There was a woman talking to Wu and Garmadon. Normally Krux wouldn’t care, and the people she was choosing to converse with should have fully killed off any of his interest in the exchange, but the Hand of Time couldn’t figure her out. She was clearly not an elemental master, she was always in civilian clothes so she could not have been one of the volunteer soldiers, and she never stuck around the encampment for long. He couldn’t imagine Wu or Garmadon allowing a civilian woman into a war camp (they had made their stances on civilian involvement very clear to the Time Twin), so she was a puzzle.
He watched the woman as she said something with the leaders of the Alliance, drifting closer in the hopes that listening in on their conversation would offer some answers to her presence here.
“--o far the excavation has been a mixed bag,” she explained to the two, Garmadon nodding along and Wu looking concerned, “Lots of interesting artifacts, but nothing particularly helpful to use against the serpentine.” She shrugged, stating aloofly, “Though, I guess we shouldn’t have expected to find anything from a buried pirate ship.”
“History can always be helpful,” butted in Krux, stepping towards the group, “People should show more appreciation for the lessons the past can teach us.”
Every gaze shot to the time elemental as he spoke up -- Wu and Garmadon looking at him with mild shock (Krux almost never spoke to anyone except his brother in any circumstance that wasn’t a meeting). Krux quickly darted his gaze away as he felt all eyes on him, fully expecting some contradictory retort from either of the Spinjitzu brothers. Instead, he was surprised when the woman spoke instead, replying with a gentle laugh, “Yes, I suppose that’s true, isn't it? Knowledge is power even if it doesn’t appear that way at the time,” she stared at him intently, moving her head to catch and keep his roving eyes, “Hello, I don’t believe we’ve met? I’m Misako.”
Krux, more so than even usual, had no idea what to say next-- pinned in place by those cleverly sparkling gray eyes. Even as he looked away, her gaze followed him, keeping his attention drawn towards her. His tongue moved uselessly in his mouth, managing only an exhale.
“This is Krux,” Wu hesitantly supplied, giving the time twin’s odd behavior a bit of a sideways look, “One of the Masters of Time.”
“ ‘One of’?” repeated the woman thoughtfully, her pinning gaze moving off Krux to Wu, and making him momentarily feel he could function again. “I didn’t know there could be more than one of an Element,” she mused, looking like she was making a mental note of the new information.
The Time Twin found his voice again (it was always easier to talk about things he cared about rather than himself), replying proudly, “That is because Time is special. Thanks to its unique properties it is shared between myself and my twin brother.” He inclined his head in the general direction of his twin, elaborating, “He controls the future, and I the past.”
She smiled at that and his heart seemed to freeze in his chest as she did. “How interesting,” she responded, her voice holding an undercurrent of curiosity and her sharp eyes seeming to scientifically pick Krux apart.
The Master of the Past internally panicked as his face suddenly felt very warm and his thoughts lost cohesion under her piercing look and gently curved smile. He managed something that looked like a wavering smile, though it was more than he ever smiled normally, anyway.
After what had felt like an oddly timeless moment (a feeling not unusual to the elemental, though he had never felt this way without the use of his or Acronix’s powers), she looked away to Wu and Garmadon, whose presences Krux had completely forgotten. For once, Krux did not lose interest as the conversation got away from him, instead following her movements with his eyes and hanging intently on her words. “Well, that’s pretty much it in terms of a status update,” she told the brothers, “They’re going to be needing me back at the dig.”
“Of course, Misako,” replied Garmadon, sounding more subdued than Krux was used to from the commanding leader.
“We appreciate all your effort,” added Wu sincerely.
She nodded politely and turned to leave, saying to the Time Twin in passing, “It was nice meeting you, Krux.”
He nodded curtly, the use of words escaping him once again as she walked by him, carrying the scent of cherries with her.
Silence fell over the men left behind as she exited the camp -- each too busy watching her departing figure.
