A Quiet Family Meeting

Shitennou meetings that don't include Mamoru don't happen often. Except, sometimes, when Mamoru is the topic. This does not have a good precedent, but Kunzite's worried about his connections, not his judgment. Kunzite's also worried about Naru. Apatite, also worried about Naru. Nephrite, worried about YOU GUYS JUMPED STRAIGHT TO BREAKING AND ENTERING WHAT.

Date: 2017-10-18
Pose Count: 19
Kazuo Takeba 2017-10-18 23:11:14 84983
The text was waiting for Kyouko when she got out of work: Kazuo's request that she make it upstairs either for or after dinner, whenever she could get there without Naru noticing.

This by itself is a little eyebrow-raising. Usually Kazuo's suggesting both of them come up. Especially since Naru withdrew from so much social contact. And Naru's been getting better about social contact.

It should also be noted that Mamoru is out for the evening, tonight. And that Kazuo is marking the time, and waiting with a certain blandness that certainly could not be impatient for Neil to make his eveningly appearance. Sun's down. Stargazer should be out Any Time Now.
Kyouko Sakura 2017-10-18 23:23:07 84984
    It's honestly not that difficult for Kyouko to get away without Naru in the evening. Naru is very often consumed with homework in the evening, and even if she isn't, she tends to go on rather long jogs or cycling outings or whathaveyou. Although the offer of dinner was tempting, Kyouko made the decision to eat downstairs. Keep everything nice and normal, then after Naru is occupied with one of her other endeavors, slip out to find out what Kunzite wanted.

    She assumes it has something to do with the 'gunk in the head' incident, though Naru had assured her that was all cleared up. Still, she has enough in common with her 'nii-chan' to never really believe a problem is solved just because someone tells her so.

    She lands lightly on the balcony outside, dismissing her henshin in a flash of light the moment her feet touch the floor as she pulls the glass door open and steps inside in jeans and t-shirt. "Nii-chan? What's up? I'm here." She calls out. But softly. No sense alerting the entire household that she's here after Kunzite went through the trouble to be discreet.
Kazuo Takeba 2017-10-18 23:41:24 84985
Kazuo turns his head at the sound of the balcony door. "Meeting," he says, likewise not loud but not apparently concerned. Which probably means he spent an hour this afternoon checking the place for mundane and supernatural listening devices. "Two items. One of which may be your girlfriend, unless she's been talking to you about her experiments the last couple of months."
Kyouko Sakura 2017-10-18 23:51:55 84986
    Kyouko shuts the door behind her and walks over towards Kunzite after divesting herself of her sneakers, a faint frown on her face as she pauses by his side and crosses her arms. "Meeting, huh? Well, she's told me some.. but I thought Mamoru took care of that issue." The gunk in the head thing, previously mentioned. If what Kazuo is talking about is something other than that, then maybe Naru hasn't been telling Kyouko as much as she thinks she has been.
Nephrite 2017-10-18 23:58:51 84987
Nephrite wanders in, cradling an empty coffee mug and a box of Teddy Grams in one arm. "Hey, what's up? What'd Mamoru take care of?" He shoves a handful of bear-shaped crackers in his mouth with his free hand. "Hey Kyouko," he mumbles around them.

At the current moment, there are absolutely no "adult" figures staying in the apartment. No businessmen to impress, no family members to pretend to be a functioning human being around. After the past few weeks of studiously maintaining a polished image, Neph is making up for all that slavish devotion to artfully mismatched businesswear by wearing his most worn out hockey t-shirt (the Seibu Prince Rabbits, obviously) and jeans.
Kazuo Takeba 2017-10-19 00:11:41 84988
"Meeting," Kazuo repeats to Nephrite now that he's here to hear it. The empty coffee mug is eyed; Kazuo pushes off from his patch of wall to see about filling it. Kazuo's dressed more or less as always, white shirt, jeans because there are no adults to impress, communicator a permanent presence on his wrist. Sharp-pointed earrings, always. And one note that turned up first a few days ago: a gold-toned class ring with a smooth yellow stone. Possibly he decided he needed a little more impact if he had to punch someone with that hand; he still doesn't live up to Neil on that front, granted.

"Two items. First one. A little while ago, Naru came to Mamoru to ask him for help with her state of mind. He found something in her head; he described it as something like black mold. He cleared it out, but we don't know the source.

"Several weeks previous to that, Naru had started to take out a sketchbook in my presence -- stopped, put it away, and taken out a notebook to draw in instead. That sketchbook has not reappeared.

