Knight Life

[08:03] <Minaplo> ["Yeah, hey, oi! Look, you can all bloody see, so back up a little."-
[08:07] <Minaplo> [There was the tap of a cigarette against an ashtray. The mild, acrid smell of burning tobacco was easily missed in the melange of scents in the air- fresh beef cooking in a pan, mingled with hot butter and cinnamon; the warm, cleaning smell of steamed rice; the oily smell of a frying egg; the aggressively watery smell of boiled vegetables.-
[08:08] <Minaplo> [There was only one Solomon common room. This was it.-
[08:10] <Minaplo> [It was a large space with a high roof, and good circulation; the air never became too heavy with bad odors here, nor did it become too stale or stagnant. Bright white bulbs, arranged in long thin steel beams, gave the room light. The floor was a patchwork mix of coverings- a large central area was bare chrome flooring, but other areas had carpet, rugs, wood planking, tatami…-
[08:14] <Minaplo> [There were tables and chairs here, numbering in the dozens, able to seat hundreds of people. Some of the tables had board games such as chess, checkers, shogi or go; others were occupied by more intensive pastimes, such as miniature wargames or pen and paper games. Plenty of tables were also outfitted with books, both for pleasure and for self-improvement.-
[08:15] <Minaplo> [There were also televisions, and couches for people to sit on. There were computers as well, enough to accomodate exactly one-fifth of the Solomon population at any given time.-
[08:16] <Minaplo> [There were also kitchen areas, about five or so. The kitchens were almost always occupied, and today, one was drawing a huge crowd of curious gawkers. The reason was simple.-
[08:16] <Minaplo> [Aksel Heiden was cooking, and this always drew gawkers, because he was very good at it.-
[08:17] <Minaplo> [There were a few things that were immediately noticeable about Aksel Heiden. The first was that he was a Solomon Knight Captain. This was obvious, because he was wearing the special black uniform with red and white stripes around his arm, which signified Knight status; and there was a rank pin on his collar, which said he was a Captain.-
[08:18] <Minaplo> ['Wearing', at least, was a generous statement, as the jacket was clearly dishevelled, hung open, and the collar was half-popped, half-folded; the white shirt beneath wasn't tucked in, and a few buttons at the top were open, revealing a singlet; visible through the thin singlet fabric was a hard, diamond-shaped red gemstone embedded in Aksel's chest.-
[08:20] <Minaplo> [The second was that Aksel clearly knew what he was doing. He dominated the kitchen in a territorial sense; he was always doing something, attending to four or five pots and pans and skillets and oven trays at once, innumerable delicacies and meats and grains cooking away merrily; and he never seemed like he was in a rush. Right now, he was pushing beef around a skillet with a wooden spoon,
[08:20] <Minaplo> the head of which was stained with butter.-
[08:22] <Minaplo> [The third was that Aksel Heiden was obviously Raphael Guillory.-
[08:25] <Minaplo> [Although on retrospect that statement wasn't as obvious as it seemed. Aksel didn't look like Raphael Guillory, because Raphael Guillory looked like Shinji Ikari; it was more accurate to say that Aksel Heiden looked like Raphael Guillory did several years ago, except Raphael's hair was always well-kept, whilst Aksel's was a mess and in dire need of a comb. In a similar thread, Raphael
[08:25] <Minaplo> Guillory was very strict on his own facial hair (or rather, had been, since he currently seemed to lack the ability to grow it), whereas Aksel clearly hadn't shaved for a week- and even then, the uneven distribution of stubble suggested that he hadn't shaved well.-
[08:27] <Minaplo> [However, it was hard to see this right now, unless you were right next to him. A crowd of about thirty Solomons had gathered around Aksel, watching in rapt attention as he threw together what he fondly referred to as his 'Heiden Beefzilla'.-
[08:28] <Minaplo> [A Solomon reached out unthinkingly to take one of the strips of beef, and Aksel, equally unthinkingly, rapped her across the knuckles with his wooden spoon. She squeaked and withdrew the hand, cradling it.-
[08:28] <Minaplo> ["…"-
[08:29] <Minaplo> [That reaction wasn't one that pleased him. That sort of reaction- the social faux pas, the aversion to pain- that was the sign of a Solomon newbie, who didn't know better; and it was a female newbie, which made things worse for reasons known only to Aksel.-
[08:33] <Minaplo> [He let out a quietly suffering sigh. He glanced over at the newbie. Slender, shortish (or was that petite, then?) and with long red hair kept strictly tamed into a ponytail by blue ribbons; hair that longed for someone to tug on such a ribbon and let it cascade out as it wished.-
[08:34] <Minaplo> [So, a Langley-Soryu. Alright, then.-
[08:35] <Minaplo> [He placed the wooden spoon down and, with his left hand, reached out and gently took the Langley-newbie's injured hand; with his other, he plucked a particularly juicy strip of beef from the skillet and dropped it into her palm. "There you go." He said kindly. "I didn't mean to hurt you. Someone with such beautiful hands deserves all the apology I can give- here, you enjoy that, alright?
