Yamagato Matsuri - Memorial Ceremony


avi_icon.gif cassandra_icon.gif delia_icon.gif delilah_icon.gif jonathan_icon.gif kaylee_icon.gif keira_icon.gif luther_icon.gif peyton_icon.gif megan_icon.gif richard_icon.gif robyn3_icon.gif ryans_icon.gif walter_icon.gif zelda_icon.gif

Scene Title Yamagato Matsuri - Memorial Ceremony
Synopsis As a part of their Fall matsuri, Yamagato Industries holds a memorial ceremony in Yamagato Park.
Date October 23, 2018

Tall and narrow Spartan Juniper trees form a dark, verdant wall around the city block footprint of the Yamagato Inari-ji shrine nestled in the urban heart of Yamagato Park. With its forested perimeter, the shrine feels like it's somewhere else other than New York. Dim light from hundreds of flame-lit paper lanterns serve more as a moody guide through the rocky park grounds rather than proper sources of illumination. Though the pink and green aurora overhead, shimmering like the hem of a great robe, casts its own scintillating illumination down from above.

Hundreds are in attendance at the shrine’s center today, where beyond corridors of vermilion-painted torii gates stands a red-lacquered wooden shrine flanked by a pair of granite fox statues with red scarves of cotton wound around their necks. Beside the shrine, a large wooden board with a shingles overhang see unadorned, flanked by tall lanterns and studded with tiny wooden pegs awaiting the offerings of the night’s ceremony.

Standing at the open doors of the shrine, a man dressed in a powder blue robe and a tall, conical black hat holds a pine bough in one hand. He is flanked by a pair of women dressed in white and red who are setting out additional lanterns on the stone floored courtyard outside of the shrine. Here, the crowd that has gathered awaits the start of a memorial ceremony, where the traditions of the Safe Zone’s Japanese benefactors meet the tragedies of their American allies.

The aurora shimmering overhead shadows the ceremony with an entirely otherworldly aura.

Yamagato Inari-ji

Yamagato Park

October 24th

5:30 pm

Amid the crowd, Avi Epstein has come alone. He is not dressed in traditional attire as some have chosen, just a battered olive-drab jacket and a gray hoodie, sunglasses tucked into a pocket. He looks like an out of work construction worker, his missing eye hard to notice with the glass replacement and the low light. He's here to blend in, pay his respects, and get out. Nothing more, nothing less.

He's not the only one with those intentions tonight.

Moving carefully through the crowd, Kaylee Sumter is dressed for the festival. Her Yukata is a rich blue, trimmed with white, and embroidered with pink, yellow, and pale greens in floral patterns. Blonde hair is mostly left to fall in a array of curls, except pulled up on one side with a comb that matches her outfit.

Three of the little boards are held tight in her hands so that they are not lost in the crowd.

Kaylee hated crowds. They were more than an external annoyance, they were also loud in her head. It was like when people have to speak up, their minds can match the volume. With a bit of a wince, she moves between two groups circled up to talk. Friends herding around and having a great time. At least here it was a bit more peaceful and she has three people she wanted to leave messages for: Her father. Hannah, the grown version of her step-daughter from the future. And, of course, Eric Doyle.

Elsewhere in the crowd, a figure looms in a more shadowed spot. He wears a fedora tucked low on his head and a trench coat. Benjamin Ryans hadn’t planned to be here and didn’t tell anyone, but something compelled him to come there. He looks down at the little plaque in his hand with the name of his deceased wife scrawled across it and a heartfelt message. His thumb brushes across it with a flicker of a pained look. The plan was to place it and leave again. Simple.

Unlike the silent statue, Jonathan Smith juggles a couple of the plaques. More names, than messages cover the plaques in his hands. He’s managed to get some traditional garb for the day, though he still has on sneakers. The councilman is less jovial today. The smile doesn’t quite reach his eyes, he might even seem a bit stressed. Those that really know the man, know that the November events were traumatic for the gentle man. Something that he never talks about for fear of bringing down the mood.