"After the mold incident, when Naru failed to volunteer any information about what she might be hiding or where the contamination might have come from, Mamoru and I did the obvious thing and broke into Naru's mother's apartment." Because that is the obvious thing, apparently. If you're a former jewel thief and a paranoid. "Naru keeps her canvases in the closet of her room there. I'd checked the place earlier, after she hid the sketchbook and replaced it with a new one." Apparently breaking in TWICE is the obvious thing. "So we know which canvases were from the intervening few weeks. She spent those weeks experimenting with unpleasant energies; not too deeply, but enough to be a concern. And the missing sketchbook wasn't in her room, either. Whatever she didn't want seen, we still don't know what or where it is. And if Kyouko didn't know about this -- Naru's been keeping those experiments to herself."
Kyouko Sakura 2017-10-19 00:22:14 84989
    Kyouko grins as Nephrite comes walking in, giving him a wave. "'Sup?" She greets in return, before hungrily eyeing the Teddy Grams, though perhaps out of filial respect she makes no attempt to grab them out of his hand. Her attention wanders back to Kunzite as he moves to fill a coffee mug while wasting no time at going into the reasons for the meeting.

    The slight frown returns to her face as she listens, moving over to the counter and leaning one hand on it as red eyes track Kazuo's movements. "I knoew about the.. the black mold, and that she asked Mamoru for help and that he did help. I also knew that she didn't know the source.. she told me that stuff. And she told me she was gonna have Mamoru check again to make sure it didn't come back."

    A pause, then a faint sight. "But I didn't know she was.. experimenting like that. I mean, extensively enough to have a closet-full. It's not like I poke around her room at her mom's much. I had noticed she'd been.. withdrawn? Like, she was pretty normal around me and Momo, but didn't wanna go out or deal with people, stuff like that. But I didn't wanna say anything.. y'know, it was noticable to me but not enough to be like.. a crisis? And I didn't wanna seem.." She struggles for a moment, looking for the right word. "Meddly. Like an overly-clingy girlfriend, y'know?"

    A quirk of her lips. "We talked about that already, after Mamoru did his thing, and I told her I wouldn't wait so long to comment next time but.. is it a big concern?" A faint hint of worry enters her tone. "She said she's better now, and she does seem better. But I really don't know what she's doing when she goes hom, or whatever.. I want to trust her, but if you think there might still be a problem.." She trails off, chewing her lower lip.
Nephrite 2017-10-19 00:33:51 84990
There is a glance at the new ring. It is only a glance.

Neil recognizes the predatory look in Kyouko's eye and obligingly sets the box on the table where it can be easily accessed. Teddy Grams are for sharing.

He listens, brows creased, as Kazuo explains the situation, and Kyouko fills in the gaps. "Okay, wait, experimenting how? Like, what kind of unpleasantness are we talking, here?"

He looks from Kyouko to Kazuo. "And am I the only one who finds it a little weird that you both jumped straight to breaking into her place? Even out of obvious concern? That's a little weird, right?"
Kazuo Takeba 2017-10-19 01:00:49 84991
Coffee is also for sharing. If Neil provides his mug, it shall be poured. If not, Kazuo gets another one out for him, because this is that kind of conversation.

"Not directly. We left a few days to see if she chose to say anything. When she didn't -- well. The problem with needing to ask someone 'are you conducting unsupervised experiments with dark energy' is that their obvious move is to say 'no, of course not' and hide the evidence." Kazuo tilts his head, and adds, "If she wasn't experimenting with dark energy -- it's not as if she's living there, for all practical purposes. The only really private area involved is the art closet itself. And if she'd so much as been taking precautions to avoid contaminating the rest of the place -- say, for instance, to keep her mother from being hurt by the spillover -- it would have looked clean from outside, and we'd have left, somewhat embarrassed."

He leaves the coffee alone, not actually having poured any for himself, and paces out of the kitchen. "She's experimenting with her range, in part. With what emotions she can pour into the canvas. This in itself is not so much of a problem. But the first painting we looked at was trying to take our energy; not strong enough to do so, but trying. Hungry. And a handful of them -- she's been picking up energy from other sources, from other things, and learning how to place that into her paintings. This in itself, again, isn't so much of a problem.

"But she's been learning from the White Flower. Who is half-Puella, half-Witch, and most likely aiming to destroy everything alive in the universe that is not herself.

