Description: Honoka had promised to introduce Zach to Gyutan when he got back from the madness in Metro City. But the expectation was that it'd be a nice, quiet dinner with just the two of them.
Hokkaido's most famous food really seems to be ramen. It's hard to escape it really -- and as much as Honoka had wanted to find another restaurant that specialized in beef or something that her 'groupie' would like to eat, the locals all recommended noodle houses of some variety.
Luckily, there's one restauant that bucked that trend: Oonoya. Now that the Hokkaido leg of the spring Twilight Star Circus tour is coming to a close, it was as good a time as any to swing back by.
"Yeah, this is the place I was telling you about! It's... well, I heard lots of good things about it!" Honoka smiles patiently as she steps inside, her nose wrinkling a bit. It's certainly true that she's not exactly a purveyor of meat-based dishes -- in fact, only two or three people at the circus would even be able to recall the last time Honoka's actually -eaten- beef or pork. But she's here, just the same, and she seems open to new experiences as the hostess leads the pair to a table.
Honoka seems to be dressing down just a bit more than usual today, wearing her comfy cargo pants and purple v-neck t-shirt with a star emblazoned on the front. Laundry day, perhaps: it's one of the official cast shirts. She slides into the table, sweeping a loose bang free from her vision as she peruses a menu. "The, um... 'gyutan' is the best dish they have here." Her enigmatic smile suggests that maybe she won't be translating that word into English for her dinner partner's benefit.
Zach grins at Honoka's smile. "I looked up what gyutan when I got back to Japan," Zach says by way of admission. He's way too amused to be upset or unnnerved by the concept. "Just so you know." Glenn looks around, still openly curious about pretty much everything. The Marine is wearing some loose fitting blue jeans, a bright red t-shirt (with gold lettering and a cartoon bulldog wearing a campaign hat), and his black leather bomber jacket. "I'm still looking forward to it."
To all appearances, Zach seems in a much brighter mood than he was when he showed up at the circus earlier in the week. Despite literally sleeping on the couch, Zach looks well-rested, and the bandages around his midsection have come off. Zach had asked to help out around the circus after that, looking for something that would require him to move around. He had been given various tasks involving heavy-lifting and moving things around, and that suited Glenn just fine.
"Thank you, by the way," Zach comments a moment later, "For finding something for me to do, I mean."
Honoka's mischievous grin deflates considerably once she receives the news. "Aww, you're no fun at all..." is Honoka's mock pout in response to that, though she's still harboring enough of a smile to show she's not a hundred percent serious. "But since you know what you're getting into, the seasoning's what really sells it."
She breaks eye contact for long enough to confirm her menu selection, then sets the folded menu onto the table. Lacing her fingers together, she nods eagerly in response: "Well, yeah, I can't have you rooting through my trailer while I'm exercising. A, it's probably super boring, and B, I gotta keep -some- surprises for later tonight." She pauses just one beat, before adding, "I mean, what, I don't have anything in mind for later."
She raises a finger, and she's about to speak, when the door chimes jangle again. "Irasshaimase!" cry out the staff as a new group of people walk in.
Mizuho, Sudo, and two other cast members have arrived. Sudo looks less than pleased -- not that he's ever too expressive -anyway-. A look of mild discomfort flickers across Honoka's face for a moment before she's able to reassert control, donning an ebullient smile as she waves back to the incoming cast and crew.
"I know they're really glad to have the help, " continues Honoka, as the others are seated a fair distance away, with only a mild wave back to the Fire Dancer.
Zach is smiling as he makes his own selection. It takes a moment longer for Zach; the pictures help but Japanese is not Zach's native language. Zach looks toward the door when the welcome cry goes up and Zach's grin widens a bit, but fades a bit when he sees Sudo's expression. He glances at Honoka. "What's up with Sudo," Zach asks, a bit of concern in his voice. "He seems less-than-thrilled to be here."
"Him? Oh." Honoka blinks, then offers a pleasant shrug. "I'unno, he's kept an eye out for me so long that he just knows what I'm thinking, and vice versa, but Mizuho..." She laughs politely, but lowers her voice. "She's a handful. Changes her mind a lot, goes off on these -weird- little tangents..." So far, not all that different from Honoka herself...
