Tragedy and Sour Plum Wine

Date: 2018-12-30
Pose Count: 28
Mamoru Chiba 2018-12-30 23:32:09 102092
It's cold outside! In fact, it may even be lightly snowing! Hint: it is. Mamoru's wearing his own classy peacoat over black jeans and sturdy boots, and a bright red scarf, and a red toque with ear flaps and a pompom on top, and he's got one handle of a crate with rope handles on the sides. "No," he says under his breath to Neil, "we can't teleport up the stairs even with a giant heavy crate full of fragile things in it. It would be a sign of weakness. Much worse than huffing and puffing at the top." A beat. "But you can teleport it if you want and I'll meet you up there..."
Nephrite 2018-12-30 23:39:51 102093
Neil is more casual in a hoodie, with his masses of hair stuffed under a toque. He grunts at Mamoru. "Oh, so you can tell everyone that I'm the wimp who needed to teleport up the stairs? I can see your trap, Chiba." That last statement comes out a little breathless. Maybe he needs to spend less time sitting on the roof drinking alcohol with heavy cream and more time at the gym. Or maybe he needs to just stop talking while trying to lift heavy cargo. "The gift is the journey! The journey is the gift. Or whatever."
Rei Hino 2018-12-30 23:44:07 102094
The Shrine is conspicuously unpopulated at the moment, between the cold weather and the post-holiday exhaustion recovery period that has settled over the world before New Years. Rei Hino had been sweeping this morning's snow away when the first snowflake of this new offering landed directly on her nose, earning a bland, slihtly cross-eyed stare before Rei heaves a sigh and droops her head.
    She's wearing a heavy red coat, black mittens, and - still open for business and all that - her long red shrine maiden skirt.
    She doesn't look well at all. There are bags under her eyes and a general sense of listlessness about her demeanor as she goes robotically about the last of what chores can reasonably be expected in this weather.
    Hearing the combative chatter between two familiar voices drawing near, she blinks curiously and leans on her broom a little, watching the archway until Mamoru and Nephrite appear, unable to suppress an exhasuted little smile despite herself. She makes an effort to show a BIT more energy when she greets them, "Mamoru-kun; Nephrite-san..." with a lopsided little bow as she refuses to pick up the broom. "Welcome. What- erm. What brings you here?" She asks, curious, but a bit unanimated and distracted.
Mamoru Chiba 2018-12-30 23:56:16 102096
"Pff," puffs the prince, "you'd get there first and could tell her you're just that much more buff and in-shape and carried the whole thing yourself. I wouldn't correct you, but Mako-chan might be suspicious-- and then they're finally at the top!

