Stress, Torsion, and Madeleines


Breakfast with Hiroshi Takeba, Mamoru, and Masato Sanjoin is an adventure in awkwardness and eventually laughter at Kunzite's expense. He's like Spock at the end of like every episode of Star Trek.

Date: 2017-09-26
Pose Count: 29
Kazuo Takeba 2017-09-26 23:51:44 83626
There are particular tones of voice that have special meaning. There is one particular tone of voice, in fact, that says very specifically 'I am under orders to do something I literally cannot actually believe I have been told to do, all my superiors have lost their minds, I have no recourse, please send help.'

That tone of voice is currently emitting from Hiroshi Takeba's cellphone.

"-- if you are unable to use a telephone or have gone to another world, sir," it is saying with somewhat desperate politeness, "we request that you please contact us immediately so we can make appropriate arrangements."

Hiroshi stares at the phone in his hand for a moment, then very, very calmly hangs up on the automated message reminding him of his voice mail options. Because covering one's face with one's hand may perhaps be the only appropriate response to being reprimanded for not calling in dead.
Mamoru Chiba 2017-09-26 23:58:19 83627
It's relatively late o'clock in the morning for Hiroshi, being somewhere around 8:30 or 9 AM, but probably still obscenely early for Neil. Hopefully, Neil has remembered that Hiroshi is here, because pants.

Mamoru's sitting at the kitchen table across from Kunzite's father, nursing a cup of coffee; there is also tea, and there's breakfast in skillets on the stovetop under plates for later risers. He is also staring at the phone, frozen in place. "Your bosses..." he says a moment later, and his voice is awed.

He is literally incapable of finishing whatever that sentence was going to be.
Nephrite 2017-09-27 00:14:30 83629
Hiroshi has seen Neil in two different uniforms, now. One is the outlandish one that matches his son's. The other is, well, also outlandish, in its own way. Sanjouin Masato may have all but vanished from the public eye, but he has never entirely left this building. He shows up now and then in the form of the occasional call to his cell (different from Neil's personal cell, often neglected and perpetually attached to its charger), in blazers worth the average monthly wage thrown over a cheap t-shirt, in mail that arrives only in piles when Neph remembers to retrieve it. Nephrite knows this uniform well, knows how to use it to manage expectations. And Hiroshi is under their roof now. Hiroshi expects Sanjouin Masato to be, well, Sanjouin Masato. Not Neil, 19-year-old Canadian college student who sleeps all day and considers pants largely optional. With all that has happened recently to Hiroshi's worldview, perhaps that particular illusion does not need to be shattered just yet.

So: early it may be for Neph to be awake. Earlier still for him to be fully clothed. But there he is, in neatly-pressed slacks, the mane of his hair actually brushed out over his blue blazer. He is at least foregoing a tie, but by god, he remembered that pocket squares exist, and this one has a galaxy print.

"Morning." Flash of a smile. He catches sight of Mamoru's stare. "Something wrong? Did the phone say something bad?"
Kazuo Takeba 2017-09-27 00:23:10 83631
If the phone delivered hissing threats from the Phantom Empire for their having offed Queen Mirage's only tea-party guest, Hiroshi's reaction to Neph's arrival would not make that particularly clear. He rises (it is perhaps the quickest and most alert movement anyone has seen him make since Jupiter and Gull punched the house), and bows low from the waist. "Good morning, sir."

Maybe he just really, really appreciates the galaxy print.
Mamoru Chiba 2017-09-27 00:33:28 83632
Mamoru actively pulls a Picard facepalm at Neil's appearance as Sanjouin and Hiroshi's reaction, then looks up fast and flashes an alarmed look at Nephrite from behind Hiroshi. He makes a throat-slashing gesture with a grimace, then shakes his head rapidly and does 'no no no wait' hand shaking, then looks pointedly at the table and makes a little person with two fingers and walks it across the table, tiptoeing exaggeratedly. Then he just drags his hands down his face, then takes a sip of his coffee to calm his nerves.

"We were listening to Takeba-san's voicemails so I could prove to him he actually has been missing for ten days," the prince says as he puts his coffee down and turns more in his chair to face Neil. He doesn't get up, as per usual. "And we just got to one from the Monday morning after we found out, and it was literally an urgent request that if he were dead or unable to use a telephone, he should contact them immediately. They wanted him to call in dead. How would you even issue the write-up?"