Two days after the celebration of fireworks, Cassandra finds herself in Yamagato territory again. Getting from work to her apartment, then across the safe zone to Yamagato Park, and then through the crowds on time was a work of angels and miracles conspiring to make it somehow happen, but she made it. It's a good thing she doesn't gamble, because she used up a lot of her luck for the week just getting here.

Adjusting the cream-colored obi and fur wrap of her wine-red kimono as she walks, the SESA postcognitive finds herself slowing to the pace of the crowd, her wooden geta clacking on the cobblestone pathway she's following along with the rest of the crowd. The lanterns acting as a guide through the rocky park bring a serenity to the scene, and if one were to let go, it would be easy to imagine they weren't in the heart of one of the largest surviving metropolitan areas in the United States. With the temperature at a cool 60f and dry, any insects that might be around have hidden in anticipation of cooler weather in the evening, but Yamagato has thought of that. Several small stations have been set up intermittently, warmth blooming from glowing coils of wire, fans blowing the heat across the gathered crowds. Even a few moths and crickets have started to linger near these islands of heat, making it feel almost like a summer's evening if you happen to be close enough.

Zelda, in one of their talks, explained what this is for. How it's supposed to be to provide closure and remembrance for those who were lost in that terrible time in November. The wooden plaque she holds close to her chest as she walks has traditional black ink marked on it, the words in English instead of Japanese. She hopes that they won't mind. Her plaque is for the lost. The unknown. The nameless. The words she has written are simple.

"For those who fell and were not known. For those who vanished without a cry or a whisper. We will find your names."

There's a very nice yukata that Richard's had made for the festival, for the public appearances he's going to be expected to make as an executive of a company with a close working relationship with Yamagato. It looks very nice on him, strikingly dark beside that of his sister's bright colors, and cost quite a bit of money to have designed on short order.

He's not wearing it tonight.

"Epstein," is the quiet, serious greeting as he stops briefly beside the other man, though he doesn't look at the one-eyed agent when he does so, instead keeping his gaze on the front of the gathering. That's a Chicago Air jacket that he's wearing, leather battered from years of hard use and the fleece lining showing a ragged collar of white near his neck. Hands tucked in the pockets of his jacket, his features shadowed by the edge of an old ball cap pulled down to shadow the edge of his brow to keep people from recognizing him offhand easily. The threadbare embroidered letters on the cap read 'CIA'. Jeans. Boots. Nothing to stand out.

To say that Robyn Quinn had been looking forward to this wouldn't be inaccurate, but it wouldn't be the whole truth either. The idea of a memorial was a touching one, and even as much as she tries to distance herself from people it's one she can't resist.

But no one looks forward to a memorial, and it shows in her half lidded eyes as she holds several plaques in hand. She's decided to wear the same kimono she wore nights before to the opening night of the event - or one that looks just like it, at least - as she watches up at the shrine with a heavy sigh.

Her plaques have names on them, of course, as much of a thought as she could fit on them. One for Magnes Varlane, even with the chance of his return - or the failure of his attempt - he still deserves it. One for Andy Rourke; whom she hadn't known well but she knew to be friends with another person she she has plaques for, and she wants to remember everyone she can. One for Eric Doyle, whom she'd known intermittently in her time with the Ferry, but who had helped her learn to love kids. One for each Liette and Lorraine Fournier, she hadn't particularly known either of them, like Andy, but their deaths would be burned into her memory forever.

Two for Else Kjelstrom, a friend and personal idol whom had died two deaths, one under her watch. One has "Princess, we're looking after you" under her name; the other "Stand By Me". The last Robyn holds close to her chest. Not for someone who died on the 8th, but for someone who died as a result of what happened in the wake of the worst November 8th in her memory. She is silent as she glances down at the last one for just a moment, before quickly moving her gaze back up.

The last one reads Charlotte Roux. And even with the mystery that may surround her now, there are few things a daughter misses more than her mother. Now more than ever.

