Description: Hitomi encounters a young man who appears to be a dedicated fan of Honoka's. And then there was salmon.
Kazuhito Muraoka is a fish out of water: the pale young man is a bit taller than average for a Japanese highschooler, not to mention quite a bit more pale. But what really makes the highschooler stand out further is the fact that security guards look pretty pissed off at him.
Today, the Twilight Star Circus is hard at work setting up their big top in Kasugai City. Far enough from the apartments and homes, the circus' current location was formerly designated as a manufacturing complex, recently demolished to the delight of the local residents. The balmy fall weather makes for a pleasant ten-minute walk from the nearest train station -- a walk that Kazuhito is apparently -dreading- from his irritated resistance to the guards. He digs in his heels like a petulant child: enough to evoke another verbal retort from the security personnel.
"We don't care -where- you stay, just not here! No one is allowed to see our performers before the show!" The two guards are pretty obstinate about that regulation, and while neither of the purple-uniformed guards are quite as tall as Muraoka, they both have nightsticks slung upon their belts -- which one feels might be unnecessary from how tightly they're balling their fists.
"Okay, but you have hot dogs and takoyaki, I can smell it from here! Can I stay if I order something?" Kazuhito is normally a quiet sort, but even the pale-faced shut-in has his limits -- the industrial district doesn't really have much in the ways of restaurants.
"Look, kid," offers the shorter and less confrontational of the two guards, "It's a good three hours away from now. Why don'tcha run off to the 7-11 and snag a magazine or something? Then ya can watch the show and chat up yer girl at the meet-and-greet afterwards, eh?" While the shorter man plays the 'good cop,' the other guard frowns visibly to keep up his side of the bargain as 'bad cop.'
Kazuhito gets more upset at this, grinding his heel into the hard-packed dirt. "I tried that before, and you guys just shoved me away while everyone else got--"
He continues speaking, but his words are drowned out in the thunderous roar of a garbage truck passing by. The net result: Not just two, but now -three- frowny faces.
The walk from the station to the Twilight Star Circus wasn't really the bother people had first made it out to be when she'd first come to Aomori some weeks ago. It was far enough it was activity enough to stretch her legs and get the blood flowing after the early morning and longish journey by train.
The trip itself tended to make her drowsy or start putting her to sleep anyway with the rumble of the train on the tracks and the fact it was an early start already; nothing to do with the fact she usually went to be excited and trying to force herself to go to sleep so tomorrow came that much faster!
Making good time she hesitates a moment and cups a hand up to her face, shade for her eyes as she's -just- far enough away to make out the purple and white striping of the big top, the rising breeze that picks up and waves the coloured streamers encourages her on and into to a 'double-time' faster pace where luggage she is trailing along behind her is fair bouncing with seldom both wheels having a chance to land and make contact with the ground.
It's only when she gets close to the gates and runs into the area close enough to get a sense for the mood she half-skids to a stop just a little louder than she had intended to. Her own luggage betraying her yet again with a minor shunts preventing the efficient rapid decrease in speed she might've wished for. What was going on? Everybody looked really on edge?
"Excuse me... Is everything alright?"
The newly arriving girl asks almost timidly as she leans into the situation despite having no real handle on what is going on. Dressed plain in an unassuming white shirt and jeans she doesn't look the part of anyone special or with any authority whatsoever she does however keep her body turned toward the newcomer rather than the guards. She'd met these men before in passing, they'd eaten along with most everyone else some of the meals the Kitchen staff and their part-timer had made. She knew them well enough to greet or wave in passing but hadn't caught any names just yet.. it was more a concern that they were frowning so and there was obviously /some/ kind of trouble.
The guards know -of- Hitomi, but they still don't recognize her immediately on sight. Not just yet. But it's pretty obvious that both of the men have trouble breathing for a moment at the sight of the beauty walking towards them, the good-cop-bad-cop act shelved for a moment to take in the sight.
Kazuhito glances back to see Hitomi, and he seems... less impressed. Sure, a small tinge comes to his cheeks at the young woman's approach, but he's always been... reserved. Pausing for a gulp of air, he shakes his head dismissively. There is an edge of frustration in his voice, but it's just that: control forced over top of a slightly wavering tone. "Everything's fine, these guys are... just doing their jobs."
"Yeah," adds the taller guard, "He just wanted to schmooze with the stars before the show, get some stuff signed so he can sell on Yahoo... y'know, typical crap..." The world-weary guard seems highly unconvinced with Kazuhito.
The Gedo youngster is, quite understandably, agitated by that. "I am -not!- I just want to talk with -one- star. One. Privately."
The shorter guard remembers now where he's seen the young Taiyo student: "Ah, ah, right, Miss Hitomi? Good to see you again! It's... it's nothing, really. Just business as usual." He gives a brief smile -- not as blatantly dismissive as his companion, but tolerant all the same. "Another of Honoka's legion of fans. We slide the rules just once, we gotta let -everyone- in... youz kids unnerstand, right?"
He HAD corrected them that he only wanted to speak to someone rather than get some merchandise, but there were avenues for both that that weren't anywhere near as extreme as this; other forums to approach the circus for interviews or questions with the star performers.
Trouble was that 'Seeing the star personally' was a red flag that was concerning and just faintly disturbing. She still can't quite puzzle this out... he's clearly frustrated! This young man obviously cared enough to keep throwing himself into this stumbling block and she understood perfectly why security was why it was in place, however well-intentioned fans were.
Honoka had already been attacked once walking the streets in this city some weeks ago, in broad daylight. The fact he was prodding the security staff so probably had them at least somewhat on edge and optimist as she isc something needed to change before this went badly.
"The performers usually make themselves available to talk to fans and sign what they can after a show!"
Atta girl! She was part of the circus family to; she really should make the effort to resolve the whole thing peaceably and maybe with a ticket sale to boot. She releases the handle of her luggage letting it fall back to standing upright and folds her arms in front of her, hands clasped together she offers the young man a half-bow with a smile and hopes he'll take the opportunity to give the guards a break before matters get worse for him.
The last thing the circus needed was a fan being so overwrought or zealous he wound up with a ban from attending the performances for trialling the security so.
"You can understand why they're not usually available? There's usually a lot of work and effort that set-up that goes into each showc H-Honoka's fan?"
She'd seen a lot of that work first hand. Kitchen work kept her hands plenty full cooking for so many and the case behind her held a few of the minor props and costuming she'd taken home with her for mending or sewing together through the week. Even as a part-timer the work followed her home. Honoka spent a great deal of time working, directing, performing and often times she was doing that she was interrupted with phone calls.
The chances of him getting a private moment with Honoka were slim approaching none.. even Hitomi stiffened a little when she knew it was in regards to Honoka.
She was more than a little protective of her friend, and Boss.
The guards share a look of complete incredulity at the notion that a private meeting with the circus' star juggler would be preferable to a public meeting with all the stars! Ludicrous! The taller guard glares daggers back at Kazuhito, and is about to speak up when Hitomi chimes in as an even gooder cop. As she explains that the performers are working, the guards both nod in commisseration, holding their ground. They've already repeated similar statements before -- this is not Kazuhito's first clash with the guards.
And, judging from the frustrated expression Kazuhito presents to Hitomi, he's heard it packaged in a friendly voice like hers before, as well. He'd been obstinate towards the male guards in one way, but his experience with women has shown him that he needs to mind his manners. And he has been good, really; unlike the guards, his only glances towards Hitomi have been directed towards her eyes. Lips pressed together into a line, the tall highschooler nods quietly. A hand nervously brushes his neck, just above the Gedo pin on his collar.
