Description: Zach Glenn visits another of the Butcher's victims.
The Twilight Star Circus has not been quite the same, the past few days. It tends to not be, when the star performer is laid up in bed.
"Hono-chan..." calls out the voice of Taka, one of the circus ringmasters, as he raps upon the trailer door. "You've got a visitor... a booooy..."
He's likely to get glares from the visitor. He doesn't care, he's the voice of the Twilight Star Circus, and violence is -probably- not going to be invoked, considering.
There's a rustling sound within the trailer. "Come... come on in."
The trailer is kind of a mess. There's a kitchenette. There's a couch. There's a lot of cans of Kirin tea all over the place. And there, in the back of the trailer furthest from the door, is a shadow of the exuberant juggler that Zach last saw standing at the train station, moments after a brief, but memorable exchange. She's smiling -- but it's vacant, with only a small amount of conviction behind it. She's waving -- but her hand is bandaged up. And she's bundled up in heavy blankets, with only her face and her purple-highlighted bangs peeking out.
"Hi, Zach," comes her voice, in scarcely more than a whisper.
"You take care of her, son." notes Taka with a wink. "If this trailer starts a rockin', you can expect us knockin'."
Zach doesn't give Taka any glares. If anything, Zach understands what Taka is trying to do: get a rise out of someone. While Glenn suspects he's the butt of the joke, and not the target, that's okay. The Marine could use a little boost himself.
Zach is dressed in his service uniform: tan khaki shirt and tie, green khaki pants, an over coat and a hard framed service cap which he removes when he walks inside the trailer. He stops short, giving Taka a slight nod. "I don't think that'll be an issue," he says politely to Taka, a gentle grin showing to the young man.
He looks over Honoka, and the young woman can be sure by the look in his eye that Zach is seeing more than just the appearance of the performer wrapped up in a blanket. He doesn't speak until Taka leaves. "I saw Agent Little," he says quietly. "And Officer Louis." Zach pauses, swallowing. "Little told me some. How are you?" The concern from the Marine is both visible and palpable. He's wearing his thoughts and emotions openly, to let her know the truth of it.
Honoka's clothes are concealed from view due to swaddling, but Zach may be able to catch sight of the spaghetti straps of a beige camisole as she moves here and there. "... You... visited..." she stammers, lips pursing afterwards as she nods. She should have known that word would spread. Would have known, if she'd had even half of her wits about her.
Breathing in a ragged sigh, she turns to the side, retrieving a well-worn notebook from the other side of the bed. It's turned to a page that's half-full of feverishly-scribbled notes. And she begins to write as Zach speaks.
She's not doing it to be rude. She's doing it to sort things out into their proper linear causation, because she can't trust her brain to do the same.
Accordingly, it takes a few moments of her staring at the paper before her lips move again. Her jaw quivers as if she's suffering from a fever. "... I f-feel pretty terrible," she admits, forging a half-smile. It's the same thing she'd told the agent, after all.
She taps her pen at her notebook, a bit higher on the page. "... Th-thanks for coming." And another tap, elsewhere on the page. "... I'm... very tired. And want to c-cut my shoulder off... the th-throbbing is keeping me from sleeping..."
The brace on her right is still fully intact -- she ought not need it now, but it doesn't seem to be healing quite right.
Zach peers over Honoka's shoulder to try to read what's being written down. "Little had mentioned that... whatever attacked you was very interested in people like us," Zach says quietly. He looks around the trailer, then back to Honoka.
"I..." Zach takes a deep breath. "I'm betting you're not sleeping well," he finally says. "Officer Louis was having that problem when I saw him. Little looked like he hadn't slept for a couple of days."
The Marine takes up a chair next to Honoka. "I might be able to help," he finally says. "If you'll let me."
"... it's... yeah." She flips back a few pages. It's hard to read her chicken scratch: it's all in katakana, and what's more, it's all words that aren't even Japanese. Honoka can barely read it herself, really.
