Only a Memory


Sayaka and Kazuo meet on another random rooftop, and discuss many things, particularly Alex's confused memories, and the mysterious weapon left to him.

Date: 2017-12-17
Pose Count: 24
Sayaka Miki 2017-12-17 01:07:34 87652
Once she was certain that Alex was okay and recovering (somewhat), Sayaka had not returned to the ECFH for quite some time now, uncertain of how she could even approach Alex after their last rather awkward encounter. Instead, she had returned to her practicing and patrolling. Tonight was a particularly quiet night. No witches or familiars, not even a wraith in sight. It was a little frustrating actually, as she was hoping for something to break up the monotony, or at least help distract her from her other nagging thoughts.

So rather than walk around in circles around town, Saya had decided to retreat to a particularly quiet rooftop where she had de-henshined, and practiced some of her sword katas with her simple, wooden kendo sword. Afterall, there's no point in wasting her energy if there are no grief seeds or cubes to obtain tonight.

At least this way, she is able to burn energy naturally, and hence not have to worry so much about that other nagging thing at the back of her mind..For a little while, at least.
Kazuo Takeba 2017-12-17 01:20:05 87653
On the one hand: Kunzite has things to be doing. He needs to be far more careful about conserving his own energy, for one thing. His own magic is having issues, and while he has a potential treatment for some of them charted, it hasn't begun being enacted yet. For another, while Makio's thought better on his own of running from his problems, Alexis is still in residence and dealing with quite a different kind of problem. It's best to make sure someone's there to keep an eye on him.

The problem is, Alexis's current coping method involves watching a particularly bizarre and jarring anime.

Kunzite has therefore delegated keeping an eye on him to someone who can cope with the thing. Moving ... moving is relatively conservative of energy, even in henshin, as long as he's moving on foot rather than by forcefield or by teleport. Scanning areas for signs of Wraith activity? That he can do, too. Still not as well as the experts, but if he contributes to their hunt, it seems a fairer method of trying to replenish the House's supplies.

And even on a quiet night with no hint of monsters ... moving gets him out of the place. Out of the walls. Out in the dark, where he's always been most comfortable.

Movement on a rooftop, though. That catches attention. Which means that in time a ghost-pale figure lands in a flare of cape on the roof of a neighboring building, and paces to watch from the edge. Far enough away not to register as an immediate threat. Even out of henshin, he has more respect for Sayaka's skills with a blade than that.
Sayaka Miki 2017-12-17 01:24:55 87655
Sayaka Miki seems to have been practicing for a few hours now by the looks of it. She's sweating rather moderately heavily, in spite of the cool night air, and is dressed only in a white tank top and blue shorts, rather than the usual flowing garments or jeans she usually wears. It's time for a break, and she pauses for a little while, reaching for the large cool water bottle nestled in her backbpack nearby.

It takes her only a moment or two to notice that she is no longer alone on the rooftop. At first, Saya tenses slightly, until she recognizes who it is. Which causes her to smile. Philosophical conversations aren't really her thing, but Kunzite always had a wise answer for her most pressing questions.

"Kunzite-san..It's been a while. How have you been?" she greets him with a smile and a slight bow of her head, still so formal afterall all this time.
Kazuo Takeba 2017-12-17 01:29:14 87656
Kunzite crosses the last gap, and bows to Sayaka once he is indeed occupying the same rooftop she is. "Well enough, Miki-san. As I hope you have been. I trust the end of the school term doesn't hold too much dread for you?" No dread is not an option, of course, ever.
Sayaka Miki 2017-12-17 01:33:05 87657
Sayaka Miki makes a face. "My parents are so darned strict. You know, they put me through cram school and stuff? I should really touch base with Naru-chan again, at least she's more fun than cram school. Guess our schedules just didn't match up so well this semester."

She shrugs and sighs, stepping towards the edge of the rooftop, peering out over the edge of the guardrail towards the busy streets below. Even at night, it's a busy town.