Krux thoughts stayed on her -- on Misako -- after that. He just found her intriguing, he told himself. A clever and reliable source of valuable intelligence. Really, it was a relief to finally have a non-idiot to interact with in this camp. Not that he necessarily interacted with her. He mostly watched from across the open courtyard of the war camp whenever she came by for one of her semi-regular reports on her archeological findings; listening in intently and nodding approvingly of her historical tidbits and anecdotes.
He told himself that he didn’t go talk to her because she was always around Wu and Garmadon, and they would just get in the way of the true intellectuals trying to talk. It definitely wasn’t that anytime he thought about talking to her he got tongue-tied and his face felt so warm that he sometimes worried if he was sick.
Instead he would just listen as she described pirate relics and artifacts from the Stone Warriors, retelling moments of history and folklore with a deftness and vocabulary that showed off her depth of knowledge and her brightness. He had always had an appreciation for history -- able to talk about the subject for hours at a time on the rare occasion he was given the chance-- and it only sounded better coming from her voice. She knew her stuff, and Krux was admittedly impressed, which was no small feat.
On her third visit to the camp since he had met her, he was hearing her describe a possibly ancient set of armor, the rest of the camp’s activity fading away, when he was broken from his practical trance by an obnoxiously pointed (and loud) cough from his brother. He looked up sharply, scowling when he noticed his younger twin’s expression, “What?” he snapped, not liking the way his brother was looking very privately amused. That was the face he usually made at others when he was thinking of mocking them. It didn’t bode well to see it directed at himself.
“You know, brother, you might try to say ‘hello’ to her,” he teasingly suggested, grinning widely and going to lean on his twin’s shoulder.
“I don’t know what you’re talking about,” Krux retorted, shaking his brother off and turning to look at the treeline in the distance instead.
He kept his gaze fixed on the forest, resisting a flinch when Acronix loudly remarked, “Oh, look, she’s leaving Wu and Garmadon. She’s right by herself, in a perfect position for someone to walk up and talk to her.”
Krux crossed his arms tightly, face burning even as he stubbornly kept his eyes locked on the forest.
He felt more than saw his brother raise a skeptical disappointed brow, and internally cursed their twin-sense that let him know exactly how much his brother knew he wanted to do that very thing. But he couldn't quite dare to.
Without warning, Acronix swiftly approached Misako, waving cheerily to her as he did. “No, brother, don’t, what are you--” protested Krux, cutting himself off swiftly when Misako turned to face his twin and thus, Krux.
“Hello!” greeted his meddling younger twin boisterously, “I am Acronix, Master of Time.”
“Misako,” she replied simply, raising a brow at the Future Time Twin’s sudden introduction. Eyes squinting thoughtfully she added, “I believe I’ve met your brother once before.”
“Oh, have you?” asked Acronix in mock surprise, and Krux was strongly considering using his time powers to get out of this situation. Of course, because of their connection he couldn’t use reversal on his twin (unfortunately). Maybe he could freeze Misako and shove Acronix away, but he very suddenly didn’t want to use his powers against her. (Plus, if he knew his twin he would surely not be dissuaded by that.)
“Hey Krux!” shouted Acronix, fully shattering Krux’s plans of escape. “Look who it is!”
Misako’s storm gray eyes drifted over to the past twin still lingered a ways away, and his heart skipped a beat. “Hello again, Krux,” she greeted cordially, giving him a polite smile (that made the second time she had smiled at him, no one ever smiled to see Krux , but she had smiled twice ).
Knowing there was no way to keep hiding (not that he was hiding in the first place!) he walked towards her, a shaky smile forming on his own face as he struggled to reply. “Hello,” he finally managed with an encouraging shove from his younger twin. His voice left him immediately after, and he could only stand there twisting his hands nervously while feeling her gaze on him. Acronix gave him a disappointed look, then asked pointedly, “So, Misako. I noticed you were talking about history. My brother,” he patted Krux’s back making the older twin stumble slightly and narrowly pout at him (which he ignored), “knows all about that nerdy stuff.”
