Description: They have gathered here being of like mind and like ability to lend their aid to one another. There are threats in this world that those such as them are the best suited to deal with, and there lurk shadows within themselves that only their peers can protect them from. Thus have their respective teachers resolved to join forces and train in earnest, preparing to face whatever may loom on the horizon. With their hearts unified, their strength shall be redoubled, and with it their capacity to protect that which they hold dear. They are the Meat Bun Appreciation-- no. They are the Eyebrow Sign Language-- no. They are the Psycho Soldiers Dating--
The decor is not quite what Alma expected.
But Athena's master had insisted that the quality of the food here is unquestionable and, quote, 'the baiju will put hair on even /your/ chest," and, quote, 'that girl's legs are outta this world,' and, quote, 'beats that nasty old bastard across the way at any rate,' so Rose's student had obliged, arranging reservations for their lively crew. The golden-haired young man, inevitably dressed fashionably, has seated himself at the table in question, with a traditional rotating round center for easy sharing, ready to rise at the moment that his company arrives. There are a number of those invited that he has not yet met, and he has been looking forward to the opportunity.
Contemplatively eyeing one of the large boarded-up patches on the ceiling with a mild and pleasant smile, Alma reflects on what has led them to this point. For him, it began with the dreams, fragmentary 'memories' that he knows he has never experienced, the continuity of which he finds impossible to capture. It is as though as his psychic training -- and perhaps his artistic accomplishments -- progressed he has unlocked new facets of his subconscious hitherto hidden. But when encounters with people in the waking world began to elicit similar premonitions and flashbacks, Alma turned to his teacher, who in turn was concerned with rising cases of psychic disturbance. Through his recent exhibition match with Athena, Rose and Chin were able to use the opportunity to negotiate a sort of alliance, a loose group willing and able to confront those who would use psychic powers for evil and to investigate strange psychic phenomena.
Thus, though what spurred him to venture out of his long dormancy was and remains a personal mission, a broader purpose has emerged, one which Alma finds most gratifying. Whatever the quality of the food tonight, after his thrilling encounter at the Acropolis, he has no doubt the quality of the friends will be superb. He and Rose have not invited anyone else, but he has gotten the impression that Athena may have invited some of her other acquaintances to the meeting, either because she thinks they are suitable candidates or simply because she wanted them to know they have friends in the city who will aid them if they are in need.
As for whether it might be dangerous to hold such a gathering in a more or less public location and discuss matters metanatural--
Well, who would care?
Saya Tanizaki is far from the most qualified person to act as the hostess of the Sleeping Dragon. Her purple eyeshadow is a bit smudged, and the tone doesn't really match the midnight blue that she'd chosen to dye her hair. She's not unattractive; she fills out her red cheongsam nicely, as a matter of fact. But far from 'outta this world', her arms and legs are lined with numerous cuts and scratches, showing that working in a Chinese restaurant isn't exactly the Japanese girl's 'dream job,' not by a long shot.
But the proprietress -really- needed the help, and it pays well. "Irrasshaimase!" she chirps; cheerfulness is something the surly Gedo student had to practice long and hard at, but it's pretty much a requirement for helping introduce people to the restaurant.
She's... also doubling as a server this evening, as she does many evenings. After seating Alma at the table, the blue-haired hired help lingers for a moment, asking, "Can I start you off with something to drink?" All the while keeping an ear open for the jangle-jangle of the bells at the door, which are sure to be ringing at any moment.
Rose had swept in alongside with Alma, wearing her usual and rather stylish outfit as well as a pair of sunglasses, which are perhaps hiding the fact that not too long ago she went on an aggressive horse-riding and heavy-drinking spree with her osteopath.
Nonetheless she walks in, just a step or so behind Alma, one hand on her hip and her scarf actually worn around her neck. When Saya presents herself for greeting, Rose gives her a smile, lifting up to take off her sunglasses and tuck them into the collarline of her dress.
