2017-05-06 - Soldiers and Protection

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Title: Soldiers and Protection

In the aftermath of 2017-05-05 - Outer Senshi vs Chevaliers, Makoto looks after Hotaru.


Makoto Kino, Hotaru Tomoe


Shibuya Shopping Ward }}

OOC - IC Date:

05-06-2017 - 01-17-2015

*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+ Shibuya Shopping Ward +*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+
  Any rural ingenue looking to come to the big city and get swept away at
  first sight would be well-advised to get off at Shibuya Station, where you
  could fill a high school yearbook with the people teeming over a single
  crosswalk, and a legion of ten-story department stores offer a choice so
  broad it resembles existential crisis. Shinjuku might administrate Tokyo,
  but Shibuya is its style capital. Its densest concentration of boutiques,
  retailers, and restaurants is bound together by Shibuya Crossing, a bustling
  pedestrian intersection resembling an even gaudier Times Square.

  Within walking distance to Harajuku, Shibuya is less whimsical, and far
  grander. Its most iconic symbol is the Shibuya 109 department store, a
  cylindrical grey monolith famous even outside of Japan. Each floor of 109
  has about a dozen shops, and with ten flights of escalator to ascend, it
  doesn't take a mathematician to realize that even this single store can be a
  lot to take in. But Shibuya too has its side streets and quirks, and it's
  not hard to find a chic little cafe to rest in. Those who find themselves
  energized instead have recourse to the night clubs that trade on Shibuya's
  stylish reptuation.

  Shibuya Station has a humbler landmark as well. It was here that the loyal
  dog Hachiko waited for his owner each day, even after the owner had long
  since died. A bronze statue of Hachiko waits here still, a reminder that
  love and loyalty never die.
<Pose Tracker> Makoto Kino [Juuban Public School (9)] has posed.

Shibuya might mostly be known for its expansive and extensive shopping, but it's also got a famous park in it. After Uranus and Pluto fled and Hotaru fainted, Jupiter told Mami and the others that she knew this girl, sort of, and she'd see to it that she got home safely. That satisfied the others, but there is one problem: Jupiter doesn't actually know where Hotaru *lives*. It occurs to her to try calling Usagi to ask Chibiusa where Hotaru lives, but Chibiusa might not know either, and then she'd make her friends worry for nothing.

...Although Usagi will definitely hear about this one way or another. Chibiusa's an innocent herself, though, and she has enough trouble with the Black Moon Clan trying to kill *her*. She doesn't need to fear for her friend's life, too.

For now, upon reaching the park, Hotaru's limp body draped on her back, Jupiter furtively finds a bench to rest her upon, dissolves her transformation, and then sits with her, letting Hotaru's head rest upon her lap. Then she breathes out a long sigh and begins the wait, eyes towards the sky as she wonders, not for the first *or* last time, what would possess anyone to try to murder a kid.

<Pose Tracker> Hotaru Tomoe [Infinity Institute (6)] has posed.

There are no answers to be had in Hotaru's little frame. Carrying her is a great way to find out that she's far too light for a girl of her age and height, and though she rests peacefully, she doesn't seem to warm at all. The opposite is almost true -- Makoto's lap is cooling down in response, as though her heat is being hungrily absorbed into her temporary ward, but accomplishing nothing, like light into a black hole.

Eventually she stirs, making the tiny sounds that small children make when they're in that middle place between sleeping and waking, tinged lightly with the distress that comes from fleeing a bad dream. Apparently even the refuge of unconsciousness cannot give Hotaru respite for long. It isn't fun to watch her as sweat pops up on her forehead, dampening those heavy bangs, but just as it approaches unbearable, her eyes open surprisingly gently. The black curtains of her lashes come up, and there she is, violet as beautiful -- and mysterious -- as ever.

There's nothing mysterious about her expression, though; brief disorientation is soothed into recognition, and relief. "...thank goodness..." she repeats, her very last words from earlier. It was a comfort to know that Chibi-Usa's friend was safe then. It is infinitely moreso now, to have it confirmed properly.

<Pose Tracker> Makoto Kino [Juuban Public School (9)] has posed.

Although Fate had implied that Hotaru might be more dangerous than her fragile appearance would suggest, and Makoto had wondered about that, she doesn't think anything unusual either about how unusually light she is (she's strong, she thinks everyone feels light) or cold she is (it's January and that coat is clearly too big for her, she probably has trouble staying warm). Makoto *is* starting to get cold herself, though. So much for the bouquet exhibit, but curling up at home with a mug of hot cocoa is starting to sound very tantalizing.

But she feels Hotaru stir, hears that little noise, and she looks down. "Hotaru-chan?" she murmurs gently. She's drenching in sweat, despite the cold... Makoto doesn't blame her, but it does worry her a little. If she was already sick, is being out here getting her even sicker? But then those lashes part, and Makoto smiles in relief.

