Description: Honoka wakes up after the semifinal round of King of Fighters. Zach is there, and the two talk. Nothing to see here, move along, folks.
Beautiful face, covered completely in bandages.
Lovely locks of hair, matted with sweat and blood.
Perfect physique, riddled with electrodes and tubes.
The injured fighters of the Heirs to Legend were in good hands. The talented surgeons and physical therapists in Southtown General Hospital are some of the best on the planet. But even then, there's only so much that can be done. Modern medicine has no quick fix buttons, no way to magically undo the buffet of attacks served to Honoka Kawamoto in such of a blistering, rapid succession.
A shattered nose. Cracked cranium. Fractured maxilla. Fractured mandible. Constricted trachea. Brain concussion. Fractured collarbone. Any one of these alone would be enough to place the juggler into the hospital. And if that hospital were any lesser hospital than one in the Fighting Capital of the World, then the chances of a full recovery would be greatly diminished. As it is, the doctors have not told her how long it will take to recover.
That will be up to her.
The heart monitor indicates a steady heartbeat. A pick line trails from her left arm, a breathing tube from her nose, and leads from various heart monitoring electrodes radiate outwards from various places.
Her breath is drawn in, plaster hissing as air rushes past.
Her eyes open, gaze rising to an unfamiliar yet comforting pattern of ceiling tile.
The bed rocks back and forth lightly, stopped only by the wheel brakes.
And then she falls silent for a moment, thinking.
She may be restrained, but she can reach out in a less physical sense. She can feel someone nearby.
<< How... long...? >>
She curses to herself. Damn drugs in her system -- she can't even =think= straight.
As well she should. Honoka knows Zach Glenn far too well, far too intimately for her to not be able to pick up on her lover's presence easily. He winces a bit, the headache from his own beating making itself known. Again. But he answers in kind.
<<36 hours, 19 minutes,>> he replies. Yes, he had been counting, thank you very much. Zach's worry is palpable. While he was mostly up and about within a half day of the match, his own abilities kicking into gear almost as soon as he was unconcious, Honoka's were far more severe. The doctors had not wanted to tell him /anything/ at first, the injuries so severe.
<< Precise. >>
She'd tried to smile, but...
<< ... Ants... Eating. Flesh. Right off the bone.
Apparently the neck brace is starting to itch a bit.
<< Can't even... >>
The blanket and sheets over her begin to move. After a few moments of adjustment, her hands wriggle out from beneath the blanket -- apparently she was tucked in pretty well by the orderlies. Pale hands are reached up to the light, before she brings them in front of her immobilized face.
Wriggling her toes and feet, she seems to feel a bit more reassured.
<< Tadaimaaa. Thanks for... waiting... >>
She digs through her memories of the past forty hours. And remembers... Zach wasn't in the best condition ever.
<< ... Er. How... how are you, Zach? >>
<<I'm a walking bruise at this point.>> He smiles a bit, relieved that she can waggle the fingers. He doesn't see the toes move, seeing as he is looking in just the wrong direction for that. <<Nothing full-on /broken/ broken, but apparently my skull is not as thick as everyone seems to think it is.>> Zach's head looks a little large, even after the bandages around them. <<Apparently having a two hundred-fifty pound man step on it is enough to cause some cracks.>> The word choice is light, and Zach /is/ trying to go for lightness in his tone, but one thing is certain:
Zach was /afraid/ during that match. He had been worried during the lead-up to the match, and he had never really gone into /why/ that was. Honoka would not have to think too hard to make a good guess, though.
Honoka attempts to open her mouth, only to be rewarded with a stifled motion and lance of pain shooting through her. Drawing in a hitch of breath, she forms a puppet hand with her left hand, nodding it in return to Zach. And yes -- the 'puppet' appears to be looking in his general direction.
<< Didn't seem like that was one of your kinks, either. >>
She'd try smiling again, but.