After she's seated, she leans back in her seat, takes a deep breath, and says, "Oh, that would be splendid..."
Being, perhaps, old-fashioned - or merely difficult - she turns her head to tell Alma, "Ask her about the house wines. I believe we would be well served to invest in a bottle."
Of course, Athena would not be the only one who would arrive.
And yet, the next company was not in her bright spirits. Sie Kensou, widely known as the 'other' Psycho Soldier, had missed out on the infamous duel between Athena and Alma amongst the close circle of psionics. In fact, he was missing out on many of the acts of friendship of the close-knit group. Before, it was just out of sheer busyness of the young man, with school and everything. But with the school tournament having been over for the young martial artist, well.
Athena had to struggle with her 'acquaintance' to come.
Sie Kensou arrives alone, without Athena, right behind the duo of Rose and Alma. He is dressed in his blue shorts and jean jacket, a fashion abomination if there ever was one. And yet, as he comes, a cloud seemed to hang over him. Maybe he was sour from his loss, or maybe it was something deeper. He barely even acknowledges Alma and Rose, short of a firm nod. The troubled emotions under the surface was very likely radiating to the pair of fellow psionics. "Water." He states coldly to the server.
"Just water for me."
Alma directs his pleasant smile toward the somewhat unkempt waitress who emerges to serve them, not betraying his attention to her appearance. Rather than being offended by what could be interpreted by another diner as carelessness, Alma reflects that the young woman's scuffed-up look is quite suited to the state of the establishment as a whole, and thus attains to an admirable aesthetic harmony.
As it does not occur to him how cruel this thought is, it is good that he doesn't mention it.
"Yes, Sensei," he murmurs, nodding to Rose after he has helped her to her seat. "Perhaps a Chinese specialty, to suit the occasion. Miss, do you have any recommendations?" The soft-spoken young man appears to have no complaints about being the middleman in this game of telephone. He maintains his smiling gaze upon Saya. Is she supposed to tell him or Rose the answer to this question? Also, isn't 'Chinese wine' actually a strong liquor?
Alma only breaks eye contact when a new presence enters, unfamiliar to him but somehow unmistakable given what he has learned of Athena's close circle. But the stormy emotions raging beneath his soon to be compatriot's countenance would be detectable even by a non-psychic. The painter's fey features soften yet further, if that were possible, and casting a faintly troubled look at Rose, he turns to the other young man, rising to greet him politely.
"Sie Kensou, is it? I'm glad to meet you at last. Alma, student of Rose. I hope this establishment suits your tastes." Perhaps the topic of food will liven Kensou up.
Alma tilts his head, half hopeful, half questioning.
"Is there ... something the matter?"
Saya is used to getting the stinkeye from people. She's also used to popping people in the nose for their perceived rudeness -- just not while she's on the clock.
One might think Saya wouldn't know much about wine -- which, of course, would make asking her for recommendations a particularly cruel thing to do. But, fortunately for this table, Saya's dealt with a lot of particularly cruel people in the past few weeks of her employment here. "Well... I've heard good things about the Riesling wines? They go quite nice with the, er... hotter dishes, so I'm told!" Being sixteen, you can't really go expecting the rough-and-tumble Gedo student to have any particular authority on the matter.
She calls out, "Irasshaimase!" as soon as Kensou arrives, and... well, frowns. For just a moment, anyway, before she remembers she's supposed to be playing nice. "Water, then, okay!" She probably -should- have brought out the water anyway, but with all the folks here, she's already finding herself getting behind.
Sliding extra menus onto the table for all present, she hurries off towards the kitchen. "I'll bring those right out to you!"
'All quiet on the western front.'
