Fakes and Feels and Being Real

Date: 2018-08-21
Pose Count: 21
Mamoru Chiba 2018-08-21 02:30:11 95180
So they're not line-of-sight with Rashmi, because that would involve being in Gullwing with Jadeite-as-Mamoru and with Takashi in there, and Mamoru's not allowed within 1000 feet of Takashi or something-- they're at another cafe far down the street, getting texts from Nicomachea as to what's going on in the telepathy spell.

Mamoru's feet have captured one of Usagi's feet under the table, but he keeps glaring at his phone on the table, willing it to ring, and fussing with his coffee cup. "It's not like Takashi would do anything to me out of henshin in a public place. I don't even think he'd personally do anything to me in person regardless," he complains, glancing down the street. "And I'm not powerless anymore, I can defend myself..."

Finally, he gives Usagi an apologetic, sheepish smile. "Sorry. I have to let them do their jobs. It's just that I spent almost a year basically helpless and it grates."
Usagi Tsukino 2018-08-21 02:43:13 95186
Her feet play back, the free one tapping at one of his. They are here on a serious mission, of course, to figure out what Takashi knows. Or something. Her own phone is in her hands, but if one looks at her they might think something's off with the way she's ignoring it.

Instead, she's just looking at Mamoru. Everything had been hectic lately, and with the chaos of returning to normalcy, there hadn't been much time to think. Or perhaps there had been, she'd just avoided it.

Suddenly he's looking at her with that sheepish smile of his. Usagi blinks as she recalls what he's been talking about. "Oh! Maybe you're just here to keep me from punching him?"

After all, on top of everything else, Usagi'd been engaged to someone else, even under false memories and pretences.
Mamoru Chiba 2018-08-21 02:46:48 95187
And now there's yet another fake Mamoru, though this time it's a good thing-- it's Jadeite, protecting him, like Minako had done while the Dark Kingdom was hunting him and he was hiding as Minori, and like Kyouko and Nephrite had both done when Fiore was trying to get him--

--but still, another fake. And he's in that coffee shop over there, way down the street, and they're monitoring the situation via text like a couple of n00b CIA agents.

"Maybe," he laughs, relaxing a little. "Don't punch him. I mean, yeah, he made Sailor Earth to mess with us, but she was much more of an independent agent than he thought she'd be." He catches her foot again, and finally drinks some of his coffee, admiring her with no uncertain look-- clearly relishing her presence, her reality.
Usagi Tsukino 2018-08-21 02:58:24 95191
There's been too many Mamorus. Even when it's been a good thing. There's only one, and should be only one, and right now the other is only here because--

Actually, she isn't quite sure about the why of that. She isn't complaining, though. Much as it irks Mamoru to be left out still, Usagi feels a little glad for that. Not because she thinks he can't handle it, but because she really doesn't think he should have to.

(She might have been engaged to someone else, but he had been more or less erased from existance.)

She does smile at his laugh. It's very nice to hear. "Wellll, maybe I won't punch him. Maybe." She honestly doesn't know what she'll do next time she sees him. That bothers her. Her free foot captures the foot he'd used to capture hers. "Ah-hah!" She sips her cocoa, but instead of dunking and nibbling the biscotti, she spins a bright pink plastic capsule about. Just another gumball machine toy. "I think he just underestimated the bits of her that were from you."
Mamoru Chiba 2018-08-21 03:05:52 95194
"But she was outright lying the whole time," Mamoru objects, his gaze sliding over the unopened gashopon toy, then landing back on her face, his eyebrows up. "I wouldn't try to steal someone else's identity. If she were more me, instead of being-- I think-- mostly Jewel Seed... if she'd actually thought she were me..."

He trails off, having perplexed himself; he frowns a little comically, then reaches up to run a hand through his hair and laughs again, self-deprecatingly. Then he restarts, "Think about the way I reacted to her at the beginning. Thinking maybe she could be telling the truth, thinking maybe she were just that desperate. Thinking maybe she was from another timeline, like Homura. Giving her a chance. If she were me, she would have talked with me, like I offered to do even after she first stole people and brainwashed them. Even though I know no iteration of me could possibly think that was okay. I don't think there was anything of me in her but power."
Usagi Tsukino 2018-08-21 03:18:26 95197
Usagi blinks and thinks about that. It's true, of course. Everything he says is true.