And then he notices Hitomi's stance stiffen at the mention of Honoka. She gives him the look, the same look he'd seen many of the other circus staff give him. /Particularly/ the female staff. The mark of condemnation and disgust, as if he were a depraved resident of the lowest strata of detritus in a sea of human trash.
Kazuhito recedes, his penny-loafers sinking into the dirt a half centimeter. Insisting that he's not a stalker is, of course, not going to help his case. Instead, Kazuhito emphasizes: "I /tried/ that before, but every time I get near the end of the line, the meet-and-greet session ends early." He pauses for a moment in consideration, before adding with some resignation: "Either that's some pretty amazingly poor timing, or someone doesn't want us to talk."
He averts his eyes downward, holding up one hand while another reaches into the schoolbag at his side. "Okay. I have a letter," he explains, to allay any further suspicion. "Would you do me a favor and hand it to Miss Kawamoto?"
He holds up a small white envelope. It says, simply: "To Miss Kawamoto". He offers an apologetic smile to Hitomi: "I'm not sure the last letter made it."
Even the shorter guard has to frown, at that.
Hitomi freely admits to sizing the boy up, but most of that is wondering about just how much of a threat to Honoka he could actually be. She certainly wasn't feeling threatened by him so much asc sorry for him. What sounded like a run of really bad run of luck that he was missing out on meeting Honoka on what sounded like multiple occasions wasc twisted. The idea that someone was deliberately keeping them apart or interfering with him making contact was kind of silly.
Notwithstanding the presence of guards to her left whose duties it was to do just that, the rest was just probably frustration breeding into a conspiracy theory and it kind of leaves her at a loss as for what to do next. The pin in his lapel catches her eye and quietly she extends her hands to accept the envelope she could at least ensure it got to Honoka or she was aware it existed. Miss Kawamoto, even the envelope was being really respectful and he'd come prepared for yet another failure, already written a letter just in case? Those downcast puppy dog eyes were hard to ignore.
"I - can get it to her..."
But the can't promise anything more than that, her lips press together firmly to prevent any kind of promises she wouldn't be able to keep. It was an indescribably sad and draining feeling to be running interference between somebody and one of their idols or someone they really wanted to meet.
Theres a slight aside glance cast toward the guards to see what they're making or how they are handling this.
An exception can't be made, like they said.
The Gedo pin would be an unmistakable sign that the lanky youth knows how to fight; not many Gedo students make it past the first month without being hazed somehow, after all. So it's a foregone conclusion that he knows how to take a punch, but he also shows the intelligence to avoid a fight against two guards. Three, if Hitomi takes their side.
"It may sound ridiculous, I know," concedes the youth, rubbing the back of his head as he looks back at Hitomi. Anxiety evidences itself in the motions of his eyes, taking in every nuance of his surroundings, but not his actions -- a clearly submissive posture in recognition of the odds being stacked against him. "But thank you. I really appreciate it, Miss." He'd say Miss Hitomi but wouldn't that be kind of rude, if Hitomi were simply a pet name or something; erring on the side of caution is preferable here.
As Kazuhito steps backwards, a faint voice can be heard: feminine, but the identity of the speaker herself is difficult to discern: "Is he still here? He needs to go. Now." It comes from everywhere and nowhere at the same time. Is it a hallucination, a trick of the mind?
Almost immediately, the guards each take two steps forward, jaws firmly set, and arms folding in perfect unison. Did they hear the voice too?
Kazuhito had started an uneasy smile, but upon seeing the guard's assertive posture, he... hurriedly bows his head. "I'll be back tonight after the show, then...!" he blurts out, apologetically. If there's something coming up next, he doesn't want to be around for it. He flashes Hitomi another forced smile: "Thank you, Miss!" And then backpedals to a safe distance before pivoting into a light jog in retreat.
The guards hold their position, watching the fleeing highschooler with little emotion on their faces for a good five seconds or so. The shorter guard looks over to Hitomi with the barest hint of a smile, afterwards. "It's good to see you again, Miss Hitomi. The cooks just took curry off the stove a minute ago so it should be good an' hot, f'you wan' some."
It got her attention for sure, but if anything the presence of the Gedo pin just made her all the more curious. Aheh! It was actually kind of diverting to be called Miss like that; he can't be too much younger than Hitomi. He was absolutely being the most polite, thoughtful ...and He was from Gedo High? The last time she had been to Gedo high she hadn't met a single person behaving like this.
Even asking people to group up for photographs after a particularly brutal match where she had seemingly earned some measure of respect or cooperation out of the students there for her win (which had been a trial) there were plenty of 'thug faces' surgical masks and people looking their own ways.
Having drawn the envelope right to and flat against her chest she gives it the lightest of squeezes, the paper crinkles a little loudly but there was hardly any resistance so there weren't very many pages sealed inside. What he wanted to and was struggling so hard to hard to talk to Honoka about, surely it wouldn't take very much time.
Shaking her head in response to that seemingly loudly spoken command the guards step up and the young man actually bows his head and apologises before taking to his heels in a quick retreat.
Hand raised toward him, not that he was looking to see, as if to stop him she watches him jog away for a few seconds, she doesn't want to turn around, then she would see who spoke those hurtful words just now, she'd think less of whoever had spoken something like that. It wasn't just horrible a thing to do to a customer, or even a fan, that person had directed the guards to step up and intimidate a timid seeming teenager at that. Hitomi doesn't look back, just turning her neck enough toward just the guard who'd spoken to her and that, not until she'd already made up her mind.
"Mhm! But.. it'll just have to wait a minute or two."
That did actually sound pretty good but she's already skipping sideways and transitioning into a jog of her own while still throwing some attention back behind her enough to keep up the talking though ina steadily louder voice. Who was it who had said that? No, I don't want to know!
"Something just occurred to me! -- Please keep an eye on my luggage!!"
It'd be a shame if something happened to it when it was already at the front gate. She's already moving up through the gears and smoothly transitioning past jog and pushing harder into a run, anything less and she might wind up tailing him rather than catching up. After she'd been running for just a minute she starts trying to call after him to get him to stop or at least slow.
"Wait!! Hold on a second!"
From two hours prior to showtime until an hour afterwards, the staff is obligated to welcome its fans with open arms. Outside of that timeframe, there is no such mandate. Staff are not to go out of their way to treat people like garbage, no, but there -is- still a show to put on; circus workers can't keep dropping what they're doing to assist customers. They're only referred to as "guests" during the aforementioned showtime block, after all. So, despite Hitomi's sunshine-and-rainbows view of the Twilight Star Circus staff, there are in fact any number of employees who could have expressed such a... dismissive view towards a not-currently-paying customer.
It could have been anyone, really.
For their part, the guards' smiles show that they're happy to leave this unpleasant customer-relations issue behind them. And even more so, to have an attractive highschooler accompany them for curry. But then Hitomi changes her mind, drawing another commiserating glance between the two, with raised eyebrows this time. The taller guard nods and picks up the bag, while the shorter one pulls the radio off his belt and mumbles off a short message, while they wait as bidden. For now.
Kazuhito is not jogging very quickly. In fact, judging from the voice and the footfalls, he concludes that it's safe to slow down. As the young woman pulls alongside him, his retreat comes to a halt. "... It would be foolish of me to try and run," he admits with a faint smile. With a stiff bow from the waist, he introduces himself: "I am Kazuhito Muraoka. It is nice to meet you. Under... less forced circumstances."
