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[X] WALL O’ TEXT
Ugh…you really wish there was a better alternative, but right now Letty is probably your best bet for getting your hand out of this icy prison. You aren’t sure where you’d be able to find something to help melt the ice off at this hour, and the only other alternative you can think of is seeing if Yuugi could somehow help you out of this situation. And considering how she usually handles her problems…yeah, it’s probably best not to go down that route if you want to keep your hand intact.
Of course, there are two issues with finding Letty. The first is that Cirno probably going to like this idea even less than you do. You could probably just drag the girl along with you, but you’d really rather not do this by force, so it might be best to not mention Letty’s name until the last minute.
That thought brings you to the second issue, in that you don’t actually know where Letty is right now, as you never bothered to figure out where she is staying in the city. The only person that you can think of who might actually know is Aya, but for once not swapping phone numbers with her is actually working against you. Still, you know where Aya lives, and by this hour she’s probably busy putting together articles for that rag of hers, so it’s a pretty safe bet that you can track Aya down, and through her Letty.
Well, first thing’s first. “Ok, here’s the deal,” you say, “I think I know someone who can get us apart, but we’re going to have to track her down first. Are you good for a little more walking?”
Cirno narrows her eyes. “How do I know that you aren’t going to just take me somewhere to do unspeakable things to me?”
You roll your eyes. “Do you really think that I would need your permission to just carry you away if I wanted to? You aren’t exactly at the top of your game right now.” Cirno just gives you a small scowl as she turns away from you. “Look, I think we both know each other well enough by this point for you to know how I operate. I promise I won’t do anything to you, so would you mind humoring me on this?”
Cirno continues to scowl, but she slowly gets up off the bench. “I’m warning you now; if you do anything to me my girls are going to kill you when they find my body.”
“Good to know,” you say, trying not to show how tired this whole situation is making you. “Let’s just start moving before frostbite sets in for both of us, alright?”
“Maybe for you,” Cirno says with a smirk, “The cold’s never bothered me one bit, so I’ve go nothing to worry about.”
You give a small shrug as you start moving, trying not to think about your whole hand turning black and falling off. After a minute or two the idea really starts getting to you, so you decide to engage Cirno in conversation to try and get your mind away from the current status of you hand. (Chilly)
“So tell me about Lily,” you ask without a lick of taste. You can actually feel Cirno tense up as the words leave your mouth. “She’s the head of the orphanage that you live at, right?”
“Don’t you even think about going near her, you pervert,” Cirno says with as much venom as she can muster. “I swear, if you even think about touching a single hair on her head I’ll-”
“I think that I’ve got more than enough problems with you alone, thank you very much,” you say as deadpan as you can. “Look, I get it, she’s someone you really care about and-”
“You don’t know anything!” Cirno yells. “Lily is the greatest person ever! She took us off the street when we had nothing, and she’s done nothing but give everything she has to help support us when no one else would!”
“Chill, chill,” you say with a wave of your non-frozen hand, “I get it; she’s really important to you and your group.”
“Damn right she is,” Cirno says, simmering down a bit. “She’d do anything for us, and we’d do anything for her, even if…” the girl seems to realize something and suddenly goes quiet, leaving an awkward silence between the two of you.
“Even if what?” you ask.
“It’s none of your business,” Cirno says as she moves away from you in an attempt to leave the topic alone, but you’re pretty sure that you can see where this chain of logic is going.
“Even if she’s started asking you to do things that you might find somewhat questionable?”
“Things like maybe going around the city and committing what amounts to petty theft and crime whenever you have the chance?”
“I SAID SHUT UP!”
You stay silent for a bit, watching Cirno’s reaction. It’s clear that she’s furious at you for bad mouthing her caretaker, but at the same time you can see the hesitation on her face. You can tell that she’s having the same troubling thoughts that you are, even if her admiration for this Lily person is keeping her from actually doing anything about them. The question is whether or not you should press her on it any further, and in the end you decide that there is at least one more thing that you need to ask.