"But she's a bit too hot-tempered, a bit too green, and very self-centered. She's kinda full of herself since she graduated high school with top marks and stuff." Honoka rests her elbows on the table, and her chin upon outstretched thumbs. "And she's treating everyone like tour guides, like this is all just some vacation for her."
Zach doesn't comment on the similarities; that's a minefield to avoid. Drinks arrive, and Zach takes his beer with a smile and nod of his own before taking a careful sip. "Okay," Zach asks after a moment, clearly a little confused. "Let me get this straight. High school's not mandatory here in Japan, and she apparently did well there. Did she ever say why she's not going to a university somewhere? In America, if you did well enough in high school, some universities would award scholarships."
The hint of malice plays across Honoka's features as she gives a mild shrug. "One would think, yeah. But if she's gotten a scholarship, she hasn't bragged about it, and she brags about everything -else-..."
Honoka sips her tea, and places her order for sashimi -- not the restaurant's specialty, but with Zach being all carnivorous, it seems like the only rational choice. "Yeah, I dunno. She says it's like an internship, she wants to get real-world experience to give context to her college study or something like that." With another sip of her tea, she adds, "But university is -really- slack here, so it's not -that- big a deal. She passed her high school exit exams, and that -is- a big deal here."
"So probably no scholarships, if those are a thing here," Zach finishes the thought. He considers the rest of Honoka's comments. "University's as slack as you want it to be in the States, too. Until you fail out of it, anyway," Zach comments. "It's just... odd, is all. She's taking it seriously in the wrong ways, I think." Glenn is thoughtful. "Like she's not taking the right lessons from all of this." Another thought, then a shrug. "Either she'll learn or she won't." Zach shakes his head once, as if trying shake a thought loose.
"Either way," he finally comments, "I feel bad for Sudo, though," he says with a chuckle. "That man's a pro."
Honoka seems like she agrees with the sentiment that Mizuho isn't getting as much from the experience as she could: she nods, but she doesn't have as much of a response as one might expect. Then again, she's never had much to say about high schools, universities. Kinda like red meat, in that regard.
"Yeah, pro... that much is for sure. But... I guess Sudo and the higher ups know that while I can take care of myself for a little while, she can't. So." She gives another mild shrug, and sips her tea -- only to look at someone over Zach's shoulder. And puts on that fake smile again.
Mizuho's self-entitled voice shrills out, "Look, you can't even take a break from this? Isn't it bad enough you're hanging around us while we're working, but following us around...?!"
"Mizu-chan..." comes Honoka's icy cold voice, "do know that we were here first...?"
"I don't care about that!" snaps Mizuho, turning a glare onto Zach. "He's trying to get in your head, sempai."
Zach turns to regard Mizuho with a single raised eyebrow. The rest of his face is a stonelike mask. When Mizuho definitively declares Zach is trying to get into Honoka's head, that expression changes. The others might not recognize the expression, but Honoka has seen it exactly once... when Honoka suggested tying Zach up. Zach goes fairly still for a moment. He clearly needed a second to run down the line of thought. Zach tilts his head to one side, his eyes still firmly on Mizuho, when his shoulders start to shake.
A second later, a snort of laughter escapes his mouth, followed by a belly laugh. Honoka can tell pretty quickly Zach hasn't gone off the deep end, nor is he making like someone caught in the act. The laugh goes on for a long moment, before Zach spins himself down enough to take a drink from his beer. The bottle half-drained, Zach gasps for breath for a moment. He hasn't left his chair, but he's still trying to contain the laughter. He knows this is not a laughing situation, but he also knows that he doesn't have any good response to this. Mizuho's accusation is hilariously, pathetically laughable to Zach.
Honoka scratches her head at Mizuho's wild accusation. Usually people are smart enough to -not- blurt out the wildest thoughts in their head, especially if there's not a damn thing they can -do- about them.
