5513/P:WtWM - Re-confessions

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P:WtWM - Re-confessions
Date of Scene: 09 October 2017
Location: Alberichstadt <P:WTWM>
Synopsis: Due to Mirror Forest-induced amnesia, Janine must tell her family once more of what she has been doing.
Cast of Characters: Janine Liberi, William Pauwel, August Kohler, 1039, 1040, Rebecca Chambers, 999

Janine Liberi has posed:
    The Liberi household looks fresh as a daisy. Over the past weeks, the lawn had been allowed to overgrow, but thanks to Emily's efforts, it's neat and trimmed once more. The windows sparkle, the concrete path has been water blasted, and even the bras doorknob has been polished. Those arriving may notice that a suitcase has been stashed in the bushes beside the door.

    Just in case.

    Heading inside would offer a strange sense of deja vu. Bella Liberi sits on a couch across from Janine, separated by a coffee table, with her two youngest children beside her. It's exactly the same configuration as it was during the first confession.

    Janine looks at those who arrive as they come in. There lies one difference from the first time. While before, she was nervous, today she seems only resigned. The trace of a ghost of a smile crosses her lips, aimed those who have come to show solidarity.

    "Why hello everyone. Did Janine invite you over to study?" Bella asks, Felix and Penelope looking up from a book and game console respectively. The discussion is even starting the same way...

William Pauwel has posed:
Will was... Actually not in fact here the first time they went through this song and dance, so this is all new for him! That... doesn't change the fact that this is probably going to be just as difficult as the first time Janine tried to broach this subject. So... Hey, maybe having the Sci Fi Cowboy on tap might just change things for the better, eh? Eh!?

(Ah, who're we kidding?)

"Hey there Missus Liberi," Will says with a disarming grin spread all over his face. "I'm... Kind of? I'm here to help her out, anyway. How're you feelin', by the by? Everythin' okay?"

August Kohler has posed:
August steps in, dressed in a t-shirt and jeans. It's better than his usual hoodie configuration, as the redhead has his right hand ungloved or bandaged, heavy burn scars visible. Stepping inside, he glances at Janine, nodding slowly, before turning to Bella and tipping his head in greeting, before moving to stand next to Janine. "Do you remember anything about what happened? Janine was pretty scared." August replies as Will asks his question. It's a pretty insensitive one, but he's fishing - to see how much they know.

Hikaru Kurosawa (1039) has posed:
    Hikaru's car sticks out like a sore thumb, in this sort of neighbourhood, but it can't be helped. He closes the door firmly to make sure the lock actually engages, and heads up the path with Ran. They've already fussed about the meeting to each other; he doesn't gossip about it, on the way in. He's in a forest green shirt, with a feather-print tie; it could almost pass as normal.

    The question of whether they're here to study has Hikaru frowning, briefly, as he thinks of how to answer it - but Will comes through with a diplomatic answer, and Hikaru nods towards him. "That's right." He doesn't add that he's glad to see her well, because if she /doesn't/ remember, as August so blatantly asks...

    Well, making things more awkward for Janine will only hurt her case. So he just smiles towards Bella and the children.

Ran Itoh (1040) has posed:
    The last time she'd tried to speak to Bella Liberi about Janine's Persona, it hadn't gone so well.

    Ran lets some of the younger members of Die Reisende (and Hikaru) go inside first; she doesn't want her presence to make Bella think that maybe something is wrong. Things are going to be weird enough, she doesn't want to set an uncomfortable tone from the get-go. She did her best to keep things cool and casual by wearing jeans and a t-shirt with a frankly adorable kitty face on it. The caption says 'YOU GOTTA BE KITTEN ME!'

    "Hi Mrs. Liberi!" she smiles, giving a cheery little wave. Inwardly, she frets a bit - it's too easy to remember the stiffly viscious, moist-eyed Other Liberis who had threatened her and Hikaru's jobs and spilled hateful words about her 'monster' of a daughter. Outwardly, she's all polite cheerfulness.

    And then, of course, she crosses over to August's side, giving his burn scars a gentle side-eye.

Rebecca Chambers has posed:
Rebecca's always erring on the side of caution when it comes to handling situations like this. Thusly, to avoid alarming Janine's mother and children, she's dressed in a more casual attire rather than her usual outfit to avoid indicating that she's paramilitary. She enters after August does and gives a polite nod to Bella but not saying anything for the time being. Instead, she focuses more on Janine, noticing how she's smiling in that somewhat unusual way.