"A giant crate of goodies for you and Grandpa," Mamoru says cheerfully and breathlessly, his coat steaming in the air because that was a hell of a workout, "there's cookies, a little truffle cake, early osechi ryori because I don't think I'll be doing a new year's party this year, top-shelf sake, and really cute dangos, and probably candy? And maybe another liquor?" he glances to Neil uncertainly, and then they're close enough to Rei for him to see her face and match it to her tone, and he tries to keep the 'alarmed' down to 'concerned'. "Hey, what's up?"
Nephrite 2018-12-31 00:06:07 102097
"A bottle of umeshu," Neil adds with a nod. "And some of the tea that Mako likes, to go with the desserts." It's definitely the winter weather that has his cheeks all rosy instead of the exertion of so. many. stairs. Obviously. He leaves Mamoru to be the Concerned one while he casts around for a distraction to keep the mood light. "I'm surprised this place isn't hopping for New Year's. Calm before the storm?"
Rei Hino 2018-12-31 00:15:57 102098
"Oh my." Rei's smile broadens as Mamoru lists the contents - not insincerely, she does appreciate the gifts - but it does come off a bit... stiff. "Thank you very much! I know Grandpa will appreciate the sake. Hopefully not enough to warrant a 'cure'." She says with slightly muted good cheer, then nods her head at Nephrite. "Typically. Come New Years this place should be packed to the walls, fortune willing." Running a Shrine ain't cheap, after all! Plus it's good to see people getting out.
    Mamoru's question, however, makes her straighten up as her smile falters. Leave it to the empath to immediately pick up on her feelings - though she may be overestimating her own acting skills. "... 'Work'... troubles, mostly." She admits, using a euphamism for their Senshi activities, and foregoing the token attempt to hide her feelings for once - it's kind of useless against this man, and she has no reason to be as defensive about it as she can be about some things. "Lacrima-san finally went after Akira-san last night. I was there to help, but it didn't..." she trails off and shakes her head slightly. "It... went bad." She frowns and looks up at the snow. It occurs to her that they probably shouldn't speak of these things out doors, and that it's freezing, then looks back to the men , "Er... would you rather come inside?" She feels awkward about this. They came bearing gifts and all, but this stuff IS relevant. To Mamoru at least.
Mamoru Chiba 2018-12-31 00:22:45 102099
It's so tempting to reach over and shake Nephrite's voluminous curls free of the snow that's been landing in them. Actually, it's tempting enough that Mamoru does it. It's a quick thing and it's not quite as bad as getting him to spit on a hanky and wiping a smudge off his face.

And he's still watching Rei-- and listening-- and his face is grave, and... trying not to be guilty-looking. If it went bad he should have been there--

--but then Rei invites them in, and he looks grateful, too, and bends to pick up his end of the crate, too. "It's okay," sys the Prince, meaning it one hundred percent. "If there's anything we can do to help-- if Mako's madeleines might help too--"
Nephrite 2018-12-31 00:31:15 102100
Neil makes an indignant sputtering noise at the hair-ruffle, but says nothing else, just shoots a glare in Mamoru's direction. He bends to pick up his end of the crate as well, and as he does so, scoops up a handful of snow with his free hand and chucks it at Mamoru. It's not even a proper snowball--just a loose cascade of powder that puffs into the general direction of Mamoru's face.

He smiles at Rei, as though such antics had not just taken place right before her. "I find these sorts of talks always go better with cookies, anyway. And with sake close at hand."
Rei Hino 2018-12-31 00:40:14 102101
"Heh, they might." Rei replies to Mamoru's offer of madeleines, then gives Nephrite a slightly hesitant nod. Unbeknowst to him, a frightening vision of Middle Aged Rei appears in her mind, swishing a sake bottle around and teetering back and forth with drunken idiot glee like her Grandpa does sometimes.
    She ruminates on this for a moment and sighs. That's... PROBABLY not going to happen if she drinks.
    She shakes her head and smiles a little, "Follow me." She says, and leads them inside where she prepares all three of them a cup of tea, not yet willing to dig through the box except to swipe a single madeleine before she kneels at her little table on the floor, shirking her coat and gloves and revealing the un-shrine-maidenly black sweats she was wearing underneath it.
    She stares into her tea and awkwardly glances to the side. "... So." She hesitates. Damn it. "... Like I said. Lacrima-san attacked yesterday. She... she *told* me she had to make it look real, so I knew... I knew it'd be a fight but..." She glances at the door leading to her pyre and sighs. "... But when the fire warned me it was happening, it was... *so* much worse than she warned..." She shakes her head and sips her tea, trying to settle herself.
    "Nevermind. I thought I could keep things from getting out of hand. She brought backup - a scientist I think, and two..." she struggles to describe the Zerobots, and settles on, "Androids, I guess. We fought... but then..." Her hands starts to shake a little and Rei promptly sets the cup down. "... St. George appeared."
Mamoru Chiba 2018-12-31 00:53:42 102103
Mamoru brushes the snow off with dignity and his free hand while they're on the porch, so he doesn't drip coming into the genkan, and he hurriedly toes his boots off and puts guest slippers on so he can put the box down and take off his coat and stuff, and hang them up in there.