"Aside from that, well enough, I suppose. I mean, there haven't been any major threats in a while, Lex-chan is back, safe and sound, and..." she sighs, shaking her head. "I mean, I should be grateful that he's up and about, I suppose..." but somehow, she seems..Unhappy, troubled, by something.
Kazuo Takeba 2017-12-17 01:38:18 87658
"It's been a difficult semester for many of us," Kunzite notes. "Academically and otherwise." He paces to parallel her, his cape shifting with his movements, catching the breeze that so often runs at this height. Nothing impressive. Just enough to make it easy to be aware of him in her peripheral vision, to track where he is without having to watch.

"I'd class Alexis's mother as a major threat," Kazuo adds, but it's an idle note, not any real correction. "But you're correct. It has the feel of several things moving below the surface, and it being only a matter of time till one or more of them do their best to take us off guard. Still. That doesn't seem to be what's upsetting you."
Sayaka Miki 2017-12-17 01:43:52 87660
Sayaka Miki nods, frowning softly, "Yes. Of course. And she will likely stop at nothing to get him back. That is part of the reason why I am practicing out here every night. So I can push myself to be stronger next time I meet her, and I imagine that is likely to happen, sooner or later, she will come after him..And he will need people to protect him.."

All that talk makes the unpleasant memories rush back and her frown only deepens, her grip tightening on the wooden sword, swiping it in the air with every word she utters. "..But that's not all. I'm not afraid of her. Not in that way at least. Right now, I'm...I dunno.."

She sighs, "Alex is...Different. His memories were apparently placed there in his mind by his mom. At least some of them were. Now, he can't differentiate reality from fantasy. He's not even sure that what we had between us was real, or...Just another memory implanted there by his mom, tot fulfill some other greater plan of hers.."

Saya grits her teeth, nails digging into the handle of the sword. "I just....Everything I fought so hard for, saving him from his vampire self, guiding him from the darkness, being honest about my feelings for him...None of it..Seems to matter to him anymore, because he's convinced it wasn't...Real...I dunno where that leaves us now, or ever."
Kazuo Takeba 2017-12-17 02:00:28 87662
"So." Kunzite leaves the word by itself for a moment, as if to punctuate Sayaka's own statements, let it dwell in the air between them, in the dark, spin slowly there where it can be seen from all sides.

"He starts again, then. With nothing but self-doubt. With everything else lost. What he has will be what he can build; the question is whether he will survive trying to lay the foundations. If he can bring himself to engage with the world, to discover in his own actions and the world's responses what is real and what is right -- then he will live. If not, then either he will die, or he will end like my father. Breathing and possessed of a pulse, but withered and gray and with a vague memory of what caring might have been like, once."

Kunzite glances aside at Sayaka, steady. "Which is why you don't understand where it leaves the pair of you. Because you are still coming to terms with the idea that there is no pair of you, right now. There is you. And there is a nebulous uncertainty where Alexis himself should stand. His mother stole his sense of self from him. He must become a person again before he can be one of a pair."
Sayaka Miki 2017-12-17 02:05:18 87664
Sayaka Miki listens to Kazuo's explanation, nodding slowly and sighing. "Yeah..Something like that. You're right, he needs to find himself. He needs space, I guess. I just...I worked hard to be a part of his life, to open my heart to him, and it's just...I dont want to lose him, not after all that we've been through.."

She peers at him curiously when he speaks of his father, "Huh, you've never mentionned your father before. What..Happened to him? He in a coma or something?" Saya bites her lip, shivering at the description. Heck, at least Alex is not in that condition.
Kazuo Takeba 2017-12-17 02:24:20 87666
"It is possible to be concerned for someone, and to do things with and for them, without their understanding why or being able to reciprocate." Kunzite tilts his head back, still looking outward rather than toward Sayaka; only looking at the skies over the buildings instead of the lights on and in and below them. Clouds. Reflected cityglow. "Sailor Moon found ways to do that for Endymion when the Dark Kingdom took him. That anchored him enough that he could do the same for us. Despite that some of us didn't know him. Didn't remember. There's no guarantee that it will work; Zoisite came uncomfortably close to murdering Endymion more than once. It's less straightforward than fighting an enemy for someone's sake. And it hurts considerably more. Physical wounds heal far more quickly. But it is possible to attempt, if one chooses to. If one is building a new life, after all -- the new one will have parts, too."

