Description: The unfortunate side effect of getting KOed in the Twilight Star Challenge is, well, you miss the rest of the show! It's with that in mind that Hitomi came back for seconds. Or... was something else involved?
The Twilight Star Circus is about to begin its new tour, timed to coincide with the first blossom of cherry blossoms along the eastern coast of Japan. The crew has been practicing and can't wait to try out their new acts -- but that doesn't mean they've let their final winter-themed acts go out with a whimper! The audience was wowed with Honoka's fiery juggling performance and Reika's blizzard dance, floored by the acrobatic feats -- and kept highly amused by the circus clowns in the meantime.
Since the shift to the Twilight Star Challenge act, Honoka's rarely in top form for the final act -- she's prepared for the curtain call but little else. But, this also means she gets to -watch- said final act -- and more importantly, its effect on the crowd. She can see kids flexing their low-grade mind control upon their unwitting parents, crying and cajoling them to buy more and more overpriced goods from the vendors. It smells like profit. And this is just one reason that Honoka is deliriously happy. And /maybe/ she likes making kids happy too, shut up.
She's normally drained after bowing to the audience and making herself available for autographs, but tonight... she feels oddly invigorated. All set to proceed on the next leg of her circus' voyage around Japan, and... well, all that's left now is to get a good night's sleep for the trip in the morning. She's still in full costume, though she can be spotted wearing her lucky purple jacket as she talks with a few of her more loquacious fans.
One such fan lingering with the mass of others also pressing for autographs breaks away with form the pack to kneel down beside what seems to be an unattended and loudly bawling child. The heavy muffler wound around her neck and shoulders pulled down and hooked under her chin, addressing the little boy with a smile and nodding along with his sobbing replies. Troublesome, there was a real wealth of people and huge turnout for the circus's final run, and easy enough to lose sight of just one or two parents in the crowds. Steadying the boy with a reassuring grin she both wonders and worried how she could help him search the crowd in a... Hmm! it was kind of simple after all.
Riding on shoulders of the brown haired girl the boy is wowed once again by the sights of the circus, performers and clowns, animals and rings from his new perspective. Hitomi turns her head just slightly to the side and keeps asking him questions.
"Can you see Honoka?"
The boy points in direction of the circus performer and quickly ceases his sniffling as he focuses on all the neat things he can and does see, no obvious sighting of his parents or anything but at least he seems happier or occupied. Hitomi's own looking for any equally distressed or desperately searching parents also seems to be fruitless, not that she really knows she could pick them out in the sea of faces. She can occasionally catch sight of some of the performers and entertainers mixing with the crowds through with the boy inerrantly guiding the team of himself and the Onee-chan she does strain and raise herself up on her tip-toes occasionally to try and catch sight of Honoka herself.
The boy starting to ask her questions in return like 'is she your favourite act here?' and endlessly chattering away down at her while she just seldom leans back her head to answer him, muffler pulled back up to cover her nose and mouth once again.
She is having some fun talking and chattering away with the boy but at the same time hoping that his parent's spot him soon as the boy seems to have rapidly lost interest in looking for them with so much of a circus to drink in with his eyes.
Honoka is well-attuned to the crowd. The chaos that ensues in the wake of a successful show is a taste of every emotion imaginable, all stirred up into one big melting pot. To pick out any one voice in the audience above any other is difficult, even for her. She hardly tries to, though: she focuses more on using the positive energies as fuel for her ebullient demeanor. She'd -never- make it through autographs without doing so.
But... even still, it's hard to ignore a the form of a child meandering his way through the crowd as if he were on stilts. Or upon Hitomi, as the case may be. Once she notices the boy, she tilts her head to the side, offering him a quirky, 'aww isn't he so adorable!' smile, and waving Hitomi over.
Once she's spotted by Hitomi and/or the boy, she motions to the people she's talking to, quietly apologizing for cutting their conversation short -- as she's instantly assessed that, no, that is not Hitomi's child. And thus, this becomes a matter of priority for the circus, of course -- which she's quick to relay to the ringmaster, who is already making his way over.
A path clears through the crowd, allowing easy access for Hitomi to find her way to Honoka, who's holding her arms outstretched. "What a -handsome- little man! Hey, how did you get to be so tall?! You've already found quite the sweetheart for yourself, I'd hold on tightly to her!" She flashes a quick wink back to Hitomi, feeling confident that the karateka has already been doing her fair share of playing to the child's ego.
And right around then, the evening's ringmaster shows up, starting a simple conversation with the boy. "It's good to see you again, Hitomi!" It's really easy to put on a smile when you're borrowing the good vibes of others. "How have you been?"
Hitomi bends head and knee lifting the child from his perch upon her shoulder and setting him down in front of her safely and gently between she and Honoka, the boy caught up in and a star struck being this close to the star performer from the posters, still in her costume and being -right- here in front of and speaking directly to him. Hitomi pats him lightly on the shoulder and steadies herself while standing back up.
She can share some of the feeling and that sense of awe but shares a relieved and perhaps a mite conspiratorial grin when Honoka winks right at her. She wasn't playing along or acting the sweetheart in question so it felt a fun joke shared. It was hardly even a comparison between the frumpily and warmly dressed Hitomi and aura exuded by a Star performer still in costume.
The boy is suitably in awe of Honoka and now, once again with the fancifully dressed Ringmaster. The MC and voice of the circus descending down upon him like a deity made flesh, the disembodied voice of the circus with a voice that told and directed everything going on. The karateka guides him off towards the ringmaster with a gentle push if the boy was rapt speaking to a glittering show star like Honoka, the chance to speak to a resplendent man in costume who seemed the voice and boss of the circus was enthralling and exciting enough to steal him away.
Watching after the boy Hitomi is warmly greeted by the circus star and it's enough that her sudden explosively timed hug is enough to even startle her, she needed this, to find a friend. Something still feels odd or off but it's overwhelmed by the joy and energy in what is almost a glomp. The fact the woman had even recognized her with half her face obscured and was kind of thrilling and energizing. Maybe they were just that good of friends.
"Honoka! It's good to see you. I'm fine, hale and hearty."
An almost truth since she was dressed up very warmly for the weather outside and the way she was wearing a heavy muffler and keeping her mouth covered. When she releases the hug and hold honoka at arm's length to examine the costume she delightedly exclaims.
"I caught the show, it was spectacular. But that costume.. it's way more amazing up close."
Next time maybe she should try and get some seats closer to the action, straining your neck a little to keep up with the high flying action would be a small price to pay if you got to see all the fine details and costumes a little better.
Honoka is more than happy to mug for the child -- her stature in the circus being what it is, she's used to having to compensate for a starstruck child's silence. But... as enthusiastic as she is, "Taka" Takayanagi is much better at making small talk with the child. It's made easier as he leads the boy around to the other performers, of course!
The juggler's costume was the same as the one she'd fought Hitomi in, but... that was in the dark, so she can assuredly be excused for thinking the sparkly outfit is different under the bright house lights.
Honoka also wasn't hugging her before. Totally different. She hops lightly on the balls of her feet, trying to keep the circulation flowing as she basks in the energy of the aftershow. "Oh? I'm glad you like it!" With the poise and stance of a dancer, she models the costume for Hitomi: flames of red and orange twined about her extremities. "It's probably the last time I'll be wearing this one though, we're about to shift to a prettier summer wardrobe for our next show!"
She cocks her head to the side, as if she hadn't noticed the muffler before. Just goes to show that she responds as much to a person's personal wavelength as to their outward appearance, after all. "I'm glad you got to see the fight from a different perspective, at least!" Tonight's Twilight Star Challenge pitted her against a fire-breather among the cast -- a true martial artist would be able to tell it was staged, but the fire was plenty convincing to all assembled.
"But... I hope you don't mind my asking," she begins, in a lower voice. She presses closer, her smile fading without completely erasing away. Pink colored contact lenses can't hide her wide pupils as she looks into Hitomi's eyes -- not like she has a great view of the rest of her face. "... is everything okay? You seem... sad."
Hitomi admires the costume: fit to Honoka's figure, sparkly and colourful it's quite entertaining and outlandish enough in the extreme, even after a stay on a tropical island with plenty of bright colourful swimsuits and fashions. She brightens with the mention of the show expanding into a completely new wardrobe for the seasons. Who didn't enjoy the prospect of an entirely new wardrobe and theme change? Honoka herself seemed happy enough at the prospect of a 'prettier' new wardrobe, she probably had some input going on there.
