Description: Zach Glenn takes a pretty lady up on an offer, and both parties learn a thing or two.
Fujinomiya has a long and storied history, like many small communities in Japan, but its main claim to fame is its proximity to Mount Fuji, making it a popular destination for climbing trips up the fabled mountain. And tonight it has also been the city hosting the traveling Twilight Star Circus, which has made its temporary home in a large field southeast of the city center, surrounded by rice paddies. Plenty far enough away to keep from disturbing too many of the locals, at any rate.
Which... is a good thing, considering the performance tonight has been a bit on the loud side. This being a more rural area, the circus is doing some live focus testing on a new musical number; even though the new songs had only been used for a few of the events, the crowd reaction has been phenomenal.
Some credit for the new performance must certainly be reserved for the dynamic performance of one of the circus' star performers, Honoka Kawashima. Normally her eclectic blend of dancing, acrobatics, and juggling is pretty memorable on its own, but as she's just gotten started with the new number, some on-the-fly adjustments had to be made. It's questionable whether the crowd noticed that she'd shifted her feet in the wrong place once or twice, only to quickly correct -- the audience's applause didn't seem to falter in the slightest.
But Honoka's later performance in the simulated combat scenario was equally dramatic, and equally well-received. That part of the show didn't need to change -- in fact, the circus only rotates through four different sequences. And she knows each one by heart; impressive to someone who hasn't seen it, but rote to Honoka.
Now, in the "meet-and-greet" session that takes place after the show, Honoka has plenty to talk about. She's shared the newness of the juggling act with the locals, talked it over, and confirmed to herself that, nope, no one noticed her slips. She should be happy that people enjoyed her performance, and she IS smiling... but behind that smile is a troubled look in her eyes.
Maybe she's just tired. "We really appreciate every one of you, thanks for coming!" Audience members have been having the cast members sign their program guides, but they're starting to thin out from the late hour. Honoka flashes a weary grin over to her friend, Reika -- dressed very differently in her own dance outfit from the show's grand finale -- and generally seems to be juuuust about ready to stop signing autographs, to say the least.
Zach Glenn had shown up to see the circus. Perhaps later than might have been expected, but he had some things to see to first, including an assignment in eastern Africa. But when the Twilight Circus was doing a show not all that far from the barracks, and the psion decided he needed to see this. It had been a while since he'd been to a circus.
He waited for the autograph line died down a bit before he got into said line. He has the flier he was handed in hand, and seems to be very patient while waiting in line as he takes in the scene. There's an... energy to the place that seems both different and familiar to him. He's just not placing it.
Honoka smiles and chats up each person in line for a few moments. Never spending -too- long on any one person, but managing to stay engaged despite her growing fatigue. At least, until one particular person--
// "I knew that before I came here," he had said in a steady tone. "But when you say 'others like us,' which... skill set are you talking about?" //
Honoka staggers for a moment, raising a hand to her head as her eyes seem to lose focus. Heart rate elevates, her skin grows clammy.
After a few moments, it seems she's able to regain control, her heart rate gradually beginning to slow, as the multiple images in front of her resolve into one again. Once more, she looks at the person in front of her. "I... ugh. I'm sorry, dizzy spell there! C-could you repeat your name, I think I missed it?" She smiles faintly, listening attentively once more and trying to play it off as if nothing happened.
Three more... two more... one more.
And then it's Zach's turn. Honoka looks the American square in the eyes. Recognition is there. Her lips press together tightly. Heartbeat accelerates. She was caught off-guard for the last one, but she's ready for the vision this time, grasping her silver paint marker tightly.
And nothing happens, save for the pink tinge creeping into her cheeks. "... Did... you find what you were looking for?"
Her gaze is firmly fixed upon Zach. She remembers to breathe, finally exhaling through her nose. She doesn't want to remain so embarassingly, forcibly stilled... but she's not wanting to look away this time.
Zach hands over the flier with a slight grin. "Sort of," he says. "I didn't know that whole complex is walled off to pretty much everyone. All you can see is a bunch of rooftops. I'm not sure how I..." Zach trails off with a frown, shaking his head like a dog shakes off water. "Sorry. It's hard to explain," he finally says.