The question about Kunzite's father prompts a physical reaction, finally. The wince itself might've gone unnoticed in the dark. The white cape plays the traitor, exaggerating the motion. "Not anymore," he sighs. "Though when the Phantom Empire induced one in one of their dark mirrors, his mind produced a particularly unpleasant monster. But eight of us or so together were able to deal with it." He puts a hand up to his face, pinching briefly at the bridge of his nose, and let it fall again. "I don't know what happened to him. My mother's death played a part in it. Trying to raise a particularly troublesome son while also maintaining his career -- that played another. But it began before that.

"He has the typical public facade. Lives his life according to rules and expectations and politeness. But for others, these things are what we do to get along in society; we have our own thoughts beneath them, our own feelings and opinions, whether or not we speak them aloud. My father ... does not. Mamoru believes he can be reclaimed. I don't."
Sayaka Miki 2017-12-17 02:36:16 87667
Sayaka Miki nods slowly, "Yeah, I guess so, but..I feel like my merely being around him makes him uncomfortable. I mean, how can I help him to separate reality from fantasy without being just a painful reminder of a fragmented past? How can I help without getting in the way? And am I just supposed to accept that we may never go back to what we once were..?"

She scratches her head, "Soo..Prince Endymion was once mind controlled..And you were too, weren't you? How did you manage to figure out who you really were? And how did Endymion manage to remember his love for Sailormoon..? I would think that what you two went through is a lot more..Extreme than what Alex is going through. I dunno.." she rubs her eyes, utterly confused, lost..
Kazuo Takeba 2017-12-17 02:55:43 87668
Kunzite turns his head to look at Sayaka, now, and his eyebrows are lifted. "You," he says, "are part of reality. The fact that his past is fragmented is part of reality. Every action that he took in your presence is a part of reality that you can confirm existed; those specific memories are his, and actually happened, and describe reality, whether or not the context he remembers them in is correct. Pain is also a part of reality. Wounds come with it. Healing comes with it. If you choose to be near him, to interact with him, you will hurt him, yes. If you choose not to, you will also hurt him. And you will be hurt yourself, in either case.

"Because in either case, you will have to accept that you will never go back to what you once were. Alexis needs to find out who he is. That person will not be entirely the same as the Alexis we knew. Closer than he thinks, I suspect. But not the same. And therefore even if the two of you become a pair again, it will be different. It may be worse. It may be better. The only way you can find out is also the only way he can find out who he really is: by going and doing it."

At the questions about his own mind control, Kunzite mirrors Sayaka -- that is, he rubs at his own eyes for a moment. "How I figured out who I was ... wasn't a method Alexis can use." (The echoes of Serenity's broken scream linger; the shattering pain he felt secondhand, the remembered horror as he woke to see -- no. He pulls himself out of those memories, and is grateful for the darkness, and the chance that Sayaka may not be able to see him clearly.)

"I think what Alexis is going through is worse than what we survived. Endymion, and the rest of us -- we had lives we could be certain of, before the mind control. And the worst tampering with our memories and personalities was by way of spells that could be broken. We were left with gaps, yes. But once we broke through the false memories, we were free. Alexis doesn't have that advantage. He needs to distrust every memory he has from before we took him out of that tube. Even his memories of us. Because he does not know which are false and which are true, and therefore he must begin by presuming they all may be false. He needs to test everything, to figure out where he's been lied to. Where the traps are in his mind. He hasn't brought himself to facing that yet. He's barely brought himself to facing the hallway outside his room."
Sayaka Miki 2017-12-17 03:02:24 87669
Sayaka Miki frowns more deeply now as she listens, pacing a bit back and forth, trying to figure this out. "Oh. So, either way, it's a gamble, and none of them have any sort of guaranteed outcome. Heh, great." she sighs, "So the best I can do is just stay by his side and maybe it'll be enough. At least then, I stand some sort of chance. If I'm there, in his life, perhaps it will be enough to..I dunno, jog a memory. But if I'm not there at all, then maybe he'll forget all about me.." She sighs and hangs her head at that next part. "Geez, this really sucks. I dont like change. Why can't things just stay the same..So either way, even if we DID get back together, things might not be the same between us. Is there really nothing more that I can do than simply be there for him? I suppose you're right, I mean, everything since his birth perhaps, could have been programmed. I just...I dunno...I hate feeling so helpless!" she slams her fist into the cement guardrail as she says that. A bit too hard perhaps, as she grimaces, rubbing her knuckles.
Kazuo Takeba 2017-12-17 03:20:05 87670
"He hasn't lost his memories," Kunzite says quietly. "He hasn't forgotten you. He just does not know, and cannot trust himself to know, which of his memories of you are real, and which were placed in his mind by his mother. The only way he can learn that is if you spend time with him, and he sees how you act, and listens to what you say, and works from those things to try to see what might be true. And --"