"Mhm! It's a lot more fun to watch than it is to be dodging sandbags."
True enough though a joke, remembered experience since the fighting did take on some comical aspects when people were trying to catch or keep up with an acrobat like Honoka dancing around on her stage; combatting obstacles and diabolo and their own sure-footedness. The fight tonight didn't look like it had particularly taxed Honoka but she wasn't sure her won battle on that curious stage would have looked any better or less precarious to the spectators.
The karateke quirks her head in response to the reading of her by the other woman. That wasn't true, things had been kind of painful for a while but she was bound and determined to just focus on moving forward and getting on with her life. Damped down and buried emotions and experiences disturb the surface but do not break it as she just tries to smile back.
"I'm alright, I just have a bit of a flu at the moment."
Explaining the muffler covering her mouth as well as the warm clothing, nothing like getting drenched on a storm ridden Tropical Island to incubate a little bit of a cold. Getting laid low by a flu bug wasn't going to stop her missing a show she wanted to see or catching up with her good friendc since when had they been --?
Shaking her head again the karateka reiterates that she is fine and likewise checks the muffler to make sure it's still pulled up to avoid spreading anything to anyone else.
"I couldn't miss this show. I'm glad I got to see it."
Since she hadn't seen most of the acts and part of the show since the last time she was here, and this was her last chance to do so.
The eight-year circus veteran is well accustomed to putting on smiles when she's frowning inside. Hitomi's brave exterior doesn't fool the psychic who can see the turmoil behind the mask... but it does cause Honoka to smile a bit more. "--Oh, that's good! I hear that's really going around bad this year..." While it's certainly -true- that she could have a flu -- why else walk around like a northerner? -- Honoka recognizes the statement as a simple misdirection.
If two performers are to relate an epic saga through song and dance, it must be with the words spoken, not the words felt. And that is why, for now, Honoka chooses to acknowledge only the words Hitomi shares. The sentiment that this show could not be missed. "... Couldn't miss this show? ... Oh, I guess it will be tougher to keep up when we're on tour. But don't worry, we usually post some of our funnier show bits up on Nico Nico whenever they happen, and you're -always- welcome to visit..."
Hitomi has something to share: Honoka ardently believes that. It's just a matter of getting the young karateka around to saying it. But that doesn't mean the silver-tongued performer is going to promise to 'keep in touch', or stretch herself any further than necessary. She seems about to speak, but her attention is swept towards some commotion in the center ring.
"Ladies and Gentlemen, there's a young man here who's winning the hearts and souls of all our performers here, but... we're in a bit of a dilemma! You see, we'd -love- to adopt him, but we're -pretty- sure he belongs with a special mommy or daddy -- so please, if you have your child with you, give him or her a hug! And if you don't... please look up here, to the center ring! Let's give it up for Hiroshi K!" Taka stands with his hand on the boy's shoulder, to thunderous applause. Once it fades away, he kneels and holds the mic up to the star-struck boy, his face flushed from all the attention: "Hiroshi... would you like to share anything with your family?"
"I... I love you, mommy! I love you daddy!" The boy's so adorable it hurts.
Honoka can't help but offer her applause and cheering to the boy, smiling up a storm. She's kept a careful watch on Hitomi all throughout the conversation, and this is no different. She leans close, bumping her shoulder lightly against the bundled-up Hitomi, speaking in a voice others are unlikely to hear in the hubbub: "I think you really made a difference in that boy's life. He was so lost, so confused... I don't know Taka would've been able to spot him if you hadn't found him first." Hitomi may be misdirecting to save face. But Honoka's misdirections are... a bit more intentional.
Hitting her with the shoulder bump and honeyed words the German girl's applause ceases abruptly as Hitomi buries her face in the woollen muffler, her face reddening as she makes a show of adjusting and retreating into it, wilfully hiding her face and going quiet. It was embarrassing and flattering having someone like Honoka talking that way to her but it didn't quite ring true in her ears. If she hadn't someone else would have taken care of the boy or one of the circus people would have found him. People were inherently good.
"Lost and confused? I think he is having more fun because the circus is looking out for him. Kids are pretty resilient."
She lifts her eyes to watch Hiroshi and Taka and can't help but feel envious of the boy both for being reunited with his parents and so easily recovering and appearing happy once again. Despising that moment of weakness in herself she likewise tries to banish the thought and smiles all the brighter for what a cute display it is. She casts a sidelong glance at Honoka who is likewise enjoying the young man's sincere performance and almost giggles likewise at her friends bright sincere looking smile and how happy she appears.
Behind the muffler her lips work a few times before she finds the right words and enthusiasm to reengage with Honoka.
"If I got to see you again... I wanted to thank you for our fight. It was a lot of fun! And not many fights are. I just wanted you to know that I enjoyed fighting you."
That was what she had really wanted to do, to see Honoka again but foremost in her mind actually thank her for that fight. It was a rare moment of enjoyment and challenge, unexpected as it was. A benign finality present in her statement the girl gives every indication that may be a fond memory of the past...
It's been Honoka's experience that the world is -not- so inherently good to people who don't take a stand for their own well-being. Those who are weak and submissive will find themselves in the paths of bullies. Those who are strong and take charge will find others to give them what they want. Resilience? She felt many things in the soul of the little boy, but resilience and hardiness was not one of them. It's been Honoka's experience that Wajin societal norms promote sycophants who crave attention and consider independence to be a punishment of sorts -- without order, there can be no peace. This is what she felt from the boy -- confusion.
Hitomi's idealism is as amusing as it is distasteful to the puppetmaster, but she hides it beneath the veneer of a pleasant smile. "Y'know, you're probably right! But, regardless... tonight will be unforgettable all the same."
She falls silent for a moment, a pink blush crossing her cheeks as she sees the boy's parents rushing through the crowd to reunite with their lost son. Sure, they're embarassed and red-faced, but grateful. As they should be.
She turns back to Hitomi as she speaks -- with all the noise, and with the German's muffler, it's necessary to use direct both ears to pick up the words.
"... Oh, good! I had fun, and I'm glad you did too! That's kind of what it's all about, really -- if we have fun on stage, then the audience can pick up on that, and -they- can have fun, right?"
There's a pause, as she tries to put the words together with what she knows of the German. And basic human psychology. If someone makes a statement that 'I really like blue!' then you can't read into that. But if someone comes back after a month or more to say 'I really liked fighting you!' then... Ahhhh yes. Hitomi's the one who fought her dear ninja acquaintance, in front of that jackass Frenchman.
Honoka cants her head to the side a degree, flashing a winning smile. "If you put your heart into a fight, then shouldn't -every- fight be fun?"
She looks back towards the thinning crowd, and realizes that standing around could be a little awkward, presently. She... falls back into a ditzier expression, as if the thought had literally just popped into her head, instead of being a premeditated plan from moments prior. "... Hey, I've got an idea. You wanna go get something to eat? My treat. I'm always -starving- after a show like this, and all-night restaurants aren't much of a thing once we get far out of Southtown..."
Hitomi responds to affirmative reply with a beatific smile and profound uprising swell of relief. There had been so many disappointing or horrible fights fought recently that meeting someone who likewise enjoyed having a match was a soothing balm for what felt like growing troubles and negative feelings that were trying to smother her.
There was a pretty strong message delivered there, just doing something to have fun? Wasn't that what lead to having all of these problems in the first place. While Honoka fall silent to consider her next words her audience of one is already preoccupied trying to digest what she had said and overall agreeing with it. Having fun on stage fighting Honoka hadn't been so different from many of her other matches but somehow it had wound up being fun and exciting while the others tended to err towards being serious and grim or full of ill feeling and excessive violence.
They weren't and hadn't been fun. Maybe that was her fault for not being as invested of putting as much 'heart' into the fight as her opponents. Maybe, but she didn't feeling that was it.
"Hear- Eh? You want to get something to eat. Uhm, I'd love to!"