He shakes his head, marvelling, then gestures at the stovetop. "Breakfast is still warm, or you can heat it up if your eggs are congealed."
Nephrite 2017-09-27 00:44:21 83633
Nephrite was prepared for a reaction, but not that much of a reaction, and for the span of a few blinks he is forced to regroup. Did he really think watching a caped and bloodied Masato get magically healed would be enough to make Takeba Hiroshi's adherence to etiquette calm down at all? This is Kunzite's dad, after all. Over Hiroshi's head, he can see Mamoru doing... something. Involving throat-slashing? Or fingers. Walking. Walking on the table? Neph gives him a look that blankly says, "what?"

He adjusts the cuff of his shirt, drawing on Masato's enormous ego, and smiles benevolently at Hiroshi. "Please sit, Takeba-san. You are a guest, and you've had an ordeal." He breezes into the kitchen to inspect the eggs. "Call in dead? I'm sure there must be some protocol for that. I am sure they'll be relieved to learn they do not have to look up what it is."
Kazuo Takeba 2017-09-27 01:12:50 83636
Certainly, the night before, Hiroshi's adherence to etiquette yielded substantially to (a) exhaustion (b) the exigencies of the moment (c) him and his son starting even-toned verbal fights with each other and (d) Usagi subjecting both of them to punitive bubblegum pop. Certainly, the night before, Hiroshi's concern about the details of etiquette toward a superior were also somewhat overruled by the blood on the uniform and by Makoto's presence.

This morning, no.

Also interesting: this morning, he did not try to inquire after the health of the recovering injured, as might reasonably have been expected -- by etiquette, no less.

Hiroshi seats himself again as directed, listening to the conversation for a moment. He notes, "We do have a policy regarding the proper way to reassure employees after terminating someone's employment for attempting to place curses on their coworkers. Undoubtedly some element of that could be extended to formalize suitably laying visiting ghosts to rest."

Whether he knew that off the top of his head before this year is a question probably best not asked.
Mamoru Chiba 2017-09-27 01:26:52 83638
"...attempting to-- has anyone ever succeeded?" Mamoru asks with morbid interest, then shakes his head. "Nevermind, I don't actually want to know. It doesn't matter and you know it, Neph." He curls his hands around his cup and turns back to Hiroshi, explaining, "You don't have to worry about it; this is what I was talking about. If you have no way of explaining why you haven't been in that would be believed, then you said you wouldn't expect them to forgive what looks like a failure. We didn't find out about it for days, and then we had to take even more time to gather up the firepower necessary to get you out. So I asked Masato to take care of your job. I don't know what's appropriate in the business world, so I don't know what he arranged, but... even though you were missing for ten days without calling in, which you were, you're covered. You're also covered for as long as you're staying here. Which, like I told you last night, will only be a few days."
Nephrite 2017-09-27 01:53:29 83641
Nephrite also pauses in the middle of leaning over the eggs with the pot lid raised to give Hiroshi a look. "Curses? Really?" What he really wants to ask is, did I come up with that one? But Mamoru explains the situation, and he tilts his head absently. "Did I? Oh, yes." A dismissive wave of the hand.

He sets the lid back down and flicks on the stove. Apparently the eggs do indeed require heating. "The how is not important. Things have been arranged, that is all that matters. Your superiors will want to hear from you when you are feeling better, Takeba-san, but they understand it may be a while yet."
Kazuo Takeba 2017-09-27 02:08:39 83642
Clearly he has been desperately ill. Well. Granted, he feels more or less as if it were true. "I'm afraid I wouldn't be in a position to know," he says to Mamoru's inquiry. "I'm sure that whatever shrine we must have contacted would assure you that of course someone did, and only their personal efforts prevented disaster."

... it does not appear to occur to him, at least on the spot, that perhaps snarking about magic in present company might not be the wisest idea.

Hiroshi pauses for a moment after, considering his tea, trying not to consider Masato and the eggs. (Masato dealing with his own eggs. This morning keeps getting stranger.) "I am grateful to you both for your intervention. But I admit that I'm not certain why you believe it necessary for me to remain here at all. Surely I've missed enough time."

