Description: Zach's time in Majigen has left him with some battle scars, both literal and figurative. After spending some time recuperating, he's decided to drop in on Honoka, in the midst of the circus' springtime tour. She seems a bit different than he remembers, though surely that's just absence making the heart grow fonder...
The Twilight Star Circus has begun a brand new show for the springtime, trying out a new story-based concept. Each of the smaller acts tells one smaller story that contributes to the whole overarching plotline. The "heroine" of the story is a younger acrobatic performer who goes by the name Mizuho; in the storyline, the 'Cherry Princess' encounters a series of escalating challenges upon her quest to bring springtime to Japan. Along the way she finds herself competing against the army (clowns) as a regular villain sort.
Counter to her usual positioning in the circus performances as a 'heroine', Honoka finds herself in an adversarial role. Though the role of an evil magician does allow her to use her talents for juggling fire, it left a few of the longtime followers of the show scratching their heads at first -- though, by the end of the show, even they can agree that it was a good casting decision: the diaboloist can play diabolical pretty well for some reason.
It's an exhausting performance though, and she hasn't spent as much time signing autographs as usual.
In another departure from an established norm, Sudo isn't on shift tonight; there are other guards to handle the duties of routing autograph-seekers to Honoka. Suffice to say, she retires quickly to her trailer tonight...
Zach Glenn arrived well after the performance was over; his return to Japan from Metro City was fairly quiet. A week of physical exams and doctors and counselors. He was finally allowed off the base, and there were really only one place he wanted to go. Well, two places, really. Zach made a dinner stop at the Sleeping Dragon. He had a nice, fresh hot meal.
Then Zach went to the circus.
The Marine had shown up with a frown on his face; he's been nursing a migraine since he returned to Japan. Normally, when Zach was out in public, the presence of people represented a certain amount of mental background noise. Since returning from Majigen, that background noise demanded more attention than Zach was used to paying it. Forcing himself /not/ to took a certain effort of will. It left him tired and headachey.
Zach sought, if not help, then familiar company. Honoka would almost certainly notice Zach's arrival, either through the workers informing her or noticing Zach's psychic presence. They show the Marine to Honoka's trailer.
If there's one thing that's clear about the circus, it's that Honoka's unique psychic 'footprint' is significantly stronger than Zach may last remember it. Part of that was due to her soul being lost to the Butcher. But part of it may also be due to the training she'd been undergoing when he'd last seen her -- training that she's been throwing herself into, perhaps to the exclusion of all else.
Suffice to say, he'd notice a response from the young woman, even before she opens the door to 'surprise' him the moment he walks up. The surprised expression upon her face is clearly orchestrated to seem totally accidental, and yet, totally familiar at the same time. "Hey, you!"
Her pink-streaked hair is still wet; clearly her first task after the show was to take a nice, hot shower. However, she clearly plans to be up for a bit longer; she's totally okay with entertaining visitors, having donned a light violet camisole top and a pale white pleated skirt. It's a beautiful spring evening -- much too nice for pants, after all!
"Thanks, you two! I'll see you in the morning!" Her messaging is pretty unequivocal on that regard: she has much with Zach about, and she'd rather not share the Marine with anyone else tonight. She gestures Zach inside -- where he's likely to find one thing very clear.
She's cleaned up the place quite a bit. And a vase of violet lilies is present upon the dinette table. "Long time no see, Captain... or did you get a promotion after all that?" Her smile is warm and welcoming, yet... insistent.
Or maybe that's just the faint whispers at the periphery of Zach's psychic senses, urging him inside.
Zach blinks once at Honoka, slightly off-guard at the... weight of Honoka's presence. He looks over Honoka slowly, a slight smile on his face. "No," he finally says quietly. "No promotions just yet." Zach is wearing loose fitting jeans, a black leather bomber jacket, and a olive green tee shirt. He has a large dufflebag over one shoulder, and Honoka may notice a certain metaphysical weight of its own in addition to the physical wieght that it has.
"You look good," he comments, still in a quiet tone. He looks around for a moment, as if trying to find something before looking back to Honoka. He takes a deep breath, before smiling back to Honoka.