Shaken and derailing her train of thought she drags her focus back to the present and going out for a meal with a friend. It always seemed to make the food taste better and the meal more enjoyable. She nods and at the same time likewise overjoyed to spend time with a friend and just a little concerned she doesn't spread her flu to a friend in doing so. She can't put it off until she was well, it was kind of a spur of the moment thing and she had no idea how far away or where Honoka would be travelling next.
Honoka intuits more than she truly knows about people. To abuse a tired metaphor, she throws everything at the wall to see what sticks, and works with that. And what worked... appears to have been the mention of fun, as the simple words filled Hitomi with doubt over whether a fight -should- be fun. Usually one would expect an answer to that, but without one forthcoming, it would seem that Honoka gets her answer.
Perhaps Hitomi's not really structured for talking about her feelings. Perhaps she's not ready to. But Honoka understands full well that someone doesn't pay full ticket price to say 'thanks'. Something's on the girl's mind, and it behooves her to find out just -what- is on her mind.
"Well, I've got to go back and change, I don't think I want to wear this to Denny's. Can you meet me over there in like... ten minutes? I promise I'll be there, I'll let Sudo know to keep an eye for you." She points over to the side gate, catching her favorite bouncer's eye to let him know it's okay.
Hitomi takes a seat on one of the short dividing partition walls close to the indicated gate, hands zipping up her jacket and then stuffed in the pockets as she experiences a chill she tips her chip down and buries her face inside jacket collar and muffler leaving only her eyes exposed. Though movement even amongst the crowds working their way out of the tents catches her attention.
A small yet consistent wave in her direction and one that she returns briefly and mechanically, small movements just for his notice with her fingers waving; Acknowledging Hiroshi leaving with his parents even the those same parents seem to be looking a little more warily at the distant swaddled up figure with their face half obscured.
Kids were great, at what point did adult lose that trusting nature and become as cynical and wary, afraid of strangers and judgemental of them. The heavy muffler wound around her face to prevent the spread of germs like many of the others she saw walking the streets or using public transport, to prevent spreading or catching bugs. But right here and now, it made her seem suspicious in their eyes and she recognized that until they glanced down at their sun and he began animatedly talking up at them.
The mother offers a bow and the father a deep nod in her direction, and she couldn't be more surprised. Still seated she waves energetically and happily at the family as they leave. Chagrined and kicking herself for making assumptions Hitomi once again just buries her face in her collar, exhaled breath washing back over her face as she sits still and thinks back to Honokas words. It might not have really done very much for that family but they looked like they had a fun night here at the circus and she'd helped contribute to that.
It felt good to be part of something that left people with a smile on their faces. And so she continues to wait for Honoka.
Honoka has a pretty good grasp of timing; it's kind of essential in her line of work. She'd said ten minutes, and after nine and a half, Hitomi should be able to see her purple jacket, pink-highlighted hair, and khaki-colored pants, even in the harsh lighting of the overhead floodlights.
The circus performer waves her hand high as she approaches, hastening her pace so that she doesn't keep Hitomi waiting any longer. She had missed the interchange between Hiroshi's family and Hitomi, but it wouldn't be hard for the young psion to gauge the conflicting emotions wafting out from the sole person waiting for her, without the chaff of an entire big top full of people to get in the way.
"Gah... I'm sorry to have asked you to wait all out in the cold like this, I don't know -what- I was thinking..." Of course Honoka knows what she was thinking, but she can't just -say- that. "I, uh... let Sudo know that we need a ride into town, so he'll be by in a little bit. Is... is it okay if we go to Denny's? They serve like... western-style breakfast foods, but they also have like steak and stuff too." Good, artery-clogging food.
Sure enough, the sound of Sudo's vehicle can be heard as he pulls up alongside the two women. It's a black compact SUV with plates from the Sendai prefecture. The tall Japanese man leaves the vehicle, and comes around to open up the rear passenger doors for Hitomi and Honoka.
"Thanks so much, Sudo! Really appreciate the lift!"
Hitomi notices the approach a little late, her thoughts elsewhere but responds to the attention grabbing wave and presence immediately upon noticing. Hopping to her feet she takes in the outfit Honoka is wearing head to toe while beginning to wave back. It looked cute, and probably a lot more comfortable to be in than a sparkly bodysuit. The study of Honoka as she approaches prompts a realization but finds herself cut off by Honoka's arriving speech. Worried about her?
"Im fine! All bundled up already."
Folding her arms up in front of her in true Genki girl fashion the whisk of the fabric and large padded sleeves emphasize just how swaddled up she must be under there, if she was feeling any kind of chill it wasn't because of the weather.
"That sounds really good, Buhhh... You've done something with your hair. Pink instead of purple? It looks really cute!"
It did look really cute and it suited the time of year with cherry blossoms in bloom.
She turns her head as the SUV pulls up and is surprised when a gentleman would get the door for them. When Honoka thanks him she also immediately dips into a waist deep bow flipping the hood of her jacket up over the back of her head and as she straightens she fumbles with pulling it back just a little embarrassed, The circus must take really good care of Honoka. It made sense, she was one of the biggest stars.
"Sorry for troubling you!"
She offers a childish grin at Honoka, it was kind of neat to be chauffeured somewhere like you were somebody important. Climbing into the SUV first she scoots over to make room for Honoka and waits for the performer to join her.
"I saw Hiroshi leaving with his parents,c they seemed really grateful so I thought I should pass that along. --And really happy."
The circus had done a lot for its audience and probably secured a few fans tonight. Hitomi was certainly pleased and impressed with the show and how well conducted everything had been, even turning the night around for a lost child.
Honoka does not dress anywhere -near- as warmly as Hitomi; she's always been a bit hot-natured. The jacket and pants are more than sufficient for someone who's spent the entirety of the night under the circus' hot floodlights, after all.
She smiles back at the compliment, quickly sputtering out a 'Th-thanks!" as she brushes her forelocks out of her face. But the matter does cause her to rewind a bit. She'd changed her hairstyle after the attack, and... maybe Hitomi didn't know about that Butcher guy. In fact, she almost -assuredly- doesn't know if she hadn't brought it up yet...
Her skin might turn a fair shade paler, but it'd be hard to notice with one's hood pulled over their head -- to which Honoka covers her mouth for a stifled giggle.
Cloth seats, nothing fancy, but there is a small in-dash entertainment system, playing a recap of the nightly news. For people whose entire bread and butter is spent on the road, it's surprisingly necessary to pay attention to news broadcasts, after all. Even still, Honoka gives Sudo a light slug in the shoulder as she buckles herself up, sticking her tongue out at him in the mirror. "Put it on the -other- news show, I hate that goofy guy."
As she hears the news about Hiroshi, she smiles back in reply. "Oh... thanks! I'm sure they're -really- glad you were around..."
The vehicle pulls away, and onto the highway, as Sudo changes the station. The news broadcast now tells about the cherry blossoms, as Honoka glances over to Hitomi. "... Oh, hey. Come to think of it, didn't... I mean, weren't you in some tournament lately? Goofyface couldn't shut up about it, it was on -all- the channels..." Honoka had... other things on her mind at the time, though.
Attention drawn to the screen Honoka cranes her neck around to peek at it before resuming her examination of the inside of the car. For someone who is used to just the family car or a bicycle this SUV is more luxurorious, like an airplane in that it had television going rather than just blaring the radio or some classic hits station. It's pretty amazing but maybe a sign of how different the lives they lead were.
Raising a hand to cover her mouth she stifles the giggle as Honoka antics and the playful slug in the shoulder. She doesn't really know Sudo at all but the atmosphere in the car is somewhat infectious and she can't fight the giggles even though it runs into a fit of chough almost as soon as she starts.
"I didn't - Uhm, yeah. It was on a really pretty and amazing tropical island. We didn't win any matches or anything though and there was a really nasty storm, a typhoon."
She had picked up something of a tan from her stay in the tropics but between the chills and the wan complexion she wasn't really showing it off so well.
Her feelings however are muddied and painfully unscored the whole vacation. Vehemently wishing she had never gone to that island or tournament. It hadn't worked out well for anyone that she had gone. The whole experience was regrettable, painful and frustrating. Weak, weak and useless and I don't want you. Go away. Idiot.
"It was really beautiful and there was lots to see and do, up until the storm hit."
A practiced and cheerful smile as she tries to focus on the fun activities she had found enjoyable.
