamoru Chiba 2017-09-25 22:53:58 83570
It was partly the 'I see', such an awful thing, so familiar, the sound of failure, that had him keep going. It was partly the need to keep going in and of itself, the need for that raw kind of honesty--

Mamoru holds his breath, standing there in place, hands jammed in his pockets, and then...

...then Hiroshi asks a different question. Something in him de-tenses from where it'd coiled itseld up again, un-knots, and he breathes.

"Not dead, but living in-between. Everything that made you like being alive went away," he answers into the quiet, with the madness of the living room a muted thing, beyond the door and down the hall. "And that's not right. And-- you're family," he adds a little helplessly. "Even if you don't see me that way, I-- I can't help but see you that way. I'm sorry."
Kazuo Takeba 2017-09-26 02:16:28 83590
Hiroshi starts to turn the chair; gives up on that; turns in it, and regards Mamoru with a quiet steadiness. "These things happen," he says. "One goes on. What else is there to do? The world has never promised that anyone would have what they wanted. The world has never promised anything at all, except perhaps dying. What can we complain about, when in having food and clothing, shelter, work to do, we already have more than we were guaranteed?"
Mamoru Chiba 2017-09-26 03:17:11 83600
Mamoru's heart hurts for Hiroshi, and it's thick and heavy, and it shows on his face. Why should this boy care so much? He's already given the man a partial answer-- he considers him family, and Hiroshi knows that Mamoru Chiba is an orphan. Maybe that doesn't explain the depth of it, but maybe it does: who ever knows with children that grow up in the system?

He slowly sinks to sit on the edge of the bed, facing the older man, and he clasps his hands loosely, uselessly, in his lap. "One goes on," he says softly, agreeing. "And maybe it's too hard, for too little payoff, with no guarantees, to include starting over as part of continuing on. It takes a lot of energy. It takes a reason. It takes hope, for something just as good or better-- maybe better in different ways, or maybe only just as good but different--"

He glances down at his hands, then reaches up to take off his glasses and start polishing them on the hem of his shirt. Without the glasses, there's the face of the prince his son served and loved in another life, but also the face of a child who grew up with no one, without even a proper sense of self. As he speaks, he occasionally glances up, and the blue of the oceans from space is unobscured and unmitigated by glass. "It's not complaining to carry on in a way that strives for better, or for more-- it's human. And it's not complaining to say something is unfair, not if you intend to try and fix it. I know I'm young. I know I haven't had to live through what you have. I know I've been impossibly lucky, impossibly blessed, to have participated in the kind of miracles that could restore some of what I've lost-- and I know that those miracles are not everyday things."

Finally he looks up again, fully, and he leaves his glasses cupped in his hands. "And I know-- that it would take everything I had just to keep going if I had to live without part of my heart. But-- my heart lives in more than one place. I like to think I'd be able to start again," he says, and he knows that that's a hope too, and it's not a guarantee, and that knowledge is naked on his face. "To keep going and start again. And you did your best, Takeba-san. You did your best to keep going, but the world took more and more from you, and fate took from you without giving it back. I'm-- I'm trying to correct that. I'm trying to give back what fate took. Including your hope. Including your connections to things that matter, to things that give life instead of taking it. You have an open invitation to this household-- I want you to understand that it is an open invitation to this circle. I know we're all kids, younger than your son, even, but--"

Blue eyes flicker to his hands again, then back up, like he wants to extend one but is still wary of scaring Hiroshi, wary of touching him. "--we're all people, all of us. You, me, Kazuo, Mako-chan, Masato, Naru, Kyouko, Rashmi... we're all just people, and people need other people to connect to. And I need you." His expression resolves into something quietly self-deprecating. "You're family. If you agree-- or want to agree-- or want to keep trying-- then we're here. If you want to ask me anything or everything first, that's fine too. If you want more cookies, that's also doable."
Kazuo Takeba 2017-09-26 03:48:34 83605
"That's the nature of fate," Hiroshi says, and he might mean it to be gentle. "It gives you every opportunity you will ever have. And in the end, it will take them away again. That is how the world works. There is nothing to correct. I had a wife for a time. She died, as people do. I had a family. I alienated them for my son's sake, as was my own choice, my own decision. I had a son. He proved -- not to be wholly human, perhaps. Not to be anything I could understand.

"Your friends tell me that is true of all of you. More true of some than of others. But all of you are ... not just people. And I am..." Hiroshi trails off; he looks over and down at the notepad.

"Some people invite dogs into their homes," he says. "It is pleasant for both them and the dog. And certainly safer for the dog than scavenging in the streets, sleeping where he can, fighting with other packs, being preyed on by insects and by his own kind, perhaps being hit by a bus or a car. And the people may be fond of the dog. May even call it family. But it does not make the dog into a human."
Mamoru Chiba 2017-09-26 04:13:22 83611
Mamoru is silent for a long moment. There are so many things he could ask: 'why do you believe this trash talk about yourself?' 'do you think I'm better than you or something?' 'do you literally have any idea how much you and your son are alike in the absolute most frustrating ways?'

Finally, he says evenly, "...if a house full of one name adopts a child born with a different one, and gives that child their name, is that child one of them? Or still an outsider? People with no money and people with all the money are both still people. Humans with magic and without are both still humans. We are literally a bunch of dumb teenagers with phenomenal cosmic power who are trying to save lives, keep our friends and families safe from the literal monsters that try to destroy us so they can eat the world, maintain respectable GPAs, go on dates, eat healthy mixed in with junk food, pay bills, hold down part time jobs, raise siblings, leave at least a couch open for a friend to crash on if they need to get away from life for a little while, play videogames, help each other through the psychological problems that come of fighting dark things that bathe in the blood of innocents, water plants, and keep the sink clear of dishes."

Mamoru stands up. "On top of that, I'm an introvert. I'm also a touch empath, and a psychometrist. If someone accidentally makes skin contact with me and I'm distracted? I've got someone else's problems actually in my head, and they find out I'm not normal, and most of the time they pull away really fast and I have to see how they see me, I have to see how frightened they are of me, I have to actually feel their alienation as if it were mine. Also my house is basically grand central station and I have to hide behind Kazuo from our guests half the time. So if you think people with magic are above you-- as above you as a human is above a dog-- that really says a lot more about how you see yourself than it does about reality."

He starts moving toward the door. "I'll get you more tea. Again: You can ask me any question you want, and I will answer it fully and honestly to the best of my knowledge. I think the more information you have, the better able you will be to actually see what options you have, and actually consider what I've said, rather than summarily dismissing it as pity."
Kazuo Takeba 2017-09-26 04:29:33 83613
There were no questions asked, this time. Hiroshi does not dismiss Mamoru; he listens, silent, letting the words -- all the words -- flow over and through him, not over and past. Disregarding nothing.

But he doesn't say anything, either. In part because no response was asked. In part because implicit in those words was a warning that this moment was not the best time.

In part because the best answer he can give is the one he does: going back to encoding in neat, quick strokes the information he does have. The information he knows will have evanesced by the morning, and will be gone entirely unless he can condense it down to something he can read then, quickly enough to be worthwhile, detailed and emphatic enough to break through his skepticism anew.

It begins, always, with the simple statement: Magic exists.

That Mamoru can take it so much for granted as to insist that his magic is one of the least relevant things about him, while all Hiroshi would need to do to forget it forever is close his eyes before reconstructing his notes ... is perhaps the best illustration Hiroshi could have of the gulf between them.

He does not think he could convince Mamoru of that in words.