Description: After a long vacation, getting back into the swing of things can take a while. Especially if the so-called vacation creates as many issues as it resolves...
Friday and Saturday nights at the Twilight Star Circus tend to draw the biggest crowds. But Sunday afternoons were never popular. Ever. The circus just doesn't schedule shows until the evening on Sundays -- it's a good opportunity for the cast and crew to just spend the day catching up on administrative tasks, practice, or whatever the heck they want.
And considering how often Honoka finds herself on the road, for one reason or another, she'd opted for 'practice', lest she fall out of it.
Despite plenty of recuperation time, her shoulder is still stiff after every performance -- which is why she's taken the time to work on flexibility training. The weather's nice: not enough for her stage costume, but nice enough for a t-shirt and durable leggings, and sunny enough to move the parallel bars outside for a change. Her legs stretch straight out before her as she uses her arms to lower herself down for dips. Other performers are walking about the circus grounds, but the only company the performer is keeping is the sound of a violin, emanating from a small bluetooth speaker. There are plenty of other circus security staff that a visitor would have to get through -- they're on particular watch after a certain lupine visitor manages to infiltrate the perimeter several weeks prior.
Members of the United States military, when not on active operations, tend to keep a five day work week. More dedicated members might opt to do some kind of personal training, and the Marines in the Second Vanguard are no exception to this. Zach Glenn spent the time since returning from Hokkaido training.
There had been a large package waiting for him when he returned to Camp Fuji, along with a note with very specific instructions, which Zach followed. He been carrying the thing, wrapped in a bundle of cloth and strapped to his back, around for the past couple of weeks.
Zach could not, entirely, place why he decided to visit the circus today of all days. He had been very deliberate after returning from Hokkaido, allowing Honoka to get back into her own routines while getting back into his own. The space had done him some good, had given him time to do some more thinking. But today? He went to the circus, only to find nothing going on. He learned, quickly, that the Twilight Star did not schedule things on Sunday afternoons.
What to do now, then, he wonders.
Sudo is, as always, discreet when bringing matters to Honoka's attention. He speaks in hushed tones, conveying his message to the performer.
The juggler turns her head to face the enforcer without dropping her pace in the slightest. "Here? Well, yeah, bring him over."
It won't be long before the tall assistant enters Zach's field of vision, waving him down with a hand. "Captain Glenn?" he calls out. Of course Sudo remembers him -- from Shitennoji, from the circus meet-up afterwards, and of course the Twilight Star Challenge fight. "If you're looking for Miss Kawamoto, she's over there practicing..." And while he gestures towards the parallel bar stand with an open hand, he's also willing to run escort for the Marine.
Honoka's shoulder-length locks, interlaced with bright pink, sway loosely in the breeze as she finishes off her set of dips -- but rather than take a breather, she tips her shoulders forward, rocking her legs backwards. The bars shift slightly in the dried-out grass, but they're plenty capable of supporting her weight. Placing her toes on the bars, she then begins a set of pushups, her arm muscles tensing considerably.
The set finishes precisely as Zach arrives, at which point Honoka lets her legs swing down, resuming her original dip stance for a moment before dropping to stand like a normal person. At which point she tosses the Marine a healthy smile. "Hi! Just in the neighborhood, hm?"
She offers a quick wink over to Sudo, who's smart enough to take the cue and retreat to the comfort of his newspaper crossword puzzle.
Zach gives Sudo a nod of greeting. "You can call me Zach, Sudo-san," he says cheerfully. "I'm not here on business." All the same, he follows the man, who clearly handles security on the grounds judging from the way the man moves and interacts. When he arrives at the parallel bars, he just watches and waits for Honoka to finish her movements, appreciation for what he see clear on his face.
Glenn rolls his own shoulder slightly, still getting used to the bundle that is nearly as tall as he is, as he waves. "Something like that," he says cheerfully. "Shoulder's doing better," he asks.
Sudo is a man of few words. He simply inclines his head, acknowledging the request. "Zach."
Narrowed eyes pass to the bundle -- it could be a wallscroll. It could be a flag. There's lots of things it -could- be, but his gut feeling is that it's a weapon.
But Honoka knows Zach. She may not be as good at sensing danger as he is, but she knows intention. If he planned to use that sword on her, she'd know.