"Jet skis and a waterslide. Exploring the jungle and meeting some different kinds of animals like Monkeys.. and Meer cats!"
Smile and focus on the good things so you heart doesn't break dwelling on the painful bits. You're just making yourself sad and bringing yourself low.
"What have you been up to?"
Aside from the fun seeming work that was being in a circus.
Whereas Honoka was afraid that the less glamorous aspects of circus life would have put Hitomi off, it seems to have had the opposite effect. Aside from the aftermarket in-dash entertainment, the SUV is not something Honoka would consider upscale, or fancy, so she's amused to note that Hitomi seems to think it /is/. Interesting note for later.
But not half as interesting as the whirlwind of emotions coming forth from the open-minded German. As Hitomi's muffler falls to reveal a bit more of her face, Miss Kawamoto has a slightly easier time of reading the moods Hitomi prefers to project: happiness. Despite the turmoil inside. Each painful memory Hitomi relives, and subsequently stuffs back into the recesses of her mind... Honoka can feel its passing. She listens attentively, forging a brief smile at each relentlessly positive statement offered up by the ebullient karateka.
Hitomi is almost as good a liar as she is, Honoka realizes.
Breaking eye contact, Honoka leans back in her seat as the SUV winds its way through the outskirts of Southtown. "Nothing... so exciting as jet skis, waterslides, and meer cats. But I did go on a vacation of sorts, to Hokkaido."
This is the point at which Honoka decides not to press Hitomi on being less than forthcoming -- because it means that she, too, would need to spill beans. She'd rather not.
"I have family, back there," she offers, as further deflection.
The streetlights cast long shadows from the frame of the SUV across the faces of the women, partially obscuring the furrowed brow of her expression as she speaks. And, unbeknownst to even her, a hand has drifted up to knead lightly at her right shoulder, subconsciously stroking at the grievous wound that has almost healed up entirely.
"All in all, though... pretty boring."
It wasn't exciting?
'Ah, that must've been fun in its own way. If you spend so much time on the road it must be hard to catch up."
The next time she went home? She was sure her parents would be better at cooking, by necessity in nothing else; and the housework... mending Gi and practice mats, taking care of the extra classes. Living and working on the road and coming up with and performing new acts all the time, there's no doubt it'd be pretty hard to keep tabs on the comings and goings of people as important to you as your family.
Tipping her head back she casts her thoughts back toward the west, where her parents were probably still nestled in bed at this hour. Seven hours ahead. Fingers brushing the cell phone in her pocket she rolls her head to the side turning back to Honoka and straightens, frowning ever so slightly at the girl stroking her shoulder.
"Are you alright? Your shoulder. You didn't hurt it during the show did you?"
All concern and shifting around in her seat and trying to manoeuvre her padded bulk around so that she can better see what was bothering Honoka. The sparse lighting wasn't much help in seeing Honokas expression but the karateka is most certainly worried by the gesture. And not really too sure what she could do if that were the case. Worry is plain on her face and in her voice as she starts to fret in lieu of any other good ideas.
The performer is usually so busy chatterboxing away that she hadn't realized she'd... stopped talking, having been so absorbed in her own thoughts. She'd been repressing her feelings over the Butcher, not just to others, but to herself as well. Honoka had convinced herself that she was better, that the overly judgmental shaman Nightwolf had rid her of all of the damage and all the consequences, save the one upon her shoulder. And... he hadn't.
Sudo's foot slips upon the accelerator, causing the SUV to lurch slightly to one side before he's able to correct.
Honoka stops rubbing her shoulder, pausing liberally to digest Hitomi's words. They took her by surprise, her plain, straightforward manner of speech having led her into a false sense of security. Bad, Honoka, bad... forgetting that people are perfectly capable of thoughts on their own.
She turns back with a light chuckle, shaking her head. "Oh, no, I'm fine. This was an injury, from a few weeks ago. I... I guess you could say he was an overzealous fan."
She's not exactly lying -- the Butcher actually -was- excited to see her.
The SUV is really cruising along now. And Hitomi's already asked her the uncomfortable topic, and Honoka's crafted a plausible answer. Kind of.
"Hitomi... I'm..." She rests both hands on her lap, looking down at them, as she considers her words.
Or pretends to consider them. It's so hard to tell the difference.
Drawing in a breath, she starts again, focusing on her lap. "Hitomi... there's this one girl I know, with a secret that's so dark... she feels that she can't share it with /anyone/. Like, even just sharing it with one person, even her closest friend... she's terrified it would just ruin everything. So she crafts this happy sunshine world where everyone lives happier together. And she tells everyone that life is good, that she's happy. It's easy to say the words -- it's what people want to hear. She's convinced herself that she's totally happy with everything."
Honoka laces her fingers together, pressing her thumbs alongside one another. She gathers her strength...
And then she turns to Hitomi, a serious, tight expression on her face. "I can hear her crying at night, when she's alone. Do... do you think I should say anything?"
The car judders and she reaches out to the back of the passenger seat for support reflexively. She glances at the reflection of the drivers eyes in the rear vision mirror; it was obviously something that had worried him as well to suddenly have in mentioned and for him to for himself. An overly zealous fan... had hurt her? Hands sitting in her lap curl into fists at the thought. She's powerless to change any of that and it exists all in the past but at the same time she wants to beat some sense into someone that would consider or do something like that
On a low heat her anger simmers away that someone would dare attack Honoka especially because they liked or admired her, hurting something they loved and enjoyed was despicable but it was an impotent and useless anger right here and now. It was only natural to feel angry when someone hurt your friends wasn't it?
Taut and tense Hitomi focuses on her breathing and calming herself, there is some unease as she listens to the whole and entirety of Honokas question before even thinking of a reply. Shuffling back into her seat she lifts a hand to her muffled chin and tries running the scenario through her mind and what she would do for a girl like that.
"If she is afraid it would ruin thing everything then...? Because likely it won't, Show them that it wouldn't and just be there for her as a friend. Maybe she cares too much about what other people think or feel."
She sounded like a sweet girl but that was way too unhealthy and heart breaking to be doing. Hitomi could pity the poor thing if she ever met her, and she hopes that it wasn't Honoka; someone who was already giving so many waking hours into performing, acting and possibly dangerous stunts all for other people's enjoyment.
If that girl had a way out herself, would she be worrying about others even if it meant crying alone at night?
Honoka shakes her head, resting a hand on Hitomi's thigh. Or her hand, if it avails itself -- just enough for a gentle squeeze, a reminder that yes, she's still there. And yes, she's alright. The karateka is clearly getting worked up about the throwaway mention...
But in this case, it seems to work at throwing her off the track. She wants Hitomi to believe that the 'girl' mentioned is Honoka.
Maybe it is, now. She'd gone a bit overboard on selling the story, pulled one too many details from her personal narrative. But the point of a parable is to remove one layer of subjective connection, so that the topic can be discussed openly without having the fear of addressing the core issue. In that end, Honoka convinces herself as she brushes the back of her hand to her eyes, the shift was successful.
Sudo just keeps on driving the SUV. He passes one exit sign and smoothly maneuvers down the ramp.
"Yeah, my fear is... she spends so much time worrying about what other people think and feel that... she won't even admit there is a problem. She won't allow herself to heal. It's obvious... there's no way for her to rid herself of the pain she keeps locked away under a thin eggshell of happiness."
Honoka's hands tense up. She bites her lip, looking down at the hands in her lap. "I... it happens a lot. Under the stage. You only put on a good show for the audience, they aren't interested in your pain. But sometimes it has to come out, y'know? I want to be a good friend to her. But she keeps telling me the same sunshiney stories, telling me that everything's all right." She draws in her breath, closing her eyes. "Because of course it's all right, that's all she keeps telling herself."
Honoka remains silent for a moment, before looking over to Hitomi. "Some people just don't want to change, I guess..."
Hitomi reacts to the reassuring squeeze of hand with a quizzical head turn, not really connecting the dots between her increasing tension and the reassurance being offered. She listens uneasily to the descriptions of this poor girl and Honoka's efforts to reach out to them but doesn't really have much of or any advice she can thing to offer. All this ontop of working as hard as she does? And then, 'audience wasn't interested in their pain.' Wasn't interested? her hands twiche in her lap, almost starting to shake in response to that sentance alone. They didn't care?
