2018-10-24 - Tokyo Hotaru Festival

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Tokyo Hotaru Festival

Citizens of Tokyo gather to celebrate the Hotaru Festival, which involves buying a little LED globe and making a wish as you throw it into the river.


Madoka Kaname, Steven Universe, Usagi Tsukino, Chibi-Usa Tsukino, Chitose Shiratori, Setsuna Meioh, Nori Ankou, Hotaru Tomoe


Asakusa Traditional District

OOC - IC Date:

10/24/2018 - 05-24-15

<Pose Tracker> Madoka Kaname [Ohtori Academy (10)] has posed.

There's something a little bit special about this festival.

In some ways it's like many others -- the crush of excited people; and yet there's something special: it's quiet, or at least as quiet as one can expect thousands and thousands and thousands of people to be when they're anticipating something. A soft buzz rather than a low roar.

If you listen, listen closely, you can almost hear the hush of the Sumida River as it flows by. At night it's like a molten obsidian river. The Tokyo Skytree's shadow, cast because of other skyscrapers, is black on black, but its lights reflect in abstract, vague geometries, a few flecks of white creating a sort of luminescent path. Less than that.

There are no food hawkers here, close to the river. The only thing for sale are inori-boshis: prayer stars, being distributed from Tokyo Skytree-branded booths for a nominal fee. "When the time comes, turn it on, make a wish, and throw it into the river."

Individually they are golf-ball-sized lumps of plastic, inscribed with pretty interlocking triangles. They have an 'on' button, but it isn't time yet, and most people are obedient to that request. There are occasionally little flickers of blue from a child or impatient adult who does, and then turns it off quickly before they can be chided.

The time is soon, though. There's a countdown clock on the Skytree, and it says 05:00. It's what's casting that magic on the crowd. People look up at it, then down at the river. Soft murmurs. Eager smiles.

Summer is close enough to taste. Wearing a light outer layer is still wise, but for those who feel like toughing it out it isn't strictly necessary. There is no wind tonight which lets the evening temperature settle, like a cat kneading the bed, into something almost hazy-warm.

<Pose Tracker> Steven Universe [Juuban Public School (6)] has posed.

A wonderful festival, one that both helps the neighboorhood, particularly the pretty river in Shitamachi, and you can make a wish! But what kind of wish would be made? If anything were possible, what would be the best use? Obviously not a selfish one, but...

He had an idea.

Among the milling crowds and eager childen, a kid with poofy hair and a near-infectious smile walked. Wearing cut-off jeans, a deep pink shirt adorned with a bright yellow star, and a cardigan, lighter pink than the shirt, Steven Universe had a hand with a reusable water bottle, and the other with the ornament of the evening. Flip-flops were the footwear of choice, and a pair of snazzy aviators hung from his collar.

"Are they all different colors? Or are they all blue?" he asks a random similarly aged child. He thinks it would be pretty rad if they all bore a scintillating rainbow of color flowing down that river. A look out to it, as it is a trail of ink, reflecting any source of light that travels too close.

And yet, while compared to ink, it too was a canvas, ready to bear beautiful art in time.

A look to the clock.

A time that draws close.

<Pose Tracker> Usagi Tsukino [Juuban Public School (10)] has posed.

It had been Usagi's idea to come to this festival. The thing is - with Usagi Tsukino, there's always plausible deniability that there's some deeper meaning behind an invitation. Perhaps things had been heavy lately and she wanted to invite Madoka Kaname and Chibi-Usa out for a good time as just their own form of youthful stress relief - including a low stress form of wishing.

Or perhaps she just wanted to look at the pretty lights on the river at night.

Either way once they arrived on location, Usagi leaned over to the other girl beside her, cupping a hand over her mouth, "Ready Chibi-Usa? It's time for the..." Then after a few seconds pause, "... 'you know'."

Sliding out in front of Madoka all of a sudden and turning to face her Usagi starts to count out mysteriously.




And at that point she pulls out a glittery card that looks like some elaborate cell phone case with all the glitter they packed in on it. With wobbly characters that spell out, 'We're sorry.' With two bunny stickers signing it. One white, one pink. The two bow in choreographed sequence while holding it out to Madoka.

"We're so sorry!"

As Usagi straightens, she looks a little embarrassed, "We just hadn't gotten the chance to apologize for... running out on you that night."

She knows Madoka wouldn't have made it awkward had she not, but all the same... she understands that Madoka Kaname is used to getting left behind and worrying about them. So she didn't want to just pretend it never happened.