At that, Rebecca feels a little uneasy, especially since she wasn't here for the previous confession, and she looks to Bella, presenting a gentle smile. "Well, yes, Janine did invite us over," Rebecca says in a polite tone to Bella. "I do apologize if I intruded or anything."

Emily Branford (999) has posed:
    Needless to say, Janine is not there alone when people arrive; standing behind her at smart attention is her ever-present butler and bodyguard. Despite all the work she's put into the place recently, she's as spotless and impeccably-groomed as ever. New arrivals receive nods of greeting now and then, but she refrains from getting chatty for the time being.

Janine Liberi has posed:
    The arrival of the eccentric cowboy fellow has Felix and Penelope looking up in awe. He was at the birthday party, after all. "Oh, you're very sweet to ask," Bella says. "We're all healthy, but we've lost a huge amount of time. All the brain scans came back clean, so the best answer we got was some kind of fugue state. You know, like those stories of people who wander off and start new lives, eventually recalling their old ones."

    She smiles at Janine, who just shoots a filthy look at the group before scooting over to let some of them sit down. "Well, uh... we might have an answer for what happened. Just so you know, I totally understand if you'll be upset about it, and..." She stops, keeping a straight face, but her tone makes it apparent she's trying not to cry.

    "Janine, what's the matter?" Bella asks, voice thick with concern. The girl can only look to her companions to pick up the thread.

Ran Itoh (1040) has posed:
    She has no idea what to say. How do you tell someone, 'well you and your children were kidnapped and maybe brainwashed and held captive by a court made of nightmare monsters from the Collective Unconscious'? Yeah, they don't exactly make a Hallmark card for that.

    Ran leans against the arm of the sofa, smile turning a little sad. "That's why we're all here. Not to study, but to tell you the truth." A nervous habit, her fingers close around the silver bunny pendant on a chain around her neck. "Hikaru and the others will be able to explain it better than me, I think, but I wanted to come and support everybody too."

William Pauwel has posed:
Will can't help being adorably rustic. He's even wearing a bolo tie! And a collared shirt! He looks like he belongs in a church somewhere in the old west. It's just... Kind of how he's always been taught to dress. Will gives the two kiddos a wink and a wave before nodding along with Bella's answer. "Well. That's good, then. I'm glad there ain't too many long-term effects! Though uh..."

He glances meaningfully over towards Janine.

Then... frowns.

"Sorry," Will mouths. He's about to get lore-y.

"Missus, a'fore we go into this, I'm beggin' y' to wait for us to finish our explanation. 'Cause the others might have trouble dragging out some proof for our story, but I sure don't."

"S'truth is that y'all weren't just unconscious. Y'all were kidnapped and held somewhere where the rules of this world don't... Make a lick of sense anymore. There's a crystal forest on the other side of the mirror, and I say that in the least poetic and most literal way I can possibly say it. It's back there, and it's full of things that don't like the folks on this side of things."

"Now, y'all were taken there by somethin' from the other side on account'a a power Janine and August and these two--" Will gestures at Ran and Hikki, "--All possess. Me, I've got somethin' else, but I've been helpin' out too. Point is, this wasn't just a hospitalization. Y'all were briefly lost in another world, and it took us time to get y'all back out of it."

"Soooo, that's the basic outline. Y'all followin' so far? Disbelievin' it at all? It's kind of a lot to take in."

"Like I said," Will sniffs, rubbing his nose. "I've got some proof, if y'all want to see it."

August Kohler has posed:
August watches their reaction closely. They don't remember anything, huh? Janine seems frustrated but he just glances at her, before moving to take a seat. Will starts talking, explaining everything. The redhead sore of glares at him, before finally speaking up himself. "Will speaks the full truth. We showed this to you once before. We explained this all. And then this all happened, and you lost your memory. Do the words 'Persona' and 'Shadow' ring in your mind at all? Any familiarity? Outside it being Jung."

Emily Branford (999) has posed:
    For the most part, Emily Branford remains quiet, letting the others speak as they like. It's only when they've stopped that she says simply, "We know this will be a lot to absorb. And we're deeply sorry for putting it in your lap a second time, ma'am. But you deserved to know - and more importantly, the last time we told you, we bungled it quite badly. And as a result, we weren't here to protect you when the other side of the mirror decided to come after you. None of us want to see that happen again, but Janine moreso than any of us." It's a rare moment for her; letting slip some of the things that Janine ordinarily wouldn't want said, even if it's just scratching the surface. "You're her family. It's for your sake she stares out at the darkness and dares it to try anything."

