Description: Haru and Honoka have two things in common, but they only talk about one. FORESHADOWING?!
It's... been a rough weekend, all told, for a few people. Haru Sakuraba is not what you might call the most sociable individual, but when a local Halloween festival was announced, he decided making an effort to attend was probably worth his time. After all, lots of costumes meant he wouldn't have to worry about being recognized, AND he could go for his typical degree of full body coverage without it seeming weird. Plus making the costume had been kind of fun. But most importantly, it was part of his resolution for his second year at Justice: this was going to be 'his' year. He was going to conquer his fears and try and get out more.
Then, you know, an enormously powerful mummy from beyond the grave decided to attack the festival and poor Haru got caught up in it, then -- in his eyes -- fled like a coward once things Got Real™. He sent others to help as best he could, but...
The truth is, the feeling of cowardice has nothing, in his eyes, on the dreams that haunted him for a few days afterwards. Being swarmed by locusts (personally and literally) is one thing, but the truth is, the presence of the ancient Egyptian Darkstalker presented a very different problem: that 'sixth sense' Haru actually filled him with a sense of... REVULSION at the mummy. The nightmares he had weren't of locusts, but instead were abstract, terrifying echoes of how that entire situation felt.
So, for a few days, Haru decided maybe he'd just spend some time in his room catching up on his reading.
Today, though, finds him out and about. Being shut in his dorm was a problem. Thankfully, Southtown has plenty of public spaces, like this park, for him to get outside but not necessarily be in a crowd... something he still has problems handling. Right now he's standing next to a fountain which has been turned off given the rapidly-cooling weather. Apparently he came from class; he's wearing black slacks and a dark grey, waffle-knit long-sleeved shirt with the dark gold of his Justice uniform coat tied around his waist. Shaking out his hands, he reaches down into a small duffle and pulls out, of all things, a gunmetal-grey yoyo.
Honoka has had a busy set of performances this week. Not only has the circus been stationed at Southtown, perhaps the busiest and most populous city in all of Japan, but she'd also performed in a special Halloween event of her own. Dressed in a Godzilla costume and tearing up a scale model of Japan, Honoka had also been tasked with fighting one of the rising stars of the fighting world, Lightning Spangles. And... surprisingly, she didn't do half bad for herself.
But the long setup for the fight, and the even longer performance schedule of the circus, is starting to take its toll on the young performer. And today... has been her first real respite from activity. Like Haru... she's been needing a bit of fresh air. And no crowds.
Unlike Haru, though, she never has to reach far for her yo-yo when she's out and about -- when it's not in motion, a black yo-yo with an analog watch face remains secured to her wrist.
The Twilight Star performer has too much on her mind for it to remain in its home, though. She swings it like a pendulum, she flings it high overhead, she slings it behind her back... all without even the slightest hestiation in her forward motion, or the faintest affect to her meandering vision. Someone she'd met not long ago mentioned that yo-yo served the role of a "meditative aid," -- and so it is.
But it also seems to attract people -- if not fans, so much, then a potential... person to speak with. Honoka notices the young man reaching into his duffle ... and slows to a halt as he withdraws a yo-yo.
This could prove interesting, she considers, turning away as if she hadn't noticed Haru -- instead deflecting her glance to look up at the clouds instead. Nice, pretty clouds.
If nothing else, the feigned indifference gives her time to consider why she, a twenty-year-old circus performer, would have any /good/ reason to talk to a high school student.
There is something about the way that Haru takes the yoyo out of the bag -- which is large enough to hold a second, though he only removes one -- that suggests it's a very familiar motion indeed. The way his body moves, even the expression on his face; they're indicators that holding the thing in his hands and slipping the loop of the string -- though in this case it looks rather more like wire or cable -- around his finger is like sinking into a hot bath. There are markers of tension that seem to fall away when he does it.
Yet strangely, there isn't a smile on his face as he shakes out his limbs and then starts running through tricks. He's clearly an expert at making the seeming toy move adeptly; it drops toward the ground before being yanked up and the string wrapped into complex, cat's cradle-like shapes that suspend the yoyo disc itself, or throw it out then return it.
From there the motions become a little different; less about artful toying with the yoyo itself and more about keeping it moving in smooth, uninterrupted loops, the elliptical arc of the yoyo being visible mostly by the flash of reflected light from the gunmetal surface, the darker cord barely visible. It's as if the yoyo itself is a flickering object that Haru is controlling only with complicated motions of the wrist.