Tonight Usagi is wearing a light green hoody with a pink top layered over it to make it look more stylish. A ruffled blue plaid skirt and a set of brown loafers.

"It didn't feel right to either of us enjoying the magic of the festival tonight before we cleared the air."

<Pose Tracker> Chibi-Usa Tsukino [Juuban Public School (5)] has posed.

Quiet; a buzz... with the hush of the flowing river. It should be something peaceful, a little magical... and it is magical. Stretching on, the crowds, the sense of anticipation... and even a Small Lady can see the countdown clock high above, shining down towards the crowd. There are smiles all over.

...Chibi-Usa could make a thousand wishes, but they all amount to the same, shades of one color that she can almost hope to see in the crowd.

So she's been a little out of it; she went along with Usagi's suggestion because all she was doing at home was staring into space, and now that she's here--

"Ah?" Chibi-Usa asks, blinking as she turns to look up at Usagi. She, of course, has a jacket, a friendly red one, along with her signature pink hairstyle... and is carrying a certain black catball. But when reminded--


Setting Luna-P down before herself, Chibi-Usa bows in time with Usagi, rising only after she aggres, "We're very sorry."

She looks up, red eyes deep, contemplative, as she looks to Madoka. Perhaps the truest sign that she has something on her mind is this: she doesn't even point out to Usagi that she's the one who reminded her about it in the first place.

Mm. That's right."

...Luna-P starts to bob along, slooowly rotating to put her eyes on Madoka, a friendly gaze, as in Chibi-Usa's hand is one of the lights. "...I shouldn't have left you without saying anything."

<Pose Tracker> Chitose Shiratori [Infinity Institute (U)] has posed.

Chitose is here! She wears the look of the slightest apprehension. It's, well, been a while since she has come to this festival.

And so she keeps to herself. She's alone today. Her father's not here, nor is her ever-present companion. Her hair is without adornments.

She generally waits for the festival begin, looking around at all the warm faces and happy feelings that the festival has brought here today. She's got her own lantern, of course. She takes a few moments to examine it, and Chitose tries to squint in all of the crevices it may have. But this doesn't take long, and she just shrugs afterwards before returning to waiting. Other than possibly over-examining her own lantern, though, she doesn't really do much.

<Pose Tracker> Setsuna Meioh [Infinity Institute (U)] has posed.

The silk of her silver-on-jade kimono rests cool on Setsuna Meioh's skin, but the senshi of the outermost planet long ago adjusted to a cold more incisive. It is the festival's dark and peaceful ambience that sinks into her instead. She rubs one bare forearm to smooth away a light shiver, and cuts a tall and solitary figure as she glides through the assembled. A nearby child's face lights up to the glow of a premature wish and draws her gaze, and her expression softens from its naturally contemplative set, but she does not stop.

Every once in a while she'll pull a compact shaped like a black cat's head from her pocket and click it open, and a faint glow illuminates her fine features too as she peers into it -- a backlit mirror, maybe? Is Setsuna checking her makeup in the night?

No; she's checking the location of one cheerful black catball of wonder known as Luna-P, and thereby the location of her very best friend. The Guardian of Time, used to a heavy heart, carries a knot of lead in her chest these days. It's a wonder she walks instead of staggering. She has given in to temptation tonight.

I just want to see her, she thinks. That's all I'm here for; a glimpse across the crowd, just that will help. But when Setsuna confirms that Luna-P is near and slides the kitty-cute gadget into her pocket, it clinks against a plastic star.

It just so happens that every single member of the group she seeks tops out at somewhat... less tall than the crowd average height, and so she's close enough to hear Usagi's countdown before she sees any of the three girls. Small Lady's chiming-in pulls her head around and finally puts a small smile on her face.

It sounds like they're both talking to someone else, though. She circles around a family of five between them in time to catch the end of their chant and see Madoka there as well, and is maybe a little closer than she'd intended to be... consciously, at least. But the heart pulls the feet where it wills them, sometimes, and hers leaps to spot Small Lady like it's transmuted to gold from the earlier lead. She buttons her lips, not wanting to interrupt.

<Pose Tracker> Madoka Kaname [Ohtori Academy (10)] has posed.

Steven has approached a lovely young lady with shoulder-length black hair and pale skin that would be paler still were it touched by moonlight. There isn't any at the moment -- the skies are full of puffy gray cloud.

She spins around, her heavy hair flying around her cheeks, her smile so wide that her eyes are closed.