[08:35] <Minaplo> Consider it a token to one free meal courtesy of Chef Heiden."-
[08:37] <Minaplo> [He gave her a soft smile, as well. His teeth clashed with the rest of his appearance by virtue of appearing to be very well looked after.-
[08:38] <Minaplo> [There was an embroiling mix of emotions bursting out over the Langley-newbie's face, and with a grin, Heiden turned back to his cooking. She had to be what, two weeks, three weeks old, max? He knew what it was like to be a newly-woken Solomon. That awkward learning period where you're learning all the rules, how to treat your peers, who to speak with and who to buddy up with and who to
[08:38] <Minaplo> avoid; learning to identify which of your memories were false (which was most of them)…-
[08:42] <Minaplo> [He knew that at that age, a Solomon's personality was a fragile, flexible thing. All sorts of things could screw with it. Simply put, when you're freshly alive and real memories are rare, it's easy to become very attached to things. They all had their allegiance, of course, to the cause, to the Solomon 'family', but all that was, at the end of the day, a false allegiance implanted in,
[08:42] <Minaplo> like ducklings imprinting on a portrait.-
[08:43] <Minaplo> [The Langley-newbie was nibbling on her beef strip, each second, each tiny adventurous probing of the meat a new learning experience. It was like chaos theory, except in this case the butterfly was beef and the cyclone was the psyche of the clone of a teenage girl.-
[08:44] <Minaplo> [Heiden sighed. To be young again. He, of course, knew better, as he was a veteran old-timer of a whole seven months.-
[08:46] <Minaplo> [Eventually, the Beefzilla finished, and Heiden scooped the results into a bowl, turned off all the appliances, and sat down at a table, a pair of chopsticks in one hand. He began to eat- and the cloud of Solomons dispersed.-
[08:48] <Minaplo> [But peace was not to be his fate, since eventually, a voice reached his ears. It reached them because the voice was loud and authoritative and directed at him.-
[08:48] <Minaplo> ["Heiden!"-
[08:53] <Minaplo> [It was a female voice, and whilst this was typically enough to draw Heiden's attention, this particular voice caught his ear for other reasons. Primarily, it was a voice that he would love to hear normally, since it was a cute voice, but unfortunately it had been directed at him all too many times in a tone of anger and so for certain reasons he usually associated it with forms of pain.-
[08:54] <Minaplo> ["Ah." He turned around in his chair, not pausing in his eating for a second. His eyes fell on a woman, a Knight Captain, just like him. Although obviously, not like him, this one was a copy of Misato Katsuragi.-
[08:55] <Minaplo> ["Captain Beatrix!" He said, his tone full of delight. "You're looking fantastically buxom today, did you know that?"-
[08:56] <Minaplo> [He mostly said this to piss her off, because it tended to work.-
[08:56] <Minaplo> [And indeed it did. Her expression darkened almost immediately. "Heiden, what are you doing?"-
[08:57] <Minaplo> ["Eating." He said plainly.-
[08:57] <Minaplo> ["And what should you be doing?" She asked, archly.-
[09:04] <Minaplo> ["Ohhhh, I get it. Please forgive me, Beatrix, my dear." Said Aksel, trying to look contrite.-
[09:05] <Minaplo> ["… Actually, no, that doesn't help." He added after a second.-
[09:09] <Minaplo> ["We have a Captain's meeting in five minutes with Magistrate Narendra."-
[09:09] <Minaplo> [Aksel stared at her, his face a mask of polite puzzlement.-
[09:09] <Minaplo> ["New orders? Missions?"-
[09:09] <Minaplo> [He blinked sleepily.-
[09:09] <Minaplo> ["Ugh. Just be there in five minutes and bring your data card along."-
[09:13] <Minaplo> ["But I'm eating." Protested Aksel. "Do you know the effort I had to go to for this stuff? I had to trade Stefan a girly mag so he could trade that to Maximilian in exchange for a copy of Les Miserables, which he traded to Valeria for an antique chess set, which I had to trade to Marcus for reward food cards! C'mon, you can't take this away from me!"-
[09:13] <Minaplo> ["I really don't care, Aksel-"-
[09:14] <Minaplo> ["C'mon, can't you just take my card for me?"-
[09:14] <Minaplo> ["Not this time!" Said Beatrix, her nostrils flaring dangerously. "I've covered for you before, but it's time for you to step the hell up already."-
[09:15] <Minaplo> ["Fuck it. Whatever." Muttered Aksel. He stood up, grabbed his bowl and chopsticks, and resentfully, reluctantly, stalked off to follow Beatrix.-
[09:15] <Minaplo> [The corridors were far emptier than the common room. Solomons weren't the sort to really congregate in corridors, basically.-
[09:16] <Minaplo> [Beatrix had a weird look on her face, as though something was bothering her.-
[09:16] <Minaplo> ["What?" Asked Aksel.-
[09:17] <Minaplo> ["What do you need with a 'girly mag'?"-
[09:17] <Minaplo> ["I think the need there's pretty obvious." Said Aksel darkly. "You know the situation with my special lady."-
[09:17] <Minaplo> [She shot him a dark look. "I still think it's dangerous, you and her-"-
[09:19] <Minaplo> ["Yes, mum. You've told me. Look, it's fine. It's fine, alright? It's not like it's common knowledge, and we're not actually breaking any rules. I think you're just jealous."-
[09:19] <Minaplo> ["Of her?"-
[09:20] <Minaplo> ["No, of me. I have an older partner and you're stuck with newbies~"-
[09:20] <Minaplo> [Beatrix responded by plucking the egg and a few strips of beef off the top of the Beefzilla. Much to Aksel's visible outrage, she'd already scarfed the morsel down before he could react.-
[09:21] <Minaplo> [The two of them argued over this for the rest of the walk to the briefing.-
[09:25] <Minaplo> ["I can't believe you did that, it's completely unsanitary to eat from someone else's bowl." Muttered Aksel mutinously.-
[09:27] <Minaplo> ["Shut it!" She hissed as they crossed the threshold, taking their seats at a long wooden table. Aksel continued to eat.-
[09:35] <Minaplo> [A quick glance around the table. Aksel noted all the familiar faces…-
[09:36] <Minaplo> [And an unfamiliar face, too. The Langley-newbie was here, sitting at the end of the table.-
[09:36] <Minaplo> ["Hmmf? Beatrix, what's the Langley-newbie doing here?"-
[09:37] <Minaplo> [Beatrix glowered. "She was announced last week, you knobhead. She's going to be made a full Captain next week."-
[09:37] <Minaplo> ["What?! I didn't hear-"-
