2014-08-07 - Please Don't Tell Nephrite I'm Not Dead

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Title: Please Don't Tell Nephrite I'm Not Dead

Being dead is tiring work. Luckily, chocolate torte has regenerative properties. Problematically, nothing so simple can erase the angst of existentialism.


Mamoru Chiba, Zoisite


Mamoru's Apartment!

OOC - IC Date:

23 February 2014 - 8/7/2014

<Pose Tracker> Mamoru Chiba [Ohtori Academy (11)] has posed.

The penthouse is dark and the air smells stale, like no one's been in or out or opened the windows in a few days. Nevertheless, the scents of coffee and roses linger in the stillness, and so does Mamoru's aftershave, though that's vanishingly faint.

The enormous flatscreen television's dark and a bit dusty, where it hangs on the wall, and make-up work is strewn across the coffee table beyond the sofa.

It seems as though there's no one home--

--except, if one should look over the back of the couch, or at the reflection of its front in the glass walling off the balcony, there is a suspicious pile of blankets and a tablet on the floor.

<Pose Tracker> Zoisite [Infinity Institute (S)] has posed.

It's been a trying week for Zoisite.

First, his attempt to swap out covers at Infinity has taken more effort than he usually deems reasonable; second, he's lost track of a certain Mamoru Chiba, who /missed an exam/ and hasn't been to school since (leading to no shortage of gossip at the notoriously rumour-prone Ohtori); third, a youma of his came to him after hearing a report given to Queen Beryl by none other than Nephrite--

Now, this is not to say that Zoisite actually /believes/ his astrology-obsessed comrade has killed Mamoru, no more than he believes Nephrite killed Sailor Moon. There's simply been too much silence, too little grief emanating from the legion of so-called heroes that populates Tokyo like vermin infesting a corpse for any such death to be true. The Dark Kingdom would not care if one of its own fell, much less the overarching and tenuous alliance called Dark Fall, but these defenders of justice...

Nevertheless, it's a thread that demands investigation -- and where better to start than the source?

So, armed with a white cardstock box from Linden Baum, the contents of which were purchased solely via funds drawn from Zoisite's evil operations account and therefore emotionally tax-deductable, Zoi-as-Zoë phases into existence at Mamoru's apartment door well after sunset. The /balcony/ door, that is.

To his credit, he does knock.

<Pose Tracker> Mamoru Chiba [Ohtori Academy (11)] has posed.

Not too many people knock on the balcony door. In fact, Mamoru can, offhand, think of three, and two of them are cats.

Therefore, there's enough curiosity present there to make the seventeen-year-old shove the blankets fitfully off his face and squint into the darkness. Long-haired person with a box, backlit by the moon and the city lights?

To Nephrite's credit, Mamoru does actually look half-dead when he finally -- after exhausted shifting around and de-tangling himself from the blankets -- stumbles to his feet and almost steps on the tablet. It gets toed under the coffee table so that tragedy can be averted, at least.

It's taking Mamo an achingly long time to move, with small, unsteady steps, to go get the door.

When he sees who it is, he's got this strange mixture of pleasure and resigned despair on his face, but he opens the door anyway. "Zoi, hi. Please don't tell Nephrite I'm not dead."

<Pose Tracker> Zoisite [Infinity Institute (S)] has posed.

He didn't see it himself, but he was assured the Black Crystal's account of the battle between Nephrite and Tuxedo Mask was bloody indeed. Not that he's ever known Nephrite to pull his punches, of course.

Even in light of all of the above, it's still a shock to see the way Mamoru laboriously emerges from his cocoon and totters toward the door like an octogenarian instead of a boy in the full bloom of his youth. Zoisite's vivid eyes widen, drawing curtains aside to show a brief flicker of some softer emotion--

And then the crippled youth addresses the Shitennou with a familiarity reserved exclusively for one other, and the flicker extinguishes.

"I wouldn't dream of it," he replies, frost riming the edges of his voice, as he steps through the open door. The little box finds a home on Mamoru's kitchen table, though it's quickly obscured by Zoisite's willowy body; he's turned, arms folded over his chest, to narrowly gaze across to his host.

After a long moment, and with a sigh, Zoisite remarks, "He's awfully pleased with himself, you know. Crowing to our queen how he'd killed you and Sailor Moon, he could hardly contain himself." He snorts softly, eyes pressing closed in derisive amusement above a thin-lipped smirk. "You realise, of course, that you can't keep this up forever. You have..." an elegant hand gestures vaguely in the air, "life things to deal with, and ~evil~ unto which ~justice~ must be meted out, n'est-ce pas?

"And, quite frankly, you owe me the face Nephrite will make when he discovers his error. I didn't /steal/ this, you know."

That same hand slides the Linden Baum box a few inches closer to Mamoru.

<Pose Tracker> Mamoru Chiba [Ohtori Academy (11)] has posed.

The guy's a little slower than usual: he doesn't catch what caused the frost. On the other hand, it's Zoisite. He holds on to that concern, brief as it was before the redhead's ice collapsed the quantum wave of emotion, and for a half-second, he's almost alive again.

And then, as Mamoru shuts the balcony door behind Zoisite and trails after him, the words 'and Sailor Moon' come out of the General's mouth. The boy stiffens slightly, almost a flinch. Thankfully, the conversation contiues, and Mamoru shrugs one shoulder, leaning heavily on the doorframe and continues to look like death warmed over. He watches the box and Zoisite in equal measure, nothing but 'tired' writ upon his features.