Arms folds up around Honoka, cheek falling against the crown of Honoka's head she draws the two of them closer and deeper into an embrace. One knee up on the seat, no longer wearing the impeding seatbelt she throws everything into the hug, gentle enough to try not to exacerbate an injury but firm in seizing and holding dear like she won't let her go. Finger gently stroking Honoka's hair Hitomi just holds her tight having closed around her like a trap sprung the moment the world 'guess' had left her lips. Warm, smelling faintly of some kind of cold remedy and a floral perfume almost completely washed away by the scent of menthol.
Hitomi is running on instinct, desire to just hug or soothe all the pain right out of the girl in front of her now, especially when she was talking about so many painful things that were troubling her. In a heartbeat she can toss away that simmering anger to focus everything on Honoka and being right here and now. Compassion, empathy, a strong protective impulse and even some love and admiration, Hitomi is certain that Honoka is good person, one who tries way too hard for everyone else sake.
"They care, they wish with all their hearts they could fly like you do."
She made them believe that humans could, that they could. Was she hiding her pains from the people who cared about her as well? Sudo has looked worried only moment before, the pieces of the story just kept reinforcing in her mind just how much Honoka was talking about sacrificing for others and not thinking about herself.
"You can be as strong or as fragile as you need to be with the people who care about you."
Honoka had been picking up some heartfelt tension from the woman beside her -- which is good. That's what Honoka tries to do, get people worked up within their emotions, sure. But her intent is to gain information, not to have a special sharing moment. Honoka believes she has this under control though. An expertly controlled dance, a swing to the side, a mild change of topic -- that should be enough, right?
Honoka realizes what's coming about halfway through her sentence. She wouldn't -dare-...
She did. And Honoka finds herself ensnared in the vise-grip of the German's arms, rocked to the side from the adamant and overprotective gesture.
She's at wits end here, really. The attempt at getting Hitomi to tell her what this pain she's hiding inside? That mission's shaping up to be a catastrophic failure at this rate.
But some small part of Honoka actually... maybe... kind of enjoys the hug, thrives upon it. She -has- been hurt, and she -has- been hiding it. And then she got a second dose of pain when she'd found out that, yes... the wreckage of her family life is indeed her own fault.
Resisting against Hitomi would only endanger or prolong the mission, the Ainu convinces herself. Leaning into the hug, she wraps her fingertips around Hitomi's arm. Her eyes grow moist, her ribcage heaves. And for a good solid minute... she allows herself this release. Wordlessly.
"Thank you, Hitomi..." come Honoka's words, as she wipes her face dry with a free hand. "I... I mean, you... you just -knew-. I mean... I try to act tough, try to smile through it, but..."
It's probably a good thing she'd taken the opportunity to wash some of her stage makeup off. It'd be a bit creepy otherwise.
"I'm sorry, I... I'm over here dumping all this baggage on you. But, y'know... you're a true friend, Hitomi. I'm just happy to have someone to share with. To be honest with." She forges a hopeful smile as she looks up at Hitomi.
Just continuing to stroke Honoka's hair and comfort her for the time being, she just holds her through the shaking. If anything it's slowly impressed upon Hitomi how gently and quietly it's possible to cry. Not bawling loudly for attention like she might have as a child, of sobbing because things had gotten too much for her. Refined and quiet tears like she had never seen before. Just hold on for as long as she needs you to.
It doesn't feel like much time has passed at all before Honoka speaks again, Hitomi lifts her head and cants it around to the side to listen better to her words. It certainly warmed her heart to be thanked for doing something but it was just natural for her to do so, for a friend most of all.
You can be who you really are, strengths -and- weaknesses with friends and people who care about you. She would have tried fishing out a tissue for Honoka if both her arms were not preoccupied already, and she had a cold; probably not a smart idea anyway!
Honoka looks up into her eyes after shifting in her arms and the words, calling her a true friend, if her heart were warmed before now it ached. She really hadn't made a lot of friends since she left home, more acquaintances and nice people she'd met in passing. Just smiles back reassuringly in response to the other girls hopeful expression and smile doesn't seem enough for what she had just said, caliing Hitomi a true friend. She doesn't want to start crying in turn or anything.
Nodding emphatically in agreement with the statement it is happy and healthy to have someone to share with.
"Any time. "
Anytime you need to, a direct and standing offer to keep in touch, no matter how far away or when she needed to talk. If anything she was feeling pretty damn lucky to have someone as Amazing as a Circus Star as a friend.
Grimacing on the inside, Honoka hates the helpless act. It's detestable, that people would rather curl up and seek the acknowledgment of others rather than standing up and doing something about it. Playing the part of a mewing babe in need of love and affection disturbs her in a sense -- but, as with her Twilight Star Challenge matches, a loss of face means that the person known as Honoka Kawamoto as someone who has legitimate weaknesses and vulnerabilities. A reputation for being soft is an advantage in the long run -- that's what the opportunist within keeps telling herself.
Admittedly, the fingertips weaving through her hair may have been a large factor in her lack of resistance. For a moment, she actually lost track of where the truck was; as Hitomi releases her, she looks around for a moment, disoriented. The lights... aren't moving. The truck isn't moving, and in the midst of darkness, it's hard to tell exactly what's going on.
"Sudo, why did you stop the car?" Honoka's voice conveys some of her unease and disorientation.
Sudo pauses, his eyes glancing up to the rear-view mirror. He'd been the perfect gentleman all throughout the trip. "... We're here, Honoka."
Honoka blinks, sitting up straight. "Oh." Pause. "When did -that- happen..." She flashes an awkward, quirky smile back at Hitomi. "Well, you heard the man. Let's get something to eat!"
Hitomi releases her hold on Honoka easily when the other girl straightens up but lingers a moment before she twists to get her knee off the seat and seat herself normally even if that's a good foot or so further away from where she was buckled in, seated beside and much closer to Honoka.
Experiencing her own confusion she turns her head to look out the windows, she hadn't noticed the feeling of the vehicle decelerating let alone coming to a stop. It didn't feel like it had been in the car that long but then again, she'd never been to /Denny's/ before and has no idea how long the travel time had been, time just -- flew.
"Eheh, I wasn't paying attention- ... Yoshi!"
Sliding her way across the seat the door she searches for the latch for a moment before popping open the door and slipping back outside. Her breath fogs almost immediately and she bounces up and down on the balls of her feet and works her arms to generate a bit more warmth. Closing the door with a hearty Thunk and begins fussing with her muffler, right there in the carpark. She hadn't realized it had fallen quite so loose and the encroaching cold prompts her to begin winding it tightly around her neck and chin with a practiced twirl, throwing the loose ends across the back of her shoulder, it'd do at least until the made it inside.
Denny's, the Vibrant yellow sign announced the restaurants presence well enough, it certainly got her attention as she turns to look, it sure was.. bright. She races, padding around the truck to settle down on the same side Honoka should emerge from and casting glances back towards the driver's seat. Was Sudo going to be joining them?
The prospect of any kind of real meal now had her stomach gurgling loud enough that it was embarrassingly audible. There was only so much in the way of soup and fluids a young woman could take before she started craving something a bit more substantial.
"I've never been here before."
They didn't have any in Offernburg, the sign and branding was completely new to her but that just added to the bright eyed excitement.
Denny's is not a shining bastion of dining excellence. But it -does- serve piping-hot food 24/7. And, this, being Japan, the staff are wide-eyed and attentive no matter what the hour, despite the customary absence of tipping! It's like the best of every world, as long as your gastrointestinal fortitude rating is high enough.
Honoka is quick to hop out of the truck, pointing into the restaurant. "C'mon, c'mon! You're in for a real treat! It's... it's just like... a family restaurant, right? But everyone here's always so friendly and cheerful."
Sudo emerges from the vehicle. He may as well be a robot for all the facial expressions he displays -- a valuable survival tactic for security personnel after all.
"Sudo's coming, don't you worry about him. Might not seem that way now, but he normally talks up a storm. He's just shy!"
A gruff sound can be heard from the direction of the security guard. Sudo does not contest the sentiment, just the word choice.
