Description: If the trailer's a rockin', just come a knockin'. Elise weathers a storm of top-40 songs to find out just what's gotten into Honoka all of a sudden. (NOTE: This scene takes place before 'Monster: Second Helpings')
The Twilight Star Circus's time outside Southtown may be coming to a draw soon; with the end of winter will come safer travel opportunities and more scenic environments. For right now, the Circus is nestled just west of the metropolis, sheltered from the strong sea breeze by the swell of a large mountain pass. Snow had fallen a few days prior, but it hasn't been warm enough for it to completely melt off, leaving treacherous patches of ice all throughout the circus grounds.
Honoka's performance was especially exuberant tonight; while the performer is usually mute, it seemed almost as if she was -singing- to the audience, despite lacking a mic of any sort. And the audience seems to have responded accordingly, emptying their wallets over every knickknack and chotchcke possible. Preliminary bookkeeping shows it to have been a record sales night.
And for some reason, the performer can't seem to sleep tonight, her trailer staying lit up long after midnight. As one approaches the trailer, notes of the most terrifying ever can be heard trilling from the performer's windows.
"Blank Space," by Taylor Swift. Something /must/ be wrong with her.
Most people don't get too close to the circus grounds' inner workings. Even if there wasn't an entirely different layer to Twilight Star, there's the fact that it's just cut off from easy access thanks to the layout of things. So when a long black car pulls up to the ticket gate (or whatever controlled access point serves as entry) and from it steps a figure in a... well. The "little black dress" is a fashion cliche, but it got there for a reason. The face of the wearer says 'it's too cold for this nonsense' but the outfit LOOKS stunning; strapless, sleeveless black gown that hooks around the neck with braided strips of fabric. White upper arm-length gloves with a checkerbox pattern of black and white in faux fur on the cuffs, and a brooch with a heart-shaped emerald pinned to the dress just above the breastbone for a splash of color. A half jacket of dull red open over it, and the woman's long auburn hair in a plait that circles her head, pinned in place. The result is somewhere between 'gallery opening' and 'renfaire'.
In her head, Elise thought of it as a very 'witchy' look, the sort of thing one wears when they're absolutely trying to impress someone with their mysterious and sexy aura. It worked, too; an evening of hearing a city alderman say the most FASCINATING things about Southtown development projects that are going to become the most fascinating blackmail material in about six months. And all she needed to do was provide a tarot reading that any idiot would buy and stick around for an apertif.
Why do people get real jobs when this stuff is so much more fun?
She's cold, even if she looks fabulous (ESPECIALLY because, really) and is ready to retire to her heated wagon-trailer thing when she hears... let's just say "US girl pop" is not on the list of things she expected to hear. When she gravitates towards it and realizes whose trailer it's coming from? Well. She's been meaning to ask what happened, after that note, anyway.
A few seconds later, a knock on the door. "Sweetie, open up. I'm curious, you're loud, and it's bloody cold out here."
Honoka never has to ask who it is when she hears -that- accent -- though it seems that the juggler has been awaiting a visit from this guest in particular. The door flies open without too much delay, and an ... incredibly manic Honoka opens the door. "Elise, Elise! C'mon in! It's c-cold!"
She's still in her stage costume. It's been, what, -hours- since the last performance! But it may be obvious why -- just as the last time Elise had stopped by, Honoka has been scribbling on her laminated maps of Japan and the world, and photos and index cards are tossed all about the bed, sofa, and kitchenette counter.
"... That's a cute dress, by the way!" she announces, rushing over to the counter. "I just got some tea started for you, it should be ready soon..." Sure enough, the same tea as last time is already on the stovetop. The advantages of being friends with a psychic...
Once the door closes, she smiles. Giddy. Bouncing from one foot to another. "I--" she starts, then again: "We--"
She blinks at a moment, rewinds what Elise just -said-, and stops to turn the music down.
Pinching her lips shut, she draws in her breath through her nostrils. One breath, two breaths, three breaths... and with her enthusiasm sharply repressed (but only just barely) she asks, "You look fancy. How did things go?"
It's only the polite thing to do, after all!
"Well," Elise says, shrugging off her jacket and either laying it on a nearby unoccupied surface or, ideally, finding a coat rack (her hopes are low). "I know that Makishima Heavy Industries has heavy bids for the reclaimed island project but that they're being stalled by a bunch of other competing contractors. I know that Alderman Fujioka has absolutely ABOMINABLE taste in wine. And I know that you must have had a very pleasant night because you've mysteriously become 16 again."
