Cherry Blossom Procession 4 2 15

[12:33] <Minaplo> [The Adeptus-Marshal's door lock-light was red.-
[12:39] <Minaplo> ["Wonder what she's doing in there." Said Casey Cole.-
[12:40] <Minaplo> ["Probably working out what to say." Said Kenzo. "Or maybe she just likes making us wait?"-
[12:42] <Minaplo> ["Oh aye, there goes the Adeptus-Marshal putting the screws to her hardworking underlings again." Said Casey drily. "Ramping up the tension like a cheesy game show host."-
[12:43] <Minaplo> ["If that's what she's going for, then it's definitely working." Said Kenzo; he shifted in his chair restlessly.-
[12:44] <Minaplo> ["You nervous then, boyo?" Asked Casey.-
[12:44] <Minaplo> ["What, you aren't?" Said Kenzo.-
[12:45] <Minaplo> ["Nah."-
[12:45] <Minaplo> ["Well, a little." She said a moment later.-
[12:46] <Minaplo> [The lock-light turned green. ("You may enter now,") came Marianne's voice from the door console speaker.-
[12:47] <Minaplo> [Kenzo let out a nervous little breath. "Good luck," he said, standing up.-
[12:48] <Minaplo> ["Good luck yourself." Said Casey with a grin.-
[12:58] <Minaplo> ["Please, take a seat." Said Marianne as they entered; they obediently took a pair of chairs in front of her desk.-
[13:03] <Minaplo> ["You two will be pleased to note that we have come to a decision." She said.-
[13:16] <Minaplo> [Neither Casey nor Kenzo said anything; they waited for Marianne to continue, all of their attention laser-focused on her.-
[13:22] <Minaplo> ["… Dr. Tenma." Said Marianne. "We've decided that you are to be Ms. Belrose's new guardian."-
[13:28] <Minaplo> [Tenma let out a long, slow breath; he slumped in his seat slightly. "O-Oh. That's good."-
[13:43] <Minaplo> ["Here are the papers you need to sign," Said Marianne, holding out a datapad. "Once you're ready, we'll bring Elodie here, then you can take her home."-
[13:49] <Minaplo> ["Right. Of course. One second." He took the datapad and began to sign off.-
[13:51] <Minaplo> [Casey, meanwhile, didn't seem to know where to look. She stared at Kenzo for a few seconds, then abruptly turned her gaze back toward Marianne; only to dart it around the room fitfully a moment later.-
[13:58] <Minaplo> [Marianne watched Casey steadily throughout this, breaking off only to accept the datapad back from Kenzo. "Thank you, Dr. Tenma. The two of you are dismissed."-
[14:00] <Minaplo> [Kenzo stood, but Casey remained sitting. "Marshal Amatore, I have some questions I need to ask." She said.-
[14:01] <Minaplo> ["Of course." Said Marianne.-
[14:02] <Minaplo> [Casey waited until Kenzo was gone before speaking up. "Ma'am… Uh, how do I say it?"-
[14:11] <Minaplo> ["Just say it upfront, Lieutenant." Said Marianne.-
[14:12] <Minaplo> ["…" Casey tried to meet Marianne's eye. "Why wasn't I chosen, Marshal?"-
[14:12] <Minaplo> [Marianne remained silent- and Casey continued to speak. "Was I unsuitable somehow? Was it- did it have to do with my… Domestic situation?"-
[14:17] <Minaplo> ["Lieutenant, I understand how you feel." Said Marianne gently. "In situations like this, not being chosen can feel the same as being rejected. But please understand that you weren't considered unsuitable- you and the Doctor were the only candidates to make it this far. Your status as a Changeling had nothing to do with my decision."-
[14:19] <Minaplo> ["Then what was your reasoning, ma'am?" Asked Casey.-
[14:32] <Minaplo> ["There were a few factors." Said Marianne. "I have to stress that Ms. Belrose herself played a role in the decision, which is only fair. She preferred Dr. Tenma based on his profession and age. Furthermore, I preferred Dr. Tenma for purely practical reasons. As CNO of this vessel, your place is on the bridge, a high-priority target for anyone attempting to attack the ship. By contrast, Dr. Tenma's department is heavily armoured and a low-priority target for our enemies."-
[14:33] <Minaplo> ["Furthermore, the war is in a most intense stage at the moment." Said Marianne. "I need my bridge staff to be at their best, and that means having as few distractions as possible."-
[15:00] <Minaplo> [There was a pause.-
[15:01] <Minaplo> [Then Casey let out a small sigh. "I understand, ma'am. Thank you for answering my questions."-
[15:08] <Minaplo> ["Not a problem, Lieutenant." Said Marianne. "Have a good day."-
[15:08] <Minaplo> ["I will." Said Casey. She stood, saluted, and left.-
[15:09] <Minaplo> [There she found Kenzo, back in his seat; he waved at her, a little tentatively. "Hi."-
[15:10] <Minaplo> ["Hey hey." Said Casey, flopping back into her chair. "Now comes the big wait for you, eh?"-
[15:11] <Minaplo> ["Big wait. Big nervous wait." Said Kenzo with a short laugh. "I hope she doesn't hate me on sight."-
[15:11] <Minaplo> ["Oh, pfft. That's a bit melodramatic, boyo." Said Casey with a laugh. "Have you ever known anyone to hate you on sight, eh? Not a one I bet."-
[15:12] <Minaplo> ["Hahaha. That's nice of you to say." Said Kenzo.-
[15:13] <Minaplo> ["Oh aye, but it's true too. Besides, don't worry yourself. The Marshal said that the little lass was part of the whole decision-makin' anyway- if she hated you on sight, you wouldn't have been picked." She said. "Don't stress, eh? You're gonna be a great guardian, I can feel it in me blood."-
[15:13] <Minaplo> ["That makes one of us." Said Kenzo. "I'm still surprised I was chosen."-
[15:14] <Minaplo> ["Surprised, boyo? Really?" Said Casey. "Bright-faced squeaky-clean doctor who everyone likes in charge of all the hurts of the whole dern ship? Yeah, big ol' surprise that."-
[15:21] <Minaplo> ["Squeaky clean, huh?" Said Kenzo wryly. "… Well, at least you make me sound good."-
[15:21] <Minaplo> ["Just tellin' it like it be, doc." Said Casey, giving him a cheerful little grin.-
[15:22] <Minaplo> ["Hah. Thank you, though." Said Kenzo. "I appreciate the pep-up."-
[15:22] <Minaplo> ["Anytime."-
[15:23] <Minaplo> ["… I hope you're not too disappointed, Lieutenant Cole." Said Kenzo.-
[16:04] <Minaplo> [Casey eyed him for a moment, then shrugged lightly. "Ah, a little, but it happens. Just gotta trust that it's for the best and move on."-
[16:09] <Minaplo> ["For the best." He repeated. "Yeah, you're right. Still, I'm sure you would've made a fine guardian, Lieutenant."-
[16:10] <Minaplo> ["Heh, thanks." Said Casey. She rose to her feet. "I should be off, though. Good luck, doc."-
[16:10] <Minaplo> ["Thank you." He said quietly- then stood up himself a few seconds later. "Lieutenant?"-
[16:10] <Minaplo> [Casey stopped and turned. "Mmm?"-
[16:12] <Minaplo> ["My department expanded recently." Said Kenzo. "That is, we've had new doctors and medics assigned to us, you know, from France and the United States."-
[16:12] <Minaplo> ["That's… Good." Said Casey hesitantly.-
[16:18] <Minaplo> ["Yes. It- it is. You know, we've been so overworked down there ever since Mars- since before Mars, really. So new staff really helps take the burden off the rest of us."-
[16:19] <Minaplo> ["Neat." Said Casey. "Sucks to be overworked."-
[16:19] <Minaplo> ["Yeah." Said Kenzo. "Especially since the war's so intense right now, I mean… It's a pretty necessary thing for us to have."-
[16:20] <Minaplo> ["It sure is." Said Casey.-
[16:47] <Minaplo> ["It also means that we don't have to be working overtime, so I have a little more free time now." Said Kenzo. "So, er, would you like to have dinner with me on Saturday?"-
[16:48] <Minaplo> ["… Oh, so that's what this is about." Said Casey; she grinned. "You've got a really roundabout way of asking someone out, boyo."-
[16:49] <Minaplo> ["It's never been my strong suit." He said sheepishly.-
[16:50] <Minaplo> [Casey snorted. "Yeah? No kidding? But sure, I'd love to have dinner with you, doc. This saturday, yeah?"-
[16:50] <Minaplo> ["That's right. I can, er, pick you up around seven?" He said.-
[16:51] <Minaplo> ["Sounds good to me. I'll see you then, doc." Said Casey cheerfully before turning around and walking away.-
[16:53] <Minaplo> [Kenzo smiled, watched her leave then glanced around. After making sure no one was watching, he pumped his fist, smoothed down his hair then sat back down.-
[16:56] <Minaplo> [A few minutes passed before someone else arrived- a FISF agent escorting a girl, no older than 14 or so.-
[16:57] <Minaplo> ["Doctor Tenma?" Said the FISF agent. "I'm here to transfer Ms. Belrose to your care."-
[16:58] <Minaplo> ["Yes, thank you." Said Kenzo, standing up. "I can handle it from here."-
[16:58] <Minaplo> [The agent nodded, patted Elodie on the shoulder for a moment, then left.-
[16:59] <Minaplo> [Kenzo turned toward her and smiled. "Elodie Belrose, I presume?"-
[17:04] <Minaplo> [Elodie was a thin teenage girl, at best an inch over five feet tall. She had large hazel eyes and thick, wavy dark brown hair tucked into a soft cap. Elodie had a pale complexion and thin lips. All in all she looked quite gamine and wiry. That said, she was looking better now than she had before being taken aboard; access to regular, nutritious meals and routine washing had given her a healthier, fuller look instead of the gauntness that had marked her features.-
[17:05] <Minaplo> [She wore a brown hoodie over a pair of grey slacks and a pair of trainers. The only thing she had with her was a faded, battered wheeled travel bag with an extended handle, bearing the picture of some brown-haired anime girl on the front.-
[17:06] <Minaplo> [She looked up at Kenzo and scratched the back of her neck. "Yeah, that's me. You're Tenma?" She said, a little suspiciously. "You're kinda tall."-
[17:12] <Minaplo> ["I am. I hope that's okay." He said, giving her a smile and holding out his hand. "I'm very pleased to meet you, Elodie."-
[11:43] <Minaplo> [She hesitated for a moment before taking his hand and shaking it. "Yeah."-
[11:44] <Minaplo> ["C'mon, let's go home." Said Kenzo cheerfully.-
[11:44] <Minaplo> […-
[11:44] <Minaplo> [Kenzo's apartment was a mess.-
[11:48] <Minaplo> [It was rather larger than many of the ship's dorms. For example, it had two large beds nose-to-nose, and its attached bathroom had a bath as well as a shower. There were several large wardrobes and bookcases as well, with a desk against the far wall.-
[11:49] <Minaplo> [One bed had clearly been used; its sheets and blankets were rumpled and untidy. More to the point, both beds were strewn with random books, clothes, tools and electronics.-
[11:50] <Minaplo> [More clothes had been thrown into the wardrobes in a haphazard, uneven manner with no rhyme or reason as to what went where. On the bookshelves sat more books, many of them disorganised, lying on their side or just sitting in little stacks on the shelves.-
[11:52] <Minaplo> ["Here we are." Said Kenzo. "What do you think?"-
[11:53] <Minaplo> ["This is a warship, right?" Said Elodie. "Aren't you supposed to tell someone if a bomb hits your room?"-
[12:14] <Minaplo> ["…" Kenzo coughed into his hand. "I uh… I don't really use this place very much. I sleep here- mostly- and that's about it."-
[12:16] <Minaplo> ["Hrm." Elodie put her bag up on the spare bed. "At least you got me my own bed. That's a good start."-
