Pictures at an Inhibition

Kyouko and Kunzite go looking for Naru's missing sketchbook. And, in finding it, find out why she's been keeping certain things to herself.

Date: 2017-10-26
Pose Count: 26
Kunzite 2017-10-26 15:18:58 85452
Someday people will stop skulking around Seishou late at night, hours after the last lingering students and staff have left, hours before the first will come in in the morning. Someday.

Probably when they tear the building down.

Locks are a non-issue; Kunzite has ...

Let's not talk about the last time Kunzite was inside the building.

It's enough that he knows the middle floor well enough to teleport himself and Kyouko in. "Most of the high school's on the floor above this," he says. Usagi has pin-Kazuo-to-the-sofa-for-punitive-Disney-movies rights. He knows far more than he wants to about how this school works. "Some on this floor, but I think their homeroom's upstairs. Not quite sure where they'd find convenient to hide things. I can check for radiant energies, but there's potential false positives in that."
Kyouko Sakura 2017-10-26 15:23:48 85453
    Kyouko oofs slightly as the pair comes out of the teleport, but finds her feet easily enough. Honestly, locks aren't much of an issue for her, either- not that she's an expert lockpick, but her life has led her to develop several different ways to get around them. Still, just teleporting in is definitely convinient.

    She glances around. "Huh.. so this is what schools look like these days." She murmurs, as if she's some kind of old lady. I mean, she hasn't gone to school for a while, but four years or so is hardly enough time for the entire educational system to radically change.

    She glances at Kunzite as he speaks.. then nods her head in the affirmative. "Okay. Well, I dunno where Naru's locker is exactly but.. let's just look around and see if anything leaps out." She pauses. "Hopefully not literally." Then she starts walking quietly down the hallway. Her feet hardly make a sound as she moves, stealth-mode unconsciously engaged.
Naru Osaka 2017-10-26 15:31:34 85454
There is something eternally eerie quiet about public, or semi-public, spaces when they aren't open to the public. The shadows flicker with moonlight and the security lights outside, the hallways are silent in ways that they never ever are during regular hours. Sounds echo back in ways that are perfectly reasonable, but the expectations are thrown off. The hum of the vending machines is louder. The quiet of dark hallways is quieter.

Lockers line the walls, the division between one class and the next noted only in the neat paperwork in the office, rather than any demarkation upon the metal doors themselves. There are no decorations on any of them, but hints of items tucked within. The lace of a gym shoe dangles out from behind one door. A page from a notebook has gotten caught in the mechanism of another, forced closed by its inattentive owner.

No doubt there are pumpkin spice treats hiding in various of those lockers (and the vending machines to boot), but there's a faint twitch, a sniff in the air that makes Kyouko's spidey sense tingle. Somewhere, oh so faint, there's something Witchy.
Kyouko Sakura 2017-10-26 15:35:46 85455
    Kyouko has barely taken a few steps when she pauses, her eyebrows drawing together. She raises her head, her nose twitching, for all the world like she's scenting the air, although she doesn't audibly sniff or anything. She quirks her lips to the side, before turning to glance back at Kunzite a bit behind her. "Something's Witchy in here." She says.

    A pause. "I don't know if it's what we're looking for, but it's not exactly reassuring either way. If it ain't, it means there's a Witch, or at least a Familiar, somewhere in this school. I'd have thought that not entirely likely, what with the amount of mahou girls we know go here, but then again, I don't know any Puella so if it were the more subtle kind, maybe it could.."

    She glances around again. "It's faint. Not very strong, so if it is an actual Witch, it's far away. But it might be something lesser, and closer." She turns her head one way, then another, orienting.. then points down the hall. "This way."
Kunzite 2017-10-26 15:40:00 85456
"If there's a Witch in the school," Kunzite answers, "then it takes priority anyhow. And no, I don't know of any Puella attending here just now. So it's entirely possible for one of them to go unnoticed for too long."

He turns to follow Kyouko's direction, reaching to touch the communicator at his wrist and quietly notify Mamoru: "Possible Witch activity near Seishou." Near. At. "Apatite and I are looking into it."