"I was only planning on staying out of school because I'm expecting you to throw me under the bus and tell them who I am, and if Nephrite saw Chiba Mamoru going to classes, the joke'd be over. I was going to have classmates who owe me bring me my homework on the sly. It is Ohtori. I'm sure the rumors are amazing already."

He moves himself unsteadily toward the table, then folds himself into a chair and unhesitatingly pulls the box closer still. He starts to open it. "Why -would- you steal it?" Mamoru asks reasonably, looking up at Zoisite with curiosity and confusion. "I don't think that's your style." His hands are paused on the box top for a moment; he watches the redhead's face. "I did drown after nearly getting crushed a couple times and hitting my head on tile. I'm not going back to school for a little while anyway. But school's all I can worry about. I haven't been able to henshin."

And that's when, if there's a bomb instead of pastries in the box, Mamoru would die in a hail of incendiary shrapnel at a high velocity. Because he opens it while looking in, completely without hesitation.

<Pose Tracker> Zoisite [Infinity Institute (S)] has posed.

Mamoru's honesty earns him a brief titter. "You underestimate me, Chiba-san. Betraying my hand in the slavish hope of a pat on the head..." Zoisite tsks, his lush lips pursing around each remonstrating cluck. "But that /is/ how my less capable comrades behave. You will note Nephrite didn't take the precaution of making sure you were, in fact, indisputably deceased before carrying his tale home."

He leans against the table, half seating himself on the edge, and leaves his palm pressed into the surface to buttress him as he turns to keep an eye on the now-seated Mamoru. The box, for its part, does not explode; rather, it very simply contains a slice of chocolate torte, the one with the house-made raspberry preserves layered beneath the ganache icing and topped with a garnish of crushed pistachios surrounding a chocolate concertina and a single fresh raspberry.

"True, the rumour mill is working overtime. But I have a decided knack for lifting the threads of truth from the skein of adolescent fiction," the disguised Dark General acknowledges. "And it's /not/ my style, but- well, you people are apt to assume the worst." Never mind that such assumptions are very often true...

After that, however, Zoisite falls silent. Unable to henshin? It could just be a temporary side effect of Mamoru's low vitality -- that is, his body shutting down his magic the way other systems shut down during a traumatic experience -- but...could it have come from something Nephrite did?

And if it's permanent, what does that mean for the war?

<Pose Tracker> Mamoru Chiba [Ohtori Academy (11)] has posed.

Chiba-san. There we go. Belatedly, if Mamoru were capable of that level of expression, he'd look chagrined: as it stands, he only looks mildly rueful in the middle of the tired. But then he's looking in the box, and there is, in fact, delight.


Chocolate torte with raspberry preserves. Ganache! He's abruptly torn between the effort it'd take to get up and get a fork and just eating it with his hands. He'll waver like that for a little while. "Thank you, Zoë-chan," he says, a flicker of an impudent smile tugging at one corner of his mouth as he glances up.

Then while Zoisite's watching him and he's watching the torte, Mamoru leans against the table and props his heavy head in his hand. Finally, the boy looks up again, and his dark blue eyes haven't the fire in them that they usually do, but he's at least home in there. "You know very well I'd like to think the best of you. But even if I didn't, mugging someone for their cake is thoroughly beneath you."

There's silence again while Zoisite says nothing, and Mamoru says nothing, watching gears turn and questions linger unasked in the air.

Finally Mamoru asks one. "Were you always a subject of the Dark Kingdom?"

<Pose Tracker> Zoisite [Infinity Institute (S)] has posed.

'Zoë-chan,' at least, passes with little more than a brief roll of those poison-green eyes.

As for the rest...well, it is somewhat heartwarming (to the extent that Zoisite is capable of being moved) to know Mamoru feels that way, even if it's also another mound of evidence in favour of the boy's complete and utter stupidity. In Zoi's world, things like 'trust' and 'compassion' will get you killed; failing to cultivate such feelings isn't a detriment, it's a necessity.

Even his relationship with Kunzite is as much self-serving strategy as it is anything truly heartfelt.

'Were you always a subject of the Dark Kingdom?'

"Yes," Zoisite replies, quickly and colourlessly. Truth is, he does not remember a time when he did not live in the cramped, cold warrens that honeycomb the North Pole and extradimensional space simultaneously. Time moves strangely there, meandering as though it had nowhere important to be and snaking past the caves' denizens without touching them.

Zoisite has been seventeen for several thousand years.

Yet-- was he not also born, brought into the world with blood and water the way all humans are?

He does not try to explain the way his memories are haloed at their very edges with gold, not unlike the aureole of sunlight that flares out around the moon during a solar eclipse. Will staring too long into an eclipse not burn your eyes blind?

Better to snuff out that light, and anything it's touched.

The table creaks as Zoisite levers himself away from it. "I will keep your secret," for now, "as long as you concentrate on recovering. Nothing would please me more than to see Nephrite's vainglory shattered like glass." Expensive heels click; he's making his way back to the balcony door.

<Pose Tracker> Mamoru Chiba [Ohtori Academy (11)] has posed.

It probably wouldn't be any consolation to Zoisite that Luna also thinks Mamoru is a romantic fool. After all: space cats, bane of Dark Kingdoms everywhere.

For his part, Mamoru deflates slightly, watching Zoi go. "It'll be great," he agrees, not lifting his voice past conversational volume in the stillness of the penthouse.

He hears the door open. "Goodnight," he says quietly, face in his hands.

Tomorrow, even if he's not ready to move, he has to get out of here. Maybe tonight.

But, torte first.