[12:18] <Minaplo> ["Actually, I've always had that bed." Said Kenzo.-
[12:19] <Minaplo> ["Oh yeah? For all your girlfriends then, is it?" She asked with a wry smirk.-
[12:20] <Minaplo> ["Sorry, I don't have any girlfriends." Said Kenzo. He began shifting some of the detritus off his bed.-
[12:22] <Minaplo> ["Pfft." Elodie snorted. "Yeah, right. Guy like you probably has a date every week."-
[12:23] <Minaplo> ["I really don't." Said Kenzo. "I have a date this weekend, but it's my first date in eight years."-
[12:23] <Minaplo> ["Oh, so you're a no-good old lonely bachelor, then?"-
[12:24] <Minaplo> ["Are those my only choices?" Asked Kenzo wryly. "Playboy or loser?"-
[12:25] <Minaplo> ["S'a dog eat dog world, old man." Said Elodie, who had finished clearing off her own bed.-
[12:25] <Minaplo> ["How old are you supposed to be, again?" Muttered Kenzo.-
[12:26] <Minaplo> ["Fourteen. How old are you supposed to be? Fifty?"-
[12:26] <Minaplo> ["… Actually, I'm 41." Said Kenzo. "That's still young."-
[12:26] <Minaplo> [Elodie just gave him a smirk before she started unpacking her bag.-
[12:27] <Minaplo> ["…" Kenzo rubbed the back of his neck before sitting down on his bed. "Alright, Elodie. What do you say we spend some time getting to know each other, huh?"-
[12:28] <Minaplo> ["Yeah, sure." Said Elodie, tugging a bundle of old clothes out of her bag before turning around to focus on Kenzo. "You first."-
[12:28] <Minaplo> ["Heh, alright." He said. "My name's Kenzo Tenma, but that's not actually the name I was born with." He said. "I was born and raised in Osaka, which is a city in Japan."-
[12:33] <Minaplo> ["Cool. Big city?" She asked.-
[12:33] <Minaplo> ["The biggest in Japan." Said Kenzo. "Maybe the biggest in the world. It used to be even bigger, though."-
[12:34] <Minaplo> ["How big is big?"-
[12:34] <Minaplo> ["It's probably twenty times larger than Paris." Said Kenzo.-
[12:34] <Minaplo> ["Huh. Sounds like a real messy place." Said Elodie.-
[12:35] <Minaplo> ["It's not too bad." Said Kenzo with a laugh. "It's a great place, though. You go to Tokyo if you want tacky bars and gaudy clothes, you go to Kyoto if you want old shrines and kimonos, but you go to Osaka if you want good food and lots of it."-
[12:38] <Minaplo> ["So it's where all the gourmets live, then?" Asked Elodie.-
[12:40] <Minaplo> ["You could say that." Said Kenzo. "Actually, the stereotype is that Osakans are penny-pinching gluttons. I never really believed it until I moved away to study… A guy with my appetite kind of stood out in the student kitchens."-
[12:41] <Minaplo> ["What about you? Are you a big-dish girl or what?" He asked.-
[12:41] <Minaplo> ["Oh yeah." Said Elodie with a shrug. "I eat whenever I can, y'know. Eat until I'm full."-
[12:42] <Minaplo> ["Hah. We've got something in common, then." Said Kenzo with a smile.-
[12:42] <Minaplo> ["Guess so." Said Elodie.-
[12:42] <Minaplo> ["Hm. Alright, your turn." Said Kenzo.-
[12:48] <Minaplo> [Elodie scratched the back of her neck. "I'm Elodie Belrose. My parents died in an Angel attack, and Sera de Pteres squished my house and my rabbit too. I haven't been to school in two years. We uh, we came from Toulouse. Mum and dad were looking for work."-
[12:50] <Minaplo> ["… I'm sorry to hear that." Said Kenzo.-
[12:51] <Minaplo> ["S'no big deal." Said Elodie with a shrug. "I've been okay at looking after myself, anyway, but having to scavenge gets old after awhile."-
[13:01] <Minaplo> ["Yeah, it does, huh?" Said Kenzo. "It's pretty impressive how well you've done, though."-
[13:01] <Minaplo> ["Thanks." Said Elodie.-
[13:01] <Minaplo> [There was a pause.-
[13:04] <Minaplo> ["S-so anyway." Said Kenzo. "Look, Elodie, I can tell that you're not the sort of young lady who's going to take well to just being told what to do. But I think it's important for us to be on the same page, so why don't we come up with some house rules together, huh?"-
[13:06] <Minaplo> ["Sure." Said Elodie. "Rule one: this place should be kept tidy."-
[13:07] <Minaplo> ["… Isn't that the sort of rule the adult should give?" Muttered Kenzo.-
[13:07] <Minaplo> ["I hate untidy places. That's how you lose and break crap." Said Elodie; she folded her arms. "Understood?"-
[13:16] <Minaplo> ["… Yeah, I get it." Said Kenzo. "We should work out some sort of work schedule, then…"-
[13:20] <Minaplo> ["Look, you have a busy job." Said Elodie. "So I'll do some cleaning on weekdays, and when you have a free day, we'll do a big clean then. Sound good?"-
[13:20] <Minaplo> ["Yeah, that works. Hahaha, you're organising me, huh?" Said Kenzo.-
[13:25] <Minaplo> [Elodie glanced around the room pointedly. "Well someone's gotta."-
[13:27] <Minaplo> ["Man, you're harsh." Muttered Kenzo.-
[13:27] <Minaplo> ["Also, I want a privacy divider." Said Elodie. "Can you do that?"-
[13:28] <Minaplo> ["I uh, think we can manage that." Said Kenzo quickly. "Now, Elodie, I also think it'd be a good idea for you to go back to school."-
[13:28] <Minaplo> ["School, huh? On the ground?" She muttered skeptically.-
[13:31] <Minaplo> ["Well… Not quite. There's a few children on this ship who can't or won't be shifted elsewhere." Said Kenzo. "So a bunch of the staff volunteer their free time to run classes for them. It can be a bit haphazard, but the content's good."-
[13:32] <Minaplo> ["Yeah, sounds great." Said Elodie with a nod. "Does this place offer apprenticeships?"-
[13:32] <Minaplo> ["Apprenticeships? Er… I don't know. Maybe." Said Kenzo with a laugh. "Thinking about a job already? I don't know if we can really offer many choices. Soldier, engineer, doctor, scientist?"-
[13:59] <Minaplo> ["Yeah, that'll do. Not soldier, but the others are fine." Said Elodie.-
[14:10] <Minaplo> ["Do you have any preference?" Asked Kenzo.-
[14:10] <Minaplo> ["Whichever pays the best." Said Elodie.-
[14:22] <Minaplo> [Kenzo laughed. "Fair enough, fair enough! I'll go ask around and see what I can do." He said. "Also, uh… I don't have any kitchen or pantry here. I mostly eat out or at the cafeteria. Are you okay with that, or do you want me to see about getting something installed?"-
[14:22] <Minaplo> ["Yeah, get one installed." Said Elodie. "It'd be sad if you couldn't cook for yourself."-
[14:28] <Minaplo> ["I can cook for myself." Said Kenzo, a little defensively. "Not amazing, but well enough- I grew up helping around in the family restaurant, you know…"-
[14:29] <Minaplo> ["Then it shouldn't be a big deal, huh?" Said Elodie, folding her arms.-
[14:29] <Minaplo> ["… You know, you seem kinda oddly insistent on this." Said Kenzo.-
[14:34] <Minaplo> ["Let's get one thing straight." Said Elodie. "You didn't adopt me, I adopted you. Okay?"-
[14:34] <Minaplo> ["Really?" Said Kenzo.-
[14:36] <Minaplo> ["Really." Said Elodie firmly. "I had a look at your files, and you seemed like the one who needed me the most."-
[14:39] <Minaplo> ["Haha… Isn't it the other way around?" Said Kenzo lightly.-
[14:41] <Minaplo> ["It's not. There were a whole bunch of people who offered to take me in." Said Elodie matter-of-factly. "But really none of them seemed better than the other, which means the best way to choose is to see which one I can benefit the most."-
[14:41] <Minaplo> ["I can't fault your logic." Said Kenzo. "But why me? I'm not actually that needy as a person."-
[14:42] <Minaplo> ["You're in your forties but you're still single. You're educated and have a good job, but you spend all your time working. I saw your file. I saw where it said 'hobbies'. Do you know what they wrote down? Big ol' question marks all in a row." Said Elodie. "Let's face it, you don't have a life. You're just the medicine guy."-
[14:43] <Minaplo> ["Oh my God, is this what they mean by reincarnation?" Said Kenzo hollowly. "You're my mother, aren't you? You died in Impact, then you came back as a damned French street rat with a big mouth!"-
[14:47] <Minaplo> ["So you didn't have a life back then either, huh?" Said Elodie, smirking.-
[14:49] <Minaplo> ["I had a life!" Snapped Kenzo. "Dammit, I'm a respected doctor in charge of medicine on board the greatest military asset in the entire Earth Federation! I don't need to defend the way I live to anybody."-
[14:51] <Minaplo> ["So you're happy with how you're living now, then?" Said Elodie.-
[14:51] <Minaplo> ["I-"-
[14:52] <Minaplo> [Kenzo stared at Elodie, meeting her gaze- before looking away. "You're not your everyday teenager, are you?" He muttered.-
[14:53] <Minaplo> ["Nah, I'm not." Said Elodie happily. She leapt off her bed and up onto Kenzo's, punching him in the arm. "Look, I'm grateful to you for taking me in. Okay? But I won't be satisfied until I pay you back."-
[15:07] <Minaplo> ["You don't have to pay me back, Elodie." Said Kenzo, reaching up to rub his arm. "This isn't the street- I'm not tracking your debts or anything."-
[15:08] <Minaplo> ["… Whoever said that this was a street thing?" Said Elodie, an edge of irritation in her voice. "You wanted to help me, great. Now I want to help you. Okay? We can help each other."-
[15:12] <Minaplo> ["Help each other, huh? Like we're a team, then?" Said Kenzo with a smile.-
[15:13] <Minaplo> ["Yeah, like a team." Said Elodie with a firm nod. "My dad always said that not every team's a family, but every family's a team, and they work best when everyone pulls their weight."-
[15:14] <Minaplo> ["Your dad sounds like a smart guy." Said Kenzo.-
[15:14] <Minaplo> ["Yeah, he was." Said Elodie. For a moment, her gaze become unfocused; she seemed to be staring off into nowhere.-
[15:19] <Minaplo> [Kenzo raised his hand toward her shoulder- then at the last moment, hesitated and pulled it back. He stared down at his hands, a frown on his face.-
[15:19] <Minaplo> [Elodie shook her head, and the moment passed.-
[15:20] <Minaplo> ["…" Kenzo looked back up at her, his frown easing into a smile. "So we're a team, huh? Only…"-
[15:20] <Minaplo> ["Only what?" Said Elodie.-
[15:20] <Minaplo> ["So far most of your suggestions have been about how much of a loser I am." Said Kenzo.-
[15:20] <Minaplo> ["Not true. I also offered to clean." Retorted Elodie.-
[15:24] <Minaplo> ["Oh, well, that's true…" Said Kenzo, his expression thoughtful. "I did say most, though."-
[15:25] <Minaplo> [Elodie simply folded her arms and stared up at him.-
[15:25] <Minaplo> [Kenzo stared back for a few seconds- then laughed and shook his head. "Come on, let's go grab something to eat."-
[13:35] <Minaplo> […-
[13:37] <Minaplo> [The cafeteria kitchens were mostly empty. There were a few people sitting around eating various meals, usually something quick and easy.-
[13:37] <Minaplo> ["Ah, good time for it." Said Kenzo cheerfully. "What'll it be? How about… A pizza?"-
[13:38] <Minaplo> [Elodie eyed him suspiciously. "Is the cheese cheap and… Not aged?"-
[13:38] <Minaplo> ["Uh… Probably cheap, yes. Probably not aged. Is that a problem?" Said Kenzo.-
[13:38] <Minaplo> ["I'm lactose intolerant." Said Elodie. "Most pizza cheeses make me sick."-
[13:39] <Minaplo> ["No kidding, huh?" Said Kenzo. "Well, you're in luck, I know lots of things that don't use dairy at all."-
