Description: More than a world separates these two. Under a blanket of snow, they are drawn together. Something has been lost that was never possessed. But she and he are young, and their time has only just begun. As the future is written, the past may emerge. At last, winter is thawing.
That's Southtown Village in a nutshell. A long time ago, this was a working class area; hence its proximity to Taiyo and position between the docks and downtown's financial district. Certainly the phenomenon of the 'row house' is on loan from the formerly working class districts of cities in the US like Boston or San Francisco: adorable, identical houses stacked in neat rows lining the streets. But now the working class have headed out to the suburbs, by and large. Slowly but surely, the row houses emptied, then filled up with all sorts of things: college students, expatriates, and finally the rich looking to leave the gilded towers of downtown.
The row houses were carved up, turned into marvelous apartments, restored and prettied up so that an antique metal register seems quaint set against a hardwood floor under track lighting, instead of a relic of a bygone era that's going to make your heating bill feel astronomical in February.
Some of the lots were cleared entirely. They made way for lots of things, but among the most common were quaint little shopping districts. Residents with more spending money and free time than they knew what to do with meant that boutiques could survive without the steady influx of daily customers you'd get elsewhere in the city. Shops then beget cafes and restaurants, places to go between stores, places to meet and talk and share stories and simply to BE, together. And so, we get the Southtown Village of today: an upscale place to live, filled with tiny, quirky shops and bustling, adorable cafes.
As the winter evening sets on, the sky becomes filled with the hazy orange glow of light pollution, a gentle snowfall making glittering, erratic patterns that flow through the sky as snowflakes drift inside that glow toward the ground. In this particular place, the snow falls on a woman, standing on the egde of the broad sidewalk, just before the old-timey cobblestone streets (a must, according to the Better Business Bureau; a travesty, according to the Department of Public Works) start and the walking space ends.
Her appearance is unusual, viewed in aggregate. Her clothing is normal enough: a hunter green woolen pillbox hat sits atop her auburn hair, a dull gold cameo with an emerald center pinned to the front of it. A plaid woolen wrap surrounds her neck and shoulders, obscuring the grey fleece jacket with glossy buttons she's wearing under it, which becomes visible at mid-torso. Plain but comfortable-looking jeans, and brown leather gloves to go with her low-heeled brown leather boots.
But she's carrying a dark brown wooden saya with a pale orange sageo wrapped around it... the sort of samurai-era trapping that says this is 1.) a real katana and 2.) the holder knows how to use it.
The building she's staring at is a renovation; rather, it was a lot that used to be home to six row houses that were connected, and have been summarily demolished. In their place is a rising, three-story-tall confection of burnished steel, paneled wood, and huge open windows. A sign on the front reads:
[TARGET SOUTHTOWN VILLAGE -- OPENING FEBRUARY 2015]
Inside, future employees scurry to set up displays and prepare for next Monday's grand opening. Outside, Aya Hazuki stares at them with a blank, glassy-eyed expression, saying nothing as the snow falls.
The snow is too light for Alma's shoes to make a sound, just heavy enough to shroud the city in a cool embrace. Like the glass case of a snowglobe, the neighborhood is endowed with an air of intimacy and nostalgia that somehow both reinforces and belies its bourgeois trappings. In one sense, there is a kitsch that is almost surreal; of course there is a dusting of snow, urging to into one of these urbane cafes or not-too-overpriced restaurants. Yet in another, there is latent the suggestion that outside the glass that encases this scene is a world beyond imagining, something wholly other that exists in excess and reveals itself here only as a subtle but pervasive dislocation.
Alma breathes this in with the chill air, and exhales his quiet ruminations as steam. His hands are comfortably lodged in the pockets of a warm dark grey coat, long enough to deflect the snowflakes from his otherwise absorbent slim jeans. His life has accelerated to an unprecedently rapid pace with his debut on the fighting scene and the associated formation of the Psycho Soldiers, to say nothing of his encounter with the vampire and the mysterious Knight Templar. He was grateful when his teacher urged him on an ocean cruise with her, apparently to spectate upon a tournament taking place on an island in the Pacific. But with his thoughts still a jumble, he felt it best, as is his wont, to wander the city without evident aim.
This time, he did not even bring his portable easel.
There, as he rounds the corner, stands a woman alone on the sidewalk, staring blankly at a building under construction, and there Alma stops. It is the vaguest of premonitions, the slightest whisper, but Alma is patient with his intuitions. He cannot get a close look at her face, but her posture somehow exudes to him a peculiar emotional state. The way she is staring at the rising edifice, a department store like any other these days, is -- when one bothers to look at her -- rather strange.