But of course, being Usagi, she has a very simple answer that fixes everything. Or, at least, in her mind. And maybe not everything. And, alright, it actually fixes nothing but it's still something she believes.

Her smile is almost shy when she looks up at him. "There's an obvious reason for that, Mamo-chan. You can't be copied. Not that essential core, anyway."

She twirls the little ball again. She likes the rattling. "There was a lot of you there. Twisted as it was, as her reasons were, she wanted to protect the earth. Just...not the people. She wanted to create a wonderful world. Just...she never understood the pain is what makes the lovely parts so worth it." Her eyebrows furrow together. "And I think she thought she loved me. Not in a...'I'm supposed to love her' way. That's what I did. But..."

She laughs, shakes her head, and straightens. "My point is, she was so unlike you, because the parts of her that were - the big parts - got twisted. That's how I saw it, anyway. Well, after I woke up from being a super charged battery of fluffy thoughts."
Mamoru Chiba 2018-08-21 03:30:51 95203
Something in Mamoru retreats a little bit, finally uncertain. "I-- I thought-- she just wanted everything I had. I mean-- even in her fake world, she didn't really want you or my Shitennou, did she? She didn't-- she didn't really have any connection to anyone that wasn't stolen from me. She had my soul in her by that point. Wouldn't that be enough to fool you? Into thinking that there was really some kind of love there?"

His phone bings, and so does Usagi's, and he glances at his screen distractedly. There's a little half-curve of his mouth, but the text from Nicomachea of what Rashmi and Neil are thinking are comedy and grumbling, nothing worrisome, so he looks away from it. His hands grip his cup, both of them, not quite white-knuckled.

He looks away. "Was she really that much like me? Did she feel like me, really? Could you feel what she felt?"
Usagi Tsukino 2018-08-21 03:50:21 95206
Her eyebrows furrow together. "Of course she didn't really want it. She just thought she did. If she had really wanted any of it, she wouldn't have tried to kill everyone with a giant sword."

She opens her mouth to respond but her phone vibrates. She gives it a cursory read and is once again about to answer when her mouth snaps shut and she looks at him in surprise. "It was always static, I'm just...guessing at a lot of things." She shifts and fidgets and hunches over, nearly squeezing the round bit of plastic open. She makes sure it snaps closed again. "All the parts of her that were you were...twisted. Like those parody movies. Or...you know, those movies that come out a month before the real Disney movie."

She shifts again. "I was supposed to belong there, I was supposed to be happily in love and engaged. And I knew this. But I still snuck in like I used to and I still tried to get Mars to save me a dance and...I still asked the busboy fifty-thousand questions just to keep him talking to me for a couple more seconds."

She's taking a sip of her cooling cocoa when she gets the text. Fortunately she has the forsight to turn her head away from Mamoru before she does a spit take. "Mamo-chan, I think the world's ending for real now."
Mamoru Chiba 2018-08-21 04:31:42 95215
It's kind of weird to watch, probably. Mamoru pressing his lips together, closing up more and more while trying not to, feeling probably more flayed than he ought to because he can finally actually feel what Usagi is feeling and because he spent a week as a rock and having real feelings of his own again, real reactions based on his central nervous system and specific neurotransmitters hitting neuroreceptors and causing the release of chemicals that, for instance, make his guts clench a little bit and his skin feel buzzy and his hearing turn into a tunnel and his face turn faintly red and prickly.

She reminds him that she asked the nameless busboy-- the one the kitchen staff had nicknamed Cinder, the one whose uniform didn't fit, and who was too thin, and who was ignored unless punished, until that grand ball... she asked him fifty thousand questions, she kept paying him attention, she kept making him blush, noticing him. He looks down at his coffee again, and he feels ashamed.

Such a rollercoaster. Speaking of rollercoasters, his phone buzzes, Usagi looks at hers, and Usagi does an actual spittake. As she's saying the world's ending and he's absently passing over his napkin to add to hers, he looks at his phone, and then he just stares at it. His parasympathetic nervous system desperately clubs at him to make room for his reactions to the text, and then one direct from Nephrite's brain follows it, and Mamoru ends up overwhelmed and hopelessly chemically confused.

    JADEITE via NICOMACHEA txt: He apologized. That was the first thing he did, and this is verbatim: Mamoru-san. Sorry. For the soul. Wasn't my plan. She was out of my control by then. But...stillmyfault.

    NEPHRITE via NICOMACHEA txt: Sure he did.