"... Y-yeah. It... it's eating souls. Harvesting." She flips to another page, in which she'd drawn the diagram for Daniel -- a big outlined figure, with lots of faces on the inside. And smaller figures with incomplete outlines, and half-complete faces.
Honoka looks up to Zach. There are so many words she could say... but the pen is motionless.
She nods. And holds up her bandaged hand, palm up, limply reaching out to him with a pleading look in her eyes.
If she were in better spirits, or better physical condition, the juggler would reach out and place her hand in his directly. But she'll have to settle for the simple gesture that suggests as much, instead.
Zach takes the hand, gently, in his own. He slows his breathing down, his mind going down once-again familiar paths. He nods toward the bed. "Let's get you into bed," Zach says quietly. "You're..." Zach pauses, then just says it. "You're going to be tired when this is done." If Honoka allows him to, he'll guide her to the bed.
Honoka tucks the notebook and pen into the crook of her bad arm -- that's one thing the brace is good for. She begins to protest as she's led back to her feet: "I'm t-tired now, Zach, but..." A fit of wooziness overtakes her, and her good shoulder rocks into Zach's chest. Keeping a tight grip on Zach's hand -- her own hand icy to the touch -- she manages to keep from being too much dead weight.
"... I have to... have to ask, did... the Butcher come back? He... he showed up, the moment I helped... Officer Louis..."
"No," Zach answers, still quiet, still gentle. "He didn't. Come on, almost there." Zach lays Honoka back, settling blankets and covers around her. Checking the pillow. Making sure that the bed is comfortable. "Are you familiar with the concept of Reiki?" he asks. He wants to get Honoka off of this specific topic, and explaining what he's about to do will help her with that.
It also has the added bonus of helping Zach get his thoughts aligned with what he wants to do.
"Reiki," Honoka repeats, as the blanket slips down, baring her good shoulder, and a good portion of her back, the beige silk hemming closely to her bone structure. She's lost a good amount of weight the past few days, and not just from the missing (figurative) pound of flesh -- without the will to move, she's lost a lot of the will to eat or drink as well. She hardly seems to notice, as she's set down upon her back. She holds onto Zach's hand as best she can, smiling placidly... and shaking her head, with just a hint of delirium. "I... studied... maybe a day or two. It... did not suit me."
Zach lets out a light chuckle. "It's the lending of energy, from one person to another," he says. "Some consider it a form of alternative medicine, a lot of people thinks it's a bunch of crap." Zach adjusts the silk to cover Honoka back up, to restore some modesty, and then sits back for a moment. He starts to rub his hands together and as Zach finally brings himself into the proper fram of mind, Honoka might notice a slow building of energy between Zach's hands. Like the start of a warm fire, or the sun coming out from behind clouds.
"What a lot of people don't... can't know, really, is that there is some truth to the concept," he continues to explain. "It happens all the time, on a scale too small to be noticed, usually. That moment when you get a hug from someone who cares about you, or when they are simply there for you in a bad time."
Zach pulls his hands apart, the energy stringing between the seperated palms golden flecked with emerald. "People like us," Zach continues as he places a gentle hand on Honoka's solar plexus, the chakra center for identity, ego, sense of self, "Who know how to move the energy of the soul around, can make use of this principle to perform acts of healing." Zach places his other hand on Honoka's brow, for the mind, the ability to seperate reality from fantasy. "I'll lend you some of my strength," Zach says quietly, as he suits action to words, gently sending some of his own soul power into Honoka. "It will help, for a time."
The notebook gets rested beside her on the bed. The pen as well. Honoka's mocha-colored eyes look back up at Zach, her eyelids narrowing somewhat -- not out of anger, but out of weariness. "... it... be careful... you don't... you don't want to take any of -his- energy..." she stammers, placing her free hand atop the hand Zach places upon her chest. She knows this could present a level of danger to the Marine. She knows this could even be the sign that attracts the Butcher -- their souls linked thusly due to the nature of the devouring.
