Newsreel Rollercoaster

Homura stops by while Mamoru's moping! There is AWESOME HAPPINESS! And then there is ABJECT MISERY! And then there is RESOLUTION, and finally, a DAD JOKE! This episode literally has it all.

Date: 2018-09-08
Pose Count: 22
Mamoru Chiba 2018-09-08 02:12:04 97176
The ECFH is quiet; Keio's classes don't start until next week, but all the boys except Mamoru are either out or sleeping. None of the girls are over, and no one's currently a temporary resident either recovering or hiding. Mamoru's sitting out on the balcony with Fiore, basically staring into space, kind of wishing he were petting a cat but not necessarily a talking one. The raging storm on the edges of the awful typhoon that swallowed parts of the coast south of Tokyo died down, and most of the cleanup is completed.

He has his powers back and there's nothing monstrous currently attacking or, as far as they know, actively plotting against any of the Senshi or Shitennou or their closest friends and allies, and Sailor Earth is over and done with--

--so he OUGHT to be happy. Ought to. He doesn't look it. Even in a lazy summer yukata, barefoot, with clean glasses and no footwear, obviously meant to be relaxing, he doesn't look happy. Trouble in paradise? Hopefully not with his Moon Princess. Not with the red and gold gashapon engagement ring on his finger.
Homura Akemi 2018-09-08 02:19:14 97177
    It's hard to tell how exactly Homura enters the ECFH. One could guess, based upon past behavior and context clues, that she simply leapt up to the balcony as she always does, but it's hard to say for sure because when she arrives she is simply... there. Suddenly. Standing but a few meters away from Mamoru as her henshin fades in a flash of purple, revealing a solid black sleeveless summer dress underneath.

    Homura's shoes seem to have vanished with her henshin. Maybe she got dressed at home and forgot to put any on?

    There is a soft smile on her face as she regards her 'little brother', though that smile flattens ever so slightly as she notices his general... troubled demeanor. Ah, poor Mamoru. Can never catch a break, can he?

    She crosses her arms, leaning her hips against the railing as the wind plays with her long black hair. "Hey, Mamo-kun. How's it been?"

    Her purple eyes shift towards the plant, "Is Fiore doing alright?"
Mamoru Chiba 2018-09-08 02:26:14 97178
Abrupt bright grin on Homura's arrival! Relieved, somehow, too. Maybe he's just super happy to see her; maybe he's also grateful for a distraction from his own thoughts. He leans forward in his deck chair. "Onee-chan~" he greets her with a laugh. "Fiore's fine, he's really pleased about the weather as long as he's getting enough water. Hey-- Usagi proposed!" He holds up his hand with its back to Homura so she can see the ring-- it does look very, very Sailor Moon, and might even actually be bootleg merch somehow. Painted gold metal and a red glass 'gem'... "Some time after she gets out of high school, I'll be Mamoru Tsukino. Provided her parents are okay with that."
Homura Akemi 2018-09-08 02:34:39 97179
    Seeing Mamoru light up at her arrival does make Homura smile just a little bit more. She decides that she likes being 'Onee-chan', though that might be in part because it something that Mamoru picked out.

    When she notices the ring on Mamoru's finger, she gasps, then covers her mouth to giggle. "Oh my god! I mean... I think we all knew it'd happen eventually but..." She tries several times to something, but it ends up coming out more like, "I... wow! Really?"

    The engagement ring is... well, not anything that Homura would've expected, but it's very Sailor Moon, and it's adorable in its own way. She pushes off of the railing to get a closer look at the ring, reaching out to touch it with her finger tips. "For some reason, this seems just about perfect for you."

    Her eyes go back to Mamoru's, shining but also somewhat knowing. "Mamoru Tsukino, huh? Well, I'd like to see the wedding."

    She stands straight up, and glances off to the horizon. "Madoka and I don't have rings yet, but... we might not wait until graduation."
Mamoru Chiba 2018-09-08 02:39:28 97180
"I hope if you're inviting anyone, I get to go to *your* wedding," says the college boy with a grin. And then, "You're definitely invited to the wedding about a thousand times as soon as it gets planned. In fact, uhh..."