Or so it's been for Haru Sakuraba, since before the holidays. After the disastrous results of his fight in Kowloon, the yoyo-user has been taking life easy, focusing on his studies and training in private. What he saw and felt while he lay in the rubble has preyed on his mind, and keeping busy has been the best way to prevent those thoughts from consuming him. So: reading, training, even a little tutoring. Apparently his few public appearances made the Justice 2nd year who was until now mostly an unknown among the student body a figure of minor renown. Apparently, it makes cute girls want help with their English homework.
But now, after a trip home to the Ryukyu Islands for winter break, he's back in Southtown and feeling... if not good, then at least better. With his homework squared away, he decided to wander Southtown Village, happy just to get out of the dorm. He also somehow makes wearing two jackets look cool, somehow? He continues to wear his gold Justice uniform jacket tied around his waist, but a grey fleece with geometric-precise orange stripes on the shoulders looks quite classy on him, even if the shy student does give a very 'stepped right out of UNIQLO' profile in it. Deciding to treat himself, he starts heading for his favorite restaurant, an Italian place run by a Sicilian ex-pat who does incredible deep dish.
And then, strolling past Chinatown, he turns and looks at the inviting golden glow of the Sleeping Dragon.
For a moment, he just sort of... looks at it, tilting his head a little bit. Haru's not even a big fan of Chinese food. And he's never been here before. And honestly, Vincentio's pizza is waiting for him. And yet... and yet?
The doors of Jam's establishment open to admit him and, for a moment, Haru Sakuraba seems as confused as anyone else as to why he is in this place, the door slowly shutting behind him with the faded metallic jingling of a 'welcome' bell.
Alma is handling liquor. Good! That's important. Rose's attention turns however to the arriving Sie Kensou. She can - of course - practically feel the raincloud lurking over his head, like so many depression medication commercials.
And Alma's even broken the ice! Splendid. Rose smiles to Kensou, straightening up in her seat if not rising. "Sie Kensou," she says; "I've heard of you. Please, sit, and put yourself at ease."
Menus are handed out. She accepts one, flipping it open to give it a few moments of study even as Haru comes inside. Rose's eyes turn towards the doorway, then she murmurs to Alma quietly: "Coincidence, or someone you know?"
To Kensou she says, as she sets her menu down, "What would you recommend?"
Kensou keeps himself distracted.
His mind was elsewhere, as he scans the interior of the resteraunt dilligently. Places to eat Chinese food... should be something that relaxes the teenager. He loved food, especially his favorite food, the meatbun. This place should very well be nirvana for meatbuns, a perfect zen-like paradise for one to indulge in countless meatbuns.
And yet, Kensou's expression was still dour.
"Yeah, yeah, it is nice to meet you too." Kensou says rather roughly to Alma, as he introduces himself in like. A surprising cold shoulder from the boy, as he senses... he senses the concern from the painter. He tries to brighter his exterior, forcing a smile on his face. "It's alright, no, I'm fine. Just had a real tough day." Kensou states. It was mostly true. He did have a hard day.
Nothing hurt more than letting Justice High down.
Kensou lets Saya go on her way, as Haru arrives. With Alma's voice of concern still fresh, he tries to muster more of the outward friendliness. "Hello! Glad you could make it!" He forces out to him, as Rose... demands his attention. His advice. Kensou turns up his nose with all the mention of liquor. He had seen what liquor could do. He had seen Chin, a failure in many things related to justi- no. No. Chin was fine, and a respectful master for him. Why would he think otherwise. Distracting thoughts of Athena clutching on to him over the abyss pass over him, as he idly answers Rose as he takes his seat.
One of the last to show, it seems, Athena Asamiya whirls in through the door with a hasty step and soft exhale. Her expression is, as nearly always, a reflection of someone who is on the verge of enjoying something long anticipated, violet eyes surveying the interior of the roughed up establishment with an energy that seems endless. Intense academic expectations, relentless training, and time consuming participation in fighting events around the world - she never seems to wear down in spite it all and moves with the step of someone who expects their busy but enjoyable day to just keep getting better with each passing moment.