And yet, she knows enough to stop resisting. To let Zach flood her with his soul power.
It's a familiar, warming feeling, permeating her bones and flesh, triggering the healing processes within the wounded tissue which she'd normally be able to kickstart on her own. Her mind... becomes clearer, less addled. Her breathing... calms and becomes clearer as well.
But the pressure she places on Zach's hand does not abate.
Not in the slightest.
Zach makes no move to pull his hand away, using the hand on her head to smooth back her hair. "I know," Zach says. He leans forward, and lays a single, gentle kiss on Honoka's forehead before sitting back down. "Get some sleep, Honoka," the Marine says quietly. "I'll stay, if you'll let me."
He stifles, only barely, a yawn of his own. While the effort wasn't as tiring as it was with Officer Louis, Zach could still use a nap and a meal. He is unwilling to leave Honoka alone just yet anyway, but knows that he's a guest only for as long as he is welcome. Getting food, therefore, is not much of an option.
Honoka closes her eyes as Zach hovers over her, for just that one delirious moment. When she feels his pressure on her forehead, for just a moment, she reaches up. Fingertips across his cheek; nothing firm or forceful, just soft pressure, just a little more than a tickle.
But she does not press the effort, otherwise. "... I want you to stay." she states. There's no hesitation in her voice, not at all. She blinks, her eyelids heavy. "And I want to talk..."
Her eyes close for a moment, but her breathing does not slow. She's still awake.
It takes a few seconds for her to find the words again, though. "... There's bags of tea in the dispenser. And some frozen fish patties in the freezer. I can get Taka to bring us some nigiri in the morning if..." She shrugs faintly with her good shoulder, cracking her eyelids open. "If you want to try something new."
Does he -eat- nigiri? It's a calculated guess -- she didn't recall him being -too- adventurous with the sushi whenever they had their dinner out. But if nothing else, it shows Honoka's got some of her wit back -- at least temporarily.
Zach was fairly experimental with his sauces that night. He smiles, the fatigue clear upon his face despite the alert demeanor. "If you can stay awake," he says after a moment, "Then I think that I can as well." He sits down, though, not moving for food or drink just yet. "And I think I'd like that," he says regarding the nigiri.
"So," he says slowly. "What do you want to talk about?"
"... Well, that's part true," she admits, before scooting over towards the wall of the trailer, making room alongside herself upon the full-size mattress.
"I'm cold. And... you're already... offering to spend the night, so I don't think you should be forced to sleep in the chairs."
Pause. "They're creaky. And that'll keep me up all night."
There's a sofa. It's a moot point.
"I'unno. just... glad to be able to think straight for a few. Without stammering, or writing my thoughts down."
Eyes open, just a bit wider. "Or... don't you trust your self-control around me, Captain?"
Zach leans back, a slight blush becoming readily apparent. The chair does creak. "I..." Pause. "I was offering to stay. If you wanted me to." Another pause. Part of him... doesn't want to say 'no' to this offer. He's a healthy young man, with the usual drives that come with being 25. She's attractive, and seems willing to see where things lead. Zach buries this line of thought, and then parks a fully loaded tank on it. He makes no effort to hide the effort from Honoka, either. He wants her to know what kind of a person he is. "But I would prefer if you took it easy," he says with a lopsided grin. "That shoulder looked like it was dislocated," he says pointing at the injured arm. "You can keep the bed," Zach says as he nods toward the couch, "And if it comes to me needing to crash, I can take the couch."
It's not paranoia, or even suspicion driving the situation; Zach simply isn't willing to take that kind of advantage of this situation.
Perhaps calling his self-control into question was her mistake. It's tricky... taking part in this sort of negotiation without the full advantage of her full spectrum of abilities.
A pink tinge crosses her cheeks as well, going quite nicely with the impish little smile he may have seen a few dozen times before. "Captain... Puppydog. That's your name now."