[13:44] <Minaplo> [After a few minutes poking about in the pantries and fridges, Kenzo gave Elodie a thumbs-up. "We've got broccoli, carrots, beans, some pork, soy sauce and a bit of ginger… How about stir-fry?"-
[13:44] <Minaplo> ["Neat." Said Elodie. "Want me to cut some stuff up?"-
[13:45] <Minaplo> ["Oh, you don't…" Began Kenzo. Then he paused and frowned slightly. "As a matter of fact, go ahead. Start on the pork first, cut it small and thin, it needs to go on first…"-
[13:48] <Minaplo> [Elodie worked quickly and cleanly- first on the pork, then moving onto the vegetables. After no more than fifteen minutes or so, the meal was ready and plated up; Elodie and Kenzo took their seats in the main hall and began to eat.-
[13:49] <Minaplo> ["… This is pretty good." Said Elodie, sounding surprised.-
[13:50] <Minaplo> ["I told you, I grew up helping in the family restaurant." Said Kenzo with a laugh. "I learned this from my own father. I'd have liked fresher ingredients, but you can only do so much when you're at war."-
[13:51] <Minaplo> ["Oh yeah, everything costs more now." Said Elodie with a frown. "It was nearly impossible to buy some stuff, around the time I came here."-
[13:51] <Minaplo> ["Yeah, I guess it would be…" Said Kenzo. "You stayed in Paris when most of the city was evacuated too, huh?"-
[13:52] <Minaplo> ["Yeah." Said Elodie. "But that wasn't too bad. Lots of food still in the shops and everything."-
[13:52] <Minaplo> ["Oh, you just took from shops… You didn't pay?" Said Kenzo.-
[13:53] <Minaplo> ["Nah." Said Elodie with a slight shrug. "Are you gonna get mad?"-
[13:53] <Minaplo> ["I'm sure I should," Said Kenzo, "But I've had to steal food in my own time as well. I get it."-
[13:54] <Minaplo> ["Huh." Said Elodie, before going back to her food.-
[13:55] <Minaplo> [Someone approached the table. Kenzo looked up to see Maya Ibuki.-
[13:55] <Minaplo> ["Hello, sensei." Said Maya cheerfully.-
[13:55] <Minaplo> ["Good afternoon, Ms. Ibuki. How're you today?" Asked Kenzo.-
[13:56] <Minaplo> ["I'm busy." Said Maya with a slight huff. "Something's got all the higher-ups stirred up. And in this case, I feel like the coffee being stirred."-
[13:57] <Minaplo> [Elodie squinted slightly down at her food, but Kenzo chuckled. "Don't I know it. I've only just managed to get some more free time myself, thank heavens. Would you like to join us?"-
[13:58] <Minaplo> ["I can't, sorry, sensei." Said Maya. "I'm just here to grab some lunch for me and a few others in Technical."-
[13:58] <Minaplo> ["Oh, I see. No problem, then." Said Kenzo.-
[13:58] <Minaplo> [Maya smiled, and turned her gaze toward Elodie. "Oh, who's this?"-
[13:59] <Minaplo> [Elodie looked up warily. "Hi."-
[14:00] <Minaplo> ["This is Elodie, a Parisian. She's going to be living with me from now on." Said Kenzo. "Elodie, this is Maya Ibuki, she's part of our science division- she works on all kinds of things, including the Evangelions."-
[14:00] <Minaplo> ["Nice to meet you, Elodie." Said Maya warmly.-
[14:01] <Minaplo> ["… Yeah, you too." Said Elodie, offering a hand; Maya shook it.-
[14:02] <Minaplo> ["Elodie was asking earlier about apprenticeships." Said Kenzo. "Who knows, Ms. Ibuki? Perhaps you'll be playing master to your own little apprentice soon enough."-
[14:02] <Minaplo> [Elodie flushed slightly, but Maya beamed. "That'd be awesome, wouldn't it~? Tell you what, if you have some time this week, let me know and I'll give you a tour of technical. Sound good?"-
[14:03] <Minaplo> ["Uh. Yeah, that sounds pretty sweet, thanks." Said Elodie, giving Maya a small smile.-
[14:05] <Minaplo> ["Great!" Said Maya. "Anyway, I should be off. It was good to meet you, Elodie. Have a good day, okay?"-
[14:06] <Minaplo> ["You too." Said Elodie.-
[14:06] <Minaplo> ["Say hi to the lot down in technical for me." Said Kenzo.-
[14:06] <Minaplo> [After Maya had left, Elodie turned toward Kenzo with a slight, thoughtful frown.-
[14:07] <Minaplo> ["What's wrong?" Asked Kenzo.-
[14:31] <Minaplo> ["'Sensei'." Said Elodie. "That's Japanese, isn't it?"-
[14:31] <Minaplo> ["Yeah, that's right." Said Kenzo.-
[14:34] <Minaplo> ["Hrm. So I'm gonna have to learn Japanese sooner or later." Said Elodie. "And more than that, so I know how to live in Japan…"-
[14:34] <Minaplo> ["I wouldn't worry too much." Said Kenzo.-
[14:35] <Minaplo> ["Pretty sure I should." Said Elodie. "I'm not gonna rely on you to deal with everything-"-
[14:35] <Minaplo> ["Sorry, that isn't what I meant." Said Kenzo. "I'm… Probably not going back to Japan after the war."-
[14:46] <Minaplo> ["… Huh?" Elodie's frown deepened. "Why not?"-
[14:46] <Minaplo> ["It's a long story." Said Kenzo. "But I'm not really welcome in Japan."-
[14:49] <Minaplo> ["Oh. I'm, erm. Sorry." Said Elodie awkwardly. "Where are you going, then?"-
[14:53] <Minaplo> ["Haha, I haven't a clue, Elodie." Said Kenzo, chuckling. "I was just going to go as opportunity allows…"-
[15:02] <Minaplo> ["Oh, alright." Said Elodie.-
[15:03] <Minaplo> [They ate in silence for a little while before Elodie spoke up. "We're not at war with Japan, are we?"-
[15:04] <Minaplo> ["No, we're not." Said Kenzo. "… But we aren't allies, either. They're trying to stay out of it as long as they can."-
[15:06] <Minaplo> ["Oh." Said Elodie. "You, Ms. Maya… You're all here though, fighting for us. Is that why you're not wanted back in Japan?"-
[15:07] <Minaplo> ["Mmm… It's complicated. My situation isn't like Ms. Ibuki's or her boss, Dr. Akagi." Said Kenzo. "You know NERV, right?"-
[15:07] <Minaplo> ["Kinda. They owned the Evas once, I think." Said Elodie.-
[15:08] <Minaplo> ["Uh-huh. They had bases all around the world." Said Kenzo. "Paris, Tokyo, so on and so forth. Ms. Ibuki and I both worked at NERV Tokyo."-
[15:08] <Minaplo> ["Okay."-
[15:09] <Minaplo> ["When the Federation declared itself, Ms. Ibuki, Dr. Akagi and a few others fled here." Said Kenzo. "But they took some things with them- research, computers, other tools and things like that."-
[15:09] <Minaplo> ["Oh, so they're in trouble for stealing." Said Elodie.-
[15:15] <Minaplo> ["Yeah." Said Kenzo. "But I'm not in the same boat. I was assigned to head NERV Medical in Paris back in January, four months before the Federation declared itself- so I was already here, not in Tokyo, when that all went down."-
[15:20] <Minaplo> ["Then you didn't steal anything, which means…" Began Elodie.-
[15:20] <Minaplo> ["That's right." Said Kenzo. With a small flourish, he finished off his bowl. "Ahh, that felt pretty good, huh?"-
[15:21] <Minaplo> ["Huh? Oh, er-"-
[15:21] <Minaplo> ["C'mon, hurry up." Said Kenzo happily. "After you're done, I'll take you down to Blue's and see about getting you some more clothes."-
[16:06] <Minaplo> [Kenzo stood up and hurried off to clean his plate before Elodie had time to reply.-
[16:10] <Minaplo> ["Mph." She huffed, staring at his back as he went. With a sigh, she turned back to her own plate and began to finish it off.-
[16:10] <Minaplo> […-
[16:19] <Minaplo> [The next few days passed quickly for Kenzo and Elodie. As promised, Elodie began to clean their room- not all at once, but rather spending an hour each day focusing on one part. It was a good thing, too, because the actual contents of the room grew quite quickly at the same time. There were many things to buy- more clothes for Elodie, which went into some of the now-cleaned out wardrobes; books and pens for school, as well as a laptop bought from the technical surplus; a new desk for her, as well as the necessary chair; and finally a large divider that partitioned the room into two, which could be collapsed down as necessary.-
[16:33] <Minaplo> [It also meant Elodie having to adjust to Kenzo's schedule. He often came home around 7 PM, although he made an effort to ensure that the two ate dinner regardless. During the day, Elodie spent her time reading her books, wandering around the open areas of the battleship, or getting used to her computer.-
[16:34] <Minaplo> [On Saturday, Tenma came home early.-
[16:41] <Minaplo> [He vanished into the bathroom and emerged 40 minutes later, his chin clean-shaven, his hair thoroughly washed and combed, and smelling of soothing, soapy scents.-
[16:42] <Minaplo> ["How do I look?" Said Tenma nervously. He wore a deep blue button-up t-shirt over a pair of long jeans.-
[16:42] <Minaplo> ["Very… Blue?" Said Elodie.-
[16:43] <Minaplo> ["Is blue a bad thing?" Asked Tenma.-
[16:48] <Minaplo> ["I don't think so. It could be, though." Said Elodie.-
[16:49] <Minaplo> ["Yeah, thanks. Big help you are." Muttered Kenzo. "Maybe I should go change…"-
[16:49] <Minaplo> ["Ditch the jeans." Said Elodie.-
[16:51] <Minaplo> [Another five minutes in the bathroom and he returned, now wearing long black trousers instead. "Better?"-
[16:52] <Minaplo> ["Yeah, neat." Said Elodie. "You're really hyped up about this date, huh?"-
[16:52] <Minaplo> ["Everyone feels nervous over a first date." Said Kenzo. "You will too, one day. In fact I'm looking forward to that day so I can make fun of you."-
[16:53] <Minaplo> ["Hah." Elodie snorted. "Bet I won't be as awkward as you."-
[16:54] <Minaplo> ["I'll take that bet. I can picture it now." Said Kenzo, closing his eyes. "A panicked phone call… 'Kenzo, help me, I accidentally ate him whole with my big mouth'…"-
[16:54] <Minaplo> [Elodie rolled her eyes.-
[16:55] <Minaplo> [At that moment, the doorbell chimed.-
[16:55] <Minaplo> ["Ah, good." Said Kenzo. "Enter!"-
[16:55] <Minaplo> [The door opened to reveal Maya Ibuki. "Hi, sensei. Hey, Elodie."-
[16:55] <Minaplo> ["Thank you for coming, Ms. Ibuki." Said Kenzo.-
[16:55] <Minaplo> ["You're going on a date with Ms. Maya?" said Elodie, her eyes widening slightly.-
[16:56] <Minaplo> ["No no." Said Kenzo with a laugh. "Ms. Ibuki offered to spend the night keeping you company is all."-
[16:56] <Minaplo> ["Is that okay, Elodie?" Asked Maya.-
[16:56] <Minaplo> ["Yeah, 'course." Said Elodie, giving Maya a thumbs up.-
[16:57] <Minaplo> ["Great." Said Maya. "How're you feeling, sensei?"-
[16:58] <Minaplo> ["Nervous." Said Kenzo. "How do I look?"-
[16:58] <Minaplo> ["You look good, sensei." Said Maya. "If I were you, though, I'd leave out the soapy scents next time."-
[16:59] <Minaplo> ["What, really?" Said Kenzo, his face falling.-
[17:00] <Minaplo> ["Yeah. It's not a disaster or anything, but it comes on a bit strong. It's just my preference, but I prefer it when men just smell fresh and clean rather than anything." Said Maya.-
[17:00] <Minaplo> ["Ugh, I'll remember it for next time. Thanks, Ms. Ibuki." Said Kenzo.-
[17:01] <Minaplo> ["Don't mention it. I thought you'd be more at home on a date, though." Said Maya.-
[17:01] <Minaplo> ["It may surprise you to know that this is my first date in eight years." Said Kenzo, glancing awkwardly back at Elodie.-
[17:02] <Minaplo> ["That's a long time between dates." Said Maya. "Kinda funny though, considering I asked you out about three years ago…"-
[17:02] <Minaplo> [Kenzo frowned. "I don't remember that."-
[17:02] <Minaplo> ["Ouch." Said Elodie, giving Kenzo a slow, sarcastic clap.-
