307/Late arrival

From Radiant Heart MUSH

Late arrival
Date of Scene: 26 August 2023
Location: Penguin Park
Synopsis: Hotaru has a problem and only speed can fix it. Haruka... is the solution. 2fast2adorable, coming to a log near you.
Cast of Characters: Hotaru Tomoe, Haruka Tenoh

Hotaru Tomoe has posed:
Hotaru Tomoe had been excited for today. So very excited. Well... excited wasn't the right word. After so many delays, so many mishaps, so many... denials...

Her and her daddy were finally going to go see mom's grave. Her mom's favorite flower shop was having a special on her favorite flowers, the Shidekobushi. A rare flower, it wasn't something you could acquire often and the fact they were able to get some pressed ones had been important to her...

But now, it wouldn't be long before they closed. And her dad had texted her that he wasn't able to be out in time, she'd need to get it another way...

And now she was sitting on the bench at the park. Trying desperately to stop from crying. Her eyes focused down, phone held in her hand to keep her hands busy. Trying not to cry. Just... control it. Just keep it together. F-fine. It was fine. Maybe... maybe next year. Then she could...

A few tears trickled down and she quickly wiped them on her sleeve. Why did she even think he'd come? He... never seemed to care anymore. Ever since the accident, since that woman had come into their lives... he never cared... why did she think this time would be different?

Haruka Tenoh has posed:
    For Haruka, it's not much of a special day, yet. Little did she know it would be a very important one. That much like the day she wandered into Setsuna's office, or the time she locked eyes with Michiru. But... differently. For one thing, it didn't start with turmoil in her own heart, but somebody else's. As Haruka walked by the path next to the park, she caught sight of the girl, as she wiped her tears away. And not only would Haruka generally not ignore a crying young person on their own, but when she saw Hotaru, she felt... something. At first it was easy to dismiss it as merely the sympathy for a girl alone crying on a park bench - a feeling young Haruka had experienced. Either way... she was compelled to go down and talk to her, and help.

    Haruka skidded down the side of the hill that divided the park from the path above, sliding down and making it look a good deal more smooth than it actually was. In the hot summer day, Haruka's got the suit jacket she was previously wearing slung over her shoulder, in pants and a button-down dress shirt which she has not bothered to fully button (and pulls off better than Blue).

    "Hey kid, what's wrong?" she asks, the hand not wrangling the jacket finding its way to her hip. As she looked at Hotaru and felt that odd tinge of familiarity bloom, the wind began to blow, and when Hotaru looked up and their eyes met, a particularly strong gust of wind made both girl's short hair blow in the wind.

Hotaru Tomoe has posed:
Hotaru Tomoe blinked and glanced up. Then let out a startled gasp, having to reach up to hold her sunhat from blowing away. In that moment, the person standing before her looked like some kind of fierce, powerful warrior. Come to blow the storm clouds in her heart away and save her from the storm billowing within. "I..." she started, before sighing. "I'm... I'm sorry," she said. "It's my own fault," she said gently. She couldn't look away from those eyes, though. It was like there was... a thread there. Holding their gaze in place.

Binding them.

A small part of her felt that longing, once more. A longing to trust. T obelieve. To share. And... "It's... too late, anyway," she finally said before glancing down at her phone, finally cutting the thread.. "Daddy... said he'd take me to the flower market across the city, where they were selling the shidekobushi flowers so we could lay them on my... mother's grave..." Why was she telling her this? Why burden a stranger with... this? But something said she had to.

"They close in twenty minutes anyway..." Even if she henshined and flew there, she couldn't get there in time. Maybe if she dusk ported... but after dusk porting it'd take her more than twenty minutes just to recover. And she didn't know where the nearest door to here was, by the time she found it... "I-I'm sorry..." she said, wiping her eyes again. "I-I shouldn't burden you with my problems..."

Haruka Tenoh has posed:
    Haruka looked at the girl for a while before she responded. "I'm not sure why you're saying sorry." she began, shrugging. "I asked you what was wrong, you told me. That's not a burden. Heck, it'd be more confusing if you didn't tell me and I just had to go through my day wondering why this random girl in a park was cryin', right?" she said.

    And when she looked at the girl, Haruka wanted to help her. In a sort of strange way. Like helping her might help others. Or like helping her was something she was expected to do. And yet... at the back of her mind, like a needle on the back of her neck, some degree of concern, of danger, existed there too.