Alma doesn't seem to notice how strange he looks staring at her, of course, but this is business as usual.
At last, slowly, he approaches within range of conversation, his voice soft as though not to disturb the snows or shatter the dreamlike atmosphere that has crystallized like a thin layer of ice.
"Does something trouble you?"
It is of course Alma's nature to interject himself with a mild manner into moments such as these. But in the confusion of his own situation, perhaps listening to someone else's concerns, should they share them, would aid in settling his own heart.
If the world is a snowglobe, then someone has spent the last hour or so -- to Aya's perception -- shaking it vigorously to set this up. Or, probably more accurately, it's a centerpiece sort of affair, and beyond the movement, there has been the grinding of clockwork, the turning of a tension key in preparation for the display. At first, as Alma approaches her, she barely seems to notice, and the glassy look in her eyes doesn't change. But the word 'Miss?' is like a drop of water in the pond of her thoughts; small, but the ripples it cause spread quickly.
As the green-eyed woman turns toward the tall blond, the tension breaks. It's as if the snowglobe were a music box and, finally, in a swirl of snow, the song starts playing.
She has become used to them, by now: these moments of bizarre familiarity, of remembering things that not only have not but COULD NOT have happened in her adult life. They do not bother her in the way that they once did, though they are still somewhat jarring when they happen. More and more, they don't take the form of visions; it's more synaethetic in nature. Feelings, sensory things: the taste of a cup of sake, the play of light on an autumn leaf. Typically, these are pleasant. Alma's intrusion into her reverie, however, is accompnied by... rather more stark feelings. Heat; and not the warmth of sunlight, but stifling heat, like being in a warm room. The feeling you get waving goodbye to your high school classmates for the final time in your senior year. Yet they are not... unpleasant.
If sensory things could be said to have weight, then they are... weighty. Important.
It's gone in a flash.
"Hmm. A good question. No, I'm not sure I'm troubled. Confused, maybe, but not troubled." She pauses, giving Alma a once over, taking in the tall man's bearing with a curiously wry smile. "I must have been making quite a face to have prompted that from a stranger on the street, though. Unless that's the 2015 version of 'come here often'?"
Her voice, a rich alto, and the quirk of her lip suggests that she is teasing him, in a way that... has a haunting familiarity indeed.
Alma inhales and pauses, no steam emerging to frame the woman's face.
Her striking eyes are vertiginous to look upon. He is drawn in, but slowly, a force so gentle as to be unnoticeable lending, like the pull of gravity, a gradual but inexorable acceleration to the focusing of his gaze. He speaks before he realizes he has become breathless in a tone that mingles agreeable placidity with earnest innocence.
"/Do/ you come here often?"
An unusual choice, to be sure, but Alma is no stranger to enigmatic priorities. But his interest in the answer is after the fact, his connection lagging. He is already being dragged somewhere far away. Though he physically does not move, in his mind he falls forward, f o r w a
"But the land remembers. Nothing was wasted, Alma. The memory of 'us'--"
All we can do now is prepare.
He speaks softly, then blinks at his own words, refocusing on the woman before him. He seems confused now, though the expression shows up only mildly on his fey features, manifesting as a sort of fascination in her. How strange. This experience has grown almost familiar now, though it has occurred but a few times. Yet never before--
"Pardon me, but ..."
--has he had a flashback of a person he does not see before him.
"Have we met before?"
Again, what sounds like an honest question. Each time he's felt this, he's held himself in reserve. Perhaps it is the setting. Perhaps it is that she does not at all resemble the man who spoke to him from afar a moment ago. Perhaps it is her eyes.
"I feel as though we have," he says, "as though we are connected."
The woman's face is inscrutable. If Alma's memories are bringing things back to him, though, the eyes are indeed the differing point; a 'yamato nadeshiko' through and through, Aya's singular physical difference is the green of her eyes, which do indeed seem to contrast with the laconic expression she wears. Their gaze is unwavering, but not unfriendly... and as he asks her that question, Alma can watch Aya's expression change from amusedly distracted to curious in a heartbeat.
"You're not the first to ask me that question," she says quietly, turning to look at the Target-to-be, as if meeting Alma's gaze is perhaps too much for at the moment... or maybe she simply likes to look cool and distant. Either is believable. "I expect you won't be the last. I can tell you that: no, we haven't." She seems quite certain when she says it, leaving no real space for doubt. There is a pride in this woman; or, maybe more accurately, a confidence.