[17:05] <Minaplo> ["Ah, I'm used to it." Said Maya, waving idly at Elodie. "It's hard being where I am, you know- I don't have Admiral Katsuragi's figure or Akagi-senpai's brains, so I just don't stand out for most men."-
[17:05] <Minaplo> ["That's nonsense, surely?" Said Kenzo. "You're plenty smart and attractive, Ms. Ibuki. I'm sure I would've said yes if you'd asked twice."-
[17:05] <Minaplo> ["Maybe, but I only asked you in the first place because it was a really slow week…"-
[17:06] <Minaplo> ["…" Kenzo scratched the back of his neck.-
[17:06] <Minaplo> ["Double ouch." Said Elodie gleefully.-
[17:13] <Minaplo> [Maya gave Kenzo a sunny smile. "Don't worry too much, sensei, okay? Just be yourself and I'm sure it'll go fine."-
[17:19] <Minaplo> ["You can always ring if it doesn't." Said Elodie enthusiastically.-
[17:19] <Minaplo> ["Yeah, thanks, Elodie." Said Kenzo with a pained look.-
[17:20] <Minaplo> [Maya giggled as she took a seat. "So what's your plan, sensei?"-
[17:20] <Minaplo> [Kenzo gave both Maya and Elodie a cautious look. "Dinner…"-
[17:20] <Minaplo> ["Oh yeah? What's for dinner?" Asked Maya lightly.-
[17:21] <Minaplo> ["His own foot, more'n likely." Said Elodie.-
[17:42] <Minaplo> ["Ha ha." Said Kenzo tonelessly. "In all honesty, I'm not sure, Ms. Ibuki. I was going to leave it up to her- Blue's or Restful…"-
[17:42] <Minaplo> ["It's a shame we don't have more options." Said Maya. "You couldn't get time on the ground?"-
[17:43] <Minaplo> ["Afraid not." Said Kenzo.-
[17:43] <Minaplo> ["Hmm. And what about after, sensei? Got anything entertaining planned?"-
[17:44] <Minaplo> ["Not really." Murmured Kenzo, scratching across his cheek absently. "Stargazing, maybe? It looks like it'll be a clear night…"-
[17:44] <Minaplo> ["Stargazing's pretty romantic, but… Hmm." Maya frowned slightly.-
[17:45] <Minaplo> ["You can't take her to see a movie?" Said Elodie.-
[17:45] <Minaplo> ["No movie theatres." Said Kenzo.-
[17:45] <Minaplo> ["Well that sucks." Said Elodie firmly. "I love movies. Maybe you could invite her back here to watch some movies, eh?"-
[17:45] <Minaplo> ["I don't think so." Said Kenzo. "She might get the wrong idea if I start inviting her back home on the first date."-
[17:46] <Minaplo> ["Huh, oh yeah…" Said Elodie, nodding slowly.-
[17:47] <Minaplo> ["I'm sure it'll work out for a first date." Said Maya. "Try to get groundtime for your second date, though. Or wait for one of Chancellor Zhang's fairs to pass through."-
[17:47] <Minaplo> ["Good idea." Said Kenzo. "Thanks, Ms. Ibuki."-
[17:47] <Minaplo> ["Don't mention it~"-
[17:47] <Minaplo> ["Heh." Kenzo stood up. "Alright! I should head off, need to pick her up soon. Wish me luck, okay, you lot?"-
[17:48] <Minaplo> ["Good luck, sensei!" Said Maya, clapping lightly.-
[17:48] <Minaplo> ["Yeah, good luck. Don't do anything dumb." Said Elodie, giving him a thumbs up.-
[17:48] <Minaplo> ["I'll do my best. See you two later." Said Kenzo warmly. He waved to them as he left.-
[17:48] <Minaplo> […-
[14:55] <Minaplo> [("Just a min'!") came Casey's voice over the intercom.-
[14:55] <Minaplo> [Kenzo waited; about a minute later the door opened.-
[14:59] <Minaplo> [Casey stood in the doorway. She wore her hair down, letting its lovely natural curl bounce freely across her neck; a pale green flower clip above her right eye provided a pleasing contrast. Casey wore a figure-hugging red turtleneck sweater, a pair of long denim jeans, and black ladies shoes that Kenzo recognised as belonging to the standard female UEF dress uniform.-
[15:00] <Minaplo> ["Sorry 'bout the wait." She said, looking at him with an expression of faint surprise. "I lost the bloody flower. Wasn't sure whether to wear it in the first place, y'know?"-
[15:00] <Minaplo> [Kenzo coughed politely. "Um. It's a very nice flower."-
[15:04] <Minaplo> ["Thanks, doc." Said Casey happily. "Y'see you get told about colour coordination, right? And here I was hoping to accentuate my eyes, but it's tricky to match hazel. I see you nailed it, though, doc; that shirt really brings out your eyes. Good job."-
[15:05] <Minaplo> ["Oh. Oh, yeah. Thanks. I'm glad you noticed." Said Kenzo. "You look good, Ms. Cole. Very well coordinated."-
[15:06] <Minaplo> [She shot him a thumbs up as she stepped out of the room; the door closed behind her. "It's kind o'ya to say so, doc." Said Casey. "I don't really have nothing fancy in my wardrobe 'part from the ol' dress uniform, so."-
[15:08] <Minaplo> ["Yeah, I know how you feel." Said Kenzo. "I have the one suit, and that's pretty much it. It doesn't get much use these days anyway, so."-
[15:08] <Minaplo> ["Yeah, right?" Said Casey. "So did you have an idea of where to go for dinner, doc?"-
[15:10] <Minaplo> ["I do. Well. It's not like we have a lot of options." Said Kenzo. "It's kind of either Blue's or Restful, isn't it?"-
[15:14] <Minaplo> ["Aha, now, you're not gonna try inviting me back to your apartment for a homecooked meal?" Said Casey slyly.-
[15:15] <Minaplo> ["Ahem." Kenzo coughed. "I don't have a kitchen. And I couldn't just boot Elodie out for the night."-
[15:57] <Minaplo> ["You could use the cafeteria kitchens." Said Casey.-
[15:58] <Minaplo> ["True. But I have a rule: no cooking homecooked meals on the first date." Said Kenzo.-
[15:58] <Minaplo> ["…" Casey eyed him. "Bad experiences, huh?"-
[16:00] <Minaplo> ["Bad experiences." Said Kenzo.-
[16:00] <Minaplo> ["Wanna tell me 'bout it?" Said Casey brightly.-
[16:01] <Minaplo> ["… Sure." Said Kenzo. "That seems like a smart thing to do. But we should really figure out where to go first."_
[16:01] <Minaplo> ["Hm. I'm thinking Blue's." Said Casey. "Better chance of music, aye?"-
[16:02] <Minaplo> ["Oh, that's true. And they have games there, too." Said Kenzo. "Pool table…"-
[16:02] <Minaplo> ["Remember when this ship used to have a giant board game room and swimming pool?" Said Casey fondly. "That'd be fun."-
[16:03] <Minaplo> ["I admit, there's less to do now than there used to be." Said Kenzo. "Hey, do you remember the chaos after they permanently turned off the Brothergrams? Everyone had to start cooking for themselves and cleaning their own rooms…"-
[16:04] <Minaplo> […-
[15:28] <Minaplo> ["Oho, sup you two?" Said Blue, leaning over the bar. "Y'all out on a hot date then?"-
[15:29] <Minaplo> ["Is it really that obvious?" Said Kenzo, the door closing behind him.-
[15:29] <Minaplo> ["Well look, y'all dressed up fancy." Said Blue.-
[15:29] <Minaplo> ["…Ish." He added. "Dressed up for, y'know… The battleship."-
[15:30] <Minaplo> ["Hey, we're all doin' our best with what we've got." Said Casey. "S'a warship, who brings fancy clothes on a warship, boyo?"-
[15:31] <Minaplo> ["That question ain't as academical as you think it is." Said Blue with a smirk. "I'll have you know, m'clothes business is boomin' right now."-
[15:31] <Minaplo> [Casey craned around him to stare at the door leading to the tailor's. "Oh aye, you say that, but I bet folks aren't buying anything y'made recently, are they? They're all buyin' your pre-rationing stock."-
[15:32] <Minaplo> ["A sale is a sale." Said Blue, his tone pious. "I mean, yes, but I take what I can get."-
[15:32] <Minaplo> ["What happens when you run out of rationed material clothes?" Asked Kenzo.-
[15:33] <Minaplo> ["Same thing that always happens when rationed shit runs out: everyone's standards drop." Said Blue. "Now y'all go sit down, y'know where the menus are- oh, there's a bit of a surprise waitin' in 'em, but it's nothin' too bad."-
[15:34] <Minaplo> [Casey shot Blue a deeply suspicious look as she sat in a little booth along the wall. Kenzo wasn't far behind, sitting opposite.-
[15:36] <Minaplo> [Blue's was rather sedate at the moment. Perhaps a third of the tables had clients, and many of those clients were alone. There were much fewer staff on duty as well. To round out the quiet little picture, today's music was slow jazz played by a band made up of American soldiers.-
[15:42] <Minaplo> [There were a few that Casey and Kenzo recognised: The Riel siblings had a table near the back; Luna was looking unimpressed at one of James's stories. At another table sat Aoba, Cornelia and Edgar, the three of them discussing the state of the war. At the far back, sitting at a poker table with a bright grin on his face, was the new Japanese ambassador Liberté Égalité Fraternité. He did not seem to be winning.-
[15:43] <Minaplo> ["Y'know, I don't think I see you in here very much, doc." Said Casey.-
[15:45] <Minaplo> ["I don't suppose I've been in here very often." Said Kenzo. "Usually only with co-workers, and we rarely eat together like this."-
[16:04] <Minaplo> ["Hmm, why's that?" Said Casey.-
[16:05] <Minaplo> ["I couldn't honestly say." Said Kenzo. "I guess it's just not a thing we do… Maybe it should be? Would that help department morale?"-
[16:05] <Minaplo> ["Is that a thing that needs helpin', then?" Said Casey.-
[16:06] <Minaplo> ["Morale is always one good shock away from snapping in Medical." Said Kenzo. "We have a lot of patients, all the time- not all of them make it. We've had to deal with injuries that no one on Earth has seen before. Dr. Paget ended her own life back on Mars, and she was well-respected, too…"-
[16:07] <Minaplo> ["We're overworked, underequipped and pretty much everyone knows it." Said Kenzo with a sigh.-
[16:07] <Minaplo> [There was a heavy silence in the wake of Kenzo's words.-
[16:10] <Minaplo> [Kenzo drummed his fingers on the tabletop restlessly. Casey meanwhile glanced away; she caught Blue's eye, who stared at the two of them before covering his face with a hand.-
[16:11] <Minaplo> ["S-So." Said Casey, her voice cheery. "Wanna order? Y've not been here much so ye probably dunno what they have to offer, but I know the menu off by heart."-
[16:13] <Minaplo> ["S-Sure." Said Kenzo; he took one of the menus, whilst Casey took the other.-
[16:15] <Minaplo> ["Ooh, you reprinted, Blue? You big spender." Said Casey. "I wasn't gonna bother, but I may as well flip through it anyway…"-
[16:15] <Minaplo> ["…"-
[16:15] <Minaplo> [Casey's eyes narrowed. Then she scowled. Then finally she rounded on Blue furiously. "You thieving bastard!"-
[16:16] <Minaplo> ["What?" Said Blue innocently.-
[16:33] <Minaplo> ["The prices went up! On everything! Even the sides!" Said Casey, waving a hand angrily in the air. "Wha' the hell, Blue?"-
[16:33] <Minaplo> ["Rationing." He said.-
[16:34] <Minaplo> ["Oh aye, rationin', that your reason? More like Roku and Restful're kickin' your arse." She said. "Wha' about the cheesy fries, then? What's rationed in them?!"-
[16:44] <Minaplo> ["Well it's the war, you see. It makes life tough." Said Blue with a sigh, "The French are charging a protection tax on commerce ships they're escorting, so vavoom! Prices go up. Military mobilises in Europe and the States, suddenly y'got another two million soldiers to feed, so vavoom! Prices go up."-
[16:45] <Minaplo> ["Goddamned potato crop fails in the motherfuckin' Soviet Union- a thing you of all people should be sympathetic to, lassie-"-