[09:37] <Minaplo> ["You weren't at the meeting-"-
[09:46] <Minaplo> ["Settle down, settle down." Came a smooth, mellifluous, but authoritative voice. Narendra had entered- a thin, sharply-dressed Indian man with short straight hair.-
[10:01] <Minaplo> ["I'm glad to see you all here. We have new orders regarding patrols and convoys."-
[10:08] <Minaplo> [Aksel promptly zoned out.-
[10:09] <Minaplo> [For the next fifteen minutes, Narendra gave orders and explained new patrol routes and equipment and so on and so forth; the sound of his voice could be heard throughout the room, mixed in with the noisy, discordant sound of Aksel eating.-
[10:10] <Minaplo> [Eventually, Narendra sighed, and slammed his hands on the table. "Heiden!"-
[10:10] <Minaplo> ["Shir?" Asked Aksel through a mouthful of juicy beef.-
[10:11] <Minaplo> ["Are you listening to the briefing, or are you stuffing your face?"-
[10:11] <Minaplo> [Aksel swallowed.-
[10:11] <Minaplo> ["Jury seems to say 'guilty' to the face-stuffing, sir."-
[10:11] <Minaplo> ["And why are you eating and ignoring the briefing?"-
[10:11] <Minaplo> [Aksel sighed.-
[10:12] <Minaplo> [There was a term thrown about in the Synfront called 'Solomon arrogance', where a Solomon looked down on a non-Solomon because non-Solomons were sad little people who couldn't regenerate or create a super-powerful set of armour in seconds from their body.-
[10:13] <Minaplo> [Aksel wasn't someone who was prone to that sort of arrogance, but he had to admit that he found taking orders from a jumped-up little magistrate like Narendra infuriating.-
[10:15] <Minaplo> ["I'm ignoring the briefing, sir, because it's pointless. And stupid. And I have a data card that will tell me all of this later." Said Aksel, irritably. "You have me doing convoys, sir. Why?"-
[10:15] <Minaplo> ["These goods need to be transferred, Heiden-"-
[10:17] <Minaplo> ["Great, get a Prime to do it, then. One jaunt, poof! Convoy done."-
[10:18] <Minaplo> ["The Primes are busy." Said Narendra, angrily. "They are tied up with more important matters, and it is bad form to rely on them to do everything."-
[10:18] <Minaplo> ["Ugh. It'd take a few minutes -max-"-
[10:19] <Minaplo> ["Heiden." Said Narendra sharply. "You and your squad are to escort the RS Hopper convoy. You will not argue against these orders. This conversation is over."-
[10:23] <Minaplo> [It took another twenty minutes for the briefing itself to end, however, by which point Aksel had finished the Beefzilla. He gave up his data card, which was swiped through a computer, and given back to Aksel- and then they went their separate ways.-
[10:23] <Minaplo> [For Aksel, this meant heading back to the common room, Beatrix in tow.-
[10:23] <Minaplo> ["So what're your plans for today, Aksel?" Asked Beatrix. (She was off-duty now, so she was happily being informal.)-
[10:23] <Minaplo> ["Gotta do some cooking."-
[10:24] <Minaplo> ["But you did plenty of that today!"-
[10:24] <Minaplo> ["Yeah, I know, but." He turned in the corridor and gave her a thumbs-up and a wink. "I'm pickin' up my special lady today, you know… I wouldn't be a gentleman if I didn't greet her with five-star food."-
[10:32] <Minaplo> ["Tch. A real gentleman wouldn't flirt with all the newbies."-
[10:32] <Minaplo> ["Aw, come on. They're just so cute and innocent- it's impossible to resist." He said with a grin. "Besides, it's not like I'm really serious. Hey, if it makes the special lady jealous, then that means she'll just be happier when I'm in her arms~"-
[10:35] <Minaplo> ["Your logic sucks."-
[10:35] <Minaplo> ["What? It makes total sense."-
[10:36] <Minaplo> ["She'll just get pissed at you-"-
[10:36] <Minaplo> [They bickered about this all the way to the commons, at which point Aksel went off to have a shower and change into a fresh, clean uniform (even if he still wore it with an air of mild neglect).-
[10:42] <Minaplo> [He played around for a few hours, beating a few newbies at chess, playing poker with Beatrix, suffering a humiliating loss at shogi to a Wellesley-clone named Edward (A Knight Captain, of course), and trading a set of paints to an older Adept in exchange for a carton of cigarettes.-
[10:50] <Minaplo> [Eventually, 3:30 PM came about. This time was important, as Aksel had written his name down on the timetable for the kitchens. And so, he went to work.-
[11:00] <Minaplo> [The dishes were extensive. A bowl of tofu and spring onion miso soup simmering away; rice, a fried pork cutlet, eggs- the ingredients for katsudon; duck-meat-and-negi soba; quick work with a knife and skilful wrapping gave him a few rolls of fatty tuna sushi; and finally, a few pieces of fresh watermelon.-
[11:03] <Minaplo> [All organised within a clean, organised and eye-catching red tray with black inline. He placed the dishes in, covered it with a lid, and left the commons.-
[11:05] <Minaplo> [A quick walk through the corridors, leaving the Solomon precinct behind.-
[11:06] <Minaplo> [Strictly speaking, there was nothing stopping a Solomon from going wherever they wanted in the Synfront. They weren't restricted. However, it was often frowned upon if the Solomon's donor was particularly famous. In that case, they needed a disguise.-
[11:06] <Minaplo> [Luckily, Aksel mostly dodged that bullet on account of looking like a man who didn't even resemble himself.-
[11:08] <Minaplo> [He arrived at his destination- the Synfront's medical district. Aksel headed over to the reception to sign in first.-
[11:12] <Minaplo> ["How's my special lady doing today?" He asked the receptionist on duty.-
[11:12] <Minaplo> ["She's fine. You're here to take her home, right?"-
[11:15] <Minaplo> ["Heh, that's right!"-
[11:15] <Minaplo> ["Here're your discharge papers, Captain."-
[11:16] <Minaplo> ["Ta. You have a good day, honeybun."-
[11:28] <Minaplo> [And on Aksel went, through the corridors of the expansive medical district- but despite the size, he knew exactly where he was going. Her room was just over here…-
[11:34] <Minaplo> [Opening the door quietly… Ah, she was asleep.-
[11:34] <Minaplo> [Aksel could be quiet when he wanted to. Very quiet. He didn't want to wake her yet.-
[11:35] <Minaplo> [He walked over to the bed, placing the lunch down on the retractable hospital bed bench- and then he busied himself with the room. He replaced the flowers, refilled the water jug, adjusted the sheets…-
[11:36] <Minaplo> [After all that, he sat and waited, reading a magazine he'd grabbed in the waiting room.-