It's after that that -- well. The shadows darkening is barely perceptible, here. But his reaching out to test the air around them can be felt as the faintest bit of added chill.
Naru Osaka 2017-10-26 15:51:24 85457
Down the hall. Faint as it is, there's a lot of exploration involved in the following. Try down this way.. no fainter.. clearly not quite right.

It never gets all that strong, but the strongest it is felt, or sniffed, is upstairs. A bank of lockers between a homeroom class and what could be any number of social science classrooms. It lacks the lab benches to make it a science classroom, but the posters on the walls about world history and geopolitical divisions could put it in a collection of subjects.

The hallway is quiet, the shadows deep even before they are nudged darker, there are few windows to the outside world here. This collection of about a dozen lockers are neat, no errant laces or notebook pages here. No wiffs of forgotten lunches, or gym clothes that are in desperate need of a trip home to the laundry.

The wiff of Witch, however, is quite distinctive and that third locker from the end on the right draws Kunzite's attention too.
Kyouko Sakura 2017-10-26 16:12:08 85458
    Kyouko follows her nose, so to speak, to the collection of lockers from which the 'scent' of Witchiness seems to emanate. She glances around, red eyes sharp in the darkness, but nothing seems particularly out of place. She frowns slightly, regarding the bank of lockers.

    "It's definitely coming from there." She points to the locker in question. Unfortunately, from the outside there's no way to tell who a particular locker belongs to, as they are generally numbered rather than name-tagged. For all she knows, there could be a portal to a Labyrinth behind that door, although the sense is still relatively faint, at least when compared to what a full-on Witch normally feels like this close.

    "You got some tricky way to open it, or do I smash?" She asks, hesitating just a moment before actually just doing so, which in some ways is evidence of how much she's grown as a person.
Kunzite 2017-10-26 16:29:24 85459
"My tricky way of opening locked doors is 'go and get Zoisite or Tuxedo Kamen,'" Kunzite replies. "We'd probably prefer not to smash, though. The girls would be upset if they hunted a vandal and found it was us. Let me see if I can..."

He reaches forward and lays a hand against the locker Kyouko pointed to; darkness intense enough to be visible even in the dark flows out, curls through the vents, is invisible inside.

The lock does not click, but when he draws the darkness and his hand away, he says calmly, "Or we could call Naru and ask her politely to explain this to us. Either it's hers, or someone's been stealing her things."
Kyouko Sakura 2017-10-26 16:34:58 85460
    Kyouko quirks a brow as she watches Kunzite explore the contents of the locker via darkness. She considers what he says for a moment, then sighs. "Well. That's why we're here in the first place, ain't it? Dunno if I'm relieved or even more worried." She chews her lip for a moment, peering at the locker.

    "I'd rather see what we're dealing with before contacting her." She finally says. "If we were just gonna ask her about it, we coulda done that without going through all this trouble to track it down. Hold on."

    Kyouko doesn't smash. But she does summon her spear and, with a brief exertion of will, shrink it down to toothpick-size. Mini-spear. Carefully, she wedges it into the gap between locker door and frame, and then jerks it down. There's a 'snick' as the magical weapon easily cuts through the metal bolt.

    She pulls the tiny spear back out and banishes it, before shrugging. "Won't lock anymore, but I imagine the school will fix that for her when she reports it's broke." Then she tugs the locker door open.
Naru Osaka 2017-10-26 16:43:39 85461
Broken locks are a fact of life in a building full of teens. It happens. Usually not via magical teeny spear, but around here.. possibly not so unusual come to think of it.

There is little enough in Naru's locker. Her gym shoes. Her gym bag. Indoor shoes. A mitten that's been forgotten there since last winter (she'll be looking for that soon enough) and a fabric shopping bag hanging from the hook behind her gym bag. It has a single book in it.

The Witch magic in the sketchbook isn't strong, but far less faint for not being behind a locker door and gym shorts. There's unmistakably Naru's energy in those pages as well, but the two have been mixing, like oil in paint, swirling and marbling over the paper.
Kunzite 2017-10-26 16:47:05 85462
The glow that Kunzite creates to examine the locker is sheltered by his hand, not strong enough to be noticeable by the time any of it filters out the window. A little absorbed sunlight that won't go to Fiore this time.

