For the Coming Year

By chance, Makoto and Hiroshi both end up at the ECFH on New Year's Eve, and exchange good wishes and more for the year to come.

Date: 2019-01-01
Pose Count: 20
Makoto Kino 2019-01-01 01:28:38 102159
New Year's Eve, 2018, marks the first time in three years that the Earth Court domicile isn't hosting half of the magical population of Tokyo... which means it's also the first New Year's Eve in three years that Makoto isn't spending practically the entire evening working in the kitchen.

She's honestly not quite sure how she feels about it yet. On the one hand, it's nice to be free to enjoy the evening, but on the other hand, well... it does leave her feeling a bit at a loss for what to do with herself. In the morning she'll meet the other girls at Hikawa for the annual first shrine visit of the new year, but for now, tacitly halfway banned from the kitchen, she's at loose ends.

What this ends up meaning is that she's wandered over to the ECFH anyway, letting herself in with the foolish smile of someone who knows she's doing something ridiculous but oh well.
Hiroshi Takeba 2019-01-01 01:44:36 102160
It is strangely quiet in the apartments. Or perhaps not-strangely quiet. After all, it's not close to midnight yet; early evening on New Year's is often pre-gathering. Kohaku is playing on the television, because of course it is, but is largely unwatched, because there's only one person in the room and it may very well be strangely difficult to imagine Hiroshi Takeba watching two twenty-five-plus-member teams in a singing contest. For four and a half hours.

What Hiroshi is doing is assembling mochi and fruit into traditional New Year's decorations for good luck. This is ... not something that has generally happened for the parties, either in the form of kagami mochi to begin with, or in the form of Hiroshi being anywhere near the place. He pauses and steps back to bow toward Makoto in greeting.
Makoto Kino 2019-01-01 01:54:47 102161
"Ah--" It's a short, surprised little sound that escapes Makoto, before her face lights up in a pleased smile and she answers the bow in kind. "Takeba-san, happy new year! It's good to see you again."

A quick glance around the living room as she straightens confirms her initial impression that he's the only person currently in residence, and though her smile doesn't falter her eyebrows lift a little. "I hope the guys didn't invite you over and then abandon you to your own devices."
Hiroshi Takeba 2019-01-01 02:03:00 102162
"I may not have notified them when I arrived," Hiroshi admits. "I wouldn't be surprised if some of them are sleeping in anticipation of being up from midnight to dawn. That is what some people do at their age." Or go out drinking earlier -- but he's not about to note that as a possibility to Makoto. Definitely not to Makoto.

He glances over his shoulder toward the hallway, but there is no magical appearance of a very tall person with a great deal of hair. "Is there no-one else here to greet you? Please forgive my poor gestures in their place. Happy new year."
Makoto Kino 2019-01-01 02:16:11 102163
"Thank you." Makoto shakes her head after she says it, a cheerful flick of brown curls as though to say there's nothing to forgive. "Knowing them, they might be out pregaming. Or just enjoying not having a party to host for once, and I wouldn't blame them."

She lets out a little hitch of a laugh as she comes farther into the room. "I did just invite myself over without telling anyone I was coming, so it's fine. But I'm glad to have run into you. I hope you've been doing well - it's been a while."
Hiroshi Takeba 2019-01-01 02:32:45 102164
"We'll both be surprises for them," Hiroshi concludes. "Though one more welcome than the other, I'm certain." He bows slightly to Makoto again, then studies the little stacks - large mochi disc, smaller mochi disc, fortunately named citrus - then apparently decides that the residents get to decide where they're putting them, and goes to wash his hands. "I've been ... well." He says the last word as if it confuses him a little, or as if he's not entirely certain about its application. "A little at loose ends. The things that used to seem important to me seem much less so now, and I haven't found anything to take their place. But there are many worse things in the world." He hasn't been turned into a monster this year! That's an improvement. "Have you been well?" He steals a glance at Makoto sideways as he asks that, examining her hands, her clothes, the places around her eyes where tiredness or the lack of it show. "Yourself, and with school?"
Makoto Kino 2019-01-01 02:48:00 102165
She listens, head slightly tilted, focused enough on thoughts of his well-being that it takes Mako a second to realize he's just asked after hers. "Ah," she says, and lifts her hands in an abortive little gesture. "I've been doing all right. Busy, with one thing and another. It's not all that much longer until graduation... assuming I pass the exams, but I have enough people helping me study that even I should be able to pull through."

She's all genial self-deprecation, hands clasping behind her back as she admires the kagami mochi. "I feel like I know what you mean, a little. It doesn't quite seem real yet."
Hiroshi Takeba 2019-01-01 02:55:17 102166
"Even you? You seem like a very bright girl. Do you have some kind of trouble?" Hiroshi sounds, and looks, genuinely confused. Apparently the idea that Makoto might not be a superhero in all respects has never occurred to him. "Or is it just that you're busy enough looking after these young men that it distracts you? If so, that is deeply unfair of them, and I will have words with my son on the subject."
Makoto Kino 2019-01-01 03:00:04 102167
She can't hold back the surprised laughter that bubbles up from her throat. "Oh, no, no," Makoto protests, lifting her hands again as though to forestall any such words-having. "It's not their fault. I'm just a terrible student; I always have been. Ami-chan and Mamoru-niisan and Neil help me a lot, though, so I've been managing somehow."
Hiroshi Takeba 2019-01-01 03:19:24 102168
The urge to rail against how obviously unfair the classes must be that Makoto considers herself a terrible student is visibly bitten down. "Well," Hiroshi says instead, and then again, failing to come up with anything better, "Well. I'm very glad they're helping you."

At least he is no longer having the moments of eyes-wide shock that MASATO SANJOUIN HELPS HER WITH HER STUDYING. Ahem.