<< ... It was just a fight though. Psych ops. It was a blunt, hamfisted of way of getting into your head. I saw right through it. Or was there some other reason you were on edge fighting him? >>
Zach grins a bit at the 'puppet.' Then Honoka asks why he was affected as he was by Duke. <<You know that Glen story I refuse to tell you?>> Zach asks quietly. <<About Metro City right at the end? That man... Duke was in it. He was... and is... utterly without anything like restraint once he sets his sights on a thing. Glen killed him. Sword through the neck.>> He takes a steadying breath. <<It's a particularly strong memory, surrounded by other strong memories. They came rushing back when he did that stomp move.>>
Zach clenches his fists in his lap. He is tired of feeling yanked around by Ayame's 'gift' like this. <<I hate it. I'm me. /Not/ Glen. And yet...>>
Honoka listens quietly -- more because it's a pain to do much else. Her hand is even starting to get numb just from lifting it up to 'address' Zach.
<< Memories are in the past. Doesn't matter where they're from. Let the rage work -for- you. Let it -power- you, like... >>
She trails off, the 'puppet' hand sagging somewhat as she thinks back on the events of the fight. Confidence sinks; sadness grows.
<< Like I did. The... He was trying to get in my head. Badly. Brought up Arthur Solomon. I just kept quiet, building it all up. And when I'd had enough... I just shoved all the pain, anger, the rage right back into his face. >>
Her eyes close, as she rests her numb hand back upon her blanket.
<< You're better than Glen. You've got his wisdom, and yours. >>
She thinks to herself for a moment, before adding with a brief upswell in her emotions: << Plus, he's an asshole. >>
<<He /is/ a bit of a jerk,>> Zach says after a moment. <<But he lost... literally everything. His friends, his family, his world, his life. His /everything/. All of it, gone, partly because the fix did not happen in time. I think he'd do /anything/ to prevent that from happening to anyone else if he can help it. He's probably had to make some decisions since then... that I can't even imagine.>>
He takes another breath. <<But that's not now,>> he says. <<There's something you should know. Dragunov's alive. Ran into him during a thing. He probably would have tried to arrest me, but there was a matter of imminent explosions, so we all had to leave.>>
Honoka knows how much Glen's memories have hurt Zach -- and the more Zach talks, the more difficult it begins to read her actual feelings on the matter.
That would change, as soon as Dragunov is mentioned. A twinge of fear lances through her, as she reflects back upon her fight with the Russian assassin. A few moments later, the sensation of pride buoys her back to a position of control.
<< So the sooner I get this itchy neck brace off, the better I'll be prepared to deal with him. ... Dammit. What drugs did they put me on, anyway? Morphine? I should be in a lot more pain than this. >>
<<Probably morphine,>> Zach says about the meds. Morphine's pretty par for the course with injuries this severe. He's only a little surprised she did not ask about the whole 'imminent explosions' comment. <<In related news, someone has decided that mass producing weaponized Darkstalkers was a thing worth persuing. Not sure /who/, exactly, but the place I saw was pretty well-funded. My money's on Russia or the United Nations, but the person I was talking to was not exactly anything like sane so there's that.>>
Honoka is trapped in a bed, and Zach is filling her head full of more fears. No, she's not going to ask for more details -- her mind has already jumped the track into fight-or-flight responses. Eyes dart across the ceiling tiles, to the door -- to practically anything in reach.
<< Morphine will dull my response time, too. Ugh. At least it will be out of my system soon. I've... I've got to be ready, Zach. >>
Panic is a bitch. And with her head and shoulders being thusly weighed down, she begins testing her feet. Her elbows. The heart rate monitor shows an accelerated rate. And she starts to lift herself from the pillows.
<< Weaponized Darkstalkers... that's a riot. I've killed them all before. But we're... we're both sitting ducks as long as we're stuck here. >>
She starts to reach for the morass of wires and tubes plugged into her. One tug -- and a resultant wince -- later, the medically-confined juggler pivots her shoulders so she can get a better look at the man psychically conversing with her.