There are people she lost on November 8. And there are people she lost not on November 8 but who were nonetheless casualties of the unrecognized war that was ongoing through the years before the Second Civil War. Megan Young hasn't dressed in the more traditional clothing for this event, choosing instead a warm black wool coat over a pair of neatly pressed black slacks and black boots against the chill of the air. Her copper hair, with its distinctive white swathe and silver strands scattered throughout, is pulled up into a low twist as she walks through the area, stopping here and there near lanterns to take a moment where she can study the shrine. Several small pieces of wood in her hands already has words, she just hasn't returned it to the resting place as she seeks the peace that attending might offer. It's a tough day for a great many New Yorkers. Blue eyes flicker across the gathering, not seeking anything in particular but simply in recognition of all the ones who have come to leave their thoughts.

The willowy figure of Peyton Whitney is also dressed in western garb, choosing a gray swing coat with a pale blue scarf around her neck and a matching beret to contrast with her dark hair. She is alone tonight, with no child at her side, perhaps because the feelings of guilt and loss are too hard to explain to a child Jonah’s age. She looks up, the strange skies above reflecting their myriad hues in the darkness of her eyes, already shimmering with tears that well up now and then before she blinks them away.

This may have been a mistake.

She moves into a spot among the crowd, glancing around at the mix of colorful traditional garb and the more somber hues of those like herself. She looks down at the ema in her hands, a frown pulling her features. A glance thrown over her shoulder makes it clear she’s thinking of leaving.

Zelda is dressed differently today than she was at the opening; today, she wears a Mofuku Kimono, all black with only a hint of white showing through at her collar and in the tabi she wears. She hasn’t personally lost anyone, but she does feel that she has an entire country to mourn — and the friends and family that remain there while she has escaped to this magical world that she has found herself in.

She stands close to the front of the crowds, holding her own plaque with folded hands, her face turned down to the ground out of respect.

Keira doesn’t normally dress up, but today is a rare occasion. She wears a black yukata, with pink and cyan flowers spread across its surface. She had a little bit of trouble putting it on by herself the first time, but after a bit of practice, got mostly okay at it — but she still stopped at one of the dress shops on her way here to be sure she got it right. Her eye patch matches the yukata as well — if nothing else, Keira looks pretty fashionable for a one-eyed woman.

The one-eyed gangster stands toward the back, holding her own plaques as well. She has a good amount of them. One for the mother of her brother’s daughter, and one for the little girls who are missing. One for Toru, a dear friend to her. Yet another hosts the names of her fallen employees, those who have died for her. It was difficult to write that one out.

"Miss Peyton." The low, rumbling tone of Luther Bellamy sounds from behind the woman, her glance over her shoulder likely to spot the originator of said voice. He's a hard one to miss too, tall and broad form made more so with the stark black long coat he has on over a simple suit now typical of his appearance for more formal, but not black-tie occasions. Hands at his sides, empty of plaques. "How're you doing?" he asks quietly.

Further away in the crowd, Avi Epstein slants a sidelong look over at Richard, looking him up and down. “Jesus Christ,” he mumbles, shaking his head and looking away to the shrine. “You got a wheel barrow full of those wood block things?” Avi asks. He doesn't have any.

The ceremony hasn't fully started yet at the shrine, though a few Yamagato Industries executives have come up and placed their placards before. Each dips their head down as they hang it up, then slip away to a walkway beside the shrine, escorted by security. Kam Nisatta is nowhere to be found tonight.

Making her way to the wall where the small wooden plaques are to hang, Megan reaches up to place hers. There is one for the fallen of Beach Street, one simply for the fallen Ferry members. One for the fallen of Pollepel Island. There are only two that have specific names on them, though. She holds those two and looks at them for long moments before placing them.

To the woman who got all of the children away… we don't forget, Eileen.

August, Just a supply run, huh? Miss you, flyboy.

Her fingertips linger and then she steps back, pulling in a long breath and letting it out slowly. The redhead rarely lets herself remember — these memorials are hard. But the beauty of the place this year drew her and although her people are not specifically November 8th, it seemed to make sense for them to be remembered here.

Fairly quiet, Kaylee comes up alongside Avi’s otherside, having only noticed her brother when she looks to the old man. “Mr. Epstein,” her greeting softly spoken in the gathering. There is a sad smile offered, that either of them have to be there was a shame. Or anyone really. “I’m not sure a wheelbarrows worth would be enough,” the telepath agrees. “Ever.”