Mizuho flares up at the laughter. "D-don't laugh at me! You -totally- are! Ev-everyone's told me how much Kawamoto-sempai is different when you're around and, and so is everyone else, I--"
The veteran performer silences her by raising a hand. "Mizu-chan, sweetie, listen to yourself. I'm just going to repeat what you said back to you. For you." Her voice is calm, controlled -- and a little condescending. The perfect way to deal with a pampered rich child is to throw it back in her face, after all: "You. Just said that my -boyfriend- makes me -feel special-. And accused him of -controlling my mind-." Honoka looks back at Zach's eyes, obviously amused by his belly laugh. winking back at him for a moment -- definitely not something that would slip under the cowed Mizuho's radar. But she looks back at Mizuho: "Pretty sure you're right. He's got me under a spell. But you? You're -jealous-."
Mizuho turns a bright cherry red. "Th-that's not it at -all!- I just mean that... that whenever he's around, guys.."
Honoka arches an eyebrow. "Mm-hmm? And dear Zach here is... totally responsible for this, you say?" Honoka turns to Zach, cradling her chin between thumb and forefinger. "Zach, is this true?" she asks -- hoping he can refrain from busting into laughter long enough to answer. This is amusing the -hell- out of Honoka.
"That I'm putting a spell on you," Zach asks with a, finally, subdued chuckle. "I mean, I know I can be charming and all," he comments before taking a last pull of his beer. "But I think that maybe she's got it backwards," he says, winking at Honoka. "I mean, my /girlfriend/ makes /me/ feel special. Maybe she's the one working the magic." He nonchalantly signals that he'd like another beer.
The fact that Mizuho has noted a difference in the work environment when Zach is around does not escape Zach's notice.
Now, now it's Honoka's turn to laugh. But unlike Zach, there's no measured pause, no deer-in-the-headlights moment where she has to consider her words. She laughs, openly, without missing the slightest beat -- not a belly laugh, but a mirthful one just the same, enough to drive home the point to the circus' newest starlet that, yes, sweetie, they -are- making fun of her accusation.
Mizuho's hands clench at her sides, her arms and shoulders tense. Sudo has, by this point, appeared at her side, and seems to be about ready to place a hand on her shoulder. But -- for the moment -- Mizuho is speechless, enraged beyond the point of words.
"Heh, yeah... it -does- sound a bit crazy, doesn't it?" Honoka asks, tamping down on the laughter. "Mizu-chan, would you all like to sit over here with Zach and I? It'd be a good way to get to know each other. I'd much rather we laugh -with- one another, right?"
Honoka looks over to Zach, giving him a more neutral, inquisitive look: is he okay with this?
"Yeah," Zach says, waving the group over. "Food's always better in a group setting," he says with the kind of authority of time-proven (at least in his mind) truth. "Sudo," Zach asks, "What're you having, man?" Zach's smile is inviting and earnest. It's interesting, Zach notes, how well Honoka and he work together.
Mizuho doesn't budge at the offer from Honoka and Zach: well, other than her eyes flicking back and forth between the two. That's -evil- -- with Sudo at her back, Zach and Honoka at the table, and her other two companions now heading over from their first table, that makes retreat super awkward! She grits her teeth...
Sudo is laconic as ever, answer consisting of the bare minimum: a nod and the word "Yebisu." (A product of the Sapporo Brewery just down the street, as luck would have it...) He slides into the booth seat beside Honoka, and his open hand gestures towards the seat besides Zach.
Mizuho buckles under the tremendous peer pressure, sliding onto the seat. Tense, she nods her head with a gulp of trepidation. The other two cast members help one of the waitstaff slide a small two-top table next to the booth, along with chairs, and make themselves comfortable as well. Honoka is more than happy to provide introductions, of course.
"Well then!" concludes Honoka, with a sip of tea. "Now then, we've got one last stop in Hokkaido before we're back on the mainland, right?" A natural-born performer, she seems perfectly content with the change of focus, making eye contact with the new arrivals and with Zach in equal measure -- though perhaps she gives Zach a -little- more attention as she nudges his foot with hers. Just to remind him that, yes, it's an imposition on 'date night', but maybe the food will be worth it. "Are you all getting the gyutan too?"
Mizuho is completely -petrified- at this point, focusing on a point on the table directly in front of Sudo.