Maybe it's the whispers, maybe it's the weather. Maybe Zach doesn't want to stand outside the trailer looking, and feeling, like an idiot. Regardless of the actual reason, Zach follows Honoka inside.
Honoka's tired -- though she's making every effort to avoid -seeming- tired. She responds to the compliment with a warm smile, pink tinges crossing her cheeks. "You too, soldier! Especially digging the jacket." And Zach seems fatigued as well. So in other words, this is an excellent opportunity to ask, while ushering Zach inside: "Tea? Coffee? I got one of those Keurig machines now if you want some." Beat. "And some Kirin Ichiban in the fridge, come to think of it. Dunno how long it's been there though!"
Of note, she closes the door, but the windows are still wide open, letting in the light breeze. The weather's too nice, and the temperature control inside is all or nothing. If she notices any hesitation on the Captain's part, she's too polite to make note of it.
Besides: "I'm so happy you're here safe and sound. It sounded like a warzone over there." The invitation to talk about it is extended, of course, but she's perfectly amenable to other topics of discussion, of course...
"Tea would be nice," Zach says agreeably. "It..." Zach shakes his head slowly, as if still trying to get his head around it.
"Warzone... isn't the right phrase for it. Not the right scope. I'm just glad to be out of there. There were... things there," he finally answers. "Things I don't think were human."
The Fire Dancer of Twilight Star Circus won't bother with the K-cup machine for tea when she's already got a kettle of water brewed. Instead she goes ahead and pours a cup of hot water, and dips a teabag inside, handing it over to Zach. Nice and hot!
"Pretty sure they're not entirely human. I mean, I've got firsthand experience dealing in things that aren't, heh, so I know they're -out- there."
Honoka hops up onto her kitchen counter, crossing her legs. She's used to wearing pants: skirt modesty isn't something she's totally used to yet. Of course, if it were anyone else in the trailer with her, that might be a valid concern...
"Voices, lots of people, yeah? There's a ton of people there, all of them scared... it's bound to take its toll." Honoka nods attentively -- the whispers begin to still.
"Thanks," Zach says quietly as he takes the cup, and gives it a gentle puff of breath to sort of cool it down before taking a sip. His eyes are closed, and for perhaps the first time Honoka might remember, Zach looks truly relaxed. Maybe not content, but certainly relaxed. There's the usual circus crew around, but it's not a crowded city.
"I... I'm just glad I was told to take a couple weeks off," he finally replies.
Honoka smiles back: if Zach is content, then she's content. Or maybe just sleepy, it's hard to see much of a difference at this hour,
On a psychic sense, she can tell that, yes, he seems to be in a state of recovery. Calmer, but not truly -calm-, and... well.
"... How much have you been sleeping, Zach? Are you able to get a full night's rest, at least?" There's the sound of her sliding back off the countertop, there's the sense of Honoka's presence approaching.
And then there would be the soft sensation of fingertips upon Zach's temples, soothing touches, soft like a tickle, but firm enough to escape the actual ticklish sensation. Just a calming touch, as she brushes her fingertips through the American's hair, standing at a comfortable distance.
The whispers utter -something- abrupt, but it's indistinct.
Zach takes in another deep breath. He doesn't shy away from the touch, doesn't even flinch from the contact. But he does take another sip of the tea, and another deep breath. "Haven't had a full night since I left Japan," he finally admits. He is still using that quiet tone of voice, as if he's actively trying not to yell.
"I try to sleep and..." Zach pauses. "There was a group of people gathered in this opera house. They had managed to survive in all of that the entire time. We had an evacuation laid on. It was happening. I had been sent somewhere else in the city when..." Zach pauses, takes another deep breath to try and re-center himself. "Something happened. I... I /felt/ them die." Zach shudders. "Every time I start to go to sleep, I..."
Honoka listens quietly. Many people, in a conversation, attempt to dominate the topic of discussion, changing it to whatever puts themself in the best light. Occasionally, Honoka finds herself doing this. But not now; now she wants to hear this story.