... as if days that did not involve going to work were as much missing time as days trapped in a dark mirror.
Mamoru Chiba 2017-09-27 02:26:44 83644
Aren't they?

"Please pardon me, Takeba-san, I'm about to be rude to my friend. Nephrite," says Mamoru, tired of squirming uncomfortably and looking Done at nine in the morning, "crank it down a little, will you? It's too early in the morning for asshole millionnaires. I wanted to talk to you beforehand, but you weren't up yet, and last night was enough of a mess that I was practically hiding under my bed by the end of it. You're not still sore, are you? I dug all the gravel out of your skin before I healed you, right?"

He either misses or doesn't care about the snarking. His son could certainly tell him how effective a miko's curse-dispelling is, but there's the crux of the matter.

The prince is gripping his mug a little more tightly now. Maybe he should have had valerian tea instead of coffee. Or valerian tea with whiskey. He looks at Hiroshi, now, and his expression is that of a nineteen-year-old warring with unjustified impatience, if only for a second. Then he looks calmer. "I need some friends to check out your house for residual dark energy, and I need two or three more days to make absolutely certain you're not suffering any further ill effects from your imprisonment. I am not certain how much you had the chance to include in your notes before you fell asleep, but that is something I told you last night."

He takes a deep breath. "If you allow it, I can show you a replay of our conversation via psychometry, which might make this simpler."
Nephrite 2017-09-27 02:52:34 83646
Said asshole millionaire raises his eyebrows at Mamoru... and proceeds not to respond as an asshole millionaire would be expected to on being told off over breakfast. He relaxes into an easy grin. "My mistake. Looks like I got my wires crossed. Takeba-san, my apologies. I will forward you all relevant information related to the matter."

Still in his suit, with pocket square and cufflinks, he digs a chunk of bacon out of the pile of eggs he's heaped on his plate, and shoves it in his mouth. "It's a simple matter of recovery from a traumatic incident, Takeba-san. If you were in a car accident, you would be expected to be cleared by a doctor before returning to work, yes? This is no different."
Kazuo Takeba 2017-09-27 03:07:34 83648
... morning. keeps. getting. stranger.

Hiroshi opens his mouth, closes his mouth, and reaches for his tea as though he thought it were whiskey. Mamoru mentioning the word 'psychometry' actually causes him to blanch slightly. To shift uncomfortably in his chair, no less.

Well. There's some evidence that part of him remembers something without recourse to taking notes.

And in the time that that delays him, the suddenly-less-asshole millionaire in question inserts a paradigm that's considerably more useful than the one Hiroshi was about to fall back on. For which reason Hiroshi says, no matter how unhappy he is about it, "If you think it necessary."

It's not particularly clear whether he means clearing him before he goes back to work, or waking his memory back up. But ambiguity is an art and a lifestyle, really.
Mamoru Chiba 2017-09-27 03:29:41 83650
And this is why Mamoru has sensible friends, even if they shove bacon in their mouths with their fingers then talk around it.

The prince gives Nephrite an incredibly grateful look, and remembers how to relax his hands and let go of his coffee cup. Then he looks to Hiroshi again, and his expression is apologetic. "I'll buffer it. It should not be overwhelming. I also won't look at anything in your head, and you won't get anything from me but that conversation. When you're ready," he says, reaching out, "take my hand. You can also let go any time you want."
Nephrite 2017-09-27 03:51:11 83652
Nephrite is a man of many talents. He can be sensible, dapper, and an incredibly rude eater all at the same time. He waits to see Mamoru's hands relaxing over his mug before returning his full attention to his breakfast, leaning against the counter with the plate in hand. He might consider sitting at the table soon, but it looks like Mamoru's about to do some voodoo, and there is no reason to make the skittish guest even more uncomfortable by moving closer. Besides, there is bacon. He listens quietly while consuming his egg mountain (with a fork, this time).
Kazuo Takeba 2017-09-27 03:59:20 83653
A fork is remarkably considerate! It's very kind of Neph. Hiroshi presumably also ate his breakfast with actual utensils, or has used a lot of soap since, given that he puts down his teacup, draws another breath to brace himself, and reaches for Mamoru's hand in turn.

The overflow from Hiroshi's touch is disjointed, rarely raising to the level of conscious awareness. The taste of exquisite chocolate and rose-honey. The childhood stare upward at a certain building that Mamoru's seen once before. The precise lines of his pen drawing of Kunzite's gem.