[11:36] <Minaplo> [It was 5 PM before she woke up.-
[11:37] <Minaplo> [Soft, light red hair, and red eyes. A gentle face, shared by one of the Primes- Ayanami Roku, who had recently died.-
[11:43] <Minaplo> [She stared up at the roof for a second- then looked over at Aksel. She smiled, a quiet, but warm and affectionate smile. "Aksel…"-
[11:45] <Minaplo> [He grinned. "Morning, hon. How do you feel?"-
[11:48] <Minaplo> ["Hungry."-
[11:48] <Minaplo> ["I thought you might be." He pushed the food table over. "So I brought you a few of your favourites."-
[11:49] <Minaplo> [She looked down at the box, taking off the lid- and her face brightened immediately. Her smile lit up the whole room.-
[11:49] <Minaplo> ["Oh my god, it's wonderful. You're the best."-
[11:54] <Minaplo> ["I am, huh?" Said Aksel, leaning back in his chair, hands behind his head. "Mind, it's all stuff you've taught me, so it's probably not up to your standard, but I'd like to think I am at least sous-chef status…"-
[11:58] <Minaplo> ["It smells amazing, at least. Give me a second." She folded her hands together. "Itadakimasu."-
[11:59] <Minaplo> [The next five minutes was mostly Roku eating with great enthusiasm. She really was hungry, and Aksel couldn't blame her for wanting time to eat. He'd tasted the medical district's food, and he knew Roku was fussy with what she ate.-
[12:05] <Minaplo> ["Oh, my goodness." She said eventually, falling back against her pillows with a satisfied sigh. "I'm in heaven~ What would I have done if you hadn't come by?"-
[12:46] <Minaplo> ["I suppose you'd have to have just pined for me on a hungry stomach." He said, pulling his chair over closer to her. He reached over, stroking her hair. "Hey, good news."-
[12:46] <Minaplo> ["Mmm?"-
[12:46] <Minaplo> [He held up the discharge papers. "I'm here to take you home~"-
[12:47] <Minaplo> [She beamed, sitting up. "Yes! Oh, I'm so ready to leave this place. And you're like my shining knight here to sweep me away, hm?"-
[12:47] <Minaplo> ["Anything for milady." He said, bowing with a playful grin.-
[12:47] <Minaplo> [Roku giggled.-
[12:48] <Minaplo> ["Although, if you are a chivalrous knight, shouldn't you be pure and moral? You're definitely not pure-" she grabbed his chin, rubbing the stubble- "And moral knights don't flirt with all the girls, either."-
[12:50] <Minaplo> ["Ah-ah." He shook his head. "I flirt, but only so you'll feel more special because I always come back to you, see?"-
[12:55] <Minaplo> ["That's a bullshit argument." Said Roku.-
[12:57] <Minaplo> [There was a pause.-
[12:58] <Minaplo> ["Ugh, I think it's actually working." Muttered Roku, shooting Aksel a dark look.-
[12:58] <Minaplo> ["See? I told you. Do I or do I not know my stuff?"-
[12:58] <Minaplo> ["Shut up and take me home, Aksel."-
[13:23] <Minaplo> ["My pleasure." He said, grinning, pulling the change tray away and helping her out of bed. She was healthy, of course, but with the way things were, he couldn't blame her if she wanted a little support.-
[13:37] <Minaplo> [Roku changed out of her hospital gown and into some basic clothes- a cream-coloured skirt, a white shirt, socks, shoes. Together, they left the room behind- off to Roku's apartment.-
[13:38] <Minaplo> [They were close together during the walk, but not actually touching. Although there was, strictly speaking, nothing wrong with their relationship, it wasn't well-known and neither of them liked the idea of it being public knowledge. So in the corridors they chatted and went on as though they were just friends.-
[13:41] <Minaplo> [And when they arrived at Roku's apartment- a warm, well-decorated place with comfortable furniture and bright lighting, the first thing they did as the door closed was turn and embrace each other, kissing one another deeply- a kiss that went on for five seconds, or maybe more, as it was impossible to tell when one kiss ended and another began.-
[13:42] <Minaplo> ["I missed you." Mumbled Aksel. "I was pretty- pretty shaken up when-"-
[13:42] <Minaplo> ["I know." She murmured in response. "Were you afraid?"-
[13:43] <Minaplo> ["… Yeah. Always." He admitted, almost ashamedly. Solomons shouldn't fear death. It was hard for him to admit that he was- her death.-
[14:28] <@Minaplo> ["…" She kissed him again, reaching one hand up behind his head. Roku was shivering, not out of cold or fear but rather anticipation; a sort of slow-burning adrenaline rush that had been building up for days, ever since she'd been reborn…-
[14:30] <@Minaplo> [Aksel returned the kiss, gently; he pulled away a little. "… Roku? Are you alright?"-
[14:42] <@Minaplo> ["…" She buried her head in his chest, and slowly started to calm down. "I…"-
[14:42] <@Minaplo> [His arms were around her, securely. "It's alright. Shh. Shh." He murmured comfortingly. "We don't have to talk about this now, right?"-
[14:52] <@Minaplo> ["Yeah." She said, almost to herself. "Yeah…"-
[18:50] <@Minaplo> [They stayed there like that for about ten minutes. Eventually, they separated, Aksel kissing her on the top of the head. "Hey, you're home now. You're safe. And look! We have all this roomy apartment, with its own living room and kitchen and everything- it'd be a shame not to use it… I mean, look at that couch. That is a perfectly serviceable couch."-
[20:14] <@Minaplo> [She was silent for a few moments- then she jabbed him in the ribs, a thin smile coming to her face, slowly becoming warmer, more genuine. "You're just jealous."-
[20:16] <@Minaplo> ["Damn right I'm jealous. Every time I see that thing I wonder how many Solomon tokens I'd need to pay to get, like, half of it. And then apparently they just give you this for free. I mean, that's bullshit." Said Aksel, a stupid, exaggerated frown on his face. He pulled away, swaggering over to the couch in order to further demonstrate his disapproval.-
[20:17] <@Minaplo> [Roku's smile became warmer; she giggled a little. "It's practically yours anyway."-
[20:17] <@Minaplo> ["Can I trade it for a box of smokes?"-
[20:18] <@Minaplo> [She laughed a little harder. "They don't -really- let you trade furniture for cigarettes, do they?"-
[20:19] <@Minaplo> ["It's been done." Said Aksel, who flopped onto the couch, his tall body taking up all three seats. He crossed his feet on the arm of the chair, and rested his hands under his head. "I know one guy- you know Edward, that cocky little Knight Captain?"-