"They're all blue! I saw it last year... it's so pretty, like the Milky Way! They call it the Symphony of Lights, because the music plays!"

Her hand is in another's, and she tugs on it. "Right, Daddy?"

He smiles down at her. "That's right, Sumiko-chan. You've been to all four, even though you might not remember the first one! Now -- up you go!"

Stooping, he tugs his daughter onto his shoulders, then straightens, and the two of them amble through the crowd towards the nearest bridge. The toe of her little booted foot accidentally taps Chitose as they pass her, but she doesn't notice, so excited is she as she points out every conceivable sight to her father's joyful eyes.


Madoka blinks at the two of them, then shakes her head firmly.

"It's okay," she says quietly. Not too firmly. There's been something... loose, in their beribboned friend, since they picked her up. Something wavering, like the air above hot concrete, about to form a mirage. Something floating, like the prayer stars will soon be, on the river. Something distant like summer vacation, which is only a finite number of weeks away but will never come again for Mami Tomoe...

Her eyes focus, and meet them in turn, first red and then blue. Her hands come up, too, and pat both of them on the head, twice, in a deliberately motherly gesture. It is parody, a hyperbolic response to a fairly dramatic apology, but like most such satire it is rooted in truth.

Madoka would make a good mother.

"I forgive you," she finishes, with a terribly tired-looking smile. "I know it was for a good reason. I'm just glad you came back safe."

Her eyes flee them both, look past Luna-P's gaze, out over the dark river.

"I'm so glad," she repeats in a whisper, worrying her lower lip. Her fingers tighten around her own darkened lightball, and she tucks the thank you card away, into her creamy cardigan.


The Skytree's digital clock says 1:00. People are starting to find their way down the marginally-steep banks, those who don't have a good spot on the bridges from which to toss their prayer star. It's a reasonably orderly crowd, though. A lot of helping hands. And some murmurs, as folks clutch their little tokens to their chests and whisper over them.

"...good grades..."

"...for daddy to get his promotion..."

"...win the tournament..."

"...get well soon..."

It's hard to make out any single wish. They are so many, and then merge into one, a low note of prayer -- of aspiration -- of desperation -- of hope.

<Pose Tracker> Nori Ankou [Ohtori Academy (10)] has posed.

Nori Ankou is wearing what you could call a modern kimono if you wanted. The crisp gray with a swirling of red around where the traditional embroidery is correct, but the cut of the sleeves is more Western-style. She is wearing sandals, though.

She is at the stall, though, and after consideration, she slips over the little money it takes to buy just one light.

After this she walks towards the banks, cradling the little nascent wish. She does not know exactly what to wish for, here in the dark among so many people. It is hard to feel alone in these situations, but some of this is like background radiation, a tinnitus of the heart, to Nori. But then it wasn't, and now, to some extent, it is again.

She sweeps a hand through her hair as she gets closer - circling around where several others are. Her toes tighten in the sandals as she looks downwards, hesitating to reach out.

<Pose Tracker> Steven Universe [Juuban Public School (6)] has posed.

"Oooooh! Really?!" Steven responds with, happily. Space was so cool, and hearing it looks like the Milky Way sounds like this will make for a great time! If only he brought his dad's camcorder. Though maybe his phone could work? Eh, he always prefered the grainy look. Makes the videos feel down to earth.

"Thanks, you two! I hope you have a great night!" the boy says, giving his own form of wishes to the father and daughter as they proceed on. It was neat to hear they are all going to be blue, going down that river.


A thought passes. Maybe he does know what to wish for.

Though, speaking of down to earth... Nearby, a few individuals that look familiar crop through the crowd. A tall, elegant woman around a few individuals, of pink and blonde hair can be seen. Seen in various instances, Steven just has to say hi, if not briefly!

The boy slinks through the crowd like a person who fits right in a social situation. A dodge here, a roundabout step there, and no one is disturbed. "Hiiii!" the boy greets, in a more subdued call as to not draw eyes. Setsuna is the first approached of course. Practically an adult, she exudes an air of calm, that assesses everything as it happens before reacting. Something about that is endearing to Steven.

Perhaps she reminds him of someone.

"Hey! How's you?" he asks the lady on arrival. A look toward Usagi and Chibi-Usa. The former is vaguely familiar, which he is fairly sure it is due to at school. The latter, well... Met in less-amiable conditions. But sure was brave! "Hey to you two, too! And ah... oh, I'm not interrupting something important, am I?"

Asking, looking toward Madoka, aving been shortly after the Tsukino's apology combo.