The cumulative effect of, unremembered but lingering, ten days of the silent oppressive conviction that not only was the work of his life so far useless -- dedicated sacrifice for someone who did not and never would desire or even value the product of that sacrifice -- but it was worse than useless. Worse than self-defeating. That the single best thing he could have done was cut ties two decades ago, and every moment of effort since then had been counterproductive.

After all. Abandon the boy into the orphanage system, and he'd at worst have been no worse off, and at best might have found the orphan he was looking for sooner.
Mamoru Chiba 2017-09-28 01:30:30 83779
On the other hand, from Mamoru to Hiroshi, the touch is clean and uncluttered: reassuring and welcoming, but otherwise businesslike. There's no digging around for explanations; he's as good as his word, there. All there is is the application of a memory that should be shared-- their conversation last night, before Hiroshi took notes, before Hiroshi went to sleep.

The attempts to reassure then, the mention of the reasons why Hiroshi needed to stay, the request for a list of necessities, the cookies. The rose. More explanations. Mamoru trying-- his frustration, his longing to understand that Hiroshi understood him, that he's not more and Hiroshi is not less; the explanations to Hiroshi of what kind of person he himself is, things that Mamoru would never usually have said so baldly--

--and as Mamoru's perspective replay of the conversation plays out for Hiroshi, the older man's perspective on it unlocks, the memory becoming clear again.

Hiroshi's perspective on it, and the ambient slow-creeping resigned horror of those ten days and the things of which Hiroshi became convinced, are enough to fire off the physiological reactions to emotional stress in the boy, one by one. There's the limbic system, then pieces of sympathetic and parasympathetic at once, and even enteric--

He keeps himself tightly walled off; he'd promised Hiroshi that the man wouldn't get anything from him. It doesn't enter the replay, it doesn't pollute, it doesn't salt the site. All it does is ensure that Mamoru's face is faintly flushed and his warm hand trembling slightly in Hiroshi's; ensure that his expression is schooled, that there is a lead weight in his stomach and a prickling of his skin and a constricting of his throat.

If Hiroshi doesn't let go before the end, at the end, Mamoru slips his hand back and says in a voice that's very small, "And I didn't realize-- that you had to keep notes. Just to remember, from one day to the next. However I can help you remember, please tell me."
Nephrite 2017-09-28 01:45:57 83787
There is not much that Nephrite can do at the moment. Sanjouin Masato's swagger is not particularly called for (though it looms large in the kitchen, a presence unto itself even when Neph is silently eating by himself). So he watches. Both parties, in this exchange of memories. When Mamoru looks up, flushed, he takes that as his cue to set aside his plate and move back to the table, where he leans a hand against Mamoru's shoulder while reaching for the coffee carafe, using the casual movement to offer reassurance. He tops up Mamoru's cup before reaching for a clean one for himself.
Kazuo Takeba 2017-09-28 02:03:27 83793
Waking the memory is not difficult, on Mamoru's end. It's present in both of them. It should be there. That Hiroshi's mind fights against it despite his conscious will -- that's the problem. Mamoru can see that it won't stay. But it'll be there for a while.

Mamoru focused on the idea that Hiroshi was less, and fought against that; Hiroshi's focus, instead, was on the idea that they were different. That Mamoru's circle can perceive and deal readily in things Hiroshi can't retain enough to understand in depth. He can leave himself notes. But that has limitations: eventually he will rise in the morning with a book of conversations to review, and then another. That he can find cracks in the wall to peer through does not make the wall between them not exist.

(Does not make him capable of comprehending, at present, that the wall exists in his own mind and heart.)

When Mamoru draws his hand back, Hiroshi reaches for his tea, discovers too late that the cup is empty, goes through the motions as if it hadn't been all the same. He takes a couple of breaths before he says, "I apologize for not explaining that at the time. But it seemed best to give us both some time to regain equilibrium first." In his case, equilibrium from literally not remembering they'd fought, but ... there were notes.