He does not speak further, instead spending a moment in scrutiny of Hitomi's facial features. She... does look familiar, and the name Hitomi -does- ring a bell, he concludes. Having introduced himself, the bookish boy looks expectantly to the karateka. Not... much for small talk, this one -- not when he's been told to wait a moment, anyway?
Hitomi returns a similarly waist deep and formal bow to the one she received. Hands rigid at her side with the bob and in smooth recovery she's even already starting with her pitch, the bow was a Martial Artists.
"Nice to meet you Muroka-san! If you're willing to wait a moment I can try calling Honoka. There is no guarantee that she's not busy-"
Emphasis on 'try' and aiming to reflect that in her tone of voice. That was the gamble, there would maybe be enough to put this conspiracy theory stuff to bed and ease his mind. There was always the chance he'd miss speaking to Honoka once again tonight as he had said he was attending the show. What steps he might take if it happened again did worry her just a little.
Digging a thumb into her back pocket of her jeans she fishes out the slim pink case of her phone with a few quick jerks. She only had the one hadn free while she was carrying the letter as well, it had been given into her charge to deliver to Honoka after all. -- hrmh!! It always tended to stick in these pockets! Nothing to do with the fact they were just a little tight.
The phone comes alive at a touch, the panda in its natural habitat stares back up at her while the phone starts making a slew of animal noises as it begins playing catchup with her messages since being reactivated; A macaw's screech, a lions roar and a pandas bark in quick succession as notifications pop up even she navigates over to the contacts -- Contacts... call... Honoka. The contact's list was pretty sparse and she didn't have to actually even scroll the screen at all, 'Hono-chan' entry leaps right out at her.
It didn't hurt to try, The worst that could happen was Honoka would be too busy to come to the phone.
The call starts going though so Hitomi lifts the phone to her ear, bypassing the long bangs and just fires a hopeful smile toward the boy. She'd been looking forward to maybe likewise seeing Honoka today but she would understand if that couldn't happen. It wasn't a number she got to call all that often, similar and thanks to Kazuhito it was kind of nice to have an excuse to call Honoka.
When people think of Gedo High students, someone as quiet and even-keeled as Kazuhito is far from the expectation. Indeed, as Hitomi bows to him, he is paying more attention to the miniscule nuances of her motions than he is to her actual words.
It takes him a few moments to even conjure a response, in the midst of the cacophony of animal noises emanating from her cellphone. "S-sure. I really appreciate it, thank you." Feet shuffle back and forth with no small degree of awkwardness, but he does not retreat.
The third ring is squelched, replaced with the sound of rustling cloth moving over a microphone, followed by a chirp of, "Hello? Hitomi-chan...? Is everything okay?" From the sound of it, she is pleasantly surprised by the phone call in the middle of the day, but not terribly harried. From the clinking sound of a ceramic pan being placed on the stove, it's possible she may have been preparing a meal.
Kazuhito, for his part, simply smiles in response. He's not sure what Hitomi's angle is, but he's pleased to get -some- kind of conversation with the acrobatic circus star, somehow.
"Honoka-cha-* AH!! - Honoka-san. Ohaiyo!~"
Small slip there, no problems.
"Mn, the trip was fine I just arrived at the gate."
She half twists her body away, animated as she talks on the phone and a little conscious of just what she was going to say with him right there listening in on the conversation. That pan sound -- like it might have been cooking maybe and might mean she probably was in her trailer.
"Uhmmm, I hope it's not a bad time! There was a young man at the gate and he couldn't get through security. He said he's been trying to reach you to talk to you about something and gave me a letter for you."
She'd heard rumour of Honoka's Boyfriend but had yet to see the man, and it was her trailer maybe sooo-. Turning just a little faintly red now while wondering; at least Kazuhito had heard Hitomi mention the letter which she was glancing down at and turning over in her hand. Better still if he could hear Honoka talk to him for even an instant or hear her voice. Hitomi was being pretty overzealous in calling the most valued star in the whole circus and using personal attachments like this but, there was just something about the boy that drove her to help however she could, even overreaching a -little-.
"His name is Kazuhito. He's missed seeing you at a few of the performances; I was hoping you just had a couple of minutes free to speak to him over the phone."
About which she couldn't really seem to put it into words. How did you ask someone to disabuse someone else's notion of a conspiracy? ZShe had to hpope Kazuhito had the words himself. As far as she was extended now she might even look a comically inept part of said scheme all while wearing a faint frown she's anxious as to what the answer might be from the other end of the line.
It can be inferred that Honoka was cooking. What cannot be inferred is who else is there -- the elusive boyfriend, or perhaps no one at all? There's no other sounds, and no real delay when Honoka answers that would suggest silent communication with anyone else in the trailer; just an answer.
"A... young man, hm." There -is-, however, some mild irritation in her voice. Security kept the kid out, and Hitomi's trying to circumvent that... which bothers her.
The name Kazuhito does explain a lot, though. There is a two second delay before she responds, "... Sure, anything for a fan."
Kazuhito remains hopeful throughout the exchange, nodding in appreciation to Hitomi as he cradles the phone close to his ear.
"I'm sorry, I didn't mean to disturb you, but Miss Hitomi just..."
He flinches, noticeably, twice before he's given another chance to respond.
"... Yeah, well, I thought that you..."
Consternation. Kazuhito turns away from Hitomi, staring in the general direction of Honoka's trailer.
"You -look- the same, so..."
"Look, I know that, but... I'm just concerned for my friend. For my -friends-. They're really broken up over Miko just..."
Silence, as Kazuhito looks down at the ground.
"... I understand. I'll... ... right. You're exactly right, I should."
He's smiling now, at least.
"Thank... thank you. I will. Thanks for listening to me. I'm... I'm sorry, I..."
He looks back to Hitomi with a smile, his eyes a bit dampened from the exchange.
"Well, I should let you get back to it. You've got a really good friend here." He bows his head in reply to Hitomi, and with the parting words of "Thank you. Sayonara," he hands the phone back to Hitomi. His face a bright red, he bows more formally in thanks once the phone is out of his care.
She'd never heard Honoka sound quite that terse with her before. The silence after speaking really seems to let the phrase sink in and take root; and her face twists into the 'I got scolded' smile where she well aware she's in /some/ trouble though not just how deep.
When an affirmative is given Hitomi blossoms into a smile and takes delight in handing the phone over to Kazuhito. While they're going to be talking she wanders just one pace further away and folds her hands behind her back, trying not to look and staying close enough to get her phone back, or intervene if anything went suddenly badly.
Hitomi was doing her best to find something else on the horizon of interest to pay attention to rather than the half of a conversation she shouldn't really be privy to. Listening in certainly wasn't her intention but it was harder to not listen in than it was to do so at this range. She finally resorts to humming a popular anime theme song under her breath just because it was still bouncing in her head from being heard earlier.
It cuts off abruptly as she catches sight of him looking back at her with those eyes and yet still smiling in her direction. What was going on? Being said? What did she miss? She awkwardly smiles during the compliment regarding being honoka's friend and gingerly takes the phone back and raise it to her ear while still speaking to him.
"Ah, thank you very much."
A faintly nervous adjustment of the device at her ear.
"Me again! I still have to drop off some of the props I took home last weekend."