    But Haruka... translated that worry differently. "Besides, it's starting to get near sundown, and I'm not sure I would feel comfortable with myself leaving you here all alone." she said. "Plus, it sounds like you might have a need for speed... in which case..." ah, she needed something else that rhymed with speed but she didn't have it. She looked annoyed for a moment, but not at Hotaru, and then she smirked back at the girl. "... you're lucky I ran across from you. Which flower shop is it?" she asks. "If it's not too deep into the Tokyo concrete jungle I might be able to get you there faster than 20." She asks her, pulling out her phone, waiting to catch the name.

Hotaru Tomoe has posed:
Hotaru Tomoe blinked a few times. "I... I don't think that's possible. With traffic and everything... but ummmm... Flowers of the Heart," she said, naming the small shop. But she was certain the other girl would find out where it was and say it was impossible. It was so stupid. If she'd left an hour ago, then surely she could have gotten there in time. If she'd just... found a door. If she'd planned.

"It's my own fault," she said after a moment. "I can't ask you to help, if I'd been more careful I wouldn't be in this situation to begin with."

Which, while true... it was unlikely the other girl would accept such a fate. And something told her, in her core, that that was true. That this woman could get her there if she truly set her mind to it.

She got to her feet and sighed, trying to push away those thoughts. It wasn't fair to just... expect some other woman to solve her problem. "You're... probably right. I should likely head home before it gets too late, anyway. T-thank you, by the way. I'm, ummm... Hotaru Tomoe. And... and it's fine. I'll try not to cry next time. I usually hold it in better than that," she said, even managing to force a smile. As if she wasn't still hurting. Still trying to be strong so as to not worry the adult.

Haruka Tenoh has posed:
    Haruka tapped it in to her phone. She nodded at it, made a few sounds, and smiled. "Oh, lucky. This one's on the outskirts. We can make it in time, if we hurry." Haruka notes, even though the navigation says it'll be at least 20 minutes. "Not if we go straight there, that'll take forever. But if we go around so we can take the highway... the 415 to the 418... and gun it... we can do it."

    And Haruka leaned down and put her hand on the black-haired girl's shoulder. "Well, good news. You didn't ask me to help. I'm offering to help. I want to help." she said. "I can't just turn my back on you if you're in need." she said. Maybe Sailor Uranus would, if it was for the greater good. But not Haruka Tenoh. She held out her hand.

    "My name is Haruka Tenoh. And all you have to do is accept the help and we'll be running for it. We gotta make it to my car pretty fast though, so I'd have to carry you." And if Hotaru took that hand, she'd find the older girl powerfully pulling her up and swooping the smaller girl into the air until she was resting on Haruka's shoulders, at which point she'd need to hold on as the older girl just ran for it with Hotaru riding piggyback.

Hotaru Tomoe has posed:
Hotaru Tomoe blinked a few times. Yes, it was on the outskirts. That was the problem, going through the city would take too long, going around would take even longer, wouldn't it? How would...

But, the other woman gave her hope. A small, tiny side of her said to not do it. That it was dangerous. That it wasn't safe. But... she had Luminous Titan. That was a big part of it. She could fight, if she had to. Defend herself. If this person was... bad? Then she'd have help. At least. And Takashi would be here soon.

But she didn't think this woman was bad. She could... feel it. This woman was good. Would help her, so long as it was for a good reason. And the woman held out her hand. Hotaru was a little wary of taking it. And if it was just for her... she wouldn't have. But, instead... slowly, she reached out to take it.

Then suddenly Hotaru was IN the air. She was FLYING! HOW?! WHAT? HOW?! WHEN?! WHAT?!

Hotaru was in shock for a few moments and when she was aware of what, exactly, was happening, she was already out of sight of the bench she was on. H-how?

She held on for dear life, eyes as wide as saucers as she was literally moving like the wind itself.

Haruka Tenoh has posed:
    "Sorry, Hotaru-chan!" She shouted. She was really, really booking it. "But we don't have time for talk really until we get to the car!" Hotaru loved moving fast, and she didn't always need a machine to do so. She'd run track before, a lot, and sometimes she just ran to think. But now, she was running for someone else, for someone she felt a connection to, for someone she wanted to help. So she wasn't even aware of how fast she was moving, but her legs would be mad at her in about an hour.