Hiroshi shakes his head after, faintly embarrassed. "If I knew any better way to try to remember, I'd ... well. Already have tried."
Mamoru Chiba 2017-09-28 02:33:11 83801
There's an absent motion on Mamoru's part, born of gratitude and the reflexive expression thereof: he reaches up to put his hand even more briefly over Neil's on his shoulder, in thanks for the support, and showing his guardian exactly how much he needs it. He's filled with shame he's fighting down, and horror at what the mirror did to Hiroshi's soul.

It's so quick, though, and done in passing as much as Nephrite's initial gesture was.

As Neil refills Mamoru's coffee from the carafe, Mamoru leans to pick up the teapot and reach to refill Hiroshi's own cup. That ritual in an of itself is also a calming thing, and Mamoru's voice is steadier when he continues the conversation and puts the pot down. "Your inability to remember seems to be rooted in your psyche, like someone blocking out the memory of a traumatic experience. It's also been reinforced by your imprisonment in the mirror. If magic's brought you only horror and life's brought you disappointment and resignation, naturally you're unwilling -- on a subconscious level -- to retain any knowledge of its existence. Moving on to extrapolation-- it hasn't helped you, so far as you can see; it's let you down. It can make miracles, but your heart insists that it hasn't made any for you, so it's worse than useless. Even though it brought your son back to life, he's still your son, the same man who was the boy that drove you to distraction in his endless running..."

The prince's hands curl around his coffee cup again, seeking its warmth and solidity. "Running toward magic, running away from its denial. He's not magically the person you thought he should be, so again, what good has magic really done? And now it's gone and hurt you again, stolen time and energy from you, planted more sorrow and feelings of helplessness... your mind is fighting back against knowledge of magic because it's safer to be convinced that magic isn't real, and that life just... well, sucks."

Here, it's Mamoru's turn to look faintly embarrassed, because there may be more flowery ways of putting it, but there really aren't any better ways.

"The sweets that Makoto made for you, the ones with the rose honey-- they do help; they reinforce connections and heal parts of the soul grown rigid and inflexible; they refresh. That is what they're for. That is, in fact, part of what I am for, which is frankly alarmingly ironic, considering my own upbringing and psyche," he continues, tone again businesslike, reasonable, analytical. Being a doctor when he grows up -- it does actually seem like a good fit for the boy. But the confidence and authority he speaks with, speaks from, when he's discussing something like this? With no theatrics, no mask, no acting? They are part of the prince that Hiroshi cannot consciously recall.

"Spending more time with us, as uncomfortable as it is, should also help. Understanding the underlying metaphysics and cosmology of what we work with, seeing that there are patterns and balances instead of only randomness, unpredictability, and chaos-- that should help, too. In fact, that's something that Kazuo discusses with Naru regularly. The more sense you can make out of all of this, I think-- the more willing your mind might be to retain it. There are--"

Mamoru takes a breath. "There are clean lines, and there are soaring curves, and sometimes there is too much stress, too much torsion; sometimes there is breakage when something is balanced incorrectly. Once when I was well beyond lost, and Kazuo had been deeply injured for trying to protect me, the only conversation I was able to have was about magic and love and balance and metaphysics, and it was entirely in higher maths on a whiteboard." A beat. "With Neph, here."

He lets go of the mug and spreads his hands briefly. "It can be discussed without using the word 'magic', if it helps. And it might, initially. Getting you used to it with a different name might be a step between."
Nephrite 2017-09-28 02:57:45 83803
Nephrite smiles at the mention of his name as he heaps sugar into his mug. "You speak in the languages you know best. Sometimes it's metaphysics. Or perhaps accounting. Debit and credit, how things balance out." He nods over at the teapot. "Or tea. My girlfriend knows tea language very well." He stirs his coffee, slowly and deliberately, leaning an elbow on the table. "Perhaps finding that language will help."
Kazuo Takeba 2017-09-28 03:14:06 83808
Actually thanking Mamoru for that ritual would interrupt him; Hiroshi bows his head instead. It's a little while before he says anything at all.

"Any reinforcement," he says, careful, clinical, "is ... almost irrelevant. The ... amnesia on the topic, I suppose, goes back a long time. I used to have what I thought at the time were nightmares. But that -- stone --" Hiroshi's hand lifts, and makes a jerky and vague gesture toward his forehead. "It isn't a nightmare. I had to have really seen it, when Kazuo was small. But I didn't remember properly even then."

When Kazuo was small.