Rebecca Chambers has posed:
Rebecca wasn't there before, so she doesn't entirely realize that they've forgotten what has happened. It's when August and William continue their talking that Rebecca slowly gets an idea of what's going on here. She nods to Ran as she gives her explanation, and once both she and Emily are done talking, Rebecca smiles again. "Don't worry, though, everything is going to be all right, I can promise you that." If one looks closely, they might see that Rebecca's smile is a little forced.

Hikaru Kurosawa (1039) has posed:
    Janine sounds like she's about to cry, and Hikaru's heart is downright /breaking/. This must have been hard enough for her, the first time. Now...

    "Your brain has most certainly dissociated from the knowledge of what happened," Hikaru says, choosing his words delicately, "but..." Hikaru trails off, but Will is there, to be open and honest and plain as Will always is.

    Hikaru bites at the inside of his cheek for a moment as he organises his thoughts. It has to go better, this time. "I should introduce myself. I'm Hikaru Kurosawa, Drachenblatt's school psychologist. I know that what Will's," he gestures to the cowboy, "said here might sound unreal. But I can tell you professionally that he's sound of mind, and speaking the truth. I've seen it."

    He takes a breath, nods to August. "It's a supernatural world which we're able to understand through Jungian psychology. Please don't be alarmed if you don't remember. It's... difficult for the human mind to accept."

Janine Liberi has posed:
    Will just... dumps it all out at the feet of the Liberi's. Janine buries her face in her good hand as Bella takes it all in. The children seem... impressed. "So you're like, superheroes?" Felix asks, his eyes going wide. "Felix, please," Bella says, hushing the boy before glancing at August. "I am familiar with Jung." Her tone isn't cold, but it is confused.

    She looks to Emily, and then frowns. "A second time? You mean to say that you told me this before?" A look to Rebecca, followed by a short snort. "That remains to be seen. Either you all are delusional, or you're telling the truth. I can't tell which is worse right now." Finally, she nods to Hikaru. "A pleasure. But knowing you and Nurse Itoh are involved in whatever this is..."

    She shakes her head. "You claim to be able to prove it. Prove it." Felix and Penelope sit up, both looking much more eager than their mother.

William Pauwel has posed:
    "Ahahahahaha, well, I dunno about that!" Will laughs, scratching his fingers through his straw-blonde hair. "I'm just a guy doin' what he thinks is right, is all. Now, I don't want either of you kiddos tryin' to copy us, y'hear? This is dangerous stuff."

"Anyway. Proof. Right," the cowboy says, then, plucking the bolo from around his neck. "I think this is a little less scary than what other stuff we've got. Or... More scary. Look, point is, this is some good proof and really it's our best bet. So."

"Hikki," Will says, lobbing his Bolo over. "Catch."

If he does, he'll notice pretty quickly that the thing is actually a latched locket. On the insie is... an old photo of a man and a woman, and a mirror on the other side. "You can use that, right?"

August Kohler has posed:
August just nods in reply to her question. "Yes. It seems you don't recall. Anyways, Jung was right. The collective unconsciousness is real. Personas are real. Shadows are real. The others will give you proof." He's not going to summon his own. Not after last time. "What we're about to show you is pretty much unknown besides a small handful of us. People don't know about this. It's better than way, objectively."

Ran Itoh (1040) has posed:
    "None of us became involved on purpose. Even Hikaru and I fell in completely by accident. But once we saw what was happening, and what Janine and the others were already fighting for, we couldn't turn away." Even if sometimes she really, really wanted to. "Without her and the others...!"

    There's got to be damage control. Ran is certain they won't be given a third chance to do this. Tucking her lower lip between her teeth, she flips her pendant over and over. One-two, left-right, front-back. "The way it was explained to me is that Personas take a part of you and make it into armor, to protect yourself from the world. It might not be a pretty part of you, or it might be the way you see yourself. It might be the way you want the world to see you or it could be a part of you that you want to hide..." She thinks of Tsuki-no-Usagi's alien mask and Fox Sister's sharp teeth.