Once they're inside, Mamoru proves to be wearing a grey cardigan over a white button-down, making the black jeans pass for business casual. Then he's seated crosslegged at the low table; while Rei's making tea, he gestures surreptitiously at Neil and the box and basically 'okay pick which booze we should tempt her with' silent discussion ensues, even as he takes the box of all the madelines out and pushes them toward Rei's side of the table.

When she comes back, he's taking comfort in the ritual of tea and having a polite social construct barrier in his hands being very very warm. And he listens. And his face is sympathetic and then increasingly worried, and then--

--his face twists into a grimace, keeping the anxious horror as mashed down as he possibly can. "Oh no," he says very, very softly.
Nephrite 2018-12-31 01:04:28 102105
Neil grins at Mamoru's dignified snow removal as they move inside. Discarding his hoodie takes little time, but removing his hat, dusting off whatever snow in his hair Mamoru did not already catch, and smoothing the curls down into something less like a frizz monster takes longer.

At Mamoru's hint, he picks out the sour plum liqueur from the crate, along with the coveted madeleines. "This stuff is sweet like a dessert, so I bet it would be very agreeable with cookies. A few sips might be just what you need to warm up on a cold day like this."
Rei Hino 2018-12-31 01:14:30 102106
Rei lowers her head and nods subtly at Mamoru's exclamation, then provides a slightly blank stare to Nephrite for a long moment before murmuring, "I'll... I'll try it." She's still underage, but to hell with it, today sucks.
    Giving herself a moment, and ultimately sipping some of the liquor, the recoils a little bit from the unfamiliar - but not unpleasant - taste of it, and the slightly less pleasant followup taste of alcohol. "KEH, heh... haaa..." She sputters a little, and sniffs, setting it down... then picking up it up again and taking another sip with a less animated reaction this time.
    Having gathered herself a bit, Rei goes on, "... Tried to stop him. He attack Lacrima-san. He hurt her. I, uh..." She gestures vaguely, "I set him on fire, and he ran." She says this with a complete lack of satisfaction, which, given her utter disdain for St. George, is odd. She pauses again and just shakes her head. "It all happened so fast, but... somewhere in the middle of it all, he stabbed Lacrima-san's ally. A scientist I think. Lacrima-san tried to save her - to... transform her - but... it didn't work.
    "They both... Lacrima-san and Akira-san, they both took it... really hard. I managed to get Akira-san away. Lacrima-san... I think she was all right. She didn't fight or follow us, but she spoke to Akari-san. I don't... I don't know."
    Rei presses her lips together in a thin line and just shakes her head. "It shouldn't... bother me as much as it does. I've seen people die. *I've* died. She was an enemy! But I..." Rei sighs, "... I really wish I'd stopped him." Ergo the visible lack of sleep on Rei's face.
Mamoru Chiba 2018-12-31 01:23:44 102109
Mamoru does, in fact, look quite gratified when Rei says she set Ryo on fire and he ran away--

--and then his face freezes at the stab. He knows the kind of damage that thing can do, especially to someone that works with dark energy--

It's slowly that he lets out a breath, and he glances toward the bottle and considers having some himself, but he's too busy to pour it. Instead, he sets his tea down and leans across the table, opening his hand as an offer: she's felt his peace, his calm, before. And then the prince says quietly and firmly, "Of course it should bother you as much as it does. George killed a human being. It doesn't matter what side she was on -- and she wasn't an enemy, if she was helping Lacrima with this, anyway. This was Lacrima avoiding doing something awful, and getting your help with it. Don't feel bad about feeling bad. And-- I'm sorry I wasn't there."
Nephrite 2018-12-31 01:49:49 102111
It's only a small amount of umeshu that Neil pours out for her anyway, enough for what would be a shot if this were not something made to be enjoyed in small sips. At the story, and at Mamoru's glance, he retrieves a second glass for his prince and sets it next to him after pouring a similar amount.