[16:45] <Minaplo> [Casey shot him a deeply dirty look-
[16:45] <Minaplo> ["And vavoom! Prices, go, up." Said Blue. "That, as they say, is economics."-
[16:46] <Minaplo> ["Hmph." Casey slumped back in her chair, her arms folded. "S'daylight robbery. Don't you agree, doc?"-
[16:52] <Minaplo> ["It, um. Definitely." Said Kenzo, who had spent the entire debacle turning his head to and fro between them. "But, uh, it's not a disaster. Tell you what, I'm not actually feeling like I want a main- I ate before coming, so I'm not really hungry. Why don't we just ask for one or two extra-large sides, share those and split the bill."-
[16:53] <Minaplo> ["Huh? How come you ate before?" Asked Casey with a frown.-
[16:53] <Minaplo> ["I didn't want to be hungry for this. I'd rather talk with you than eat." Said Kenzo.-
[16:54] <Minaplo> ["…" Casey squirmed slightly. "Oh. Oh, yeah, sure. Halves is good."-
[16:54] <Minaplo> ["Great." Said Kenzo, cracking a smile. "Besides, I'm an Osaka man- I'll put away my fair share or more besides, don't you worry."-
[17:40] <Minaplo> ["Haha, if you say so." Said Casey, grinning. "One plate of the cheesy fries and another of the wings, then?"-
[17:43] <Minaplo> [It took about ten minutes for Blue to bring their orders- an extra large plate of fat steak fries covered in melted cheese with a dash of some spice and an aioli sauce; a basket of chicken wings with three types of sauce; and finally a beer for Kenzo and a mug of stout for Casey.-
[17:44] <Minaplo> ["Thanks, bastard." Said Casey as blue slunk away. She tore a single fry away from the great cheesy mass and ate it.-
[17:44] <Minaplo> ["Mmm!" She smiled to herself, then turned toward Kenzo. "So, doc. Tell me about all your hobbies."-
[17:45] <Minaplo> [Kenzo's fry-holding fingers paused mid-way to his mouth. A second later they resumed. He ate his fry with a rather deliberate slowness before speaking. "According to Elodie, my official dossier records my known hobbies as three question marks in a row."-
[17:49] <Minaplo> ["What?" Casey leaned forward, frowning at him- yet in a wide-eyed way. "C'mon, that can't be right. Everyone has a hobby. Look at Cornelia, she's really into whales. Or look at Blue, he's really into bein' a wanker. Think back, doc, there's gotta be something you do. Or did?" She added hopefully.-
[17:51] <Minaplo> ["… Hmm." Kenzo leaned back and sighed thoughtfully. "I'm sure you're right, but it's hard to think of these things when you're asked, isn't it?"-
[17:51] <Minaplo> ["Haha, sorry." Said Casey.-
[17:51] <Minaplo> ["Hm, actually, I do remember something." He said. "I haven't done it in about eight or nine years, but I used to play a lot of soccer once, and I used to run marathons."-
[18:00] <Minaplo> ["A sporty fella, then." Said Casey. "Y'got any football stories for me?"-
[18:00] <Minaplo> ["Nothing good." Said Kenzo. "It was just a team that the hospital staff threw together. I was alright. Usually played defensive. We won slightly more than we lost."-
[18:04] <Minaplo> ["Y'had fun, though?" Asked Casey.-
[18:05] <Minaplo> ["Yeah, I had fun. It got me out and about, helped keep me fit. I can't really ask for more than that." Said Kenzo.-
[18:05] <Minaplo> ["Hm~ maybe we should set up our own football league." Said Casey. "Bridge vs weapons vs security vs medical vs technical. Sounds good, huh, doc?"-
[18:05] <Minaplo> ["Sure. Do you play too, then?" He asked.-
[18:05] <Minaplo> ["Oh, I used to. I used to play it a lot when…"-
[18:06] <Minaplo> [Casey paused; her gaze flicked away for a moment.-
[18:06] <Minaplo> [Her smile fell from her face. But it passed, and a second later she was back to focusing on Kenzo.-
[18:10] <Minaplo> ["Alright, so football was a loss. What about marathon stories then?" She asked.-
[18:10] <Minaplo> [Kenzo laughed. "None of those either. Every marathon is the same: you run 42 kilometres, then die."-
[18:10] <Minaplo> ["So you never finished one then, huh?"-
[18:11] <Minaplo> ["…" Kenzo scratched his cheek. "Alright, I left myself open for that one. I'll have you know that I've finished more than a few in my time."-
[18:33] <Minaplo> [Casey laughed. "'Course you have, doc, never doubted it. Still, no stories?"-
[18:34] <Minaplo> ["No stories… Well. Not from any of my marathons." Said Kenzo. "But… Alright, I have a story about a marathon. Does that work?"-
[18:34] <Minaplo> ["Absolutely." Said Casey, her tone only slightly relieved.-
[18:35] <Minaplo> [Kenzo smiled. "Alright, let's start with the Olympics. Do you follow them much?"-
[18:39] <Minaplo> ["Sure. I followed a lot of Berlin-2 2012." She said. "That one was probably my favourite. Boston 2008 was a little too…"-
[18:39] <Minaplo> ["Fascist showcase?" Offered Kenzo.-
[18:40] <Minaplo> ["Ye, that." Said Casey, nodding quickly. "I woulda liked to see Paris-2 2016, but…"-
[18:40] <Minaplo> ["But." Said Kenzo with a nod. "Well, I'm not going to talk about any of those."-
[19:38] <Minaplo> ["No?" Said Casey.-
[19:42] <Minaplo> ["No." Said Kenzo. "The modern olympics are too well-run, you see. Have you heard much about the 1904 St. Louis Olympics?"-
[19:42] <Minaplo> ["Can't say that I do, it never really came up much." Said Casey.-
[19:42] <Minaplo> ["Good." Said Kenzo. "Should I go on?"-
[19:42] <Minaplo> ["Go ahead, doc."-
[19:48] <Minaplo> ["Alright." Said Kenzo. "So originally, the 1904 Olympics was awarded to Chicago. But the problem was that in 1904, St. Louis was hosting the… What was it? a world's fair, celebrating the Louisiana Purchase."-
[19:48] <Minaplo> ["Oh yeah? What's that, then?" Asked Casey.-
[19:48] <Minaplo> ["I don't know too much myself-"-
[19:51] <Minaplo> ["The Louisiana Purchase," Began Blue, appearing at the table so quickly that Kenzo toppled his own beer and Casey yelped, "Was the sale of the French colonial territory of Louisiana to the United States government in 1803. A massive region stretching from New Orleans to the south all the way through the Mississippi basin and farther into southern Canada, it formed the territory of a whole six US states and had portions of another nine."-
[19:52] <Minaplo> ["What the hell, Blue?!" Snapped Casey, as Kenzo began furiously dabbing at the table.-
[19:57] <Minaplo> [Wearing a smug grin the size of the Mississippi itself, Blue continued. "The sale of the territory was agreed on in 1803 between President Thomas Jefferson and Consul Napoleon Bonaparte. British naval supremacy and his inability to check the Haitian Revolution ended Bonaparte's hopes of ever maintaining a French colonial empire, and so he sold the territory to the United States, intending to use the money to fund a military force to invade England. He also hoped that the acquisition of territory would encourage the United States to develop into a major power to rival Britain."-
[19:58] <Minaplo> ["That's, uh, impressive that you know that, Mr. Blue." Said Kenzo.-
[20:02] <Minaplo> ["Well, y'all know I'm from New Orleans, right?" Said Blue with a grin. "What kinda Louisianan would I be if I didn't know 'bout the Louisiana Purchase?"-
[20:03] <Minaplo> ["Sweet Jesus, go away, Blue! Stop meddlin' with my date!" Shouted Casey. "Go on! Get!"-
[20:03] <Minaplo> [Blue sauntered away, looking enormously pleased with himself.-
[20:04] <Minaplo> ["What a shit." Said Casey. She let out a long breath, took a sustained gulp of her drink, then turned back to Kenzo. "Ignore him, doc. I'm listenin'."-
[20:04] <Minaplo> ["Er." Kenzo pushed the small mound of beer-soaked napkins that had accumulated away, cleared his throat, thought for a moment and then continued.-
[20:07] <Minaplo> ["… Anyway, er. The Olympics wasn't a huge deal back then, so the idea of it competing with the world's fair seemed pretty bad for both functions. Even worse, the St. Louis organisers began to threaten that they'd hold their own sporting event to compete with the Olympics unless the Olympics were moved to their city."-
[20:07] <Minaplo> ["So they straight up bullied the Olympics?" Said Casey.-
[20:09] <Minaplo> ["Yeah. And the Olympics caved. It moved to St. Louis." Said Kenzo. "Not many people could afford to actually go to St. Louis to compete, though, so only about a dozen countries showed up, and half of the athletes were American."-
[20:11] <Minaplo> ["Sounds kinda pointless." Said Casey.-
[20:11] <Minaplo> ["You're not wrong. As it stands, the Olympics came off as a sort of sideshow to the World's Fair." Said Kenzo. "But it's the marathon I want to talk about."-
[20:11] <Minaplo> ["Oh ye?"-
[20:12] <Minaplo> ["Ye. I mean, yes." Said Kenzo. "Let's see… Where to begin? So the participants had to run around 40 kilometres through the streets of St. Louis. The temperature was about 30 degrees celsius, which is more or less about four to six degrees too hot for a marathon."-
[20:13] <Minaplo> ["Oof, yeah. I start to burn past 25 meself."-
[20:13] <Minaplo> ["Also, along this entire 40 kilometre stretch, there was only one water stop." Said Kenzo.-
[20:13] <Minaplo> ["What? No way."-
[20:14] <Minaplo> ["Way." Said Kenzo. "It was about 20 kilometres in, it was a well, and anyone who wasn't from St. Louis became violently ill from drinking it, because it wasn't treated."-
[20:14] <Minaplo> ["You're joking." Said Casey. "How could they do that?"-
[20:15] <Minaplo> ["The marathon's coordinator was curious to see what happened to the human body when forced to perform whilst severely dehydrated." Said Kenzo.-
[20:15] <Minaplo> ["…"-
[20:15] <Minaplo> ["That can't be right." Said Casey. "That's insane! Someone could've died!"-
[20:15] <Minaplo> [Kenzo gave her a meaningful look.-
[20:16] <Minaplo> ["No way." She breathed.-
[20:16] <Minaplo> ["I'm serious." said Kenzo. "Not only was it hot and water limited, the ground was also made up primarily of dirt roads, and many of them had sharp, jagged rocks…"-
[20:16] <Minaplo> [Casey clapped a hand over her eyes. "Noooo!"-
[20:18] <Minaplo> ["The favourite for the marathon collapsed a whole two kilometres in." Said Kenzo. "It gets better!"-
[20:18] <Minaplo> [She peeked at him between her fingers.-
[20:21] <Minaplo> ["See, the path the marathon was on was also open to cars driven by officials and the runners' support team." Said Kenzo. "They used to drive quite close to the runners, and kick up clouds of dirt. One runner was found lying face down, coughing up blood- see, he'd swallowed so much dirt, it had actually worn away his stomach lining and covered up his esophagus."-
[20:21] <Minaplo> ["D-Did he die?"-
[20:21] <Minaplo> ["No, he lived, but he was only the first of about three people to nearly die during that marathon." Said Kenzo.-
[20:22] <Minaplo> ["Oh my God."-
[20:23] <Minaplo> ["The second was a Cuban mailman." Said Kenzo. "See, amateurs could compete in the Olympics then, and this mailman had crowdfunded the money to attend. He rocked up wearing street clothes, including trousers he'd cut into shorts. He spent a bunch of time speaking to spectators, at one point he stole a spectator's peaches, then realising he was still hungry, stole some apples from a tree. Unfortunately, they were rotten, and he became so ill that he had to have a nap."-