    Thankfully she'd brought the Stingray today - she was used to driving it and it was another way to let the wind blow through her hair - which meant she was able to, gently, grab Hotaru from her shoulders and plop her into the seat, over the door.

    "Make sure you buckle up! Like, really tightly!" Haruka yelled as she ran around the front of the car, jumping in over her own door - does she ever even open the doors to this car?! - and starting it up.

Hotaru Tomoe has posed:
Hotaru Tomoe nodded. "I-i-it's fine," she said. Holy moly. She'd NEVER moved this fine. Well. Not without magic. Even with magic she'd only approached anything like this speed with the glaive and... other stuff.

WHAT THE HECK?! Was... was it possible?

And suddenly she was in a chair. She stared, silently, for a few moments before giving a numb little nod. She'd been i na car before, of course. But... none like this. She reached up and began to buckle up. She even had to adjust the strap so it worked with how... microscopic she was in comparison to certain other riders of this vehicle.

"Are... are you sure this is okay? I don't... want to put you through any trouble..." But, a part of her? A small part? Was hoping that, yes. She WOULD go through the trouble. And even more... make this dream of hers a reality.

Haruka Tenoh has posed:
    Haruka turned as the car roared to life. "Maybe it's okay, maybe it's not. But it's too late to think about that now." she said with a wink as she started to back out of the parking spot. "But what is important about speed and trouble is... you are only in trouble if you get caught. And Haruka Tenoh doesn't get caught by anyone, when it comes to speed!" She says, thumbs up with her hand before it returns to the wheel. They're getting close to an on-ramp now, and mostly she's just driving like she's in a hurry. Until they hit the highway.

    Once they hit the highway and things open up though, Hotaru could be forgiven for thinking she's in a video game or Fast and the Furious movie. Haruka is one-hundred percent going to be getting enough time back on the highway, assuming she doesn't get pulled over as she rockets past other drivers and makes some... probably not entirely safe lane changes.

Hotaru Tomoe has posed:
Hotaru Tomoe nodded. Well... Right. "I-I understand," she said softly, before holding the door. 'Too late to think about it now' and 'only an issue if it gets caught'. She knew that this would go very well or very poorly. "Only a problem if you get caught, right," she said. "How many laws will we be--"

AND THEY WERE OFF! Oh. Oh wow. Hotaru stared, her eyes wide. Oh gosh. They were going so fast. The world zooming by. Were she an adult? She'd have been PANICKING right now and CERTAIN she was going to die. But one advantage of being a child was being unaware of your own mortality in many ways. In this case, she believed that Haruka was in total control (which she was), wouldn't do anything TOO dangerous (okay, not true), and that this was perfectly safe (HA! No.)

"Oh my gosh! This is AMAZING!" she shrieked, letting the door go and lifting both hands up to feel the wind blow by. "EEEEEE!" It was like being on a roller coaster! As the car dipped between a pair of other cars, which may as well have been standing still. She could have almost reached out and touched them! She was sitting up a bit more in the chair to see the world coming at them, giving another gleeful shriek!

Haruka Tenoh has posed:
    Haruka hears the kid... laughing... and enjoying it. And it pretty much mirrors how Haruka feels, though she's at least bypassed the 'explode visibly with excitement' stage. But she feels alive when she's driving like this, moving like this. She's almost sad when they're nearly there because the kid's energy is infectious. But they had 20 minutes to get there, so she didn't have long to actually spend zooming on the highway - she was for once going towards something rather than just going.

    The car pulls into an offramp and it's rather like a rollercoaster slowing down as it returns to the start. "See? We'll get there with a few minutes to spare before closing." She says, grinning, as her own heart rate starts to slowly go down. "Sorry about the uh... that." she says, laughing a bit. "But you wanted to be across town pretty fast, and you can't say that didn't just happen!" she adds. The car is moving into the parking spot in front of the flower shop, now, and compared to moments ago, it's like the world is in slow motion. "Hurry up and go get the flowers for your mother, Hotaru-chan.." she says with a grin. Wow, her name was very easy to remember. Or at least her first name was.

Hotaru Tomoe has posed:
Hotaru Tomoe actually gave a disappointed 'awwww' when they pulled off the ramp... Though she sat up a bit when she remembered where they were going. She looked at her phone. There was no way they...