He reaches for Rei's shoulder and rests his hand there for a moment, warm and hopefully reassuring. "Sorry. That's--that's a lot. It sounds like you did everything you could in what was already a bad situation. That St. George guy is all kinds of tough, from what I saw when he tried to crash our place. If you chased him away, you probably stopped him from doing the same to anyone else. If he'd gotten Lacrima, too..." he leaves that thought where it is. "You helped. I know that doesn't make it easier. But it's not nothing."
Rei Hino 2018-12-31 01:57:25 102112
Rei knows these things, in a practical sense. But it's hard to be objective when you show up to save lives, and people still died. Doesn't help when your whole life's purpose is to protect someone. Still, afer a moment of staring blankly at Mamoru hand, she does take it, gently; her hand still warm from the tea, a little smile on her face. She lowers her head a little, shoulders raising as Nephrite touches her as well - still feeling a little odd given their... history, but after all this time, and especially after their efforts against Takashi, Rei can't rightly call him anything less than an ally.
    She nods faintly and quietly answers, "I... know. I mean, I... *try* to know. You know?" She gives a humorless little chuckle "But... thank you, Mamoru-kun... Nephrite-san." She takes a deep breath and sighs. "... I hope you'll check on on Lacrima-san, if you can. I can only imagine how much worse she's feeling right now." Not that she and Lacrima are on amazing terms, but... well, a hard time is a hard time.
Mamoru Chiba 2018-12-31 02:07:42 102113
"I know," agrees Mamoru, still in that same low voice; his hand closes lightly around Rei's, and there's the sense of a wide windy meadow on a hill in the summer sun, quiet and alive and old, but young again every year that grass grows and flowers bloom and bees go about their busy work. It doesn't take away emotional pain, but it does give a steady ground beneath it, and it offers a brief time-out from stress and anguish-- should that offer be taken. A respite to catch one's breath and stabilize.

The honey glaze on the madeleines does the same thing, if on a much smaller scale-- it's only one reason they're popular. The other is, of course, Mako's mad skills.

"I can go with Kunzite if you want me to, but I think Kunzite should check on her by himself first. Sometimes I think she still expects me to judge her; she's trusted Kunzite far longer. But she'll get looked in on, for sure."

He does not sip his glass. He takes it like a shot for its medicinal value, with a grateful look at Nephrite.
Nephrite 2018-12-31 02:15:36 102114
Lacrima is not exactly happy with Neil either, but Mamoru and Kazuo think highly of her, and she's been an ally for a long time. It's the difference between an adversary and a family member you occasionally argue with.