Stepping inside and shutting the door, she decides she's tired enough to let someone else serve tea, even though in Honoka's current emotional state of "Jolt Cola Overdose" this means she might have to go without for the time being. Instead she sits down on the couch and crosses one leg over the other, placing her gloved hands in her lap.
"There'll be plenty of time for debriefing later, darling. You are positively glowing and so I'd like to know why."
No... Honoka's got a cup of tea for herself. It's what she reaches for as Elise seats herself upon the couch, curling her fingertips about the warm cup. "Good news, good news, and yes? I guess, maybe, it might just be a bit obvious. But it's like I told you! I..."
She beams, bobbing once on her tiptoes. "I know I'm not crazy. Not totally!"
Honoka reaches onto the counter and wings a postcard over to Elise. As cards tend to resist following -exactly- where they are tossed, it flutters down -- but it's plenty slow enough for Elise to snag it out of midair. On the postcard are a bunch of pictures taken from an automated photo booth -- pictures of Zach and Honoka apparently enjoying the moments together.
"A... Zach challenged me to a fight. But he made a bet with me, he bet that if he won the fight, he'd take me out for a night on the town. And if I won, he'd answer one question."
And Honoka raises a finger. "We... fought to a draw! So we both won. He's actually a pretty decent dancer. And maybe a little sweet too."
And then Honoka leans against the kitchenette counter, reaching over to quiet the kettle the instant after it starts chirping. Throwing her palms out, she spreads them wide, announcing, "Buuuuut, B, he told me that it was exactly like I thought. He remembers another me. Another me who -was- crazy, but the whole -world- was crazy, so it's okay!"
She turns away, pouring Elise a hot cup. She glances back at her visitor, cocking her head to the side. "... Sorry, should I back up and explain something?" she asks, a quirky, asymmetrical smile crossing her lips.
"Well, well..." Elise says with a faint smile, reaching out and snapping up the floating-ish postcard between two fingers with snakebite speed and glancing at it. "Look at me, meddling without lifting a finger." What does she mean by THAT? The Scot flips the card over and back again a few times, glancing at it curiously. That sure is the man she met at the Sleeping Dragon. Pretty bold of him to make his move so swiftly.
In fact, she says this aloud. "I must say I'm impressed. He made his move with a swiftness, that's for sure. Though really, darling: you, a performer, and a US Marine? It's all a bit 'Madame Butterfly,' isn't it?" She pauses, then clears her throat. "Forget I said that, somewhat in bad taste. Still, if you had fun with it, I suppose that's what matters. Though... why challenge you to a *fight*?" she wonders aloud, placing the print club-smattered postcard on a coffee table or other available surface, then leaning back in her chair.
Which is good, because talk of other worlds full of crazy people, up to and including the evil universe version of her lovable but idealistic-to-the-point-of-occasional-concern boss, is going to take some time. "You... have gotten ahead of yourself, sweetie, yes. Back up to the part about the date. What was your question?"
Meddling? The reference flies right by Honoka, but she dismisses it for now. If it's relevant, it'll be elaborated on, after all.
"Yeah, I didn't think he'd challenge me. I... I know he's into fighting and all, I just figured he was too shy, but hey. Aaaand here."
Producing a teabag of Earl Grey and a saucer, she presents the set to her Scottish friend. "Aaaaand... consider it forgotten for -now-, but rest assured I'll be hitting up Wikipedia after you're gone," she comments, scratching her chin.
"So... yes. Apparently there's another world where we've done all this before. And... somehow. Well, remember those three folks we talked about last time, Zach was one of them? They all have memories of this other world."
She takes a deep breath, exhales through her nose, and starts pacing as she begins to enumerate the points she's trying to make. "So... long story short? My question was whether Zach's dreams, or visions, were tales about this... other world. And he said yes." She points to her map, before counting off four items upon her fingers. "And that... other world ended. Zach remembered an apocalypse. Four areas -- Japan, Thailand, Paris, and the US." She tilts her head to her marked-up map, illustrating the areas she'd just mentioned.
Honoka turns back to Elise, her mania fading just a touch. "And that... is when the Honoka of -that- apocalyptic world decided to strike."
