2018-12-21 - TIMELINE 1: Waiting and Worrying

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Title: 2018-12-21 - TIMELINE 1: Waiting and Worrying

In which Yumi Ohzora takes excellent care of Homura Akemi while they wait for the Covenant of Style to return from the North Pole.


Homura Akemi and Yumi Ohzora


Hikawa Shrine

OOC - IC Date:

Fri Dec 21, 2018 - Sat March 15, 2014

<Pose Tracker> Homura Akemi [Ohtori Academy (9)] has posed.

Homura Akemi fights the incandescent brightness of transportation to the last, wanting so badly to keep her eyes open, to see them all to the very last. It proves physically impossible. Protective reflex shuts her eyelids, and she's left with a twintailed negative image of a girl against a rainbow temporarily burned into her retinas and involuntary tears flooding her cheeks thanks to the glare.

They're gone, now. Her shoulders sag, and she scrubs at her cheeks. "They can do it," she repeats to herself -- a reminder of her own parting cheer to the mahou.

Was Madoka... winking? At her?

Couldn't be.

Insidious doubt argues with the evidence of her eyes, and she shakes her head until her braids flop about. "Oh. Pardon me..." she says after to the magical cats -- /magical cats!/ -- nearby, awed by their presence and apologizing for her own. She looks toward the room's other occupant, a girl like her -- a normal girl, invited to see off the most Stylish heroes the world has ever known.

They might have even more in common... it makes Homura a bit nervous, but when is she not? The extra anxiety hardly shows thanks to that misleading baseline. She knows the other girl by name and by reputation, because they have a similar one in their respective schools. Homura gives the wheelchair a look when she steps over, that inevitable look that registers the assistance device.

The other girl's a year above her, so: "Ah... Ohzora-senpai?" Homura's twisting up the bottom edge of her uniform jacket with both hands. It'll be terribly wrinkled in no time. "Do... you think they'll be gone long? I was thinking, um. No... oh, that wouldn't work," she concludes aloud about whatever she's thinking, with a little sigh.

"Just, if they're going someplace so cold, maybe they'd like hot chocolate when they get back. But if we don't know when, it... it'll probably get cold. There's no way to get the timing exactly right."

<Pose Tracker> Yumi Ohzora [Infinity Institute (10)] has posed.

Yumi stares into what /was/ the brilliant light casting off towards the great pillar... Though she turns her head too, blinking away the way it burned into her vision with about as much success as Homura herself, probably. No tears--but she looks into the distance a little...

Now that she's done thinking about how dazzling they all are she has a chance to think again herself--and Homura apologizes, or close enough too, and--

Yumi is a gray-haired girl in glasses, too thin--she's very tall, but that's harder to tell while she's sitting down. Out in the shrine area, there's some privacy given the staircase... and given how many people /aren't/ here anymore. She doesn't look as nervous, but she glances over. She looks to the magical cats, and then to Homura, but doesn't quite /speak/ first.

There's a sketchbook in her lap, though, along with a couple other things. It's open to a brief sketch of the circle who just left, centered on Mikoto. It's still open! ...But if Homura doesn't stare down she might miss it too.

"Hm?" Yumi asks when Homura looks at her, blinking her way. The bright green tights she has on are... /not/ regulation to her uniform, one presumes. "Oh--" She tilts her head, thinks, looks back up.

"I think they'll be gone a while," she answers. Her voice is kind of quiet, but not so much /nerves/ quiet as exhaustion quiet. She's very pale. "I'm sure they can do it, but... Going up against the Queen of the whole Dark Kingdom probably takes a while. And it's not like they'll have cell service, and I don't /think/ any of them know communication magic... I mean, to get back to /us/." Though she can't be sure--she glances to the cats as if they might know--but Luna and Artemis are talking amongst themselves across the way, for the moment, and Yumi doesn't call to ask.

"But," Yumi realizes, and smiles briefly, "You know there is a way we could keep it warm--you know, like a container you'd keep tea in? But... I think it'd be okay to wait until they got here and just get the stuff together for them." She pauses, and then shakes her head, "They'll probably be pretty tired..."

Yumi looks back up to Homura, "But it's nice that you'd think of them that way--I didn't think I could do anything to help, but you just went straight to something you /could/ do. It's kind of amazing."