<Pose Tracker> Usagi Tsukino [Juuban Public School (10)] has posed.

Usagi of course smiles as Madoka pats her on the head. Madoka hardly has to even reach at Usagi's height, which feels like it mirrors her own, if one doesn't count the odango.

Even in it's own motherly way, it doesn't come back feeling condescending. "Even sooo..." She drawls out like she were going to go on how they shouldn't be excused so simply. Yet it's like she changes her mind, as she switches her focus to the inori-boshi in her hands. "... well we're just so glad you were able to come out with us tonight."

Usagi is still smiling as if she doesn't realize Madoka's mood, like she's just elementally Usagi Tsukino... yet the moment Madoka's gaze turns towards the dark river. Usagi's expression changes, her eyes just speaking of her own melancholy when it comes to seeing Madoka like this.

The ball in her hands is made to carry a wish. The compact over her heart carries a wishmaker. What could she do with it? Could she bring Mami Tomoe back? Make certain that Sayaka Miki returns? The thought of Madoka Kaname smiling - crying happy tears as she's reunited with her friends like Usagi had been herself at D-Point. That feels like it's worth any risk. Until she thinks about what her friend last said.

'I'm just glad you came back safe.'

Any cost invokes this idea of the Silver Crystal shattering - the light going dark in her eyes. Herself slumping over to become the next corpse. The wish that brought back Madoka's smile also stealing it back away just as quickly.

Usagi's eyes close in a slow blink, as she turns tears her eyes away painfully, inhaling once. Before she puts back on her smile like a sticker. Her eyes may still stay a little sad though.

Steven though tears her out of her mood. "Oh hey Steven, good to see you-" She looks towards the other two as Steven asks if he's interrupting, "-I mean - not really. Where we are right now is for everyone right?" Even as the clock counts down and they approach a little closer to the river.

"It's a perfect night for this. Don't you think? The sky is going to be like this... this ocean of obsidian tangled up in light... and the river like... a mirror." And if the river is a mirror, then every wish is a star. It's surprisingly poetic for Usagi, "There's not much I can think of that's prettier than that." Not much, but Usagi can certainly think of... a dozen or so people that might qualify.

Leaning over to Chibi-Usa, she needles her lightly, "You're not wishing for hotcakes tonight right?" She knows she's not wishing for hotcakes. She knows because the same thoughts she had for Madoka... could she do the same for her with Hotaru?

Her eyes upon finding Nori, cause her to straighten up and wave enthusiastically, "Nori-chan! You're here!"

<Pose Tracker> Chibi-Usa Tsukino [Juuban Public School (5)] has posed.

Is it the right time for a festival? Part of Chibi-Usa wonders; part of why she's been quiet is thinking, thinking, from what it is on Madoka's mind to the things on her own... But there's nothing quite like the immediate world to distract from thoughts of people who aren't here--of people who are a long time or way away.

"Ah--" Chibi-Usa starts to reach up to make sure her hair isn't mussed at the pat on her head, by instinct, but she doesn't find she minds it that much. "A-aw," she starts, and then--Madoka forgives them, and smiles.

Luna-P floats on, turning slowly; the river, sure, but then focusing on Chibi-Usa herself, a clear view of Small Lady for Puu as she looks to her older friend.

"...Me, too," Chibi-Usa repeats quietly.


"Oh, hi," Chibi-Usa answers Steven as he greets her. She looks down the bridge, as best she can through the railing; she insisted on a good spot, after all. ....Hearing Usagi actually be poetic is surprising; it makes Chibi-Usa imagine a thousand tiny lights in a small room...

Setsuna Meioh is rewarded in a way for her desire not to interrupt; she gets a look at Small Lady un-selfconscious, looking out to the river and then suddenly acting just like a little relative of Usagi. Her best young friend stops short, though--and frowns up at Usagi. "Usagiiiiii," Chibi-Usa grumps.

"I'm not wishing for hotcakes!" Pause. "But even if I did I wouldn't want you to make them," she answers, sticking out her tongue at the older girl. But where Usagi notices the beautiful Nori, Chibi-Usa pauses, thinking--just a minute...

She turns again, as Usagi looks to Nori. "...Hotaru-chan," she murmurs. "...I wish you could see this... I know you'd like it."

She bites her lip, looking out over the water, and--and that's when Luna-P bumps her slightly, and she notices the older woman. "Oh...? Oh--" Chibi-Usa starts to wave at Pluto, and then blinks. "Oh! Ah, um--" Chibi-Usa starts to wave Pluto over, with only a little hesitation, before her eyes widen as if in realization. "!"