Rebecca Chambers has posed:
Ignoring the snort from Bella, Rebecca says, "I know what you're thinking, but I'm sure it's going to be fine!" She steps back and lets Ran and the others speak. All the while, she's glancing back at Janine occasionally, hoping that she's right about Janine being fine. If one looks closely, they'd see a bead of sweat forming on Rebecca's forehead.

Emily Branford (999) has posed:
    Once more, Emily remains silent, letting the others take the lead in explanations. She has an idea, but she won't bring it out unless it's asked for.

Hikaru Kurosawa (1039) has posed:
    Of course, Hikaru and Ran being involved makes things more suspicious. Hikaru breathes in, lacing his hands together behind the couch as he considers.

    Prove it, Bella says, and Fox Sister is the most human and approachable of their Personas here. He nods, and looks to William, catching the Bolo he tosses over with ease. He flicks it open, smiles, and nods again. "Yes, I can use this."

    He turns the locket around, showing Bella and the children the mirror. "Mirrors are important. Not only are they portals for us, but looking into our reflections, we're able to summon our Persona." Ran explains, and Hikaru gestures to her with his free hand. "I'm going to show you the Fox Sister, now. It might be startling, but you're safe."

    He turns the mirror back towards himself, looking into his eyes. "Persona!" He calls, and there's a blue light as another creature /manifests/ in the room, behind Hikaru, collecting into the form of a woman.

    Mostly a woman. There are wide fox ears on her head, eyes slit and yellow, teeth sharp behind her curved lips. Underneath her traditional Korean dress, behind the couch, a tail can be glimpsed now and then as it sweeps back and forth. (Thank god, Emily's already swept!) She smiles, looks at Bella and the children, puts a hand on Hikaru's shoulder. Her nails are pointed claws.

    "This is my Persona," Hikaru says, glancing back to her. "She's part of me, though she might seem separate. I earned her when I stumbled into the Mirror Forest, and passed the trials I found there. This is not a trick, or an illusion. You can touch her - she's solid in the world." He might have meant 'corporeal', but he's trying not to worry too much about vocabulary right now.

    He doesn't bid her to step out from behind the couch; she stays right where she is. Instead, he pauses, searching Bella's face for her reaction.

Janine Liberi has posed:
    It is proven. The appearance of the Fox Sister startles the three, but only for a moment. The choice was a good one. Felix and Penelope seem interested in examining the creature, but Bella holds them close. "So... you three can also do this?" she asks Hikaru, August, and Janine.

    The Italian nods, and produces her phone. Like the fast removal of a band-aid, she gazes into the dark screen and manifests her own. The maimed woman, Biancabella, arises, and Bella gasps softly. Last time, this was the moment that soured the whole encounter, resulting in Janine being ejected from her home.

    Bella rises, walks around the room, and pulls her elder daughter into a hug.

    "Oh darling... what have you been doing?" Janine has no answer, but only releases a sob she had been holding in this whole time. Felix and Penelope, now free from their mother's arm, immediately rush over to examine the Fox Woman. The tail is of particular interest!

Emily Branford (999) has posed:
    "Saving the world, ma'am," Emily says promptly - but her voice has softened, and there is a subtle but noticeable release of tension in her shoulders. "You've raised a valiant young woman." Her arms remain behind her back, though, and she says nothing else.

    Though her eyes do briefly dart to the children and their entrancement with Fox Woman's tail. Then up to Hikaru.

    ...Was that a faint flicker of a smile? Naaaah.

William Pauwel has posed:
Will can only nod as those two kiddos immediately start fawning over the Fox Sister's fluffy foxy tail. Yes, the desire to Touch Fluffy Tail is indeed one that is universal, isn't it?

"She's been fightin' really hard to keep you all safe. And how, too. Y'all raised a real strong girl, ma'am. One of the strongest I know." Well. It looks like this has by and large gone better than it did the last time! Will holds a fist out for August to bump.

Come on August.

Don't leave a guy hanging.

Hikaru Kurosawa (1039) has posed:
    Hikaru watches, hiding his anxiety in the way his hands clasp together behind the couch. But Bella Liberi, in the end, is not the cruel woman the Shadows made her out to be; when she sees Biancabella, she hugs her daughter, and Hikaru exhales in relief.

    She's saving the world, Emily says, and Hikaru /just/ catches the smile which shadows her face for an instant. Hikaru shakes his head and smiles, because he's seen the children rushing forward to meet with his Persona, too.