<Pose Tracker> Homura Akemi [Ohtori Academy (9)] has posed.

Homura Akemi's default stare orientation is downward, and so her gaze drops to Yumi's lap after taking in the girl's face from close up. She lights up just a bit, spotting those sketches -- but just a little, because there's still all that empty space where brave mahou stood a minute before.

"Mm," comes a sad sound of agreement when Yumi says they'll be gone a while. "It was probably a silly idea," Homura murmurs. Except...

It turns out that the other girl doesn't think so, and she's so expressive about why that Homura flushes a bit. "They're all just so... I can't imagine going where they're going, and to fight who they're fighting." Her shiver has nothing to do with cold, local or distant and imagined, and everything to do with the fearful Queen Beryl. "A little cocoa is nothing compared to what they're doing. But... you're so kind to say so."

She's a skinny kid too, an effect enhanced by the rumple of a slightly too large uniform. Pale, but perhaps not so much as Yumi, right now... thanks both to the flush and the other girl's extra pallor. Her glasses lenses have that smudged-up look from her earlier tears.

There's a thought on her face, clear as day, but Homura hasn't allowed it access to her mouth just yet. She twists her coat up even further during the internal debate -- would it be nosy or nice to say something? -- but she knows someone else with a sketchbook, and that helps.

"Your... your drawing... I don't mean to intrude, but, is that Minagi-san? It looks like her..." It's upside down from Homura's perspective but that's got to be her braid-sister and kitten-senpai. "Oh wow. Um, sorry. It's just, it looks so good... like her, I mean. And... you drew it just now?" Awe makes her eyes big behind smudgey glass. Another thought occurs and her voice drops some, like she's bringing up something uncomfortable -- to herself, or to Yumi.

"I um... I just read a bunch of manga when I was in the hospital." Not true -- Homura studied /hard/, kept up great grades even in tough advanced math courses from her hospital bed. But that's just not how she sees it, not how she sees herself. "Did you... draw a lot, there?"

<Pose Tracker> Yumi Ohzora [Infinity Institute (10)] has posed.

Yumi notices the glance--and briefly gives a half-smile, though she doesn't say anything at first. Yumi can tell how worried Homura is without even really trying--watching people is an old habit of hers, after all. And... she's got good reason to worry, really.

"It's small," Yumi says, "...But it's something." She pauses, and then adds, "...But I think it's scary too." She's willing to admit that much, though she wonders in the next moment what Homura is thinking and waits for her to say it.

Yumi glances down, naturally, because of course she looks at the thing that was mentioned, that's easy--and then opens her mouth, but doesn't answer at first--instead she looks up at Homura again. Homura's eyes are so /big/, and then she seems... furtive, somehow. Like...

"Some manga, huh?" she asks. But she doesn't press too hard for the moment. Instead, "Thanks--it's just a sketch, but..." She stops, pauses for a second, shakes her head. "Um, sorry. I was just hearing what Mother would tell me about false modesty. I'm glad you like it--I've been practicing since I was a little kid. What I really do best is paint, but sketching can give me something to go off of for later. And... it helps to get it out. Art's about more than just what you see, you know?"

"Mikoto-chan's a good friend. ...You know Kaname-san, right?" Who doesn't, after all?

"...Drawing something's kind of a way for me to think about my feelings about it, you know? That's why. ...But I saw, is all. It's okay; you don't need to be nervous or anything."

<Pose Tracker> Homura Akemi [Ohtori Academy (9)] has posed.

Having breached the topic of hospitals, Homura now endures her own rapid pulse as she waits to see how Yumi will respond. It feels like... something she should whisper about, because she's ashamed of what a weakling she is -- though she'd never dream of extending the same judgment to Yumi. But... she's never really had anyone to talk to about it, either.

Not just sketching, but painting... her eyes don't get bigger, exactly, but Yumi clearly makes an impression on Homura. "It's really good. No wonder... You're an artist." A quick series of eager nods confirms it, but she still adds, "Kaname-san is in my class!"

And Homura's eyes dart back to the spot where the pink haired girl stood, before she teleported away in a beam of magic and rainbows. After a moment she says, "The Covenant of Style..." because the words keep repeating in her head. "I can't believe we get to see them off like this. I just wish there was something we could do."