But it's a confidence like a closed door with light seeping out from under it.
She turns to Alma, head tilted to the side. "I was going to follow that with, 'Perhaps you saw me on that Saturday Night Fights' nonsense on television, but you don't strike me as a sports bar-and-pro-fighting type. And the truth is, I know we haven't met, but..."
For a moment, she stops, and just lets the sound of her voice die away, before she turns back to the store. "Have you ever been here before? This spot, I mean. And if you have... should this BE here?"
With a shake of the head, the woman continues to stare at the building as if she could somehow will it out of existence with the force of her mind alone. "I am willing to ponder the idea that we've met because I am looking at this building and some part of me knows: it shouldn't be here. This is _wrong_."
The aura of a person is insistent, the atmosphere of a place diffuse. Alma's psychic sensitivities are well-honed, but even a powerful trace can be obscured by countless factors. History falls like snow and sediments like the soil. Even where actions have been repeated countless times, it is a challenge to see the specter of the repetition at play.
And he cannot hear the land speak what it remembers.
He follows her gaze after a moment, watching with interest as her expression changes from playful to indifferent to distracted, and turns to the building obligingly. His eyes take on none of that cast that hers does. Alma appears somewhat bemused more than anything.
"I cannot remember being here before."
He answers truthfully and-- almost easily.
"I must have walked this street from time to time, and it has never had any particular significance to me."
Almost, but the faintest hesitation is there, a sprouting seed.
"I have never felt a wrongness to this place."
Alma looks back at Aya. Somehow, he feels the need to confirm that he does not recognize the contours of her face. No-- if he had met her before, he would have asked to paint her, and seek to capture a traditional beauty all too rare in this age. Such thoughts hardly emerge now. There is a more urgent matter here, but it is all too ambiguous. Diffuse, like the traces of a life left by the soul.
"And yet ... now that I look ... I ..."
It is not snowing. It is raining.
"I feel ..."
The red-haired man looks--
"... so sad."
It is Alma who looks troubled now.
"... Do you think ... we've lost something? Do you think ..."
The memory of 'us'--
"It's still out there?"
She was raised as a pragmatist.
It shows in Aya's expression, her demeanor. She is confident not out of arrogance, but out of necessity; although it isn't part of the conversation, the sword she carries at her side is real. It has been her companion since youth. And you do not become a swordsman as a romantic, not _really_. Sure, there are those who indulge in poetics, in the 'art and beauty', but deep down, to master a sword is to know that you hold the power of life and death in your hand, and that sentimentality is your enemy. This is not the same as forgetting mercy or justice or compassion; it is knowing that because you hold that power, you must be decisive.
But what she carries inside her, spiritually, is doubt. Or more accurately, the power that comes from accepting how little you know, and becoming open to the growth that knowledge can create.
She is still adjusting. It's going to take time.
"Losing something you never knew you had?" she asks, turning to Alma with a quizzical expression. "I suppose in a way, that's the saddest possible outcome, if you think about it. Losing something you knew means that a part of it is still inside you, there to be created anew if you wish. Or cherished if you don't. But losing something you never knew you had... all you can feel about that is regret. You don't even know what the shape of it is to get it back."
After she says all this, however, there's a moment of satisfyingly genuine surprise on the contours of her face, as if she simply said those words and doesn't know where they came from. After a moment, confusion becomes amusement, tinged with embarassment; it's as if she has realized she is talking to a perfect stranger and just poured out her heart to him without thinking about it.
As if that were a perfectly normal thing to do, given the man who's standing right here.
'As she was allowed to die and be reborn, so shall this world.'
Remembering herself, the woman extends a gloved hand; a curiously Western gesture, but one fitting her (usually) composed demeanor. "Let's start at the top. My name is Aya Hazuki," she offers, shaking Alma's hand if he takes it. "From Kyoto. I decided to buy a second home here in Southtown and came to find something suitable. And, well... here I am."
As he listens, the grief lessens.
Alma is able to meet her eyes without dizziness, now, but her manner of speech arrests him. There is something tremendously familiar about her reflective tone that sets his heart at ease. Tranquility sets over him for a fleeting moment. Soon, however, this sentiment seems to set him on a new precipice. /Why/ is this tone so familiar? Once again he is verging on some impossible insight. His lips part, his eyebrows lift. At the moment she falls silent, they are both staring at each other with equivalent expressions of surprise.