She turns back towards the river, and scrambles through her pockets for--what turns out to be her phone, hopping up to try to get a better vantage point as she sets it to record video. "Oh--!"

She looks back--"Um--"

One hand with her little wishing ball, one on her phone, she turns to to Puu. "...Can you..."

Pluto saved her; Pluto wanted to hurt Hotaru. It's all so tangled. But...

"P..." She shouldn't use that name. "...Can you hold this up for me?" she asks, and the little, fierce hope in her eyes is surely hard to say no to.

<Pose Tracker> Setsuna Meioh [Infinity Institute (U)] has posed.

"Good evening, Ankou-san," Setsuna says by way of greeting to the Akamira muse with a dip of her chin. She turns to face the other girl, doing her best to look like she wasn't just watching some of the same people from a remove. "That is a lovely kimono."

Steven's arrival eases the transition from lonely lurking senshi to part of a larger group, which is a testament to the boy's cheerfulness, like its own kind of magic. "Steven," she says with some warmth. "I am appreciating the night, and my first time to this festival, thank you."

The countdown has not escaped Setsuna. She doesn't look to the clock, and while it's fair to say that plenty of others don't either, they're probably follow the cues of the crowd rather than relying on an intimate mystical connection with the essence of Time. Instead, she looks to a girl with pink hair and red eyes, and the distant planet receives a rare and precious reward for her observational ways.

She gets a beautiful memory of Small Lady, and she tucks it away in a safe place for when the darkness grows too deep. Setsuna doesn't even realize that there's a growing smile on her face as she watches the two Tsukinos start up over hotcakes. It's just there on her face, waiting for the moment Small Lady spots her.

There's her own slight hesitation after the beckoning, a mirror of what she saw in her best friend. The very name of the festival itself feels like it lies between them. But it's only slight, because there's no part of Puu that can stay away when Small Lady beckons. "If you will pardon me..." She takes her leave of Steven and Nori, murmurs a polite "Kaname-san," and then a dip and "Usagi-san," which is an odd mix of greater respect and greater familiarity from the college student.

"It would be my great delight," she replies, grave with bright garnet eyes, also leaving names out of it as she reaches to take the phone from Small Lady. "Have you decided on your wish?" It's such a careful question, as careful as how she handles the phone near the bridge's edge as she sets up to record. Setsuna crouches down a bit in her sandals.

<Pose Tracker> Madoka Kaname [Ohtori Academy (10)] has posed.

Madoka is a pure maiden who knows the value of hair care: she would never allow a fond rub, even one that had been in vague jest, to muss her friends' hairstyles. Her attention called back from the river, she glances towards Steven, which means that along the way her gaze slides along Usagi's cheekbones, and comes away damp.

Impulsively, she reaches out to take the other girl's hand, weaving their fingers together as they have so many times before. It isn't the same -- but it doesn't have to be. This is its own connection, fragile and beautiful and perfect and so humanly imperfect too.

She lets their grasp dangle between their hips, as they stand side by side, and is so glad to be here, now.

"Hi, Steven-chan," she says quietly but fondly. "Usagi-chan's right, we're all here for the same reason... to make a wish." How could he interrupt that? "What's yours?"

Her two Tsukino companions say sweet things, then start to bicker. Over Chibi-Usa's head, she spots Setsuna, and, in response to her greeting, gives her a tiny smile. A slightly strange one. Not fake, just... complicated.

No, not complicated. Just difficult, like it is difficult for the Moon overhead to break through the clouds.

Using her free hand -- the one with the lightball -- Madoka waves at Nori, helping her find the source of the voice that had called out to her.


Hotaru sits with Chibi-Usa on her bedroom floor, the latter's slippered feet just barely touching the former's knees.

The ceiling lights are on, revealing the room for what it is, a bright and elegant space, instead of a den of mysteries. But one of her dozens of lamps -- collecting them, her favorite hobby -- is in its owner's spidery-slender fingers.

Her voice is breathy, light. Gentle, and just a little bit reverent. But then, the sacred is different for everyone.

"This was my Christmas present from Papa," she explains, tilting it left and right, admiring it from every angle. "It's old."

Hotaru loves old things. Things that last.

She beams over at Chibi-Usa, who realizes that Hotaru loves young things too.





<SoundTracker> Shimmering Waterfalls https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Uun6YZbXwzs

Piano and violin spill sweetly out into the air from the Skytree. There's a special magic to live music that cannot be fully lost through amplification. It sounds like the stars, spilling down from the sky. If they were to sing, this would be it.