A beat. "So um. I guess I get why you'd want to draw something... to get your feelings out. Thanks, Ohzora-senpai. I'm glad you came, too. To see them off. I just- we've never had a chance to, um..." The two girls have met a couple of times, since their circles cross over, but only to exchange names.

"How did you meet them all? Was it through Minagi-san?" The conversation helps distract from all the horrible worry, Homura's finding. And... she just likes talking to Yumi.

<Pose Tracker> Yumi Ohzora [Infinity Institute (10)] has posed.

Yumi can be subtle. ...In point of fact, Yumi is very /good/ at being subtle, and she hasn't even mentioned the hospital in turn herself. She might in a minute--for now though, Yumi can tell the impact she's having and she can't help but smile briefly back. "Thanks. I..." She starts to say something, but thinks better of it instead. However--

"Yeah. I wish that, too. But having someone to talk to..." She trails off, shakes her head. "Nevermind. I feel the same way. It's like... I'm still studying magic, but what they can do is just... Another level. Not that I'm good at most of it anyway."

Nevermind that Yumi has a very high grade in the magic program, of course.

"...Yeah," Yumi answers. "You get it. And..." She trails off, "You never know, if... one of them might..."

Yumi stops, and instead looks back at Homura. "I almost didn't make it. They'd only let me leave if I stayed in this stupid thing instead of trying to walk, and I'll have to come back soon. I said it was somebody's birthday. I think they knew it wasn't, but..."

"It's okay, Akemi-san." Polite; her language has a little bit of refinement to it, a little bit of extra manners.

"We don't get to talk much even though everybody claims we should know each other, right? It's OK. But..." She tries to shift her thinking long enough to answer the question. It only takes her a moment. "Not all of them. Camry-san's in my class. I've met some of the others. It's kinda hard not to know Sailor Moon, or Kaname-san and Tomoe-san. And, well..." She gestures, "I know a few more of them than most girls, since I've been with the Association since middle school. ...My family's been part of it for a while."

<Pose Tracker> Homura Akemi [Ohtori Academy (9)] has posed.

"I'm sure the magic you do is amazing, Ohzora-senpai," and Homura sounds absolutely earnest. Art and magic, both! "You're so talented. It... it must make your mother proud." She goes wistful at the end there.

'You never know, if... one of them might...' Homura draws a sharp, short little breath when Yumi speaks around the great unspeakable fear, the one on both of their minds, it seems. "They're so strong, though. And so smart, and good at this." These are all true things, things Homura believes deeply. So why won't the cold knot in her stomach go away?

She tries to focus on the other girl instead of the worry, with eyes that dart around, too shy to maintain direct contact with Yumi's for long. Now she looks again at the wheelchair as it gets mentioned. "That's, ah..." What's the proper way to express sympathy for being wheelchair-bound? Homura doesn't know and the social panic flashes across her face.

"It must... not be much fun," is what finally slinks out of her mouth, even though it feels obvious. "To have to use one of those. I hope you feel better soon..."

This, though. Homura puts her foot in her mouth and knows exactly how she has, because other people have, too. "From this, I mean. It's... it sounds like you're... just sort of, having an extra hard time right now, I mean..." She flusters to a halt and feels like she's dug herself in even further.

Finally her own truth blurts out, propelled by the need to do /something/ about the awkwardness Homura is sure she's just created. "I'm sorry, Ohzora-senpai, I didn't mean to... I just did the thing to you that people do to me, and I never much liked it when they said to feel better soon. Because I knew I wouldn't, not- not /really/. They're just trying to be nice, but... I'm sorry." She bows low.

"They um, they do say that. That we should know each other already. I hope I haven't um, haven't assumed too much."

<Pose Tracker> Yumi Ohzora [Infinity Institute (10)] has posed.

She /does/ sound earnest. Yumi can tell--but whatever upward motion her demeanor was taking pauses, at the matter of her mother. "...Mother... Yeah. She's always telling me... That I'm going to do great things. Even on bad days."

