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[Ł] Something Soft
[ℍ] Something Sharp
[ ♫: http://tindeck.com/listen/cbekq ]
One of them's a blonde with irreparably tousled hair, wearing clothes that look like casual wear for the uptight—
"Ten out of ten."
—And the other is an older woman with mocha skin and black hair. Unlike her friend, she's in workout clothes.
"Fast and efficient."
"Not a thing out of place."
"...Well, no. She put the chairs back on the wrong side of the table." Oh, did I <whoops>?
Uptight-Casual's clapping stops, and she shakes her head. "...Jamie, that was awful."
"Huh?" Mocha looks back at her, the clap already in motion coming to a weak stop. "I wasn't making fun of her. I'm just sa—"
"You say, 'Yes, and'. Disagreeing or contradicting like that interrupts the flow and kills the bit."
...Who are these people, and what is going on <and when are they going to stop>?
"But I'm not—"
"—Professionally trained, I'm very aware. More importantly, it's time for breakfast, isn't it?" Uptight looks over at me and smiles, studiously ignoring the woman's glare. "And thank you so much for getting things ready, by the way. Do you mind if we join you?"
I guess I'm relevant again <booo>. "No, please do," I say, and gesture invitingly at the seats as I rise to get my breakfast. Being rude at this point wouldn't exactly help my case. "The name's Kochiya. Nice to meet you... oh?"
When I return to the table, I notice neither of them have taken a seat. Instead, they've decided to... ah <well duh they gotta eat too>. Yeah, no real getting around that. I decide to wait while they both head to the suspiciously refrigerator-like appliance I'd noticed earlier but hadn't examined closely. What I can see of it from here while it's open sure looks fridge-y, as well <no light when the door opens though>. Kind of a luxury in a place like this, probably.
Uptight takes a few things out of there, places it all into a frying pan she grabs off a rack, and uses that to carry it all over to the stove where she begins setting up. Mocha <jamie> does the same, taking several small packages and dropping them into a bowl, and transporting her load over to a clear patch of counter before unpacking it all.
"So, I'm Honne," says the blonde woman, taking out a large, polka-dotted white ribbon and pulling her wild blonde hair into a lazily-bound ponytail. "That's Italian for 'gullible', if you're wondering." Really? Jeez, that's a mean name. She finishes clearing out the pan and looks over my way. "Something wrong?"
"No, no... Well, maybe a bit?" I say, rubbing a thumb along the edge of the box with the fish in it. I'm going to wait for them to join me before I start. Seems like the polite thing to do, I guess. "That's a... it seems like there must be other names that mean nicer things." <thats putting it nicely>
Honne laughs. Shaking her head, she unwraps the packet, takes a knife, and begins chopping something up. "No, it doesn't bother me. My parents were the type to get confused without a whole lot of effort, if you catch my drift. My mother was pregnant with me for eleven and a half months because she didn't know any better."
What? Is that even—no, that can't be true <gotta be bsing for sure>. "Really?"
"Mm-hmm, absolutely." Gathering up the chopped stuff, she drops it into the pan where it begins to sizzle and cook. Must be some kind of meat. "But she had my brother in seven and a half just to make up for it, so it all worked out."
I'd be quicker to call her a liar if she didn't sound so serious. "So, um, how'd you end up in Makai?"
[ ♫: https://youtu.be/1JX3n-8LkzU ]
[ ♫: https://www.listenonrepeat.com/?v=1JX3n-8LkzU ]
[ ♫: http://tindeck.com/listen/bxizn ]
She doesn't answer right away. Picking up a small golf ball <i think>, she cracks it <what> on the rim of the pan, like an egg. Or maybe it is an egg. "I went for a walk one day, and I thought the sign said 'Macau' but the guy who painted it just couldn't spell." She cracks another golf-egg. "This was not the case, as you can guess."
The blonde girl pours a third egg into the pan before taking a spatula and scooting stuff around it. She still doesn't look at her kitchen companion. "Yes?"
"The story you told me was better."
"Hey, this is new material. It's still being tested."
"I can see that."
A scowl, and a hard shove of the spatula. "Then why don't you share your story, O Wise Mystic."
'Jamie' is still where she was before, and still busy doing... something. I hear sounds of chopping, and occasional crunching, but can't see from here what's going on. "It's not very interesting."