She closes her eyes for a moment, drawing in a deep breath. She -is- tired.
"A chunk was bitten out of it, Captain Puppydog. I just need time. It's not like I can really -do- anything, now, is it?"
She may be talking like normal, but there is a palpable sense of disappointment, of frustration. But even in her compromised state... she can tell that Zach's probably on the right track.
"... Zach... before I fall asleep, I just want you to know... I'm sorry you had to come out here all this way. I thought... I thought I was making a difference. I thought I could save... save Daniel. Save Officer Louis. That I wouldn't need help."
She pauses, looking up at the ceiling, eyes opening a bit wider. "I'm a bit full of myself, aren't I..."
"...Puppydog?" he asks incredulously. "Really?" So much for... huh. He noticed that. He's silent for a moment longer. "Maybe when you're better," he says, a grin on his own face. He blinks once, slowly, before standing up and heading over the to tea dispenser.
"You don't have to apologize for that," he says in a tone that is both firm and gentle. "There's nothing wrong with trying to do something on your own," he says as he looks through the selection before taking a packet of hojicha. "Besides," he says as he starts to make the tea. "Now we know that we're going to need some people to take the Butcher down, if he was able to walk away from you and Daniel. I've fought the two of you, so I'd know. If you hadn't tried to help..." Zach would have tried to hunt the Butcher down himself. That would have ended badly. "Sometimes being full of yourself isn't a bad thing."
Honoka gracefully punches out with a casual (if somewhat goofy) smile, before the conversation crosses the line from flirting into passive-aggressiveness. She looks over to see Zach perusing the selection of teas: good! She has a little of everything, he's bound to see something familiar, unless he's looking for the oversaturated raspberry monstrosities they serve back in the northeast US.
She listens to Zach explain, and nods quietly. "... honestly, I don't... know what came over me. He told me to run." And by all rights, she should have. Why risk her life to save someone else's? For all she knew, Officer Louis deserved death. Wanted it.
"I suppose I just figured, if people die, it should count for something. Meaningless deaths... those are the saddest stories to hear about."
Zach looks over at Honoka, his expression offering to fix something for her while he's up. "They can be," Zach says quietly, getting a cup for his tea. He takes a sip. Not quite what he was expecting, but not bad either. "I have to admit," he says after a moment, staring into his tea. "Finding meaning in death isn't a concept I'm confortable with, or know how to really wrap my brain around."
"Captain Puppydog," she starts, glancing back at the thing of tea. She's sleepy. She doesn't particularly -want- to talk more, she just has something on her mind right now -- accordingly, she simply shakes her head 'no'.
Good-naturedly, she offers a bit of exposition. "... The meaning of death determines which deity you perform a ritual to, among the Ainu. It's crucial to know how someone died, in order to place a context on how they lived."
She draws in her breath somewhat, closing her eyes again. It's not a rude gesture, just one she's finding herself enjoying now that ennui no longer has a deathgrip on her windpipe. "... But... I can see why that wouldn't be a concern for most."
"Again with the puppydog thing," he mutters, a faint grin on his face. She's feeling well enough to banter. That's progress. At least for now. Zach looks over at Honoka, mulling those words over a bit. "That... I can understand that," he finally says. It does, in a way, spark some curiousity in the Marine. He loosens up his tie, unbuttons the top two buttons of his shirt, along with the cuffs of his sleeves. He takes his cup of tea with him as he sits carefully on the foot of the bed.
"So what happens, among the Ainu, if someone dies of old age," he asks. He honestly wants to know, because knowing some of this will help him learn about Honoka. "Or if they get sick?"
He chooses to position himself closer, and yet, as far away as he can, Honoka notes. Still, this draws a light smile from her. "... Among my people, we have rituals for everything. Curing the sick. Curing the unwell. Praying for a good afterlife."
