[LF] Just Desserts [K 4.3]

edited December 2012 in In-Game
A few days have passed since the visit at the Beetlehead merchants. Curiously, ever since the merchants, Jyuu Shin-Ta has backed off of you and Hornet and your job has fallen into an easier rhythm. You and Hornet started swapping off teaching Dash the basic forms of swordplay. He's catching on rather well, his youth and quickness giving him a solid foundation. He'll never have your natural grace, but he does have the same tenacity. How have you handled teaching him with your hands still on the mend? Talking, not showing? Or pushing through?

Mew Mew bought a nice, colorful scarf from those merchants. She's been wearing it every day around her neck and over her mouth and head while she walks around on the deck. Boot's here, too. Mew Mew keeps finding excuses to ask the captain and pilot questions. Did you say anything to Sheng-Li by the way?

At dinner tonight, Iwao told you and Dash that you should arrive at Kashang Oasis tomorrow morning and will be there for a couple days. Ren is happy, he has some friends in this village. Like always, Jyuu left right after he finished his food, went up onto the deck. Sheng-Li is telling you all a story about when he met Katara of the Water Tribe. Of course, everyone is leaning in, he's quite good at spinning tales. Did you ever meet her, Keela? She did come to Ba Sing Se a few times with the Avatar, you certainly would have had opportunities.

The smell of something sweet and recently roasted interrupts the story, however. Hanae has just walked in with a wooden bowl with a cover over it. Everyone, eyes wide, sat back while she set the bowl in the middle. Then she pulls the wooden lid off with a little flourish and inside, you see several fluffy white puffs, still steaming. They look to be some kind of mix of rice, coconut and dates. They look incredibly yummy, in fact.

Iwao and Ren immediately started to grab for them and Hanae whacks them both with the lid. They pull their hands back, shocked and rubbing them with confusion and she says, "You've had them before! Let, ah, let our new crew try them before you get them all... sandy." Then she lowers her head to you. And Dash. Dash pauses a second for you to take the first one.
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  • I've been frustrated with my hands. I want so badly to be able to show Dash how to fight, but my hands have been stiff and painful. I could probably press through the pain, but Dash caught me wincing once and refused to practice fight me until my hands healed. So I've resorted to talking. Hornet doesn't go easy on him, so I guess maybe it's good that my lessons are less physical.

    I did not talk to Sheng-Li. I've been keeping an eye on the two of them though, trying to watch whenever Mew Mew is around him. I'm certain now that Mew Mew has a crush on Sheng-Li. I'm still not certain how Boot feels about that. Or how Mew Mew feels about Boot.

    I have met Katara of the Water Tribe. Jun Da introduced me to her a long time ago, when I was young and we were attending a ball. I remember that she was very pretty and very kind, even though I refused to smile. She has been to Ba Sing Se with the Avatar several times since then, but that was after I learned that if I refused to attend balls, Jun Da would eventually give up and leave without me.

    I make a face at Iwao and Ren, teasingly. Then I grin at Hanae and take one of the fluffy white puffs. It smells delicious. I'd forgotten all about our conversation about dates until right now. I take a bite and close my eyes. She wasn't lying. She does make a good date dessert. "Hanae. This is amazing." I say between mouthfuls.
  • Dash pauses on the third puff to nod furiously. But Hanae doesn't even look at him. She's bright red, hand in front of her mouth again at your compliment. She's staring at you for a long moment there, probably the longest since you've met her. You catch a look from Iwao, like he's working on some hard math problem and he doesn't particularly love the answer. Hanae breathes, "...thank you, Key."

    Dash says, mouth full (you never worried about manners before, does that bother you now?), "Thif iff awefome, Hanny!"

    Ren and Sheng-Li, they're just waiting their turn. Finally Hanae looks away to them and nods and they're digging in. Iwao remarks, "So, Hanae, this is why you were getting up so early to hunt for fluffy tortoise eggs every morning?"