Any stifled shrieks of laughter are presumably preemptively forgiven by that phrase even existing.

He listens to the rest, but it's a numb listening, quiet and still and a little glazed. Hints at finding the language: he can focus in on 'too much stress, too much torsion,' on the idea of balance. At least before the tiny startled glance from Mamoru to Nephrite and back, over talking about metaphysics in higher maths.

Hiroshi draws a breath after. "She likes roses in her tea, too," he says, almost irrelevant, of Makoto. "That -- please pardon me for a moment." He rises; steps out of the kitchen, into the hall, moving as if picking his way carefully across an unsteady surface instead of a perfectly ordinary floor.

When he returns, it's with the container of madeleines from his guest room, which he opens and places solemnly on the table between all three of them. Oriented so that Nephrite doesn't have to lift the elbow he's leaning on to reach them.
Mamoru Chiba 2017-09-28 03:50:26 83814
"Even if the language I apparently know best is 'the sound of my own voice,'" Mamoru says wryly to Neil, glancing up at him and momentarily looking sheepish... before he sees what he's doing to his coffee. Abruptly he looks revolted. "Look if you want a hot frappuccino for breakfast just say so, I'll get you the bottled junk and you can nuke it."

Then the black-haired medical student settles himself back down, very carefully not looking at Neil or his coffee, paying careful attention to Hiroshi. He looks like he has an argument against the irrelevance of reinforcement, but leaves it be to keep listening. (There is no laughter at the idea of Kazuo, small. He's seen it in Hiroshi's memories, once, and another version of nearly the same child, older, in a 'gift' from one of the Clow cards.)

He's about to say something about Makoto and her rose tea, but Hiroshi abruptly stops and excuses himself. Mamoru sits back and glances toward Neil again, and he looks actually patient, but also tired despite it being nine in the morning, and determined. Briefly, ended when he hears footsteps again, his fingertips touch the back of his guardian's hand: he's alive in there, it's just going to take a lot of time to unearth him-- but I'll keep making sure he has that time. You can see it, can't you? Glimpses of him in admidst all the grey.

But Hiroshi's back, and has put what, to him, must seem as nervewracking as a bomb in the middle of the table.

Mamoru reaches out to take one of the madeleines, and before takes a bite, he notes, "Mako-chan's rose tea isn't made with my roses. She just really, really likes roses." Bright, crooked, sudden grin. "Not that I can blame her. So does Izumi. Zoisite." Then, chomp.

Washed down with coffee after a second, Mamoru adds, "That was when he was seven, wasn't it? He's your son, he's been your son his whole life. It's just that his soul is old, and he took an oath in his past life which linked that soul with mine. I'm guessing that that happened -- that you saw that -- when I was born. None of us knew back then that any of this would happen. When you're small-- you think you'll live forever. You think you won't have to worry about reincarnation or an afterlife or anything... but for what it's worth, I'm sorry. I'm sorry that I-- he's told me I shouldn't be. But I am. I'm sorry I caused him pain, that I caused you pain."
Nephrite 2017-09-28 04:15:32 83818
The idea of a small Kazuo earns only a momentary look of surprised delight from Nephrite. It's a promise that the mental image will be savored later (perhaps out loud, in Kazuo's earshot).

He listens to Mamoru's assessment via their connection and nods, silently. He does not comment on the fact that a certain someone also had to be unearthed, in a more literal sense. Like father, like son.

Nephrite grins when he sees the madeleines and reaches for one, taking a moment to gesture with it instead of immediately shoving it in his mouth. Partly because he's trying to restrain himself from carelessly eating them all. They are for Hiroshi, after all, and he is already blessed with access to Makoto's baking all the time. But he takes one, because eating food is a communal act, and they were offered. "They help, don't they? Something about his power and hers together. Roses and honey. They've saved me more times than I can really describe."

His soul is old. How recently Nephrite has heard that phrase. "Kunzite--Kazuo--is no less your family than before. Nor is he any less Kazuo. Actually," he smirks, "he seems to become more himself by the day."
Kazuo Takeba 2017-09-28 04:32:45 83821
God help Kazuo on the day Neil finds out there is a secondhand picture of him at three on Mamoru's phone.