I have the oddest feeling that I'm stuck in some kind of comedy routine. "Oh, I don't know about that," I say. "I'm new to all this, so anything's interesting." <also maybe someone can help me home please> "And pardon my asking, but what was your name, again?" I already know it, but it seems like a good place to get her started.
"Jamie Lee Curtis. But just 'Jamie' is fine."
She turns around and looks back at me. Been too quiet for too long. "Is something wrong?"
Okay, no, see, that's definitely bull. "Well... I saw Halloween, and I have to say you look very different."
"Of course. That came out decades ago."
"No, I meant like, a different person entirely."
Jamie turns back. "Movies require makeup, don't they?"
"They do, yes."
"When was the last time you saw Jamie Lee Curtis without makeup?"
"I... W-well, I guess I haven't."
"So it's not impossible, is it?"
It definitely is! "Even so, that's a bit..."
"It seems hard to believe."
She waves the knife she's using in a small circle. "Like magic?"
I can't believe I'm losing this argument.
Jamie—I'm dead certain it's just an alias, but I'll stop treating the name with disbelief out of respect to her—finishes whatever she's working on, puts whatever's left over back into the fridge, and carries her bowl over to the table, and sits across from me. "Anything's true if you believe it enough, Kochiya."
"May I just call you Jamie?" I ask after trying and failing to come up with a good reply.
"Sure you can." She jabs a fork into the bowl, and brings up—oh, it's some kind of salad, isn't it? I don't recognize some of those vegetables, but leafy greens are leafy greens, even when some of them are blue. And orange.
—Oh, hey. I can start eating without looking rude now, can't I? Great. Just to be on the safe side, I take my time unpacking the fish and unwrapping the machavat and adama. The fish doesn't have quite the same delicious, freshly grilled smell it did the night I cooked it <theres a shocker>, but it hasn't started smelling bad, yet. Fishy, but not bad-fishy. I think I could probably push it another day before it started to smell weird. However, the scent of last night's bounty from the Feast is warm and delicious.
...Yes, warm. Things can totally smell warm.
Honne bustles over after a few moments, carrying a stoneware plate of eggs and unidentified meat. She sits on the end of the rough wooden table, so Jamie <she looks too nice to be that nutty> and I scoot our chairs closer to that end. The blonde seasons her eggs and after taking a bite, looks my way. "So, 'Kochiya', huh?"
What? "...Yes?" I look up from making a sort of weird taco with the foods at my disposal. Greasy fingers, but happy taste buds. Mmmm.
Again: what? "Sounds...?" I ask, politely seeking clarification while trying not to betray how awkward and confused I feel right now <this was a terrible ideaaaaaaa>.
"You know, Oriental." Honne waves her fork vaguely in one direction. "China, the Dutch Indies, Japan, Siam... That whole area."
Weird thing to call it. I nod, and finish chewing on the bite I had before answering. "Oh, yes. Yes, it is. My parents were from there."
For no reason I can easily put my finger on, it occurs to me <again or for the first time> how easily lying and misdirection comes to me, now. Is it because my survival demands it? Am I just that kind of girl? Is it actually this simple for everyone and I'm only now realizing this? I don't feel bad about doing it, but I feel sort of bad about not feeling bad about that.
Not going to stop, though. I can't. If everyone else here wasn't lying about themselves, maybe I'd think differently. Weirdly enough, the fact that we're having conversation based on lies doesn't seem to bother them. Maybe I'm the weird one <as if i didnt already know that>.
That comment seems to be answer enough for her. "I lived out there for a little while with some friends," Honne remarks. "Things fell apart after not too long, so I moved on."
"I wouldn't have thought you to be the type to travel abroad." Jamie comments. "Aren't you Italian, right?"
Honne smiles down at her eggs. "Sometimes you should trust a map, but sometimes you should trust your heart."
And yet none of us trust other people.
...They're looking at me <oh damn did I say that out loud>. The blonde seems disappointed. "Kochiya, don't step on the joke. Manjit already does that often enough; two people doing that is going to kill me." Jamie doesn't laugh, but her relaxed expression turns amused.
"Eh." Honne's reply is just a pout and a grunt. She takes that sort of thing seriously, I guess.