[20:23] <Minaplo> [Kenzo let the words hang in the air for a moment.-
[20:24] <Minaplo> ["He finished fourth."-
[20:24] <Minaplo> [Casey was no longer hiding her eyes; she was now covering her mouth.-
[20:25] <Minaplo> ["Another fellow was an African from South Africa who wasn't actually there for the Olympics- he was part of a Boer War reenactment, but he competed because they needed competitors. He finished ninth, but he would've finished higher if he hadn't been chased several kilometres off the path by a pack of feral dogs."-
[20:25] <Minaplo> [Casey let out a long, horrified groan.-
[20:27] <Minaplo> ["The third man to nearly die, his name was… What was it… Hicks." Said Kenzo. "Hicks was leading the race, but about 15 kilometres from the finish, he gave up… However, his support team physically restrained him to keep him from giving up. So he kept running, but he begged for water."-
[20:27] <Minaplo> ["D…Did they give him water?" Whispered Casey.-
[20:28] <Minaplo> ["No." said Kenzo. "They sponged his face with water, poured it over him, then gave him a raw egg and a dose of rat poison."-
[20:28] <Minaplo> ["You're making this up." Said Casey.-
[20:29] <Minaplo> ["I swear I'm not." Said Kenzo. "See, they gave him strychnine sulfate- when administered in small doses, it acts as a stimulant, because it blocks the signal that tells the nervous system to stop doing something, more or less."-
[20:29] <Minaplo> ["So it cuts the breaks?" Said Casey.-
[20:29] <Minaplo> ["Yeah. Except in large doses, you die a spasming death. This is what they gave him to keep running- it's the first recorded case of drug use in the Olympics."-
[20:30] <Minaplo> ["Oh my God, oh my God…"-
[20:30] <Minaplo> ["A few more kilometres in, Hicks is about to collapse again." Said Kenzo. "So they give him another raw egg, another dose of rat poison, and to wash it down, they give him another stimulant- a bottle of brandy."-
[20:30] <Minaplo> ["… But alcohol-"-
[20:30] <Minaplo> ["I know." Said Kenzo.-
[20:31] <Minaplo> ["How did he not die?!"-
[20:32] <Minaplo> ["I'll get to that in a minute." Said Kenzo. "Because around this point, Hicks gets overtaken by another American named Lorz. And Lorz looks absolutely fine, not sick, dying or anything."-
[20:32] <Minaplo> ["Huh."-
[20:33] <Minaplo> ["In fact, Lorz goes on to cross the finish line first." Said Kenzo. "And the daughter of the president is there to wish him well and give him a laurel wreath, he's photographed… The problem is that Lorz had actually given up a few kilometres in, and had jumped in his support car and driven most of the way… When the car broke down, so Lorz decided to finish the race for fun. He crossed the line, but didn't actually tell anyone he'd given up."-
[20:33] <Minaplo> ["You're kidding me!"-
[20:33] <Minaplo> ["Nope." Said Kenzo. "When confronted on it, Lorz instantly admitted that he'd cheated, and said he only went along with it all… As a joke."-
[20:34] <Minaplo> [Casey was now covering her face with both hands.-
[20:35] <Minaplo> ["Hicks eventually crossed the finish line first, literally being carried on the shoulders of two of his support crew. He'd been given several doses of rat poison, several raw eggs, two bottles of brandy, and no water. He collapsed the instant he crossed the line and would've died if there hadn't been doctors on hand."-
[20:35] <Minaplo> [Kenzo paused again for dramatic effect. "Throughout the course of the marathon, Hicks had lost three and a half kilograms off his body mass."-
[20:38] <Mianplo> ["That's awful." Said Casey, her eyes wide. "That's just… Sweet Jesus, that's so bad. No one died?"-
[20:50] <Mianplo> ["No one died, but it remains the worst marathon in Olympic history." Said Kenzo.-
[20:51] <Mianplo> ["Well I should bloody hope so!" Said Casey. "Wild dogs and rat poison…"-
[18:46] <Mianplo> ["… Though," She said, looking up at him. "That's kinda weird story for a date, doc."-
[19:15] <Mianplo> ["You'll remember it though, right?" Said Kenzo with a grin.-
[19:16] <Mianplo> ["Oh aye, but it's a bit of a weird thing to remember a date for. Imagine the goss tomorrow; 'Oh yeah, I'll ne'er forget the way he lovingly told me 'bout some poor bastards dyin' in Saint Louis'…"-
[19:22] <Mianplo> ["It could be worse." Said Kenzo. "I know of a doctor who went on a date once and tried to strike up conversation by talking about how his date's meal reminded him of a surgery he recently did…"-
[19:22] <Mianplo> [Casey screwed her eyes shut. "No no no!"-
[19:22] <Mianplo> ["Yes yes." Said Kenzo with a laugh. "The stupid bastard talked himself into a corner, and it was all downhill from there. She didn't finish her meal."-
[19:30] <Mianplo> ["Oh my God." Said Casey. "Oh no… This isn't the part where you tell me the doctor was really you, was it?"-
[19:31] <Mianplo> ["Give me some credit." Said Kenzo with a bright smile. "I try to keep work out of my dates as best as possible."-
[19:44] <Mianplo> ["Oh, good." Said Casey. "That's a relief. But, that does remind me…"-
[19:44] <Mianplo> ["Hm?"-
[19:44] <Mianplo> ["You said you don't cook at home anymore." Said Casey with a smile. "Remember?"-
[19:45] <Mianplo> ["Oh. Oh right." Said Kenzo. "It's… Stupid. I was sixteen, I invited a girl back to the family restaurant after dinner, tried to hand-cook a meal. It was, er, soupy. And I spilled it all over, er, us."-
[19:47] <Mianplo> ["Accidentally?" Said Casey.-
[19:47] <Mianplo> ["Y-…" He frowned. "Is there a scenario where you'd deliberately spill soup on your date?"-
[19:50] <Mianplo> ["Sure." Said Casey with a laugh. "Hupsydaisy, soup goes over, girl's now got soppy clothes, you go, 'oh dear, can't go home with all that soup and wet clothes, we have some spare clothes here, why dontcha change'?"-
[19:58] <Mianplo> ["And then whilst she's all changin', the heavens open up, and it begins bucketin' down and then you're like 'oh no, y'can't go home in this weather, why don't ye stay the night and we'll ring yer mam?' and then y'put out the spare bedroll and y'can get to know her better through the night all cozy like." Said Casey knowingly.-
[19:59] <Mianplo> ["So I'd spill soup on a girl to get her to stay the night, so long as it also rained." Said Kenzo.-
[19:59] <Mianplo> ["That'd be the long and short of it, doc."-
[20:05] <Mianplo> ["All so I could get to know her better?" Said Kenzo with a wry smile. "I'm surprised you didn't suggest I peek in on her whilst she was changing."-
[20:05] <Mianplo> ["Well, that'd be because me name's 'Cole' and not 'Riel', y'see."-
[20:45] <Mianplo> ["Fair point." Said Kenzo. "So was that something you did as a teenager then?"-
[21:01] <Mianplo> ["Heh, me?" Casey shook her head. "I didn't… Get a lot of time to do that, y'know…"-
[21:01] <Mianplo> ["No?" Said Kenzo, his expression one of surprise.-
[21:02] <Mianplo> ["Well, y'know, about me…"-
[21:03] <Mianplo> ["…?" Kenzo tilted his head in confusion.-
[21:03] <Mianplo> ["… Guess not, huh." Said Casey with a light shrug. "Don't worry about it doc. Just figured you'd know."-
[21:04] <Mianplo> ["Ah. Sorry…"-
[21:05] <Mianplo> ["Nah, nah." She said, waving her hand dismissively. "So how's Elodie? She settled all in?"-
[21:06] <Mianplo> ["Huh?" Said Kenzo, not responding for a moment- then it clicked. "Oh yeah, yeah. She's settling in real well. Actually she's probably settled in better than I have."-
[21:06] <Mianplo> ["Oh ye?" Said Casey, leaning in curiously.-
[21:10] <Mianplo> ["Well, I dunno. She's pretty comfortable around me. I still don't quite know what I'm doing. It all feels strange to me. Actually… I think she knows better than I do how all this works. She's clever." Said Kenzo.-
[21:11] <Mianplo> [Casey nodded.-
[21:19] <Mianplo> ["It's like she has it all sorted out. She's not afraid to tease me- actually, she's real blunt, basically all the time. She knows what she wants to do- she's already looking for apprenticeships."-
[21:19] <Mianplo> ["Ho, sounds like she is a real go-getter." Said Casey with a grin.-
[21:20] <Mianplo> ["She is, huh? It's strange, though. I thought I'd have to be more hands on." He said. "But I guess she's fine as is."-
[21:22] <Mianplo> ["Well, good on you then, doc." Said Casey.-
[21:22] <Mianplo> ["Me? But I haven't done anything special."-
[21:23] <Mianplo> ["Well maybe y'don't think so, but that young lass feels comfortable with you, and I wager that means a whole lot to her at least." Said Casey- and there was an edge of seriousness in her tone that made it impossible to ignore.-
[21:31] <Mianplo> [Kenzo stared at her, and for a few seconds he did nothing but blink- then he slowly smiled wide, his face lighting up. "… You know what, you're probably right, Casey." Said Kenzo.-
[21:33] <Mianplo> ["'Course." She said, tapping his hand lightly. "Look, I'm guessing that when you offered to take Elodie in, y'didn't have a plan or anything, you just figured you could help, so you would. And now that it's happened y'think there's gonna be a big flash of light and the plan'll come to you, right?"-
[21:34] <Mianplo> ["Well… Yeah, actually. That's pretty much spot on." Said Kenzo.-
[21:38] <Mianplo> ["How'd you know?" He asked.-
[21:38] <Mianplo> ["Well, s'what I thought meself." Said Casey with a grin.-
[21:39] <Mianplo> ["Naturally." Said Kenzo, his smile matching her's. "It's reassuring to know that I wasn't alone in having pretty much no real plan."-
[21:40] <Mianplo> ["Trust me doc, we're all alone in some way, but on this ship, if you're lookin' for people who never plan ahead, you'll never be alone."-
[21:40] <Mianplo> [Kenzo laughed long and loudly.-
[21:41] <Mianplo> […-
[21:41] <Mianplo> ["Seeya later. Have fun!" Crowed Blue- his hand full of his ill-gotten gains- as the two left.-
[21:42] <Mianplo> ["Thievin' yank son-of-a-bitch." muttered Casey as they left.-
[21:42] <Mianplo> ["Yeah, no kidding." Said Kenzo. "And he was so damn gleeful about it too. What sort of rotten bartender does that?"-
[21:43] <Mianplo> ["One with a monopoly on booze, I think." Said Casey.-
[21:43] <Mianplo> ["Oh yeah. Whose idea was that?"-
[21:43] <Mianplo> ["Command's, I think. He tricked 'em. For a bunch of geniuses, they can be a little dopey sometimes." Said Casey.-
[21:44] <Mianplo> ["I'd like to disagree, but it does seem like they have a few blind spots." Said Kenzo. "There always seems to be scuttlebutt running around that should be top secret, but…"-
[21:45] <Mianplo> ["Or there's dangerous folks runnin' about with world-ending powers." Said Casey.-
[21:47] <Mianplo> ["Or they're letting mavericks come back with tamed Angelspawn…" Muttered Kenzo. "Hey, have you seen Eevi and her pet Lion?"-
[21:48] <Mianplo> ["Oh aye, she brought it up on the bridge the other day. Thing's like… Pony-sized now." Said Casey. "Weren't it just a little kitten a month ago?"-
[21:54] <Mianplo> ["Impact Ferals are nonsense." Said Kenzo.-
[21:54] <Mianplo> ["You're not wrong there, doc."-
[21:57] <Mianplo> [Kenzo shook his head ruefully. "So, how're you feeling?"-