<< How long ago were these explosions, Zach? Are they close now? We need to get out of here... >>
<<Explosions already happened before I took that stage, on another continent,>> he says reassuringly. <<Took out the place where they were being made. My guy is very, /very/ good with things that go boom, so that should set things back. We're fine here.>> He places a very gentle hand on Honoka's shoulder, trying to ease her back onto the bed. <<You still need to rest,>> he says. <<Anything that comes for you is going to have to get past me first.>>
He frowns, and looks away. <<Sorry,>> he says a moment later. <<This could have waited. Tell you what, once the docs get me cleared from the whole concussion thing I'll get you back on your feet.>>
Honoka's blood pressure was rising much, much too high. Her gaze is erratic, flickering all about the room, processing nothing and everything simultaneously. And when Zach touches her shoulder, he will likely get pushback in both physical and psychic forms.
It is only when her eyes both lock onto Zach's that the pressure abates. Nostrils flare, beneath their bandages.
It takes a few moments, but she does relent.
<< ... sorry. I... >>
She would shake her head, if only the brace allowed it. Instead... she allows herself to sink into the pillow, her eyes rising back to the ceiling tiles.
<< It's getting insane. Kamui Kanna unleashing his rage. Bio-engineered Darkstalkers. And... this... -nonsense- with the UN. >> A brief pause. << ... I need noise, Zach. News broadcast, something. As long as I feel disconnected from everything I'm gonna be a bit crazy. I need a phone, a tablet. Something. It was fine when I was sleeping, but now that I'm awake, I need... I need my mind under control again. Then the body. >>
Her fingertips clench at the sheets -- her only means of control.
<< ... Where's Nakoruru, anyway...? >>
<<I don't know,>> Zach answers the question even as he scoops up the remote for the television. <<She was gone before I woke up. Maybe she went to pay Raiden a call about what happened.>> Something in the statement expresses skepticism. Honoka knows Zach too well; most people would pick up on that if he had spoken. He thumbs on the remote before easing the device into Honoka's hand. He's not even sure if she can /see/ through the bandages, but he's still willing to let her pick the channel.
<< I should've guessed, >> admits Honoka, allowing herself to sink into her pillows. When Zach slides a remote into one hand, she takes the opportunity to wrap her other hand around his, holding him tightly. Her hands are much more chilly than usual, though that's likely due to the IVs.
Her voice is raspy, her throat dry.
" -- thank... you for staying. "
It's important to make the effort to speak, despite the muffling in her voice.
Kneading gently at Zach's knuckles, she keeps him close as she flicks through channels. Cartoons, no. Variety shows, no. She stops as soon as she hears a serious-sounding voice, and leaves it there for the time being.
<< If the doctors have their say, I already know what they're gonna say. Stay off my feet for a week. Weekly checkups. Light duty for two months. Then maybe in six I can think about fighting again. >>
She snorts, buckling the bandages over her mouth.
<< These bandages need to come off sooner than that. I'm not okay with that schedule, not with all this mess going on. I'm stronger than that -- =we're= stronger than that. >>
Soft fingertips knurl across the thin skin of Zach's knuckles.
<< I need to stand beside Nakoruru. Pleading with Kamui Kanna to make this right. >>
In the background, Heihachi Mishima's voice can be heard.
"This is war. While we will not make the first blow, we must show that the UN has no right to push around our beloved country."
Zach accepts Honoka's hand in his own, his own hand warm against hers. He smiles faintly.
"Where else would I be?" he asks rhetorically. His place, for now, was here. He knew that that would change soon; the circumstances would demand that he take off for some fight or some mission somewhere else but for now? He was right where he was supposed to be.
<<Let's see if I can't help you cut that time down a bit,>> Zach says, a certain 'challenge accepted' grin behind the thoughts. <<Once the doctor's are certain I don't have a concussion, I mean. I don't want to try moving power like that with my brains all scrambled.>>
Zach frowns at the television. <<You know,>> he says almost philosophically, <<I'd have figured that the United States would be the first country to enter a pissing match with the UN.>>
"Excuse me -- I can... still /thank you/..." she rasps. The bandages may be covering her mouth but it's pretty obvious she's smiling all the same.
<< ... Yeah, I guess I should've thought about that before, y'know, -thinking- about that. >>
Honoka brushes her hand across Zach's -- he's free to retract his grip if he wants to, but of course she's not going to push him away. Not now, anyway; right now, the white-haired monster hunter is a comfort she'd rather not be without.