The thought of meeting up with Alma and Rose again, and this time in the company of her closest friends, is something that has been carrying her forward through the week since the moment she heard about the idea. And the moment she settles eyes on small growing gathering across the way, she lifts a hand to waive excitedly. "Hiya!"
Outside of school hours, the military-orange and black Justice High uniform has been eschewed in favor of a crisp white long sleeved blouse worn beneath a red vest with navy blue borders. A matching navy blue skirt at her waist and knee high white stockings worn over dark blue buckled shoes completes the ensemble.
Fast becoming one of the most well known students of Justice High in spite her efforts to keep things somewhat low key in her school life, the popular girl starts to take a step toward the table to join the others when she comes to an abrupt stop and turns to her side and take notice of the quiet young man found there. As if she didn't already look happy enough to be here, her expression lights up further as Athena reaches out her hand in offer to shake his own, "Haru... Sakuraba, right? I had been meaning to meet up with you again after you helped me out last month!"
His hand would be subjected to vigorous shaking by both of hers if he isn't quick in escaping it. "I was just meeting some friends here. You should join us." Even with the topic that was likely to come up among the uniquely gifted bunch? She seems to have no reservations in spite the secrecy with which she had kept her own talents at school. "Oh-! Unless, ah, haha, unless you have plans already," she realizes after a moment, not entirely sure why she was so insistent without finding out that important detail first. Even still, she seems especially emphatic, not letting go of his hand should she get hold, intending to drag him along with her to the table unless he protests sufficiently enough to get her to let him go.
Otherwise introductions would be offered, Haru introduced as someone who had helped her with a minor scuffle some weeks ago at Justice, before settling in to sit next to Kensou. A glance around the room would be offered after seating herself - Momoko, Chin, and Bao would have all been invited by the gregarious girl of course, but not everything goes the way one hopes.
Alma smiles placidly as Saya busies herself with preparations. Yes, it is indeed good that Alma is handling liquor. Surely, no one understands liquor better than Alma. This mission will be accomplished forthwith and with no question of success.
"That sounds nice," he replies politely to Saya's suggestion.
Yeah, he's not any better off than she is, here.
His teacher maintains her composure, of course, but Alma remains somewhat uneasy that Kensou has arrived in low spirits. It is thus that, despite sensitivities refined under Rose's tutelage, he does not notice Haru's entrance until he hears Rose murmur to him. "Ah-- no--" Focusing upon Haru, Alma's expression turns contemplative. "A new student of Chin's or friend of Athena's, perhaps?" he suggests. "Or--"
Not coincidence, but fate?
Yet before Alma can acknowledge or approach the young man, a chill runs up his spine. An instinct deeper even than psychic intuition, a primal force beyond comprehension, has alerted Alma to some abyssal horror. Slowly his gaze turns to Kensou, his fey features frozen.
The moment passes, leaving Alma slightly confused.
"May I ask ... who is Bao?"
Before he can pursue his query further, the star of the show -- inevitably -- arrives. Alma's smile redoubles as he rises from his seat, and then brightens further still as he sees that Athena has brought and/or dragged Haru to them. "Athena," he greets warmly. The memory of their impassioned match is still fresh, and for him it will likely never fade. "Hello, Haru," the soft-spoken painter adds, welcoming the new guest with a warmth that's almost maternal. "I am Alma Towazu, a painter--" His smile becomes something of a grin. "--and erstwhile sparring partner. Please, join us."
He glances about the table.
"Um, Master Chin ... could he be ... indisposed?"
Alma, trying /so/ hard to be courteous.
"Irasshaimase!" call out Saya (and the other staff) from across the restaurant, as the door bells jingle to announce Haru's arrival. She's in the midst of arguing with one of the servers at this point, though, pointing more than once at her palm as she attempts to explain that, no, she cannot be serving alcohol at her age! And... that's when Athena walks in. Saya turns her head to notice, her jaw hanging wide for a moment -- and if it weren't for the other servers calling out 'Irasshaimase', she would have missed her cue entirely. "Uh..."