[21:57] <Mianplo> ["Me? I'm feeling good." Said Casey, sounding a little surprised. "Why? Did I seem off?"-
[21:57] <Mianplo> ["No no." Said Kenzo. "It's just that I had something planned, but if you were feeling tired…"-
[21:58] <Mianplo> ["Aw. That's nice, but nah, show me yer plan, doc."-
[21:59] <Mianplo> [She held her bent arm out. After a moment's hesitation, Kenzo linked his arm with hers and led on.-
[21:59] <Mianplo> […-
[22:08] <Mianplo> ["Doc, you're a slyer dog than I thought." Said Casey as the two emerged onto the open deck of the Dorian Lachapelle.-
[22:15] <Mianplo> [The battleship had spent the past few days edging along the northern coast of France. To their left lay the north sea, long and dark, the waves still barely audible; to their right lay the rolling green lands of Flanders and Picardie.-
[22:18] <Mianplo> [But above them lay the night sky, bare and splendid. With no city lights to hide it, the sky shone, every star and constellation blazing in heavenly detail. The Milky Way split the sky with its grand ribbon of flame.-
[22:19] <Mianplo> [And Casey was staring up at it, her expression just as bright. "Bringing me to watch the stars…"-
[22:19] <Mianplo> ["W-Well." Said Kenzo. "I figured… Can't go wrong with stars."-
[22:19] <Mianplo> ["Hah, sure. But I've always loved this. Ever since I was a kid."-
[22:20] <Mianplo> [They walked over toward the edge and took seats along one of the benches.-
[22:20] <Mianplo> [The air was clean and ever so slightly tinted with sea salt. There was enough light to still see each other's faces, and the waves of the sea could be heard clearer here…-
[22:22] <Mianplo> [They were silent for a little while, Casey staring upwards, whilst Kenzo closed his eyes.-
[22:22] <Mianplo> ["D'you want me to show you the constellations?" Asked Casey.-
[22:22] <Mianplo> [Kenzo's eyes snapped open. "You can do that?"-
[22:24] <Mianplo> ["'Course. They trained me in all sorts of navigation- including celestial navigation. Figured it'd help."-
[22:25] <Mianplo> ["Oh. Oh… Yeah, of course." Said Kenzo. "Sorry. I just figured you guys used… GPS and the sort these days."-
[22:26] <Mianplo> ["We do, but… Never know when it'd come in handy." Said Casey. She pulled herself up onto the table, where she laid down; with her right hand she grabbed Tenma's left and held it up at the sky.-
[22:33] <Mianplo> ["There's Aquarius." She said, guiding his hands along a series of bright stars that sat low in the sky. "Which is my sign, in case you wanted to know~"-
[22:33] <Mianplo> ["Oh, really?"-
[22:33] <Mianplo> [She guided his hand a little higher. "There's Pegasus, the winged horse. But it's upside down, so you gotta squint a bit."-
[22:34] <Mianplo> ["Oh yeah… Right, that's the head there?"-
[22:35] <Mianplo> ["Ye. And all the way over here," Casey said, pulling his arm toward her, "… that's the Big Bear. Those seven stars- four in a sort of square, three leading off- that's the Plough."-
[22:37] <Mianplo> ["Oh yeah, I know that much." Said Kenzo with a laugh. "In Japan, we call it the Northern Dipper's Seven Stars, though."-
[22:38] <Mianplo> ["Oh aye? Sounds a bit unwieldy."-
[22:38] <Mianplo> ["It flows better in Japanese."-
[22:38] <Mianplo> [Casey laughed softly.-
[22:39] <Mianplo> [They were quiet for a little bit, but it was Kenzo who spoke up this time. "I used to do this a lot as a boy. Osaka's a crowded city, so I never saw the stars very well. But… I could hear the waves."-
[22:40] <Mianplo> ["… I miss it." He said quietly.-
[22:41] <Mianplo> [Casey released his hand; she rolled over so she could more easily look toward him. "… You okay, doc?"-
[22:41] <Mianplo> ["Yeah, I'm okay." He said gently. "… Maybe. I think I'm a little homesick, Casey."-
[22:44] <Mianplo> ["Aw. It's okay to be homesick, doc. Lotsa people are, I bet." She said warmly. "But the war'll be over soon, and then you can go home again."-
[22:46] <Mianplo> ["… I wish it were that simple." Said Kenzo; he sighed. "I don't know if I'm welcome anymore."-
[22:46] <Mianplo> [Casey frowned. "… What? Why not?"-
[22:47] <Mianplo> ["… I'm a convicted criminal." Said Kenzo. "NERV employed me on a special agreement. The idea was once the war with the Angels was over, I'd go right back to prison."-
[22:48] <Mianplo> ["What?!" She sat up, then awkwardly forced herself back down. "A criminal? You? That… Huh?"-
[22:49] <Mianplo> ["Not what you were expecting, right?" Said Kenzo with a sad chuckle. "But it's true. My real name's Hinata Sasaki. My being here with the Federation right now is basically me doing a runner from parole."-
[22:51] <Mianplo> ["…"-
[22:51] <Mianplo> ["You probably want to know what I did, huh?" Said Kenzo.-
[22:52] <Mianplo> ["… Yeah." Said Casey. "I won't insult you and pretend that I do. But… It doesn't matter, really. The Marshal woulda done lots of background checks. If she thought it was something really bad, she would never have let you take Elodie."-
[22:53] <Mianplo> ["…" Kenzo chuckled roughly. "Thanks, Casey. That's a good response."-
[22:54] <Mianplo> ["People talk a lot 'bout being open, but everyone has something they don't want to talk about." She said quietly.-
[22:54] <Mianplo> ["That's the truth." Said Kenzo. "But… Not many other people know this. Maybe I should tell you anyway."-
[22:55] <Mianplo> ["… I'll listen if you want." Said Casey.-
[22:55] <Mianplo> [Kenzo nodded- then he took a breath and spoke.-
[22:56] <Mianplo> ["I spent Impact working as a doctor in the city ruins." He said. "And… It was hell. Absolute hell. There was a shortage of everything, anything we had was jury-rigged and improvised… And any sort of oversight had collapsed. I spent ages working without a medical license and no one ever knew."-
[22:59] <Mianplo> ["But… That oversight meant that people could disappear pretty easily too." Said Kenzo. "When the cities were rebuilt, I went back and tried to find some of my old patients… They were children, about eleven or twelve. And they'd gone missing."-
[22:59] <Mianplo> [A sudden chill ran down Casey's spine. She'd heard this story before.-
[23:01] <Mianplo> ["I tried to track them down. I had to go through orphanages, witness sightings… A lot of false ends. Eventually I did a few illegal things- broke into some houses, stole some documents. But I found them."-
[23:02] <Mianplo> ["… They'd been put into a child soldier programme." Said Casey. "Hadn't they?"-
[23:03] <Mianplo> ["… Heh, yeah." Said Kenzo. "Yeah, they had. What's worse, by the time I realised it, the programme had been merged into UN ones. NeoSpartans, Companions, Plato, whatever. I wasn't ever able to get them home…"-
[23:06] <Mianplo> ["… So I decided I'd burn the bastards who made it happen." He said, and there was a sudden cold edge to his voice. "I broke into some government offices. I found evidence… I was able to threaten some people into giving me their blackmail material."-
[23:06] <Mianplo> ["Records of kidnapping, child abuse, even worse things- I sent them to the media, and all hell broke loose."-
[23:06] <Mianplo> ["A lot of them lost their jobs, went to prison… But they caught me as well."-
[23:07] <Mianplo> ["… And it was only after I ended up in jail that I realised I'd only ever caught the middle managers. The real culprits were still out there, still in government positions. They were going to make sure I suffered."-
[23:08] <Mianplo> ["Dr. Fuyutsuki was the one to pull me out. He and I worked together during Impact. He was the one who asked for the exemption… But the people who did this, they're still in power, and so long as they are, I can't go home."-
[23:09] <Mianplo> [There was a heavy silence.-
[23:09] <Mianplo> [Then Casey reached down and ran a hand through his hair. "Thank you, doc."-
[23:10] <Mianplo> ["… Heh, that's a weird thing to say."-
[23:10] <Mianplo> ["I mean it." She said. "You- you tried to save those kids. That means a lot."-
[23:10] <Mianplo> ["… But does it matter if I didn't succeed?"-
[23:11] <Mianplo> ["Yeah." Said Casey. "Means the world."-
[19:05] <Minaplo> [There was a waver to her voice as she said it; it was this waver that gave Kenzo pause. He opened his mouth- closed it- then opened it again.-
[19:09] <Minaplo> ["Are you alright, Casey?" He said quietly.-
[19:11] <Minaplo> ["Yeah, me, yeah, I'm okay." She said with a little laugh. The waver was gone. "Look, be clear, you really didn't read me file?"-
[19:11] <Minaplo> ["No." Said Kenzo, sounding slightly puzzled.-
[19:11] <Minaplo> ["What about the newspaper? You musta seen them talking about me during the election?"-
[19:12] <Minaplo> ["I… Didn't follow it, sorry." Said Kenzo, sounding apologetic although he wasn't sure why. "I just assumed Rei and Alphonse would win…"-
[19:16] <Minaplo> ["W-What about goss?"-
[19:17] <Minaplo> ["I uh…"-
[19:17] <Minaplo> ["Grapevine?"-
[19:17] <Minaplo> ["I don't think…"-
[19:17] <Minaplo> ["Scuttlebutt?" Said Casey desperately.-
[19:17] <Minaplo> ["… I mostly talk about work." Said Kenzo shyly.-
[19:18] <Minaplo> ["Sweet Jesus, doc, you're a hopeless case." Said Casey, shaking her head. "How do you not just learn things by, I dunno, osmosis or somesuch?"-
[19:20] <Minaplo> ["I-I don't know, I'm sorry." Said Kenzo. "I… Can try to gossip more in the future?"-
[19:20] <Minaplo> ["Ugh. Isn't frantic gossip kind of the Tokyo Crew's thing?"-
[19:21] <Minaplo> ["… First I've heard of it." Said Kenzo.-
[19:21] <Minaplo> ["Geez." She scowled. "You shoulda at least read my file. I can't believe you haven't!"-
[19:21] <Minaplo> ["W-Why not?"-
[19:21] <Minaplo> ["Yer a doctor, it's your job!"-
[19:22] <Minaplo> ["There's about eight thousand crewmembers on this ship at any given time, of which five thousand are permanently stationed." Said Kenzo. "I only read the files of the ones I actually deal with personally. You… Always get the other doctors."-
[19:23] <Minaplo> ["W-Well… I'm bridge crew, so I'm more important or somesuch." Said Casey.-
[19:24] <Minaplo> ["Alright, alright, guilty as charged." Said Kenzo, holding up his hands in mock-surrender. "So what am I missing?"-
[19:24] <Minaplo> ["Well. The file says I'm a Changeling." Said Casey.-
[21:24] <Minaplo> ["… Oh." Said Kenzo. He turned around, slowly, to look back at her. "Oh, Casey… I'm sorry."-
[21:28] <Minaplo> [She snorted, waving a hand dismissively. "Nah, doc, don't worry 'bout it. You didn't know. That's surprisin' but it's true. Besides, it weren't obvious, was it?"-
[21:31] <Minaplo> ["… You're right." Said Kenzo. "It never crossed my mind. I thought I knew about every supersoldier graduate on the ship…"-
[21:36] <Minaplo> ["Well there you go." Said Casey, her voice and eyes both bright. "That means I'm too normal t'give it all away."-
[21:39] <Minaplo> ["Yes, that's… Actually true." Said Kenzo, his eyes widening slightly.-
[21:56] <Minaplo> ["Hehe." Casey rolled over onto her back, staring up at the starry night sky. "When folk first find out, righ', they usually start walkin' on eggs. Think I'm a fragile little dearie who's carryin' a bucket o' trauma. Or they think I'mma bit of a psycho who might snap'n choke 'em."-