The first thousand balls flicker to life with near-simultaneous pushes of buttons, and then the night is not so dark anymore. Everything is aglow, a splendid and wonderful blue. Thousands and thousands of individual, tiny lights.

They add up to more than the sum of their parts, as they're released into the sluggish flow of the river, and begin to float downstream.

Rivers are truly a complicated thing. There are eddies and whorls, which draw the lights from the edges of the shore towards the faster-moving center. Lights thrown from the bridge surface irregularly, creating bands of radiance that criss-cross the unspiraling arms of this artificial -- this magical -- Milky Way.

Plastic and LEDs.

A bobbing sea of stars.

<Pose Tracker> Nori Ankou [Ohtori Academy (10)] has posed.


Nori looks up and seems vulnerable for a moment. It's a look of someone caught unguarded. Not angry, not afraid, but for a moment when she looks right at Usagi and her semaphoring arm, there is no pretense or mask. Her eyes are wide and her mouth is very slightly open.

"Ah - Usagi -" And the mask slides back on, if with haste. She smiles at her, with some effort, and her eyes then turn towards Chibi-Usa properly. "Good evening - it has been a while, hasn't it?" Thus Nori says to Chibi-usa, who... isn't declaring her love for hotcakes. For a moment Nori wonders if Hotcakes is the traditional thing - or a person - or a place -

'Good evening, Ankou-san.'

There Setsuna is. Nori turns her head to look towards Setsuna and she exhales for a moment. Her face cools even as she raises an arm: "Do you think so? It's wool, actually - would you believe it? But it is very light." She proffers a sleeve for a moment, but she does this as she walks.

And then she smiles at Madoka and the authenticity comes back again for a moment before the count-down reaches that critical point and Nori looks towards the river. She clasps her blue hope for a moment and thinks to herself: What is my wish?

She wants Sayaka back - and Mami too - but that isn't just it, is it. Besides which, they have a hope for Sayaka, at least.

What else is it?

Nori looks at the little ball and thinks to herself of selfishness and guilt. She closes her eyes for a moment and if there is a little wetness welling up between her eyelashes she does not try to restrain it. Her teeth press together.

She opens her eyes and she sees it.

Nori clicks her ball to life, and looks towards Madoka and Usagi. Now she smiles, and she steps forwards. She holds back a little, though, and she takes care - to put hers in the leisurely current *just* at the same time as one or the other, or both.

<Pose Tracker> Steven Universe [Juuban Public School (6)] has posed.

An adorable smile greets Setsuna's response. It is one of those smiles that is on the edge of making one ponder if it is cheeky or sarcastic, but those who know the boy he isn't one to fake them as a practice. "First night too?" he responds with. "Same here! I do love all these wonderful festivals and celebrations Tokyo has. I plan to go to every one held!" he holds up his wish-star proudly.

Oh no! It looks like Usagi is crying...! Oh wait, maybe they aren't sad tears. "Hii! Usagi! Hope everything's okay!" he comments toward her clearing eyes. "It really is. Like a mirror, I mean." The boy zones off for a second. First his thought from earlier, and now Usagi says it looks like a mirror. He is absolutely sure he knows what to wish for now.

A look to Chibi-Usa. "Hey again!" he says happily. "How are you holding up?" he asks her. Not much context there, but Chibi-Usa would obviously know what from considering the ladt time they had any interaction. "Know what to wish for?"

A check back to Madoka! "Hii Madoka! It is Madoka, right?" he asks kindly. He has met her only once or possibly twice. Don't wanna mess up those names! The boy grows... somber for a moment as he looks to his cherished token, to carry his wish on serene waters. "W-Well, Seeing the pretty water, the blue lights. Even something Usagi said about the water being a mirror. It all reminded me of someone. She's in a place where she can't bee seen any more. I wish she will be safe, heh." Steven rubs his neck with a spare hand, setting that bottle down first, a hesitant breath. "Maybe somehow, she will even see the little light on the water."

"What about you? Have a nice wish to send out?" he asks, the smile coming back to him, uplifting cheer returning.

"Ohhh, hey!" a polite wave is given to Nori, the wish token in his hand waving with it. "Here to make a wish too?" he asks.

Before the answer comes. That timer reaches zero.

The boy looks to his own, and approaches the water. "Guess I gotta make that wish!" he comments, going to the edge, and with a flick, as to the amalgam of cerulean hue that overtakes the evening.