Her lips turn downward in a melancholy expression. "It's... it's the culture, the culture that we lost. I don't know that anyone ever taught me the old ritual for dealing with internal bleeding, or the ancient ritual of high blood pressure. We call that 'going to the hospital' now."
She shakes her head slowly. "There's so much that I don't know, Zach... about my own culture. There's no Ainupedia to just click and learn, sadly... there's rituals. You either experience one, or... you don't."
Moving closer was as much something Zach wanted to do as something he felt like Honoka could use. Both people in the trailer were tired and Honoka had been through, is still going through, a very rough ordeal. He doesn't want her to think that he doesn't want to be near, be around Honoka.
Zach watches, listens, and cannot help but feel a little saddened by it. "I'm an American," he says. "We don't so much have a culture so much as we redefine it every decade or so." He's thoughtful for a moment. "So is there someone who you could, I don't know, experience these rituals with?"
Honoka's feet are bare, and a little cold, even as the rest of her has started to warm up from the reiki treatment. Her internal temperature may be a bit more of a point of concern as she rests her foot against Zach's hip, delicate toes grazing against the military-tucked shirt.
"There are," comes her tacit reply. "But I'm not ready. Not yet. The circus is my life, Zach. The circus doesn't make much money from Hokkaido these days ... and Hokkaido is so very far away."
Zach smiles a little as he gently grabs the foot, keeping his hand there. The hand is still warm, whether that is from the cup of tea he was holding or just the his hand. He closes his eyes slowly as he gives the foot a gentle squeeze, and he leaves his eyes closed.
"That's a decision that only you can make," Zach says quietly, slowly, perhaps a bit muzzy from impending sleep. "Just... if this is important to you, you shouldn't put it off too long..." A yawn, not a loud one, but noticable. "Noone lives forever..."
"No one lives forever, no." The muscles of her foot tense, as her toes wiggle -- just enough to signify that she appreciates the gesture, even as her drowsy features threaten to blare disinterest. It's anything but that, of course -- just simple fatigue.
"I didn't leave on the best terms," she notes, letting the words hang in the air. "I'd always wanted to dance. To show people what I was capable of. I have to perform, Zach." A hand goes to her shoulder, her fingers prodding at the flesh concealed by the brace. "I can't, until I get better. And when... when I get really good? I'll... feel..."
She listens to herself for a moment. Ennui sets in, but it has little to do with the acts of the previous week.
"You're... probably right, though. If... if I can't get on stage -anyway-..."
Honoka's eyes track back up to Zach's, having drifted away for a moment in her fatigue. "It seems like as good a reason as any, I suppose."
Zach's eyes stay closed. They feel like lead weights. "Who knows," he asks tiredly. It's not that he is disinterested, just so very tired at this point. "Maybe you'll learn something to..." He pauses, powering through the fatigue for a moment. "What I did here," he finally admits. "It's temporary. That energy you warned me about," A pause. "I don't know what it is, or how to deal with it."
Honoka laughs, softly. "I'll let you rest, Zach, I've been talking your ear off. ... Mostly because it's... pretty exciting to be able to talk someone's ear off, after the past few days." Drawing in her breath, she adds, "Thanks."
She allows her foot to remain exactly where it is, braced against Zach's hip. She has no idea how well he can fall asleep in a chair with no back, but in her current state, she'd be fine with the Marine sleeping anywhere he wants.
All the /really/ incriminating evidence of her criminal organization has already been moved to another castle, after all.
Zach is a Marine. Like just about any member of any armed service, he has learned the lesson of how to fall asleep just about anywhere at any time. Any concerns about a criminal empire were pretty far down Zach's list of things to deal with here. "Have a couple of leads," he mumbles. "'ll check them out after br'kf'st..."
And then there is a very very faint snore can be heard from the Marine.
Log created on 21:38:56 02/07/2015 by Zach Glenn, and last modified on 22:09:35 02/08/2015.