[20:19] <@Minaplo> ["You mean the one who looks like Rei-chan's boyfriend?"-
[20:22] <@Minaplo> ["Mmm, that one. He saved up -ages- for his own leather armchair. But then he got it, must've kept it for about two weeks… And then got fed up with it. Apparently it was takin' up so much bloody space in his room that he was having trouble movin' around to his wardrobe and all." Aksel grinned at the memory.-
[20:23] <@Minaplo> [Roku began to move around her apartment, now, checking in the cupboards and pantries. She wasn't looking for anything, in particular. Just knowing that everything was where she'd left it was enough to help. "What'd he do with it?"-
[20:28] <@Minaplo> ["He traded it in for a UN-LN themed chess set, three boxes of earl grey tea, a hickory walking stick, two Evangelion kits, a box of Belgian chocolates, two fantasy novel sets, a chiffon evening dress and an Ayanami calendar."-
[20:28] <@Minaplo> ["A what?"-
[20:28] <@Minaplo> ["Yeah, don't ask, he walks perfectly fine-"-
[20:29] <@Minaplo> ["I don't remember seeing any Ayanami calendars!"-
[20:29] <@Minaplo> ["It makes perfect sense. There's twelve of you, twelve months… You're June, by the way. Like the goddess." He added hopefully.-
[20:30] <@Minaplo> [She shot him a dark look. "It's not- I mean, naughty, is it?"-
[20:31] <@Minaplo> ["No no, nothing like that. I'm actually a little surprised he got it. He's never really seemed into tacky crap like that."-
[20:31] <@Minaplo> ["Maybe he feels a connection with it." Said Roku helpfully. "Wellesley, all that."-
[20:32] <@Minaplo> ["Mmmm… Nnn. I dunno. Maybe he just wanted a calendar with pretty girls on it. They're not. Uh. Exactly a popular commodity."-
[20:32] <@Minaplo> ["Hmm." Roku seemed unconvinced.-
[20:33] <@Minaplo> ["What about the dress, then?" Asked Roku curiously. "Is that just to trade?"-
[20:35] <@Minaplo> ["Yeah, basically. In fact, he's already traded it off." Said Aksel. "Clothes that aren't regulation are rare as hell, so if you get offered some, it's worth just keepin' them safe in case of a rainy day."-
[20:35] <@Minaplo> ["Do you do that, then?"-
[20:36] <@Minaplo> ["'Course. Mind, you don't usually see bastards as tall as me in there, so I end up with a lot of clothes that just aren't built for so much pure man." He winked at her, throwing gun-hands at her. She rolled her eyes.-
[20:37] <@Minaplo> ["I don't have much of that right now, though…"-
[20:37] <@Minaplo> ["You don't? Why not?"-
[20:37] <@Minaplo> ["Reasons." He said airily.-
[20:37] <@Minaplo> ["Oh, go on."-
[20:38] <@Minaplo> ["Psh. Well, you know the best way to build up rewards or tokens to buy stuff is to take on extra work? I've not been doin' much of that lately."-
[20:39] <@Minaplo> ["Oh, I get it. Lazy Aksel~"-
[20:39] <@Minaplo> ["A-Actually, a lot of that was me goin' to pay your comatose bod a visit, thank-you-very-much."-
[20:40] <@Minaplo> ["Oh." Roku bit her lip, her cheeks going red. She tiptoed over to the couch, leaning over the back of it, to poke him in the stomach. "You didn't have to do that…"-
[20:40] <@Minaplo> ["Sure I did. You're my special lady." He said fondly, reaching up to rub her cheek.-
[20:41] <@Minaplo> ["Besides, now that you're out of the hospital, it means I can go back to nickin' things from your apartment and tradin' them for crap."-
[20:41] <@Minaplo> [She scowled, poking him harder in the ribs.-
[20:41] <@Minaplo> ["Ow! Hey, kidding, kidding…"-
[20:44] <@Minaplo> ["You better." She said firmly. "Look, I need to go make a few calls, alright? Tell people I'm better. Then we can sit down and talk, ok? You can tell me about everything."-
[20:44] <@Minaplo> ["Sure. Take your time." He said, grinning lazily. "I'll just be here, taking a nap~"-
[14:23] <@Minaplo> [And so about an hour and a half passed, as Roku took the phone into her bedroom and made some calls; changed the linens on her bed; and then climbed into a long, hot shower.-
[14:24] <@Minaplo> [Aksel didn't just lay about for that time. He checked the pantry and fridge…-
[14:25] <@Minaplo> [Actually, he spent a fair bit of time trying to make himself useful, but there really wasn't that much to do, and eventually he defaulted to lounging about in the living room, either watching the television or eyeing the photographs and knick-nacks that sit on shelves and walls.-
[14:27] <@Minaplo> [A big photograph of Roku and her eleven sisters- and her parents. He could definitely see the family resemblance. He smirked to himself.-
[14:27] <@Minaplo> [But even in a not-smartass way, he could see a lot of Roku in Yui Ikari's face.-
[14:29] <@Minaplo> [Photo of Roku and the Simonides twins, all in their shiny new plugsuits…-
[14:37] <@Minaplo> [Juu, Roku, and some of the support staff, with the Simonides, on a short holiday they'd been permitted to attend, to the beach. Roku, wearing a one-piece pink swimsuit, wearing a big floppy sunhat, sitting on a beach chair, was sipping on a fancy, multicoloured cocktail which looked like it had a piece of pineapple on the glass itself.-
[14:38] <@Minaplo> [Aksel always felt rather jealous whenever he saw this photo. He wished he could go to the beach.-
[14:38] <@Minaplo> [With Roku? Well, that'd be fine too…-
[14:42] <@Minaplo> [There were a lot of them. A tennis match with Juu, pictures of the sunset, a family of refugees Roku had helped out…-
[14:43] <@Minaplo> [There were a few of him as well. He grinned. They were secretive about each other, but they weren't each other's dirty little secret. That made him happy, at least.-
[14:50] <@Minaplo> [There was also some artwork here, too, artwork Roku had made. Sculptures and pottery and a portrait of a cat. She was rather good at it, all told, although Aksel admitted that he wasn't an expert.-
[14:54] <@Minaplo> [The background noise of running water stopped, followed shortly after by the sound of a door opening and closing. So Roku was done with the shower.-
[14:58] <@Minaplo> [She emerged a few minutes later, wearing a strawberry red short-sleeved t-shirt and a white miniskirt. Her hair was still a little damp. "I'm clean~ so clean~ I didn't realise how crusty I felt."-
[15:06] <@Minaplo> ["You definitely look fresher." Said Aksel brightly. "Bet you're glad you're home~ screw hospitals and shit, you know?"-
[15:21] <@Minaplo> ["I can drink to that." Said Roku with a smirk, plucking a pair of unmarked plastic bottles from the fridge (filled with Roku's homemade strawberry juice). She tossed one bottle to Aksel- who caught it- and kept the other for herself, settling down on the couch.-