Saya 'delegates' the menus into the hands of the full-time, above-twenty server, and dashes into the kitchen to make an urgent phone call.
Rose raises an eyebrow at Kensou's remark. Isn't that--
Yes, she thinks, looking slightly concerned when Alma says that Bao is a PERSON, and not a THING or a DISH. She raises a hand in greeting, calling out, "Athena, darling! Please, come here, and bring your friend as well. Good evening to you."
Haru is given a long, searching look... and Rose murmurs to Alma, something. Is it a speculation on Haru's nature, on the sense that the older psychic is getting from him?
No. It's 'Should we really make a meal of meat buns...?'
Athena works Haru's hand like an old-timey water pump, and he just sort of stares back dumbfoundedly at her for a second, with a very clear expression of distinct confusion, before he suddenly blurts, like someone trying to squeeze a quiz show answer in under the buzzer, "ASAMIYA."
The whole restaurant turns to look at him, and there's a very good chance someone is describing this very situation on Facebook via their phone RIGHT THIS SECOND.
Bringing his other hand up to his mouth and coughing (and not even remotely hiding the flush of color to his pale cheeks), Haru clears his throat and says "A...Aasamiya-san. I mean. Hi. Uh..." He looks around and, with the same magnetic pull that yanked him into this restaurant instead of sitting alone at a table of deep dish and eternal regret, he finds his gaze latching onto the table of Alma, Kensou, and Rose. A more disparate trio of people one would be hard pressed to find, although 2/3 on 'whoa, the HAIR' isn't bad. But rough as his sixth sense is, he can definitely feel something... well, different from them. And from Athena, though he already knew that. "I uh, I've been meaning to, um..." Haru starts, speaking to Athena but LOOKING at everyone else.
There is a pause, and then he takes his hand back and basically mimics a tai chi push with both hands, eyes closed, breathing slow and deliberate, before he gives Athena an embarassed smile. "If you don't mind, that sounds nice. Maybe if we sit at a table I'll stop making a scene in the doorway."
Athena had finally arrived.
Kensou should have been gushing, falling head over heels. He should have been blushing, standing up, and sputtering. And yet, Kensou just gives his friend a smile. He doesn't look her in the eyes, though. He just couldn't bring himself to look into Athena's eyes. Every time, he could see her, looking up at him. Holding on to him.
Before Kensou dropped her into the abyss.
"You don't know what bao is?" The teenager states incredilously, jaw slack as Alma admits to something so shameful, so shocking. He gives Athena a glance, looking away from her eyes as he turns, before turning his head back to Haru. Just looking across the table, he was absolutely stunned. How could anybody- And then it hits him. Oh, of course. He meant Bao. Not bao.
Kensou laughs for real this time.
"Hahaha. Oh, no no." Kensou chortles, putting a hand to the side of his cheek. "Alma, is it? You misunderstand. Bao is a good friend of mine, but I am talking about bao. Like, as in the meatbun. Dumplings filled with meat and vegetables. That can be eaten for any meal, as any meal." And then, Kensou gives Rose a look.
It doesn't take a psychic to know what the look was saying.
'We will have only meatbuns.'
With everyone gathered, Athena settles in, requesting tea to begin with as she slowly catches up with what is going on with the others at the table. There is no doubt she's pleased to have Haru join them - and seeing Alma in person once more only brings fresh memories of their bout the week before. Rose is regarded with the same open admiration she finds herself feeling whenever she reflects on her intense SNF against the woman. But it is toward Kensou that her attention turns after it's all said and done.
That he had been distant had not gone unnoticed. That it took some convincing for him to agree to even show up was even stranger - she had never found him hard to convince to do... anything she asked, really. There was a wedge between them that she had never felt before ever since meeting him as a twelve year old boy five years ago. Was this just him growing older as a young man? Was he coming to the realization, as he grew older, that it would make more sense for him to have more male friends?
