No Title Set


Date: 2018-09-08
Pose Count: 26
Kazuo Takeba 2018-09-08 18:32:04 97198
There has been a notable lack of interference from Kazuo for over a week. Well over a week. Almost two weeks. It's not that Saburo hasn't seen him. It's just that he hasn't done anything more visibly related to the Frozen Elephant In The Room than drop off takeout.

(The functioning kitchen is in Saburo's apartment. There has been a lot more takeout than usual.)

Today, though, he's knocking. And the time of afternoon is not suited to another food run.
Jadeite 2018-09-08 18:39:47 97199
For almost two weeks, Saburo has been more or less avoiding everyone he knows, and everyone he doesn't know, and in general, keeping himself cloistered with his thoughts and his projects. The kitchen has become the holding ground for a castle built of cleaned takeout boxes and folded paper, with glasses and cups for towers.

It's definitely impressive, and not at all sad and slightly pathetic.

The self-impposed isolation means that knocking has been rare, though, so when it comes - he weighs the odds, and decides that anyone who'd bother him probably knows they could just walk right in, and goes to answer the door.
Kazuo Takeba 2018-09-08 18:44:18 97200
The only uniform Kazuo is wearing is his 'I can't be bothered to spend time figuring out which clothes to wear on a given day' one: his wardrobe consists ninety percent of virtually identical jeans and white shirts. Which means that whatever he's there for is not official, at least.

What he says by way of greeting is:

"Makoto can't make you a cake unless you tell someone what flavor."
Jadeite 2018-09-08 18:48:28 97201
Refusal of cake would perfectly match the 'I'm shutting out all of my friends' ensemble of all black jeans and black Three Days Grace t-shirt that Saburo is wearing. It would also fit with his general mood.

But Makoto-made cakes were really, really good. And maybe he's thrown off by the thought more than he should be, because despite knowing that pretty much everything Mamoru knew, Kazuo would quickly know, he hadn't expected this.

"Please tell me you didn't tell her it's my birthday."
Kazuo Takeba 2018-09-08 18:54:17 97202
"Haven't yet." So there is, at least, a limit to hypocrisy. Kazuo himself does not officially admit to having a birthday. There is absolutely no reason that the place holds a sizable New Year's party every year, and it is definitely not that it's a midpoint between his birthday, which does not exist, and Naru's birthday, which may very well also not exist. "It seemed reasonable to offer the option, though."

Kazuo pauses, studying Saburo's face rather than his T-shirt. "And to make certain you realized you were off the hook."
Jadeite 2018-09-08 19:07:57 97206
He droops with obvious relief, some of the newfound tension fading. It's not that he has anything against birthdays, or even his own birthdays. It's just that if people knew, there'd be no end to the people wanting to wish him a happy birthday, or worse, asking him about his feelings. Emotional constipation outweighs his sweet tooth. "Thanks, but no thanks. I'd rather avoid the whole thing."

It's the studying that makes him fidget, wondering if this is when he'll be told to quit acting like a child, to get his act together, to go and talk to Mamoru already before a Stage Three Mope sets in - but none of those things are said, and Saburo blinks in confusion instead. "Off the hook?"
Kazuo Takeba 2018-09-08 19:13:41 97207
"No-one else has any legal power over you now," Kazuo answers. "If the worst happens, you can be made uncomfortable for a while, but you can't be dragged away, even temporarily."

Apparently Kazuo has, as usual, spent the last two weeks looking on the bright side and expecting nothing but the best.
Jadeite 2018-09-08 19:24:08 97208
"...you're right about that," Saburo considers this for a moment - the fact that he's a genuine, legally recognizeed, independent adult now - and continues. "I hadn't been thinking of that - dragging me anywhere seems like more effot than they'd want to expend."