[15:22] <@Minaplo> ["Ta." He said, sitting down next to her, putting an arm around her. "Oh man, I've been missing this."-
[15:22] <@Minaplo> ["What, the juice?"-
[15:22] <@Minaplo> ["Mmmhm."-
[15:23] <@Minaplo> [She snuggled up to him, her head resting against his chest. "You're nice and warm~"-
[15:23] <@Minaplo> ["MmmmMmm?" He replied, his mouth currently full of refreshing strawberry juice.-
[15:28] <@Minaplo> ["You smell nice, too~"-
[15:28] <@Minaplo> [He swallowed.-
[15:28] <@Minaplo> ["I traded with Beatrix for a type of spicy perfume…"-
[15:28] <@Minaplo> ["Ah, it's perfume?"-
[15:29] <@Minaplo> ["Yeah, think so."-
[15:29] <@Minaplo> [Roku giggled.-
[15:29] <@Minaplo> ["What?"-
[15:29] <@Minaplo> ["Nothing~" She snuggled a litle closer. "You know, if you're looking for stuff to trade, I might be able to help you."-
[15:29] <@Minaplo> ["Oh?"-
[15:33] <@Minaplo> ["I've got some old clothes I don't use anymore. Shirts, some skirts, a few bras."-
[15:33] <@Minaplo> ["Not your taste anymore?"-
[15:33] <@Minaplo> ["Most of it doesn't fit anymore."-
[15:39] <@Minaplo> ["Hm? They're too small?"-
[15:39] <@Minaplo> ["Yeah."-
[15:40] <@Minaplo> ["Hm." He pondered. "There should be a few around with your body type. Yeah, I should be able to use that, thanks."-
[15:41] <@Minaplo> [He paused.-
[15:41] <@Minaplo> ["… So the bras are too small as well, huh?"-
[15:42] <@Minaplo> [She jabbed him in the ribs, hard.-
[15:57] <@Minaplo> ["What? It's good news. It is." Said Aksel. "Makes me happy." He added.-
[15:57] <@Minaplo> ["Don't be a pervert."-
[16:29] <@Minaplo> ["Thbbt."-
[16:30] <@Minaplo> [They talked for a little while more, Aksel quick with his jokes, Roku quick to retort. Eventually they started to quiet, and then- said nothing at all.-
[16:32] <@Minaplo> [They sat in silence together, their empty bottles of juice sitting together on the floor. It was eventually Aksel who spoke.-
[16:32] <@Minaplo> ["… So how do you feel, hon?"-
[16:41] <@Minaplo> ["Mmm… Better." She said quietly. "Like it when you're here." She mumbled.-
[16:41] <@Minaplo> [He didn't say anything; he just held her a little tighter.-
[16:46] <@Minaplo> ["It hurt." She murmured. "Hurt so much. I broke. It… It was worse than anything I've felt in the Eva. Or ever." She closed her eyes. She was shivering a little.-
[16:48] <@Minaplo> ["It hurt inside, too." She whispered. "Like… Like a betrayal. Isaiah…"-
[16:48] <@Minaplo> ["You were close to him, huh?" Asked Aksel softly.-
[16:57] <@Minaplo> ["I… I don't know." She shook her head. "He's always been supportive of us Ayanamis, but we haven't really spent much time together. I don't even remember him from my previous memories, but… I always felt like I could trust him. Like he was a big brother… Weird, huh?"-
[16:59] <@Minaplo> ["Mmm, I don't think so. Maybe that's just how he is, he puts you guys at ease."-
[17:00] <@Minaplo> ["Maybe." She said slowly. "We talked a few times. He made me happy, and… Then he just… Didn't hesitate. Didn't stop." Reflexively, she put a hand to her chest, where the breakage had happened. She shuddered violently, and made a little sound- like a sob.-
[17:09] <@Minaplo> ["Hey, hey." He said soothingly, reaching around with his other arm, embracing her fully. "… You okay?"-
[17:10] <@Minaplo> [He sounded stupid for saying it, he was sure. He hated himself a little for it.-
[17:10] <@Minaplo> ["… Sorry. I just…" She took a deep breath. "I just need to cry for a little, ok?"-
[17:10] <@Minaplo> ["Sure, that's fine. I'm here. Cry as much as you need."-
[17:39] <@Minaplo> [And so she did. One arm around his stomach, another arm clutching his shirt tightly, Roku allowed herself to cry out. She tried to give herself a voice to express the pain and fear that she had felt. Still felt.-
[18:54] <@Minaplo> [It must've taken her fifteen, twenty minutes before the tears subsided, but eventually, they did- Roku fell silent, the tears stemmed, her breathing slowed, and the only indicator that she wasn't asleep was that her body still trembled.-
[20:26] <@Minaplo> ["…"-
[20:29] <@Minaplo> ["I'm ok." She mumbled, sitting up a little. "I just…"-
[20:29] <@Minaplo> ["Nono, it's ok-"-
[20:29] <@Minaplo> ["No, I'm alright-"-
[20:29] <@Minaplo> [Awkward pause.-
[20:29] <@Minaplo> ["…"-
[20:29] <@Minaplo> [She jabbed him in the ribs.-
[20:29] <@Minaplo> ["Ow!"-
[20:30] <@Minaplo> ["You should go have a shower. I'll go put dinner on."-
[20:30] <@Minaplo> ["You sure?" He asked uncertainly. "I can cook if-"-
[20:30] <@Minaplo> [Another jab.-
[20:30] <@Minaplo> ["Ow!"-
[20:31] <@Minaplo> ["This is my first night home. I want to use my damned kitchen, so I will."-
[20:35] <@Minaplo> ["Alright, alright, your point's been made." He said airily. He gave her a quick kiss and got to his feet. "Take it easy, ok?"-
[20:43] <@Minaplo> ["I will."-
[20:47] <@Minaplo> [And so he went off to the shower, which was functional, mostly clean, and still mildly humid from Roku's own shower. He stripped off his jacket, hung it up over the hook on the back of the door- poked the datacard back into the breast pocket. The rest of the clothes went carelessly all over the floor.-
[20:49] <@Minaplo> [The water was lovely, hot, and strong. Aksel took a few minutes to just enjoy it. The Solomon showers were very utilitarian, arranged in booths of twenty, with a time limit of five minutes. You had an army regulation bar of soap, an army regulation bottle of shampoo/conditioner and, if you were a man, an army regulation razor. There was no fun in that.-
[20:51] <@Minaplo> [Conversely, Aksel always had plenty of fun in Roku's shower. Even without Roku. The water was unlimited. There wasn't a time limit. There was crap like lavender body wash and those little loofah things and scented soap that smelled of roses and cherry blossom shampoo and…-
[20:51] <@Minaplo> [Twenty-five minutes forty-two seconds later, Aksel climbed out of the shower, smelling strongly of three different types of fragrant flower.-
[20:57] <@Minaplo> [He quickly shaved, a little unevenly; he threw his clothes back on, except for the jacket, which he tossed over a leg of Roku's bed. Thusly washed, he headed back out into the main living area, trailing scents behind him.-