“Look, I’ll drop the subject if you’ll just tell me this; has Lily done anything to hurt either you or any of the other girls?”
You can see Cirno’s rage build up once more. “LILY WOULD NEVER TOUCH A SINGLE HAIR ON ANY OF OUR HEADS! SHE LOVES US JUST AS MUCH AS WE LOVE HER!”
“You didn’t answer my question.”
“[b]NO, SHE HASN’T HURT ANY OF US, AND I CAN GUARANTEE THAT SHE NEVER WILL!” Cirno is almost foaming at the mouth by this point, so you decide that now’s probably a good time to leave the topic alone. You got the impression that Cirno wasn’t lying about Lily, so for now you don’t think you should push any further. Even if she’s hiding something it’s doubtful that she’d be willing to talk to you about it, considering how well she currently seems to think of you.
The two of you continue walking for a few minutes, and Cirno eventually falls into something of a simmer. It’s pretty clear at this point that she would rather not be near you at all if she could help it. That said she seems just as uncomfortable at walking in silence as you are, so it isn’t long before she breaks it herself. “So who’s this friend of yours that you think can help us?”
You cringe internally. You probably should have guessed that she would ask you this at some point before you tracked Letty down, but you were hoping that she would be too distracted by the whole “hands frozen in ice” situation to think too much on it. Wishful thinking on your part, you suppose. Still, you aren’t one for lying when pressed for the truth, and it might just be the transition you need to ask Cirno about her thoughts on your current target. “Her name is Letty, and-”
The moment the name leaves your lips Cirno tries to bolt away from you as fast as you can. You nearly fall over as the young girl’s attempts to flee pull you along with her, but after a few seconds you’re able to regain your footing and dig into the ground. Cirno lets out a small yelp and nearly trips herself, only managing to stay upright with your help. “Look, I know that you don’t like Letty. Hell, I don’t like Letty, but right now she’s the only person that I can think of that can effectively help us out of this situation.”
Cirno shakes her head vigorously. “If we let her help us she’ll hold this over me as a favor, and I don’t want to owe that woman anything!” Something seems to click in Cirno’s mind, and she glares at you accusingly. “Wait, how did you know that I don’t like Letty?”
“I ended up meeting her after witnessing one of your shouting matches on the street. You weren’t exactly being subtle about your dislike of her.” Cirno blushes and turns away as you decide to exclude the fact that you were technically still eavesdropping, even if it wasn’t difficult to do so. “For whatever reason she ended up picking me out of the crowd afterwards to ask something, and it’s been hell on earth for me ever since.”
“Is she’s that sociable?” Cirno asks in a confused manner. “It seems kind of weird that she would attach herself to a stranger like that.”
“Who knows,” you say with a shrug, trying to divert attention away from the fact that Letty ended up busting you on said eavesdropping, “but she ended up tagging along with me for a bit as I met a friend of mine and for some reason the two of them ended up becoming bosom buddies. No idea why they get along so well, but it means that I end up seeing way more of her than I would like.”
Cirno shudders. “I can imagine,” she says, “I hate being near her for even a second, so I couldn’t stand running into her all the time. But if you don’t like her as much as I do, then why are you dragging me along to see her?”
“Can you think of any other way to break ourselves out of this?” You ask, indicating your fused hands.
Cirno bites her lip. “Maybe we could find something to melt it with?”
You give a one-shouldered shrug. “You would probably know better than I would. Any idea of something we could find at this time of night that might work?” A few seconds pass before Cirno shakes her head in resignation. “Sometimes it really sucks being this powerful,” she says in a lamentful manner. “We’ve tried melting my ice before with a hair dryer, and no matter how much we turned it up it always ended up taking forever to melt away.”
“I do know someone who might be strong enough to break us out of this with pure strength alone,” you say, seeing the hope rise in Cirno’s eyes. You dash it just as quickly by saying, “Unfortunately, she’d probably end up crushing our hands to bits if she tried. Subtlety isn’t exactly her strong point.”