Plying for extra credit in the hopes of reducing the sentence (whatever it could be) with lunch already being served up or so the Security guards had hinted at she had no real specific job or place to leap into work right away. She let Honoka know where she was moving and she was always reachable with a quick phone call. They were friends, not joined at the hip, Hitomi had one serious work ethic, especially when she was getting paid for it.
Midst of the damage control she was attempting on the phone she raises the letter toward Kazu with a gentle eyebrow raise, did he want it back? Only two people were going to be getting this from her, the owner or the person he'd asked her to deliver it toc She'd given her word on that after all.
The brightness of his face suddenly strikes her and she wonders if it was something Honoka had said.. or he had heard. ...Anyway!
Honoka doesn't express her frustration -too- much with Hitomi -- but the fact remains that she was interrupted, with unspecified company present. And she wasn't particularly -rude-... was she?
Okay, maybe she was a bit. Because she knew the identity of the guest before the karateka had even spoken, thanks to a heads-up from the two guards who are dutifully watching Hitomi's luggage. Not that Hitomi would know that. But the abrupt tone is what Honoka had hoped would be remedied by the cheerful follow-up -- and it seems like it was.
The cheerful tone is continued when Honoka resumes speaking to her good, good friend. "Oh, good! I should be able to come out and meetcha in a few, I gotta finish up with this salmon. You want me to save you some?"
Kazuhito, for his part, considers the letter staying in Hitomi's hands. And after a moment of consideration, makes a hand gesture for her to hand the letter back to him. He seems... kind of embarassed, really! "Th-thanks! I sh-should probably get going though..." hoping his body language can speak more loudly than his whispered words.
"Really--!? That sounds delicious, please do. I'll let you go so you can cook and see you soon."
It was a treat to have Honoka offering to cook and as such her mood and demeanour supercharge into their very brightest and bubbliest. But- it's also a sudden and energetic distraction from Kazuhito-san and seeing whether he wanted his letter back.
True to her word she closes down the phone excitedly and still smiling before turning her attentions back on track. Hitomi catches the gesture to return the letter and hands it back with both hands before letting them fall back to her lap, still clutching just her phone now.
"I'm glad everything worked out, thank you for supporting us here at the Twilight Star Circus. I hope you enjoy coming to future performances."
She was having a lot of fun with this, and doubly glad everything had worked out in pretty much every way imaginable. She was kind of used to representing the family business but there was a different kind of expectation on you when you were an instructor and high ranking disciple of the school. Formality and making a good impression on students often didn't leave room for just saying or doing what you felt you wanted to do.
Bowing in a fair imitation of those she had seen of some of the girls working in some Japanese stores she didn't even hear him speak, her very presence is so loud it's hard to hear him unless he speaks up. She wait's just so, patiently for him to leave so that she can get back to work, and lunch.
Kazuhito smiles back at Hitomi. If he were more outspoken, he'd ask if she works here, and if so, how does she like it? But he's not -- and he's actually rather embarassed right now at having gone to such lengths to find out about his dear classmate only to make trouble for someone who... appears to be a random stranger.
"Ev-everything worked out, th-thank you." Clutching the envelope to his chest, he can tell that the young woman wasn't -raised- in Japan, but the fact that she steps through the motions is sign enough that he shouldn't be so rude to point it out to her. The exceedingly polite Gedo youth bows stiffly at the waist once again, and takes another step back. "Thank you again for all you have done for me. P-perhaps we will meet again." Shyly, he bows once more to excuse himself, and then shuffles off towards the train station.
- - -
Honoka, true to her word, drops by the main costuming trailer a few minutes later, garbed in a beige camisole top and mauve capri pants. She holds a cloth, and suspended within are two lidded plastic containers which seem to be quite hot, judging from the tiny plumes of steam rising from within. "Hitomi-chan! I hope I didn't scare you just now, I almost burnt myself getting to the phone...!"
A white lie. The best kind.
Hitomi turns with the calling of her name.
Oh! Honoka was here already. Carefully picked out in of the open case at her feet there's a leotard or two, a frilly dress, or maybe that's a cape and a couple of pairs of pants folded neatly or strung up on hangers she is passing to the staff article by article. Her work is checked to see if it passes muster.
The relief when it all does with a nod just releases all the tension she was carrying with her, she fair sags as it drains out of her.
The cutesy demeanour is hard to miss though at least she had the presence of mind to avoid calling Honoka by her first name without honorific; or by the super familiar -chan in the presence of staff hard at work. She'd noticed some of the looks she got from staff when she did it more than occasionally. Being half-Japanese it probably meant they weren't scandalized but she was still making the effort to try and fit in just more a home with Western ways of behaving and socializing.
Closing up the case with a fast and clumsy grapple with the zips she bounces over toward Honoka and gestures toward a small mismatched set of folding chairs and tables not far from where they were standing. When Honoka explains that she nearly burnt herself getting to the phone the smile slips for a second there, an overactive imagination and shred of guilt incompatible with that mood forces the slightest of frowns.
"That would've been really bad."
The weather was nice enough to eat outside and she gambols over to remove and set a couple of glass bottles on the ground by her chair's leg.
"Let me get that for you"
She's playing the part of a gentleman as she pulls both chairs out and waits for Honoka before moving to her own seat. It's kind of a mix of having fun and wanting to enjoy the moment with yet another reason to apologise to Honoka. It wasn't something she did that was bad, but something bad could of come of it. Lucky nothing did!
"I'm glad you didn't get hurt, and I'm looking forward to the meal. It's a lovely day to eat outside!"
Honoka smiles warmly. "I hope Kazuhito wasn't too much trouble for you... He really seemed to have the worst luck catching up with me, so many times I just wasn't able to see him. Poor guy..." Before taking a seat, she is careful to untie the cloth bundle, and remove the lid for both containers. She sets one container in front of Hitomi's place, careful to use both hands for stability lest the piping-hot salmon spill out onto the floor. The fish is almost (but not quite) spilling out of its compartment in the container, while the other compartments are filled with fresh rice and pickled vegetables; the rice itself is ornamented with spices to add a dash of flavor.
Finally, then, she takes a seat, looking back up with a smile to Hitomi. "A wonderful day, yes. Your trip over here was uneventful, otherwise?"
Clapping her hands together as the food is revealed Hitomi seems authentically impressed, she should probably have guessed Honoka was really adept at cooking fish since she seemed to quite like her seafood. It looks really good! She's anxious to try it yet when Honoka ask about her day she stops to stare almost dumbfounded as she casts her mind back to just HOW much of a odd day it had kind of been. people in trouble just kept coming out of the woodwork. It doesn't last long for her to recover enough to waive it off.
'Ahahaha! ...Sorry, it's just been an unusual day. There was a girl this morning looking for her sister, with posters up of her and everything; She was kind of little and cute and her story was -really- sad. The train trip wasn't very eventful so I kept thinking about it; then..."
She trails off as the 'then' is probably about where Kazuhito at the front gate clocked into her story judging from the shrug rather than explaining it all over to someone who was already part of that bit of the story.
It was a pretty extraordinary start to the weekend and making for a strange day now that Honoka had asked and she had to think back on it. She didn't make a purposeful habit of seeking out people who needed help but wasn't about to just walk by if she saw them.
Her attentions fall back to the dishes and picking out a pair of chopsticks closest to her in preparation for eating, she was fair salivating already though takes the time for a hugely enthusiastic.