[21:22] <@Minaplo> [Another lovely scent would reach him as he emerged. The warm, heavy smell of fresh, tender lamb stewing away in a slow cooker, in a sea of hearty, beefy broth. Carrots and onions and sprigs of thyme also added to the aroma.-
[21:26] <@Minaplo> [Roku was chopping up pieces of butternut pumpkin, the knife quick and powerful in her masterful hand. She wore a white apron on over her shirt; a super-deformed grumpy cartoon MP-EVA dominated its front.-
[21:27] <@Minaplo> ["Mmmhm~" Aksel ambled over, placing his arms around her stomach. "Somethin' looks yummy~"-
[21:27] <@Minaplo> ["Don't try any yet, it's still in the early stages, you'll just make yourself sick."-
[21:27] <@Minaplo> ["Mmm? Oh, right, you thought I meant the food-"-
[21:27] <@Minaplo> [A quick elbow to the ribs. It hurt quite a lot.-
[21:28] <@Minaplo> ["Ow, ow-"-
[21:28] <@Minaplo> ["We're having lamb stew with vegetables- and I'm also doing up some dumplings to go with it. That sound alright?"-
[21:29] <@Minaplo> ["Yeah, that's fine." Said Aksel, absently rubbing his side. "This isn't too much, is it?"-
[21:29] <@Minaplo> ["It's only a stew."-
[21:29] <@Minaplo> ["Yeah, I… Alright, fair enough. I would've been happy with just toasted sandwiches, you know-"-
[21:29] <@Minaplo> [Roku let out a snort. "I don't mind going to a little effort. This is nowhere near what I usually cook."-
[21:44] <@Minaplo> ["You know, the absense of a buffet table shoulda been a clue there…"-
[21:45] <@Minaplo> ["Cute." She retorted with a smirk. "This is going to take awhile. About two or three hours. It mostly cooks itself though, so we can watch a movie or something if you want?"-
[22:08] <@Minaplo> ["Sounds good."-
[22:22] <@Minaplo> [The next two hours were spent with Aksel ferreting DVDs out of the cabinet and holding them up for a yea-or-nay from Roku. DVDs fascinated Aksel, mostly because they were so rare in the Synfront. Oh, they had DVD players, public ones, even, but that was exactly it- they were public and the choice of movie was rather limited. There was exactly one privately owned DVD player in the Solomons' space, and the owner of that player made an absolute killing by renting time with it in exchange for other things.-
[22:25] <@Minaplo> [Eventually they settled on a movie called The Lion and the Lily, an extravagant period-piece about an absurdly ornate secret romance between an English noblewoman and a French nobleman, woven tragically within the backdrop of one war or another between said countries.-
[22:25] <@Minaplo> [It was a lot of fun. The romance was passionate, the combat scenes bombastic, and the actors were actually pretty good.-
[22:40] <@Minaplo> [After that, of course, came the stew. And what a lovely stew it was- the lamb was tender, juicy, full of flavour, the stew itself fortifying and hot. The dumplings were soft, fluffy and delicious.-
[23:05] <@Minaplo> [Aksel took another mouthful of stew, chewed, swallowed it down, took a mouthful of wine before speaking. "So I got a mission today."-
[23:58] <Minaplo> ["Oh yeah? Anything exciting?"-
[01:15] <Minaplo> ["Nope." Said Aksel flatly. "Convoy escort duty to the New Saint Helena Spaceport."]
[14:46] <@Idrilyn> ["Oh." Said Roku. "Sounds… Boring."-
[14:47] <@Idrilyn> ["It's not that it's boring. I could handle it if it was boring. But it's just stupid. Give it to one of the Dysangelions to jaunt! I keep saying that, but they just do not listen."-
[15:18] <@Idrilyn> ["You know, The Simonides could probably do it."-
[15:18] <@Idrilyn> ["Yeah, yeah, but you know how Solomon Command is about you Eva pilots. Oooo~ Oooo~ Nervynerv~" He wiggled his fingers at her spookily.-
[15:21] <@Idrilyn> ["Tch. I suppose that's true, huh?" Murmured Roku. "What with-"-
[15:21] <@Idrilyn> [An awkward, heavy pause.-
[15:23] <@Idrilyn> ["Things." Said Aksel quickly. "But screw those guys. They're all weird and grumpy, but I trust you."-
[15:23] <@Idrilyn> ["Heh." She smiled shyly. "Do you?"-
[15:23] <@Idrilyn> ["Absolutely."-
[15:25] <@Minaplo> [Roku beamed. "I could be a special agent. Here to seduce away all your secrets~"-
[15:34] <@Minaplo> ["Oh, bullshit." He laughed, shaking his head, a huge goofy grin on his face. "I seduced -you-, not the other way 'round."-
[15:35] <@Minaplo> ["Liar! This is why I wouldn't steal from you, your memory's terrible."-
[15:35] <@Minaplo> ["It is so not terrible. My memory is maximum."-
[15:35] <@Minaplo> ["Yeah, that's why you locked yourself out of your own AC Suit…"-
[15:36] <@Minaplo> ["Hey, screw you! That voice pitch sensor is bullshit. Anyone in my situation would have problems with that."-
[15:37] <@Minaplo> [Roku started laughing.-
[15:38] <@Minaplo> ["I-I'm serious!" Retorted Aksel.-
[15:39] <@Minaplo> ["Of course you are." Said Roku, fondly. Still giggling a little, she began to clean up her plate, eating the last few morsels, keeping a warm, loving gaze on Aksel's face.-
[15:44] <@Minaplo> [Aksel really couldn't sustain his put-upon indignation with that. Instead he, too, cleaned up his plate, putting his cutlery down. "… You're embarrassin' me with those big eyes of yours."-
[15:44] <@Minaplo> ["Oh?"-
[15:44] <@Minaplo> ["Yeah. Makin' me feel all warm and fuzzy and then I get all self-conscious…"-
[15:47] <@Minaplo> ["Hmhm. C'mon." She stood up. "Let's put these dishes away, clean up- and maybe get an early night?"-
[15:49] <@Minaplo> ["I suppose it gives me more time to sneak back into the compound before the morning census…" He mused.-
[15:50] <@Minaplo> [She eyed him, one eyebrow arched suspiciously.-
[15:51] <@Minaplo> ["… Oh. Oh, heh. I get it. Sure, sure, lemme take these…"-
[15:56] <@Minaplo> [And so they washed up the plates and the knives and forks and dried them up and put them away, putting the leftover stew in the fridge along with the leftover wine. All the while, shooting fond glances at each other, brushing softly against each other- comfortably, warmly, reassuring themselves that the other person really was there.-
[15:57] <@Minaplo> [And so the plates were gone, dinner was cleaned up and they retired. For them both, time - time for them to stop and reaffirm their own, tenuous, recently-threatened existences- passed.-
[15:57] <@Minaplo> [Ayanamis are curious people.-
[16:01] <@Minaplo> [They are instantly discernible from the exterior, with their unusually pale white skin, their by-contrast bright, almost luminous eyes, and the sometimes-unnatural colour of their hair. They are slight, petite and move so that it is easy to imagine them simply fading away with the wind, which is why it's always surprising when they can be hurled into a car at high speed and walk away with relatively moderate injuries.-