As she adopts a charming and mildly self-chiding expression of amusement, Alma's features settle, a smile spreading. He doesn't seem to see any reason to be embarrassed, as usual. He cannot divine the nature of this mystery right now; what he is on the verge on remains incredibly far away. But this is a pleasant absence.
For it means, he thinks as he takes her hand, that he will have every reason to get to know her better, and revel in this feeling for some time to come.
"I am Alma Towazu, a painter. I live nearby."
The tremendous fondness swelling his heart spills over, flooding his breast with a lingering heat that spreads through his limbs.
"Nice to meet you."
His gazes lingers a moment more before turning upward to the sky.
"You are traveling, then. My teacher and I will be traveling soon as well. We are boarding a ship to an island in the Pacific where a tournament is being held. I am glad to go, but I had thought to myself that it would be regrettable to miss the opportunity to paint the city in the snow."
That smile returns, faint but sweet.
"But those regrets have faded now."
He looks back to her.
"Whatever I miss," he says, "I feel as though I may find it again."
'Of course he's an artist.'
Like a breaching, playful dolphin, the thought surfaces in a moment of aerodynamic beauty, and then collapses back into the sea, its trailing, symmetric tail a fleeting goodbye before that too sinks into the inscrutable blue-black depths.
"Is that right?" she asks, conversationally, as much to keep herself from vocalizing that thought aloud as any other reason. "I'm a calligrapher, myself, though not... to capture anything like beauty, I guess," she finishes, tempo of her speech slowing, a sure sign that some thought rose up behind the easy patter of conversation to intrude on her thoughts. "It keeps my hand steady and my eye sharp, but at the end, if it's nice to look at, I can hang it on my wall. There are worse pursuits."
Turning back to look at the store, it's obvious that it is more or less magnetic to her gaze, yanking her back to it on the regular with intense gravity. But at least, even if it commands her attention, she doesn't ignore Alma in the process. "I am not sure that I'm traveling. If I may presume on short acquaintance, Towazu-san... I live alone in a big, ancient manor I inherited from parents now gone. For a while, that suited me. But lately I've found..."
What have you found, Aya? That you wanted more from life than the sterility of your existence of training and afternoon tea? Certainly, that was what motivated you to suddenly spring into the world of professional fighting, is it not? For a moment, the sword -- which has to now been in the proverbial background -- suddenly takes the stage like Chekhov's Gun, introduced at the top of the act and now inexorably relevant in the climax of the scene. "I wanted a change," she says at last, glancing at the weapon which used to be enough to fill her days. And now mysteriously, it is not.
"But that must be the nice thing about youth," she says with a faint smile, some of the humor -- sardonic though it may feel -- returns to her tone and bearing. "You've got time to look for a thing you lost that you didn't know you had."
A brief pause. "Are you a fighter, Towazu-san? You mentioned a tournament. I suppose that could be any sort of competition, but 'Pacific Island' says 'beach volleyball' to me, and you don't seem like the giggling, pulchritudinous bikini-wearing type."
Alma tilts his head slightly as Aya once again seems distracted, and not simply by the building. This woman appears to hold a great deal in reserve even as she remains sincere, expressing her honest emotions if not her true thoughts. In this sense, she and Alma are in fact quite similar, if not in their motives.
But at those, Alma can only guess.
He does not press on the topic of her calligraphy, though he is curious, as she seems to speed through it. His gaze is no longer drawn to the building, having settled on her, but he appears unperturbed as she speaks without looking at him, content to quietly observe what her features reveal. Only once she looks down at the sword does Alma glance down as well, as though he too had forgotten it or simply never noticed it. Trust him to notice someone's facial expression and not think a moment about their weapon from beginning to end.
"It is a time of change, I think," Alma says at last. "Perhaps you have come to the right place, Aya." He intends that to mean more broadly than this street, but immediately after reflects that it may simply mean-- here.
His expression does not flicker in the slightest at her question.
"I don't know about giggling," he murmurs, "but I have been told I wear a bikini well." That match with Rainbow Mika was very successful, though few people knew who he was then. It never occurred to him that maybe that was for the best. Either way, his reply is utterly straight-faced. "Yes, I am a psychic under the tutelage of Rose the fortune-teller. I recently fought Athena Asamiya." He is smiling before he realizes it. "An extraordinary young woman. I've been told she'll be in attendance on the island. I'm hoping to develop our friendship there."
The memories pass but the smile remains--
"Why don't you join us, Aya? When we all return to Southtown, we could collaborate to help you find a place you like."
--softening just a little.
"If you don't know what you've lost, you never know where you'll find it."