Mamoru puts his phone down, then picks it up again, then texts Nicomachea, << Could you please apologize to Jadeite and Nephrite for me? For the massive emotional rollercoaster I'm on right now? Because I'm sure it's not helping anything. Also, thank you and Rashmi for helping us again, it is always deeply appreciated. >>

He puts it down again and then chugs the rest of his coffee, wishing it were spiked. "I don't... think it's that surprising. I mean, he's never killed anyone before, has he? Even when he was his most violent. Even when he hit me with that piledrive of dark energy that one time and you brought me to my own apartment not even knowing I was me, like, wanting to ask Mamoru to heal Kamen..." He's breathing again. He's feeling better. He's calming down. "He didn't mean for me to die. Either time. He's hurt people badly but never killed. Mirai... she meant it. She meant to kill me. She meant to steal every last thing I had. She didn't know my soul came with the baggage of actual me. I just... I'm sorry, I... guess I'm maybe a little bit hurt that you kept giving her the benefit of the doubt even after she stole all my powers. Kept..."

He shakes his head and his gaze slides away again, this time looking at the street. "I'm sorry, words are hard," he says with a little chuff of an uncomfortable laugh. "But you always tell me when you're unhappy, don't you? So I need to be honest, too. I mean I shouldn't feel hurt because one of the million things I love about you -- and that drives the guys crazy about both of us -- is how forgiving you are. But it's not just the-- what seems like defending her, it's... did she really think she loved you? Did you think she did? Could you feel it, if she touched you? Like you should always be able to feel from me, except she took it away from me..."

He's using a lot of words to talk about feelings, here, which is something he doesn't usually do. And every one of them aches. He doesn't want to say these things because he doesn't want to hurt her. But he knows he can't sit on it or it'll just hurt more and more, and she'll want to know why, and--

"I know you said the parts of me she had were a twisted parody, but what I guess I'm saying is... she didn't have any more of me in her than the rose youma did, Usako. Not until she stole my soul. Why-- why are you still being nice to her?"

And then his phone bings again.

    RASHMI via NICOMACHEA txt: Bench-pressed a goat, that's your line?

He stares at it uncomprehendingly. "What...? Neil... what."
Usagi Tsukino 2018-08-21 05:01:53 95224
Her eyes widen. This was how he'd been feeling about it? Usagi's eyes sting a little, but this isn't the normal set of circumstances where she'd just cry. Instead, she mops up the coffee she's spilled (or spit, but spilled just feels more polite) and tries to put into words reasons she's barely figured out herself.

First things first. "I never felt anything from her except static." She looks him in the eyes, then, wondering if this might be an unspoken thing he wouldn't ask. "Or for her. Except maybe pity, even at the end. Always trying to be someone she'd never measure up to, because the parts of him she took doesn't make him who he is."

She shrugs a little. "And if I'm too busy pitying her or forgiving her - because it's sometimes easier to do what you're supposed to do because you're used to doing it - I can forget that I just...really wanted to hate her." She's glad she has the napkins to shread. "Because she thought she could replace you, she took you away from me. And I want so hard to hate her, but the last time I hated someone, it...didn't do anyone any good."

She sniffles and wipes her eyes, a teensy smile so he knows she's okay. "So I couldn't do that. Because I needed to be useful. So, I just focus on what she did do."

She shifts again, this time looking a little more cheerful. "Did you know it's because of the party I could do that...super sayan thing? I finally got what you meant about...me being her and me being me but still being her." She shrugs. "And there's...other stuff, too."

She looks down at her phone and furrows her eyebrows. "Just a goat? Was the horse sick?" Usagi sighs and closes her eyes. "He is such a Taka-baka."
Mamoru Chiba 2018-08-21 05:18:20 95228
Mahou Science Ethics charter. Jadeite is explaining what Takashi was thinking, and the phone is buzzing and buzzing, and Usagi is explaining, and Mamoru is getting her feelings and Nephrite's feelings and god help him Jadeite's feelings and he grips the edge of the table, not even having coffee to save him anymore. He closes his eyes, and he tries to listen Just To Usagi for a moment, keeping himself in a bottle safe from everything outside, just for a little while, so he can think.

But he's aware, on the edges.

And then Usagi explains and he feels marginally better, and then Usagi explains what Princess Sailor Moon was actually...

