Convincing


Sailor Jupiter wants to know what happened to Masato Sanjouin. Also, to hit Kunzite, preferably a lot. One out of two isn't bad.

Date: 2016-01-23
Pose Count: 20
Kazuo Takeba 2016-01-23 01:28:37 24023
Kunihiro Saito is no longer teaching at Infinity. That does not, in this instance, mean that he is not there. His official excuse is that he had paperwork to settle. His actual reason may possibly have involved smoothing over a couple of the jagged edges of the transition between his influencing Mamoru Chiba's instructors into recording final test scores and term-end grades for a student who quite literally vanished off the face of the Earth before finals, and Venus' concocted excuses for the same boy's absence for the new term.

(Kunzite can't just keep brainwashing the teachers, after all. First of all, it's not as if he's the only one with power there; eventually someone would be irritated enough to take official notice. And more importantly, the odds of his being able to keep that up for the entire course of the term are ... low. One plans for these things, if one plans at all.)

He was intending to be in and out, but he's encountered a small problem. Namely, the group of five students that headed for him on sight. He's managed to shake two of them - they're trailing off away with noted-down references and addresses - but the other three are a little more disconsolate; after all, they've lost their club's staff supervisor, and neither he nor Chiba seem to be around.

"There's still the strategy-games group," Saito points out to them. "Work with them. See if you can take part of their territory; even an occasional game with other players will teach you more than only contesting against each other. And you have my address. If you're still interested after - let's say midsummer - we'll work something out."

That lets him escape them, if primarily because it points them in a specific immediate direction and reinforces it with future prospects. And he heads in the general direction of out with particular purpose. Hopefully for the last time. Maybe it'll even convince Venus to stop irritating him with forged love letters from Infinity students before he reaches the point where he can drop the identity altogether.
Makoto Kino 2016-01-23 02:21:09 24044
No other students come chasing after him, and for a little while it seems as though Kunzite has made good his exit--

"Saito-san." The voice may not be particularly familiar, but the clipped tone fairly vibrates in the air with tension and damn near audible scare quotes around the name. A short distance outside of the Infinity University Building that houses the high school and the faculty offices, leaning against the trunk of one of the trees that line the walkway and partly screen her from casual notice, Sailor Jupiter stands with her arms folded across her chest.

Waiting.

For him.

(Kunzite doesn't have to know quite how much serendipity was involved in allowing Makoto to catch him today when she could just as easily have waited until tomorrow and missed the chance. Sometimes the direct approach works out.)
Kazuo Takeba 2016-01-23 02:30:18 24048
It's the tone that wins the reaction, far more than the name. He halts, an appropriately dead stop; turns his head not toward her voice but away from it in a sweep of white hair, scanning the area around them for an instant before letting his eyebrows lift and reorienting on her.

"Interesting," he comments. "I was expecting Mars." A half-second's pause, and absolutely no change of expression: still no hint of emotion showing beyond boredom, not in his face. His eyes give it the lie. A clear and steady and wary focus, only ever removed from her for those deliberate moments when he's checking for others with her. Not even they echo the touch of malice that's allowed to trail into his voice. "They did a good job of putting you back together, didn't they. Impressive, without their usual healer."
Makoto Kino 2016-01-23 02:55:20 24058
"Oh really." The already tight set of Jupiter's mouth grows tighter at his words and that trace of malice in them, becoming a frown. Her entire stance is one of wariness and tightly-leashed threat; her eyes are narrowed, sharp as green glass, and they stay on him with unwavering directness. "Feeling proud of yourself, Kunzite?"
Kazuo Takeba 2016-01-23 03:09:20 24065
"Why shouldn't I be? My Queen's smiling, even if no-one else is." There's a trace of a curve at one corner of his mouth, but that, like his tone, does not touch his eyes. They're not eyes that belong in a nominally modern face. Still, always, the color of a sword. "She has her Prince; all's right with her world. Save for a few temporary annoyances. Did you come out tonight just to settle one more of her problems, or do you have an actual reason I shouldn't be killing you right now?"
Makoto Kino 2016-01-23 03:16:18 24069
"Are you really okay with that?" Jupiter fires back immediately. Her hands drop to her sides, half-curled into fists, as she rocks forward from the support of the tree at her back. She doesn't actually advance any further than that shift of her weight, though, just lifts her chin to glare at him. "Turning te Prince into someone else's puppet?"

He's not given much opportunity to answer that question; only a beat, and then Sailor Jupiter shakes her head. She came here for a reason, and it wasn't to pick a fight. Necessarily.