Kaylee’s attention turns to the front, she might be dressed brightly, but her inner turmoil balances her appearance. It had been a last minute choice. She at the festival with her family, but something drew her here and to write the messages. Though she thinks about going back for others, for Peter and Hiro. Too many friends lost. But she had wanted to make sure to include Eric, who should never be forgotten for what he did for her and others. The kids in particular.

With a birthday like November 8th, Walter Trafford has been growing up painfully aware of the somberness of the day. At first it was hard to understand, as a tinier kid- - why was everyone sad on his birthday?- - but now that he's old enough to really listen, it's different. When Delilah told him where she was going, he demanded to go with her; he's almost eight, he says. She can't begrudge him that. That was a week ago.

Both of them are dressed in passively traditional looks, playing mostly to the boy's desire to go to the Matsuri. Clothes of dark blue with dark orange, sober but not dour. When they got to the memorial and Walter saw just how many people were there, he got a tad overwhelmed. One arm has Walter against her side, as he is only just getting to that 'too big for mom' stage. He isn't there just yet and Dee takes it where she can get it. Somewhere along the route, the redheaded boy has gained a white and red kitsune mask, which he's put over his head, shading his face. A bit of hiding, as he might under a ballcap.

"Are you sure this is enough?" He is quiet, leaning on her as she holds him with both arms. Walter's hand clutches around several ema, and he turns his eyes up when he asks the question.

"I'm sure. See all these other people? They've got everyone else covered." Delilah whispers back, half against that inari-face on her son's head. "I'm proud of you for wanting to come, baby."

There is a far less intrusive presence in the background of the shrine's grounds, lingering under trees and watching the crowd. Huruma's field is markedly down, pulled inward to her immediate personal bubble. She wears a simple robe over a dress, dark and melting her into the shade. While she wanted to be here, her ability makes it…taxing. And so she hides in the wings, a single ema in hand to wait for eventual dissipation.

Benjamin receives a sort of shove from behind just as someone barrels into him to deliver a tight hug. The hands, he can recognize as one of his middle daughters, Delia, they're holding two plaques of their own. "Hey Dad," she chokes out. When she comes into view, her eyes are tinged with red and the plaques she's holding are for her mother and her nephew, Kincaid.

She's not wearing fancy clothing but it's neat, casual, and for once without rips. "I didn't expect to see you here." Although, in retrospect, she should have. It's memorial day, a new memorial day for victims rather than veterans.

After a moment of studying the crowd, Keira slips forward. She pauses to briefly touch Richard on the shoulder, a small but encouraging smile offered to the man; then, she turns, slipping into the crowd. She comes to a stop near Benjamin and Delia, offering a tiny smile to her uncle, and a respectful nod to her cousin. “Hey,” she murmurs quietly, holding her own ema close. “Good to see you both.” She hasn’t seen Delia since before she fled New York, but the smile offered is genuine all the same.

Zelda quietly waits for her own turn, watching the executives place their ema. A frown forms as she notices that Kam isn’t anywhere nearby — she had hoped to see the woman here.

Turning at her name, Peyton offers a faltering smile to the formal greeting from Luther. “Still just Peyton,” she says softly, turning one of the ema onto the other into one hand, so that she frees one to reach for Luther’s, squeezing it softly. She tucks an arm into his, apparently claiming him for the duration.

“I need to hold on to something or I’ll run,” she murmurs, and it’s probably not a hyperbole. She looks around them, her brow drawing together at the sight of some of the familiar faces, people that she fears may feel she has no right to mourn with them, even so many years later.

“I still may,” she adds. “How are you, Mr. Bellamy?” Two can play that game.

Luther returns the faltering smile with a faint one of his own. Her response to the formality is ever a familiar comfort. His hand grips on to hers when she takes it, warmer than the chill of the weather around them. His eyes glance down to the arm as it slips around his, then to the woman attached to it. Silence accompanies the short nod acknowledging that urge to flee the sad and somber environment. He understands that sentiment fully. For a moment, she can feel his arm pull hers closer to prevent that retreat, but also to cling on as well. Luther swallows dryly. "Better," he answers Peyton, "better now." Turning to watch the ceremonial proceedings, he murmurs for the woman within his earshot, "As long as nobody starts this one off by flying into those sky lights."