...and he looks up at her, eyes suddenly wide, and hope flooding into the link. FLOOD! Hey Jadeite, have a big heaping ice bucket challenge of HOPE! Hey Usagi stop crying have some HOPE! Hey Neph stop making Rashmi want to explode HOPE! His hands leave the edge of the table and reach across to try and take Usagi's, but she's still playing with that gashopon, so he just puts his hands
over hers. "Really? You get it now, you're not-- you're not trying to push half of yourself away, you're really-- she doesn't feel alien to you anymore? You really remember it like feeling it? I--"

Abruptly Usagi will feel it though his hands, Jadeite's sick horror and then ice cold burying of feelings and
everything'', and she'll feel Mamoru's gut reaction fierce sharp concern for Jadeite warring with the hope and honestly the feeling better from the explanation and--
Usagi Tsukino 2018-08-21 05:39:02 95233
It's a tidal wave of HOPE! It's as though a whole bunch of hope arm floaties swam up to her and just helps her float along! It's a very nice feeling, and she only wishes she could have had this revelation sooner. (But then she would have missed out on a pretty kick-ass henshin reveal.)

"She was trying to trick us into believing we were who we weren't. I couldn't remember either, but I was still just...me. So. And I..."

She trails off because she doesn't really have anything else to add there. She's just sort of struck how something so small, compared to so many other things, would get this large of a reaction from him. Even when he's worried about Jaedite, heck even after everything, he's just so--

She grips the tiny gashopon tightly. It's something that had almost been taken away from her - again. Something a pale image tried to imitate and failed. And with the memories of that week, her status in everything, she's been thinking. And she knows what she wants, had even stopped by a gumball machine on a silly whim but hadn't really planned on anything--

But even as worried about Jaedite as he is, he's still looking at her like that, still feeling all of that.

So, looking him in the eye, she just blurts it out. "Will you marry me?"
Mamoru Chiba 2018-08-21 06:00:14 95238
"You-- you were both of you," Mamoru says after a tiny inhalation, eyes wide with wonder. "Like me."

But Jadeite's still emotionally reeling and Usagi's still going and he's listening and he's too overwhelmed to block anything out and still...


he's caught completely flatfooted by Usagi's blurted-out question.

All of a sudden, literally everything is hilarious joy, unfettered and reaching, making the earth around them echo with it, almost like there's golden light reaching up through cracks in the pavement and spilling from the mortar between bricks in every building up and down the street, and Mamoru actually tears up and can't talk for a second -- speech.exe has stopped working -- and he swallows, and his hands grip hers tightly, and he chokes out, "Yes!"

A deep, gulping breath, released in an incredulous laugh, "Yes of COURSE I will!"
Usagi Tsukino 2018-08-21 06:29:01 95247
Compared to the tidal wave of hope, this is more a typhoon. And if it weren't for that, she probably would have been worried when it takes him a few seconds to respond. But since this is a typhoon she's nearly vibrating in her seat instead.

Then she gets her answer, and her own joy is thrown in there, because of course she'd known, but there's always the nerves! There's a bit of a scrape and scuffle and somehow his chair doesn't tip over, but he's getting hugs and kisses -- on the cheek, they're in public! -- but then she pulls back with an "Oh!" as she shakes that plastic ball she's been fiddling with all day.

She pops it open and pulls out the gashapon ring of decent quality for cheap plastic. It's gold and there's a crown and a red sort of jewel thingy that isn't really a jewel because, again, cheap plastic. She slides it on his finger, "Bloop!" and beams at him, because that's what one does when a proposal has been agreed to!
Mamoru Chiba 2018-08-21 06:40:01 95249
The phone's texting nonsense and there's something about kittens and Jadeite floating out of his chair and unfortunately at the moment neither Mamoru nor Usagi is looking, they're A Little Busy Right Now--

--Mamoru stands up to meet Usagi across the table and she's kissing him on the cheek and then she pulls away and he looks bereft for a half-second before she literally pulls out a gashapon ring and bloops it onto his finger, and he starts laugh-crying and fishes quickly and awkwardly in his pocket and pulls out a box and almost drops it and opens it and almost drops it and what's inside it, and then with shaking hands, he takes hers with his newly bedizened one and says in a faintly ragged voice--

--putting a ring on her finger that's bright real silver, with tiny diamonds surrounding a smooth pink created-diamond heart--


And then he looks up from her hand to her face, and he's getting Jadeite's earnestness and Usagi's joy and the echoed joy from everyone he's connected to that just got bowled over by his own feels, and right in the middle of the sidewalk tables of the cafe on the street in public, he leans in to kiss her full and real and in view of everyone, over their table.
Usagi Tsukino 2018-08-21 07:00:34 95254
It is probably for the best that everyone around them are having varying degrees of emotional melt downs now - of the best variety - because that means it's easy to ignore the young teenage couple. The stern little old lady with her tea is too busy gushing over the adorable squirrel she's feeding to give them a stern tsk and judgey eyes. The grumpy man who hates relationships is too busy sobbing over how the couple of a show he watches finally got together last night and it hadn't struck him until just now how much they'd gone through to get to that point!