"Things going well with the circus," he asks politely.
"Honoka, is everything okay?" Reika was standing nearby -- and from the reaction of the few still milling about, it was hard -not- to notice her friend momentarily zoning out.
"It's... I'm fine, just... " Honoka smiles patiently, never really breaking her gaze from Zach. "... I see." She pauses for a moment, remembering exactly what was said... then finally, breaks her eyes away from Zach to look down at the flier, smile faltering. And to the flier, she continues: "... You knew my name right away. And I don't know yours. Even now."
Her smile returns -- but it's pretty fake. "Can we talk, like... in five minutes?" Then Honoka explains: "I... I think we could both use some answers, but." She nods her head towards the people in line behind Zach.
Zach nods at that. "We both probably could," he agrees, stepping out of line. "I can wait," he says. "I'm on a long pass." He takes his flier, and a couple of steps back, nodding to the person behind him to move forward.
"I'll trade you an autgraph for a name."
Honoka gets through the last few of her fans in short order -- not really RUSHING per se, as she wants to make sure each and every fan gets the honest attention they deserve -- and exchanges some quick nods and smiles back at her circus companions. Just to let her concerned friends know that, yes, she's okay.
Once she's got a moment, she looks up at Zach, inclining her head towards a side exit of the massive big top. Not the front -- too busy -- and not the back -- too many circus crew. Just the relative peace and quiet , only occasionally disturbed by workers eager to clear the stands and start the nightly sweep-ups.
"Well, see, the way things -usually- work is, you tell me your name, then I sign it in marker." She holds up Zach's flier -- she'd held onto it all this time, after all. "I don't want you to sell this on eBay, see."
Did the performer get into a good mood that quickly? Looks that way. Still, there's plenty on her mind, and she's not going to spill it if she keeps resembling a deer in the headlights. Honoka locks her gaze onto Zach's eyes again, "Okay. You knew my name. Either you read this flier -really- quickly in Osaka, or you're a creepy stalker, or one of like five other really ridiculous explanations. But none of those explains the other stuff s'been going on. What's going on?"
Zach follows, looking around with more than mild interest as he does. He stops when she does, and returns the gaze she gives. "Funny fact," he says, "I /do/ actually read really fast, but I'd be lying if I said I got your name from the poster. Your name's not the only thing I know about you, either. But I'm not a stalker," he says quickly, but truthfully. He looks around, and finds a place to sit down. He casts a quick glance through the side entrance the pair had used. He's looking for a starting point.
"There are some people, some places, I just remember differently," he finally says. "Like my best friend when I was a kid, I remember this time that he broke his arm this one time when we were doing stupid bicycle stunts. He never did, but I /remember/ it as if it really happened." Zach frowns; he's aware that this sounds crazy. It sounds crazy to /him/, and he's the one experiencing it. "And other things. Other places. I remember things I should have no good business even /knowing/. The shrine was one of them. Something really... big happened there. Something that..." He shakes his head, the same way he did the last time the two were discussing the shrine. "That didn't really happen."
He looks back to Honoka, waiting to see what she makes of it.
Honoka nods attentively, giving Zach the same doe-eyed look she's given most of her other autograph recipients. It may actually come as a bit of a shock to someone who's only seen her in a quieter time, but the high-energy music in the background -- picked to usher people out the door on a good note -- is what she seems to be fully synchronized to at the moment.
"Okay..." she states, watching Zach's eyes as he speaks. She listens to lots of crazy people. Some are good liars, others aren't -- but the eyes can tell. As can the other telltale signs -- heartbeat, shifting feet, and the like.
And still other signs that, amongst the circus, only a handful of people can read.
Honoka seems satisifed that he's telling the truth. "... I... don't have anything so crystal-clear as that." She smiles amicably, standing first on the tiptoes of her left foot, then the other, alternating back and forth to keep with the beat. "It's more like... visions. Moments in time like that. Where it's me, and people I know, saying words that should sound familiar, but don't."
