2019-07-14 - A Small Reunion

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A Small Reunion

Hotaru finally wakes up, and goes looking for Chibi-Usa, fearful of what she'll find. A kind stranger suggests that gift-giving can smooth over any awkwardness.


Chibi-Usa Tsukino, Hotaru Tomoe


Casa Tsukino

OOC - IC Date:

7/14/2019 - 06-14-2015

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

Another warm June day, full of possibility, bright, and... presaging the inevitable rain one of these days that isn't just yet. No, today defies the season, and everyone should be enjoying it! Which is why...

...The Tsukino home is very quiet at the moment. No, not quite; the Tsukino home is quiet at the moment because there is precisely 1 (one) Usagi within it, instead of two, and the smaller Usagi present is looking out her window wistfully, feet swinging idly under her chair as she leans her face against a hand propped up on a desk. She has things to do, of course. She's not going to skip out on them like some people. But...


She siiiighs once again, large red eyes really staring more into space than at anything in particular right now, Juuban elementary uniform still on. There's something to be said for a nice day, sure, but...

Chibi-Usa just doesn't really feel like it right this moment.

<Pose Tracker> Hotaru Tomoe [Infinity Institute (7)] has posed.


Hotaru stumbles out of a door and finds herself in downtown Tokyo. She rubs fitfully at her eyes to clear them -- then again -- then again -- but it doesn't go away.

It, of course, being SUMMER.

"Aa," she whimpers, in considerable distress. "I didn't... I didn't know..."

Her breath starts to come in faster and faster little hitches, and her chest makes an unfortunate bubbling sound.

Her knees find the sidewalk. Her forehead finds her palm.

She struggles.


Hotaru walks, head tilted disconsolately downwards, not really paying attention to where she's going.

Which means, of course, that left to her own devices, her feet are taking her DIRECTLY to Chibi-Usa's house.

She realizes it a few blocks away and stops dead. The adult who was walking behind her accidentally bumps into her, and there's a bit of a tumble.

"I'm sorry!" whispers Hotaru, mortified.

"Oh, it's quite all right, I should have been paying more attention!" replies the nice lady with the dark green hair. She springs back to her feet with admirable ease and offers Hotaru a hand up. Studying her face, she can't help but frown sympathetically.

"Oh dear," says the lady. "Whatever is the matter?"

Hotaru swallows, unused to the sympathetic attention of strangers. "Um-- I--"

"Why don't you come with me to my shop, and you tell me all about it?"


"Beautiful," breathes Hotaru, looking around the florist's store. She has long had an admiration for growing things of all kinds. The fact that none of these plants have flowers yet doesn't put her off at all.

"Thank you!" replies the lady, who has introduced herself as Lulu Teruno. "I made them all myself!"

"...made?" wonders Hotaru.

"Oh yes," Lulu replies with a cheerful grin. "I bred them specifically to be the perfect gift: they get all their nutrients from the air! So you don't have to remember to water them, even, you can just leave them in the window and they'll flower all on their own..."

"...gift..." Hotaru repeats, thoughtfully.

"That's right!" Lulu prompts. "I think it's just the thing for your situation. If you're worried that you hurt your friend's feeling, showing back up again with a gift is exactly the right note to set!"

Hotaru nods... then flushes. "But, I don't..." She's in the black leggings and tunic that she likes to wear around the house, plus a vastly oversized jacket that is completely unseasonal. She feels around in the pockets. Nothing. That would be Papa's money, anyway.

"Here," Lulu declarers, handing her a pot. "You're my very first customer, so I'm giving it to you for free."


The doorbell rings.

On the stoop, once Chibi-Usa opens the front door, awaits a cutely potted green plant. It has soft leaves and a promising bobble-headed but as-yet unopened bud.

There's a note underneath it, unmistakably in Hotaru's (prim, careful) handwriting.

'I'm sorry for all the trouble I've caused,' it says, simply.

A slim black shape is just disappearing around the corner of the front gate.