"Which is ultimately why I did not consider going straight to trespassing to be uncalled-for. I don't believe that Naru is about to choose the Flower's side. But I do believe that she feels both that the Flower is in some fashion her problem, and that she doesn't presently have enough power to oppose her. Which is a recipe for doing unwise things, believing one has the best of reasons."

Kazuo regards Kyouko for a moment. "It may well still be a small concern. But we don't know where the contamination in her mind came from. And we don't know what is in that sketchbook. We need to find it. We may need to confront her. I didn't want you taken by surprise if we did."
Kyouko Sakura 2017-10-19 01:11:30 84992
    Kyouko scowls at Nephrite. "I didn't break in anywhere! I wasn't there! Anyway, I'm allowed in her bedroom." She sniffs faintly, but then is distracted by Kazuo's renewed narration.

    "I.. can't believe that Naru would knowingly endanger her mom." She says, after a moment, her brow furrowed. "Like.. she'd have to be totally posessed, and I know she isn't. Which means she probably wasn't aware of just how.. successful her experiments were. Or maybe she didn't set out to make them that way, but.. well, I guess experimenting sometimes leads to unintended results."

    Her eyes narrow at the mention of the White Flower. "I don't.. think she's seen her recently. Like, in months. She promised to tell me if she was going to.." She pauses, realizing that if there is a problem, such promises might not mean much. "I can sense her presence. The White Flower, I mean. She's enough Witch for that. And I haven't sensed anything recently.."

    She sighs. "But you might be right. She might be pushing herself because she thinks that her.. connection to the White Flower means she has some responsibility. I could see that. And I could also see her not tellin' me about it because I'd tell her to stop, which I absolutely would because I don't want her to accidentally kill herself." Scowling now, for real.

    Then it fades, and she just looks mildly depressed, tapping a finger on the countertop. "I wish she'd tell me abou this sorta stuff. But.." Whatever she's going to say she thinks better of, a moment later glancing back up. "I'll help look for the sketchbook. I can poke around some places you wouldn't be able to. And.. thanks. If we need to smack some sense into her well.. that's somethin' I understand better than most. But it's good to not be surprised." Kyouko doesn't do well with surprises- just ask Mamoru and his impromptu haircut the other week.
Nephrite 2017-10-19 01:28:06 84993
Nephrite punts Kyouko's arm with his fist. "I know you didn't. I'm talking about Fearless Leader and His Royal Ass. Although you also don't seem to mind them sneaking around your girlfriend's mom's place all that much either, so I guess it's just me that cares about breaking and entering. Which explains an awful lot about my dwindling liquor collection."

Yes, apparently it is that kind of conversation. The moment the word "witches" is uttered, Neil abandons his Teddy Grams to whatever fate awaits them within Kyouko's reach and paces into the kitchen to take Kazuo's place by the coffee, punctuating the rest of the conversation with the sound of milk being pulled out and the silverware drawer opening and closing.
Kazuo Takeba 2017-10-19 01:37:38 84994
"I don't touch your liquor collection," Kazuo notes to Neil, before the retreat is warranted. "Aside from any ethical reasons, I've already been punched by your girlfriend once. I have no desire to give her any better cause."

Also he's figured out which items Mamoru is most likely to order raided by this point. Ahem.

Neil's retreat is not questioned. Kazuo nods to Kyouko instead. "If we need to confront her. Do you want to be there?" ... questions he can ask, just for a moment, that won't likely raise the word again. And that Neil doesn't need to be in on answering. Covering for a moment while he retrieves his composure from somewhere behind the spoons.
Kyouko Sakura 2017-10-19 01:44:37 84996
    "I only help curate the liquor collection." Kyouko sniffs primly. "After all, the inferior bottles need to be removed if you wanna maintain that high level of excellence."

    At Kazuo's question, she shoots him a rather sharp look. "Of course I want to be there. I love her. I'd be some kinda shitty girlfriend if she was in trouble, even trouble of her own making, and I wasn't there to try and help her out of it. I wouldn't forgive myself if I sat out somethin' like that and let you guys take care of it without me. That's not how you handle a relationship.. even I know that."
Nephrite 2017-10-19 02:02:12 84997
It is only a few minutes. After all, one can only stand in the kitchen stirring sugar and cream for so long before the pretense wears thin. He returns with mugs for each, cream and sugar added where appropriate. (And whisky. Of course whisky.) They've all made coffee for each other often enough for the knowledge of who takes what to be automatic by now.