"Where's Masato Sanjouin-san?" The question is thrown out, a sharp jab of words.
Kazuo Takeba 2016-01-23 03:29:27 24079
Returned fire doesn't find the mark she might have hoped for. "Obviously," 'Saito' answers in that beat, and that curve at the corner of his mouth turns into a slash of a smile as he lifts his hands. Palm-up, not an attack. Not yet. "I gave him to her. Just as she asked of me."

-- and then Jupiter comes in from a different angle, and just for a moment, he's thrown. Masato Sanjouin's name doesn't affect the mask, but does fade the smile, and there's a giveaway moment of actual startlement in the eyes. "What?"
Makoto Kino 2016-01-23 03:58:58 24095
That flash of surprise, brief though it is, answers the first of Sailor Jupiter's questions for her. "Masato Sanjouin," she repeats, biting out the syllables of the name. "Nobody's seen him in five months. I want to know where he is."

She lets that hang in the air for a moment, eyes locked on Kunzite and alight with the energy of her determination. "Don't try to tell me you don't know what I'm talking about."
Kazuo Takeba 2016-01-23 04:20:45 24111
"Five months," Kunzite repeats, and his lip's drawn back, and this time it isn't even pretending to be a smile. "Before I came to the city. You have a remarkable faith in my abilities, Jupiter. Clairvoyance, perhaps? Or is it divination you expect of me?" He makes a casually dismissive gesture, a slash of one hand down and to one side. "I'll assure you, I'm not holding him hostage. Not at the moment. Or is that not the insinuation you were trying to make? It's hard to keep track, these days."
Makoto Kino 2016-01-23 04:55:31 24133
That has Jupiter surging a step forward, half-raising a fist before she reins herself in and the violence subsides back into an implication in her taut stance and the dry crackle of a charge in the air around her.

"He was mixed up with you guys somehow, even before then," she says, in a voice that sounds like she's talking through her teeth. "You might not have done anything yourself, but that doesn't mean you don't know anything about what your Kingdom gets up to."

A pause. The edge in her voice grows a little sharper; it would sound almost like scorn, if she weren't so clearly angry. "Or don't you Dark Kingdom guys talk to each other?"
Kazuo Takeba 2016-01-23 05:27:53 24151
Another brief gesture, a quick, impatient circular thing that might equate to a roll of the eyes. If he were willing to take his attention off of her for long enough to do such a thing. Strands of his hair are drifting on static-charged air. No matter how much contempt he shows in other ways - he is not looking away from her.

"Whether I know anything or not is one thing," he says. "Whether you give me any reason to tell you anything is another." He half-turns away, as if about to try to end the conversation --

-- except that he still hasn't taken his narrowed eyes off of Jupiter.
Makoto Kino 2016-01-23 05:47:49 24162
If she stopped to think about it for even a fraction of a second, Makoto would realize that she's probably making a mistake. She knew from the start that coming here to confront Kunzite like this was a risk that might not pay off; she should take what she's already gained from it and walk away, admit defeat at least for now.

But it's already too late for that.

Her movement is telegraphed only by the promise of violence that's shivered in the air around her from the moment he walked into her line of sight. One moment she's standing still, arm still half-raised at her side; in the next instant she lunges, fist snapping out in an uppercut toward his face with the explosive suddenness of a lightning strike.
Kazuo Takeba 2016-01-23 06:00:47 24170
Maybe the magics that keep him from being palpably other in the middle of a swarm of humans slow him to human speeds. Maybe there's another reason, or more than one. But his lifting hands are slower than she is -- if he meant to deflect the blow, it fails. His head snaps back, hard.

His shields come up in a flood of darkness and shadow.

She is inside them.

It is cold, there, cold enough that the first breath she draws in will be a shock to her lungs even in winter. The ambient static is draining out of the air. That same dark hunger, the pull on heat and electricity and light, begins to focus on her -- begins. Just enough, in this instant, for her to know what's starting to happen; not enough for it to do her any harm.

And there is one other form of energy they do not consume entirely. The hissed words that reach her ears, that travel not even an inch further. Tight -- his turn to speak through his teeth, now, and it distorts some of the sounds. But comprehensible, even with the impact.

"He's going to be fine."
Makoto Kino 2016-01-23 06:58:41 24195
Understanding is a rush of ice water through her veins, cold in an entirely different way than the cold of the darkness inside Kunzite's shields. It sweeps away the blaze of wrath that drove her to attack, almost as though the anger had never been.

It takes a few moments for what she hears to find its way through the shock and the perilous feeling of what this darkness could do to her, is almost doing. The words don't make sense at first.

Then they do, and Sailor Jupiter's breath hitches inward, eyes widening in the darkness as she gets it - what he's telling her, and what he's done in order to tell her.