She had not broached it with him, not even considered mentioning it. Maybe it was part of growing up as a young man. What did she know of such things? That changed after she caught the replays of his recent fights in the Inter-School Tourny. Something else was going on in the young man's life yet still she could not bring herself to ask him about it.
For now, she gives him a quiet look. He didn't even greet her beyond a quiet smile and avoiding shift in focus. She had never even imagined he would ever be so distant as he feels here and now. But the moment seems to pass as he becomes distracted with the question from Alma, and Athena's furtive worried glance ends, her smile never slipping from her mouth.
"Kensou is meatbun connoisseur," she states affirmatively. A glance is cast Alma's way, her hand lifting to lift to her cheek, rubbing it absently, "Hm... I would have though Master Gentsai would make it. He spoke fondly of our get together in Greece." She smiles faintly, lowering her hand to wave it in front of her as if brushing aside the topic, "I'm sure he's fine. He might have gotten caught up in something though. He would understand if we didn't wait."
She glances back and forth between Alma and Kensou as a new thought sparks in her mind, "It would be great if you two sparred sometime as well. It's incredibly instructional to face off against others with the same gifts we have." Even as she speaks, her eyes stray over Haru, as if including him in the collective 'we' just spoken of, before looking back toward Kensou to see what kind of reaction her idea gets from the oft times sullen youth as of late.
Even for a psychic, it is a strange moment. Alma furrows his brow faintly as Rose looks at him quizzically and Kensou appears incredulous. Somehow, he was certain that Bao is a person, a certainty accompanied by a tremulous terror that he could not explain. His puzzlement only deepens as his teacher quietly inquires to him about meanbuns. He glances from Rose to Kensou, who is now merrily explaining himself, apparently in higher spirits, and then abruptly giving them a meaningful look. Alma looks to Rose, his gaze darting back and forth before he adopts an expression that suggests genial compromise.
'Perhaps we could supplement with some soup dumplings?'
Wait, is this telepathy now or what?
"I see," Alma replies, "a friend of yours." He still sounds somewhat bemused, but he lets it go for now, his gaze shifting to Athena. He'd like to speak more to Haru, but elects to let their guest get his bearings first. Instead he listens to his fellow international celebrity speak, a title he himself is rather more deserving of after his close bout with her. Shenanigans aside, the event was both a personal and a PR success, which is a rare enough combination. His features have thus already brightened by the time that Athena suggests a different sort of match.
"I would be honored, of course," Alma replies, his mild manner buoyed by real enthusiasm as he turns to Kensou. "I hope a match with Kensou would kindle the same friendship that I feel I have already forged with you, Athena."
He smiles almost proudly at Kensou.
'Did someone say male friend!?'
No, no one did. What sort of communication is this??
Rose's eyes cut towards Kensou as he makes such an... assertive statement. As he expresses his dominance and his desire, his craving and his control, all in one clear and unambiguous look, aching with a thick, juicy hunger that cannot help but impress itself upon Rose.
A hunger... for meat buns.
Rose takes in a breath, and looks towards Athena. "I agree; it would be my pleasure, of course, to teach you all what it is that I can. I promise it will only sting a little bit." At this she smiles. Alma may realize she isn't quite joking.
Settling back in her seat, she lets her thoughts ripple out as well.
'Speaking like this takes some getting used to, doesn't it? I would be a bit careful. I do know that it may be... scolding; but there are /others/ who might hear.'
And so Rose says aloud -- or rather, she was about to, before she heard that radiant outburst from Alma, who gets a side-eyed look.