He draws a breath as if about to ask who this Ami-chan is, and then perhaps he considers what meeting Usagi was like, because he withdraws from the subject carefully and glances around the kitchen, a little at a loss. Then looks over at Mako again.

(It may possibly be a little amusing that Hiroshi, whose son towers over almost everyone not using supernatural abilities to increase their height, has to look up at Makoto.)

"If I may ask a personal question," he says somewhat cautiously. "When you are not obliged to wear a uniform. May I ask what sort of colors you prefer?"
Makoto Kino 2019-01-01 03:33:15 102169
If Makoto is visibly puzzled by the question, she doesn't seem in any way put off by being asked. It's only a minor change of mental gears before she answers, "I suppose there aren't a lot of colors I don't like, but pink is my favorite. Or green." Hiroshi will have no way of knowing why she seems, for a moment, ruefully amused to be admitting this aloud. "If we're talking about things to wear, green probably looks better on me."

The battle against curiosity is a brief and losing one. "Why do you ask?" Mako wonders, and then quirks a lopsided grin. "Or should I not--" He can see it on her face the moment in which her train of thought derails off onto some tangent as some other thought occurs to her. "--oh! This is completely random, but would you excuse me for just a second, Takeba-san? There was something I was hoping to give you, if the guys haven't run off with all of it."
Hiroshi Takeba 2019-01-01 03:39:07 102170
Cue bow. "You are always excused, Kino-san. Though certainly I am unworthy of the gifts you have offered me already, let alone more." Look! A reprieve from answering her question! Hiroshi clings to it no matter the embarrassment.
Makoto Kino 2019-01-01 03:45:37 102171
"I'm sorry for my rudeness - I'll be right back, I just don't want to forget, while you're here--" She's still spilling apologies even as she scoots off across the room and vanishes through one of the other doorways.

As promised, it doesn't take very long. Soon enough, Makoto re-emerges, and when she does she's cradling a glass bottle in both hands. She even managed to find some red and gold ribbon to tie around it, appropriately auspicious colors for the holiday.

"With my best wishes for the coming year," she says, presenting the bottle to Hiroshi with a pride she can't entirely repress.
Hiroshi Takeba 2019-01-01 03:49:11 102172
"There is no rudeness at all --" Competing protests are cut off by her vanishing, and Hiroshi bows again at her reappearance. And yet again as he accepts the bottle with both hands. "You honor me far too greatly," he says, then blinks at the bottle and up at Makoto again. There may be no label. If there is a label, it is certainly not one he recognizes. "May one inquire --?" Perhaps he's just this moment fallen out of the habit of finishing sentences.
Makoto Kino 2019-01-01 03:55:00 102173
Makoto promptly looks a bit embarrassed, which doesn't do anything to quell the brightness of her smile. "It's mead," she explains. "Made with rose honey. It was a bit of an experiment, but we made Neil try it out first and he gave it his stamp of approval, so you can be sure that it's good."

She clasps her hands behind herself again now that the bottle's left her hands, if only to have something to do with them. "I'm not sure if it's the kind of thing that's usually to your taste, but I hope that you'll enjoy it."
Hiroshi Takeba 2019-01-01 04:05:02 102174
Hiroshi's eyes widen a little. "That is honey wine, isn't it? I've heard of that." And at this point, honestly, Hiroshi has joined the ranks of those who simply presume that if Makoto's hands ever touched something edible or drinkable, of course it is going to be good; the only question is how much so. "And I am certain it would be exquisite."

He hesitates, then says, somewhat cautiously, "I was asking before because -- Kazuo gets his height from his mother." Given that Hiroshi is not even eye level with Kazuo's shoulder, that would fall into the category of 'blazingly obvious.' "So I have ... a little understanding of how difficult it is to find suitable things, sometimes. I understand it has become somewhat better, but -- still. Kazuo's mother did not have any daughters, nor any sisters. I still have many of her things as keepsakes. I was wondering if you would honor me and her memory by perhaps looking to see if there were anything that you thought might suit you."
Makoto Kino 2019-01-01 04:25:46 102175
'Honey wine' gets an enthusiastic nod from Mako - "Yes, exactly. We made it with the same kind of rose honey I've used for baking. It was new to me, too," and she flushes slightly as it occurs to her that saying so is probably not the best way to assure anyone that the result is drinkable, "but I'm really happy with how it's turned out..."

Just stop talking, Makoto. Somehow she manages to rein herself in enough to let Hiroshi speak.

By the time he's through explaining, Mako is quite still, and she finds herself having to blink several times in quick succession against an unexpected misting in her eyes. "That's... that's an incredibly generous thing to offer, Takeba-san. If you're sure it'd be all right, I'm the one who'd be honored."
Hiroshi Takeba 2019-01-01 04:28:01 102176
"I don't think there's much in the way of pink," Hiroshi says, apology in his tone and manner rather than his phrasing. "But there is some green, and there are flowers, and flowers always seem to suit you." Including roses. Not remotely limited to roses.
Makoto Kino 2019-01-01 04:40:30 102177
"I do like flowers," Makoto confirms. "Very much."

She swallows, and because it's that or actually start tearing up, she bows deeply and respectfully. "Thank you, Takeba-san. I'm - I can't begin to tell you how touched I am, really."
Hiroshi Takeba 2019-01-01 04:45:20 102178
"I know how much you have done for me," Hiroshi says quietly. "I can guess at how much you may have done for my son. This is far too small a gesture, but it is still something she would approve of, wholeheartedly." He returns the bow, the bottle still in both his hands, the ribbons trailing over his fingers. "Thank you for the many things that you do. This place and these people would not grow together the same way without you."