It's only after the other two have taken from the container that Hiroshi claims one himself; he holds it for a moment, studying it. Longer than the other two do. "She's very ..." Sweet? Yes. Kind? Also yes. Are either of those relevant? Not for what he's looking for. "Steady. Very grounded. In herself, and in being able to do the same for others."

He can't cope with the idea of the treats as magic. He shies away from the gold of Mamoru's power, too direct and intense for him to be able to bear. He has trouble approaching them as somehow medicine. But the girl who had an entire conversation with him about these things, and managed to avoid the awkwardness almost entirely, putting everything in practical terms (you speak in the languages you know best) -- if he considers them as an extension of that girl in herself, her efforts and her kindness --

He eats it before he can think about it further, sipping the tea afterward and listening to Mamoru try to explain. He draws a breath to try to explain something in turn, to try again to redirect Mamoru away from worrying and apologizing and to the point that Hiroshi was trying and failed to make; but Nephrite's comment, smirk and dubious reassurance and all, lands first. And it is sufficiently well-aimed that Hiroshi glances up and speaks, for once, without thinking. Without applying the filters of etiquette. In a remarkably familiar tone of voice. Kazuo's becoming more himself by the day? "I'm surprised any of you can still put up with him."
Mamoru Chiba 2017-09-28 04:44:28 83823
Here, Mamoru just grins outright. "I've been informed that I collect snarkmonsters." And then, god help him, he adds before he can think better of it, "I mean I like you a lot, too, and you're as much of a jerk to him as he thinks he is in general." Then he just shoves the rest of the madeleine in his mouth and tries not to laugh into his coffee.
Nephrite 2017-09-28 04:53:24 83824
Nephrite's smile turns softer, less of a deliberate show and more of an unconscious reaction, as Hiroshi describes Makoto. "Steady. Yes. Like an old growth tree, never wavering."

And then. That comment. It comes just as Nephrite has bitten his cookie in half, and he immediately chokes on it, forcing him to cough-laugh into his hand, face red, tears in his eyes.
Kazuo Takeba 2017-09-28 05:04:09 83826
Hiroshi immediately attempts to hunt a napkin for Nephrite, but he's less than familiar with the layout; finding things all too often depends on knowing where to look. Someone may have to bail him out on this front, and by 'someone' we probably mean 'Mamoru.'

At least it keeps him from having to come up with any actual substantial comment on to what degree he and Kazuo are actually family, and since when. It's a pity that someone can't just disarm the pair of them before letting them into the same room.
Mamoru Chiba 2017-09-28 05:21:53 83828
Murder is generally not accepted as a valid disarmament tactic, unfortunately. Mamoru's already given up on hiding laughing, but manages to wash his madeleine down with coffee before he, too, chokes. So he's up on his feet, yes, getting Neil a paper towel and gesturing 'I've got it' at Hiroshi as he laughs like a jerk at the choking guy.

Also a glass of water, because scalding coffee may not actually help on the choking front.

Finally he's sitting back down, glasses off and wiping at his eyes, and he drowns the rest of it in his own coffee. After a second, he shakes his head and grins again, and that smile's also softer. "He means the world to us, no matter how much of a jerk he is. Possibly even because of how much of a jerk he is. Whatever's in the past can't be changed-- and if it were, then we wouldn't be as strong as we are now. We'd probably end up even more messed up, all of us. So it's okay. We'll figure out the language to use, and we can all translate for each other."

A beat. "But you can take those two demonstrations out of your room if you want, I'll dismantle them for Mako-chan. It would probably make waking up easier. And let's also intersperse really heavily normal stuff in with all the explanatory stuff so you don't lose as much as you did this morning-- and I'll get you a notebook."

Mamoru stands up, then, and picks up his coffee. "We'll check out your house today, so you can go get things from it-- Neph, maybe you, or you and Mako, can check it out and he can go with you? Then," he looks back to Hiroshi, "just please stay with us for that few more days. You might think the reinforcement's irrelevant, but it really isn't. It did lingering damage to you, I saw it when your memory of the conversation woke back up. We can at least reverse that before you get back to work, but I need you here and immersed for it to be effective. But--"

Wry look. "I have class I need to get to in about forty-five minutes, so I have to take my leave. Takeba-san, Neph; ja!"

Coward. Leaves before he can be argued with. By either of them.

Rank hath its privilege.