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

The clouds pass by slowly. Some people move down the street. There's a car. None of these things can hold Chibi-Usa's attention, each seeing to drag at her focus but come away pulling nothing at all. Glumly, she pushes back away from her desk and stands up again, sliding her chair neatly back into place and padding off towards the stairs again. Maybe if she does something around the house...

As it turns out there is no nice interlude, though. Just Chibi-Usa making it to walk up to Ikuko and start to say something, before the doorbell rings, and since she's busy--

"Oh, Chibi-Usa-chan, would you?--"

And in moments there's a certain small lady opening the door curiously, looking around. "Hello...?" Pause. Blink blink of big eyes. Her odango punctuate her puzzlement just existing as she looks down. "Who rings the doorbell and doesn't--"

"oh! It's so cute!" Chibi-Usa blinks, and kneels down to gather up the potted green plant, and then her jaw drops lightly in shock as she immediately recognizes the handwriting. "This--"

She looks around, sees a shape. "Hotaru-chan!" Chibi-Usa calls, even though she can't quite see her and--

A glance after, a glance to the plant, and the little pink blur makes her decision quickly, taking her new present with her as she shoots off, fastest--

...She is not the fastest girl in her class. She is too small for that. But she's sure making a good impression of it now, running with a potted green plant in her arms for the gate. "Wait!"

<Pose Tracker> Hotaru Tomoe [Infinity Institute (7)] has posed.


Hotaru stood on the stoop, working up the nerve to hit the doorbell, for at least a solid five or ten minutes. She chewed her lip to the quick while thinking about how badly she'd wronged her best and only friend in the world, what she must have put her through.

It was only when the pot made a clatter against the plate it's on that she startled herself into hitting the button.

And then she lost her nerve completely and bolted.


Hotaru is extra not the fastest girl in her own class, if she's even still enrolled, a thought that hasn't occurred to her yet and probably never will (she takes Infinity Institute's mysteriously permissive attitude about her absences for granted, having never known any other life).

So, it's fair to say that a bolting Hotaru has an extremely distinctive gait. She's very long-legged but with all of the drawbacks and none of the disadvantages -- unwieldy as a fawn.

She clatters down the block with too-long strides and too-unsteady arms. Her shoulders are askew, one too high and one too low, and already her spine is shaking with rough breaths that seem to just explode out of her, her fragile frame unable to contain them properly.

Chibi-Usa's call makes her tuck her head to her chin and fist her hands in her coat pockets and pour on the speed, which is to say that the outcome is foregone: she goes sprawling, just at the edge of the street.

Her eyes screw shut on impact. She can feel tears behind them, stinging and hot just like her concrete-bitten palms. But she won't cry. She mustn't. She's already caused more than enough trouble for the only person who was kind to her.

"Hnn," she moans, she breathes. "Hnn."

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

On the other hand, Chibi-Usa found herself floating upward at the thought of her best friend being here and still hasn't come down exactly--though she isn't literally holding her breath, having sprung into motion without so much as a first or second thought of 'the door' or 'not running after girls who don't run very well' or 'what she was doing a minute ago.'


Tiny legs powered by a much larger heart, Chibi-Usa races across the sidewalk until the street, and when Hotaru falls--"Oh--!"

She isn't fast enough to catch her before hitting the ground, but she's fast enough that it's almost close. Within the next moment, Hotaru has hit the ground, eyes closed, but:

The plant is gently on the sidewalk nearby.

Chibi-Usa herself is abrubtly there, kneeling down, reaching out to gently wrap arms about her very best friend and hold onto her, utterly soft with the concern of her having been hurt but also entirely open-heartedly fierce because--

"You're here!" she says, and nothing in her voice is anywhere near the idea that she feels troubled at all. "...Aaa, I didn't mean to distract you! Um--hold on, I'll--we can go to my house!"

Was there something about crying? Because Hotaru might feel her sleeve getting damp before the small pink girl in the process of picking her up does, "You're really...!"

It's kind of a jumble, but then, it's not like any of her feelings are hiding, either.

<Pose Tracker> Hotaru Tomoe [Infinity Institute (7)] has posed.

Hotaru holds very, very still within Chibi-Usa's arms.