Mamoru is the healer, here. Neil doesn't have much to provide in the way of comfort, other than being a solid presence. "In the meantime, though, you need to take care of yourself, too. I'm sure you like doing the stoic thing, but seriously, if there were ever a time to talk to the other senshi, it's probably now."
Rei Hino 2018-12-31 02:17:46 102116
Rei's eyes go a bit wide as that intense, unfamiliar, yet somehow nostalgic sensation envelops her, staring through Mamoru and the wall into some far off distance that she shouldn't be able to see. The comfort is... intoxicating in a way, though it's in Rei's nature to be somewhat suspicious of these things, to the point where there's an impulse to recoil away - from comfort, of all things - but she lingers in that odd state for a moment longer before she gently pulls away and grasps her teacup without lifting it, nodding slowly.
    Okay, so she can sorta see what Usagi sees in the big dork.
    "... Whatever you think is best." She agrees a bit breathlessly, with a sad little smile. "You know Lacrima-san better than I do."
    She nods to Nephrite, unable to suppress a slightly wry look upon hearing about 'her stoic thing', and closes her eyes with a little huff of a chuckle. "... I'll do my best, Nephrite-san." She opens her eyes narrowly to glance at the box they brought her and smiles a little, "The gods know I have enough comfort food to hold me over now."
Mamoru Chiba 2018-12-31 02:23:15 102117
It's always easiest to be a calm place of stillness for other people than to find his own. Mamoru smiles a little lopsidedly and takes his hand back once Rei withdraws; at least, it seems, she was willing to take enough to be able to stop shaking for now. Then Nephrite's talking about self-care, and Rei's talking about comfort food, and Mamoru immediately displaces his fretting to something harmless. "Shimatta! We should have brought you some LUSH stuff. Do you want me to plant the idea in Usako's head before she piles on over with everyone else?"
Nephrite 2018-12-31 02:29:06 102119
Neil snickers. Sometimes self-care is sweet liqueur and sometimes it is scented bath products. "Oh no, once Usagi gets going on the Lush products she never quits. I hope you're ready for a lot of glittery bath bombs."
Rei Hino 2018-12-31 02:30:34 102120
Rei slowly tilts to the side and slowly siiighs: "That would actually be grrreeeeaaaattt..." she straightens up and smiles a little "Just don't let Usagi bankrupt herself. Or you, for that matter."
Mamoru Chiba 2018-12-31 02:35:00 102121
"I won't let her buy the whole store," Mamoru says somewhat reassuringly, and then slides a glance over to Neil. "You are not going to convince her to get me anything with glitter in, I promise you that. She knows the rules. Glitter getting on me from any source but hugging a unicorn is only allowed once a year."

His tea is cooler now, so he picks it up and finishes it. "They'll probably be here in something like two hours. Well. Three. Because I'm giving her my card and a budget and probably at least Mako will be there with her."
Nephrite 2018-12-31 02:40:39 102122
Neil smirks, taking the warning as a challenge. "We'll see."

Technically, gold dust is not glitter.

He considers the suggested timeline. "Mako is very efficient when it comes to gift-giving, but who knows what will happen if the other girls are factored in."
Rei Hino 2018-12-31 02:42:53 102124
Rei lurches slightly, overwhelmed at the prospect of a full house, but seems in better spirits at least. "Ooof... you're really making this happen, huh?" She grins a little and says, "Well, at least the box won't go to waste. ... It actually might not last an hour."
    Despite her slightly complex feelings and the twist of anxiety at the prospect of entertaining, Rei feels... well... a lot better. She'd been pretty adamant about a life of spiritual solitude, but... as has been drilled into her head a thousand times over the last three years or so... having friends is... pretty good.
Mamoru Chiba 2018-12-31 02:46:38 102125
"Maybe I should have given Mako my card instead," grimaces Mamoru, and then group-texts Usagi and Mako both: 'after you shop where you're shopping, go to the LUSH store and buy a bunch of stuff for Rei and some stuff for the rest of you'

He unfolds and sits back on his heels for a minute, regarding Rei with a small smile. "I'm not planning a New Year's party at the ECFH this year, so you don't have to deal with even trying to make an appearance when you don't feel like it. But listen-- it's just your best friends, Rei-chan," he says, ending up gentle, "let them distract you and make you feel better. Let them stay over like you all used to do. It'll do all of you a world of good."
Nephrite 2018-12-31 02:51:12 102126
Neil goes back to nursing his own tea. "Also, if you need more alcohol, you've got a few older friends willing to provide. Just saying." Nephrite, ever the responsible big brother.

He shoots a glance at Mamoru, but keeps to his tea. Probably, someone else will be needing a hug later, when the focus isn't on supporting their friend.
Rei Hino 2018-12-31 02:54:17 102128
Rei grins slightly, despite herself and nods her head. "I'll try my best." She says, and tilts her head slightly. "... Thank you both."
Mamoru Chiba 2018-12-31 03:04:06 102130
Later, at the Senshi sleepover--

SAVE-TAN: "GAAAAACKTT!!!!!" Wobble "Gggg*JJJ*!!" tilt, "*bwuh*" straighten, "D'ah!"