A... psychic? The expression Aya gives Alma at that revelation is unabashedly curious, perhaps even a little incredulous. It is a face that is somewhere between 'I guess I believe you?' and 'Is that even a thing?'. Of course you're a psychic training under a fortuneteller, says one delicately raised, dark brown eyebrow. Why wouldn't you be.
But after a second or two, the hard edge of her curiosity is softened by an almost rueful smile. She is... not embarassed? But perhaps chiding herself inside for letting her reaction run away with her. "A year ago, if you'd come to me and said that sentence just now, I'd have laughed in your face. Now?" She turns back to the building again, and now her gaze becomes wary, penetrating, searching; she is looking for something, eyes narrowing. Wondering where it is or even WHAT it is.
"Now I have dreams about places and people I've never seen. I meet people on the street," she says, turning just for a moment to give Alma a sly grin, "and feel like I've seen them before. I look at a building on a street I've never been to and feel like I... I want to tear it down with my bare hands and build something in its place. Never mind the... rest," she says, cautiously, and it's clear now that despite how freely she's talked there are some things she can't articulate.
After a pause, she breathes out. "And all of this, I pour out to a stranger on the street. So why should you being a psychic who studies under a fortuneteller be any less plausible, Alma Towazu?"
Alma isn't quite clear what about what he's said is amusing, but then, there is no doubt that the heart of the woman before him is deep, and his mind's eye can only peer so far. He is not fain to interrupt her musings, aware that she, like him, feels to be on the verge of some great realization yet still too far away. Amidst the snow, it is impossible to know how to approach this hazy vision that looms in the distance, or even to know if one is getting closer as time passes.
Even being with her, there is no guarantee he will learn what all this means.
But he blinks as she turns that sidelong grin at him, and he is startled by the unfamiliar sensation of his heart skipping a beat. For better or worse, his cheeks are already faintly flushed by the chill, so his subdued surprise may go unnoticed. Realizing he must be attentive to her words, he shunts this sensation aside and refocuses. Whatever it is she continues to keep to herself, now is not the time to ask.
Now is the time to ensure, as best he possibly can, that the opportunity will arise for him to ask later.
"I find it plausible," he offers diplomatically, "but then, that is my life."
He pauses for a moment more, considering.
"If you tore down that building, Aya," he asks after a lingering silence, "what would you build in its stead?"
The question necessitates Aya turning to the building a second time. She studies it good and hard, this time, not even pretending that it's a way to distract herself from looking at Alma square on, to keep the whispering at the back of her mind at bay. Instead she thinks about what she's looking at, REALLY looking at it. What does she see?
A big box retailer. Unfeeling steel, given false warmth through exposed wood and glass. Something with no real heart. A place that promises something for everyone, but only on its own terms; a place for consumption, not creation. Fine in moderation. But...
Her gaze swivels around her to the neighborhood, and suddenly it becomes more clear to her. She sees tiny, silly stores. A resale shop with a clever name and a cat meme poster in their storefront. A restaurant specializing in, of all things, peanut butter with a big ochre-tan sign reading "#PEANUTBLISS" on the front. Students from Taiyo, Gorin, Justice, Seijyun: walking, talking. Being together.
And then? This, she thinks to herself, looking at the object of her ire.
"Safety," she says, finally, in answer, the word leaving her mouth without her even thinking about it. "Home."
There is only silence, afterwards, and finally the confidence and composure Aya exudes crack a bit. Her hand -- her free hand, the one not holding onto the hilt of an antique but well-cared for and entirely functional katana -- suddenly twitches in the faintest movement, her fingrers curling and uncurling.
She decides not to tell Alma that she, at the moment the word 'home' entered her head, had a desire to take his hand.
After a long pause, she clears her throat. "That's the sort of nonsense that comes out of one's mouth when they philosophize at deja vu-inducing strangers on the street," Aya Hazuki says at last, giving Alma a rueful smile. "What can you do."
It may be a moment before it becomes clear that Alma has responded seriously to the ostensibly rhetorical question with which she finished. He has been looking at her all this time, and his gaze does not waver as she turns her smile upon him. If anything, the set of his features has grown more solemn. He may not have noticed the twitch of her hand, but he observed something in her eyes or beyond them.
"You said you were looking to buy a home," he continues, "but you did not say it was for you alone. Could you be wishing to build something greater than what you have left behind? Is this 'home' you seek something more than a house, something different altogether?"
Snowflakes settle in his hair, resting there, stopping where he stands.