Mamoru clears his throat, face starting to color a little bit. "I can't help but remember how awesome you looked in that tuxedo dress thing you wore that one time, and, uh. You've been on this Moon Princess boat from the get-go? And-- you don't have to say yes! And this is definitely not any kind of reflection on your femininity! But, um."

He looks down at his hands, then starts twisting the ring around his finger, and he's sort of smiling but sort of apparently hella nervous. "I was wondering if you might be interested in being my best man. Girl."
Homura Akemi 2018-09-08 02:48:09 97181
    "You will be the first person I invite. After all, my family should attend my wedding," assures Homura, before listening to the rest of what Mamoru has to say. At first her eyes are a little wide, mixing concern and and curiosity as he clears his throat. She isn't sure what to expect, but it certainly wasn't what Mamoru actually said.

    "Your best man? I..."

    She has to take a step back and cover her mouth again, staring at Mamoru for a long moment. She doesn't timestop, turn away, or do anything else she might usually do during an emotional moment, but... she's standing there, staring, for a long time.

    Then her hand drops, and she says in a low voice, "I'd be honored."

    Then, again, louder in case she wasn't heard. "I'd love to be your best man, but I have to warn you, I might ask you to return the favor."

    Then, she bursts out laughing, "Ahaha! I never thought I'd be asked that! I mean... wow. Still, I don't consider it an attack on my... femininity. It never bothered me to wear boy's clothes, or to assume a traditionally masculine role."
Mamoru Chiba 2018-09-08 02:55:15 97182
When Homura takes a while to answer, Mamoru looks up, and he swallows his nervousness and just looks at her, trying not to look TOO hopeful, so that he won't look TOO horribly disappointed if she says no. This shouldn't be a pressure thing, not something like this, ever. Even though she just said he was family-- and that will always mitigate a disappointment--

--when she finally answers, his face utterly transforms, a radiant smile fully taking it over. He stands up and opens his arms, and the smile turns into a grin, and it's the kind of grin that has the threat of happy-cry behind it, and it might even look like an echo of the happiness he felt when Usagi dropped the question.

"And I'd love to be yours!" he tells her, voice a little thick, a little caught. And she's laughing, and he starts laughing too. "I didn't think so? But I wanted to be sure!"
Homura Akemi 2018-09-08 03:06:13 97183
    Years ago, when they sat next to each other as strangers at a concert, and later on when they met randomly at the Crown, Homura had no idea that one day they would be talking about attending each other's weddings. It blows her mind just to think about it, how things started and all of the things that lead up to here. The tragedies, the heartaches, the pain... and the friendship that lasted through all of it...

    Homura, as tough as she is, looks like she might end up crying too. With his arms open wide, she dives into them, throwing her arms around his back and crying on his shoulder.

    "I... I don't know what to say. I don't know if words alone can express just what it means to have a friend like you. I was so lonely... so lonely when we first met, and I felt somehow that you were, too. Now... now we have the loves of our lives... and so many who care... Everything is so wonderful. I thought I'd never see the day..."

    Between sobs, she adds, "I didn't really think I'd ever live this long, but I'm glad. I'm glad I could see the day when I could see the people who truly matter to me happy. When I could see you happy."
Mamoru Chiba 2018-09-08 03:17:56 97184
Bad things happening are a part of growing up, but so are payoffs. And after everything the two of them have been through, together and separately, a conversation like this is one hell of a payoff.

Mamoru catches Homura in his arms and hugs her back, tight, half bent to make it easier for her to reach his shoulder and for him to press the side of his face atop her head, and he closes his eyes tight, still grinning, fierce and with stinging eyes.

"We were both so lonely-- we were-- and we were both looking, endlessly, and it was frightening, and you had such an awful thing you knew was coming that you'd had to live through and suffer such loss-- and I didn't even know who I was, I didn't even feel like I was real-- and you've always been so good to me, you've always had my back-- you were there when I had no one else. You don't have to say in words what it means... I know it, too."