In point of fact, if she's familiar with it, Honoka might notice that some of the more complicated maneuvers have the seeds of Shaolin kung fu in them; specifically, training with the meteor hammer. Obviously, with a shorter cord and smaller striking surface it's not EXACTLY the same, but... the ghost of it is certainly present.
After a brief period of this, there's a small *whmp!* noise as the yoyo is finally pulled back into Haru's palm, and he takes a slow breath out before turning to get something out of the other bag. This is when he notices Honoka, blinking at the circus performer in confusion before a blush comes to the dusky-skinned student's cheeks and he rubs the back of his neck in embarassment, but says nothing just yet.
Honoka had been turned so as to keep an eye on Haru throughout his warm-up exercises, but not so much as to be conspicuous about her observation. The truth be told, she's got a very different style than Haru. Whereas the young man seems to have a peaceful coexistence with the spinning object, manipulating it as if it were a living being, swirling around in the eddies and currents of chi... Honoka instead takes a much more rigid approach. Due to the high speeds with which both are flinging their yo-yos about, it would take a trained and practiced eye to notice the subtle difference between Haru's guiding gestures and Honoka's directing commands -- the gentle touch, versus the more abrupt.
Honoka, for her part, tends to favor the cradles as well -- even as Haru switches towards graceful loops, she seems to stay with the confined gestures -- one's that don't involve her moving her shoulders quite so much. Though this may have less to do with her yo-yo skills, and more to do with her primary juggling prop of choice.
Though it's not long before Honoka notices she's been spotted. It's understood that there's retinal neurons that fire whenever someone in your peripheral vision turns to look at you, a biological mechanism that allows you to notice and turn to address them without even knowing why. That's not -exactly- what happens, in Honoka's case, but it's how she sells the motion: casually, as her yo-yo falls lifelessly, descending into a death-spiral as it falls from her hands.
"Oh! I... didn't know this was a practice ground. You... you're pretty good, you know?" Honoka trails her finger under the string, stretching it taut, and then popping the yo-yo back to her other hand, where she clutches it as she walks over to Haru. Slowly, though -- as she'd not want to scare the boy off! "I am a bit of a yo-yo... enthusiast, myself," she offers by way of explanation, flashing an amiable grin.
Somewhat unfortunately, Haru can't return the compliment because he didn't really turn in time to see anything but the tail end of Honoka's own tricking, the cooldown rather than the main event. Still, the brief second or so he DOES see certainly implies that the young woman knows what she's doing.
His body dips toward the ground for a moment, long enough to pick up his bag, but then Haru is upright again and clearly walking to where Honoka is, not really interested in having a conversation at a considerable distance. "It's... not so much," he says with a faint smile. "Just that... well, let's just say that the one time I tried practicing loops in a dorm room I ended up spending a night with a broken vase and a tube of super glue." He grins a little, sheepish and self-deprecating.
Which, given how he responds to the other thing Honoka said, paints a pretty accurate picture of his personality, apparently. His hand -- gloved, which is now more obvious at closer range; both hands -- comes up against the back of his neck in the universe gesture of 'aw shucks'. "I've just been practicing a very long time, that's all, but thank you for the compliment. Do you come here often?" There's a beat, and then the Justice student lets out a helpless laugh. "Oh god, did I really just ask you that...?"
The Twilight Star performer's last conversation with a Southtown local involved someone with no social skills at all -- that is, was one step away from a robot. Haru, at least, seems animated enough to hold a conversation, which keeps the smile upon her face. "Mmm, yes, it's -usually- better to break vases you can't be held accountable for later." She pauses for effect, and adds, "If at all."
She does take note of the gloves, now -- a curious choice to go along with his particular fascination for yo-yos. But it'd be impolite to mention it instead of answering the awkward question first. "Nnnnno, this is actually, maybe myyy... /third/ visit to Southtown. And my first time here to the park." She quirks her head to the side, grinning faintly: "Why, do I look like a local? I do try to dress the part when I can... when in Rome, and all, right?" Maybe such historical allusions would be lost on a boy of Haru's age, maybe not.
Honoka redirects her attention to the yo-yo practitioner's hands. "I'd... thought about wearing gloves, from time to time... but you must go through a lot. I'm surprised they're not worn clear through..." Her face had turned towards the gloves, but as she poses her question, her brown eyes look up towards Haru's, carefully gauging his response with the faintest of smiles.
The youth blinks, clearly taken aback by Honoka's noticing of what has become, to him, a pretty simple fact of his everyday life. Last year's... debacle... with his family taught him that SOMETHING happens when he touches others, something over which he has very little control and which can -- as it did then -- cause serious problems. Without knowing more about it, he took to wearing gloves full time, reasoning that limiting contact, or at the least mediating it through a layer of fabric or two, might help. So far, he's been MOSTLY right.
