2018-12-02 - TIMELINE 1: Early Birds

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Title: TIMELINE 1: Early Birds

In which Kasagami crashes through early morning snow and Homura's isolation, and one yields more easily than the other


Homura Akemi and Kasagami Araki


Kimata Ski Lodge in Hokkaido

OOC - IC Date:

Sun Dec 2, 2018 - Winter in Hokkaido

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The resort's hotel, owned by the Kimata family, is a rustic compound of three log houses. Built in an old-fashioned Russian-influenced style, with hewn logs set into bristling dovetail corners, they are all named after a famous Hokkaido animal. Each one's edifice is stained a rustic green, but no one knows the color of the roof, which is constantly coated in a marshmellowy profusion of snow. Returning skiers can relax in the hot tub, enjoy a meal, or warm up under thick blankets on the stately Western-style beds.

The modest video arcade's aging cabinets and the large collection of child-sized skis for rent hint at the amount of businesses the Kimatas get from school trips. When the Sister Schools have their semi-mandatory vacation here, the elementary schoolers take over most of Squirrel Lodge; the middle schoolers, Crane Lodge; and the high schoolers, Bear Lodge. Unlike normal guests, students sleep on the floor of large communal rooms, each accommodating fifteen to thirty students.

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<Pose Tracker> Homura Akemi [Ohtori Academy (8)] has posed.

Early morning at Kimata Sky Lodge in December feels swaddled in night, still, tucked into the deep of winter by a blanket of thick soft snow. Those souls driven out of sleeping bags in the wee hours by bravery or necessity or sheer simple restlessness get to appreciate the glittering fields wrought by overnight's fresh powder fall, and get to disturb that perfection first, too -- a reward for venturing into the especially bitter cold crusting night's coattails.

A white electronic light twinkles through the window of the lodge's front reception area. It makes a little lit corner in the otherwise dim room, its lamps still unlit though the front desk has its dim illumination for the sleepy clerk there. He'll turn them on come 7am -- he offered to for Homura but she insisted he not, abashed by the offer and that her presence would put him out in any way. Her booklight is plenty for her.

The transfer student curls up in a sofa chair against the window so that the blue-shadowed winter wonderland outside is a headturn away from the shoujo manga magazine in her lap. A cup of tea cools by its empty mate and a full, warm teapot... it's nearly cold. Homura forgot about it entirely. She's engrossed. A diamond knit grey sweater slouches around her skinny form, swallowing her hands to their fingertips.

Homura Akemi falls into the 'restless' category, among the early birds. The communal presence of all those classmates around her made it impossible for her to stay asleep, and after a few useless hours awake in her sleeping bag she snuck out ahead of the sunrise to seek...

This. Her little makeshift refuge, a cocoon of privacy out in the common area. It's already been an eventful trip, and Homura's shoulders will complain and remind her of it as soon as she moves from that intent reading hunch. Right now, though, she's in her own world -- or rather, someone else's, which has been one of her favorite escapes for years now.

It's last month's issue of Nakayoshi, though. Homura is behind in her reading. Perhaps she wants her escape less, since transferring to Ohtori Academy...?

<Pose Tracker> Kasagami Araki [Ohtori Academy (9)] has posed.

Kasagami, unlike Homura, has had no problems at all sleeping in the communal arrangement. Sure, she could have abused Student Council status, but the ability to have nightly gossip as well as vague fawning-or-intimidation from others is doing wonders for her ego. She slept like a very, very content and preened rock.

But she's still up absurdly early, as is her wont. Kassie is more of a creature of habit that her bombast lets on and part of that routine is her morning training. Just because she couldn't take her family sword doesn't mean she's going to use vacation as an excuse to get lazy. Nor does the frigid temperatures intimidate her. In fact, it's precisely why she's gotten up just a biiit earlier than usual in order to get geared up.

Black, insulated fleece pants, a red t-shirt broken up by a black wind-breaker with her signature winter fuzzy coat across her shoulders makes her intentions clear. Hands covered in well-gripped exercise gloves, and her boots with small spikes that add extra traction in snow round out her outfit aside from the black beanie with red puffball atop it.

