After Momoko didn't expound on her statement for a few minutes, Lucas' eyes started wandering, then he snapped back to attention. "Oh! Those cake things were delicious, thank you again."
He rummaged in one of his over-sized coat pockets. "I have one left, I thought I'd save it, but you look like you could use some—want to split it?"
Momoko stared at the sweet enclosed in plastic. With all the excitement, she'd forgotten she hadn't had anything since lunch. Her stomach growled its agreement, causing a smile to spread across Lucas' face.
"Okay!" he furiously unwrapped the sweet, pulling it apart and handing her half. "Sweets are better when shared, right?"
"Right." Momoko smiled graciously, taking the offered daifuku and taking a bite.
It really was delicious. The red bean flavor soothing her raw nerves with its nostalgic taste. She chewed the rest of the cake in silence, contemplating what she should do next. It was too soon to go back home, she really didn't want to deal with what waited there.... But she couldn't think of anywhere to go to sort out the mess of thoughts pulsing below the surface. She glanced at Lucas as he finished the last bit of his half of the cake.
"Hey Lucas.... You know you're not that far from my house?"
"I know—" He froze, his face turning bright red.
"What?" Momoko blinked.
"ur....... Um, well..." he reached under the cap and scratched at his head. "I might have followed you home today."
'Not cool.' Flere huffed. 'See, I told you he was creepy.'
'I'm sure...' Momoko tried to squash the panic. 'He had a very good reason.'
"I...." Lucas dropped his hands. "I don't know why. You were just so nice to me, I thought that.... Well, maybe.... But I lost my nerve to knock on the door, so I just wandered over here to eat the sweets you bought me."
"You thought I might let you stay with me?" Momoko supplemented.
"I didn't know what your situation was... or if you'd even think about it—no, never mind. It was a stupid idea, I'm sorry. I'm not a creep, I promise."
"If you say so." Flere tilted sideways. "That sounds very creepy, though."
"N-No! I swear, my intentions were pure!" Lucase panicked.
Momoko found herself laughing again. "Well, maybe not at my house, but I'm sure we can find a place for you to stay."
"R-Really?" his face betrayed the high hopes he'd had, and Momoko found it very endearing.
"Really." She promised. "Though it'll have to wait until morning. I can't really go home right now..."
"Why?" he leaned forward. "Did you get into a fight with someone?"
"Something like that." She sighed and shut her eyes. "I just need some time to think."
"Hmmm.... I know a great place for thinking, and we might get some food, too. Want me to show you?"
She opened her eyes, smiling at her eager new friend. "Sure."
He pulled her to her feet and grinned. "Okay, you're gonna love this!"
He checked his cap, pulling it down so he disappeared once again into his baggy clothes. Momoko tucked Flere into her free hand, and Lucas pulled her other, leading her down the main street at a brisk pace. They made their way uptown, which surprised Momoko. Surely, he had to keep a low profile—heading this way wasn't exactly keeping inconspicuous.
"Hey, Lucas—are you sure it's okay to head this way?"
"Sure." The cap bobbed. "The place we're going to is safe. He's been helping me out, and I haven't visited this trip."
"Trip?" Momoko's eyebrows shot up in surprise. "You mean.... You've escaped before?"
"Well, yea...." Lucas sniffed. "But this has been the longest. I really want it to be forever this time."
Momoko glanced around them, noting no one seemed to pay them much attention, most pedestrians were immersed in conversation via their M-band or tapping on a meta-pad, only glancing up to make sure they didn't run into anything. Perhaps it was safer than she had thought. It wasn't like anyone was on high alert for an escapee... at least not that she was aware of. She couldn't remember seeing a news blip or anything. Maybe it was more of a secret, about mutants at Park Asylum. Probably most people thought what she had, that it was for crazy people and dangerous criminals.... Of course, Sylvia, being close to her mom, would've known different. At the thought, Momoko felt a pang of remorse. She should at least let her guardian know she wouldn't be home for a while.
"Hold up for a second." She tugged on Lucas' hand. He paused, confused.
"I need to make a quick text." She explained, tapping quickly on the m-band remote. She sent the message, letting out a breath. She couldn't put off going home forever, but she felt better being out for now.
"Let's go." She smiled at Lucas, who titled his head with a curious expression, but just took her hand and they resumed their pace uptown.
Momoko let her mind wander as they ducked between crowded streets. She couldn't shake the feeling, no matter how much she tried, that she was caught in something bigger than she could figure out. While Sylvia's comments and the journal swirled in her thoughts, she couldn't get them to form a cohesive picture. It was like everything was pieces to a puzzle she just couldn't grasp. The point about her hair, that she could understand. The suffering of being born different, the rage of people being caged for it that she understood all too perfectly— but it was still too much. It was too personal. What was she supposed to do with this knowledge...? How was she supposed to help people like her—was she supposed to help them? Momoko just felt like a clueless girl trapped in a puzzle box trying to figure out what the box even looks like. She sighed, her warm breath creating small fog in the chill of the night.
Her eyes dropped to Lucas' gloved hand grasping hers. She wasn't sure if it was the material, or the chill of her own hand, but she couldn't feel his warmth. The pressure was there, the rasp of the fabric against her skin, but right now she was yearning for that warmth of body contact... Just the comfort of something like a hug, or a ruffle of the hair could provide. She started to wonder why he was even wearing gloves. Was it for the same reason he sported that over-sized cap and coat he practically drowned in? She pondered if his fingers were as grey as his cheeks—did those markings cover all of his body? Perhaps his nails were the same shade of purple, a dark contrast to pale grey skin, terrifying, yet beautiful. He was as human as he was not.... A fascinating juxtaposition, but he was so kind and seemed so tender that Momoko felt like she couldn't abandon him. Just like Flere. She glanced down at her other hand, clasping the feathery soft ball of sass. It was so temperamental, but so fragile. she felt terrible for dropping him in the alley. Even though he assured Momoko he wasn't hurt, she couldn't help but to if that was the case. Was it as fragile as a baby bird, or as strong as the rock-like egg it came from? It was hard to tell, and it wasn't really a theory she would like to test out anyway.
Lucas slowed as they approached a crosswalk. "There!" he pointed excitedly.
Across the street was a small pizzeria, "Cap'n Joes" that had a huge banner advertising terrace seating.
"Best Pizza anywhere!" Lucas beamed. "and the owner's really friendly too!"
Momoko returned his smile, but a glimpse of a white uniform in the corner of her eye frosted the mood. She turned just in time to catch sight of two Park Asylum guards almost on top of them, their determined expressions betraying that they knew Lucas was who they were looking for.
"Run!" Momoko hissed and pushed Lucas to the side.