"But, it's been a good day so far and it looks like a great meal. So, Let's eat!"
A girl... looking for her sister. Honoka has no idea what -that's- all about, but she figures that if it's important, Hitomi would have elaborated when the juggler raised an eyebrow. Seeing that she didn't... well, she just makes a simple observation.
"You're really helpful, Hitomi! I mean, I know you just said it was unusual and all, but it seemed like you've done a lot more today than I have. Here, it's just been cleaning and setting up for our next show..."
Left unstated: the aftermath of the Lightning Spangles debacle. Honoka had been away in America for about a week, and while she's gotten in a show or two since her return, she's still a bit shaky onstage; something that practically -everyone- just chalks up to the traumatic event.
As for the fish? If Honoka had the time, she'd catch, descale, gut, and filet every fish herself -- but there's a lot of other ways to spend her time. She can afford to have fresh fish brought to her daily; after all, this is Japan and not some heathen country where truly fresh fish are just products of wishful thinking.
Suffice to say, preparing fish is a product of her upbringing that she never wants to let go to waste. Honoka's family was damn good at this stuff; if someone doesn't like the salmon she's prepared, they probably just don't like fish of any sort.
But Honoka's not haughty about it; far from it. Humble and patient, she takes chopsticks in hand, but allows Hitomi to take the first bite before digging in, herself. It -has- been a long and unusual day, thus far.
The karateka's first bite and expression is worth the wait.
Eyebrows lift in surprise as she actually speeds up with a flurry of chopstick movement, at least trying the fish with a couple of the side dish before giving voice to her opinion.
"This is--- Suuuuper-really-good and delicious!"
She has never tasted fish fresh like this. What they caught of fresh fish in rivers and streams at home they usually cooked over a camp fire or wrapped in tinfoil with oil and butter to steam, maybe some lemon if they had any. One method left the fish dry and maybe charred or crispy the other method tended to leave the fish a little too flaky. Both paled in comparison.
Slowing down from her initial burst of activity she settles into a steady rhythm of eating while mixing her selection to try all the various combination mouthfuls she could possibly create quite methodically. Her focus however is nearly completely on her friend and showing just how much she was enjoying the dishes.
"I really like it. It tastes kind of like it's a speciality dish from somewhere."
It really did, in recipie books and things there was usually history or a story behind most dishes and how over generations they had been shaped, perfected or developed signature ways of being presented or served. That's just how food worked, it was a story about people who conceived of and perfected it, what they liked to eat and the range of flavours and foods that were around them. Food interested her because it was a people thing.
"Oh! Oh!! How did your trip to America go? Was there anything good to eat and it was a good trip?"
The focus on food switches the order of her question around in her mouth but ideally that was the spirit of her question anywayc pretty much; so rather than correcting the manner of speech she pops another sliver of fish into her mouth and smiles around the chopsticks.
Honoka is genuinely pleased to see the response to her cooking. She's cooked for others before, to be sure, and has gotten similarly good responses. But, as good as the circus' chefs are, cooking for hundreds can never be as good as cooking for two. It's just the economies of scale.
In other words, Honoka just assumes people tell her it's delicious just out of politeness. An 'aisatsu' -- a meaningless phrase only used to to ease pleasant conversation. With a friend as honest and trustworthy as Hitomi, though? It means more to the Hokkaido native.
Specialty dish, though... "... Old family recipe," explains Honoka with a smile. "I never really learned much about the history, just know it was something we had about once a week if we were lucky. It's... not far off from how we used to cook 'hucho perryi'... just that no one will let us actually fish that up any more." Honoka's smile tapers off faintly at that, as she glances down at the table. Came out a bit more bitter than she'd wanted -- the words, not the fish.
But... she doesn't dwell on it for very long, though, as she's asked about her trip to America. Honoka's shoulders slump at the very words, as she looks up to Hitomi without really raising her chin up. Displeasant much? "... It could'a gone better...? Hope you're not a fan of Lightning Spangles." Honoka considers explaining more, but it will clearly have to wait for her to take another bite of salmon.
Thusly sated, she adds, with no expression to speak of: "Site security was lax, the venue was terrible, and a kid died because of it. Lightning Spangles kind... of..." Honoka closes her eyes at that, biting her lip to keep from saying more.
Exhaling, she concludes, "... Put her career first. Not gonna lie, it was pretty terrible."
The questioning head turn and quirk as Hitomi picks up on the bitter twist. Was Honoka referring to something they were now not allowed? feeling a little worried with the loss of the smile and dip in her friends mood, and head. A protected species maybe? Sad times when traditions had to be regulated or access to things closed off. She can just make some guesses because of the context and how Honoka had phrased it and there were places in the black forest at home where you should not enter without a high visibility vest; access being prohibited or closed off entirely in some places.
She picks up on the mood and her eating slows, memo to self: 'learn a bit more about where Honoka was from' that she could avoid thing that would bring a good friends mood down like that.
With renewed and purposefilled enthusiasm she pops one more bite into her mouth with some effort to try swinging the conversation back along more pleasant lines.
In the next few breaths and still chewing it all starts crashing down in flames.
With the shoulder slump she freezes, hesitant and trying to puzzle out what was happening all of a sudden.
Barely audible she doesn't interrupt Honoka's tale. The doe eyes looking up and across the table at her freeze her heart and she can feel the sense unease simmering away in gut alongside the tasty fish and all the better at killing her appetite so abruptly. What? What had happened!?
Lightning Spangles? No, she'd never heard of anything like it; this wasn't sounding like bad news for her at the moment. A little relieved that it's not anyone of anything she cares deeply for or about the unease begins to abate. Hitomi forces another mouthful though since she's trying to project a feeling of normalcy.
"Germany is not much like America so I don't think I've heard of Lightning Spangled."
She got the name wrong. There was a beat of silence and then it all came together. Lax of security, a child had died and her friend who had been there was sitting across from her, eyes shut and biting her lip
NO that wasn't fair
Setting one hand down atop Honoka's head she leans in to press and then push her head against the star performers. The chopsticks had made no sound on the table because she'd dropped them in the grass on her way to standing and moving around the table. She's completely at a loss -- what would it be like to even go through something like that, or to see it happening in front of you. She strokes Honoka hair with her hand and says the only thing she can.
"There, there. You're a good girl."
Honoka didn't do anything wrong. It's as simple like she is, borderline stupid and inherently pointless but it's one of her own memories fondest and most cherished memories. Her own mother doing it for her when the world was just so unfair and she failed no matter how much effort she put in, it's the most comforting thing in her repertoire both for herself and for her friend, her favourite person.
Honoka can tell what's coming as she tells the story; not only is the juggler extraordinarily sensitive to emotions, but Hitomi's got a terrible poker face. The circus star had tried to keep her explanation clipped and straightforward, had tried to keep the worry on her face to a minimum.
And yet, here she is, her strands of pink and dark brown now sifting through Hitomi's fingers. She didn't move much when Hitomi was walking over, and... well, she's trapped like a deer in the headlights now. Though, to be fair, she's not going to devolve into a blubbering mess on command -- not like Hitomi might expect her to. No, she keeps a stiff upper lip and all that.
"I'm -fine-" she insists in response to the warm affirmation, eyes the color of tea leaves looking up into Hitomi's. She's got her stronger emotions reined in, both within and without; the only emotion she's expressing is mild anxiety over the unusual proximity of the karateka, rather than the sorrow that can be expected at what's passed. "It's not my fault, it's not -our- fault, it's nobody's -fault- per se, just ... sometimes bad stuff happens. We did what we could."