"That's my line!" she jokes, patting Hotaru on the shoulder of her oversized coat. "I'm glad you're okay, Hotaru-chan. Er..." She practiced her story for when Hotaru woke up, but lying still doesn't come naturally to Makoto. She has to think it through again before she says, a little stilted, "After Sailor Jupiter threw me clear, I tried to find the police or someone to help, but before I could find anyone, she came to me with you in her arms and told me to take you home. I didn't even have a chance to ask what happened!" Her smile warms with sincerity as she adds, "I'm glad you're okay, though."

Her smile fades then, eyebrows furrowing. There's no point in asking Hotaru if she knows why Uranus and Pluto attacked her. But... "Have those people, or anyone like them... ever attacked you before?" she asks seriously. *That* is worth knowing about.

<Pose Tracker> Hotaru Tomoe [Infinity Institute (6)] has posed.

Fortunately for Makoto's acting talent, Hotaru is entirely guileless. She buys it hook, line, and sinker, tucking her chin into her collar in a horizontal nod. "I'm so glad," she repeats. "If someone else had gotten hurt because of me..."

Not knowing her well, Makoto may not be able to hear the source of that pain, the unspoken 'again'.

But that the idea is unbearable to her is all too clear, as her eyes drift to one side, a spasm of internal agony rendering her unable to meet Makoto's earnest emeralds any longer. It is easier to stare in between her surprising pillow's arm and torso at the back of the bench, and seek meaning in the whorls of wood she finds there.

It's around then that she realizes that she's on someone's lap. Springing up dramatically takes a lot more energy than Hotaru's got, but she does, with the careful haste of someone whose body is easily strained, shift upright, so that they're now sitting side by side.

"No," she answers carefully. "I've been in crowds attacked by monsters," it is notable that she remembers that, "But no one has ever targeted me like that. I don't... I don't even know who they are."

She looks down at her hands, which are shaking a little, and tries with all her heart to believe that that is true.

"I should stop seeing Chibi-Usa," the girl concludes, the very idea thickening her throat with hot, unshed tears. "They're going to try again... I can't put her in danger like that."

<Pose Tracker> Makoto Kino [Juuban Public School (9)] has posed.

Makoto has plenty of talent, but it's not with her acting, despite what some might claim. Just as guileless as Hotaru, she doesn't hear that unspoken 'again' at all. Instead, she lets Hotaru hastily pull herself upright, then reassures her with, "It wasn't your fault! You don't even know those guys." Makoto scowls. 'But I do,' she wants to say, 'and they're nothing but self-righteous hypocrites.' Seriously, even if she gives them the benefit of the doubt and assumes they genuinely, truly believe what they were doing was for the greater good--how is murdering a kid going to accomplish that?

Fate's words return to her. Makoto's scowl deepens, then she shakes her head again to brush it off and not make Hotaru nervous.

"Huh. By monsters?" she echoes, puzzled by that. Don't most normal folks sort of... forget about the monsters? Makoto, not being a big thinker, puzzles on that one for a moment before deciding it's a problem for Ami to solve. There's a bigger problem right here, and Makoto reaches over to give Hotaru's shoulder a gentle, hopefully reassuring squeeze.

"These things happen sometimes," she says gently. "It's horrible and I wish it didn't, but they do. But that's why this city's protected by good-hearted girls who'll protect innocents like you! And me," she adds hastily, remembering at the last second that she's supposed to be an 'innocent' too. Her lips purse in concern when Hotaru observes that the Outers will come for her again; then her eyebrows knit with anger. It's not enough that they need to attack her; they also need to tear her from her friend, too?

But that's a difficult issue for Makoto to try to cheer Hotaru up on. If it were her, she wouldn't want her friends to get caught up in things and hurt, either. On the other hand, Hotaru got caught up in an attempt on Chibiusa's life just last week... Did Hotaru forget *that*?

"You should talk to Chibiusa-chan about it," she says gently, following that train of thought. "I don't know what the right thing to do here is, but I *do* know if it were me, I'd feel really sad and lonely if a friend I liked a lot suddenly stopped talking to me and I didn't know why. Besides--you don't want to just say goodbye to her without a word either, right?"

<Pose Tracker> Hotaru Tomoe [Infinity Institute (6)] has posed.

Hotaru startles a little at Makoto's squeeze, but then leans equally gently into it -- the body language of a kid who doesn't receive a lot of affection, barely even knows what it is she's hungry for. It may not take guile for Makoto to recognize that one, since, though neither know it, it springs from something they have in common.

She listens not just politely but intently to the older girl's advice, and nods a second, smaller nod at the declaration that there are people to protect her. "They were very brave... Sailor Jupiter, and the others." Pausing for a moment, she basks in the memory of being protected. It, too, is as rare and precious as gesture as a shoulder squeeze. And the look on her face is priceless, a perfect representation of awe.

But it doesn't take long for that pure wonder to be tainted, once again, by guilt. Her head sinks. "And they didn't get hurt, but... next time," she worries in a low voice, "What if they aren't so lucky? I don't want anyone to get hurt protecting me, not when..."

She trails off and shakes her head, unwilling to burden this unexpected supporter with one of the truths that sits on her shoulder, all the time. Instead she seizes on the return of the subject to Chibi-Usa, even though it's hard.