He sips at his own cream-sugar-whisky monstrosity with both hands cupped around the mug. "Speaking as someone coming at this from the other side, Kyou, if she hasn't talked to you about this stuff... well, there's a lot of reasons why she might not have. Maybe she's not really aware there's a problem. Or maybe she is, but you're, well, you. You're important to her. Maybe you finding out is the scariest thing in the world. Or maybe she'll be relieved when you ask. You being there to support her through this, though, that means a lot. It will mean a lot to her. Even if that black mold or whatever makes it hard for her to realize it at first.
Kazuo Takeba 2017-10-19 02:12:56 84998
"Good," is all Kazuo says to Kyouko and that sharp look. Neil -- Neil he nods to, as well. And takes the coffee without question, with a second independent nod.

(He does not take cream or sugar. He is damned well hoping for whisky, given the next topic, but will not be surprised if whiskeylessness is his doom for the trespassing.)

"And there's something else," he says quietly afterward. "Five days after Mamoru worked with Naru to deal with the infestation, he came into the Crown looking for Usagi. She wasn't there."

It's an innocent statement. Until one thinks about it.

"I've tested him afterward. Most of the time he knows where you are," he nods toward Nephrite for the 'you.' "But sometimes he gets it wrong. Sometimes he tells me he doesn't know.

"He doesn't seem to have noticed, yet, what he's saying. I haven't drawn his attention to it. But he's losing his ability to track people -- even us. And I don't know why. It might be related. It might not.

"Apatite, if you see anything you think might be related to this, tell me. Nephrite -- if the stars can tell you anything, it's a good time to ask."
Kyouko Sakura 2017-10-19 02:19:29 84999
    Kyouko nods her head to Nephrite. "Don't think I ain't been there, man. You know the kinda life I've lead. I know what it is to have a problem and not want other people to know. Sometimes ya think it's better to suffer rather than to worry others, or drag them down with you." A shake of her head. "But I also know that's not true. We, Naru and I, I mean.. we already talked about this stuff, somewhat. Which is why I'm not as worried as I might be. She ain't trying to hide it from me.. but I also think she might not be aware herself of all the consequences. Which is why I'm gonna look for the sketchbook. Better safe than sorry, I think."

    Then Kunzite is talking again, and Kyouko focuses in on his words, her pensive frown returning as he talks about Mamoru's ability to sense the Shitennou. "I may not be the best one to ask about that." She points out. "I've only been connected to Mamoru in that way for.. well, less than a year. It was a year-ago September that he gave me my Name, but that connection didn't happen immidiately, and it's still.. well, it's there, but I don't think its perfect yet. Not the way it is with you guys." She makes a gesture, encompassing the other two.

    "That said.. that's a big deal, huh? That he might not actually know where his people are. Or.. it might be anyway." Her brows draw together yet again. "I'll keep my eyes open. I dunno what I might see that could be of any help but there ain't no harm in trying."
Nephrite 2017-10-19 02:23:22 85000
There is whisky. Thank the stars for whisky. Neil swallows his own, staring at Kazuo. "Okay. Shit, okay."

Nothing else to say, really. If Kazuo is in need of a drink, it's serious. If he's sharing this in secret, it's serious. "Call me if you need me for anything else. For any of this. You know where to find me." He gives Kyouko another punt on the arm--friendly violence for the sister who can punch back--and goes to find a thermos. His stargazing schedule just got filled up.
Kazuo Takeba 2017-10-19 02:31:02 85001
"I'm glad she already touched on this with you," Kazuo says to Kyouko, straightforward. "If we can solve this quietly -- good. If not -- we'll need to talk to the girls. Soon." No secrets, not for long. Part of the price they're going to be paying for a long time, for the lapses in judgment they made before -- 'they' even including Kyouko, on a different level. "But I'd like to have something besides ghosts and guesses to hand them. And you see things we don't."

Kazuo gives Neil only a wordless nod. At least he's sharing things before they explode, now; this is an improvement over January. And in the mean time -- there is whisky. Thank the stars for whisky.
Kyouko Sakura 2017-10-19 02:35:27 85002
    Kyouko punches Neil back, because she can. Lightly enough. "Don't fall asleep up there." She calls after him as he heads off. Then she sighs, stepping away from the counter. "Well, I was just recently complaining that things were too quiet. I guess I should know better than to open my big mouth."

    She eyes Kazuo for a moment, across the counter. "Don't worry, nii-chan. We'll figure it out." Quiet confidence. Not undeserved.

    Then she's heading for the balcony. "Alright. Keep me informed. I'll let you know if I find anything, about either of the things." And then she's gone, out the door and over the edge. Taking the express route back to the 37th floor as usual.