Description: A tenet of Buddhism is the concept that merely one lifetime is not enough to accumulate all the life experiences necessary to achieve enlightenment, that death and rebirth are an integral part of learning. Appropriate, then, that two who had shared a connection in another world should meet again here, at the foot of the Four Heavenly Kings.
The Twilight Star Circus has finished its run for the weekend. Monday is usually the day the cast and crew usually prefers to take off for vacation time, and since they're touring the country -anyway-... they decide to make a visit to the hustle and bustle of Osaka City.
Normally, the southern part of the city is... kind of rough around the edges. Lots of homeless people, lots of handouts. But most of the beggars hang out near Tennoji station, preferring not to bite the hands that feed them near Shitennoji Temple. Named after the four Heavenly Lords, the temple is a place of worship -- Buddhist, but also kind of Shinto as well due to the multi-religious melange of Japanese culture. The temple helps out the community... and everyone benefits, really.
And this is the place that Honoka and four close companions happened to be visiting. Honoka had paid attention to the beggars, as she tended to... and even offered money to some of them, as did some of her companions. Giving back to the community is important to her and her circus -- though it may also have had to do with each of the crewmembers wearing their circus blazers. The temperature is starting to get a bit chilly, after all.
Honoka brushes her purple bangs out of her eyes, looking up at the fearsome statues the Heavenly Lords. These are hardly unique -- similar statues exist in temples all across Japan. But the local craftsmanship does vary from site to site, as well as the condition... and deterioration. She looks back to her companions -- one, a woman about her size, two other young ladies a bit taller, and one decently-built man. All in their early twenties, all yapping amongst themselves. Honoka smiles, distantly, not really taking part in their conversation, and perusing one of the placards near the statues. There's... something about this place, she can't quite put her finger on yet.
Zach Glenn is another tourist to this location, in a manner of speaking. He was recently assigned to Camp Fuji, in Gotemba as part of an assignment. The man looked like most gaijin tend to, sticking out clearly by the blonde hair and fair skin. He's wearing loose fitting street clothes, in decent repair, and he seems to carry himself with a fair amount of confidence. He is also reading a placard, as if trying to find something.
The man is clearly looking for something, and not entirely sure he is going to find it here. The Charge of Quarters looked at Zach oddly when he had asked about the various major temples on the island.
Shitennoji is the oldest public temple in the country... it has -some- significance. Honoka had happened to have -some- interest in history, which is the primary reason they're here. Clearly not... whatever her companions seem to be discussing. Probably sportsball or something.
A wild gaijin has appeared! The Twilight Star juggler happens to catch sight of the blonde hair, and looks over... finding him look a little lost. But aren't -most- gaijin lost at sites of great historical significance?
Perhaps Honoka was staring at the man a little too intensely though. Her friends are well aware of her tendency, and are even used to poking fun at her about it from time to time. This time though? It's because she's looking at a guy. That... rarely happens.
Honoka doesn't hear the laughter from her friends, or even notice that they're pointing. There's something... significant about this particular one. And she's not sure what. But even still... as much as she feels like she -knows- this American... it's just that. A sense of deja vu.
The laughter stops, as the Twilight Star crew watches Honoka abruptly walk over to the American with a smile and a wave.
"Hello... you look lost! Is there something you're trying to find?" Amiable, friendly... and curious.
Zach had pulled back from a plaque, and was looking at a map, when Honoka gets his attention. She might notice several ink X marks on the maps, and perhaps notice that they are over various temples. He startles only slightly when she speaks, the man clearly lost in thought.
"Yes..." he starts to say, when he gets a good look at the young lady. That stops him cold. A lone tear, unbidden, slides down Zach's cheek. Part of him /remembers/ this young lady. What happened... but... it didn't happen at all. Did it?