And she certainly isn't reading 'violence' in the air as she finishes her set. She snags a towel, dabbing her forehead clean before draping it about her shoulders. "Yeah, it's..." She pulls her sleeve up, showing off the diminishing scar tissue upon her shoulder. "Still a bit stiff, but."
And even though Sudo takes a position far enough out of earshot, she can still tell he's giving her another wary look -- which is answered by another smile and knowing wink.
She's not so rude as to let it go unnoticed though. "Sorry, I think Sudo's just tweaked out by the, um... " She makes the motions of unsheathing a sword in the iaijutsu tradition. "That. Something new?"
If Zach had brought a sword to use at all, he would not have had it all wrapped up. He looks slightly confused for a moment; his body is still adapting to the extra weight, but he's almost forgotten that he is carrying the bundle at all.
"Oh," he says after a half-second. "Yeah," he says unslinging it and resting one end in the ground. "Sort of a present from home," he comments as he undoes the wrapping to reveal a wooden cruciform hilt long enough to be held comfortably in two hands. "Dad sent it while we were in Hokkaido," he says, "Told me to wear it around, but not to actually try to use it for another month and a half. He won't tell me why, though."
Honoka has never seen a sword of this type up close and in person, so she spends a fair amount of time examining the craftsmanship, nodding appraisingly. "Well, they're -heavy-, is why. If you aren't used to the weight, you'll get exhausted after like ten swings. And then you're just likely to hurt yourself." With a jovial grin, she takes a hop backwards, raising her hands in a sparring gesture. "We've tried that with katanas, anyway, and those are -light- in comparison."
She fans herself off for a bit -- apparently she'd been working out for quite some time before Zach's arrival. "Is... he expecting you to practice with it or anything? To try and carry on a legacy or something?" She can appreciate the sentiment, as one who's recently been tasked with an older relative to learn the family traditions...
Zach shrugs. "No kidding," he says about the weight, "But he wouldn't talk about the reasons behind having me learn how to handle a claymore." He shrugs again. "I've never seen Dad or Grampa use a sword before..." He pauses, thinking back. "Grampa taught me a single fighting technique, and it involved a sword made out of energy, but it didn't stay around after the first swing."
The hilt of the claymore is well crafted, and apparently well-used if the darkened grip is any indicator. "I'm already involved in the only family tradition I know about," he says after a moment, "And only a small part of my extended family lives in America, so there's that."
Honoka blinks for a moment, pointing the toes of one foot out to the side for a stretch. Then a mirrored pose with the other foot, as she asks, "So that's something -else- different between the two versions, hmm..." A reasoned assumption -- it clearly wouldn't be -bothering- Zach if it were the same in both, after all.
"Who knows, maybe they're just plotting a secret family reunion or something, and they want you in top form for family honor or whatnot." She smiles faintly, with some melancholy at the thought of her own parents. The truth is still fresh on her mind, even after the past week or so.
She pushes past the melancholy, never one to reside too long in any one mood if she can help it. "Well, just so long as you don't try to rematch me while swinging it. Pretttttty sure the staff would have a fit if you tried."
And then... guilt. For while her challenge fight with Alexis was a shining example of making a performance that everyone could enjoy... she kind of let her abilities run wild against Himeko. Not something she's -terribly- proud of.
Zach tilts his head to one side for a moment, considering. "Maybe," he says. "But yeah," he says to reassure those involved, "Not here for a spar, or even a fight." Something about Honoka's demeanor raises a flag. He hadn't seen the fights; he's been outright /avoiding/ the circus in every form imaginable since getting back from leave.
"You okay," he asks with evident concern.
"I'm..." She shrugs her shoulders, offering an uneasy grin. "Can't hide anything from you, can I? It... it was this fight, the other night. I was out of form for a few weeks or so. Tried to make a good show of things, but sometimes people tweak my nerves juuuuust so. I think I kinda... overdid it." She pauses for a moment. "But just on one of the fights. The other went great!"
Zach raises an eyebrow at this. "Some people do that," he agrees with a nod as tilts the sword slightly and leans against it. "Want to talk about it," he asks simply, concern still evident.