The archeologist and the elemental both frowned at his phrasing. “I’ve been searching historical sites across Ninjago to keep a lookout for anything that could offer an advantage against the serpentine,” she told the younger twin sharply, her hands moving to her hips, “There’s a lot to be learned from discovering the past.”
“Exactly!” exclaimed Krux, nodding fervently at her argument, admiring her sass against his often-intimidating twin, “No one ever seems to appreciate just how important history truly is!” Conversation came easier to Krux after that. He was more than eager to tell Misako about all of his own historical research, and she seemed to listen with interest. For the first time he could think of he was actually disappointed when the FSM’s sons called a meeting to begin, and their conversation had to be cut short.
“Nice talking with you,” the archeologist said mildly in parting, and the time twin felt only the vaguest flickering of jealousy when she went to stand between Wu and Garmadon. He shrugged it off quickly, reassured by how easily they had connected and how eager their talk had been to think Misako would give two weak unambitious simpletons like Garmadon or Wu a passing glance. She had to be there to inform them about her discoveries, but clearly she cared for Krux. The fact that she had listened to him the whole time was proof enough of that. (No one else bothered to hear him out, after all.)
Misako left after the meeting -- back on the hunt for knowledge -- but Krux’s mind was stuck on her. Her intelligence, her graceful and powerful disposition, her expansive knowledge on all things Ninjago history; he talked about her non-stop. Even to the point where his own twin, who normally could entertain Krux when he got fixated on one particular topic, started to get tired of hearing about it. Krux didn’t notice. He instead looked forward to the next time she would be back from her latest archeological expedition, formulating a detailed plan of what he could say to her when she did. Next time. Next time Misako was here he would tell her everything he wanted to say and they could be together !
“Krux, you have not come out of the tent in days , brother. I am going to drag you out if you do not at least attempt to leave soon,” Acronix threatened his brother worriedly as he paced back and forth in front of his twin’s cot inside of the Time Twin’s set-aside tent. Krux was curled up on top of his hard bed under thin, ratty, camping sheets, turned towards the wall and had been for several days. Ever since --
“How could a brilliant woman like Misako choose someone like Garmadon ?” mumbled the Past Twin in despair and disgust.
The younger frowned uncomfortably, pausing in his pacing to rock on his heels at the head of his brother’s cot. He wasn’t sure what he could do to comfort his twin. He hadn’t personally ever been that crazy about Misako (of course, he also wasn’t a socially awkward geek like his brother), and knowing she was at all interested in someone as uptight as Garmadon had him thinking ‘good riddance’. But he hated seeing his twin hurt so bad over someone clearly not worth him. But he wasn’t sure if saying that would help cheer Krux up much, so he offered instead with a forced grin, “If it makes you feel any better, I think Wu is taking all of this far worse. You should see him moping around, looking to her like an abandoned puppy. And he lost to his own brother! That has to sting!” jested the younger twin, hoping that the put-down of their collective least favorite person could cheer his brother up even a little.
His brother offered a light huffing laugh, but did not otherwise change. Rolling his eyes, the younger twin settled for physically rolling the older out of his protective cocoon. “Come now, brother. Don’t you think a Hand of Time is above hiding away in bed because of some foolish woman?” He further dragged Krux to his feet, the older twin showing little resistance to his brother’s strength.
The Past Twin considered his brother’s argument, his depressed eyes growing an inner fire as he realized that Acronix was right. He had to at least take this with more dignity than Wu . Clearly Misako was not as amazing as he had fooled himself into thinking. He was almost certainly better off without her. (And her strength and her wit and her attention to his interests). He shook his head, clearing his thoughts of Misako with some effort.
Acronix saw his shifting mood, and gladly guided his brother out of the tent. “I will find you something to do and then we will think of Misako no longer!” he declared, shoving Krux out into the light of the day.
Krux agreed. No more senseless crushes. There were more important things in the world, anyway.