Honoka runs up to the menu taped to the glass window of the restaurant. She stabs her finger at the stack of pancakes depicted there. "That. If we got here before it turned dark, there'd be -endless- pancakes. Now..." She gives a cheery shrug, the negative thoughts from mere moments before banished entirely. "Now it's a-la carte. I could eat a half dozen of them though!"
A family restaurant? It did look kind of look a little like a McDonalds at least at first glance, some elements of it at least looking similar enough that she had some expectations, what it might be like. Sudo climbing out of the SUV as well prompts a grin even at the stony lack of expression; she was just that excited to be going out for a meal with company. The more the merrier, and she couldn't help but like the way Sudo seemed to look out for Honoka even enjoying the rapport between he and Honoka where he seemed to speak very little, or at least maybe it was the good natured teasing she seemed to level against him.
Rushing along just behind Honoka the karateka likewise competes for a view of the menu as she quickly scans it, raising a finger to the glass and running it along and across a few of the menu items before she stops dead over one particular item.
"Bacon instead of ham, A 'Bacon Benny.'-- Hashbrown, two poached eggs with bacon on ciabatta bread."
Following along an English translation of the product on the menu with a tone of almost reverence, Now there was indeed something worth trying right there! Everything her body was screaming for; protein and carbs it practically dances in her vision. Almost drooling just looking at the more 'perfect' looking menu item pictures and hoping the actual meal appears something like it.
Eggs benedict -- now there was a surprising menu item as it was usually pretty difficult to prepare or cook yourself, she hadn't completed yet alone mastered that one quiet yet. Serving up everything to the table before something got cold was more art than science.
Locking arm and elbow through Honoka's she grins and starts dragging her in to the restaurant, full-steaming ahead while swinging the door open wide enough for both to enter well before it closes. She let's go of Honoka only to unwind the muffler and work free so the now wide and hanging loop rests against her breast as she unzips her jacket. Was she always this clingy and invasive of personal space?
"Huaaaagh, it smell's good in here."
Meat, toasted warm bread, the sweet smell of syrups catching in the back of her nostrils, It would be hard to beat an environment like this for a ravenous teen, especially when the usual guilt would have had her making something healthy to try and shake a cold. But it was okay to splurge or treat yourself occasionally.
Honoka's mood changes often, but even she is amazed at how quickly Hitomi's mood shifted from that of a mother to that of the child. Sure -- it may have had -something- to do with Honoka suddenly acting as if she didn't want to be upset any more. Or it could just be related to the need to release positive energy after a rather somber trip over. At any rate, Honoka finds herself dragged along, and is perfectly (and honestly) content to be pulled along for the ride. Finally, Hitomi displays the personality attributes that she'd seen under the big top -- does it have to do with putting on a show for the customers, like she did the audience, perhaps?
She looks over at Hitomi's selection. The karateka might notice a hesitation on her part -- the taste of bacon is not really something -Honoka- enjoys, but after that one moment to collect herself she puts on an encouraging smile. "Mm-hmm! It looks good!"
Moments later, the wait staff is perfectly content to help the trio to their table. Trio? Yes, Sudo's lurking behind, like a shadow. "Would you like a table or a booth?"
Honoka passes a quick glance up to Sudo, who seems to have withdrawn his smartphone from a pocket. She then answers, with a capricious tone, "Table!"
A table for three is found -- apparently the fourth chair had been borrowed for another group which is making a small ruckus on the other end of the room. Sudo bows his head, and starts quietly stabbing his finger into the smartphone while Honoka places an order for a tall glass of milk.
"I don't know what it is about this place, but I can't stop eating here. It's probably a good thing we don't eat here all that much, right Sudo?"
Sudo seems... less responsive than usual.
Honoka looks at him, then back at the smartphone in front of him. "Sudo, c'mon, put that thing away..."
Sudo bows his head in apology. "... I'm sorry, Honoka." The smartphone is shut off, the flickers of a tropical island scene vanishing from the screen as he turns to Hitomi. "I was just wondering if everything was okay after your fight with the ninja."
Honoka quirks her head to the side. "... Ninja?" She turns over to Hitomi, listening intently.
Taking one of the three chairs Hitomi settles in to wait just a little impatiently and with stomach still occasionally rumbling. Eating in a place like this regularly? That would probably be a bit expensive as well as the fact it'd probably double the length of her workout regimen trying to avoid gaining weight. She offers her agreement interjected into the conversation while settling in.
"It's definitely a treat."
Hitomi glances toward Sudo when he draws out the smartphone and turns his attention to it, was he really that shy because they were out with someone new? Her eyes cut to Honoka who is already chastising him and telling him to put it away. For the first time he actually seems to turn his attention focusing directly and solely upon Hitomi (that she has noticed) and out of the blue he just asks her something, if he were not staring right at her she wouldn't have even figured herself being the intended person he was asking a question of.
She cuts off and goes silent after repeating that as soon as she works out who Sudo might be making reference to. Him? Her memory was a little fuzzy on what he had looked like; Just- The eyes especially she remembered certain things all too clearly; singed and burnt from his battle with Ash Crimson he had just folded his arms and scolded her, talking down to her as though she were a child not getting her way, and after inflicting so many cruel wounds on his opponent.
Words ring with authority and confidence, his eyes stare directly at Hitomi's with unwavering truth. 'You wield your fists as a weapon. Your partner casually throws around fire like it was nothing. What makes my sword so different? Combat isn't about having fun, there is always the chance that someone may be crippled or even die. I have mercy, I have mastery over my body and my weapons. This volcano is more likely to kill you or your friend than me.' Arm deliberately folding across his chest as he continues , 'If you're so offended by the nature of fighting, then I suggest you surrender so that we may all leave here in one piece and rethink your life.'
That guy. She didn't even know his name but they weren't exactly friends or even rivals. Letting her arms fall slack down onto the table top she lowers her head and body wearily onto the table, resting her chin on her own forearms and takes her time formulating reply, tasting the words to ensure she thought and felt they were true or heartfelt. It bothered her, quite a lot.
"He told me off pretty good."
A jest at her own expense she actually is suddenly reminded of what Honoka had said shortly beforehand, honesty between friends right?
%t"The only thing that could of come from me fighting was that one more person would get hurt (Him or me.) It wouldn't have helped my partner even though I still wanted to punch that guy for taking a silly tournament that was meant to be fun so farc He was right. I had just really wanted to prove something. My partner at the time, He said I was too weak and that I was just holding him back."
Among other things said the Frenchman had made his opinions of her pretty clear in their time as teammates, even once again after the ceased being teammates and she just tried to ..apologise.
"And then I went and forfeit, maybe costing him a fight he fought hard to wins so he was right in the end."
Not even mentioning sobbing into his bare wounded chest when she lost control afterwards, not her finest hour or a moment she was keen to relive. Picking thoughtfully at an imaginary piece of lint on her muffler for a moment before looking up into the faces of Honoka and Sudo with just a little amazement, what was that in their faces? Was it concern.. or something else?
"Ahah! I'm feeling a bit better about it now. I thought maybe what I should take away from this was that I should give up fighting, but I can't do that. Or maybe that I should avoid tournaments, but I can't do that either!
Heir to the family dojo it would be something of a scandal or just nonsense if she were to give up practicing her art or fighting just because someone disagreed with her principles and talked her into giving them up.
It was actually kind of funny since she kind of agreed with that odd ninja type person on some level. She hadn't wanted anyone to get hurt during their fight; use of what seemed excessive violence had provoked her, and then her own wish to not use further violence defeated her. Muttering almost under her breath she offers some small complaint for the situation she finds herself in.
"Uah... I can't find Ein if I'm not going to the tournaments to look for him."
It doesn't bother he so much anymore, she just had to keep moving forward and she was set and determined on this one path and goal at least. Ein, where are you right now I wonder? Are you well?
Sudo normally pays full attention to his task of keeping Honoka safe. It's rare, in fact, for him to even use the smartphone for what it was designed. But for some reason, the thought occurred to him to look up data. And it didn't take him long to find an online post about Hitomi's adventures on Zack Island -- that alone speaks to the fanbase the young karateka is already beginning to amass. Still, wasn't it -odd- for him to have that thought?
Honoka narrows accusing eyes at Sudo as he asks, as if chiding him for blurting out such a rude question. Even though it probably -wouldn't- have occurred to him if she hadn't put the thought there to begin with, blame is a fun game for the puppetmaster to play.