Coughing briefly, Haru shakes his head. "Ah, they're not actually for the yoyos. I just, uh..." He pauses for a second, then realizes what he's about to say to explain things -- 'I just really like gloves!' -- and decides to abandon such a hopelessly stupid-sounding explanation. A second more of thought provides something more plausible. "My school, Justice Academy... we have a really strict dress code. I guess maybe the gloves are my little... rebellion? I've gotten so used to wearing them I don't even think about it, at this point."
Yeah, Haru, there you go. SMOOTH.
Another awkward pause passes before the Justice student gives Honoka a once-over again, taking in her dress and her demeanor before continuing. "Are you in college, on break or something? I mean, plenty of people visit Southtown now and then but I'm surprised to hear you've only been here three times!"
The look Honoka gives Haru as he racks his brain trying to explain himself is... particularly intense, and by some standards, it may even come across as a little rude. But her own intensity only lasts an instant, as she realizes how it may be construed -- stepping over the line of 'impatience,' to say the least. Pursing her lips as she dials back on the crazy, she seems to be pacified by Haru's explanation. If the lie is delivered smoothly enough, then who's to say it's not actually the truth but the liar? It seems Haru believes the words enough to say them, and that really ought to be more than enough for the purposes of casual conversation. "I see. Justice High seems especially strict, but then again..." The Ainu girl shrugs her shoulders in non-committance. "From what I understand it's a good school, so... stick with it, I suppose? Unless you plan to rebel even further, of course..." For emphasis she balls her fist around her yo-yo. "... in which case, stick it to the man."
She laughs, in spite of herself. Honoka's another master of awkward humor between strangers -- a skill she's practiced often. Nightly, even.
Honoka shakes her head. No, she's not a local, but... that fits, right? "I... don't think I'd pass the entrance exams, sadly. But I will take that as a compliment!" She laughs gently, looking down at the yo-yo. She'd gripped it a bit tightly, after all, and... well, the yo-yo is just begging for a quick jaunt around the world. Lashing it about, with her left index finger as the fulcrum, she runs through a few of her idle tricks. Nothing -near- as impressive as the earlier mini-show, but she is trying to hold a proper conversation after all. "The Twilight Star Circus is in town this week. I'm one of the performers there." She gives a shy smile -- again, practice makes perfect -- and kicks at the soft grass of the park. "I'll be heading on to Yokohama in a couple days. It's pretty out that way, too!"
Slinging the yo-yo back into her palm, she asks, "I hope you don't think I'm rude for asking, but are you self-taught?" She raises her yo-yo as a clue for just what she's talking about.
If Honoka can sense weakness, then the moment she says that she doesn't think she'd pass the exams, she'll notice the immediate feeling of regret that Haru has, one that the poker face-less young man is unable to hide. "I, ah... I'm sure you'd do fine," he mumbles, regretting having said anything at all. Just goes to show that TOO polite can often be just as bad as not polite enough.
Still fidgeting, but recovering somewhat from that momentary burst of awkwardness, he perks up at the mention of the circus. "Oh! I think I've seen posters and flyers... actually, some of the first years are thinking to make a group outing this weekend before you move on. Maybe I..." He pauses, then sighs and looks embarassed, defusing it somewhat with another self-deprecating smile. "I'm not good with crowds. But maybe if I get a chance I'll come see the show. Are... yoyo tricks part of your act? You've clearly got a lot of practice."
And then she asks where HE learned. "Ah, well... sort of? I know you wouldn't think it to look at me..." he says, spreading his arms out to either side in a 'hey look at me!' gesture, "...but believe it or not, my family has a fighting style they've trained in for generations. Not really for 'real' fighting, mostly a tradition, but it's training in the meteor hammer and rope dart. You've heard of those, right? Chinese weapons."
And now, he does the first genuinely impressive-seeming thing since the entire conversation started; unlike the deliberate movements of earlier, one of Haru's yoyos is in his hand in a flash, slicing through the air in complicated loops before slapping back into his gloved hand. "A yoyo isn't QUITE the same. But the principles are similar enough."
Honoka smiles faintly at the stammered dismissal, not wanting to make Haru feel too bad. Okay, maybe just a /little/ bad -- or else she wouldn't have hinted at her lack of formal education.