And then Mamoru's getting salty water on Homura's hair ribbon as much as she's getting it on his yukata, and he laughs, and it's low and ragged. "I'm so glad. And I'm so glad you're still alive, too, and that you get to be happy, too, and that you're back-- I mean I was really wondering what I was going to do for a best man if you never came back!"
Homura Akemi 2018-09-08 03:27:17 97185
    It certainly is a payoff, and one Homura still can't quite believe is real, but she's so happy in this moment that she can't think much past that. She hears Mamoru's words as she weeps on his yukata, and when she hears the last words he says...

    She pulls back from the hug with lips that are still smiling but with eyes that say really?!

    Homura shakes her head, arms still loosely around Mamoru while she giggles oh so happily.

    "A guy as popular as you probably has too many candidates to choose from."

    She lets her arms drop to her sides, before one hand reaches up to flip her hair. "Maybe we don't always need words, when we each know how the other feels."
Mamoru Chiba 2018-09-08 03:37:00 97186
Mamoru's smirking at Homura's really?! half-reaction, letting go one arm to scrub at his eyes, and he's processing her 'too many candidates to choose from' and reflexively thinking of the Shitennou again as she steps back to flip her hair, and as she's saying the part about not needing words, his expression freezes and something vital shuts down behind it. It's such a jarring juxtaposition--

--his natural reaction to such happiness is to try and spread it, to give it to everyone he's metaphysically linked with, and for a moment he was happy enough to forget that one of those bonds of love and connection is iced over, blocking him out.

It's like a fresh gutpunch, unexpected and wrong and painful.

After a second of that frozen thing, the older boy tries to laugh, but there's such hurt behind his eyes that it falls flat. And he lets go of it, it's not honest at all. "Sorry-- not you--"
Homura Akemi 2018-09-08 03:45:54 97187
    Homura, for a moment, feels the usual emotional connection with Mamoru. She's both surprised and happy, as one might expect, but also a little... maybe not unsure, but mentally trying to process what all this means and---

    Wait, what's that?

    Something's wrong.

    What's wrong?

    Homura's mind immediately goes back to how Mamoru was when she first came, when she saw him in timestop. After that, well...

    Thoughts of being Mamoru's best man/girl... happy thoughts of happy memories... all of that gets pushed aside. There's a Problem, and Problems need to be Solved.

    "What's wrong?" she asks in a fairly serious tone. She takes Mamoru's hand into her own, and clasps her other hand on top. "Do you want to talk to onee-chan about it?"

    Something underneath her, a sort of sisterly concern, is boiling underneath. Mamoru is upset and Homura isn't the kind of person to just let that slide.
Mamoru Chiba 2018-09-08 03:56:53 97188
She's got his hand; she can feel both the immense hurt from whatever's wrong and his self-castigation and derision at himself for being sure he caused it and not knowing how to fix it himself; she can feel his embarrassment that he let it interrupt their happiness; she can feel a hopeless helplessness and a maelstrom of protectiveness on terribly mixed fronts. And yet, when she asks him if he wants to talk to onee-chan about it, there's a real laugh, wet-sounding as it is, full of an awareness at the adorable absurdity that can be (and is) used to describe their closeness. That he himself uses. That she's teasing him a little around her true concern.

His other hand scrubs at his eyes under his glasses again, and then he gives up and takes them off, putting them up on top of his head. "Sorry," he says, and there's shame in there too. "Jadeite's mad at me. Like, really really angry. He's shut me out. It's like he's walled me off with ice in his heart, to keep me out of his feelings. I-- I forgot for a minute, because I was so happy, and if I'm distracted enough I stop picking at the scab..."
Homura Akemi 2018-09-08 04:07:00 97189

    Homura takes a moment to let that sink in. Mamoru's Shitennou have been so loyal to him, so connected, since being recovered from the Dark Kingdom. It's impossible to think that such a thing could... even be threatened.

    Yet, every relationship has its arguments, and its problems, and it's the ones that mean the most who can also hurt you the most.

    Homura almost immediately feels sad upon hearing Mamoru's words. She passes her feelings along the bond, to tell him it's okay, that he doesn't have to be embarrassed, that Homura loves him for who he is and only wants to help, or at least listen.