    The Fox Sister looks down at the children, ears flicking forward and tail swishing back and forth. She turns, and kneels, tail sweeping up and around to rest before her knees in an easily-examinable position. She's surprisingly patient with their curiosity, though her ears twitch if they're pulled.

    Hikaru bids her to be patient, but most of his attention is on Bella and Janine, right now. "That's right," he adds, to everyone's estimations. "Your daughter is incredibly brave. And not just in the Mirror Forest... she's shared this with you, after all." And, thank the gods, it seems like it's going better than last time.

Rebecca Chambers has posed:
Rebecca smiles a little, feeling like things are getting better finally. But she knows things can go south at any time as well. So she keeps an eye on the general area in case something goes wrong. "Yes, she's very brave, I have to agree."

Ran Itoh (1040) has posed:
    So many things are uncertain, but Ran has never been afraid of Fox Sister. Seeing the woman emerge from nothing brings a little peal of calm to what's otherwise a tense scenario. This is important... this could set the tone for how Bella and her other children view Janine's power. Please, please let Fox Sister be enough--!

    The set of her shoulders eases subtly when the kids are enraptured by the sight of Fluffy Tail, but Bella still doesn't seem entirely convinced. "Yes, Mrs. Liberi," Ran nods, the ends of her long hair swaying gently.

    She's ready to call Usagi out if needed, waiting for a sign that never comes. Instead, Janine bites the bullet. Ran finds herself holding her breath, the points of the rabbit's ears pressing hard into her palm...

    ...and she lets go with a sigh, posture slouching briefly, as Bella sweeps Janine up into a tight hug. Ran shoots a sideglance and a smile at Emily. Saving the world, indeed! She lets the pendant drop from her fingers as she kneels down next to Felix and Penelope, glancing once more at Janine to make sure she's okay before giving her some space.

    Ran also wants to Touch Fluffy Tail and she's not above using the children's curiosity as an excuse to do so. o/'

August Kohler has posed:
"Yes, I can." August says, as he sighs in relief as Bella moves forward and hugs Janine. This is going well. He nods to Will...and actually returns the fist bump. "We're saving the world, Miss Liberi. But Alberichstadt is dangerous, incredibly dangerous. It's why Janine wanted to tell you. It's not safe here." August considers something, before deciding to say it to help their point. "Dozens have died. Every Wildekinder indicates someone who has died and been replaced by a fake. It happened to you. And it will happen to anyone inside Alberichstadt, unless they have this power."

Janine Liberi has posed:
    "Would you guys shut up?!" Janine barks around her mother's shoulder. The cloth upon it is damp, but the girl's face is clear. "I'm sure their every word is true, darling," Bella says with a smile, before releasing Janine and returning to her seat. "Thank you all for looking out for her. She's much more fragile than she pretends to be."

    As Janine lets out an embarrassed groan, Bella regards August and frowns. "I'm sorry Mister Kohler, but I'm not abandoning her just because it's dangerous. Family sticks together." "Yeah!" Felix says, releasing Fox Woman's tail. "If your power keeps you safe, then we'll learn to do this too!" Janine starts to look panicked again as Bella titters. "Well, not you, young man. But I agree. Could I learn to do this?"

William Pauwel has posed:
A-aww, Janine's getting all kinds of flustered and embarassed. But that's normal, isn't it? Will disguises a snicker with a grin in a foxward direction. He looks like he's about to drift over there and shove his face into her tail right alongside Ran 'snugglecatte' Itoh.

And then Missus Liberi says a thing that is just plum dumb.

"Er, wait, hold on now ma'am," Will says, his hands held up in a placating gesture. "That... That's a dangerous thing to walk into. Real dangerous. Dangerous in a way I don't think we'd be able to help."

"There is something you can do, though," he explains. "The Persona... The things that Hikaru and Janine've summoned up. They're... things of the will, you know? Of the mind and the heart. And the more secure those are-- the stronger they are-- the stronger, I think, the Persona should be."

The gunslinger reclaims his bolo from Hikaru and stares wistfully into the photo within before shoving it back into his pocket. "Your daughter's strong, ma'am. Real strong. But she's that way in large part because of all of you. Now, she's been carryin' this burden all on her lonesome, save for all of us, for a while. But now y'all can give her the support only a family can give."