[16:10] <@Minaplo> [But simply put, these things are unusual, but not extremely unusual. For the people who spend a lot of time around Ayanamis, providing they aren't given reason to fight or use their AT Fields, it is easy to forget about their natures, and simply see them as a pretty girl.-
[16:11] <@Minaplo> [The mind of the Ayanami is a different matter.-
[16:12] <@Minaplo> [There are things in the mind of an Ayanami that can mark them out as different. Tricks. Processes. Traits. Some of it is just mental self-discipline, sometimes it is a form of self-hypnosis.-
[16:13] <@Minaplo> [But either way, an Ayanami, if she wants to, can force her own mind and body to suddenly feel no fear or emotion, slow their heart rate (to the point of stopping it entirely if they want), control their breathing. She can make herself ignore the urge to eat or sleep for days. She can trick herself into simply mentally muting a sound, or a taste, or even a sensation like pain or pleasure.-
[16:14] <@Minaplo> [They can even, if they want, implant in their own minds a suggestion that forces the brain to wake from sleep at a certain time. A literal mental 'alarm clock'.-
[16:28] <@Minaplo> [And so it was that at 2:30 AM, Roku's eyes suddenly slid open.-
[16:31] <@Minaplo> [The sheets were wrapped around her and Aksel, who was next to her, still deeply asleep. His body felt warm and comforting against her body, and even then Roku felt the temptation to just close her eyes again and bask in the warmth.-
[16:31] <@Minaplo> [But she could not. There was a reason that she did this.-
[16:32] <@Minaplo> [Slowly, reluctantly, Roku released him, slid out of bed. she didn't make even a little noise.-
[16:41] <@Minaplo> [There wasn't much light in the room, but Roku could still see well enough. Silently, she padded over to the end of the bed, to where Aksel's uniform jacket sat, limply, over one of the bed legs. She slipped her hand into the inner breast pocket, and out came Aksel's datacard.-
[16:43] <@Minaplo> [Quietly, she opened the door and snuck out of the bedroom, leaving Aksel alone. Out into the living room, now. Roku placed the datacard down on the dinner table, and got down on her hands and knees.-
[16:45] <@Minaplo> [Stapped to the underside of the table was a small computer, barely more than a tablet, along with a tiny USB rod and a two-way connector. Carefully, she undid the adhesive strap, removing the set and placing it next to the datacard. Then, reluctantly, she grabbed a chair, sat down, and turned the tablet-computer on.-
[16:46] <@Minaplo> [It only took a few minutes to boot up the computer, log in, and connect it to the wider MAGInet. From there, she activated the datacard, connected it to the tablet, and began to explore the files.-
[16:47] <@Minaplo> [The files were rich with valuable information. E-Destroyer deployment zones, secret rearmament bases, spaceport data, cargo data… Mission flight plans and routes.-
[16:48] <@Minaplo> [It also showed the content of the convoy. Weapons, armour, E-Destroyer and space weapons platform materials… And…-
[16:48] <@Minaplo> ["RS Hoppers…"-
[16:49] <@Minaplo> [She frowned, sighed, and then swapped over to the MAGInet, logging into a secure proxy attached to a backdoor channel created by Barzilai Surov.-
[16:50] <@Minaplo> [That was the trick of the MAGI. Incredibly powerful supercomputer, so much so that it was entrusted with tens of thousands of things at once. It send and received data from all over the world, and from satellites and ships in orbit too. It was almost impossible to hack, and so the files were secure- they wouldn't be intercepted, and furthermore, if the files themselves were double-secured…-
[16:50] <@Minaplo> [Simply put, using Surov's backdoor, Roku could send the contents of the datacard off to Surov, who would send it on to Vercingetorix.-
[16:51] <@Minaplo> [And no one would be the wiser.-
[16:51] <@Minaplo> [It was espionage. It was necessary, perhaps, to gain the edge against Caine. And Roku hated every second of it.-
[16:52] <@Minaplo> [She knew the arguments, the whys and wherefores, and knew that she couldn't, -wouldn't- argue against that.-
[16:54] <@Minaplo> [What she hated was that she herself had chosen to be with Aksel. She loved him. Loved being near him, loved talking with him, loved thinking about him. And he adored her, trusted her implicitly. She knew that he saw in her a future beyond the prison of the Solomons, a warm and lovely future. Simply put, if it weren't for this invisible war, she and Aksel would already be living permanently together, doing whatever they wanted…-
[16:55] <@Minaplo> [She'd kept the relationship secret, knowing full well that a relationship between an Ayanami and a Solomon Knight was something that those in power would leap on, to exploit without hesitation, and she had been right. And now there was no going back.-
[16:56] <@Minaplo> [She transmitted the files. The guilt gnawed at her. Ate at her. It was the betrayal. The betrayal of trust that did it. She was using him, conned him- no matter how much she really, truly loved him, she was still…-
[16:56] <@Minaplo> [She tried to convince herself that it was for his own good. That Caine kept him like a dog in a cage, that deep down inside, if he knew, he'd agree with her, help her.-
[16:57] <@Minaplo> [She transmitted the files, shut down the computer, disconnected everything, taped the computer back up, hung her head. She sat there, naked and alone in the dark, not crying, but not moving, hating it, hating Caine and Vercingetorix and herself…-
[16:59] <@Minaplo> [Eventually, with a dispirited sigh, she got to her feet, picked up the datacard, and returned to the bedroom, returning the card to the pocket. Then, she slipped back into bed. She wrapped her arms around Aksel once again, rested her head against his shoulder, entwined her legs with his, tried to soak up the warmth and softness there, the quiet fondness and affection there, hoping against hope that it'd dissolve the guilty loathing she felt in her own chest.-
[16:59] <@Minaplo> [It helped her a little.-
[17:00] <@Minaplo> [It also made it worse.-
[17:00] <@Minaplo> [Eventually, Roku fell asleep once again, and dreamed of a better place than this.]

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