If Honoka's concerned about -anything-, it's that Hitomi might rip the pink hair extensions right out, with how much reassurance she's trying to deliver. "I... I'm fine, okay?" she reiterates, her tone raising a bit to suggest she's serious. "I'll be -fine-, just don't start trying to rock me to sleep or anything, I got a show to put on tonight, ehe..."
They eyes looking up at her are warm coloured but not as affected by emotion as she is. She didn't have anything to add, no words and looked in danger of blubbering herself. She didn't really have much experience dealing with death or loss. Uncertainty wins over and she gradually retreats back into a standing posture left arm coming up and folding across her torso beneath her breasts, tightly gripping a hold on the right arm her knuckles turning white and the fingers curling.
Everything Honoka has said made perfect sense, like she had a firm grasp on the situation and accepted that bad things happened sometimes. It was a really mature and cool of her but Hitomi didn't want to accept that, not at all. Not about bad things happening to people being acceptable! Nor having to hide away how you felt about it. That wasn't the same face she'd been showing just a few seconds ago when biting her lip, Honoka was even being kind of cool and making an effort to be cute or funny probably to put her at ease. She feigns a strained laugh in response to the jest about being rocked to sleep.
It made it even harder to watch. The grip on her arm tightens by a few degrees until it begins to ache.
But what Hitomi? What can you say now? ...still nothing, Idiot.
The interplay of women's emotions is never an all-or-nothing thing. Men like Sudo can be expected to keep up a stolid countenance in the face of turmoil, but to keep up such a front in the face of someone who's about to break into tears... well, that's just not productive at all.
"I appreciate what you're feeling right now, Hitomi... and believe me, I've -been- through the worst of it already." The juggler presents a gentle smile as she stands, rising to her feet and resting her hand upon Hitomi's shoulder comfortingly. Hopefully, before the karateka cuts off blood flow to her fingertips. "You're looking at someone who's had time to come to grips with what happened, who's been repeating the same things you just did to herself ever since that night."
With a small intake of breath, her smile grows. "It's appreciated. Really. But there's this saying in show business, maybe you've heard about it...? 'The show must go on.'" With eyes wide, she drops her chin while keeping her eyes upon Hitomi's. "The fans who keep up with us already know we're stressed out about it. But you can't just stay in the dark forever. The kids, the families...? They can tell."
Honoka rocks her palm against Hitomi, checking to see whether she's able to stand on her own two feet -- both literally and figuratively. "Life goes on, right? World keeps spinning, shows go on, and... fish get cold if you leave them setting out too long."
For emphasis, Honoka bites her lower lip and looks askance at the fish upon the table. That fish was -really- good.
So that was it, Honoka was just strong enough to rebuild and continue after something like that which would probably be a better description of it than 'bouncing back.' It was kind of embarrassing that she was the one being comforted in all this, the hand of her shoulder was stabilizing and warm where the hand rested. Trying to relax tense muscles Hitomi exhales a breath that shudders just a little as the tries immediately afterwards to swallow the clump in throat and suppress the stinging sensation in her eyes.
"That is so..."
The show did have to go on. The mournful expression of her face turns placid by stages as she tries to damp down on the intense feeling that moved her so. If Honoka could do it then she could at least try to do the same for Honoka's sake if nothing else. There was nothing so easy to set a girl off crying than another girl doing so.
The shaking hardly moves her but does spur her into action, directed as with the hint that lunch was getting cold, a dinner Honoka had troubled herself to make and then actually bring to her so they could enjoy eating together. She really was an Idiot. Picking up her chopsticks Hitomi briskly wipes them against the seam on the leg of her jeans and makes to take her seat. Seated and making an effort to do more than pick at her food now she peels away another small mouthful of the fish and pops it into her mouth in silence. That smile she fronts with is both sunny and upbeat and she resumes eating with vigor.
"You're right, It would be a shame to let it get cold!"
It still tastes really good still. Shouldn't it taste worse because she was feeling bad instead of better? Guilty she just keeps efficiently eating, wishing the whole time she knew of some way to make things better than they were.
Honoka wasn't trying to embarass Hitomi.
Well. Not really -trying- to.
She did sense a pattern in Hitomi's behavior that merited interruption. The first time Honoka tugged on heartstrings, it had backfired into an awkward hug, at which point Honoka's only real tactful recourse was... a crying jag. While that -was- valuable in building up Hitomi's self-image as a confidante, it wasn't /exactly/ what Honoka had in mind.
Rather, Honoka wants to project the image of a strong, independent woman who can take care of herself... but wouldn't -mind- the helping hand. She sees in Hitomi a kindred spirit ... albeit one who puts more stock in emotional experiences than the realities that shape them.
And the psion isn't afraid to take advantage of that when the time comes.
But for now: dinner. Honoka knows that, without Hitomi actually -calling- herself an idiot, it would be counterproductive to mention the negative vibes she's sensing. Eating, though? That's universal.
"So, yeah. It's been a week." Honoka smiles pleasantly -- not overly much, but just enough to show that she's ready to move on to less weighty topics. "Burying myself in work, trying to work through crazy American heat. It's like, I've been -hot- before, but so -dry-. I don't know how those people -stand- being in a place so dry..."
Sitting stuff backed and leaning forward only to capture the next morsel of dinner Hitomi's face is the only part of her acting well enough like the whole scenario didn't bother her. She maintains a little eye contact but gradually seems to focus more and more just on the act of eating itself, it was getting just a little harder to keep up the pace when she wasn't really feeling that hungry. But eating was an act that staved off the conversation Just a little.
Honoka brings up how her week has gone and Hitomi breaks stride in her spiritless feeding of food into her mouth. As if to ask something, her lips part but then twitch and purse as she cycles though a few quick possible options and resolves them with clamping her mouth shut again. Asking questions about America just circled back around to the time spent there and the build up to the show. Talking about her week... would have bored even her; She attended to classes and training, helped with the chores at the border house and she hadn't even gone out and seen any movies or done anything she could really talk about as a distraction, nothing. Extra hours poring over her homework and getting everything done in advance for the trip had been so she WAS free this weekend and kind of left her high and dry when it came to interesting conversations or gossip.
Hitomi had nothing; naught to really add or banter about to divert the conversation with. Maybe ask about the recipe for the fish or compliment Honoka again over how good it was. That didn't feel right and there was an even worse and horrible feeling that it wouldn't be appreciated coming from her right now. This felt an awful lot like lying, not talking about the things that she wanted to talk about--
She regretted asking, Sad but still bright blue eyes come up to lock with Honoka's without looking away finally. She knew Honoka was strong enough to keep going on herself just seeing her like this, she was human enough to hurt because of it but strong enough to endure it; thus the question burning most bright wasn't actually about the star performer.
"Has anyone started doing something for his family?"
Honoka, for her part, continues eating, utterly unfazed by the tenuous silence. Negative moods are something she just soldiers past, as a matter of course; if she'd let herself get dragged down whenever a fellow cast member had a cranky moment, she'd never be able to perform.
Really, the ball's in Hitomi's court.
So once the karateka speaks, Honoka has something actionable to respond to.
"The... boy?" asks the juggler, thoughtfully refraining from placing the next bite of rice and salmony goodness in her mouth. "Mmm."