    And oh yes, she's teasing, but that's been her way from the start, hasn't it?

    "He's mad at you... why?" The thoughts in her head are several variations of 'What could you, of all people, have possibly done?' "I don't know how I can tell, but... that ice feels pretty solid... I somehow get the feeling that this has been going on for a while."
Mamoru Chiba 2018-09-08 04:25:02 97190
'Why?' There's a kneejerk internal cringe; Mamoru obviously feels really bad about what he did to cause this, and he's also-- something in him is screaming 'he hates me!' even as his rational mind tries to drown it out with things like 'reality'.

The teasing is comfortable; it's always BEEN a comfort, because only really good friends can do it without being mean, can do it in a way that makes one laugh instead of feel bad. The wanting to help, or listen, he cherishes that actively. When she says she can feel the ice, there's a blink, but he shouldn't be so surprised-- the connections he forms are real, are real on a deep and metaphysical level, like true dreams and magic. So he shows her.

"It's been two weeks," he says in a thin voice, almost fragile. His mental image of it is a literal door, but frozen solid with built up ice and snow, a clear wall surrounding an untouchable and agonizingly familiar sense of home and family and love.

"We met-- one of his sisters. He hasn't remembered anything about his life until the Dark Kingdom-- I've been looking, running searches; he's a missing person, they're all missing persons, and only Kunzite and Nephrite aren't anymore. But Jadeite-- he has twin sisters, twelve years old, and they love and miss him desperately. But he-- when we met the one, he closed up and he told her he didn't want to be her brother. Of course she cried. I would have felt the same if he said it to me. So of course I got mad at him. I told him as I withdrew that I was just-- I was just doing it because I was mad and I didn't want to be-- and he was happy when I did, and he closed me off hard so I couldn't come back in. I tried not to take their side over his-- I tried really hard-- but he made a twelve year old girl cry because she loved him and he didn't want to love her."

Then he bows his head and looks away, and his voice is wavery and tight. "Then I talked to them some more. And then I asked them to show me what they remembered, because some of the things one of them had said-- made me wonder-- and his school record made me wonder-- and his parents..."

Now Homura can feel the furious protectiveness overwhelming all the other feelings. "They didn't just play favorites. They made it clear to him he was a disappointment, every step of the way. When his sisters were born they took him out of school and told the government they were homeschooling him, but they took him out of school just so he'd be there as free daycare. When they started school he went back, but he was still in charge of them, too, making sure they got on the bus, had lunches, had someone to come home to after school-- and they always praised them, and only ever told him how he didn't measure up, and they-- they had no idea that their parents were so bad to him. And he's so-- he's so lovable, he's so gentle, he's so good, Homu-chan, I love him so much, and they were so awful, and they broke him before Beryl did, and no wonder he doesn't want to remember, doesn't want any part of this, no wonder he's running-- and he thinks-- I don't know what he thinks. I know he thinks I won't give up on this, because for them, for them, I can't, for him I can't, but I would never make him talk to his parents again, or even see them. I won't make him talk to them either, but I also won't cut them off, they love him so much, and they love that he can have happiness with a family even if he's never going to what they think of as home again, but they-- they love him so much, I can't cut them off, and he hates me now because he must think I think they're worth more than he is, just like his parents did..."
Homura Akemi 2018-09-08 04:41:50 97191
    Homura listens. Onee-chan listens, because what else can she do? Mamoru is one of the most important people in the world to her, but she doesn't really know Jadeite all that well except through him. To think that he had such a terrible family life... to think that he was so mistreated...

    How could anyone do such a thing?

    Homura thinks back to her own family, and the feelings of worthlessness she remembered from long ago, trying to tie the current situation to something she remembers... but even then there's no real comparison. Her mother loved her, even if she was terrible about expressing it. Her father expected much from her, but he cared enough to keep her company alive.

    To be so hated...

    By one's own parents...

    It's incomprehensible.

    "Still..." starts Homura, as if her thoughts were a part of the conversation, which they might as well be, "... Well, I don't know too much about psychology, but he might've been conditioned to associate his sisters with pain. It's not their fault, and maybe he knows that, but the human mind isn't always that rational. Or fair."