"I believed myself safe for a very long time," he continues in a softer tone. "Only now does it feel as though I have merely had the luxury of turning my gaze from danger. The home I have had is precious to me, but it has been small. Like a child who believes himself invisible when his eyes are shut, I was allowed to live peacefully with simple goals. But I think I would like to find--"
He smiles again, a ghost of one, tugging at his lips.
"--the safety of one whose eyes are open, who makes a home with others."
A smile that reaches from very far away.
'Something like what we have, here? It endures. We'll find a way.'
"You're... very free with someone you've only just met, Towazu-san," Aya says, raising an eyebrow at his admission that the 'safety' he's felt in his life wasn't quite what it first seemed. In her own way, she feels the same. When the dreams started, so too did the insistent voice of... something. She is no psychic, not by any colloquial definition and certainly not in the same way that Alma would describe himself. But she was haunted by the melody of a song she didn't know. Eventually, she learned the words. And while she is a far cry from mastery, it has surprised her how easy it was to sing along.
As if the 'words' were things half-remembered until she bothered to try.
"Tilting her head to the side somewhat, the Japanese woman lowers her eyes; if she wore glasses, she would most certainly be examining Alma over their rims. "But then, so have I, apparently. Maybe you just have a trustworthy face? I'm forced to wonder what your art must be like."
She thinks, for a moment, to a calligraphy lesson with her mother. 'Do you know why we do this, Aya-chan?' she had said. When the child had given the dutiful answer about the relationship between the precision of swordsmanship and calligraphy, the woman had laughed and responded, 'Yes, somewhat. But it's also to remind ourselves that the hand that can destroy can also create.'
Glancing briefly at Alma's hands, Aya is forced to wonder: tools of destruction? Or creation?
"I like to imagine you are fond of bright colors. Bold shapes; a hint of something geometric, but at the edges they become indistinct so that you're not sure if the square you saw was really a square anymore. An amateur's guess only. If you've a gallery showing, I'd be interested to see it."
There's a pause, before she turns back to the Target-to-be, and then says: "Perhaps I will. But not... here. If I'm going to build something, it's going to be on my terms. Not a vague memory's."
Alma blinks at Aya's raised eyebrow. Has he spoken inappropriately? It does not seem he has, as her subsequent reflections attest. Yet only once she mentions it does it occur to him that she is right, that both he and she have been speaking more openly than usual. Alma is careful with his words because he is conscious that he sees what others do not, and he is determined to express himself in a manner that can be understood, just as his art, though it is a raw offering that is produced for its own sake, is also meant to touch the hearts of others. He has casually revealed aspects of his life that he typically assumes are difficult for acquaintances to fathom.
Her appearance remains unfamiliar and the feelings her presence inspires within him are complex, but he cannot help but act as though he has known her for a very long time.
"Some of my work is currently on display in Metro City," he says quietly. He means the MMoMA, of course, an almost too modest reference to one of the most prestigious museums of contemporary art in the world. Towazu is hot right now. "I would be happy to hear your impressions." While showing no signs of reluctance per se, he does not elaborate verbally on the nature of his paintings, about which Aya is mostly spot-on. Well, maybe his silence makes sense.
He does write his own gallery statements, though.
This time, his gaze follows her. February 2015. If they are going to change the course of this history, they would have to act now, and drastically. That does not feel right to Alma, and it soon becomes clear that Aya feels the same. She will not be driven in such a way. She will act at her own pace.
At their own pace, he already almost thinks.
"Aya, when you decide where to build this home of yours--"
He looks back to her.
"Will you call upon me, so that I might help?"
There is nothing in the perfect arch of her eyebrow, or the quirk of her lips, or the jade depths of her gaze, that suggests Aya Hazuki would ever really be given to comedy or romance. And yet?
"There's got to be easier ways to get a woman's phone number."
Maybe she has a hidden talent.
Brushing her hands down her jacket, the brown-haired swordswoman adjusts the wrap that sits on her upper torso, then looks to Alma with a faint smile. "I'll take a raincheck on the sudden invitation to the south Pacific. I imagine I'll have plenty of things to do here. But in the event that you and your fortuneteller mentor make it back to Japan in one piece?"
She claps a hand down on his shoulder -- not the easiest or most graceful feat for someone a half a foot shorter than Alma is -- and, moving to step past him, says, "You can give this another shot." Her grin, at least, is genuine.
"A pleasure, Towazu-san. Good luck out there."
And with that, she turns to go. Always leave 'em wanting more.
Log created on 21:13:19 01/30/2015 by Alma, and last modified on 04:44:33 01/31/2015.