The words are stated calmly, without even a hint of bitter sentiment - but the relief that had softened the set of his jaw, the line of his shoulders, that's still very apparently. He isn't as blas? about the revelation as he's pretending to be.
Kazuo Takeba 2018-09-08 19:42:14 97215
Kazuo considers this: the calm, the shift in the line of his shoulders, the way Saburo holds himself. He considers it without speaking just long enough that it begins to seem obvious that the next words out of his mouth are going to be some casual, emotionless inquiry about whether murder would be an appropriate solution to the problem.

But Mamoru's been working on him for a long time, by now. "Genetics are occasionally fascinating. Perhaps they're merely carriers for recessive traits. Presuming 'being acceptable human beings' is genetic at all." He gestures, not trying to break the invisible shell of no-contact around Saburo, just a brief motion off to the side. "Do you have any specific preferences where they're concerned? Or only 'staying away?'"
Jadeite 2018-09-08 19:53:47 97216
The moment stretches long enough that Saburo begins to prepare for one of the harder decisions of his life - convincing Kazuo (and himself) that murder is never an answer - but those words aren't what emerge, and he knows they have Mamoru to thank for it, because it probably wasn't the rest of them who'd changed that mentality. "If it's genetics, then it definitely skipped a generation."

The question goes ignored for the moment, as Saburo draws further back into his apartment, and away from the open doorway and Kazuo. It isn't because of the gesture, as is next words mae clear, but because he's realized that having this conversation in a hallway is, in fact, not the best decision he could make. This isn't something he wants anyone to overhear. "Do you want to come in?"
Kazuo Takeba 2018-09-08 20:18:22 97222
It definitely wasn't Izumi who changed that mentality, at the very least.

Kazuo answers by stepping through the door and reaching to close it behind him. Apparently, saying 'yes' is too much additional effort to be worthwhile. His attention stays on his conversational partner; he doesn't take an immediate moment to scan the room, not to evaluate Jadeite's state of mind from its condition, not to check to see whether there are any Rube Goldberg machines cued to whack someone in the head for crossing the threshold. Maybe he's not feeling well.
Jadeite 2018-09-08 20:38:05 97226
Is this a trust? is the thought that crosses Saburo's mind, accompanied by the image of the old meme. It is not the most serious of first thoughts - but its true. He has never known Kunzite to not search a room for every attack, seek out every scrap of information. This does not bode him well on the matter of skipping important conversations.

"Stay away," he says finally, reluctantly meeting Kazuo's gaze. "Anything more has consequences that I don't want to deal with."
Kazuo Takeba 2018-09-08 20:49:47 97228
"Staying away works to a certain extent. We can control our movements. We can't, as we've seen, control other people's. It isn't likely that they'll happen across you in a crowd, but it is all too evidently possible." Kazuo's return of Saburo's regard at least means that he's not studying his hands for signs of fidgeting. "As for less accidental encounters -- I intended to do what I could to stop, or delay, the girls bringing their parents in on the problem. Mamoru took that out of my hands, but he seems to have had a similar intent, from all I can tell. So. We may be able to buy quite a bit of time; possibly we may postpone it indefinitely. Or the situation may disintegrate tomorrow. If it does -- we'll pick up the pieces as necessary."
Jadeite 2018-09-08 21:16:09 97233
Saburo Yukimura says, "If my hair isn't blond or my eyes aren't blue, they aren't likely to recognize me. I should have been doing that all along, but I didn't remember there was anyone to be looking out for me." Sloppy. He could have avoided this all if he'd been thinking about it. He doesn't flinch at the mention of the girls. This might be because of the ice Mamoru has felt throughout these two weeks. "Or maybe not - it isn't practical in the long term. But a permanent solution would leave unintended consequences. We aren't exactly in the orphaning business.""
Kazuo Takeba 2018-09-08 21:26:04 97236
"A permanent solution would wind up with us, the Tsukinos, or possibly Neil's aunt suddenly committing acts of adoption, which would not improve the situation." Oh, there we go. Kazuo had practical reasons. Or at least had practical excuses to hide less practical reasons behind. His attention flicks up to Saburo's hair. "Still. If you were a year younger, I'd agree that changing your appearance would be a good idea. As of today -- we'll back what you prefer; but personally, I don't think they're worth the effort. Even if it'd give Izumi hours upon hours of entertainment, critiquing your precise choices of shade."
Jadeite 2018-09-08 21:43:37 97237
"Shingo would certainly not appreciate more girls in the family," Neil's aunt might not mind, but they could hardly guarantee that. And the less said about them adopting them the better. "I'd make a terrible redhead - Izumi would love it. But you have a point, and it'd be my luck that they'd recognize me anyway."