She draws in a deep breath, as one of the songs from her earlier set can be heard on the speakers. Her hands move to the rhythm, as she continues, "Only thing I can say is... when you pointed out the map to me, I had a pretty -clear- vision of that same map posted on a wall somewhere. And in that vision, I was telling Reika and Sudo about it. But I don't even remember what I said..." The performer shrugs her shoulders, the translucent fabric "flames" attached to them fluctuating in the light. "Pretty sure I'd never seen those map symbols before then, so..."
"So you'll understand, I hope," Zach says, "When I tell you that I remember meeting you and Reika-san someplace else. That I know that you have certain... capabilities." Zach illustrates a point by opening his left hand, palm up. He lets a very slight trickle of psychic energy through and causing a few motes of sunlight energy to spill out of the open hand and to the ground. He focuses on the hand, closing it back into a loose fist, forcing the power back down.
He grins faintly, a wash of memories both experienced and remembered. "It's a gift," he says as he looks back to Honoka.
While Zach speaks, the juggler continues bobbing about to the music. Her stage costume looks a bit different in the low light than it does on stage: the iridescent fibers upon her shoulders, sleeves, and lower legs don't really catch the light, so the colors that were terrifically vibrant onstage look a bit more muted as she bobs about. At times, she passes more resemblance to a nightclub dancer than someone who was, just a few minutes earlier, taking part in staged combat against another performer.
But as Zach raises his palm, and the psychic energy trickles out into a sunlight flare... well. That got her attention. Eyes widen, her smile fades into a more neutral line.
Doubt begins to infiltrate the confident high she'd been on over the past few minutes. "That's... a pretty tight gift."
Of course, she'd already -shown- some of her abilities earlier in the night -- to the casual viewer, she'd thrown fireballs and flared with energy just like lots of fighters on the pay-per-views and sports shows. But maybe Zach could read further into the attacks, even from his spot among the audience. Or maybe not. "Does it hurt when you do that?"
She's playing coy, yes. But he's still not said his name.
"It's not painful," he says. "But... I normally keep a pretty tight grip on it. It's tricky to bring it up in such small amounts when I'm in this frame of mind. It's usually an all-or-nothing kind of thing." He inhales slightly, then offers his right hand to her.
"Zach Glenn. Nice to meet you, Honoka-san."
"Tricky to bring up..." Honoka repeats, carefully gauging Zach's expression. Her swaying from side to side diminishes slightly as she realizes the hand in front of her. She reaches forward to accept it, tenatively giving a light squeeze and giving one brisk shake. "The pleasure is all mine, Glenn-san. Or should I call you Zach?"
Zach returns the handshake. It's firm, assertive, without being bone-crushing. It's strength under restraint, which might be a thing for this man. "Whichever you might prefer," he says honestly, nodding once. "I get the difference between social contexts. The past few months have been full of learning experiences."
Honoka steps back a bit more ... giving herself just a little more leeway to step about to the music. Swaying side-to-side, she nods casually in reply. "Zach-san, then..." she grins, "... if I'm not mistaken... you've had these visions all your life, right? So why have only the past few months been full of learning experiences?"
Zach ponders that for a moment, thinking about that. "That," he says with a grin, "Is a really good question. I suppose it depends on where I came by these... other memories. If they some remnants of some kind of past life, maybe I'm learning stuff I didn't learn the first time around. Maybe I don't remember everything from that other time."
Zach frowns, rubbing his forehead. "It's hard for me to understand, sometimes."
"Hmm..." answers Honoka, "But you... remember me. And that map. I guess other-me was pretty important to this other-you or something. Even if you don't know why... " She stops abruptly...
But that's just the music, as the songs shift over to a different track. Just as fluidly as she drew to a stop, she starts when the music begins anew. "... or maybe you do and you're trying not to let it bother you much?" She laughs musically, a contagious grin sliding its way across her features.