“A wheelbarrow wouldn’t be enough,” says Richard quietly in response, his head shaking ever so slightly. As others appear from the crowd, he grimaces, a hand coming up to tug the brim of his hat down slightly. It’s a little late for that sort of concealment, though, since some people have recognized him. He nods a little bit to Kaylee, to Keira, and then sighs— fingers rubbing against the bridge of his nose.

“I figure everyone else’s plaques’d serve well enough for mine,” he admits just as quietly.

Waiting in line is a constant in the world after the second Civil War. There’s always a wait for just about anything, unless you’re very lucky and somehow got there first or when no-one else is around. The advantage of being in line is being able to watch people and how they react as they move forward to hang their wooden plaques on the provided brass hooks. Some simply hang the plaque and retreat without a word or perhaps a simple bow. Others take a few moments to grieve, touching the plaque as if it was the person standing there and this was the last chance to say goodbye. When it’s Cassandra’s turn to step forward, she does, slowly and reverently, reaching up to hang her plaque as high as she can reach. There’s a moment of stretching as she does so, stepping back with a scuff of her sandals on the smooth stone path. “We will find your names.” she says again, softly, bowing at the waist as she saw some of the executives do, stepping aside to let the person behind her take their moment in the spotlight, retreating into the crowds without a word.

The priest at the shrine entrance bows to the crowd, then raises the pine bough into the air. Behind him, one of the women dressed in red and white uncaps a center of smoking incense, holding it out to the priest while the others stand with their heads bowed.

Slowly, the priest wafts the pine bough in the smoke, and then begins waving it around in slow motions from left to right in front of the shrine, then begins to repeat the process facing eastward. As he works, the other women begin to recite a prayer in a somewhat rhyming and lyrical tone behind him.

Hi fu mi yo i mu na ya ko to.”

They sing, breaking up words into individual syllables to create the prayer’s cadence. Native speakers recognize it as a Hi-fu-me prayer, a Shinto purification prayer designed to turn ill fortune into good fortune. New York could use some good fortune.

Mo chi ro ra ne shi ki

Epstein turns to Kaylee, brows furrowed and dawning recognition crossing his face. First he remembers her as a part of Raytech, then he remembers openly threatening her once or twice. “Hey,” is all he manages, followed by a guilty look down at the ground. “I don't know why I'm here.”

Ro yu i tsu wa ne so

Rows of people begin moving up to the board to hang their ema, some also laying flowers down in front of the board without prompting. It wasn't asked, nor is it technically traditional, but this isn't so much about tradition as it is about moving forward.

“Because you are human, just like the rest of us,” Kaylee points out softly to Avi, her head tilted a bit towards the ceremony listening. “There is a small comfort in being here and knowing that others share the pain.” She turns the ema with Eric Doyle’s name written on it and the message You will always be proof that no one is truly all bad. We are the choices we make. Everyone is redeemable.

She is Raytech now, but Kaylee will always be a Ferryman in her heart. “We will never not miss them and we will never not feel the pain of their loss.” The ema with Hannah Sumter written on it gets a sad smile. “It won’t take the pain away, but things like this help us temper and shape that pain into something a little more manageable.”

The words scrawled on the surface are heartbreaking, a reminder of that terrible night with the island fell. Hannah didn’t die on November 8th, but Kaylee felt she deserved to be there. We are so proud of you and the woman you became. We promise to make sure that in this lifetime, you won’t have to face that same future.

Avi is given a smile, “It’s good seeing you, Mr. Epstein.” Clearly, no grudges held here for past actions. Kaylee moves forward to where she can place her plaques. Each done so with care. The last is for her father, Edward Ray. Fingers brush over the surface, her smile falling away. I wish we had more time and that you could meet your grandson. I understand your choices now, but I still will never agree with them.

WIth a brush of fingers to the corner of Kaylee’s eye, she moves on to let others place their messages.