    Hanae looks a little surprised, like she didn't think anyone noticed, nods once, then starts to excuse herself, grabbing some dirty plates.
  • I start feeling kind of weird under Hanae's long stare. I do not understand this girl at all. But then I notice Iwao is staring at me too, and I start feeling nervous. He looks like he's trying to figure something out. I hope it's not that I'm a girl. I try to inconspicuously glance down at my chest, brushing invisible crumbs off my shirt. I've been wrapping my chest to make my figure even more boyish. I'm not really that curvy, but I have enough of a curve to definitely look like a girl if I'm standing right. My shirt looks nice and flat right now. I don't know what Iwao is looking at me for. I'm too busy worrying to even really hear Hanae thank me.

    I don't mind Dash's terrible manners. It's kind of nice actually. I love that he doesn't even think about it. His life is so free from the strict etiquette rules I grew up with.

    I feel a little guilty that Hanae has been getting up early to hunt for eggs. We have to get up so early to work, she must have been getting hardly any sleep. "Well thanks, Hanae! That was really nice of you." I call over to her as she grabs the dirty plates, but I'm grinning at Dash who looks like he's in heaven.
  • Hanae pauses while pulling a plate from in front of Sheng-Li and looks at you again. you swear, its like she's holding her breath and you two just stare for a second. Then again, she looks away, scurries off. While Sheng-Li, Dash and Ren munch away, Iwao leans back and punches your arm across Dash, "You dog you, Key. heh"

    Ren and Dash pause for a second and Dash sits back and looks over at you. Hornet does, too, of course, she's chuckles a bit, her mouth full. The puffs are nearly gone.
  • I pause, my hand halfway to my mouth, staring at Iwao. Everybody else pauses too. I glance at Dash and then at Hornet. Wait...what?

    No. No that can't be. I'm not...I'm a...

    But Hornet is chuckling and I'm pretty sure my face is turning bright red.

    "What??" I demand. I must be wrong. Hanae doesn't.....right?
  • Ren and Sheng-Li sort of stare for a second and Iwao chuckles. Now Dash looks confused, but he snags the last puff and sets it in front of you real quick and leans back so Iwao can't hit you anymore.

    Hornet breaks the silence, she wouldn't leave you out there. She says simply, "Hanae likes you, Key." She looks a little sad about it, but she's trying not to show it.

    Sheng-Li adds, "She's got it bad, Key. Baaad." Ren laughs and some puff spews a bit out of his mouth and he covers it. Iwao chuckles, too, but it feels fake, there's an odd tinge to it. Dash is sort of laughing, but also you see worry in his eyes. This could be dangerous.
  • "Oh." I say, in a slightly shocked voice, because I don't know what else to say. I glance at Dash and then back at Iwao who does not seem any happier about this than I am. "Uh. Well. I, uh. I'm not....exactly....available." I finally manage. I glance between all of them, and stifle a groan. Well, I'm not going to, um, lead her on. I'll tell her that straight up. Nip this in the bud, so to speak.

    I stand up, leaving the last puff on the table. "I, uh, I guess I better go talk to her." I say in a resigned voice.
  • Ren makes some kissy noises and Sheng-Li chuckles. You catch some quick movement and then see that Hornet punched him. Dash looked a little bashful when you said you weren't available. You noticed that. He's trying to hide a smile.

    You head out of the mess to the little galley. It is a tight place, like a slightly overgrown closet. Hanae is in there, busily scrubbing the wooden bowls with a rough cloth. When you shut the door, which you have to do or the room is cut in half since it opens in, she scoots a step away from you, right up against the wall.

    The galley has a sink, but no running water. There's a barrel overhead with a spigot that you could unstop, it looks like. The place looks like it was carefully constructed to allow someone to tie up or lock away all the plates, bowls, sticks, spices, everythign, one tight package. Well organized, and the place smells still of the rice and coconuts.