Homura's sharp little breath tells her maybe she shouldn't say something like that--that the younger girl isn't prepared to think about it, is actively afraid, and so Yumi shakes her head, looks up. "You're right," she says. "They really are. They're all amazing--so you're right, they'll all come back." Does she know that that's true? No, she doesn't. But she can make it /sound/ like she does, if it'll help the other girl. "I'm just in a gloomy mood, is all. They have one another to rely on, and Kaname-san needs to come back and tell you about it, right?"

Homura does seem really shy; but... Yumi waits through the social panic, and there's the answer. Not much fun. She might answer, but--

When Homura blurts everything out and finally bows in apology, Yumi is silent for an instant and then--then she laughs, faintly. It's a happy sound, somehow, quiet and a little awkward but still there. "Sorry--"

She smiles up at Homura. "C'mon, stand back up. There's nobody else here to push me back inside while we wait, right?" A beat, "It's not much fun. And you're right, this is kind of a worse time than usual--there's nothing wrong with my legs, I'm just... really fatigued, right now. Kind of weak. So they make me sit in this so I don't fall again, until I get enough better to walk around normally. ...It's a long story."

"So I don't mind. And anyway you get it, right?" she asks. "...They tell me that, too. I'm probably heading back there after this... But."

She extends her hand, towards Homura. "You don't have to try so hard. I'm the senpai here... so I'm the one who's going to be taking care of /you/, not the other way around. Okay?"

She smiles. It looks probably more genuine than any expression she's had in this conversation so far at all.

<Pose Tracker> Homura Akemi [Ohtori Academy (9)] has posed.

That must be so nice, Homura thinks about Yumi's mother telling her she'll do great things. Because she does not get it, not at all. Her own parental damage blinds her.

All she can do is nod when Yumi agrees that the mahou are amazing, that they'll all come back. Homura needs that to be true. It's not as if the other girl put the fear into her head, anyhow... it was already there. "Kaname-san always comes back with some sort of wonderful story, if I can't go see for myself... and Tomoe-senpai has us all over, to hear them over cakes and tea." Violet eyes light up -- she cherishes those times, and it shows.

Then: chagrin, and bowing! The laughter surprises her -- not that Homura is ever surprised that someone would laugh when she does something so embarrassing, but she doesn't expect it to be such a happy, inclusive sound. Obedient, she straightens when her senpai asks, and yep, her cheeks are still pink. "Oh, s-sure! I'd be happy to, Ohzora-senpai!"

And it shows -- pushing Yumi inside is something she can do, a small way to help. "That all... oh, I see," she says as the other girl explains the fatigue and the rest. "Better safe than sorry, right? But... they um, they really don't make wheelchairs very... maneuverable, do they? I only have to be in one on the way procedures and tests and things, but... even with those big wide hospital halls they always bump into things..." She winces at the memories.

A hand offered, with the kindest of social clemency: Homura's jitters soothe even more, and she releases the hopelessly wrinkled hem of her jacket to take that offer. Her own hand is small and soft, and the skin's noticeably cool thanks to poor cardiac health. "O... okay. Thank you so much, senpai."

Homura resolves to try /harder/ for her thoughtful senpai. Starting with helping her get out of the cold, as requested! She dares a nervous little squeeze before releasing Yumi's hand. "Did you want to go inside now?" If yes, she takes up the wheelchair handles and... strains, even though Yumi is bird-light for her height, because Homura is mouseling-weak for her size. She manages it, though, utterly inspired by the other girl.

"Is that... um, I hope you don't mind my asking. But, is that why you're uh, gloomy?" Homura uses Yumi's word. "Because you're feeling so fatigued? If so... I, I get that, too." Briefly she goes from trying not to think about the danger the mahou are in, to trying not to think about sports day and despair.

<Pose Tracker> Yumi Ohzora [Infinity Institute (10)] has posed.

Parts of it /are/. One thing Yumi doesn't have is the fear that she is nothing. Not /that/ at least.

But she isn't lying--not /really/... nevertheless, Yumi doesn't fool herself that she isn't being deceptive. But sometimes in order to give people what they need, you have to hold something back, or focus on something different. So she smiles, and she lets herself focus on those times Homura's talking about. "You get to go with them usually, huh? That must make this scarier."

But she lets Homura have something to /do/, and it helps her too; she does get cold quickly and easily. There's an easy room to get to, just inside--just one where Rei might usually have her friends over, nothing particularly private--Yumi nods along. "Yeah," she says. "They really don't. Like I said, I don't /usually/ need to be in one, but... Well, I barely got them to let me out as it is, you know? They only even did it because Mother said it was okay."