They'd done it. They had time! The moment the car stopped, she tried to jump out. And got stuck on the seat belt. She then undid it, paused... And gave her a hug. "Thank you, Haruka-senpai!" she said before jumping out of the car, nearly falling out but managing to stay standing. She ran in!

And a moment later... she was buying them. Pulling out her lil coin purse, holding out the yen and getting it paid for. They'd done it. She was smiling. She was so happy. She came out and then... paused. Oh. She hadn't thought that far ahead. She had a small bundle of flowers. How long would it take to walk to the cemetary?

Was Haruka still there? Or had she left, her task done?

Haruka Tenoh has posed:
    Haruka was a little taken aback by the hug - and the 'Haruka-Sempai' - but she rolled with it, only seeming confused for a moment. "Go on, kid." she says. And she reaches for the shifter to start backing out, the 'race' won...

    Except, how was that kid, the Hotaru girl, going to get back after she got the flowers? It was a pretty fair distance, and... she was going to do something, right?

    Haruka leaned back and tried to remember what Hotaru needed the flowers for, and when she did remember - her Mother's grave visit - that settled it, she was waiting.

    So Haruka waved to the girl as she looked up to see if she was still there. "Wanted to make sure you had a way to whatever else you need to do, it'd feel weird just droppin' you off and expecting you to hoof it to wherever."

Hotaru Tomoe has posed:
Hotaru Tomoe looked, admittedly... kind of happy that the other girl was still here. "I... I know you've already done so much for me, but ummm... would... you be willing to take me to... my mother's grave? It's ummm... not too far," she said softly. "I know it's a lot to ask, but ummmm... I'm... sure I can have my father compensate you, for helping. I mean. Sorry..." she said.

But, when given confirmation, she'd hop back in and actually smile a little bit. "Your car is really pretty," she said. "I... don't know much about them, but I think a friend of mine could... build one. Maybe. I... I don't actually know if that's true. He builds a lot of things, but I've never seen him build one before. Do... you drive like that a lot?" Then she gasped, her eyes going wide. "Are you... a spy?" Her mind now awash with thoughts of super secret agents dodging and weaving through traffic while a bomb or something counted down in the back seat.

Haruka Tenoh has posed:
    Haruka just couldn't help but laugh. "I don't think I'm a spy, no." she said, covering her mouth with her hand. I mean, who knows what she was in that world Michiru and Setsuna came from?

    "But since I don't have any other 'missions' to deal with right now, I'll take you sure." she said, and started to back out slowly. "Just tell me where to go. And don't... don't worry about compensating me." she added. "Please. It's good to help people." she adds.

    "I kind of built this car." she continues talking as they move through the more crowded city, slower. "Like, not completely, but it needed a lot of work before it was drivable." she added. "And I don't drive like that often, no. Only whenever I can. Which is less than I'd like, in Tokyo. Most of the time it's like this - too much traffic, not enough road." she says, gesturing to the snarl in front of them.

Hotaru Tomoe has posed:
Hotaru Tomoe nodded. Wait, she didn't DENY it... but she didn't think it. Hmmmm. Sleeper agent? Perhaps. It would make a lot of sense in her mind. She gave the directions before buckling up. "It... is nice to help people, isn't it?" she asked with a smile. "Honestly, I wish I could do it more often." Or... at least... without them knowing. She'd by lying if she didn't admit she sometimes dreamed of going to a hospital and just healing all the people there. Or those she could heal. After all, her powers had limits. But...

It was just a fantasy. Whenever she healed someone, it almost always did more harm than good. That... was part of the reason she was so happy to help Takashi. She felt she really was helping people there.

"You did build it?" she asked softly. "That's really cool! You must be really smart. And I'm not surprised you like driving like that when you can. It's a lot of fun, you can feel the wind in your hair and it's like the world is just passing you by, taking your troubles with it," she said with a light, happy giggle.

"Usually when I'm in a car, it's... well... sit in the back seat, don't make a sound. Can't even roll down the window most days. The AC is nice, but... there's something... special about feeling actual wind, you know? Thank you so much for helping me with this."

Haruka Tenoh has posed:
    Haruka nodded. "That's why I like driving this one, with no top it means you're able to feel the world rushing by." she admits. "I've always liked going fast."

    "And... that sounds boring as heck - sit in the back seat and don't make a sound. But... I'm not exactly the best role model so I probably shouldn't be giving any advice like that." she said, laughing uneasily. "I tend to... be disruptive, I think they say." she added.