Her breathing slows, then deepens, then steadies.

She's whispering something.

"Chibi-Usa-chan," she repeats. "Oh, Chibi-Usa-chan!"

And her eyes, which she's kept shut, as though opening them would risk ending this dream like a popped bubble, finally and reluctantly open, eyelids rising like the curtains at the theater.

Her head lifts, her more literal curtain of hair swinging back across her cheeks to reveal her face, which is overwrought with mingled fear and relief and sorrow and regret, and most of all affection, the engine that drives all these other, more difficult feelings.

Revealed, her violet irises are, as usual, chilling at first glance -- as icy cold as the void of space. A distant, silent vision to behold.

But Chibi-Usa knows better than anyone what lies behind that.

"I'm sorry, Chibi-Usa-chan," she sobs. "I'm so sorry..."

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

Steadies--but that's proof that it's there. So is the little prickle of asphalt on knees, and the prettiest shade of violet that Chibi-Usa has never seemed to find cold or unwelcome at all. What does she have to fear about all of that?

Her gaze is red warmth and joy and some worry and questions but above all else, affection as boundless as anything... When she actually pulls back enough that her eyes are visible, anyway.

"You're here," she repeats, and beams, despite the tears that linger around her eyes that she has to blink away to see through properly. "Oh--"

She shifts closer again for a moment and hugs, shaking her head. "Why are you sorry?" she asks, genuinely confused to say the least, unable to comprehend a reason it should be that way.

"You're here! I knew you'd come back, I--!"

"Oh, but... why were you running?"

Ye-jin Song walks over from Akihabara Electric Town.

<Pose Tracker> Hotaru Tomoe [Infinity Institute (7)] has posed.

Hotaru hangs her head, though she leans into the hug.

"Buh-because it's summer," she stammers. "We... we had so many plans together, and I never, never even called or wrote or anything. I left you behind. I'm sorry. It's, I ran because I was afraid you'd be mad, and I just, couldn't face it... you're the last person I ever want to get hurt because of me..."

She pushes away her hair with suddenly clumsy fingers, when it threatens to swing back into the way. She doesn't want it to come between them. She doesn't want anything to come between them.

"I didn't mean to leave," she says, more coherently, gazing up at the cherry-red perfection of Chibi-Usa's eyes, suddenly transfixed, suddenly calm. "I didn't even know I was gone, until today. I mean... I knew I was sick, but I thought it was just, a day or two, not all this time."

Her brow knits at an unhappy thought.

"Was Kaori-san mean to you?" she worries, suddenly. "She never said anything about anyone coming to visit..."

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

"...I knew you must have had a good reason," Chibi-Usa answers softly, full of a clear faith. "I'm not mad! I'm just happy to see you!"

She bites her lip, thinking--a reflexive expression as she thinks back to that time, only briefly away before she's looking back again without actually looking away in the first place. "Oh!" Sick, all that time... It is an unhappy thought, but--

Pink odango shake as Chibi-Usa answers negative before she even speaks. "Mm-mm! Um, she wasn't..."

"Nobody was even there," she explains, though Hotaru not knowing it makes her doubt for an instant. "Whenever I'd go over it was like nobody'd even been there for a while..."

"But! But if you were that sick then you couldn't have told me or anything so there's even less reason to be mad! Though, um..." Pause. "Did you hurt yourself falling? It's okay, I've got some bandages..." She thinks. Cherry red is right, full of life. It doesn't... quite all...

That matters less--Chibi-Usa just puts out her hand and takes the fingers that were pushing hair away into her own, clumsy a little in a small way herself but earnest. "If you have to take a minute to think it out that's okay too. It must've been really bad if you don't remember at all."

<Pose Tracker> Hotaru Tomoe [Infinity Institute (7)] has posed.

That faith -- that happiness -- is a cool hand on a fevered brow. It's panacea spirited from the heart of the deepest jungle. It's the fountain of youth. It's a miracle.

Hotaru's smile appears. How can it not? It's trembling -- she's trembling -- but...

Forgive her a few more shed tears. At least they're tears of joy. She wipes them away with the back of her hand, then surrenders it to Chibi-Usa to hold.