Haru is in hell. Well, that's not exactly true. He's sitting next to Athena, between her and Rose. Between a beautiful mature woman and a pop idol whose latest album he has been listening to non-stop for a week during cardio is not exactly an unpleasant place to be, after all. And Alma and Kensou seem nice. In fact, he is enjoying a surprising aura of... well, peace. Maybe 'contentment' is a better way to phrase it. Like he BELONGS here. Like the magnetic pull that brought him here wasn't him moving to a destination but returning to a place he didn't know he'd left.
Or maybe someone should stop describing his feelings like Tumblr poetry.
But a tiny part of him is in hell not because these people are uncomfortable but because he is really, really confused. And since practically everything being said right now is being delivered by First Class Eyebrow instead of language, it is inevitable that Haru clears his throat (again) and says, meekly, "Um... it's, uh... nice to meet you but _what is going on_"
It hurt Kensou.
It was like a glow, a wave, a pulse. As much as Kensou was ignoring Athena, avoiding her gaze... he could feel her reactions. Her confusion. Her... look. More than anything, he just wanted to tell her how he felt. How he imagined that darkness in him, that vivid image of cruelity that came from him. And yet, he couldn't confess. He wouldn't confess.
He would just pretend it away.
The easiest way, of course, to ignore his feelings was to replace them with meatbuns. As he stares down Rose in almost uncharacteristic assertiveness, he soon turns over to Alma. Twisting his eyebrows, Kensou is quick to clarify to the painter. 'The term, Alma, is tang baozi; unless of course you mean the Shanghai variation, xiao long bao, which is more of a broth than a soup.'
He gives an eyebrow twitch of emphasis.
Soon Kensou's attentions shift from Alma, the meatbun aegis guarding him from thoughts of Athena. Instead, they lock dead on Haru. 'What do you mean-' He begins, before he clears his throat. "Oh! Sorry! We were talking about meatbuns." He exclaims. "I can only assume you are a fan of meatbuns, of course." Kensou keeps his focus on Haru. It does not break.
"You -do- enjoy meatbuns, right?"
Whether Alma read Athena's intentions or hope with regards to her idea that he and Kensou spar, his response was exactly what she wanted to hear. After all, she and he had walked away from their match as newly made friends enjoying the bond formed in the heart of conflict and challenge, and the shared strength in their unified purpose. Maybe the same could happen between him and Kensou thus expanding the fellow pupil of Master Gentsai's circle of friends. And then of course she could ask Alma what he thinks about Kensou's moodiness, since they would all be friends and that's what friends can talk about, right? "I look forward to seeing it in action," she answers the painter with a sincere smile.
She sits quietly, pleased with how things are going, especially as Sie seems to cheer up... a little, now that meatbuns are on the menu for today's get together. Rose's invitation to also help expand their skills is received equally well by the girl. In just the single SNF they had against each other, she had opened the young psychic's mind to a world of additional possibilities concerning their gifts as well as the dangers that exist in the world that she had heretofore been unaware of. Learning even more from the talented woman is an offer she will not pass up on. Even if it sounds like it might hurt a little. "Thank you... I would love to learn more from you. It would be an honor."
Poor Haru is left in the dakr about what all is happening among the gathering of mostly like-minded individuals and Athena glances toward him with a touch of surprise, but she gets nothing out before Kensou helpfully elucidates their fellow Justice High student about what /really/ matters. Asamiya rubs her cheek in thought, realizing that Haru has none of the history they already share.
"Ah, right. Well... you see, over the last month or so, we all have come to know each other," she gestures toward Rose and Alma, then back toward Kensou, vaguely indicating the two sides of this unification of efforts. "And given our..." she hms softly, "Well, our special talents, and similiar interests in using what we can do to for the greater good..."
Violet eyes flick toward the gifted artist.
'Maybe you could explain this better?'
Alma's evocative expressions, designed to deliver the true depths of his feelings to Kensou, are momentarily interrupted by a look that's even more difficult to interpret as Rose cracks a friendly joke to Athena. Her student's face shifts toward neutral, with hints of solemnity, trepidation, and vague anticipation. His features are inscrutible but far from indifferent, and it is difficult to tell if his eyes are haunted or simply faraway.