When the sketchbook is unearthed, he says quietly, "That's the one she thought better of letting me see."

Not a surprise to anyone, by now.
Kyouko Sakura 2017-10-26 16:51:32 85463
    Kyouko quirks her lips as she reaches into the locker and pulls down the canvas bag. She holds it delicately, almost as if she's afraid it might somehow contaminate her- possibly more than just an idle concern, considering the relationship between Witch magic and Puella magic. Still, that doesn't stop her from pulling the sketchbook out and eyeing it.

    "Mmmm." She murmurs. "Definitely Witch magic but.. also Naru's." Her brows furrow, as she opens the book to flip through it. "I know she had been talking to the White Flower.. and that she had been taking lessons from her in how to control reality via art. BUt she promised me she hadn't seen her in months, now." A pause. "Although I suppose that's not the same as promising she hasn't been using what she learned."
Naru Osaka 2017-10-26 16:55:29 85464
The sketches within are, to be honest, fairly unremarkable. There's some doodles of Europe. Some sketches of people at cafes and museums. There's a few self portraits of various qualities with hipster 'motivational' phrases under them. A couple really lovely landscapes, done in pastels. Unusually, the whole book is suffused with energy, Naru's and Witch's, rather than individual sketches.
Kunzite 2017-10-26 16:56:30 85465
"It's not necessarily the Flower's magic. She'd been picking things up from who-knows-where. If a Familiar happened to scamper by her while she was away, and she found a way to trap some of its aura..."

Kunzite shakes his head a little, frowning at the book. Not at Kyouko. "What does long-term exposure to this kind of thing do to humans? I know my guesses. But they may be wrong."
Kyouko Sakura 2017-10-26 17:09:35 85466
    Kyouko considers the sketchbook. "It might not be the Flower's magic," she says after a moment, "But I've little doubt that it's her influence. Talkin' to her is probably what gave Naru the idea to try something like this." Not that Kyouko knows that for sure, but it seems a fairly logical conclusion to her.

    She flips through the book a little more, to see if there are any actual images that are concerning or enlightening, beyond just the energy used to form them. "Long-term? Not sure. Never really seen long-term. Exposure to Witch energy usually leads to depression, dark thoughts, self-destructive behavior.." She trails off, with a hmmn. "Sounds kinda familiar, at least some of it. There ain't a lot here.. it's not intense. But given enough time to fester.."
Kunzite 2017-10-26 17:15:47 85467
"She was depressed. Isolating herself. She went to Endymion, and he helped her; and a little ago, she began to wonder if she were depressed again. Her sketches for October have been ... interesting; then she fell behind. She intended to catch up over the weekend. It's Thursday now, and I haven't seen signs of it." Kunzite glances across at Kyouko, meeting her eyes if she looks up from the book, only watching her otherwise.
Naru Osaka 2017-10-26 17:17:19 85468
The closest that the drawings within come to concerning is just the cheesey-ness of self-help motivational phrases. Which always sound terribly dorky when one isn't in the throes of whatever book or podcast assured the reader (or listener) that post it notes of 'You've got this!' upon the bathroom mirror (or in one's sketchbook) don't make a person feel like an idiot a few days later.

There are a few nightmarish drawings, hints of darker dreams or memories, or things seen, but given her proportion of what a mundane gallery would call her 'horror genre', the numbers are quite low.
Kyouko Sakura 2017-10-26 17:20:07 85469
    Kyouko closes the book, not seeing anything in the actual drawings to be concerned about- only the energy used to infuse them. She puts the book back into the bag, but doesn't return it to the locker as she glances at Kunzite. "Yeah, I know.. well, some of it." A hint of frustration enters her tone. "She doesn't talk to me about this kinda stuff.. as if she's afraid I won't understand, or maybe she doesn't wanna appear weak or.. I dunno." A sigh.

    "But I could see her doing something like this," She waves the book in one hand, "Just to see if she could. She's always testing her limits, which is a good thing, generally but.. she might not know what kind of side-effects it could have, long-term, so she's been carrying this thing around.."