Ryans is surprised by the sudden thump of someone colliding with him, but is pleasantly surprised to see his youngest daughter. “Delia,” Ben rumbles out softly, moving to give her a tight hug. There is a glance around before his deep rumble is heard near his daughter’s ears. “I’ll tell you more later,” he adds when he pulls away; just in time to give Keira a brief nod.

Meanwhile, Jonathan is juggling his plaques and moves to join the line.

Delia's eyes shoot open and she gives a little squeaks before heeding the somber tone of his voice. This isn't the place, nor is it in the time. They are here for loved ones, not for themselves. Still, Delia keeps a hold of her father's arm, hugging it tightly with both of hers.

Keira's appearance is first greeted with a blank stare of unrecognition. Once the subject is fully realized, the dreamwalker's eyes narrow slightly and her expression cools considerably. Ben's brief nod is echoed and the redhead turns away to watch the priest, instead of visit.

Stepping back from the wall to give others room, Megan quietly finds a spot to listen to the priest as he makes his blessing. The incense is perhaps a bit much, but the redhead appreciates the sentiment. As her blue eyes skim the crowd, she notes faces. A nod here of recognition, and small smile there. She meets the eyes of several people, but she's not sure she's going to actually come close enough to greet anyone. It's the jacket that Richard Ray wears that makes her decide to speak at all. She can see the patch on his arm. Slipping through the throngs, she stops briefly to pick up a blank placard and when she joins the small group standing close enough to one another to actually talk, she pulls in a slow breath.

"Benjamin," she nods as she catches his eyes. A faint smile for Delia and Kaylee, a nod to the others like Avi. But to Richard, she holds out the small wooden slab and a pen. "I… would take it as a personal favor if perhaps you would remember the rest of Chicago Air," she tells him with a quiet dignity. "August thought very highly of Fedor and Jake. I didn't know most of them very well." And she has no idea who, if any of them, have survived. She only worked there until Auggie was killed, and then threw herself whole-cloth into Ferry works.

“You’re here for the same reason I am, Epstein… “ Richard’s gaze briefly lingers on the chanting priest, then drops down to regard his left hand, his other coming over to trace the black marks that stain the skin indelibly, “…there’s nobody else to push our wheelbarrows.”

He has a more fatalistic view of the reason for coming here than his sister does, apparently.

“And we owe our dead that much,” he mutters lowly as he notices someone else approaching, raising his head to look to— Megan, he found her name. A faint smile touches his lips as he reaches out for the wood, turning it around to regard the blank surface.

“I like to think that Jake’n Zu are still out there somewhere,” he admits, “I’m sure some of the others are…” The tip of the pen hesitates, but finally he writes. Some names of those he knows, or believes, are lost. “The Russian was a crazy sonuvabitch, but I owe him a lot. More’n I can say.”

Delilah and Walter slip into the line just behind poor Jonathan with his handful of ema that he can't seem to get a hold on. She knows enough about him that when Walter gives him a shy wave, Delilah gives a sympathetic smile. "Hey Teach."

She still has Walter more or less attached to her like a koala, and when he looks ahead to the priests and the shrine itself he promptly pulls down his fox mask to hide behind its shield. He seems a little more intimidated than he did at the start. A bit. It is certainly daunting. "Funny, my son begged to come and now all I've got is this little kitsune." Dee pretends his mask is working, and it gets a huffy laugh from Walter.

Still tucked away, Huruma has a perfect panorama of the event- - far back, tall enough- - she lets her field unfurl some, when she sees faces she knows from afar. She knows Ben's frame before she even has to see his face, and Delia's curls. Richard and Avi, all painfully civilian, Megan and Kaylee contrasting them somewhat. Other faces pop out the longer that she stares ahead, unknowingly zoning out as she leans against a lamppost.

Her fingers roll the ema over and over along her palm.

The shift forward of the crowd as they begin to place their memorial plaques pulls Peyton’s eyes toward the front, but Luther’s words bring them back to his. They widen, stricken, and she looks as scared and contrite as she did so many years ago. Her eyes well up again with tears that this time she cannot blink back; they spill out over her lashes and onto her cheeks.