"I don't want to hurt her," she repeats, small-voiced but firm-voiced too, and despite her distress she looks Makoto straight in the eye, the size and age differences between them erased by their closeness, just for a moment. "That's all I want. The most important thing."

<Pose Tracker> Makoto Kino [Juuban Public School (9)] has posed.

That--that Makoto *does* recognize, although Hotaru is a very different child from what Makoto was like when she was her age, and the recognition makes her chest ache with a concern for Hotaru not as the target of superpowered fighters but as a single, clearly lonely young girl. Her coat is oversized, too... Could it be that her parents also...?

She decides not to ask, or at least, not right away. She's sure Hotaru's overwhelmed enough already without Makoto prying into her personal life on top of it. But it does add that extra layer of protectiveness.

Especially since Hotaru seems to find having been protected so *wondrous* that Makoto finds herself blushing a little and rubbing the back of her head. It fades at Hotaru's concerns, though, and she shakes her head. "That's what the magical girls are here for," she says firmly. "The Sailor Senshi, the Pretty Cures, the... everyone!" she recovers, having about to have said 'the Puella Magi' and then remembering Not Really because some of them are FREAKING JERKS. "Sometimes when you stand up against bullies to do the right thing, you risk getting hurt. I've actually gotten into a lot of fights myself... I kinda had a rough childhood," she admits, rubbing her neck again. She lowers her hand and winks. "But whether I got hurt in those fights or not, I never once regretted doing the right thing! So I'm sure Sailor Jupiter and the others feel the same way about protecting you!"

The most important thing to her is that she not her Chibi-Usa. "Then you should definitely talk to her, Hotaru-chan," Makoto says firmly, decisively, with a nod that brooks no protests. "I get why you would want to push her own for her own safety--I really do. But Chibi-Usa-chan won't understand how you feel if you don't tell her so. And she should have a chance to convince you it's worth letting her stay near you." Makoto grins. "Chibi-Usa-chan knows the Sailor Senshi will always protect her, after all!"

The Guardian Senshi will, anyway. The Outers can go suck a lemon.

"For now, though," she adds, "we ought to get you home so you can rest. Do you have a cold or something, by the way? You seem kinda sick." 'Kinda sick,' she says. The gross understatement of the naturally healthy. "Either way, I'll walk you home if you want. I'm sure Chibi-Usa-chan would never forgive me if I just left her friend now!"

<Pose Tracker> Hotaru Tomoe [Infinity Institute (6)] has posed.

Hotaru internalizes Makoto's wisdom quietly, continuing to meet her eyes levelly. Most kids that age would have looked away a lot sooner, but she isn't really her age, is she? There's something timeless in her gaze, in her posture, not quite like a little old lady in a child's body -- much more like an ancient power in a child's body, though it's harder to see that clearly, of course.

Still, her prim propriety makes quite a cute contrast to Chibi-Usa's exuberance. It's easy to imagine her pink counterpart next to her right now, swinging her legs under the bench and laughing.

She nods solemnly -- admiration trickling back into her face, making her shine a little -- as Makoto talks about standing up to bullies. And she nods more slowly at the advice about Chibi-Usa.

She doesn't actually nod at the 'Sailor Senshi will always protect her' part, but who can blame her for that today? Her nightmares were full enough before they added monsters in miniskirts to the menu. Golden and garnet light will linger in her dreams for a long time, chasing her, always chasing.

Still, she isn't so rude as to contradict her elder. Not about that part, at least.

"Thank you, Kino-san," she murmurs, sliding off the bench soundlessly and giving a little bow, the gesture both gratitude and very polite rejection, "But I can see myself home. I wouldn't dare to trouble you any further. You are so very kind to have cared for me like this... I am deeply in your debt."

Hotaru has faith in Chibi-Usa-chan's capacity for forgiveness, and -- with the ease of someone often overlooked -- slips more quickly into the human sea of Shibuya than is possible to catch her with a protest.

<Pose Tracker> Makoto Kino [Juuban Public School (9)] has posed.

That's fair. It's not as though Hotaru can read Makoto's mind and realize she's excluding the Outers from that statement, even though they too are Sailor Senshi. In Makoto's mind, the *true* Sailor Senshi are Sailor Moon and her friends. ...and a few random Senshi from beyond the Solar System, possibly, though it's been a long time since Makoto's seen any of those. Had Hotaru contradicted her, Makoto would have agreed and corrected herself. ...it's a shame that Hotaru thinks that's something she just can't do. Maybe one day later, though.

"No problem!" she reassures her, not realizing at first that Hotaru is about to turn down her offer. When that becomes plain, she blinks. "Uh? It's no trouble at all, really--ah--wait, Hotaru-chan!" But with a swiftness Makoto wouldn't have expected from such a slight girl, she slips into the crowds. Even with Makoto's height to see over people, and her long legs to give chase, she soon loses Hotaru in it. Eventually she reaches the mouth of the park and frowns in concern, arms folded. Will Hotaru really be okay, going home by herself...? Well, if she was able to get away that quickly, it'll probably be all right...

But it seems like there's a lot of people she's got to talk to about this now.

"Stay safe, Hotaru-chan..." she murmurs to the January air.