"That don't mean you need to fight alongside us," Will gives a weak smile. "Family's important. Real important. Stand behind her, give her all the support she needs. If she knows yer safe, and that ye're with her every step of the way, then her heart'll be stronger than ever. That's what I think, anyway."

"'Sides, I'd be mighty remiss if I went and said I'd be okay with another person's parents puttin' themselves in danger."

Emily Branford (999) has posed:
    "You /could/, I suspect," Emily says, finally choosing to speak up - and using a tone that carries a silent 'I wouldn't recommend it' even before she starts to explain. "But the process is... perilous. Deeply so. Many don't survive, and it stands a solid chance of making whoever undertakes it into the very thing we're fighting." She unfolds her hands from behind her back at last, though they remain by her side. "And even should you succeed, it's a life of constant vigilance, constant stress, and no small amount of paranoia."

    The butler shakes her head. "And more importantly, ma'am... Bella. The battlefield is for the young." There's a faint bit more life in her voice there, a bit more of 'her' in it than the carefully-controlled neutrality she typically presents.

    "Your daughter is young. She's sharp, headstrong, brash. She's got the guile to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat, and the youth to make it happen. All this lot do. But even I'm sitting at the upper end of where that sort of fighting is wise. Even if you were to join us in the forest, your daughter..." Emily turns to look at Janine briefly, letting a smile onto her face and not bothering to hide it this time. "She'd certainly not show it, but she'd spend the entire time worried sick about you. Distracted. And that's saying nothing of what it would do to her if something were to genuinely happen to you."

    Finally, the butler leans her weight on the couch, just a bit. "The best thing you could do for Janine... it's as Will said. Be the home she can come back to. Be the reason she can fight freely, without worry. The warm hearth back home is always the biggest reason a soldier comes back alive."

August Kohler has posed:
August doesn't speak up, but his deep frown when Bella replies indicates he doesn't agree with her. He just nods to Emily, who says everything he would have said way better.

Ran Itoh (1040) has posed:
    Everything's coming up daisies, except for the part where suddenly the Liberis are super into helping. And as much as Ran loves helping, there's just one major little drawback to the idea of anybody new, especially Janine's /mother/, attempting to acquire this power...

    "Please don't," Ran blurts out, standing suddenly. Her face is steadily losing its color. "We were the lucky ones. There were more who tried, or who fell in by accident - I don't know the number. But we're just the ones who survived."

    Surprisingly, Will has a deep insight on the idea - the fireplace must be doing a crazy number on his ability to wax poetic! Ran twists her fingers in the hem of her t-shirt and steps backward, into Hikaru's personal space. "It's true. We know you want to help, and that you love Janine. But Will and Emily are both right; the best way you can help would be to stay here where it's a little bit safer, and be someone to come home to."

Hikaru Kurosawa (1039) has posed:
    The Fox Sister, upon seeing Ran joining the party, reaches out to gently boop her nose with a finger. (She's mindful of her claws.)

    Janine bids them to shut up, and Hikaru shuts, though he smiles. He listens as Bella throws her support behind her daughter, but he notices the panic on Janine's face when she starts talking about /joining/ them.

    Will jumps in, first, telling her why it's dangerous, how she can help, with an addition at the end which makes Hikaru glance over to him for a moment. (He hands the bolos back, of course!) Emily continues, and Ran objects too - Hikaru reaches out to take her hand as she steps into his space.

    "It must be hard to hear your daughter is fighting, and that it's dangerous," Hikaru sympathises. "But we all look out for each other. Janine's not alone. If you can help her by accepting her at home, she'll have even more support." It's just as the others have said.

Rebecca Chambers has posed:
Rebecca's look of confidence is disappearing and she now seems rather uneasy. She steps back a little, trying to think about what she should say next, feeling like an amateur once again.

Janine Liberi has posed:
    Everyone immediately advises Bella against it. Her face contorts as they warn of the massive danger. She looks to her daughter, who can only nod in agreement. "I still have nightmares about it. And if you were around, I wouldn't be able to focus. I would be too worried about the Court coming for you. I..."

    Bella raises a hand. "I understand. Felix, Penelope, and I will head back to Italy." The two children begin to protest, both wanting their own 'cool superpowers, but a single stare from Bella silences them. "I only have two conditions; my first is that I'm telling your father." Janine gulps, but nods to that. "My second is posed to your friends." Each and every person there gets a fierce glare from the plump woman.