It clearly comes as a surprise, as the man scowls and wipes it away quickly with his hand. He clearly /recognizes/ Honoka, but he keeps his mouth shut as he composes himself. "Sorry," he says quickly. "I was trying to find a specific temple," he finally says. "It... may sound crazy, but I'm not even sure which one it is."
... A tear?
Honoka doesn't know what's the cause here. Was he crying before, and she didn't notice? Surely she should have been able to tell -something-, if...
Her cheerful expression fades somewhat. as she looks back at the man's eyes. -Was- that recognition she saw? Or... something else? Maybe it would explain the feeling she has.
But just as quickly as her hopes had been raised... this strange gaijin brings up the topic of the map. And that it sounds crazy. Maybe -she's- the crazy one. "I... uh. Hm. How do you know if you get the right one?" she asks, leaning closer to get a better look at the map.
Zach shows her the map, trying to take in the details of the young woman before him. The sheer number of X marks might surprise the young woman; Zach's visited a great number of these things in the last month. Pretty much every weekend pass he got, he must have been checking out temples.
"I'll..." Zach shrugs, having brought himself back to standard discipline. "I'll know it when I see it, I think." He looks a little embarrassed, partly from the surprise sudden loss of composure, partly from the fact that he doesn't really understand why he's looking for a specific temple. Or what he expects to find, apart from some very interesting scenery. "Like I said, it's... kind of wierd. I'm not sure I understand it myself. I just... I just need to see the place again, I guess."
Honoka looks at the map -- sure, her friends are waiting, but they're used to it. Squinting at the pattern of X marks, she ... can only surmise that he's visiting shrines. That much is clear, and not much else. "... Are you sure it's in Osaka and not Kyoto? There's like... -hundreds- of shrines there."
What -is- it about this man's aura that rings familiar? Honoka is starting to get frustrated... but just a bit. She looks down at the yo-yo strapped to her wrist... but figures that it's poor form to whip the yo-yo out -now-. Rude, even.
"It can get expensive to find shrines that way," she concludes, stepping back and offering a faint smirk. "Do you have internet access, wherever you're staying?"
The pattern of X marks seems to start around Mount Fuji and spread out from there. He smiles a bit as he pulls out a smartphone, "I tried that for a couple of them, I'm not sure if it helped or not." He shrugs, grinning a bit. "It's not like I have all that much I want to spend my money on." Zach's clothes would suggest that he's not crazy rich; no massive discretionary funds or anything like that, but he's not exactly poor either.
He looks around, taking in the scenery. "Besides, the temples are amazing to look at," he says honestly. He looks at Honoka, notes the jacket, and the people wearing similar jackets. The young woman of a size with the young lady in front of him catches his eye, drawing a softer smile from the man. He's... remembering something again. "Maybe you have a suggestion. I think it's actually two of them, /really/ close together."
The pattern of X marks -is-... also ringing a bell. Just not a very clear one -- kind of off in the distance maybe? Or maybe that actually -is- a bell.
"Uh... two shrines? That happens all over the place." She looks up at Zach... to notice that he's looking over at her friend, the one about her height. Who is also looking at Zach. Narrowing her eyes slightly, a thought then occurs to her. Raising her hand, she beckons her friend over. "Reika, come check this out?"
As her friend comes trotting over, she's pointing at the map. She gestures over it with her open hand...
And all of a sudden, she's standing in front of a much larger map. The lighting is dim, subdued due to the drawn shades, with the only light focused upon said map. With the X's in the same locations... aside from a much larger concentration of X's over top of a point about an hour or two east of Osaka. Reika is standing beside her... and her male friend, Sudo, is standing at her back. "-- this position... and make sure no one else comes in except people on that list. It's proven to have been important before, and I think it's absolutely crucia--"
Shittenoji. Her hand is in front of the map in Zach's hand. She stares at it... and stabs a finger at the location in her flashback.
"... The Ise Grand Shrine. It's on top of a mountain. Not just one, but several shrines in the complex."
Reika looks up at Honoka, concerned. "Hono-chan... you don't look so hot..."