Elise is grateful for the cuppa, which she accepts with aplomb, dunking her teabag in the water and listening as Honoka spins her yarn. It's a good thing for both of these women that controlling psychic abilities requires strong self-control, because it would not, not, NOT do to ruin a good black dress with a disbelieving spittake. As it is, once Honoka REALLY gets rolling with all this, Elise's teacup comes up to her lips and then it just sort of freezes there once the details become -- let's be real -- so absurd that they have descended into the unthinkably impossible.
Eventually, Elise sets her cup down and chews this over in her head. She is trying to be a good friend, but, well... sometimes a good friend says things their friend doesn't actually want to hear. "Have you considered the idea that this man is playing you, darling? I am asking because I care what happens to you and... tales of a now-dead world where we've all been before but only a select few made it 'here'? Frankly it's a little unbelievable, and you're talking to someone from a 500 year old clan of highlands witches that hunts demons and ghosts."
Honoka's been in a fantastically good mood for pretty much all night. Taka could tell. Reika could tell. Poor Sudo could tell, but good luck getting that man to speak even the -thought- of a bad word about Honoka.
But when Elise questions her... well. It draws a frown from the juggler. She pulls herself up to sit on the bed, crossing her legs and resting her hands upon her knees.
"Elise, do you get... played often? I mean, it's pretty hard to play you. Right? Because if someone's /lying/ to you, it's pretty damn obvious, I'd think. Heartrate, breathing, and of course their -own mind- betraying them. Let's not forget, now... I can play the game too. So you tell me, now that you've met him... is Captain Glenn just a /bad/ liar, or an absolutely /terrible/ liar?"
Honoka offers a brief smirk, at that. She's not -really- mad. It's hard to be, as she'd heard her stereo switch to another song from her mix. Linkin Park. "... It's... yeah," she states, utterly failing to explain. "We went to this one dance club in Amerika-mura. Music kinda worked its way into my head."
"That's how one succeeds at the Game, darling," Elise says calmly, not at all ruffled by Honoka's entirely expected balking. She leans forward, forced to uncross her legs to do so, and retrieves her teacup, which she brings to her lips and sips from gently before placing both it and the saucer safely in her hand, legs crossed once more. "The good ones, the really skilled ones... you never know, nor will you ever. And you must have noticed his abilities. Keeping people out isn't so hard once you know the trick." This much is true; Elise didn't exactly try to read Zach's thoughts, but she didn't need to. He wore them openly. But she could sense the resistance she would have found if she'd tried.
"The plain and simple truth is that if I decided not to ask you that because you seemed in such a jolly mood I'd be failing you as a friend, let alone an advisor." This comes out sounding somewhat cold and calculating, but to Elise's point of view, it IS the truth. It doesn't help that Elise is a natural cynic, however.
"That being said: no, I don't believe our American military friend has the guile for clever conversation masquerading as subterfuge," the Scot finally adds, and without any rancor at admitting Honoka is right on that angle. "Merely watching out for you, love. So what is it that terrible awful alternate universe you did?"
The diabolista nods slowly, only once looking away to find her tea right on the counter where she'd left it. She shrugs faintly, a lot of the good humor of the evening starting to ebb away. "Okay, maybe I just ... -really- wanted it to be true. But Occam's Razor, Elise... it'd require three people to tell me the same lie, or similar lies that all construct a similar idea in the mind of a person who, up until the point at which I'd first met them, =did not exist=."
She kicks her feet a moment. ... Yes, she's sulking, just a wee bit.
"... And they would have to tell a complete stranger that she'd taken over Japan under false pretenses, assassinating the emperor and most of the government."
Honoka raises an eyebrow, looking over to Elise.
"If you like, you can try to talk to Ayame Ichijo, at the Meian Jinja. But good luck getting -her- to say anything. She -is- one who's really good at the Game."
Honoka hops up off her bed, walking over to sip at her tea.
"... So you /didn't/ put him up to fighting me? I wonder what got it in his head then."
"I DO like a challenge," Elise says with a smile at the suggestion that she speak with some shrine maiden, "but I'll stay away from various religious types, thank you. Righteousness gives me a headache no matter what form it's in." Then she falls silent, because Honoka's story about what 'evil her' did in this supposed other world is... pretty heavy stuff. Pretty unbelievable stuff, in Elise's eyes, but the juggler's abrupt mood shift when the Scot expressed her skepticism about all this did not go unnnoticed, and there's no reason for Elise to be mean about it.