Jamie spears a forkload of salad, and then sits back in her chair, bowl held in one hand. "What brings you to Makai, Kochiya? If it's not too personal."
I try to look thoughtful or pensive, but I'm really just buying myself time to finish this mouthful. The fish goes strangely well with the adama, even though there's no reason at all that it should. Maybe because the machavat was lightly buttered before being baked? That's what it tastes like, anyway.
"Good intentions, ambition, and a lack of experience." Heh, that's the most honest thing I've said so far. Of course, both women give me a look like they're expecting more. "Weird things started happening where I lived. I went to check things out, because I'm pretty qualified to do that." <or so i thought> "Found what was going on and who was causing it, but during that time, they brought me to Makai and left me for dead." ...Pretty accurate summary, more or less. "I've got no journey or quest, besides looking for a way back home."
"...Oh." Jamie's eyes soften. "That sounds terrible. How long has it been?"
Hey, I can actually answer this, now! "It's been—" <okay maybe lets not give everything away idiot> "—a little while, but not too long. I'm picking things up as quick as I can, at least." A weary smile that might be just a bit fake turns my lips upward. "I don't want to make this a long-term thing, though. Don't suppose anyone's heard about how to get a ride back?"
Honne's fork pauses in front of her mouth. "You find the dirty dogs what left you in the dirt, yet? If they got you here, stands to reason they can get you back." Chomp.
I shake my head. "Thaff uhnlig—ah, mmpf." I cover my mouth apologetically, and swallow first. "Sorry. What I wanted to say was that that's unlikely. Makai is a large place, and I don't know where they're going, or why."
"You're not very likely to get help from other onje, sad to say," Jamie tells me. "It's hard to just open up some kind of magic door or what have you to Makai. There's easier ways to come over here, but they're a lot more restricting."
("—ANYTHING SHE WANTS—")
...I was really playing with fire, wasn't I? The woman in white's terrible honesty rings in my ears for a second before I banish the memory.
"Really? Well, that's... I was sort of hoping for better news than that." I straighten up, and forcefully inject some brightness into my attitude. "I'm sure I'll find a way back sooner or later, though. But now that I've come clean, how did you two come to be in Makai?"
Their stories are, like mine, very heavily edited and abridged. Jamie was a small-time fitness instructor in South America who took her practice 'very, very seriously'. She had an interest in new age nonsense like reiki, crystal healing, chakras, and so on, and did extensive research on them so that she could explain to people that there was a difference between things like that and things with actual benefits, like yoga or meditation.
I think she wouldn't have been popular in Japan, because there are still thousands if not millions of people who still believe in ESP and psychics there. Certain people may or may not have been one of them <well no duh living with literal gods bends a girls viewpoint just a bit>.
At some point, however, she started discovering that these things would actually work when she tried them. She handed her business over to her assistant, and immediately started traveling around the world, learning all there was about these mythical and often-bogus practices. 'And then,' as she said it, 'I had an astral projection accident, and now I'm here.'
Big chunks of that story are missing, obviously. But since they didn't pry too heavily into my recounting, I'll return the favor. Good thing I did, too, because Honne's was even shorter.
'Always had a knack for taking things and putting them in other places. Had some close friends, and we moved to the Orient. Opium was the big thing, back then. Lotta money in it. Had a falling-out with them, and just went for a walk. That thing I said about the sign to Macau? Wasn't making that part up at all.'
Not a lot of words, but a lot to digest. Suwa-mama would probably have a good saying for that.
Breakfast wraps up shortly after that. Jamie departs for the roof and Honne says she has sightseeing she wants to do. I bid them farewell, finish up the last of my cooling but still tasty morning meal, and go over what I've learned. There isn't a lot, though <im still screwed>. Yes, there is that, but that's been the case for a while already. I didn't learn that, I just confirmed it.
Well, except for the guy at the Brotherhood office. Tim? Ten <tane>? Yeah, Tane. That appointment's still a while off, though, so I should probably go do something in the mean time. I walk over to the <suspected> balcony, but Donny isn't there anymore—must have come back in while I was cleaning up.
Behind the pebbled glass is... confirmed, it's a balcony <years of debate put to rest at last>. It overlooks the humble streets of Algerasso, which aren't much to look at. The sky above suggests that it's starting to become the time of morning when you look at the clock and feel resignation and acceptance instead of confusion and irritation.