“So it’s either wait for hours being stuck with you, or getting that witch’s help, huh?” Cirno says with a sigh. “I don’t like either option, but I honestly can’t stand the idea of being stuck with you for hours on end even more. Let’s just go and hope that she doesn’t hold it over us.”
“My thoughts exactly,” you say as you do your best to find your way towards Aya’s place again. “Still, I know how you feel. That woman just irks me in all the wrong ways. She understands nothing about what a family really is…”
“…she isn’t aware that just because someone doesn’t share her worldview it doesn’t mean that they are wrong…” Cirno continues.
“She’s too prim and proper for her own good…”
“She always tries to win her arguments by yelling harder than you do…”
“And the worst part of it is,” you finish off, “is that she’s actually a really nice person.” Cirno looks at you as if you had just said the most confusing thing in the world. “Shocking, I know, but I’ve never actually seen her force anyone to do anything against their own will, and she is always willing to lend a hand if you need it, even if she’ll expect a favor in return later.”
“And being a nice person like is a bad thing?” Cirno asks, still completely confused.
“Yeah, because it makes it that much harder to actually hate her for all that irksome stuff that she does. If she were a horrible person then I could just write her off as pure evil and be done with it, but like most people she’s just more complicated than that. Heck, I even doubt she’ll go as far as guilting you to leave your family behind over a single favor like this; it just isn’t her style.”
Cirno just can’t seem to process the fact that anyone could possibly say anything nice about the woman she abhors. “W-well good, ‘cause I’m not leaving them for anything and that’s that!” She marches of quickly, forcing you to speed up a bit just to keep up her pace. “I don’t care if she can help me get better with my ice magic, my family is more important than something like that!”
You can’t help but let out a chuckle as she says that. “I’d probably say the exact same thing if I were in your shoes,” you say as you look up towards the sky with a small sigh. “You know, we’re not so different, you and I.”
“Considering that I’m not a creepy pervert stalker I’d say that we’re very different.” Cirno says as she continues to march on ahead.
“Come on, there’s more to me than just that,” you say jokingly, hoping that Cirno won’t take you too seriously. When she doesn’t say anything back, you decide to continue. “I was an orphan growing up too, y’know.”
You can feel Cirno falter in her step, but she does her best not to show it. “You’re lying,” she says, “You’re just trying to get on my good side so that I’ll resist less later when you try and take advantage of me.”
“Get your mind out of the gutter, will you?” You say with annoyance, “It’s true though, I had no parents growing up. It was just me and two other kids, trying their best to survive on the city streets.”
“Why didn’t you just find an orphanage like me and the rest of the girls did?” Cirno asks, “Seems like that would be a smarter move than just living off the streets.” She still sounds doubtful as to whether you are telling the truth or not, but at least she seems to be playing along for now.
You return her question with a one-shouldered shrug. “Honestly, I was surprised to hear that there was an orphanage now; there never was a place like that when my sibs and I were growing up, since the city never really seemed to care enough about tramps like us. It was all that we could do to keep out of its way and make ends meet at the end of the day.”
“The other two I mentioned. We helped each other as best as we could, and we grew stronger because of it. They are the family that I’ll fight for until the bitter end, no matter how were related. Know what I mean?”
Cirno nods, and then seems to slump a bit as she lets out a sad sigh. “It doesn’t get any easier, does it?”
“Sure it does,” you respond, and Cirno looks back up to you in surprise. “At least it did for us. We kept the lessons we learned with us as we grew, and while I wouldn’t exactly call my current situation stable at least I have some control over it. Heck, you’re probably in a much better position that I was at your age; it isn’t like I could shoot ice all over the place when someone was giving me trouble back then.”
Cirno seems to get a little flustered at that statement, so you press onwards. “Look, I know you think I’m this horrible guy whose out to do goddess knows what to you and your own, but I’m nowhere near as bad of a man as you girls seem to make me out to be.”
“Then why did you kiss Luna?” Cirno asks, eliciting a groan from you. “Doing something like that doesn’t put you in a good light.”