    Homura glances away, looking over the balcony, "I doubt he truly hates you. It's easy to get that impression from someone who's in pain..."

    Mentally, images of Mami, Sayaka, and Kyouko flash through Homura's mind.

    "... but more often than not, they're just hurting and trying to protect themselves."
Mamoru Chiba 2018-09-08 04:48:34 97192
Those thoughts are part of the conversation, really, and even if Mamoru's wrapped up so tightly in the pain, he can 'see' it, he can feel what she's feeling as she thinks back, as she associates, as she brings up frames of reference for what the both of them are saying. His hand's tighter around hers for a moment, and he tries to cling to it only being an impression of Jadeite hating him--

--the only frame of reference Mamoru has for any of the guys shutting him out for so long is in another lifetime, near the end of everything. He shies away from that memory, not wanting to bring it to the front, not wanting to acknowledge it.

"It's-- true, he might have been-- but before he shut me out, I felt the affection for her, for the one sister that was sitting in front of him, associated with her name even if he didn't remember anything else. But since he doesn't remember anything else... I guess an affection with no memory isn't enough to outweigh the, the fear, the pain..."

He's grasping for words, trying to use them to calm himself, calm his mind. But it's an ache, it is a scab he's picking at. It's not even a scab, it's a bandage stuck to a wound, needing to be pried off to change it out. "I hate... that he has to protect himself from me."
Homura Akemi 2018-09-08 05:00:23 97193
    The thought of what happened to the Shitennou in a previous life also crosses Homura's mind, and she thinks something along the lines of 'well... that happened yeah, but...'

    Well, but nothing. Homura doesn't know how that thought ends. Only that she's not convinced that's happening right now.

    "I can't imagine how hard it must be for him to sort all of that out. For all I know, the affection might be making it worse." Homura frowns, thoughtfully. She says out loud what she's thinking in her mind. "I don't know if I can say anything that would help. I think if I were in your situation, I would try to be patient with him, and even if I couldn't understand why, have faith in the love you share with him. You are his prince, and I know he cares for you."

    Her other hand raises up to pat Mamoru's shoulder, looking up into his eyes with a sympathetic gaze. "You always have been the gentle, sensitive type. I tease, but it's really one of your better qualities. Maybe he does feel the need to protect himself from you, but sometimes people just need to be left alone, even from people they care about."

    She glances away again, looking a bit unsure. "In his shoes, I'm not sure I could handle your disapproval on top of everything else. I'm not saying you're wrong, those girls deserve better, but that might be part of it."
Mamoru Chiba 2018-09-09 22:55:26 97370
The guilt Mamoru instantly feels at Homura's last comment is, in fact, not new-- and it's not subtle, and it hurts, and it's full of regret and basically kicking himself all the way into the bay. "I know," he whispers, also looking away, and his hand loosens in hers. He's not letting go but he's making it clear that if she doesn't want to bathe in the emo anymore that's totally okay.

"And-- I tried to make it clear I wasn't disapproving of him or disappointed in him, just at it, his reaction right then that was so awful, before I knew anything about what it was really about-- but his sisters..." Mamoru shakes his head and squeezes his eyes tight. "They told me, and showed me, that it was all he ever got from his parents. And the longer he shuts me out the more that idea's going to settle in and the more he's going to not want to have anything to do with me because he thinks I'm like them, disappointed, disapproving."

That hand in Homura's twitches, and Mamoru's eyes open, staring at the floor of the balcony. There's a mirthless smile on his face. "I really want to punch them. That's not very gentle or sensitive. I want to scare the shit out of them. I want them to understand they've never had any right to treat him like that, ever. But he's better off with them not knowing he's alive. His sisters won't tell on him, at least."
Homura Akemi 2018-09-09 23:10:45 97375
    Homura, for the longest time, lived in the emo. It doesn't bother her at all. The offer itself gets a mental '... really?' from her. No, she's here to support Mamoru. Maybe she didn't come over here for that sole purpose. Truth is she just wanted to spend time with an old friend. Yet, the two of them have always supported each other, always been there for each other, and have always been true friends.