...She's not really sure /why/. But she isn't going to question it.

"I hate it," she admits, without venom. "But anyway--" She squeezes Homura's hand. "You're welcome. Yeah, we might as well--I shouldn't be the only one who gets to sit down, right?"

It... well, Yumi can tell it's a little hard.

There's not much she can do about that, though. At least it's not far.

"Hm?" Yumi asks, and then pauses. Gloomy... That is the word she used, isn't it? There are a lot of minefields here. And the question, well...

"...I could see why you'd think that," Yumi says. "But it's not why. I feel... Well, a few things, but I got to see Mikoto-chan in action. This kinda sucks but that's all it is. I can't really dwell too much on it with what's going on. The whole Association is going crazy with it, if you know what to look for. ...A lot of people are counting on them."

"...It's because..." Yumi looks away, and then back to Homura, turning herself if she has to. "My father..." She trails off. "Don't feel like you have to... do anything, okay? It's awkward. You know how that is. But my father... died, last month. Right around entrance exams. So..." She gestures. "The funeral wasn't that long ago. It was..." She sighs, and looks--confused, for a moment, as if remembering something that doesn't make sense, but she shakes her head again. "Anyway that's all. ...It's kinda weird to be hanging out at somebody's house without them, huh?"

<Pose Tracker> Homura Akemi [Ohtori Academy (9)] has posed.

Up to this point, Homura and Yumi have only shared rooms with larger numbers of other people, which invariably results in Wallflower Homura. Really, she didn't /have/ any other modes until recently. Now: it's just the two of them, and Yumi has indeed taken good care of Homura as a supportive senpai should. Homura's ease shows in how she shares her thoughts, rather than stoppering them.

"Sometimes they take me along, or... or more often, things just happen when we're out." Youma can be /rude/ that way. "I sometimes wonder if I ever experienced a monster attack before, and just don't know it because of... you know." A thought occurs. "Japan has so many earthquakes! But, how many of them were actually... monster attacks? That people just remember as earthquakes...?"

The next thought, she doesn't voice, though it's vivid: suddenly a news headline occurs to Homura. MASSIVE MYSTERY EARTHQUAKE STRIKES NORTH POLE. Is that how they'd find out, after waiting and waiting and waiting, that the Covenant of Style would not be returning?

She's quiet, and nods along as Yumi talks about wheelchairs, then gets to pushing one. And that does help, it's more than worth all the strain on noodly arms and legs. She's helping, Yumi needs her! There /is/ a chair waiting in that room Yumi directed them to, and Homura /does/ sit in it. "Thanks for- for letting me help."

Yumi's turn to talk, and the answer to Homura's question is far deeper than expected. It shows on her face because the girl's an open book. The other girl shares her painful answer, but does so in such a thoughtful and empathetic manner that it's still clear who's taking care of whom, here. "Oh...! ...oh." First surprise, then sad realization.

"That's, no wonder. I'm sor- er..." It's sympathy she wants to express, and Homura is self-aware enough to have some inkling how 'sorry' sounds coming from her. And Yumi'd said... "You're here worrying about them, and taking... taking care of me..." She looks down, then up again.

"You worked so hard to come support them, too. Ohzora-senpai, that's so thoughtful of you. And, and you were thinking you couldn't do anything to help..." Clearly, Homura disagrees.

And doubt whispers in her ear, insidious and inescapable: look, see? Yumi Ohzora is a thoughtful friend, an artist, a student of magic -- and she's lived in the hospital, too... what excuse do you have now, what excuse did you ever have? The shadow of it flickers across her face before she hides it -- this, this is the one lie she's slowly learning to tell with her too-expressive face. How to look less obviously sad; how to /not/ worry Madoka and Mami and Eri and Usagi, how to be less of a burden to them.

Instead she looks up, and around, at the room in the shrine. "It is weird...! I um, I feel like I shouldn't move too much even, like it'd be intruding somehow..." And she gives a self-conscious little shrug but it's one that lets Yumi in on the joke, ever so tentatively. "Like I'm not supposed to be here, even though I know it's okay by Hino-san..."