A hand starts lowering the bauble to the water, and as it reaches, his wish is uttered.

"...I hope, that no matter how deep it is, or how scary everything might be, that you will stay safe. And that you are never alone."

And with that, Stevens own little light joins the thousands floating down the river. The boy claps his hands as he watches all of them go! "So cool...!"

<Pose Tracker> Usagi Tsukino [Juuban Public School (10)] has posed.

"Well not too long!" However she gives Nori this inquisitive look, "Does it feel like it's been a long time Nori-chan?" Perhaps... there's something else being asked in that. "We could always fix that!" And to Steven, "Well... things are not okay okay. We're all still waiting for our midterm grades and..." She doesn't say anything else, just has this small nervous laugh. Not wanting to indicate she'd done badly in front of... her 'cousin' who would call her on that.

Usagi expects Chibi-Usa to respond like this of course. It's almost like with her and Rei. It's like... a game. Yet at the same time she is genuinely startled by the depth of the reaction from Chibi-Usa, looking utterly aghast, "Hey! They didn't come out that bad! Especially once... I picked out the burnt parts."

She just has to hope noone in the crowd saw her attempt in the Ohtori cooking class where it went so wrong that Utena Tenjou literally attacked it as a pancake monster.

"Oh! Setsuna-san!" However, Chibi-Usa is asking her to do things, asking her to... "Eh? Chibi-Usa you're asking a lot of someone you just met..." She whispers an apology, "I'm really sorry about that. You know how kids are..." However, the familiarity of the two causes Usagi to suspect more and more until... "Do... you two know each other?"

There's nothing suspicious about it, after all, Setsuna Meioh hangs out with her sometimes and she's... herself. Why shouldn't she befriend a girl that fell out of the sky too?

Madoka's hand laces inside of her fingers - and Usagi seems surprised only for a moment. In that same way you might be startled by a small bird landing on your hand from how fragile and transient and beautiful and rare it might be - even if they'd held hands so many times before.

Usagi's hand meets her desire, as her fingers slide into her palm, and she applies the faintest pressure. The skin is soft, and warm, and welcoming. It makes that fragile connection, and in that moment the sadness becomes distant. Yet no words are spoken. It feels like a touch conveys the messages she'd want to give Madoka far better than any words could.

Usually she'd be fairly indecisive about this moment. About what to wish for. However, as the timer starts to count down, there is no impulsiveness rooted in the wish.

It comes almost too easily.

When the timer hits 1 second, she readies the finger of her opposite hand over the button, and when it hits... her ball joins the others a little clumsily, brightly lit.

Even her silent wish is a little clumsy...

I wish Madoka and Chibi-Usa a future full of reasons to smile.

The river is so beautiful right now in these moments where it all flows outwards. "Sugoi..." Is her singular word, so soft that only Madoka might hear it. Awed into near silence, the beauty of it stinging her eyes, bringing sparkles of water within them.

That is Usagi Tsukino though. A little clumsy, and a crybaby. And that's about it. Those are the feelings and regard she can offer to her friends in the form of a wish.

... later she'll ask Chibi-Usa to send her her recording of that event.

<Pose Tracker> Chibi-Usa Tsukino [Juuban Public School (5)] has posed.

The burnt parts. Luckily for preventing any further burns, though, Chibi-Usa has flitted away from Usagi's cooking to wishes, to Puu, to the magic of the night... and to frowning a moment when Usagi implies she's asking a lot of Puu with this. She doesn't have an answer for this, exactly, doesn't have something she can say, doesn't have a way to argue it, but...

It's important.

"Ah! Thank you!" Chibi-Usa says with some relief, and Puu will see what Small Lady has in mind; she's recording video of the spectacle, in theory, of brilliant lights down a river, or at least, what she imagines it will be like here. This is the first time she's been here, in this time, for this festival.

But her wish...?

Puu asked; then Steven asks, and Chibi-Usa hesitates, thinking of a lot at once, as she turns to look at the boy. "...Yes," she answers both of them, perhaps strangely shy for the moment.

Is she holding up okay? She doesn't answer that one. She just smiles to the always-glamorous Nori, feeling the same little wave of amazement that she always does. "...Yes," she answers her. "It's nice to see you." A small smile, but--But then she looks out to the river, again.

She stands close to Usagi, and Madoka, and Puu as she stands; she has to, with the crowd, and beside Nori and Steven who have joined them, too. Those she came with, those she met. ...But her attention is out, far beyond, and yet right here, as the timer goes down.