    "You have to swear you won't let a hair on her head get hurt. For every scratch on her, you answer to me. Are we clear?"

Emily Branford (999) has posed:
    Without hesitating, Emily stands herself up straight, sweeping an arm in front of herself, and bends into a formal bow. "You have my word as a butler and bodyguard, ma'am."

William Pauwel has posed:
The spry cowboy's head bobs a couple of times in agreeement. "Well, sure. I mean, I can't promise she'll never get hurt ever, but iff'n she does, feel free to give us a talkin' to!"


"Does it count if we heal up her scratches so good that you'd hardly even notice?"

Ran Itoh (1040) has posed:
    Hikaru offers her his hand and Ran takes it, fingers squeezing gently. It all seemed so much simpler when /they/ were Janine's age, despite everything that had happened in the months before. Still, they're here now. Janine is here now. That's nothing to sneeze at.

    Ran finds herself smiling again; even if it's not as big as her earlier one, it's calmer. More real. "I can't promise she'll never get hurt," Ran sighs, "But I can promise I'll always be there to patch everyone up. Usagi-chan -- my Persona -- can heal. I promise we'll always do our best to protect her - to help everybody."

    They'd promised, hadn't they? That this time they would fix everything. That it wouldn't happen again.

    The knot in Ran's stomach untwists. She keeps smiling.

Hikaru Kurosawa (1039) has posed:
    Hikaru is reminded of Anna Itoh, when Bella's fierce stare falls upon them. The Fox Sister stands, bows to Bella, and disappears in wisps of blue light; Hikaru nods to Janine's mother, as if in the same motion.

    "I'll look out for her, Mrs Liberi. I swear." It's an important promise, and not one he makes lightly. The others cover the details, and he's glad for it.

Rebecca Chambers has posed:
Rebecca stands at attention and raises her right her right hand. With a stern tone she says, "I shall not allow any harm to come to her in any way! I solemnly swear this with the others here as my witness!"

Janine Liberi has posed:
    "A mother knows," Bella says firmly to Will. Everyone offers safe, sensible promises, which only makes her frown in an exaggerated way. "A true friend would insist that they wouldn't let her be hurt," she says, clearly joking. "Oh, it's fine Mama. None of these jerks are true friends," Janine replies, a smirk on her face.

    The woman laughs, before ushering Felix and Penelope upstairs to start tidying their rooms and packing. "I'll arrange tickets back to Italy as soon as I can. Janine, Emily, consider this house yours. With all this... world-saving, I think you can't afford to worry about moving again."

    She looks once more to everyone and says, "Thank you all for supporting her. But now, I want to hear everything from Janine. I'm sorry, but would you mind leaving?"

August Kohler has posed:
August supplies his own promise, "Of course." When Bella asks them to leave, though, August just nods to her and then to Janine, sitting up. "I'm glad this went well. Good luck, you two."

And then he leaves! Just like that!

Hikaru Kurosawa (1039) has posed:
    Hikaru chuckles, when Janine insists they're not true friends, because of course she does. Relief shows on his face, when Bella assures them they don't have to move; with all the upset Janine's been going through, he's glad she won't have to move. "I understand," he says, to Bella, when she asks for space. "Take care, Mrs Liberi."

    With that, he looks over to Ran, nods to her, and heads out. He'll give anyone who needs it a lift home; the ride's a bit shaky, but at least he's got candy stashed in the car!

William Pauwel has posed:
"W-we're not!?" Will looks aghast! Horrified, even! "W-well, I'll have to fix that! Don't you worry Janine, I'll do my best to be a TRUE FRIEND from now on!"

Is... Is he joking?

Janine, what have you done to yourself?


"Oh, uh, sure missus Liberi! We'll leave you two to talk," Will waves with a grin and then turns to leave. There's a new mission in his heart, now. A new... Friendship-y mission...!

Or maybe that's just an empty, creampuff-shaped space in his tummy.

Ran Itoh (1040) has posed:
    Real friends don't lie, Ran doesn't say. Not when it's this important.

    "Thank you for having us," Ran tells Janine and her mother, and gives a smile to Felix, Penelope, and Emily as well. "Travel safe when you leave, but... spend as much time with each other as you can before you have to go, okay?" Like she even has to tell them! Hikaru leaves and Ran follows suit; she knows he's going to offer a ride to anyone who wants it, and she's got to get to the Lemon first and claim shotgun or her legs will cramp all night.