Zach's eyes being closed, he might not realize at first. Or that Honoka is reaching down for the cup. Or that she's drawing his hand over to set the cup on the table, as she sweeps her arms forward to wrap her arms about the Marine.
You can't save everyone, comes the whispered sentence.
But no words came from Honoka's lips, as she's holding him tightly in her arms.
Again, Zach doesn't resist the movements. The man simply shudders, as if he is trying to keep himself from sobbing right then and there. The guilt that the Marine feels is palpable. "I operated out of that opera house the entire time I was there," he supplies.
I /should/ have saved them, is the reply to the whisper.
Zach didn't speak that part. It's irrational, but there is a good chance Honoka hears it anyway.
Honoka's chin rests upon Zach's shoulder, and she invites his to do the same upon hers. Her fingertips slide beneath the bomber jacket, pressing firmly against the fabric of the t-shirt mere fractions of an inch above his tightly corded muscles. He's stressed -- that much is clear to any masseuse.
"There was nothing you could have done. If you were there, you could've died too... with a clear conscience perhaps, but is that really a consolation?" Honoka does not know all of the details, but she knows some. And perhaps Zach can fill in the rest.
There are many heroes in the world. You can't be all of them at once.
"There is that," he mumbles, leaning into the hug. He isn't disagreeing with Honoka's comments, spoken or otherwise. But none of that stops him about feeling badly about how things played out. What he did was important. Some people got out of that hellscape because of what he did. Depending on where Honoka's hands roam, she may also notice some bandaging around Zach's midsection.
"Living..." he comments as he draws in a breath. "I'm glad I am alive. I just... a /lot/ of people died. A lot of people who didn't ask for any of that to happen to them." There's a flicker of something hot building in the back of Zach's mind.
"You're a good person, Zach Glenn. And that's why I love hanging out with you." Honoka's chin presses into Zach's shoulder as she speaks, her ribs practically touching his as she stays beside him, holding tightly.
No one asks for a tragedy.
"I'm so sorry, Zach... I wish there was some way I could ease the pain, but..."
Her ribcage hitches. It's clear that she's... realized that Zach -could- have been inside the opera house as it fell. And that her simple telephoned platitudes to him to stay focused could have resulted in his death, too.
But you aren't a victim of happenstance, Zach Glenn. You are a maker. A doer. Someone who takes fate in his own hands. And that is why you are still alive.
"I wish..." Honoka sobs lightly into Zach's shoulder, trapped in the moment of sadness, of loss -- right there with Zach.
Zach stirs, finally, pulling away slightly as he regards Honoka. Concern is evident on his face. The Marine wipes the tears that were starting to form as he takes another deep breath. "Sorry," he says. "I think I might be... sharing... too much," he fumbles with the words a bit. "Without meaning to, I mean." Still with that subdued voice. "I'm not trying to."
Zach pulls away a bit more, and reaches once again for the tea. This could be all kinda of bad, but... at the end of the day, Zach wants to extend some trust. "But I'm having a hard time getting the walls back up. There... it was a little too much, for too long."
"Don't be sorry," chides Honoka as she pulls away. "You were around on what has to be the second worst day of my life, I think you're due," offers the Fire Dancer with a smidgen of levity.
"Trust is when you let people help you through the rough spots. You... " She smiles reassuringly, at this. "You're not alone, okay? I'm right here." She places one hand over her heart. "You got some time off. I... I can't promise to spend another three weeks with you, but we tour, and..." With a helpless shrug, she slips backwards, sipping from her own cup of (now-cold) tea.
"I take it this wasn't something you did in the other time."
"What," he replies, "Travel to hell-like places or take long trips with beautiful women?" There is a genuine smile on Zach's face. "Because I didn't really do either of those the other time."
"Now, now, Captain... Flattery will get you /everywhere/." Pink tinges cross her cheeks again, as the Fire Dancer leans against the countertop, one hand fidgeting with the lower hem of her camisole. "I meant the travel to hell-like places though, but I'm perfectly happy to hear about these beautiful women you've been spending your time with." Beat. "If it helps you sleep at night, anyway," she adds with a wink.