It's more than she can process all at once. "Kunzite, you--?" She breathes it out, a question left unfinished as Makoto realizes that it's one he probably can't answer.
Kazuo Takeba 2016-01-23 07:18:44 24199
-- echoes of the gestures he made. Not synchronized in time, never completed. But a circle. A cut across it. What she drew in lightning, that made him look away --

"Endymion found him last night." The words still reach her, nothing else; it lends them a certain deadened quality. His weight shifts, steadying from the shock of her blow, implying attack to come. "Still Beryl's." Hands come up, fast, to lock onto her throat. They tighten just enough to look convincing, not enough to cut off blood or air. "Fix that."
Makoto Kino 2016-01-23 08:10:16 24211
Jupiter's head jerks downward in a short, abortive motion, the smallest of nods. "--We will." How, she doesn't know yet, but she knows she has to try.

She lifts both hands, not quite so fast, to close on his wrists and grip firmly while her expression falters into something pained. She wants to say more, but she's no actress and she's already pushing it. "Sorry." It's barely more than a vibration of sound in her throat.

Then she lets go of his wrists, and the fingers of one hand find his thumb to twist back and peel away from her throat. The other drops, snaps forward in a sharp shot to the diaphragm that's mostly pulled, more show than substance. That much, at least, she knows she can make look convincing.
Kazuo Takeba 2016-01-24 00:55:17 24321
"Don't be." And then there's no more conversation, because that mostly-pulled sharp shot lands -- and the breathless, unvoiced snarl of pain is either brilliantly feigned or far more real than it should have been. The hand she tore away from her throat is torn away from her in turn; he makes a sharp, cutting motion upward this time --

And the darkness around her fills with Kunzite's caged, discolored lightning.

Like the hungry dark, its effect on her is limited, muted. Enough to tell her what it should be. But that muted effect still hurts, all too literally, like hell: pain flickering across exposed skin is one thing, but the crawling horror that accompanies it is another. It's nothing like her storms; it's the sense of something torn from stolen pieces of souls. Even a little of it is more than anyone wants.
Makoto Kino 2016-01-24 02:08:04 24347
Makoto has maybe half a second to consider what comes next. Then that terrible energy fills the air around here and there is no more room for thinking. It takes the breath out of her, a strangled gasp of shock and horror; she can't even cry out.

As she draws reflexively in on herself, her own power surges out from within, threads of electricity crackling out in all directions and bleeding into the devouring darkness. Uncontrolled, her own lightning burns her skin, but it's an honest and familiar pain, cleaner than the wrongness that is the lightning Kunzite wields.

Wind follows it, a hurricane burst that spirals outward, tumbling with multicolored petals and rough green leaves, battering and pushing in a wild half-conscious effort to break away from Kunzite and his power and the darkness inside his shield.
Kazuo Takeba 2016-01-24 02:18:42 24353
-- there. Every excuse he needed, and everything he had half a hope of gaining. Not everything he'd have liked, but nothing ever works out that way.

Jupiter's lightning dissipates mostly into his dark. He steals some of it to help heal more of the damage that he took in Nephrite's rescue, the half-broken places inside him that helped make his reaction real ... but the greater part is trapped away in the place he hid Venus' attacks. Separated from his own energies. Kept where it can stay bright and burning and clean, and help remind him that these things exist.

And then there is the part of her lightning that grounds itself through his gloved hand on her throat, and he snatches it back with a sound that's lost in that hurricane wind.

The distraction of the pain and the wild slashing of leaves are more than enough to explain the breaking of his shield, his body being thrown away from hers. Somewhere in the darkness, Saito's civilian clothes were replaced by the Dark Kingdom's uniform, and he wraps the cape around himself to fend off the petals till the wind subsides and he can straighten again -- still on one knee, protecting his numbed and likely burned hand. For a moment, he only glares back at her. Then laughs, short and harsh, and reaches to call for his shadows again. Not to attack her, this time. To take himself elsewhere.
Makoto Kino 2016-01-24 02:44:07 24357
Daylight returns as the shield disappears, releasing her back into the gentler chill of the normal winter afternoon. Sailor Jupiter falls back half a step as her wind subsides, disintegrating petals scudding over the ground. A hand reaches back for the reassuring support of the tree behind her; it keeps her from dropping into a crouch herself.

A little wild-eyed, she meets Kunzite's glare and holds it, no sound leaving her except for the short, soft chuff of her agitated breathing. Just like that, she watches him, tensed and waiting for his next move--

--but almost as soon as it comes, he's gone, and she's alone again.

He's left her with a lot to think about.