And those who don't have squirrels or fictional couples to sob over are most likely sighing about young love. Or the two-for-one danishes, sometimes it's hard to tell.

Usagi isn't, of course, expecting a ring of her own. For a moment she wonders if he'd frozen time and gone out to buy one. Then she realizes the more logical answer. "What- How- When-!" And it's beautiful and lovely and she loves it!

But he's matching her sound effects and she's giggling, and then there's RIGHT there IN public kisses! Happy day, indeed!

And slowly it filters in that something isn't right.

Eyebrows furrowing, she pulls back so they can look at their phones.

And she just stares in stubborn incomprehension, because how in the world can anyone take her feelings for him away?
Mamoru Chiba 2018-08-21 07:20:40 95255
Everything is beautiful and nothing hurts--

--and then yeah, something isn't right, and it's coming from Jadeite, and it belatedly occurs to him that yes, the phones have been buzzing away on the table, so Mamoru lets Usagi pull away without looking all bereft this time. He picks up his own phone and scans through everything, and all of a sudden he clamps down on his own feelings because he realizes exactly how big and disruptive that outpouring from them was. It's not like there's an abrupt lack of him in the backs of the minds of the people he loves, but it's back down to a quiet awareness of his existence.

He looks up at Usagi. It's like he can read her mind. "Nothing can. There's something Agera's forgetting. Winning doesn't have to be zero-sum. Hang on..."

He texts Rashmi and Nicomachea:

Mamoru TXT: Winning doesn't have to be zero-sum. He and Sakura are both more likely to win if they work together. More likely still if they work with us, too. With everyone. Does it stipulate literally anywhere that they have to win without help? Somehow I doubt it.

Then he shows Usagi his phone.
Usagi Tsukino 2018-08-21 07:34:15 95260
Usagi relaxes at that. Not that she was believing it. Or letting herself. He's right!

Since she's standing, she skirts around the table to read his phone. And, yes, it's super convenient it lets her lean against him a little.

She's newly engaged, she wants cuddles!



"Oh!" She beams up at him. "I hope we can. It'd be silly if we couldn't."

After all, everyone's helped everyone as far as she can remember. Even her family--

"Oh my god." She looks up at him with a bit of horror. "What are we going to tell Papa? He'll try to kill your face! And it's such a pretty face!"
Mamoru Chiba 2018-08-21 07:40:13 95263
"He already had the Dad Talk with me. And you actually proposed first," Mamoru points out, grinning. "I told him I'd propose to you when you were older. I've been carrying that around for like a year because I saw it and I didn't want to miss getting it because of waiting." He slides an arm around her waist and comfortably pulls her against his side, glancing at his phone again. 'We're keeping the booze.'

He smirks, then laughs a little, and adds really quietly, "I'd like to take your last name, if it's all right with you and your parents."
Usagi Tsukino 2018-08-21 07:51:45 95269
"Oh, thank goodness. This way, Papa can't kill you in case he's forgotten." She looks up at him a bit startled. "You talked to him about it? You got this a year ago?" She looks at the ring. Oh, it's so pretty! She looks back up at him in surprise. "Wait, a year? How did you manage that? I got this one today, and you see how long it took me!"

She snuggles in, nearly melts. She likes his name, but can see why he'd want to change it. "You'll make Mama cry. Then she might hug you. A lot. If you think you can survive that." She looks up at him and kisses his chin. "And bonus! Your name will still be a pun, kinda! All moon protecty."
Mamoru Chiba 2018-08-21 08:00:34 95272
Mamoru leans down and down, and then it's all butterfly kisses while poor Jadeite and Rashmi and Takashi and Nephrite have to deal with more potential end-of-the-world end-of-love feels. Of course everything might fall to pieces and Sailor Moon and Tuxedo Kamen are picking the china pattern. That's what everyone's trying to protect, isn't it?