A grimace. "I can't make a good decision about this."
Kazuo Takeba 2018-09-08 23:45:59 97268
"Not yet, no," Kazuo agrees. "You can look at some of the criteria you need to consider, which is an improvement. But not at all of them yet, and you're too honest with yourself to pretend otherwise. That's good in a way. Easier to deal with than the alternative."

He glances away from Jadeite for the first time, examining a randomly-chosen piece of flat surface somewhere. Then back to him again. "People take different amounts of time to come to terms with things like this. That's not a bad thing. We'll be here when you're ready to finish coping with it. And, undoubtedly, we'll be here at irritatingly frequent intervals in the mean time. If you decide you need a hand trying to figure out that good decision -- well. We might have to ask questions that make you want to climb the walls; that can't always be helped. But questions have an advantage over dwelling. Dwelling is interminable. Questions are answered, and then done. So. When you think the time's come, we'll deal with it."
Jadeite 2018-09-09 01:15:28 97295
Too honest with himself to pretend he's capable of making a decision - yes. He knows what he should do, how he should do it. He's aware that he ought to be talking abiut his feelings, that he should reach out to Mamoru, that he should make contact with the two little girls, that he should grow up and do what's right for them and quit causing trouble -

He grimaces as he recognizes this thought pattern, and nods, because Kazuo is right, and he knows it, and he isn't judging him, or pressing him, but the words start coming out anyway, half defensive and half resigned. "I know. None of you have ever steered me wrong, and you and Neil have been through this already, and you could both probably help me figure this all out, and I know I should just talk to Mamoru already, because I miss him and he misses me so much that he's at mope level three and I'm pretty sure I caught a glimpse of him carting around that plushy of me and that can't be a good sign and I'm worried about him and he should be able to be happy and I'm ruining that when we're in the middle of a rare moment of nothing actually going wrong and I should be helping us enjoy that -" he has to stop to breathe, and also to realize that he actually said that out loud and everything, and flush crimson.
Kazuo Takeba 2018-09-09 01:32:00 97298
And Kazuo's hand is on Jadeite's arm, a steady contact halfway between shoulder and elbow. "What you should be doing," he says quietly, "is neither more nor less than what you need to do. What you need to do, not what you think the rest of us need from you, not now. You're the one who's bleeding. It's our turn to carry you for a while. If you need to talk to Mamoru, then you should talk to him. If you need not to talk to him for a while longer, then you should do that; only not so long that it strangles you."

He pauses for a moment. "I would, granted, appreciate it if you'd give me permission to tell him you miss him. His imagination runs away with him sometimes."
Jadeite 2018-09-09 02:37:54 97322
He can't quite lean into the touch, not with where it's placed, but he relaxes against Kazuo nonetheless. Near two weeks of avoiding everyone has meant nearly two weeks with almost no physical contact, and it isn't until now that he realizes how much he's missed it. "It feels wrong to let you all carry me," he admits. "It's irrational, I know, because I'd never judge one of you for needing time, but I still feel petty, and small for not being able to just do it."

"It feels like I lost a part of myself," is what he says, blankly, to Kazuo's next words. He can't quite comprehend. "Of course I miss him - you can tell him, of course you can tell him, I didn't think - does he think I don't miss him?" And there's horror there, bundled up with the confusion.
Kazuo Takeba 2018-09-09 02:48:33 97324
There's horror there, and Kazuo's other hand comes up -- not to lock Jadeite into the conversation, there's no force behind it, but to find his other arm, to steady him. As if physical support could catch the emotional shock.