    Her hand tightens, just for a moment, but then loosens, because she doesn't want to keep him trapped there, either. As amazing as it is that he can share his thoughts and feelings so directly, he deserves the same privacy as anyone else.

    "... yeah, that's probably a thought you don't want to let settle in." Homura thinks back mentally to the various timelines in which Sayaka witched. She's not... intending to bring that up, but it crosses her mind. Sayaka pushing Madoka away, pushing other friends away, running off by herself... and then suddenly one day she's in a subway or a bus station and she's a...

    She cuts it off hard, there. Jadeite isn't like that. He doesn't have those problems. She actually does release his hand in that moment, because she doesn't want to make things worse by scaring Mamoru.

    There is a pause of silence for a moment. She listens to what Mamoru says, frowning slightly as she looks away over the balcony. When her eyes go back to him, she nods. "Maybe it isn't... but Mamo-kun, I think feeling that way is pretty justified. It wouldn't solve anything, acting on those feelings, but... I do think... I think you should go after him. There's a certain extent to which he needs his space, but there's also a point where leaving him alone can be dangerous. You don't want that thought to settle in too deeply, or else he'll convince himself no matter how much proof you show to the contrary."
Mamoru Chiba 2018-09-09 23:27:56 97382
Yeah the anxiety there does hike up, and hike up, and the more Homura thinks about Sayaka in the different timelines-- and how much Jadeite runs-- and how many other people let things twist up in their heads-- and the fact that there's a distressing similarity sometimes between the Puellae's Soul Gems and the Shitennou's, uh, s-soul rocks??--

Mamoru's tensing and his face is getting pinched and then Homura pulls her hand away and the older boy's dropped solidly into the warm and sunny day with the rosebush on the balcony and his first friend standing there trying to help him, his first friend who's always had his back. He concentrates on breathing for a second, while Homura considers his desire to beat up Jadeite's parents physically and psychologically, and he remembers why he usually wears cargo shorts and a shirt under the yukata. They're super convenient for opening it to jam his hands in his pockets.

So all he can do until she tells him that yeah, feeling that way is reasonable as long as feeling doesn't turn into action, is breathe and fiddle with the hems of his sleeves. Cuffs? Hems. But then she says the rest and his head snaps up, gaze fixing on Homura, suddenly focused someplace other than inward.

"You really think so," he breathes, a statement instead of a question. "It's been two weeks of space and I'm terrified and if this is building up in my head it has to be building up in his-- you really think I should go after him. Okay. Okay, good, I will, and-- oh god he's going to teleport away and I'm going to have to chase him, so--"

It is literally amazing what happenes when endless mope is given a channel and direction and permission to act. The tension of an unhappy situation is still in his face and shoulders, but the tension in his movement and thought processes has snapped into gear for tactical planning. "--it's going to have to be tomorrow, I'll have to fast. And then take a dramamine, and take a bottle of water and some paper towels and maybe a washcloth with me, and leave my glasses... maybe bring some ginger, too..."
Homura Akemi 2018-09-09 23:39:09 97387
    Homura gives Mamoru a sideways glance, wondering and half-afraid that he might just teleport away right now. Her back tenses, wondering just how long it would take for her to henshin and timestop versus how long it would take Mamoru to teleport away... but when he starts saying that he has to prepare, she visibly relaxes.

    "Yeah, you really want to think about that ahead of time. Don't just prepare yourself physically, but also mentally. You'll need to consider his movements, anticipate his actions. Be ready for the next teleport before even finishing the first. In as much as that's possible..."

    She crosses her arms, leaning against the railing as she looks up to the taller boy with a tilted head. "When it comes to reaching people, you've always had better luck than me. I'm sure you can do it. I have faith in you."

    There is a moment of pride when she realizes that, even in his emotional state, he's going in with a plan. She's always respected him, always appreciated him, and from the very start he's been helpful even without fully realizing his powers. She touches his hand again, to transfer some of that pride, and some of that faith along with a bit of affection.

    "I love you, Mamo-kun. No hetero."