Honoka shakes her head slowly. "No... I don't use the yo-yo in my act. But... close," she admits. "And thank you! Uh... if you see someone named Honoka, that's me, hehe. I'm told I look different with stage makeup on, so." Shyly, she takes a step back.
And then he talks about his family style. Pay dirt, as far as Honoka's concerned. "Meteor hammer... rope dart... yes! I've heard of those. I... I didn't know of any families that trained in those, that's interesting!"
Granted the boon of a demonstration, Honoka nods in honest appreciation. "Wow, that... that -was- quick! I can tell it's time to share two of my secrets. The first one's easy though, since it's on the poster -- I tend towards diabolos. Have some in my backpack, actually, but..." She shrugs her shoulders again, glancing pointedly at the yo-yo in her hand. "More convenient, right?" she asks with a conspiratory grin.
"And... well. Second secret... well, again, my apologies again if this sounds rude, but... let me tell you something about crowds."
Honoka cycles through a basic run of tricks. Nothing terribly fancy -- as moments before, she's not trying to show off, but rather to demonstrate a point. "Right now, I have an audience of one. Simple. Personal. I don't mind sharing." Her shoulders roll slightly -- but her pace accelerates, ever so slightly. "Add ten more people. I start getting a little nervous... am I holding their attention? Did I just execute that right? What will I do if I botch the trapeze, or if it doesn't land on the right string..." Her pace continues to accelerate, and she begins to look panicked, wide eyes flitting from one imaginary person to the next. "Add thirty people. It's a small crowd. They're =all= looking =right= at me, I =can't= mess up, if they do, haters will jump on me like it's going out of style, tear me to shreds... -Fifty- people join up, oh goodness, I-I can't even /think/ from all the stress... they're all watching me... two -hundred- more?! Oh no!" Every passing moment gets faster, and more frenetic...
And then it all stops. The yo-yo hangs weightlessly in mid-air for a moment, bounced wrong perhaps... or out of control...?
... No. Because if it were out of control, Honoka would not be smiling placidly as the yo-yo falls right into the next trick. "Or was it just one person after all, my friend? You see... past a certain threshold... crowds become singular. One voice. One mind. Still twenty thousand eyes, so you -have- to make eye contact, but you might be surprised to know... big crowds are -easier- to deal with than small."
Honoka chuckles softly, drawing the yo-yo back into her hand. "Crowds should be the least of your worries, anyway. They'll be focused on me, not you, so come on down. Enjoy a night off from your studies!"
At the end of that demonstration, Haru can't help but smile. He even claps a little. After all, that WAS impressive; keeping a conversation going uninterrupted while you do tricks with something like a yoyo or diabolos is actually much harder than it sounds; it's very different than the 'chew gum and walk simultaneously' standard most people apply to this sort of thing. You have to be able to concentrate on multiple things at once, after all, and while Haru doesn't notice it, it's almost certain that Honoka's attention is on more than just the two things a passerby might notice: speaking and tricks.
Bringing his hands down to his side, Haru smiles in grateful embarassment at Honoka. "That was impressive! Do you imagine them in their underwear at the same time?" He might not have commentated on that 'when in Rome' bit, but that particular expression -- way more common in the West than in Japan -- says a lot.
"It's good advice," Haru says as a followup, "it really is. But it's not the number of people that bothers me. It's hard to explain." He runs a gloved hand through his white-streaked black hair, an interesting contrast to the similarly coiffed Honoka with her vibrant purple ones. "It's more that... uh..."
'Well, miss, I have psychic powers and when I touch people I forge an overwhelming psychic bond with them.'
Lamely, he finishes: "...It's complicated."
Generally speaking, this is a pretty safe answer in these situations.
Quickly recovering, however, the Justice second-year gives a thoughtful nod. "But if I get a chance, I'll try to see the show before you move on, Honoka-san. And uh, for the sake of fairness, my name's Haru. A pleasure to meet you."
Honoka takes an exaggerated bow as Haru starts to clap. She knows it may have been more than just a -little- overkill, but she seems to have made her point.
Well, until Haru seems to be suggesting that she was completely effective in delivering a pitch for NyQuil... which is totally effective... but her recommendee was a narcoleptic. So Honoka laughs for a half-second in spite of herself. "I guess I needn't pry further, at any rate -- I was just passing by." She curtsies and then bows -- another hedged bet afforded for those in the westernized city of Southtown. "Well, Haru-san...? I probably -should- be going, at any rate, I really just had to comment. Maybe I'll see you at the show?"
Log created on 19:24:25 11/04/2014 by Honoka, and last modified on 06:15:20 11/05/2014.