"I'm fine," she states, soberly. She takes a step back, bowing stiffly to Zach -- a couple shades paler than before. "I... I think that's probably it. It's pretty amazing, you know... so it's a good place to visit. E-even if it's not the place, heh."
By this point, her other friends have taken notice. "It's happened again?" asks the guy, tact not his strong point.
Reika abruptly loops her arm around Honoka's, tugging her towards the exit. The two other ladies... well, they're a -bit- confused, but they take a position with the guy. "I'm sorry, sir, but we've got to meet our tour bus. I hope you find what you're looking for?"
Honoka starts to protest, as if she might have struck Reika down... for a fleeting moment. But she then nods in resignation. "Good luck."
Zach looks at the young woman with concern, drawing a slight frown. "Are you..." He scowls, looking around. The words "Ise Grand Shrine" ring a bell. A large, iron one, right in his ear. "If it's... not inappropriate, are you okay," he ask of Honoka. He looks concerned. Something Happened just now, and it's on account of him. He pulls off a slim backpack, and pulls out a sealed bottle of water, offering it to the group.
"You should drink some water," he finally says, polite but firm and in a tone of voice that suggests that his suggestions are generally followed up on. "It might help."
"I'm fine." Honoka's response is sharp, and clipped, with almost none of the softness, or the good cheer she'd exhibited before. She's clearly -not- fine, or else the one she'd called Reika wouldn't have a deathgrip on her arm. But explaining to a complete stranger... from America! ... would take too long.
And yet, as paranoid as her friends are, they're presented with an offer only a Japanese person couldn't decline: a gift. It's rude to refuse, especially when it's needed so much.
Honoka's expression hardens further, but it's not her hand that reaches for the bottle.
It's the guy friend's. "Thanks," is his placid reply, as he cracks open the seal and pushes it into Honoka's hands.
"... Thank you," she states, after a moment, taking a good long draw of water.
"You didn't have to do that," notes Reika -- she's a bit less able to restrain her emotions right now. But, as she notes the circus name embroidered on the jackets... well. Turning a bit red in the cheeks, Reika turns back to Zach, and offers a bow. And a flyer for the circus, which she pulls from her pocket. "I'm sorry.. we're kind of in a hurry? But if you want to come to the circus, we can probably arrange for--"
Honoka places a hand to her head suddenly. Reika talking to Zach seemed to have coincided with another brief headache. She clutches the bottle a bit more tightly; some of the water spills out, but most of it manages to stay in the bottle somehow.
Reika holds the flyer out towards Zach's hand. "If you or your friends are interested, we're in Sakai tomorrow! It was nice meeting you!" Cheerful and exuberant -- as a -proper- performer and representative of the Twilight Star Circus should be while trying to discreetly get away.
"I... I'm sorry, I think I just need to lie down..." Honoka states to no one in particular, looking down at the ground, as if disoriented. Her mind is mush right now.
And her friends seem to be hastening her away, whether Honoka wants to talk or not. She offers a distracted wave to Zach in parting, as well as an embarassed half-smile.
Not far away... a purple and black van is parked. That's where they seem to be headed.
Zach gives a nod of acknowledgement to Sudo before he takes the flier, with a nod. "I'm... sorry," he says. "I hope you feel better soon, Honoka-san. Thank you for your help." He folds the flier up, sliding it, the map, and the phone into a pocket. He bows slightly at the waist, waving.
"Take care of her, Reika-san," he says politely. He watches the group go, and then heads for the train station. He needs to get back to base soon anyway, what with the 0500 wake-up before PT.
And as Honoka is half-led, half-dragged away by a concerned Reika and Sudo, the young juggler turns to look back at Zach.
Recognizing her name. She didn't even -give- her name to the gaijin stranger.
Not in this life, anyway.
Log created on 22:44:17 11/16/2014 by Honoka, and last modified on 06:54:19 11/17/2014.