"He knows better," he says quietly. "His rational mind knows better. His fear is as irrational as yours, and as hard to master. It's something he's faced before; but not with you, not yet."

Now his fingers tighten, just for a moment. Not hard; not painfully, not enough that Jadeite wouldn't be able to step away. Only an emphasis to try to interrupt any reaction Jadeite might start to have with those words. "That is not a bad thing. Each of us has needed badly to learn that it's all right for us to be upset with one another. That we can be angry, or upset, or need time, and that this time it will not be the end of the world. That when we fight, it will mend. That includes you and Mamoru. This has needed to happen. Do you understand?"
Jadeite 2018-09-09 05:58:51 97328
The horror is too new and too raw to be soothed. Jadeite has feared Mamoru's disappointment, has worried over the possibility of his anger, but not once had he considered this. Were it not for Kazuo's grip, he'd absolutely be halfway across the ECFH for an ill-fated, guilt-driven reunion that would probably ruin the exact lesson that Kazuo is telling him about.

"I didn't even think about what he had to be going through. He told me that he still cared and I just - I was so sure that he knew the same goes for him and instead he's - he doesn't think I miss him?" It's brittle, a few wrong words away from breaking. "And I don't blame him because the last time we all fought was when we were enslaved to a pair of monsters and before that it was the end of the world and I'm supposed to be good at people, how did I not see that coming? I should have seen this coming."
Kazuo Takeba 2018-09-09 06:19:43 97329
"You are good at people. But you've been injured, Jadeite." The name that's genuinely his, but not tied to the problem at hand. And a word that is not 'hurt,' because the distinction between pain and actual damage is important, just now. "Trying to use that skill right now must be like trying to parry with a broken arm. There's no fault, there. No shame."

Kazuo presses his arms with both palms, flat and steady and brief. "He knows better. He knows you. He knows the fear has no basis. He knows this is temporary."
Jadeite 2018-09-09 06:40:08 97330
"I can't argue with that," and though it hurts to say, it isn't like the sting of a new injury, or tearing open a scab. It feels like putting pressure on the wound, bandaging it - it hurts, but he knows it will help. "When I think clearly I know you're right. I want to be - better for him right now, I want to make sure he knows right now, but if my head is a bad place for me to be right now, it's going to be an even worse one for him."
Kazuo Takeba 2018-09-09 06:52:26 97331
"Not that he always cares," Kazuo says, dry as ever. He does not say 'that idiot.' It's only left implied. "And now and then, these things are more easily settled with more than one person working on them. But it's not mine to say whether that's the case, or when. So. For the moment, we settle for patting his insecurities on the head, which should be sufficient." He lets Jadeite's arms go, lets his own hands fall back to his side. "Just bear in mind, if you can. You're not bad for him. Not when you're upset, not when you're angry." Not even when he was in the Dark Kingdom. "Never."
Jadeite 2018-09-09 07:15:58 97333
The punch of fond exasperation that floods him at those words is almost enough to make him cry. Of course that's what he thinks. Of course Kazuo can see through him.

Of course Mamoru wouldn't care about the mess in his head, except in how he could join him in it. "Even if I was, he wouldn't turn away."

There's little outward change, except for released arms falling, one of Jadeite's hands clutching the opposing wrist loosely, some of the fear falling from his face. But on the inside, in the depths of his soul where ice had taken over, the change is dramatic. All this time, the path between Mamoru and Jadeite has been iced over, the connection feeding nothing from Jadeite to Mamoru, and allowing nothing of Mamoru to reach Jadeite. Now, the ice begins to thaw. The connection is still cold, still distant, but it is less like a sealed door and more like a snow covered road - difficult, but not impossible to cross.

For the first time in weeks, he can feel more than the faintest pulse of Mamoru's life - and so can Mamoru.