Zach grins as he leans back and sip at his tea. "No," he finally says. "Nothing like where I was this month. "And there wasn't any woman, let alone women, the last time around. I think that that guy was fiercely lonely, sometimes. Not many friends, no... relationships like that." Beat. "I'm glad that that's different." Beat. "Not sure if I could handle that." Zach looks at his cup of tea, swirling the beverage around in that cup. "It's... different, right?" he asks carefully, trying very hard to guard the sliver of hope. He truly does like Honoka, cares about her a great deal.
Live in the moment, insist the whispers. Savor the flesh as it's being offered to you...
"Different?" asks Honoka, cocking her head to the side. "Well, considering I'd have gotten myself killed by this point, I sure hope so."
Consenting adults, echo the whispering chorus.
"But maybe I'm just deflecting a wee bit. I'm glad you're back. I've been thinking of all the things I'd wanted to say to you, but... my mind's a bit blank right now," she admits shyly.
Say, or -do-, insist the voices.
Zach blushes deeply as certain... ideas cross his mind. He looks up at Honoka, then back down to the tea, then back to Honoka. "I..." Zach's not at all sure that the ideas crossing his mind are something he wants, or something Honoka wants. Or whether or not he minds one way or the other. His breathing accelerates, as does his heart rate. "I..."
Zach winces, a bit of pain lancing through his side from what easily is the worst injury he has ever had. He stands slowly, a bit of the purely physical pain showing on his face. "Maybe I could play groupie for a couple of weeks," he says quietly. "Let me head back. Get some changes of clothes. That kind of thing."
...Did Zach just...?
The whispers grow quiet again, allowing Zach a moment to continue to question his own sanity in relative peace. Honoka, for her part, is quiet and seems aloof and unaware of the confusion, beyond the obvious signs of simple confusion. And ... interest.
Finish your tea first, the whispers quietly resume...
Honoka steps forward, brow knit in obvious sympathy for the pain she can plainly see. Her hand reaches out to Zach's side, a faint pink glow already starting to form there. Can she heal? Not... -really-, but she can dole out pain relief in a pinch. "... I... are you sure? You're in a lot of pain, and... I dunno."
The attraction Zach feels is not one-sided. Heartbeat, flushed expression, shortness of breath. And with Honoka stepping closer, he ought to be able to sense... more. A feeling of sadness at the thought of Zach walking out that door without her.
"If you... have to go, yeah. Okay." Disappointment flickers across her face for one fleeting moment before she flashes a terribly transparent smile.
It's hard to lie to a psychic, after all. Especially when the whispers are sharing graphic, unbecoming thoughts about that short skirt of hers.
Honoka may get the impression that the whispers aren't suggesting anything Zach's not already imagining regarding the short skirt. Zach's blush hasn't really gone away. "Believe me," Zach says in an attempt to reassure Honoka, "It was a lot worse at first." Being nearly bitten in half will take it out of just about anyone. "The medics... didn't really believe me when I told them what had happened, given that I had walked off of the transport."
Zach stands up fully, grateful for what Honoka was offering. "But if I'm going to hang around with everyone for more than tonight, I'm going to need clothes," Zach grins. "Things would get awkward, otherwise."
Honoka looks concerned, and perfectly sympathetic for a moment, as she deadpans, "Well, not if you just stayed chained up in my trailer." After a beat, she scratches her chin, "Did I say that out loud?"
Honoka laughs, despite herself. She may have called him one, two, or five too many times during Zach's trip to Majigen, but she isn't -quite- as desperate as she seems to be. "Groupie it is, then," she agrees after a moment.
But she won't let him leave without a kiss that would -definitely- leave him wanting more.
Zach lets out a snort at the chains comment as he grabs the duffle bag. Glenn walks over to Honoka, doesn't want to leave without a kiss that would leave Honoka -waiting- for more. Perhaps the couple can meet somewhere in the middle.
Log created on 21:25:03 05/09/2015 by Honoka, and last modified on 21:18:06 05/10/2015.