There are wishes that are too hard to condense into words, that are so simple and yet can't be expressed except by the heart. She could wish that Hotaru were here; she could wish she were safe, that she could be okay, that she could see this, that wherever she is there are lights...

But really, Chibi-Usa's wish is just Hotaru, at all. So as she tosses her little light with the others, it is more than just a ball of plastic, more than just a glowing trinket; it is a wish, given out into the world.

Chibi-Usa looks into the light, transfixed, silent again for a while.

<Pose Tracker> Setsuna Meioh [Infinity Institute (U)] has posed.
<SoundTracker> Relm's Theme https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0DZxFkhVv5E

She glides with that solemn mannerliness past Madoka and Usagi to get where she's going, and in passing catches the latter girl's whisper. She glances between the two Princesses at the question about whether they've met before, and shares a secretive Mona Lisa half-smile with her best friend. The diffuse spangle from overhead sparkles in her eyes. "Wouldn't that make me the luckiest person in the world, if we have?"

In saying it, Setsuna knows it for truth, no matter how thick and deep the storm clouds grow overhead. She was the luckiest person when the lonely young Princess first discovered Sailor Pluto's solitary post once upon a future crystalline, and every soul-sustaining visit after made her luckier still.

Steady hands keep the cellphone carefully trained on Small Lady -- a little concentration line appears between her eyebrows. Entrusted with this duty, Setsuna will execute it to the very best of her loyal ability. Her eyes are on the Small Lady on the screen, and she leans in close to make sure to catch the wish.


Hands stay steady, eyes flicker downward. Each of them wonders where Hotaru Tomoe is, but... they do not wonder together. Setsuna knows it.

A glowing prayer arcs from Small Lady's hands to join a riverful of bobbing stars. Setsuna follows that motion with the cellphone camera, but she's looking at the girl in front of her with sorrowful eyes.

She wishes...

Unspoken, the thought trails off, but not in the same way her best friend's wish did. It is as unfinished and incomplete as Small Lady's was whole and encompassing. The little unlit globe stays in Setsuna's kimono pocket, feeling heavier than plastic.

"I got it all," she says quietly as she passes the phone back over to Small Lady. This moment is all she needs, right now.

<Pose Tracker> Nori Ankou [Ohtori Academy (10)] has posed.
<SoundTracker> https://vimeo.com/172735686

Nori briefly considers what Usagi says. It's been like two years, she thinks, before -

Hm, Nori thinks as she counts.

Well, as a great philosopher once said (and which Nori Ankou has rediscovered), sometimes decades happens in weeks, and sometimes weeks happen over decades. She exhales, looking anxious for a moment at the news of midterm grades.

"It's because I want to spend more time with you, Usagi," Nori tells Buns Sr., smiling as she does. And then she looks towards Steven then and says quietly, "Hello; yes, though I think I've already made it. Do you like this festival?"

To Chibi-usa she says, "And the same to you" with a smile. Then she looks out at the river, which is a vision she wants to watch.

It shines into her eyes.

She shifts a little, unthinking: to move out of the cone of vision from Setsuna's cell phone. The light glitters out there, and it glitters in her eyes.

There is a warmth in the air, Nori thinks. A little stuffy, but maybe that's just the weather. It is as if there is a cotton-candy ambiance coming from everyone, gathered here: proof that however sporadic, however occasional, joy and hope can rise upwards. Her lips quirk up into a smile, again.

<Pose Tracker> Madoka Kaname [Ohtori Academy (10)] has posed.

You aren't allowed to take the prayer stars home; it's use them or return them, because the ones that are used are caught by nets before they can reach the sea, and rejoined to the unused ones so that they can all be used again next year. It is, all in all, a remarkably affordable festival, compared to the thousands of yen that have to be raised to put some of them on.

Madoka feels the ball in her hand, really feels it -- its plastic texture, its scant weight, and thinks about all the wishes she never quite got to make.

Her eyes glaze over as shotgun rounds roar past her to transform a soft little wish-granting creature into a bloodless corpse. She trembles.

With her other hand she feels Usagi's gentleness, her caring. Her worry. Madoka squeezes back, warmly.

Here comes Nori, back up the slope. Madoka had been thinking about returning her prayer star, but now she knows what she wants.

The ball goes soaring into the river with the others, a single blue dot amongst a sea of them.

And now her other hand is free to take one of Nori's.

"My wish came true," she tells her, tells them both.

And for the first time all night there's a sparkle in her eyes, one which has nothing to do at all with the undulating river of stars glowing down below.