“I can’t-” she begins, and that’s all she manages to say, pushing the ema into his hands — they have no names on them, but there are three.

She breaks away to push away and through the crowd swarming forward, against traffic, her head down and one gloved hand over her mouth.

Luther recognizes the look Peyton gives him, having had similar and plenty of the same directed at him and given a few himself over the years. And he knows when he's shoved his foot in his mouth. The man glances down to the empty wood plaques suddenly pushed into his hands, but then disregards them with a shove of the pieces into a coat pocket. His main concern is the fleeing, teary-eyed woman whose grief triggered by his words is a spur in him to pursue. Size and broad shoulders aid him along with quiet excuses and apologies in some cases.

"Peyton, wait!" he calls after her as the prayer sounds. He reaches out for her, a shoulder or a second gloved hand.

There's no witty response from Avi to Kaylee, even after a long time of silence. There's just his guilt, one that no wooden placard could help convey. But regardless, Avi steps in line to approach the board without so much as even recognizing the kind greeting Kaylee gave or the consideration from Richard. The latter of the two have seen him like this before, he's been drinking. A lot.

O ta ha ku me ka u o e

The priest at the shrine continues to wave his pine bough as the incense is fanned up into the air. The women behind him continue their rhythmic singing, high-pitched and somewhat hypnotic, but carrying a weight occasionally supplemented by the banging of a heavy drum and the click of a wood block.

Sa ri he te no ma su a se e ho

When Avi reaches the front of his line, he pulls two ema out from his jacket. One he hangs up first, hurriedly, as if it were burning his hands to even hold it. The writing on the front reads I wish I were a better father to you. The second, one he nearly doesn't even put up, reads, I wish I’d saved you.

Re te.

The chanting quiets, but there is still the occasional rhythmic click of a woodblock and the thrum of a drum. The priest continues to bless the air around the shrine, and the women behind him appear to be relaxing their voices for a second prayer.

Avi turns away from the board, and tries to slip out without so much as saying goodbye.

The ema - once writ upon - is handed back to Megan, and Richard offers a faint smile. “I can’t bring it up myself, really, I…” His gaze sweeps after Avi, to the line, to the front, smile fading as he watches for a moment with a haunted expression, “I can’t. I don’t have a wheelbarrow.” Whatever that means.

He spots the old spook slipping away, then, and mutters an apology to the woman as he moves to slip back through the crowd; blending in to vanish with the others as he shadows the other man through the gathering.

Megan's nod is understanding as she takes the ema back. "Yeah," she tells him quietly. "I think a lot of us are feeling that way." She doesn't stop him moving away, simply grateful that he'd known some specific names to add. She moves back up to place this one near to where the others she placed hang, and then steps back to contemplate. It wasn't only people they've lost… she feels keenly still the sense of a loss of faith in the foundations on which they stand. And she has to mourn that some too, when she thinks of the people lost.

Reaching the front of the line, Zelda quietly hangs up her own ema — it reads, For my country, and those unfortunate enough to be stuck there. She lowers her hands, staring up at the wooden plaque for a long moment with a sad expression on her face. Then, with a small shake of her head, she turns, quietly making her way off to the fringes of the crowd.

Keira takes the coldness from her cousin in stride — it’s not like she was ever close to the woman, though she wishes that weren’t the case. Her uncle, however, is offered a small, warm smile, and a small whisper, “I owe you a visit and a nice bottle of scotch.” Then, the one-eyed woman slips forward to hang her own ema, her face turning somber before she slips off to the fringes of the crowd, as well. She’ll probably leave before everyone else.

Even as Kaylee slips into the crowd in search of a quieter spot, Benjamin is watching the presession up. He looks at his daughter and gives her a bit of a smile. “Come on. Time to leave messages for your mom.” His arm rests at Delia’s back and presses her forward following after her, after all. Ladies first.

Turning and looking down, it seems almost effortless how Jonathan flips the switch on his emotions, turning a bright smile to Walter, though it isn’t quite reaching his eyes. “Hey, champ.” A bit more a somber look is lifted to Delilah. “Delilah.” His attention goes back to her son. “You going to hang one of these, too?” Names seem written all over the surface, the others held against his chest, so that he doesn’t drop them. Obviously student names, ones lost on those days.