<< ... With Lightning Spangles at his side, even, right? >>
Honoka tenses up; the muscles cording visibly.
<< Doesn't matter if he's right or wrong -- Japan never elected that ass to speak on their behalf. I don't trust him one bit. And knowing that he's in league with the others... >>
A sigh escapes Honoka's lips.
<< He's saying he won't throw the first punch. But G Corporation already -did- throw the first punch, and it was Kamui Kanna who struck back... Maybe it's not such a bad thing that we're out of the tournament, Zach. Maybe the UN's actually on our side here. >>
Zach does not relinquish the grip, covering the linked hands with his free hand and giving them a light squeeze. "You're welcome," he says quietly.
Honoka says what she says. <<I'm... not sure I follow, here. Seems to me like the UN is definitely /not/ on Japan's side in this. We wouldn't be having this situation to begin with if Japan had handed Lee over to begin with.>> Zach pauses, frowning a bit. <<Admittedly, I'm still learning my way around how Japan does government, so I might be missing something.>>
If Honoka could turn her head towards Zach, she would. Instead -- she just squeezes his hand a bit more firmly, and considers before allowing her thoughts to traverse the air.
<< Japan's never been on -our- side, Zach. >>
The silence hangs for a moment, before she breaks it again.
<< The Ainu people are the biggest victim here. And the Japanese people run a close second, as these capitalist, nationalist -pigs- run roughshod over them, asserting their will with a might-makes-right attitude. I've been disgusted with them since I was a child -- and the Emperor and Prime Minister just bow down to them. Give them want they want, so they can continue bullying the world. >>
<<Ah. The... zaibatsu was it?>> Zach asks for clarification. He's sometimes ignorant, but not /completely/ dense. <<It's... not that different in America then. Maybe a little less so, sometimes, maybe a little more so others.>>
Honoka pats Zach's hand lightly with her own. Her mood lightens considerably.
<< Yes, the Mishima Zaibatsu. An umbrella, under which many other organizations serve. They seek profit -- no matter what the cost. No matter how many people get trampled beneath their wingtip shoes. And if we are to make amends -- to make -real- progress... the UN may be the wedge that allows it to happen. >>
She draws in her breath. A slightly warmer palm is pressed against the back of Zach's hand.
<< I'll need to make some phone calls in a little while. But that's then. And this... is where I congratulate you for such a great fight against Duke. I... I had a chance to beat him. But ... pretty much all my strategy is based on people afraid of death. Duke is... not. >>
<<He's... pretty hard to kill, and he knows that,>> Zach responds. <<Glen had help, even /with/ Duke literally burning himself out from the inside. It was one of those fights that needed fighting, even if victory was nearly impossible. Glen did not expect to walk away from it.>> Zach grins a bit. <<From what I saw, though, you didn't do too bad yourself. Nagase took more out of me than I expected.>>
Honoka does not directly acknowledge the compliment -- she knows just how close it -could- have been. But Zach would probably be able to sense Honoka's small sense of bitterness at the loss, all the same.<< And yet... I trust Duke more than I trust Heihachi Mishima. Because I know what Duke wants. He has respect for rules, for order. When I think of Heihachi running the world, all I can think of is the shoguns, who amassed all their land just because no one was strong enough to stand up to them. Duke... >>
Honoka nudges her thumb into the web of Zach's hand, a tender gesture of closeness.
<< I'm curious to see how Duke and Heihachi play together. Whether he will stand idly by while Heihachi ruins his business ventures. >>
And by the time the news cuts to commercial, Honoka seems to be drifting off again, her breathing falling into a regular cadence.
Duke and Heihachi interacting? Honoka can all but hear Zach turning that thought over in his mind, looking at it from various angles. <<It'd be a thing to watch,>> Zach agrees as he stands up, kissing Honoka on the hand, before kissing her on the hair. <<But not before we both get some rest.>>
Zach slides his hands free before heading for the door. <<We're going to need it.>>
Log created on 11:40:32 10/02/2017 by Zach Glenn, and last modified on 15:06:47 10/03/2017.