    Kyouko doesn't seem very upset, or at least not angry.. just concerned, and perhaps a little sad.
Kunzite 2017-10-26 17:28:02 85470
"That's part of the problem. Stay quiet on this just once -- and it gets into your head. And spirals quickly out of control. You can't tell anyone; they'd hate you. You can't tell anyone; it's too late. You can't tell anyone; they'd stop you. They wouldn't understand."

Kunzite glances sidelong at Kyouko, and his mouth tugs at the corner, not a smile. "This is why Endymion's so intent on making sure that we don't keep secrets from each other, and we don't hold our mistakes against each other. This kind of thing ... this is how everything started, back then."

He draws a breath. Lets it out. "Do you want to take point with her? Or do you want me to?"
Kyouko Sakura 2017-10-26 17:32:03 85471
    "Yeah but.." Kyouko starts to say that Naru was always quiet about stuff, even before this. But she stops herself- that's not really relevent to the current convertsation. She does nod about what Kunzite says about secrets. "You don't have to worry too much about that with me." She murmurs. "I'm bad at secrets. I always say what I think. Sometimes it's probably not the right thing to do but.. it makes me bad at keeping secrets. At least from my friends."

    At the last bit, she glances up, frowning. "I feel like I should because, y'know.. girlfriend and everything. But at the same time.. I'm bad at this sorta thing, too. I don't.. always know the right thing to say." She frowns, glancing down at the bagged book again. "Maybe together? Or with Mamoru."
Kunzite 2017-10-26 17:37:09 85472
That 'yeah, but' is nodded to, all the same. Naru was always quiet about things.

But Naru used to have questions.

"That's one of the things we value in you," Kazuo says quietly to Kyouko -- he may be wearing the uniform, but that's a personal note, not professional. "You and Nephrite ... you help keep the rest of us balanced. All of us, alone, have our ways of going out of control. But working together, we can keep an even keel."

He reaches out and touches Kyouko's shoulder, the one on the far side from the book. "So. This together, too, then. Good. Naru likes to convince herself she's alone. Sometimes she needs to be reminded that she has family."
Kyouko Sakura 2017-10-26 17:48:54 85473
    Kyouko takes a breath, then nods her head. She doesn't say anything in response to Kunzite's words about valuing her openness- to her, it's always seemed more of a weakness than a strength, because in the past its tended to drive people away. A lot of people don't like being told exactly what Kyouko thinks of them. But it does seem to make her straighten her shoulders just a little.

    She doesn't shrink from the touch, but just nods her head, then. "It's hard to face things alone. I know.. I spent a long time doing just that. I know I can do it.. but I also know that if I don't have to.. a lot of times, I wouldn't want to. 'Specially stuff like this when I'm likely to be.." She pauses.. "Passionate."

    "I suppose we should take this." She waggles the book, still in its bag.
Kunzite 2017-10-26 17:53:30 85474
"Probably a good idea. No need to let it poison her neighbors." Something else that probably wasn't helping Naru's state of mind. Kunzite glances back at the locker -- lifts a hand, and lets his darkness creep over it again, searching for any other sources before considering closing it. "Are we confronting her before school? Or shall I leave her a note?"

Breaking into her locker, creeping around her bedroom, examining her closet: these things are all, in Kunzite's head, perfectly reasonable. But taking something of Naru's and letting her worry about it for a few hours? That's just beyond the pale.
Naru Osaka 2017-10-26 17:55:27 85475
The little blip that Kunzite's power finds is a forgotten pumpkin spice kitkat bar under the mitten. Otherwise, the locker is as boring and unremarkable as it should have been all along.
Kyouko Sakura 2017-10-26 18:04:10 85476
    "We should leave her a note." Kyouko says, after considering it for a moment. "I don't think ambushing her would be the best plan. And I don't think she'll try to weasel out of it, once she knows she's caught."
Kunzite 2017-10-26 18:10:47 85477
The note is left, then, pinned to the bag that had held the sketchbook; the locker is closed again, broken lock and all.

    Drop by upstairs after school, if you wouldn't mind. We'll pick up dinner. --K.