"Other-me... he tried to help people," Zach answers, dully. "Like some kind of super hero or something. Other-you..." Zach frowns. "She was someone he wanted to help, but couldn't." He looks back to Honoka's musical shifting, watching the play of colors from the costume. "But you're here, and I don't know that I need to help you. It's..."
"So you're some super hero, and I guess I play the damsel in distress... sounds like a pretty sweet story." Honoka then remembers she has a marker hanging on a chain, looped about her wrist, and a poster in another hand. The thought amuses her: she signs quickly, "To my super-hero, Zach Glenn -- Honoka Kawamoto " And she even doodles a quick little heart around her name.
"It's...? Don't leave me hanging..." she prompts, with a small laugh.
"Hard to explain," he finally says, smirking at the poster. "Both-yous seem to have an okay handle on things. "And I'm /not/ a super hero," he says firmly. "I'm a United States Marine." He takes the poster back, smiling at it a bit. He pulls a small card out of his pocket, offering it with both hands to the young woman. It has a cell phone number on it.
"If you need help some time," he says. "Or if you just want to talk."
Honoka reaches for the card with both hands, stopping her idle-dancing long enough to bend at the waist like a polite young woman should. Her eyes flicker over the details, before she looks back up at the man's eyes. "... I dunno about that. Marines looked pretty badass in those recruitment videos."
Maybe she watched some videos after their last meeting.
A thought occurs to Honoka, as she tilts her head to the side just a hair. "... Why do you think I would need help, though, if... we both had an okay handle on things?" Her lips then jut out in a mock pout as she adds, "I mean, I'm keeping the card -anyway-, I never know when I might need a dinner date, but, y'know, was just /asking/."
Honoka flashes a toothy grin, afterwards.
"The training is hard," Zach admits. "But it's still /training/, mixed with discipline. Other-me figured things out on his own." Zach frowns. "I..." he heaves a sigh. "I'm not sure I'm really ready to talk about... that," he admits. "I mean, I don't even know that it even /happened/ any place other than in my head."
"Training?" Honoka looks back at the card, as if it would magically have the answers she was asking about. But no, she considers, he couldn't mean the Marine training, he looks like he's out of basic. "... Okay, then. It's... all in good time, then, right?" The Twilight Star juggler seems pleased; after all, she doesn't feel like forcing Zach to do anything he doesn't -want- to do. Not when she's in such a good mood, anyway.
"I understand. I mean, I think I do. But I'm glad I have your name now!"
And she has no pockets in this outfit, so she holds the card with both hands in front of her as she offers another bow. The crowd is practically dispersed. Sudo, and a few curious audience members seem to be stealing glances at Zach and Honoka talking -- but they're trying -really- hard to not be obvious about it. It's not something that escapes Honoka's notice -- and it hadn't before, either.
It actually kind of brings the smile back to her face. Taking the card in her left hand, she raises her right palm. Twirling her wrist in a flourish, she teases out a small ripple of psychic energy, forming it into the shape and color of a translucent orchid. It lingers in the space before her for a few moments, before the spinning motes of light begin to fade and fall back to the big top floor.
"Well, I probably -should- get going. But it seems you know how to reach me, if -you'd- like to talk."
She takes a half-skip backwards, flashing a coquettish grin. "It was nice meeting you, Zach-san." Beat. "Again, for the second or third time, I guess!"
Zach glances up, and notices the people watching. Nothing dangerous at the moment, which is fine. He watches the display with a trace of fascination; discreet forms are something he hasn't quite managed yet. He grins, a faint blush crossing his face. The young lady is something of a cutie, but he's not about to be too forward about that.
He hops to his feet, nodding once. "It's mutual," he says.
Honoka smiles, twiddling her fingers to Zach in a pleasant wave. "Great! Well... take care, okay? I'll see you next time!" And with that she breaks into a light jog back to Sudo, who looks up from his push broom as she approaches. Really, subtlety isn't his strongest point.
Honoka shares a look at Sudo, and a shrug, before rushing off to join Reika and the rest of the cast. Just another night at the Twilight Star Circus...
Log created on 19:44:49 11/28/2014 by Zach Glenn, and last modified on 13:04:04 11/29/2014.