Sudo winces, bowing his head in apology, "Please... forgive me, I..." But a slow shake of Honoka's head dissuades him from continuing right away, as the two turn concerned faces to Hitomi, allowing her the time to share her thoughts.
This ninja... convinced a karateka to forfeit a fighting match so she wouldn't get hurt. Sudo's concerned look becomes a more disapproving frown.
Honoka's expression is more compassionate and hopeful, as she reaches across the table, slipping her hand atop Hitomi's for support. "... Wow, that's intense, I had no idea..." Beat. "Also, Sudo, you're a jerk! You can't just stay clammed up all night and just bust out with -that- kinda crap."
Sudo bows his head again, "I'm sorry. I... keep up with fighters. I'm not good enough to enter myself, but I had to look up something I read a while back."
Honoka and Sudo both breathe a sigh of relief as Hitomi says she feels better at least. "That's good, but I... I hope you -don't- stop fighting, you're really good at it! But don't let yourself get intimidated by haters like that. They're just trying to get in your head, play mind games with you."
Without knowing more, Honoka doesn't have much to say, but Sudo remembers the details a bit better. "I think you had it in the bag, but maybe I'm biased." Her offers a tepid smile as apology, bowing his head once again.
A waitress comes by to take orders. Honoka gets a stack of pancakes and a weird little omelette thing that defies proper explanation. It looks absolutely delicious with the syrup drizzled on though. Sudo, considering the late hour, is more in the mood for an angus beef platter.
Hitomi starts to wave it away, it wasn't an offensive question at all and he certainly didn't need to apologise -The hand reaching for and taking hers stills the motion and is a welcome show of support, lolling her head to the side where it rests she focused her attention on Honoka. Grateful and ratcheting up the intensity of a smile she appreciates the concern. But.. there was no real reason to worry, or at least she was pretty sure there wasn't. It all had purpose, she just needed to steadily progress down this road and not be dissuaded. All that was was to reach a level high enough that she would run into him, or have someone recognize the similarity in style she shared with Ein and set her on a path to find him.
"It's alright, I'm new to this and have been making a few mistakes. Some of the fighters I have encountered in the tournaments are all fired up and fighting with all their heart for something-"
Things getting serious enough to want to hurt or harm their opponent for that win. Like the demonic face, attached to an arm dangling her over the edge of a roof and contemplating dropping or throwing her down. No-one would know if he had hurt her or believe her if she told anyone. That one was enough to send a real chill down her spine, she was afraid of him still though it was passing. He had seemed like such a goofball at parts but the mask just slipped away when she fell.
"I should try putting a bit more heart into my fights and seeing if that makes them more fun maybe."
Sage advice, and it should sound familiar. There was always some small hope the next opponent would be Ein, if he found what he was looking for -- maybe he'd found his old name as well. It was hard not to get her hopes up and be a little disappointed each subsequent time there was a match but it wasn't him, he wasn't there and she still had no word if he was alright.
She barks a laugh when Sudo offers his two cents and offers reassurances in what might be his own way. The brightness and smile that had faltered as she was lost in her thoughts returns at the praise and thought she might have had a chance. She wasn't so sure, Ash Crimson seemed so much stronger than her back there and that ninja? She had nothing to compare the feelings she got from facing him. He didn't frighten her, but it was like an indomitable glacial wall in her path, without warmth or humanity evident at all. Something far out of her reach but watching and judging.
"Well, You don't know until you try!"
Perking up when the waitress arrives she asks for her order last when the waitress prompts her with a look.
"Ahmmmm, A Bacon Benny with the hollandaise sauce. Thank you."
Opening her hand she gives Honoka's hand a return squeeze, her finger interlacing with the performers she can feel surprisingly soft hands but the traces edge of calluses running between the performers fingers. Her own hands were probably even softer but it was more vigilance with a pumice stone and hand lotion that kept them that way. Her hands were a little smaller, but Honoka was taller than she was so it made good sense, she had no idea how old Honoka was but she felt more experienced. Look how much she had accomplished already in her life and Hitomi was still taking cooking and self-defense classes at school. Her curious fixation of the other girls hand lasts for just a moment; full of consideration before she relents and turns back to Sudo.
"Are you a performer as well?"
A image of the man in various performing roles springs to mind, each more ridiculous than the last as she considers a makeup heavy clown, probably more frightening to the intended audience, serving food in the stalls with that emotionless expression?That would probably worry customers. Maybe on the trapeze in suitable figure hugging and festive outfit? Lion tamer or strongman? actually.. they weren't so ridiculous seeming.
The server completes taking the orders and heads back to the kitchen. Sudo smiles at Hitomi's order, much like he'd smiled at Hitomi's positive outlook upon fighting. He'd always admired Honoka's steadfast determination to bury her own feelings, after all. "No, I'm not a performer. Someone's got to keep Honoka out of trouble." He pauses for a moment, receiving only a patient smile and a shake of the head from Honoka -- which only causes Sudo's smile to grow incrementally.
Honoka smiles placidly as Hitomi continues pretending as if the hurtful memories don't bother her so much. It wouldn't take a psychic to know the telltale signs that she's hiding something of course, but the psion can sense the repression going on, just the same -- the memories lurking just beneath the surface.
In a way, Honoka agrees. Hitomi's method of mind over matter certainly has its place -- and the Ainu can appreciate that the uniquely focused karateka can just decide to not let her emotions get in the way of the fight. But, as the incident Sudo read about shows, repressed emotions have a way of boiling over.
"If you ask me," blurts out Sudo, interrupting the contemplative reverie of a wide-eyed Honoka, "I think the key is just staying away from that asshole Frenchman."
The Twilight Star performer realizes two things: why she DOES take Sudo along, and why sometimes she'd rather NOT. She may have planted his earlier thought in his head, but Sudo's going off the script now! The psion had wanted to keep Hitomi at a carefully-modulated level of anguish until she could work another angle. But she wasn't able to intercept Sudo before he could speak, and... well. She can appreciate Sudo's insight most of the times, and sometimes he just up and offers it.
The performer's heart rate is rising. Honoka looks around for her glass of water, but the server hasn't brought it by yet. Fidgety, she reaches into her jacket pocket and pulls out a yo-yo. Now with something in her hands, something with a nice string that can be wound up and retracted, she finds calm sweeping back over her as she flashes an attentive smile back at Hitomi. Perhaps she can find out more about Hitomi's mental state, now that her own is back under control.
Hitomi's smiling now... but the pressure from her fight has not yet been released. Between the memories and the unusual challenges from two people who may as well be strangers to Hitomi, the detonation could occur at any moment. And that might be... embarassing.
One thought -does- occur to Honoka to ask, though. "Oh... hm. You mentioned him before and I didn't think to ask, but... who is Ein? Your friend?"
The server returns with the completed drink orders. And now... Honoka can enjoy her tea, quietly wishing Sudo would have ordered, instead of coffee, a nice steaming mug of shut the eff up.
Just staying away from Ash Crimson? Yes, that does seem like the best for all concerned. Hitomi agrees with a success of nods, more firmly with each successive motion her following and concurring with that assessment. It would surely be best for both of them to avoid or evade contact with the other, not that there was too much likelihood of that happening anytime soon.
Honoka's toying with the Yo-yo now doesn't go unnoticed at all, if anything it's a curiousity and surprised turned kind of kind of envious. All she and Sudo had with them were impolite and unsociable smartphones with access to games and a plethora of features stuffed in their pockets, definitively Honoka's win there in coming prepared with an at least something somewhat socially acceptable toy to play with. Also, It did kind of remind Hitomi of those Diabolo Honoka had used to fight with but it was just a yo-yo. hardly dangerous she seemed to be having fun playing with it.
"Ein.. It's an unusual name! I know. Aha. He picked up while he was living with us. W-while he was staying with us and recovering! He didn't remember his own name, or much else about himself, he'd been in an accident. B-but He worked and studied at the dojo learning under my father and he was -really- special. Beyond a doubt the strongest pupil in the dojo before long!"
Stronger than she was, much stronger and more gifted; he picked up things up so fast.. just joining the students in their exercises to hasten his recovery and regain his strength had just propelled him to the top all the faster.
