Homecoming (Minako Aino, Rei Hino)

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Homecoming (Minako Aino, Rei Hino)
Date of Cutscene: 13 October 2016
Location: Pikarigaoka/Uminari City - Hikawa Shrine
Synopsis: A familiar face is back in Tokyo but is not yet quite ready to face her should-be accusers.
Cast of Characters: Minako Aino, Rei Hino

It was a cool and windy autumn day at the Hikawa shrine, leaves of yellow, gold and red falling from the trees and leaving a beautiful, sparse carpet of color upon the ancient stone walkways. Though far from empty it was a peaceful place to be, and an excellent place for quiet thought and reflection.

Several people were taking the opportunity to for exactly that, one of which whom was a young woman with long golden blonde hair with a large distinctive red ribbon at the back of her head, wearing a simple red jumper skirt over a white blouse. Normally this might stand out, but it was relatively tame amongst the reds and golds of the leaves.

At first she had wandered the outermost edges of the shrine grounds where there were fewer people, eyes studying the change in the trees as they prepared to shed their autumn leaves. Once they had been green, young, and spry, drawing in the life giving light of the sun and providing sustenance to the tree. Now though they were very beautiful they were only a hindrance, something that must be shed and cast off to ensure the survival of the tree itself, ancient and far more important than they.

After some time contemplating in silence she headed towards the shrine itself, only for some pang of worry and doubt to strike at her heart. No, she thought, not yet. Very soon, but not today. She wanders more, beginning to wonder if coming here was a mistake, only to see a group of children tying their fortune papers to a tree with the help of an adult. After they finish she looks to the fortunes tied, only to notice a small wire hanging empty on the branch.

Ah, she realizes, it must have fallen along with the leaves, someone's good luck blown away on the winds of change. Her first instinct is to search the ground with her eyes but it's no use, the fortune must have been blown away long ago. Acting on a whim she removes the wire, the physical reminder of the missing fortune. She's about to put it in her pocket when a thought occurs to her, blue eyes returning to the strips of paper recently placed, only to sweep over to the shrine where they're sold.

Another brief moment of doubt, followed by a purse of her lips in mild aggravation. Who was she if she was going to let something as silly as that stop her? No, maybe she won't go over to the shrine, but she can do things her own way, as she always has. She once again looks to the fallen leaves, carpeting the ground, walking until she finds one the exact right color of yellow-orange gold. A triumphant smirk shows on her lips after she carefully winds the wire around the stem of the leaf; it won't fall away so easily this time.

It wouldn't be right to tie it to the tree without some wish or fortune, though, and she briefly considers forging her own luck for extreme riches, fame, and beauty. But then another idea strikes her, and she becomes thoughtful once more, standing for minutes beneath the tree with her playful expression once more returning to something more introspective. Blue eyes half lid as they regard the the golden leaf in her hand, and she quietly digs into her pocket for a pen. The only one she finds is the same golden yellow as the leaf, it's cap topped with a five pointed star.

She hesitates as the tip of the pen nears the leaf, eyes widening slightly in sudden realization. Pen meets plant and moves carefully over it's surface, leaving behind black ink on the surface as easily as if it were paper. The pen is put away, and the leaf is returned to the branch of its tree, now held firmly in place by the wire. It isn't Tanabata anymore, but hopefully the gods of this shrine will understand and go easy on her if the break in tradition upsets them.

She looks up at the leaf amongst the papers, hands held behind her back, only to startle at the sound of wings above followed by the cry of ravens. She knows what that means.

The miko's arrival came just as announced, listening to the call of her ravens. Rei walks down the stony path just in time to see a flash of familiar blonde hair vanishing behind a tree. Her foot stops midstep. Violet eyes stare widely at the spot where Minako once again disappeared.

It tugs at her heart, because while Rei knows that she left for a reason, she came back for a reason, too. It would be easier if it could be all one way or another, either a clean break or a full acceptance, but they can't have it either way, could they? Minako can't break off because she's a Sailor Senshi, and she can't come around because...

... because... just... so much.

Rei's sigh is heavy like the weight of the world. Her fingers go to her forehead, thumb to her temple, and her hand clenches. Her eyes go towards the fortune papers, noticing one in particular that seemed particularly odd. Odd because it was a leaf.

How ridiculously improper! Rei almost wants to just ignore it. She's not in the mood for nonsense right now. Yet, she is this shrine's miko. She should at least... deal with it somehow.

When Rei approaches the fortune leaf, she cups it in her hand, lifting it and the branch it's hanging off of in order to read it.

'I wish I was able to be honest with myself sooner.'

She really didn't need two surprises in one day. Especially not from the same person. There's a crack in her voice when she says, "Minako-chan..."

Rei sniffles, for no reason other than there must be dust in the air. She mutters, "Seriously, you couldn't even ask me for a slip of paper?"

The miko releases the leaf. It's... not really that improper, now that she thinks about it. It's the intent and spirit behind it, right? Whether it's paper or a leaf, both came from trees, so the differences are largely superficial.

Rei turns away from the tree, and away from the place where Minako vanished. When the veteran soldier wants to talk, Rei will listen, but until then any pursuit would be pointless. Rei really has a lot of work to get back to.