He pauses for a moment, watching Sayaka. Eyeing her rubbing her own hand. He says nothing about it, because he's done that himself. "His emotional reactions are likely to be unstable for some time. I still have trouble with human company. With the idea that I am not somehow required to be in exile from society until I have found some way to balance the scales. And for me it's been two years. I don't know if his reactions will parallel mine. But it's possible. So. If he reacts poorly -- patience may help."

He doesn't say 'do not despair.' One doesn't say that to a Puella. Not when one doesn't share their curse.
Sayaka Miki 2017-12-17 03:28:12 87671
Sayaka Miki sighs again and nods, still rubbing her smarting knuckles. "Heh. I guess you're right. And it could have been worse. Maybe he just needs to figure out that our memories are REAL. Then I will do that, if I can. I guess I was never really good at patience, but I'll try.."

As for Kunzite, Saya arches a curious brow at Kazuo, "Wow, two years? I mean, you seem to have integrated pretty well, but then again I never knew you before, when you were a part of the dark kingdom. I couldn't even imagine how hard that must have been for you. Do you...Regret? Feel guilty somehow, for what was done to you? Even if it was against your will?"
Kazuo Takeba 2017-12-17 03:46:38 87672
"The memories you shared with him are real," Kunzite says quietly. "That doesn't mean that all his memories of you are real. His mother may have tried to manufacture those too. If his behavior seems strange ... remember that."

He lets a breath out at her more curious questions. Not impatient. Not that at all. "Two years since I began trying. Minus a few months before I was free to work at it in full. I regret, yes. And there is guilt. It was against my will. But it was also my failure that permitted it to happen. if I had been better than I was, then I would never have fallen, or like Jadeite I might have been able to break free before." He glances back aside to Sayaka. "But if I dwelt on those things, I wouldn't be able to work to do better now. So I try to have faith. And when I fail, I lean on those around me whose faith is stronger."
Sayaka Miki 2017-12-17 03:56:57 87673
Sayaka Miki nods. "Yeah..I guess so." she sighs, "I guess what I'm more worried about, is if she manufactured his emotional responses towards me in the first place. That just scares me more than anything, because no matter how real our encounters were, it doesn't mean a damn thing if he didn't really feel anything at all for me in the first place." Sayaka shrugs, "You know how hard I fought for him back when he nearly lost himself to the vampire? I just...Dammit, I dont want to go through all of that again.."

She continues to grip the railing, staring out at the skyline below, but continues to listen intently to Kunzite's story. "Your failure permitted it to happen? How so? You feel that you were not strong enough to resist Queen Beryl's magic?" she shrugs, "But yeah, it's best not to dwell on the past..Unless it holds a key to the future.."
Kazuo Takeba 2017-12-17 04:06:34 87674
Kunzite is not the best person to go to for reassurance. If Hulda manufactured Alexis's emotional responses toward Sayaka in the first place? "It's possible," Kunzite answers. And then amends, "It's also possible that even if they were manufactured, real emotions might grow in their place. Kriegsfauste said that Alexis fought the programming. And ... programming that forces someone away from their natural tendencies is almost always obvious. It's far more efficient to find ways to make those tendencies work toward the programmer's ends. If Hulda did that ... then many of his responses may have been at least close to true."

When Sayaka asks if he feels he was not strong enough -- one of Kunzite's hands comes up to rest on the rail in turn. "In the beginning," he says, "she was not so strong. In the beginning, she needed our agreement to trap us. She gained it with lies and false promises. It was my job to see such things for what they were, and further, not to be tempted by them whether or not I knew they were false. I failed in both. So. Faith, now. Not to fall again."
Sayaka Miki 2017-12-17 04:36:58 87675
    "Yeah, it's possible.." she sighs, hangs her head. Dammit....But what he says next, gives her a little bit of hope to believe in at least. "Hmm, you think so? I just hope you're right. And this..Kriegsfa--err..Whatever, that weapon thing. Was it designed to be used by him? What exactly is it?!" she scratches her head, not entirely familiar with devices.