"No, no, I'm okay," she reassures her friend, and it does seem to be true.

The idea of the house being empty gives her pause. She takes a longer one, as she's invited to.

"When I'm really sick," she says, finally, gazing at the middle distance of possible explanations, "I'm not usually treated at home. Papa takes me to his lab. I guess... if he knew we weren't going back for a long time... maybe he just packed everything up?"

Her focus returns to the present, and to the present before her -- her best friend.

"Mm," she agrees, as to things having been really bad, softly and shyly. "I know... I told you, once, about the blackouts. This... feels like that, just... it must have lasted, a really long time. I do remember... there were... dreams..."

She looks like she's about to drift off.

But instead she shakes her head, shakes the reverie away.

"Today, I woke up, and I was by myself, and I felt a lot better, so... I went out... I'm glad I got to see you. I'm glad you're okay."

She focuses even further, looks Chibi-Usa over, searchingly.

"Are you... okay?" she wonders. "Are things... okay?"

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

Chibi-Usa would forgive a lot more than that without so much as the hint of a question. When reassured that Hotaru's okay, her smile beams that much brighter, relief about as obvious as a sunrise through the fog. From there it's listening--and--

"Ohhh..." The explanation does make sense; if it's normal for them, then, "I guess that's why, then!" Guilelessly, she's more than happy to focus on Hotaru instead, especially given what they're talking about, and the fact that her presence is the important thing here.

"Yeah... I remember. I see..." Dreams. She worries--but Hotaru sticks around, so the smaller of the two nods firmly. "I'm happy you did! It's so good to see you!"

As the question's turned on her, she tilts her head, as if having to think about it when she hadn't really been on that track in the first place, and finding, "No, I'm... I'm okay! I'm great, even! It's..."

She thinks back, to the last while, and finds herself saying, "Things are actually... Good, lately. It seemed rough for a while, but... everybody's a lot happier now. Some scary things have happened but it's worked out, I think."

She hasn't finished her mission yet, but...

"So there's nothing to worry about."

<Pose Tracker> Hotaru Tomoe [Infinity Institute (7)] has posed.

Suddenly it's Hotaru's turn to bundle Chibi-Usa up in the tightest of squeezes. The tightest of her squeezes, anyway, which is a little bit like being hugged by a moth.

"I'm so glad," she whispers in her ear. "I'm so, so glad..."

She leans into her, lets their cheeks touch. When they're on the ground like this together, they're the same height.

But there's a car coming -- still safely distant -- and it's well past time they got out of the street. She manages to get up, knock-kneed and pidgeon-toed, and in short order they're back on the sidewalk proper, which is to say, the Tsukino driveway.

Hotaru looks over at the house, then back at Chibi-Usa, and the pot at their feet.

"Oh, don't forget that," she adds. "It's a wonderful plant, a new plant... apparently you don't even need to water it, it gets everything it needs right out of the air. I was told that it opens into a beautiful red blossom... I hope it will keep you good company."

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

The road! Chibi-Usa, frankly, forgot about it, all those nice sensory details about the ashpalt aside. It just didn't seem terribly important, certainly not compared to the alternative. If ever one wondered how the light felt about the math chasing it, well--

They can just look.

Chibi-Usa, once she sees Hotaru safely up, stands again, and once more she is shorter and her presence is not that much smaller for it. She dusts herself off, looks over Hotaru--

"Of course!" she chirps back. "--Ooooh does it really??? Wow..." Chibi-Usa is already bending to pick back up the pot and hold it in both hands, where it takes up a lot of the space in front of her because she is small and it has to hold the whole plant and its soil and everything. "What a nice plant..." Pause. "Even Usagi could take care of that."

She smiles again, "I um--well I couldn't just leave it but I wanted to go after you, so... ehehe..."

"I'll put it right in my window where I can see it!" She turns towars the driveway, expectant of Hotaru joining her clearly. "Ikuko-mama will be happy to see you too. Are you hungry?"

She could as easily have said, 'Stay? Spend time here!' and meant the same thing.