“I really need to apologize to her for that,” you say as you palm your face with your non-frozen hand. “I kinda, maybe, sorta wasn’t thinking my actions through at that point and time, and I get the feeling that I hurt her more than I should have.”
“You should probably just stay away from her, then.” Cirno says, trying to keep as straight a face as possible.
“She really hates me that much over what I did?”
Cirno gives you a shrug. “That girl is the biggest airhead that I know, so it’s hard to tell if she’s actually feeling anything at a given moment. You’d probably have better luck asking Star or Sunny than me.” Cirno gives you a piercing look. “Not that I’d allow it, of course.”
You sigh, feeling somewhat tired over Cirno’s mistrust at you. “Do you think that you can at least help me apologize to her, then?”
Cirno looks as if she’s about to rebuke you right off, but as she catches your gaze she seems to hesitate. “I’ll think about it, but just keep away from my girls until I say otherwise.” With that she turns around, making it clear that she’s no longer in the mood for talking. That’s fine by you since you don’t have anything else that you can think to ask her. You choose to let silence reign as the two of you continue to walk under the starry sky.
It doesn’t take too long for the two of you to make it to Aya’s place, a simple looking building of brown and white nestled in the better part of town. Despite being somewhat small and cramped, it nonetheless gives off a cozy feel in the chilly air of the night. (Also your hand, but you are still trying to keep your mind off of that) You can see that the light is still on in Aya’s room, which means that she’s probably still awake and working on her newspaper of hers.
Not wanting to wake up the other occupants, you pick up a small nearby rock and toss is at Aya’s window, to which there is no response. Exasperated, you pick up another rock and try again. Unfortunately, your aim is slightly off and you end up hitting the darkened window next to Aya’s, causing Cirno to stifle a giggle over how bad you messed that up. You’re just about to try a third time when the window you just hit opens up and a sleepy looking Hatate sticks her head out. She stares at you for a second before pulling her head in and closing the window. You hear some kind of commotion occurring inside, and it isn’t long before the front door opens to reveal a frazzled looking Aya. “Conner? What are you doing here at this time of night?” You can tell that she’s been neglecting her sleep a bit, but at least she looks more awake then Hatate did. She spots Cirno standing next to you, and her eyes gravitate towards the place where your hands are connected. “Oh. Geez, how in the world did you manage to end up in a situation like that?”
“Lady Aya, is everything alright?” A tired looking figure steps out behind Aya. Despite having pure white hair, the woman looks to be the same age as Aya does, although the white bathrobe she is wearing and the obvious sleeplessness aren’t doing her complexion many favors at the moment.
“It’s alright Momiji,” Aya says with a wave of her hand, “It’s just Conner. You can go back to bed.” The white-haired woman nods with a yawn as she moves back towards her room. Aya turns back to you, and you can’t help but see a smirk make its way on her face. “So I’m guessing you want me to help you in regards to…well, that, right?” She indicates the ice block, clearly amused by your suffering.
You suppress a groan. “Look, can you let me know where Letty is staying?” You ask. “She’s the best person I can think of to help the two of us get out of this mess.”
“Hmmm…” Aya says as she taps her lips with one finger. “I miiiiight know where she is, but such information doesn’t come cheap, y’know?”
“Aya…” you say, unable to keep your groan suppressed any longer. “Really?” When Aya just stands there smirking you sigh in defeat. “Fine, what do you want?”
“If you give me your phone number, I might be able to tell you where Letty is,” Aya says, her smirk not decreasing in the slightest.
“You can’t be serious,” you say, wondering if this was such a good idea after all. Cirno lets out a groan. “Dude, just give it to her. The sooner we get this over with, the better.”
“It’s your choice, Conner,” Aya says with a small shrug. “If you want to know where Letty is staying, then cough up that number of yours. Otherwise you can just go and find her yourself.”
Why is Aya doing this to you now of all times? You wonder if this is revenge for that whole Yorihime stunt that you pulled a while ago. You try to come to a decision as you try to ignore the fact that you aren’t sure if you can feel your hand anymore.
[ ] Give Aya your number
[ ] Don’t give Aya your number