Honoka takes some time to cogitate on Hitomi's words. The psion understand that Hitomi's fighting to keep from expressing a whole lot more, and she respects that by giving as much thought as possible to forming a clear, unequivocal response.
After her pseudo-rant, it's the least she can do.
"The whole event was a political rally for a presidential hopeful, Donald Trump. The guy is a multi-billionaire. His campaign will be completely ruined if it ain't handled right, so the kid's family's gonna be pretty well off, financially." Moments of earnestness tend to bring out the Hokkaido accent a bit more than usual.
Honoka crosses her eyes at her food, and takes a ginger bite of it as she considers her next words. "I met with his family. They... accepted our apologies, but didn't really want to spend a lot of time with us. Can't really blame 'em."
Honoka looks up at Hitomi, tilting her head a few degrees to the right. Hitomi seems to be stuck in the moment, completely fixated on this boy she's heard of, yet never met. The puppetmaster is frustrated.
And the puppetmaster has a way to derail that.
Honoka looks back down at her bowl of food. Whatever good mood she'd been trying to maintain... starts ebbing away.
<< Now you've done it. It's a scab and you can't stop picking at it... >>
Perhaps Hitomi is thinking something similar to herself. It's... surely just a complete coincidence that the light breeze seems to speak to Hitomi, seems to resound with the same sort of idea... that just formed in her head...
"So," starts Honoka, a clearly forced smile upon her face. "Have you been practicing your karate much lately? I hope you're not getting rusty... ehehe..."
<< There, you see? She changed the topic again... Maybe she just wants to move on... >>
So, the situation was handled... Someone who had money was going to see to the needs of the family. That dawning realization draws her thoughts down new avenues that make her feel kind of ill; To contemplate a response to a loss like that in financial terms when money wouldn't do much anything for what she was actually concerned about. Honoka had /made/ the effort to speak to the family though and understandably they weren't ready; they'd just lost a child and it was some time inside a week since that accident. She was sure money could help the family - It's just that they should be able to do more.
Casting her eyes up Hitomi notes the mood she's forcing during the meal and gives a perceptible shake of the head, if she weren't seated and eating with chopsticks she might have even rapped herself on the side of the head to 'knock some sense' into herself. Honoka was very obviously feeling worse about the whole thing than she did and she just kept -- picking at it.
Resuming her eating with some gusto she winds up goofily paused with chopsticks in mouth and mouth currently full just as Honoka's question is posed. The mouthful near swallowed whole she has to clear her throat before answering, guiltily as a child with her hand caught in a cookie jar.
"I haven't been practicing as much with school, and work. Since I left home I don't have to take any of the classes myself so I suppose that's a lot less time practicing and very nearly my whole weekends free!"
(Very important to mention her work in a veiled manner like that.)
Whether that was enough to keep her sharp or her skills honed? She had no idea; Hitomi didn't pick trivial fights or... scheduled matches or know of any opponents she could even test her strength against. Maybe Daniel, if she even knew where he was but that was about it. In her luggage carefully stowed away was a football; she'd honestly had more hope of getting some practice in there than karate practice and it shows in the nervous and mildly embrassed manner she replies in.
Chopsticks fidget a moment and then she snatches up another morsel to stuff into her mouth.
As much as Honoka would -love- to put Hitomi's mind completely at ease, the fact of the matter is that Honoka herself is disgusted by how the situation was handled by those damn Americans -- most obviously by that ridiculous presidential candidate, clearly. But Jezebel, self-destructing in a few moments of sheer unprofessionalism that just happened to get an innocent follower killed...
Suffice to say, Honoka's reasons for being upset differ slightly from Hitomi's. She's upset over the death. But she's also, in some small way she keeps trying to talk herself out of, complicit in it. And every time Hitomi's puppy-dog eyes invoke up the issue again, Honoka's reminded that there's always something more she -could- be doing. What does Hitomi -want- the juggler to do, though: invite the bereaved parents to a circus?
So while the first few helpful hints didn't work, apparently the sustained barrage fared better. Good, we can move on then.
Honoka's almost done with her salmon; she had less than Hitomi, considering she'd also shared some salmon with her oft-mentioned but never-introduced boyfriend just a few minutes prior. She takes note of how little time Hitomi has claimed to have: between school, work, and coming here to the circus, the karateka says she has so little time left. The puppetmaster's smile shows little sign of her own trials over the past year: every weekday morning spent at Gedo High, every afternoon spent wrangling a criminal network into existence, every night spent performing her heart out for a thousands-strong audience. Girl, you've got no idea.
Honoka selects a sizable morsel from her bento box, nibbling at it thoughtfully for a moment as she examines Hitomi's expression. Tilting her head slightly to one side, she flashes an understated smile.
"Hmm... how would you feel about another fight on stage? It'd be a real shame if someone of your skill were to allow it to waste away."
Honoka watches attentively for a moment, before adding, "Kimura twisted his ankle, so we might need a sub to fill time for him in the schedule for a bit. If you would want to fight we could probably use the help...?"
Hitomi says, "if someone of your skill were to allow it to waste away.' That struck pretty close to home pushing the needle back toward rather obvious embarrassment once again, it left Hitomi with mixed feelings about how to take Honoka's compliment. She was sure it was one! Honoka was really strong but it felt like she was being chastised for not using her training to fight.
"uhmm, I-I'd like to help but I'm not really sure about fighting someone from the circus, or how well I could do it in front of a crowd. Or-"
Even if she wanted to, what if she hurt somebody or even got hurt in a way that cast a bad light on someone else. First Daniel, then fighting that Scratch kid and that Jerk-ass ninja and that weird and scary Kensou guy. She piles on the excuses thick and fast, there are more reasons not to fight than there was to fight.
Honoka was right that her skills would dull, but sharpening them for the wrong reasons, would that be right? First lesson in self-defence was that running was preferable to fighting. Second was that what was in your wallet or phone probably wasn't worth fighting for. Even training to learn to fight and defend themselves more students picked up more injuries than they might have running from fights or just handing over their wallets would cost them less than enrolment and fees learning to defend themselves.
That tended to weed out the folk who were interested in learning a martial art for the wrong reasons. The kids who were learning it were simpler, it was a pretty fun group activity and they learned discipline, confidence and could see themselves improving and be recognized for it, she liked teaching the kids. Nobody really told you that you were improving or gave you new belts and grading's after a certain point.
Seven days a week living based around when the dojo was open, which classes she and her father were taking training camps and school clubs. Not doing those things was almost more alien than her presence in a foreign country with all this extra time to fill in her days with. Admittedly she was kind of all over the place with where and what activities she was choosing but that was pretty liberating being able to do it. She probably wouldn't be here sitting and having a meal with a circus star if she were still living the dojo lifestyle. The only time that ever really broke down was when she had Ein to look after... EIN!
Mhrrrrm, if she were on stage for even a little while then maybe there was some small chance he might catch wind of it and find her even if she wasn't having any luck finding him. The gears are chrurning away in her head as she tries to balance out her feelings versus the small chance she could try something that might reach out to him. She'd gone some time now without trying, just existing and trying to succeed out here by herself away from home, and that wasn't good enough. Not why she was here.
"I .. think.. I would like to try! If you will have me."
She didn't have time to rest on her laurels this much, before she even knew it she'd run out of time and have to go home before she -did- anything. She'd regret not doing it when the opportunity had presented itself forever."