"He left the dojo with our blessing some time ago, looking for clues or maybe some answers that would help him regain his memory. He said he would write or let us know if he found anything."
Maybe she had kind of badgered that last condition onto him before she was willing to let him leave, but he was kind of like family now so to lose him somewhere out here without word.
"He's a fighter, but he's my senior now as well. I'm sure he's going to be in a tournament somewhere, he practices the same style that I do! But -- maybe if he found his real name..."
That thought made her heart ache a little but at the same time it would mean he found his answers. It's enough to describe Ein, not his whole short little life story she was familair with, since he had stumbled upon Hitomi in the midst of training deep in the Black Woods. There are things she absolutely cannot trust anyone else with things her father cautioned her on speaking about, they stuck even now because she doesn't know those things won't lead to Ein being hurt once again. Not the helicopter crash in the woods, his wounds, or whoever 'Kasumi' was.
"It's why I left home -- to look for Ein, aaand- that's the big reason I can't afford to stop fighting or going to tournaments. Because he's got to be at or in one of them!!"
She was betting everything on it. There was only so far she could push or use her free time not devoted to her education. If he saw her, maybe he would find her, or she him. Hitomi is practically aglow with pride as she talks about Ein. He was the strongest and best student, star pupil. To see him through a tough rehabilitation and then grow to surpass the best martial artists she knew... he /was/ someone special and remarkable. Her grin a bit goofy and obliviously happy when talking about him.
Honoka idles away her time with the yo-yo for a bit, though it's set aside when the hot tea arrives. Wrapping her hands about the piping hot cup for warmth, she listens quietly as the karateka gushes at length about some guy named Ein. The smiling is contagious: it's hard for Honoka and Sudo -not- to smile in response to Hitomi's enthusiastic account of the amnesiac's story.
Honoka takes quiet note of Hitomi's self-correction for later use. This ... Ein might be more than just her sempai, to say the least.
A look is spared to Sudo, whose smile is evident. But, unlike before, he's got nothing poignant or insightful to offer at the moment.
Honoka turns back to Hitomi, hazarding a sip of her tea. Looking for Ein. Hoping beyond hope to find him at a tournament. Sighing contentedly at the warmth of the tea, she notes, "Well... if he's as good as you say, I'm sure he's doing great at whatever he's found for himself. If there's anyone who fights with a style like yours, I'm pretty sure Sudo would be able to pick it out. And then we'll let you know!"
The performer flashes a brief smile at Hitomi, before taking another sip of her tea.
Still... Honoka still isn't convinced she's found the reason for Hitomi's stopping by. Loneliness? That -could- be it -- Southtown's a big place, and Honoka somehow doubts that the high schools would really provide many people of interest to someone of Hitomi's obvious talent. But...
"Hmmmm, were you hoping to find Ein at the circus tonight?" Her tone and manner of asking are such that it seems like an innocent enough question.
Pressing her palms together she offers Sudo a small bow even whilst seated. A 'Please if you would' It's been something of a trying experience already but more eyes and people helping her look for Ein would help, maybe she would get lucky.
"Uhm no, not really. I was there because it was the last time to catch the show. It was being advertised as the last winter show before.."
Before the circus packed up and left. She might be a girl on a mission but, she wasn't always focused on it like she could be. Honoka had mentioned earlier something about wherever they were going was going to be close enough by train, but it was still a last chance of sorts.
She should catch up with Honoka before she left, it would be even more lonely knowing she was further away. Her circle of friends wasn't that large to begin with, the absence of a close and good one like Honoka.
She was somewhat confused, tired and hungry; still ill to boot. But that weird feeling that something about this was - despite being enjoyable! Intensely odd and a more than a little sad. But, of course it was! Everything in Southtown or Japan in general was a kind of new strangeness. The people, facilities and the making of new friends. she should at least send a friend off with a smile.
"Just the last chance to catch it, before your new one."
She could definitely make time some time for a train trip to wherever they wound up, eventually. In time. Leaning around and fumbling while fishing in one of her jacket pockets, peeling Velcro noises and a tugging produces a thin spiral bound notepad. Not much bigger than her smartphone and flips the first page before turning it in Honoka's direction. Autographs? There were four distinct and different looking practiced and elaborate signatures. All performers who had been working tonight and had been there around that time. It had been while doing so that she had even spotted and run across Hiroshi, in distress as he was.
She's grinning a bit still but there was the proof of what she was doing at the circus. Was she a Legitimate fan?!
It was her second time attending but she had kind of missed the latter half of the previous show she had attended.. after her match and being knocked unconscious in the ring, centre stage! But she still missed everything after that point.
Sudo offers another nod at the notation that he would help. Of course he will, helping is in his nature -- as long as Honoka's on board with it, of course.
Honoka can sense the slight changes taking place within Hitomi's demeanor as her deceptively simple question is given a deceptively simple answer. It's not rocket surgery, but it seems to have triggered a brief... memory of sorts. The lapse between two halves of a sentence that should have been continuous, but instead came out disjointed and broken.
Ah... yes. Honoka smiles for the obvious reason: she's glad Hitomi wanted to see the winter show, before it went away. This makes her elated in one sense -- and honestly so. Because what performer =doesn't= like their show to be memorable?
And Honoka smiles for a second more insidious reason. The book Hitomi fiddles with is full of signatures of many of the performers. But the signs upon her psyche were marks left by Honoka's own tampering -- a moment of weakness for the opportunist to lunge upon. And she'd left her own signature upon the karateka's memory -- and it appears to have taken root.
She'd had her doubts. She'd played up the -attitude- of someone who needed help from Hitomi, or at least that's what she kept telling herself -- all because she hadn't yet been sure of the -why-. But now it's clear, as Hitomi's honest admission bears with it the marks of ... more.
Honoka's smile grows even larger as she reaches for the pen. "You've gotten so -many!- Yeah, that... that would make sense, since... yeah." Knocking a person out -does- rob them of certain key opportunities.
Honoka takes the opportunity to sign with a flourish, making the most of it. Sure, she's friends with Hitomi now. She can claim artistic license, right?
But then she slides the notebook over to Sudo as well. "I'm glad you were able to get to see everyone this go-round! I love the meet-and-greets at the end, it's really awesome to see all the fans. Like Hiroshi, and his folks!"
And just about then... is that the waitress bringing by the meals? It could be!
The German girl is a little unsure as to why Honoka keeps smiling so much while taking the pen and paper from her to sign it, was it fun? It must be some kind of fun to smile so. Entertaining the thought of herself, ... I would definately find it embarrassing instead. But she watches the with interest. Which redoubles when it is signed, she takes note of the flourish and expertise; then passed across the table to Sudo said interest escalates further.
Honoka was the star performer after all, she probably had signed so many autographs she was well practiced. She could be teasing Sudo further right now but Hitomi smiles sweetly across at him so that he might know she'd like his 'sign' as well.
She wasn't sure whose side she was on in this but she didn't mind and would like him to sign it. She laughs a little embarrassedly as Honoka seems to have worked it all out, her speech distracting the karateka from watching Sudo with the notepad.
"Ahah-ha, They treated me really well backstage but I -did- slept through the rest of the show."
A little Chagrined and apologetic seeming she fidgets in her seat. Ah right, in the wake of their fight Some time during that period she was being cared for she must have fallen properly asleep, but all was better now she'd had a chance to watch the full show and experience from the intended viewing areas. It didn't mean it wasn't embarrassing to worry someone like that! Honoka had been worried about her for sure. She remembers there was something like that happening back then. 'Hitomi-chan'
The plate set down in front of her ends her train of thought like the needle skipping across a record surface.
Both in front of the waitress and directed at Honoka who was paying, she brutally stabs a fork into the top of one of the eggs and begins sawing off a piece off a piece that barely fits into her mouth. She's deliriously happy to be eating at last even if she was starting to have questions about whether Japanese 'Bacon' was different form the kind of bacon she was used to, a little more like.. ham? The Bacon Benny, it makes so much more sense now! And it tastes pretty good if being a tiny bit disappointing on some level.
It was also free and bought by a friend, so she can relish that.
Log created on 20:55:38 04/04/2015 by Honoka, and last modified on 02:02:41 04/11/2015.