Zach shrugs sheepishly, thinking loud enough for Honoka to hear, *It's either this or have her cause /more/ trouble while I'm around, right?* Zach feels a little guilty about this, actually. The glance is a long one, and the smile is an apologetic one as he slides over a little more to give the young woman room. "So Honoka tells me you finished high school with high marks," Zach says conversationally, "Did you have any plans for university?"
Honoka blinks back at Zach. She's... still not completely -used- to the idea of Zach talking to her on that particular wavelength, so that -does- give the psion pause. *I agree completely...* she responds, her transmitted 'voice' coming across a bit quietly.
Mizuho answers, with color still flooding her cheeks , "Y-yes, I did great, scored well, the principal even had me on his top list..." She seems a bit distracted, looking at the menu and eventually managing an order. But Sudo seems distracted by something -else-, his glassy stare turning introspective for a moment. He looks at Zach, then at Honoka for a moment, but otherwise says nothing.
"Really, I'm just taking a year off from school, I wanted a bit more time to perform while I figure out which college I want..."
Honoka nudges her foot into Zach's foot for a moment as she grins. "There's a lot of performing colleges, you know... there's always the Takarazuka Revue..."
Mizuho grimaces at that, and turns back to Honoka: "Are you saying I look like a boy? I'll have you know--"
Honoka holds up her hands defensively: "No, no, I'm just saying, they're really big on performing, it could be the next step up! Really famous and all..."
Exhaling sharply, Mizuho continues, "Y-yes, well then, I... I had thought about a few of them but I haven't really made up my mind yet. I'm open to -legitimate- suggestions though..." At which point Mizuho looks up to Sudo.
Who is about as helpful as mud in this case, laughing nervously.
Using that 'level' of communication is something Zach kind of learned from Honoka, actually. He returns that surprised look with a look of calm, the raised eyebrow almost daring Honoka to prove him wrong on the matter before turning his attention to Mizuho.
Then the conversation continues, Zach looking slightly confused at the talk about this 'Takarazuka Revue' thing. True to form, he decides to look into it later, instead of interrupting conversation now. "I have to admit, this is something I don't know a lot about," Zach says. "I wanted to have a degree before I entered the Marine Corps, so I majored in mechanical engineering and minored in physics. Seemed like useful things for me to know," Zach shares. "Though sometimes I wonder if I should have done it the other way around."
Honoka sips her tea, letting her foot do the talking for now as she brushes against his ankle.
The two cast members on the edge of the table seem to be passively listening to the conversation, but they're talking amongst themselves for now -- Mizuho intimidates them, after all, but eating at the mess hall with the thought of freshly cooked meat was just not their idea of a good time.
Honoka amicably bumps her shoulder into Sudo's, hoping some of his stoic wisdom can spill out. And it would seem he has a few good words to add on that count: "Yeah. Whatever you decide, I'm sure you'll be able to attack it with a fresh mind. More people should take a year off from school." He smiles placidly, if a bit blandly, taking a sip at his water.
Honoka holds up her hands with another grin. "Hey, I got nothin' to say there, I got tutored from Miss Yamashita's Big Top Knowledge Drop." She smiles self-effaciously -- it's somewhat public circus knowledge that she turns in classwork at a community college of some sorts. Or so she claims. Though she's been... skipping classes, now that Zach's around.
Mizuho frowns at that, lacing her fingers together and glancing hesitantly between Zach, Sudo, and Honoka. "... I... I guess, I just... you guys all give me so much flack for it."
Passive blinks from Sudo. Honoka shakes her head. "Nnnnnot so much, really. You ever hear of the term 'passive-aggressive?' That's you."
Mizuho's irritable facade cracks, revealing a nervous, embarassed one beneath it. "I... I guess so, huh? I... I'm sorry, I didn't mean to be..."
Honoka pauses for just a moment, wanting to ensure Mizuho isn't about to loose any more poorly-thought-out discourse, before filling the silence with a warm, comforting smile. "Apology accepted." She reaches across the table and places her hands atop Mizuho's, squeezing gently. "Water under the bridge. Let's just enjoy the meal, okay?"
Log created on 19:15:39 05/17/2015 by Honoka, and last modified on 01:01:02 05/23/2015.