With a bag the usual emergency supplies, just in case, she's passing right by that window to cut out and ruin the pristine beauty of the snow when she spies a familiar figure. Stopping, a smile slowly forms across her face as she casually slings her wooden nodachi across her shoulder blades. One hand goes into the pocket of her wind breaker, vaguely hunting for something!

With a grin and nod to the sleepy desk worker, Kasagami invades the sanctuary that Homura has built for herself with a light shove open of the door and a jaunty whistle that's as confident as /way/ too awake for this hour.

"Homura-chan! Color me surprised to find /you/ as one of the early birds! I'd have thought you would be underneat a small mountain of blankets right now! Morning!" Kassie seems /happy/ to see Homura too! Genuinely so, even.

<Pose Tracker> Homura Akemi [Ohtori Academy (8)] has posed.


Color them /both/ surprised, and in Homura's case the hue is tomato red splashed across her cheeks. She juggles thick magazine and booklight with stiff arms and manages, through some very high level klutzery, to whap each item in a separate direction. The magazine smacks straight down, flapped open, onto the floor between chair and table and ouch, that probably creased some pages; the booklight skitters across the finished wooden floor, throwing its beam every which way before sliding under another table across the way.

Defeated before she ever began, Homura Akemi forces her gaze slowly upward to find out who bore witness to all that cringe. She peeks over askew glasses at her impossibly athletic skiing senpai and sucks in a high pitched breath.

"A-ah... good morning, Araki-senpai!" Even more formal than yesterday. She hops up to bow a greeting and steps right on the forgotten magazine -- there go more pages, you can hear them rip. Homura tries very hard to pretend like she's not standing on her own book when she pops back up again.

The long wooden sword gets its own impressed look. It's clear why Kasagami is up so early. Homura's own reason, especially considering what she thinks of as her utter lack of a performance yesterday... Now she's pretending the book isn't there twice over.

"I just... had trouble sleeping." A beat, and then she stumbles back and forth between politeness and lack of self-confidence. "Oh, would... um, if you want to join me," and she flutters a little wave at the adjoining couch, "But you're on your way... ah, I'm sorry. Please don't let me keep you." That smile is aimed right at her, and Homura still has trouble believing it's meant for her.

<Pose Tracker> Kasagami Araki [Ohtori Academy (9)] has posed.

With both hands full, Kassie can't quite help the poor Homura that she startles into deep red and a rather epic act of initiating klutzy chaos into the room that has the newest StuCo member's brows rising at once. Only realization of Homura's nature after these few encounters has her (with some effort) sucking in a whistle. She'd take it wrong. Even lacking the cynicism of her older self, she still has a good read on people. Both parents stressed in pen and sword that figuring out the opponent is key.

Even if she means well. There's still an aggressive cant to her hips. She winces as pages tear. This, along with the sudden bow is almost too much. A brow lowers, leaving the other quirked.

"See? This is why I like you, Homura-chan. You don't do things by halves, do you? ...And yeesh, please, only call me that if you're at the receiving end of Student Council Business. Which being a good girl, you won't be. Kasagami-chan! Ka-sa-ga-mi-chan! Got it?" Beeeam! That blade swings down, seemingly light as a feather in her hand as she leans it against a convenient table. Then she's devouring space with her long legs. Stoop. She rummages for that light!

All of that apologizing. And yet? There's a sparkle in Kassie's good eye as she finds the prize, standing back up with her back turned to Homura. For a girl that awkward, that unathletic, she tried. Both on the slopes, and here. That little spark, that uncommon bit of potential draws the Duelist in like a flame. It's in her nature to want to fan them.

"You did a good job out on the skii course. Actually, I'm glad I found you this morning. It was my fault. I overdid it. Should've taken you out on the intermediate course first. Leap before you can run, horses before elephants in the Alps." Her voice, usually so confident, sounds apologetic.

And then she leaps up onto the table that table where the book light had skittered to. She lands with a tak-tak of boot needles on wood, one hand still in her windbreaker pocket while the other holds the night-light aloft as a shining beacon in the dim room!