When the mask lowers, it gets a soft chuckle from the man. “Well now! Kitsune were considered messengers. Maybe you can deliver all these messages to the spirits to go too.” Then he is find himself faces will all of the hanging boards and his expression falls. With a swallow, the councilman timidly steps forward leaving several boards written with names and just the simple message. ’I will never forget.

With the last board, he hesitates, fingers brushing fingers across names written on the ema. His family. His jaw works a little, but he finally hangs it, very aware of the the people waiting. Fingers rub at his eyes, pushing his glasses up on his face some. Still he manages to turn that smile towards the Tafford family. “You next.” He boops the kitsune masks nose and slips off into the crowd, clearly needing some time.

At the brush of hands against her shoulder, Peyton looks back, her dark eyes glassy with tears. “Please,” she whispers, glancing at strangers as they stream past her to leave their tokens of remembrance, before looking back to Luther. There’s no anger for him in her expression — just sorrow and guilt.

“Just leave those for me, please?” she murmurs, a nod to the front where others leave their plaques. She turns away, slipping through a slim gap between two men, one that Luther can’t follow her through.

Being a little kid gives Walter the buffer between seeing Jonathan’s emotions behind his smile and the expression; he answers a smile with a smile under the mask, seeming to perk up just so, at the eyes. He still holds onto Delilah, however, a mama’s boy to the end- - She herself gives the man a softened smile when he looks to her.

“Yeah, we’re gonna hang some… and that’s what the mask lady said, bout the messenger thing- - it’s pretty cool.” Walter seems to welcome Jon’s openness, even if he can’t see the way that he falters in the face of the ema boards. Delilah can, and as he turns to them she cements that smile for him. Walter snickers as his nose is booped, and when it is their turn he gives a wriggle to be put down.

He’s getting a little big for coddling, but Dee takes it where she can. One hand takes his, and they move up so that she can show where to hang them. Just so he can see what he’s doing, Delilah tugs the mask up and perches it on the side of his head, eliciting a small smile before anything else.

Whatever is on the ema, Walter sees fit to stand up on his toes as far as he can to put it as high as those little arms can reach. It’s high to him.

“Got it, little man?” Delilah puts an arm around his shoulders when he studies his handiwork, a pensive look moving from shrine to mom.

“I think that’s good. Perfect.” Walter links his hand quietly back into Delilah’s before she leads them back to the crowd.

Like a robot or a zombie, Delia follows the procession just up to the altar and carefully places both of her little plaques down. She steps back and stares at them for a few minutes, like a moment of silence for her dearly departed, before she moves in to adjust them. It's not right.

Pulling a marker out of her pocket, she grabs the one for her mother and scribbles an extra note underneath Mary's name: Jeremiah 31.15-17. Not perfect but better. She does the same for Kincaid's, although his gets another name and note, one that has her heart aching the moment she puts the felt to block.

Come back Eileen, I we miss you.

Luther looks torn by the request. Gutted by the guilt that faces him from Peyton's expression, he barely gets out the words, "I'm sorry," before she's turned and escaping into the crowd. He doesn't try to follow either, but turns a look skyward and fights off a tightness in his throat and chest. When the woman is truly lost in the mass of people, he picks out the small wooden tablets that were pushed into his hands. A quiet sigh escapes him. Luther turns away, joining the line to dutifully fulfill the task requested.

As the second chant begins, the crowd continues to filter in organized lines toward the board now shingled with ema, too many for any one person to read through in a reasonable amount of time. The crisp air stings like a reminder of those lost, those left behind, and those somewhere between. There are enough ghosts in the old bones of New York City to haunt a thousand cities yet to come, but it isn’t anything quite so supernatural that follows in the shadows of the people gathered in this quiet place. It’s shadows and ghosts of memory, taking time on a cool autumn night, to be remembered.

On nights like tonight under a dark sky, on a cool breeze, the absence these ghosts leave can oftentimes be felt more clearly than any amount of presence. Tonight, the city remembers, and in that the lost get to live again.

If but for a night.

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