Rose teaching Athena would be--
It is possible that Alma and Haru actually have similar expressions right now, though they might be seated such that they're not likely to notice.
Thus it is that Alma, for all his empathy, misses much of Kensou's inner anguish. No doubt his pain is real and pure and not at all trumped up in any way. But the vestige of it is enough to catch Alma's attention, and so he watches on with interest as Kensou's face explains the nature of soup dumplings in rich detail. At his new acquaintance's final facial flourish, Alma nods once, slowly.
"Kensou, pardon me, but are you well? Your face is twitching."
Was it all a dream!?!
"Ah, yes," Alma continues, still sounding half-distracted. "The meeting of the first Meat Bun Appreciation--" Wait, no. He must steel his will against these psychic manipulations. Truly, being among these powerful presences will take some getting used to. "That is," he says, smiling again and sounding refreshed, "we have gathered here being of like mind and like ability to lend our aid to one another." He smile turns somewhat subdued. "There are threats in this world that those such as us are the best suited to deal with, and there lurk shadows within ourselves that only our peers can protect us from. Thus have our respective teachers resolved to join forces and train in earnest, preparing to face whatever may loom on the horizon."
To speak of shadows is a bit loose to describe what it is Alma hopes to accomplish with this alliance. But he knows vaguely, even if she is always guarded about specifics, that Rose faces a powerful enemy herself, and that openly banding together like this is a big step for all of them.
"With our hearts unified, our strength shall be redoubled," he intones, "and with it our capacity to protect that which we hold dear."
Such is the nature of their power.
Athena and Alma lay things out carefully, succinctly, although there is a brief raising of Haru's silver-streaked eyebrow at the words 'Meat Bun Appreciation' before they're cut off. He glances briefly at everyone at the table, trying to make sense of what he's feeling right now. For maybe the first time in a long time, he's fighting the urge to actually reach out and physically touch someone, since in his case, his psychometry forges the strongest link through physical contact. There's even a twitch of his hand moving before he slowly pulls it back into his lap and clears his throat.
There's a moment where he smiles sheepishly at Alma the Orator, adding in a quiet voice, "You really... have a way with words." He sounds genuinely impressed, but it's also pretty clear that what Alma has to say is really overwhelming for him.
Which, in truth, he vocalizes, looking down at the table, stormcloud-grey eyes boring into the wood so he doesn't have to meet anyone's gaze (or try to talk merely through eyebrow movements). "I, uh... to be honest with you until I started doing..." After a pause, he raises his head and gestures expansively -- if erratically -- with his hands, "...all _this_... that I gave much thought to my, uh, abilities. I really don't even understand what they are or why I, um..."
He pauses, thinking of the beautiful woman he saw below Kowloon, ethereal and comforting and always, always out of reach.
"I don't know that I am, um, useful fighting th... threats or anything. But I can heal! Maybe that will be helpful. And... and I want to understand better. If... that's okay."
Rose is not unpleasant to sit next to at all, although her fancy fashionplate dress and touch of European perfume are probably putting Haru in a completely new realm of experience in so far as he has probably not sat next to people in this context before.
The context of meatbuns.
She turns to face Haru. "Oh -- you can heal, with a touch? I have never seen such a talent. At least, not one that..."
Rose reaches over to place a hand atop Haru's --
There is a shimmering flash through her eyes. Subtle really, though there's perhaps a clearer sort of passage of SOMETHING, echoing through her like a waterglass that's been struck. An image of something.
Rose's hand squeezes lightly, then draws away. "Not one that draws upon our abilities." Her voice grows a bit more conspiratorial. "I do have a few lingering aches. Perhaps we can come to an arrangement."
Log created on 21:34:17 01/23/2015 by Alma, and last modified on 04:23:33 01/24/2015.