Honoka nods slowly, frowning just a bit. "I... have been trying to reach out a bit more. Y'know, extend my awareness, like we practiced. And with my body and soul healing, I think I'm actually a bit... -stronger- than I was before. So while I'm trying to... just, y'know, give my opponents a startle... well, it ends up hurting them like crazy." She lifts herself up on the balls of her feet, as an idle stretch, trying to recollect. "... I mean, it's like... not everyone I fighter's going to be stronger than me, so I try and make a good show! But... sometimes I get caught up in the moment. People fling their... I dunno, ki, I guess, at me, and it just ends up striking a nerve."
She pauses for a moment, tapping her index fingers together. "Grandma mentioned that, later in the first tape. That while we have ki like anyone else does... other people might be better at manipulating ki. And that's certainly something I've found through these... challenges."
"I don't even know /how/ to manipulate ki," Zach says. "Then again, it's not something I really set out to learn. I've got plenty of energy on my own," he adds as he appreciates the stretching movement. He thinks for a moment.
"I think that what we use and ki can coexist, but they aren't really /compatible/," he says thoughtfully. "I'm not good at dealing with ki techniques either. I usually just try to counter them with a healthy dose of my own power."
Honoka nods, slowly. "Yeah... I can try doing that a bit more, I just feel like resisting it may be... better for me in the long run." She kneels down to fetch a water bottle she'd kept nearby, and takes a good long draw on it.
"But... yeah. It's been a nice week. Weather's getting warm... shoulder's getting good..." She contemplates a few other things, before settling on, "How's work been, are you settling back into the routine okay?"
"Aside from the chunk of wood," Zach says with a nod towards the practice weapon, "Yeah. The routine's the routine for a reason. Work's been a bit uneventful for the moment." Zach looks thoughtful, as if considering a number of things he wanted to say.
"I don't know if I actually said it," Zach says, "But I'm really glad you asked me along for that trip."
Honoka nods slowly in reply. "Yeah, it's... I'm actually glad that everyone here's been so helpful with my injury. I feel bad that... I had to lean on them for so much, but aside from my temper, well... it's been like putting on my jacket after that week of not wearing it." She laughs good-naturedly, as Zach sorts out his own thoughts.
And when he thanks her, she bows her head slightly, a contagious smile spreading across her face. "Yeah. I'm... I'm glad you came along. I don't think I would've... gotten away from Auntie the first night. We would've been screaming at each other the whole time."
She looks like she's about to say something else, but the deepening crimson tone of her cheeks speaks volumes as it is.
Zach's grin is wide, and a bit dopey in its way, at that. "Then it was good that I was there. It's hard to actually learn anything when both the student and the teacher are yelling their heads off. He scratches the bridge of his nose, his own cheeks reddening a bit at the memories of what happened during the week there.
"Yep. Don't have to be a psychic," she agrees, with an awkward (and somewhat giddy) grin.
Her eyes flit over to Sudo for a moment, before flitting back to Zach's. "Maiko brought me some really good salmon this morning, wanna try it out?" She thumbs over to her trailer, adding, "I'm surprised at how much you were willing to try out on our trip, really. You seemed... a little overwhelmed on our visit to Kani Doraku..."
Zach catches the glance towards Sudo, and raises an eyebrow. "Nerves can do that to a guy," Zach admits freely. He considers the offer for a moment, glancing between Sudo and Honoka. It's not going to do, he thinks, if Sudo regards him with the usual professional suspicion every single time he visits. It'd get annoying, fast.
"Sure thing," Zach says, holding up a finger to stall Honoka for a moment. "Oi! Sudo! You hungry?"
Honoka had spent a lot of time with Zach over their vacation. She'd thought she'd gotten a pretty good read on him.
Inviting Sudo over to her trailer for salmon wasn't really something she'd expected, though. It'd be pretty easy to see the color drain from Honoka's cheeks when Sudo nods his head.
For one thing, she doesn't feel comfortable giving Sudo the direction to leave with a psion standing right there asking the question.
For another, she isn't sure she has enough salmon for two men with the appetites of small armies.
Necessity is the mother of invention, though -- and another one of her grandmother's recorded lessons is to work on her patience -- a lesson that applies to teenagers and young adults across the board. As Sudo joins the pair en route to Honoka's trailer, she finds the good graces to don that smile once more, as she looks on the bright side: Sudo doesn't like fish all that much.
Log created on 19:39:40 03/22/2015 by Honoka, and last modified on 08:33:59 03/23/2015.