    "Helping people is... a lot of people need help, but it can be hard to see it, cause people keep it all bottled up inside. Like you said you were trying to do when I came up to you? Like, if you hadn't told me what was going on I wouldn't have known I could help." she noted. They were getting closer to the cemetary, now. "And I didn't mind helping you at all. It was nice to use my hobbies for good today." she said, laughing. "Normally, I'm just a danger to myself."

Hotaru Tomoe has posed:
Hotaru Tomoe gave a small, slightly mischievous smile. "I like disruptive," she said. "And it really is. I... don't like cars, usually. There's a lot of better ways to travel. But I'm not... usually allowed to take them," she mumbled gently. For obvious reasons. The whole... being... well... Delicate as could be was the primary reason.

Hotaru nodded along with her. "Uh huh. It's... hard... when all you ever feel like is that you cause trouble. I didn't think anybody could help me, though." She then reached up a hand, lightly rubbing her necklace. "But... I guess I was lucky I ran into you. And... yeah. I'm... usually a lot of trouble to myself too. But... I... I'm really happy you were able to help me today. I... I didn't think anyone could. I don't know why daddy..." she trailed off, though, small tears in her eyes.

"... I know he misses mommy too. So... why... couldn't he come? Why did he have to focus on work? Why couldn't he... make time for us this time..." she asked, hugging the flowers a little tighter. "... It's not fair... Aren't... daddy's supposed to be there for their kids?"

Oof. There was a topic...

Haruka Tenoh has posed:
    Haruka got quiet, but her hands gripped the steering wheel a little tighter. The girl's opinion of cars, that was fine. The girl's sadness, though, hit her a bit hard. After a moment, Haruka speaks. "It's easy, as kids, to think our parents always know everything and always have our best interests at heart." Haruka notes. "It's easy, and it's not always true."

    She takes a breath. She tries not to let her own experiences color this too much. "Parents are people. And honestly, people are rarely good or bad all of the time. Sometimes they have good times and sometimes they have bad times. Sometimes they make the right decisions, and sometimes they make the wrong ones." She slows down as she parks at the cemetary. "Which means... sometimes you can do everything right. But they're making the wrong decisions. Sometimes, over and over and over. And that doesn't mean it has anything to do with you. They're not people to worship, they're humans the same as you and me."

Hotaru Tomoe has posed:
Hotaru Tomoe nodded. Well... she could understand that. Sometimes... sometimes parents made mistakes. Still, she knew her daddy always had her best intentions in mind. Even if he made mistakes. A LOT of mistakes.

"Sometimes other people guide them towards the wrong decisions," Hotaru mumbled gently. Because, in her eyes... her daddy loved her. And it was all the woman's fault. Because she appeared right before her daddy started acting different. After she got hurt.

She clasped the gem a little tighter. She could do better. She WOULD do better. For him. For herself. For her friends. "Yeah... daddy... daddy makes a lot of bad choices these days. But I'm sure he'll eventually make the right one. Because... daddies always love their children, right?" she asked.

She slowly slid out of the car, after unbuckling. Looking at the graveyard. She gave a small smile to Haruka one last time. "Thank you. I'll find my own way home," she said, before giving a small bow and hugging the flowers. She then started to walk.

Then... stopped... She glanced back. "Haruka-senpai? Would... you... come with me?" she asked in a soft voice. She knew it was strange to ask a person she just asked to be her stand-in daddy for this... but...

She didn't want to say... to visit her mother's gravestone... alone.

Haruka Tenoh has posed:
    Haruka sits in the car and listens to Hotaru, but she has to interject one thing. "Fathers do not always love their children." she says, bluntly. "Or, they do so in such a way as to look enough like hate that it doesn't matter. Nothing about being a father means somebody will be a good one, or a good person." She's blunt, realistic, and maybe a little self-hurt. "Even if other people guide you to make the wrong decisions, it always comes down to your own choices." she continues.

    But then she sighs and leans back in the seat when Hotaru says she'll find her own way back. She's getting ready to leave when Haruka is asked to come with her. She's stuck in her own thoughts but then... "Yeah, sure." She says, letting all of that go. She can be there for a kid today. It's the right place to be. Especially for this kid... her questions about fathers lets her see a little bit of herself in the girl.