"I can't imagine what, no. He seemed rather suspicious of me, so I would suspect he is suspicious of *you*," the seeress says, arching an eyebrow. "Although if that story you just told is true, I imagine he has good reason to be." With a shrug, she eases herself off the couch and into the kitchen, entirely helping herself to another cup of tea now that she's thoroughly drained the first one. "Perhaps the curious thing is, it really was dumb luck that we ran into each other. Had your friends in that restaurant not passed word along I'd have gone straight home that night."
There's a momentary pause as Elise picks up the kettle and pours herself a steaming cup of hot water, then returns to the living room with cup, saucer, and teabag in hand. "Points to alternate universe Honoka for her directness, but I must say, you don't seem that person at all, to me. Thank goodness. If you were the brute force violent revolutionary type I imagine we'd not get along half as well." Sitting down on the couch again, she dunks the tea bag in the water absently, glad for the repetitive motion if nothing else. "Unless you've got some internal Che Guevara switch that moving between these... realities... flipped off, perhaps?"
Truth be told, Honoka didn't really like setting foot in the Meian Jinja, herself, for much the same reasons given by Miss Harkness. "... He's... yeah. He's suspicious. But... having told me what he did, I mean." She shrugs, pushing through her cloud of gloom to offer another sunny smile, mostly due to the music shifting to a good, upbeat song with lots of faux-British screaming.
Still, she peers over to Elise, questioning for a moment. Brute force? Totally in her means and capacity. But the Che Guevara reference puts things back into perspective -- no, no hostile military takeover for this universe's version of Honoka. "No.. no," she agrees, scratching her cheek. "And the other pieces of information were that... A: I contracted with volatile mercenary groups to help, and B: the other me did not survive. Assassinated, for... crimes against the State, I guess." She takes a sip of tea at that, savoring the heat on her throat, using it as a salve so that she doesn't break into tears again at the thought of what -could- have been. "All the more reason to do things the way we are, Elise. Perhaps the paramilitary action is best left for the movies, hmm."
She turns back to her map, thinking softly for a moment. "... Still. We both agreed that thinking too -much- on this other realm would probably stop us from enjoying -this- life. So... the lessons are nice ones to learn from. And just that."
She takes another sip of her tea, before setting down the cup. "... Best part of that night was the dancing, though. I want to go back to that club!"
With a grin, Elise gestures with her teacup as Honoka continues the story of her otherworldly self. "Sic semper tyrannis!" she intones, with overdramatic zeal, before taking a sip of her drink and leaning back on the couch with a slow exhalation. "Anyway, shouldn't that be a good sign, sweetie? If that's the case then that world's Honoka is dead and buried. All the more reason for you to focus on the here and now and let other people get buried in supernatural could've-should've." For someone whose mystical lineage includes the ability to see the future and read the hearts of others, Elise Harkness is remarkably pragmatic in nature. Perhaps because rejecting that legacy meant she had to work all the harder to survive on her own.
"I do wonder what alternate universe Elise Harkness was like. If your experience was any indicator I suspect she was a good girl who stayed home and hunted werewolves, but I like to imagine she ended up like David Bowie in 'Labyrinth', all fur ruffs and bad attitude and too much eyeliner." She takes a sip. "Probably in a terrible alt rock goth band about feelings. Good thing that world ended."
Sic semper tyrannis. The Latin takes a moment to register; if she hadn't just come across the topic in history class this week, it's doubtful she'd have gotten the meaning at all. The language of a toast, though -- that's universal. She raises her cup and takes a sip as well.
"Yeah... there is that. I guess I just hate leaving mysteries unsolved. It's... it's good to know -what- the inside joke was, after all. Now that I know?"
She makes the 'shake it off' motion. It's clearly too late for her, the Americans have infected her with their cultural memes.
As Elise mentions her alternate self, Honoka crosses her eyes, trying to keep up. "... I... I don't think I've seen that. But it sounds like your style!" She leans closer, narrowing her eyes in false-conspiracy mode. "... Does it, perchance, involve baiting people into their certain doom and/or financial straits?"
Laughing softly, she leans back against the kitchenette counter, sipping her tea. "Anyway... Well. Yeah, I think I can move on now. Miss Ichijo can snark all she likes, and I've been officially warned in -two- instances of why the ghost ninja should be watched carefully. Now... all I have to do now is keep my nose clean, and... we're all set, right?"
Honoka smiles, glancing to the designer catalogs strewn about the room. "... And now, I'm -so- glad you've come. I think I might be in need of a fashion update..."
Log created on 18:33:56 02/03/2015 by Honoka, and last modified on 21:26:34 02/05/2015.