The performer uses words like weapons, and judging from Hitomi's flustered, stammered response, it would seem that the words 'waste away' have drawn blood. The younger woman's frustration is evident, though Honoka can sense the gears turning within her mind. Interrupting might be counterproductive (if fun), though she chooses to sample a bit more of her food while she waits for Hitomi to talk herself out of the rabbit hole she's burrowed into.
Aside from bits and pieces of family anecdotes, Honoka is largely ignorant of Hitomi's family history, or the reason why she fights. What's more important to her is that Hitomi's talking herself through it, searching for the proper form of justification that can allow her to look past the unease and uncertainty. The psion can sense the rush of memories flitting by, but it's too much to process, until... that awfully familiar memory makes itself obvious again. She remembers that sensation well, the warmth that runs throughout Hitomi whenever she spoke of him...
// "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!!" //
So even though Hitomi doesn't mention Ein by name... the psion can draw the threads together, and infer that the Taiyo student has justified to herself why fighting might be a good idea -after- all.
To which, of course, Honoka responds with a charming smile. "Well, it's not just -my- choice, but I'll let them know!" She sets her chopsticks down, withdrawing her phone and flipping it open. Well-versed in keeping track of multiple objectives at a single time, she continues the conversation in the midst of tapping out a quick text: "Besides, what're you scared of? You've already -fought- with me before, and the crowd was no smaller than it will be tonight. I mean, we wouldn't even be -talking- now if you hadn't." A mischievous smile teases across her lips as she reviews the text before hitting the SEND button.
Looking up, that smile still fixed in place, she continues: "It's not even -fighting-, per se... " Demonstratively, the juggler flicks three lightning-quick punches into the air, followed by an elbow thrust. "... It's more about putting on a good show for the families, right?" More casually, Honoka leans back, cradling the chopsticks once more within her hand. "It'll be fun! You remember the story, right...? When Mizuho leaves the village, and a thief tries to rob her just outside, but someone else -- y'know, Kimura -- was following, and rushes out to her aid...?"
Honoka lets her actions complete the statement, as she motions her chopsticks towards Hitomi's general direction, suggesting that Hitomi would be stepping into the defender's shoes.
Ahaha, -yes- ..she had fought Honoka before but it had probably seemed like more of a comedy skit to anyone watching than anything else. She gave it her all but that was a tough fight where she was completely out of her comfort zone; leaping from platform to tricky platform where there was a new gimmick or hazard at every turn so she was always off-balance and surprised while Honoka danced acorss the stages and flew through the air. It had been pretty funny. She recalled taking ehr time and trying to follow along where Honoka lead. The audience clearly wouldn't have expected as much from someone plucked from the stands as an actual performer on stage and in costume trying to play a role.
Curiously looking on Hitomi doesn't understand the significance of Honoka throwing the attacks, They looked real enough that they would probably hurt if they connected and she got the impression Honoka wasn't expecting her to be able to learn choreography and stunts for a role in a short period of time. It wasn't really -about- the fighting so much as putting on a show, that made a lot of sense to her but she couldn't really remember much about the role itself or the fight other than it definitely happened. Only having seen the show the one time start to finish there were a few stand-out performances and moments - acts she was more familiar with or remembered in greater detail.
"I ...uh, W-well, just if you need my help. What I remember of our fight was pretty fun."
She didn't remember it well at all, not the role Honoka was talking about now nor their fight not that long ago; sad but directly related side effect of getting knocked clean out during and having to be told what happened when she woke. She clearly was not the front runner or best choice for filling a role like this... Ah-no, did it have any spoken lines?!
There was some small hope that the eventual reply maybe she won't be needed or there's already a backup plan already underway, the morsel she pops into her mouth is a little dry so she chews it thoroughly, free hand scrubbing back and forth on her pants leg.
Still with the unease. Hitomi is just so -nervous- about stuff. Or is it shyness? At any rate, it'd be cruel of Honoka to just keep smirking at her -- not -everyone- rises to challenges in the same way, after all.
And for what it's worth, Honoka was -very- impressed with how Hitomi was able to not only keep up with, but adapt to the various challenges tossed in her way. It worked out well for the audience -- Hitomi served well as an 'everybody' person for the audience to relate to, and she sure kept the juggler extraordinaire moving.
But... as to why Honoka threw the attacks, it was just to demonstrate that her upcoming role wouldn't be as... complex a role as fighting Honoka. Punches and kicks, elbows and knees... she wouldn't need to worry about set pieces falling on her, at any rate.
Her opponent, though... may prove to be a challenge, all the same. "If I have the setup right, you'll be fighting Oboro, our knife-thrower. He'll have blunt blades -- there's no -way- we'd be able to keep performing if we used real sharp ones for stage combat -- so it really just comes down to straight-out fighting. You'd be playing a villager, for just one scene... so whichever style you want them to take, it's pretty much all you!"
As for spoken lines... well. Honoka isn't able to glean that particular thought away from the rest of Hitomi's anxiety. Instead... Honoka finishes up her meal, sealing up the bento box with the chopsticks inside so they can be washed.
Her phone vibrates on the table, and after glancing at the screen, she smiles back at Hitomi. Brightly! "Seems it's all good. Thanks for volunteering, I know it'll be fun for everyone! It'll probably be... around 6pm or so, but you'll probably want to check with wardrobing to see if they can get you fitted for a villager costume beforehand..."
Honoka is on the brink of losing control of her overflowing smile, at this point. It's... too much to bear, and Honoka rises to her feet...
Yep. Monster hug, incoming!
There was a moment where she dreaded what the consequences of fighting someone throwing actual knives at her rather than blunted or prop knives, that wasn't that fun and cheerful image at all but.. This was a show and she had to trust in this knife-thrower Oboro's experience with them. Being the rookie stand-in; It would probably be him having to cover for any missteps or mistakes she made. Rather than being afraid of him throwing blunted knives at her she was probably going to be apologizing for whatever she did that went wrong. No-no-no, don't think like that.
As Honoka polishes off the last of her Bento Hitomi stares at her own and hurriedly begins stuffing the last of it into her mouth, all that hesitation and wondering had left her a little behind with what might have even been the bigger potion. By the time she's done her cheeks are stuffed and there's still some little rice that's escaped her attentions tucked away in the corners of the container, but she's wasted nothing, it was too good to let any go to waste.
Sealing up her own Bento well behind Honoka the phone is still buzzing away on the table as she does so, the news that everything was good to go ahead is a little stunning; She had volunteered after all so it can't be that much of a surprise... However the suggestion that she should get to the costuming department since she was on at 6pm.
Startled by Honoka and intensity of the hugging it takes her a brief moment to reciprocate and warm to the idea that this WAS happening. She hadn't dozed off on the train, she really was going to be a little part of one of the productions; she really was going to have to try and act, at least like she wasn't nervous messing up in front of a crowd of maybe.. hundreds? And Honoka was hugging her. It's been a REALLY weird day so far with the promise of a lot more to come.
"I-I'll get on that right now, andc I'll give it my best. Oh - And it was a really great lunch!"
When they separate she's still plenty nervous but it may be the good kind where she just needs to get over her nerves and actually Do some stuff. Later in the costuming trailer after a lot of squeezing into outfits there's one more tiny little setback. They were going to have to let something out to even fit her into one of these costumes that was robust enough to move around and fight in had she really gained weight not practicing so much?
(Hitomi vs Oboro - to be continued!)>
Log created on 10:17:11 10/07/2015 by Honoka, and last modified on 09:48:42 10/27/2015.