"It's confidence and experience you're lacking, not bravery, Homura Akemi!" Proclaims the Duelist, before bending her knees low and doing a backflip off of the table. She sticks the landing, skidding back towards the offered couch! With a flick of shoulders and head, both beanie and coat find their place across the back of the couch, the young woman bending a knee and letting the other leg stick backwards like some kind of ice skater as she finally skids to a stop.

Both arms are a flexing blurr, lashing towards her fellow Ohtori student!!!

Only to suddenly stop as Kassie holds the pose, the nightlight offered gently over, while she drops something lightly atop the shorter girl's head.

It's purple, and very mitten shaped.

"This is proof that you gave it your all. Not everyone would have." She smiles.

<Pose Tracker> Homura Akemi [Ohtori Academy (8)] has posed.

After that display she just put on... well, when Kasagami comments that she doesn't do things by halves, Homura goes from pretending the book isn't there to wishing she herself wasn't. It would be nice to just disappear entirely right now. Since she cannot, Homura instead emits a miserable wobbly-mouthed sound after Kasagami insists she do the impossible and act familiar with her. It sounds suspiciously like a swallow-mumbled and hasty "haiarakisan."

Those big violet eyes make a keen audience for all those acrobatics. Like something right out of a late night kung fu movie... Homura and late night television grew well acquainted over her various hospital stays. Kasagami's words percolate more slowly thanks to the dazzling backflip distraction, and the younger girl blinks for a moment after, visibly processing.

It registers to Homura, visibly by the way her face falls again: Kasagami brought up the ski slopes. Oh god. That's just what she'd been trying to avoid. Homura got, what, a meter? A meter and a half...? How could that be a good job? Doubt draws up sore shoulders, a reminder of her snowdrift crashlanding. Then the rest of the apology...

"A-ah..." Homura fumbles for a response, thoroughly thrown. "It's okay," she starts up, hastening to let Kasagami off the hook. Surely she's being polite. The backflip cuts right in, and Homura jumps a little when the other girl lands with such swift grace and extends her arms...!

The ski lodge employee behind the desk is considerably less impressed than Kasagami's open-mouthed underclassman. He's also considerably less sleepy than he was a moment ago, and he really likes his quiet mornings. "Hey! Kid! Get down from there!" Just because the Ohtori student already /did/ get down from there, it doesn't seem to improve his mood any. Might have something to do with that all-too-distinctive tak-tak sound. With the universal service worker thousand yard stare he heads over to the table to inspect it for damage.

On reflex, Homura puts her hands out palms up to accept the nightlight back. She's even deeper red, now. Then... pluff! A soft warm mitten drops down, and she ducks a little and looks straaaiiiight up and a little cross-eyed like she can see the top of her own head. After a moment she reaches up and grabs it down.

"I thought this was lost in the snow," she wonders. "You... you um, you had it..." The rest percolates, about bravery and and the rest, and she clutches mitten and booklight to her chest. "Arigatou gozaimasu," Homura murmurs, a huddle of a girl.

"I just fell down, though," she cannot help but object, even as she sits with a flomp back into her chair. "You were so, so..." Homura retrieves the magazine and clicks off the booklight, tucking them away. She worries at the mitten with both hands. "So good," she finishes, sort of lamely. "Besides. I can't, not really." Her hospital origins are no secret to the school populace. Homura waves a helpless hand.

<Pose Tracker> Kasagami Araki [Ohtori Academy (9)] has posed.

Really, Homura is just too nice. So much so, that Kassie's first instinct after her landing and giving of the holy Mitten and Booklight is to turn her ire to the put-off employee. She makes a flourish, and confronts him with the smile of someone both outgoing as well as having deep pockets.

If she does feel bad about it, the shield of ego is a growing one. "Oh come on, it's too early in the morning to worry! I think it gives the table character if you ask me!" Kasagami Araki is every service worker's outgoing nightmare. She's /nice/! And a bit of a jerk. The poor guy is so getting a five star survey when she's done here.