As for Beryl..She frowns a bit. "Yeah, I guess she must have been really convincing. I mean you're one of the smartest people I know.."
Kazuo Takeba 2017-12-17 04:43:58 87676
"Kriegsfauste," Kunzite repeats, slower this time so she can hear the unfamiliar sound combinations more clearly. "It's a Device, like some of the mages use -- ah. Similar to the one Miss White uses." Hannah: there's a reference he can be sure Sayaka will know. "It's unlikely to have been designed to be used by him; it was probably designed to be used by someone rather far away, a long time ago. But it seems to have been aligned to him, and to act in his defense to the degree it can."

The compliment a moment later appears to take Kunzite by surprise; this time when he glances Sayaka's way, creases show at the corners of his eyes. "Much as I'd like to claim that," he says quietly, "I'm not smart, Miki-san. Mamoru is smart. Nephrite is smart. Zoisite is smart. I just work at it."
Sayaka Miki 2017-12-17 04:49:03 87677
Sayaka Miki hmms, rubbing her chin thoughtfully, "Oh yeah, like Miss White's device. Those are those talking weapon thingies, right? Umm, but how was it aligned to him? Oh, I guess that was part of Hulda's plan too, huh?" she frowns deeply, "Soo...She wanted to turn him into a...Living weapon, to do her bidding? But if that's the case..Do you think Krie...Err, Kriegsfauste, can help protect Lex-chan now? Or will it only protect him if he works for his mother?" it's something she hadn't thought of, yet.

As for that complement, Saya just shrugs and grins, "Well, from what I've seen, you seem pretty smart. And wise. But then, I guess I don't know the others as well as you."
Kazuo Takeba 2017-12-17 05:03:29 87678
"Kriegsfauste helped us rescue him," Kunzite answers. "Alexis is concerned that it might still somehow be working for his mother; that there might have been a trap set within the Device itself. But there are people who study Devices who could look for such things. So when Alexis comes out of his panic, we can find that out." He pauses. "Kriegsfauste also seemed pleased, to the extent such a thing can be pleased, to report Alexis's resistance. So I think it will be willing to work with Alexis, if all else goes well, and if Alexis accepts it."

To Sayaka's grin -- Kunzite sighs again, and reaches up to push stray strands of white hair back out of his face. "Nephrite," he says, "is studying astrophysics. Let me correct that. Nephrite is taking astrophysics. He doesn't study. I am taking the first year of university-level history courses for the second time. For a while I taught high school history. So this is material I already know, and I study constantly on top of that. Nephrite's grades are still comparable to mine. Mamoru's and Zoisite's are better. They're the smart ones. The only reason I look smart at all is that I work at it like mad to keep up with them."

He pauses, and adds dryly, "The only reason I look wise is that I keep track of all the ways we've already screwed things up, smart or not. When it comes down to it, that's all wisdom really is. Knowing from experience what's going to come back and hit you in the face."
Sayaka Miki 2017-12-17 05:26:33 87679
Sayaka Miki hmmms, nodding thoughtfully, "Well, it's a start. I think that device will do him more good than harm. But I guess that's completely up to him and no one else of course." she shrugs, "It would be interesting, to have a conversation with that thing about him though. I'm curious what else it would have to say.."

When he explains the level of studying of Nephrite and Mamoru and Zoisite, Sayaka just chuckles, shaking her head, "Well, I guess it depends on your definition of 'smart'. Don't sell yourself short though, I'm sure you are just as invaluable an asset to Mamoru as the others." she yawns, glancing at her watch, "Anyway, I should get going, my parents are back from their business trip and will probably be worried if I'm late again and sneaking through the window.." she smiles, "Thanks for the talk, Kunzite-san..I think I feel a little better now about this whole thing, if only a little."
Kazuo Takeba 2017-12-17 05:27:51 87680
"It might be possible to arrange a conversation," Kunzite notes before they part. "If we can find someone who understands it. You don't happen to speak German yourself, do you...?"