[22:01] <Minaplo> ["… It wasn't fun." She said, her smile fading. "It was a miserable ol' time. They took me away from my mum and dad. The other kids hated me 'cuz I got special treatment. And all the while I just wanted t'go home."-
[22:02] <Minaplo> ["There were times where I felt like no one cared."-
[22:04] <Minaplo> ["… But I grew up." Said Casey. "I became smart an' clever and strong, and all in all… I found my own way to cope."-
[22:05] <Minaplo> ["I'm… Happy with who I am." She said, and as she said it a great smile spread across her face. "I'm a free woman who gets to vote. I'm a bleedin' good pilot. I've been into space."-
[22:21] <Minaplo> ["I've been to Mars." She said. And then she turned to Kenzo. "And I learned that people did care. An' the ones who did? They're now fightin' to set things right for all of us."-
[22:33] <Minaplo> [Kenzo watched, and listened; as he did so his eyes widened. An expression of wonder spread across his face.-
[22:36] <Minaplo> [Casey turned back toward him and grinned. "Things are okay, doc. Things are gonna get better too, for all of us. If I can get meself into space then you can pull Japan's head out of its arse, I'm sure."-
[22:37] <Minaplo> ["Y'trust me?" She said, holding out the same hand she'd used to guide him toward the stars.-
[22:37] <Minaplo> ["How can I not after all that?" Said Kenzo quietly; he took it.-
[22:38] <Minaplo> [There was silence, for a few moments. The sound of the waves below…-
[22:38] <Minaplo> [… And then a light whistle sounded in the air.-
[22:38] <Minaplo> [A moment later, a bright light in the shape of Tsubaki appeared. "Hi." She said apologetically.-
[22:38] <Minaplo> ["Tsubaki? What's wrong?" Asked Kenzo.-
[22:39] <Minaplo> ["Doc, you turned off your pager." Said Tsubaki.-
[22:39] <Minaplo> ["Yeah, I did, I left Harrington on duty… Why, what happened?"-
[22:39] <Minaplo> ["… It's Felix." Said Tsubaki slowly.-
[22:40] <Minaplo> [Kenzo's face fell; he instantly leapt to his feet. "What happened? Tsubaki?!"-
[22:41] <Minaplo> ["Dr. Harrington said it's a heart attack." Said Tsubaki, distress in her voice; she wrung her hands. "I-I got him to the sickbay in time, and he's okay, but…"-
[22:42] <Minaplo> ["Argh." Kenzo wiped at his face. "Of course. Of course it's a heart attack. I told him. I told him a thousand times he needs to change his diet, he needs to see less clients, he needs to relax, but he just-"-
[22:43] <Minaplo> [Kenzo let out a short growl of frustration. "That stupid, stubborn, ignorant old goat…"-
[22:44] <Minaplo> ["H-He'll be okay, right?" Said Tsubaki.-
[22:44] <Minaplo> ["…" Kenzo's expression instantly righted itself. He snapped his head up. "Yeah. Yeah, of course, Tsucchin. Look, Felix survived a civil war, a world war, Fascism, the Cold War, Impact… He's tough, he's not going to be done in by a heart attack."-
[22:45] <Minaplo> ["Old man's heart's too big to break." Said Casey enthusiastically.-
[22:46] <Minaplo> ["Y-Yeah." Said Tsubaki, nodding quickly several times. "Yeah, I know. I mean, I know that…"-
[22:46] <Minaplo> [Kenzo smiled.-
[22:46] <Minaplo> ["Tsucchin, does Harrington want me back at sickbay?" He asked.-
[22:46] <Minaplo> ["Yeah. Sorry, doctor Tenma."-
[22:46] <Minaplo> ["That's okay. I'll be along in a second."-
[22:47] <Minaplo> [Kenzo turned back to Casey. "I'm really sorry…"-
[22:47] <Minaplo> ["Don't stress, doc." Said Casey with a grin. "This is pretty much how I expected the date t'end, really."-
[22:47] <Minaplo> [Kenzo winced, but only slightly. "Yeah… It wasn't very fun, was it?"-
[22:48] <Minaplo> ["Nah." She said. "I went along for a bit of craic, but I think we're both a bit rusty-dusty at it."-
[22:49] <Minaplo> ["But at least we got to know each other a little." Said Casey. "Maybe next time'll be better."-
[22:50] <Minaplo> ["N-Next time?" Said Kenzo; his face lit up. "You mean there'll be a next time?"-
[22:51] <Minaplo> ["Whoa now, doc, don't look so bleedin' relieved." Said Casey with a laugh. "Sure I mean a next time. Got a time in mind?"-
[22:52] <Minaplo> ["Uh… T-This time next week?" He said.-
[22:53] <Minaplo> [Casey made a slightly pitying, 'so-close' look. "One, next Sunday. There's a fair on, and I missed t'first."-
[22:53] <Minaplo> ["T-That sounds fine." Said Kenzo. "Great!"-
[22:53] <Minaplo> ["Yep yep, I'm lookin' forward to it."-
[22:54] <Minaplo> [Kenzo nodded, rapidly and quickly.-
[22:55] <Minaplo> ["I wish I could walk you back to your room, but under the circumstances…"-
[22:55] <Minaplo> [Casey waved him off. "I'm a big girl, doc. I wanna watch the stars s'more besides."-
[22:56] <Minaplo> ["Alright, yeah." Said Kenzo. He turned back toward Tsubaki-
[22:56] <Minaplo> [A pinkish portal hung in the air by her side, about a metre and a half wide and three metres tall.-
[22:58] <Minaplo> ["This'll take you back to Sickbay." Said Tsubaki. "Hurry up, though, I think Ignatenko just sounded an alarm."-
[22:58] <Minaplo> [Kenzo winced; but he started for the portal nonetheless. "You could've warned him."-
[22:58] <Minaplo> ["Meh."-
[22:59] <Minaplo> [Just as Kenzo put a leg through the cache, Casey called out.-
[22:59] <Minaplo> ["Hey Doc."-
[22:59] <Minaplo> [Kenzo turned.-
[23:01] <Minaplo> ["What do you want me to call you?" She said.-
[23:01] <Minaplo> ["Huh?"-
[23:02] <Minaplo> ["Your names. Which one?"-
[23:04] <Minaplo> ["Uh…" Kenzo paused. He thought about it.-
[23:04] <Minaplo> [Finally he said, "What do you think is best?"-
[23:04] <Minaplo> [Casey laughed.-
[23:04] <Minaplo> ["I'll call you Kenzo." She said. "But if it's just the two of us, I'll go with Hinata. That seems like the sensiblest option."-
[23:05] <Minaplo> [Tsubaki's eyebrows crested like a majestic dolphin.-
[23:07] <Minaplo> ["Uh…" Kenzo went fairly red. "I… Okay. Goodnight, Casey. I- I had a good time."-
[23:07] <Minaplo> ["G'night, Kenzo."-
[23:07] <Minaplo> [With that, Kenzo stepped through the portal.-
[23:08] <Minaplo> […-
[23:08] <Minaplo> [The outcome had been expected.-
[23:09] <Minaplo> [Dr. Delgado was going to live, but as unfortunate as it was- as respected and admired as he was, it was starting to become too much.-
[23:09] <Minaplo> [For the first time, Tenma suggested Dr. Delgado retire- and the good doctor had not refused out of hand.-
[23:13] <Minaplo> [And so Kenzo had left Sickbay and headed for home. Tsubaki- in the flesh- met him at the door and walked with him.-
[23:15] <Minaplo> ["… It's strange." Said Kenzo. "I've been telling that man to retire ever since I arrived. He needs to spend time with his wife, his kids…"-
[23:15] <Minaplo> ["Now I have what I want, but it's no fun having it. I feel like a bully."-
[23:16] <Minaplo> ["Felix has been doing therapy since before your dad gave your mum a jaunty look." Said Tsubaki. "He's got the practice in his roots, in his veins… I saw how he looked."-
[23:17] <Minaplo> ["Yeah… I hope he turns out alright." Said Kenzo with a sigh.-
[23:17] <Minaplo> [And so the two walked, Kenzo looking rather depressed. Tsubaki watched, her frown growing, until finally she spoke up.-
[23:17] <Minaplo> ["So how 'bout that date, huh?" She said.-
[23:18] <Minaplo> ["… Yeah, how about it. If I hadn't managed that hail-mary tell-all at the end, it'd be a really sad, lame experience for everyone involved." Said Kenzo.-
[23:18] <Minaplo> ["Don't act like you planned that." Said Tsubaki.-
[23:18] <Minaplo> ["How long were you watching?" Asked Kenzo.-
[23:18] <Minaplo> ["I dunno, how long do people usually watch a train derailing?"-
[23:19] <Minaplo> [Kenzo shot her a dark look.-
[23:19] <Minaplo> ["The thing that really gets me is that you got a second date." Said Tsubaki. "She actually likes you more now than she did! It's amazing. You have so little romantic dexterity that the universe can't take it. It loops around and becomes top tier play."-
[23:21] <Minaplo> ["Like you're any better, you damned albino pod-girl." Said Kenzo.-
[23:22] <Minaplo> [Tsubaki cackled. "Watch me, doc. And learn."-
[23:22] <Minaplo> ["I refuse to learn romantic tips from a schoolgirl demi-goddess with a perverted mind." Said Kenzo.-
[23:23] <Minaplo> ["What did you even do in High School?"-
[23:23] <Minaplo> ["… Study?"-
[23:23] <Minaplo> [Tsubaki stared at him.-
[23:23] <Minaplo> ["That's what you're supposed to do, you know." Said Kenzo.-
[23:24] <Minaplo> ["Y'know, you're a real hot guy." Said Tsubaki with a sigh. "It's a crying shame that you've never figured out anything else. You're like a celibate priest: I stare at you and go 'ugh, what a waaaaaaaaste.'"-
[23:27] <Minaplo> ["Yeah? Yeah?" Kenzo's apartment door was in sight; he turned and started to walk backwards. "You talk a big game, Tsubaki, but how do I know you're really any better, hm?"-
[23:27] <Minaplo> ["Oh come on. Worse than you?" Said Tsubaki.-
[23:28] <Minaplo> ["I'll have you know I had a girlfriend at sixteen."-
[23:29] <Minaplo> ["Ooooh." Said Tsubaki. "He plays his trump card! What didja do? Cuddly shyly over copies of Grey's Anatomy?"-
[23:32] <Minaplo> ["I tell you what we didn't do- stalk a middle-aged doctor during a date." Said Kenzo. "We were too busy for that. Tell you what, you're on a ship full of soldiers, right?"-
[23:32] <Minaplo> ["Yep."-
[23:32] <Minaplo> ["Any of them your age?"-
[23:32] <Minaplo> ["A few."-
[23:33] <Minaplo> ["Well that's good. I'm sure one of them can stand the smell of baked-in LCL. Sounds like you got a shot, Tsucchin."-
[23:33] <Minaplo> ["Ha ha." She said sarcastically.-
[23:34] <Minaplo> ["Do your best, Tsucchin! Let me know how it goes!" He said, holding his hand up to his ear like a phone.-
[23:34] <Minaplo> ["I hate you!" She called light-heartedly.-
[23:34] <Minaplo> ["I hate you too!"-
[23:36] <Minaplo> [Still grinning, Kenzo let himself into his apartment.-
[23:36] <Minaplo> ["Lights, 20%." He murmured as he entered.-
[23:37] <Minaplo> [The dark apartment slowly became dimly lit.-
[23:37] <Minaplo> [The television was still on, its screen glowing brightly; it was some sort of movie menu screen.-
[23:38] <Minaplo> [Elodie and Maya were still here- but it was late, after midnight…-
[23:38] <Minaplo> [Elodie was sound asleep on her bed, curled up tightly. Next to her, just as asleep, was Maya, her arms folded tightly around Elodie's chest.-
[23:38] <Minaplo> ["…"-
[23:39] <Minaplo> [Kenzo scratched the back of his neck. Did she really not just leave…?-
[23:43] <Minaplo> [He shook his head ruefully. He went to the now-neatly folded linen closet, took out a large woollen blanket and gently draped it over the two of them.-
[23:44] <Minaplo> [He stared down at them- the small, slight foster daughter, her posture both defensive and childlike… The warm, cuddly scientist next to her, fondly embracing someone she barely knew.-
[23:45] <Minaplo> [Kenzo chuckled softly to himself. He reached out, patted Elodie fondly on the head, then went back to his own side of the room. He quickly changed, hopped into bed-
[23:45] <Minaplo> [And was soon asleep.]

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