And then, laughing at that blush and cross eyed look, Kassie falls into the couch. Kicking her boots off (probably to the Desk-kun's relief), she lounges. There's plenty of time for exercise. This is important.


All of that intensity dials back all of a sudden, and Homura is met with eyes of steel and white. She considers Homura's words very, very seriously. For a second, her gaze is unfocused. Eyes slowly close. There's the sound of teeth clenching for a moment as a bad memory hits her.

Then they're open, half lidded eyes peering at Homura as she makes a decision. She starts to roll down her winter athletics sleeve all the way up nearly to her right shoulder. Unlike her left, she's never bothered with hand creams to mitigate the effects of hand-biting hours of training. Little point, really. Callouses are layered on top of scarred, flame-kissed skin over taut muscles won through the kind of obsession an old warrior's family name can give someone. She balls her hand into a perfect fist.

And briefly makes a show of thrusting it in front of her away from Homura so the girl can see it flex. Slow, a practicing punch that's all form and demonstration.

"You're not wrong, Homura-chan, but you also are missing the point. I /am/ good. Because my Mother inspired me to work my butt off to /get/ good. Gave me the drive and confidence to stoke my natural talents."

Her hand then drops, and she reaches for the pot of tea with a light shuffle straight. She pours, wafts, and hmmm's. A single sugar cube, and she tries out Homura's tea. Hmmmmm! She's judging your tea choices, Homhom!

Steel side-eyes the bespectacled bookworm. She taps just shy of her left eye.

"It took me six and a half months after the fire to be able to hold a sword properly again. ...Did you know that I'm the only head of the Araki-style kenjutsu that doesn't also maintain our archery techniques in our entire family history?" Her voice is a bit bitter for a moment.

Then she smiles again, softly this time. "I guess what I'm saying, is that you have rare potential. Ignore what you can't do. Pouring your heart, sweat, and tears into something that's important that you can do is how you can be the best Homura-chan!" Another sip, and she pumps her right fist. Clench.

<Pose Tracker> Homura Akemi [Ohtori Academy (8)] has posed.

With Kasagami stationary and more outwardly calm, the transfer student finds her own heart rate slowing, too. She was finding it hard to reply at all -- it always takes her a moment, and between the intensity of the speech and the acrobatic presentation, her attempts hadn't amounted to much. Now she can just listen; and she does, with her chin down but her eyes up, and on Kasagami.

Sleeve-rolling gets Homura all embarrassed again, and her efforts not to show it get wrung out of the poor restored mitten in her lap. It's a twist of wool by the time Kasagami bares her shoulder scars, and then Homura feels awful. That had to hurt so much. She'd heard the burn ward kids, sometimes. It looks like a lot of scarring.

Big eyes follow the slow motion perfection of a punch. She's missing the point... Of course she is. A dejected but easy nod. It turns to mild alarm when Kasagami reaches for the tea but she dare not object... The sweet warmth of toasted hojicha tea floods Kasagami's taste buds, and perhaps with her reminiscing it summons childhood all the more strongly: a weak and barely caffeinated tea, for little ones and the elderly. Not the sort of thing many middle or high schoolers would want to be caught drinking.

Homura juuust looks down again, and then carefully untwists the mitten and pats it flat on her lap. "Thank you so much," she says again. For the mitten; for spending time on her. "You've... I mean... that's amazing. I'm sure you're right, Araki-san." She falls silent for a somber moment after the note on archery. "But... you've done so much to be proud of."

Homura thinks about her own parents now. It's impossible to avoid, no matter how hard she tries. She wonders if they're thinking about her, and... she cringes visibly, just imagining if they'd seen her yesterday. It's one of those little motions that's so clearly about something internal rather than anything Kasagami said. Then Homura realizes she's being a weirdo and stammers out an apology.

"I hope I can... put your advice to good use, Araki-san." Homura does, it's true. She just doesn't have any confidence in her ability to do so, not really, and so she just kinda feels... worse instead of better. And then guilty because she's wasting her senpai's time. "You are too kind. I-I'm... so glad I got my mitten back..." She really is. "I um. I'll remember what you've said, I promise." And she will.