    Hanae looks at you with that look, now that you in here all tight and you know, it feels rather obvious. "Did you... need something, Key?" she says in a small voice as she works her way back to the sink.
  • I stay on the opposite side of the galley, as far away as possible. I feel pretty dumb when she gives me that look. Yeah, I should've recognized that look days ago. I just wasn't thinking...it'd never even occurred t o me....

    "Uh, no. I just wanted to talk to you." I start off, trying to be matter-of-fact. I mean, we've only known each other for a few days. It's not like she's in love with me or something. "I wanted to be straight with you. I have a...a girl back home." Despite my intentions, I know I'm blushing. "And I think you're great, Hanae. You're an amazing cook and you've been really nice to me..." Ugh this is getting awkward...ummm...what do girls want to hear? I should know this! I am one! Uhh...tell her she's pretty? "...and you're really pretty, but I'm in love with someone else. And I didn't want to, uh, lead you on, you know."
  • Hanae looks utterly crestfallen at the news of your girl back home. She doesn't cry, you think she's probably stronger than that. But yeah, she fades out, staring at the plug on the water barrel for a few moments soaking in your let-down speech. It feels like you just sucker punched her, of course.

    Things are uncomfortably quiet. What else do you say, really? You're thinking about the propriety of giving her space, or privacy or something when she turns and says, "Thank you, Key. For being honest. She's really lucky to have you." She gives you a sad little smile and you know she means it. Then, "What's her name? What's she like? It has to be lonely, being all the way out here. Is she in Ba Sing Se?"

    So now, you're going to have to build out this lie, right? Let's say its a difficulty two to successfully fib to this girl who seems keen on details about your fake love life. Or you can just leave, of course.
  • I spend a second in a blind panic. Name? Name. I can't think of any names! Just say a name! Any name! "Oh, Rui. Her name is Rui." Well if my face wasn't red before it is now. Why did I say Rui? Of all the names in the world! I'm trying to think of things my imaginary girlfriend likes, but the real Rui keeps getting in the way. "She's uh, you know, pretty, nice. She likes, um, poetry. And sunrises. And sword fighting. Uh, and yeah, she's in Ba Sing Se."

    I make myself stop talking. Did she even buy any of that?
  • I've got a certain Charm that comes from my Charisma and Presence.

    #DiceRoller( 4d6 )
  • Hanae gives you a polite smile, "She must miss you terribly."

    She inclines her head. You realize she's closed the distance you put between you. She's not right on you, but she's in the periphery of your personal space, "Why are you working so far away? You, well, don't get mad for me saying this, but at first, when we were at the docks, I thought maybe that you were in trouble."
  • "Uh, yeah I guess she does." I say distractedly, eyeing the diminishing distance between us. But I look quickly back at her face when she mentions that she thought I was in trouble. "Trouble?" I force myself to laugh. "Well, I'm almost always in some trouble. You know, the life we live. Plus, being friends with Hornet comes with a rather large helping of trouble." I try to grin roguishly, like Canlid. Denying I was in trouble would be harder than bragging about it. At least, that's what I'm hoping. And guys do that, right? They like to brag about how much trouble they are?

    I am in way over my head here. I should leave before I give myself away.
  • Hanae grins, it seems like maybe that roguish quality is something she likes in you. "I hear you've been friends with Hornet for a while. Can you shoot like she does? She's so amazing. She tried to get me to buy a tattoo the last time we were at Kashang Oasis, but I was afraid. Do you have any? Tattoos?"

    You get the feeling she's being curious now, asking all the questions she wanted to before now that you're off limits. It feels more relaxed at least, although now she's not trying to run from you, which is its own challenge. She goes back to work on the last bowls, turning to the work, but looking back up at you frequently.
  • I relax when she relaxes. Ok. Maybe this isn't so bad. Hane is really nice. I wish she knew I was a girl and we could just be friends.

    I laugh a little. "No, I don't have any tattoos. Maybe I'll get one someday though." My grin widens into something a lot more genuine. It feels really good to know that if I want to get a tattoo, I can get a tattoo. I can make my own decisions. I'm free. "I don't shoot, no. I'm better with a sword. How long have you been been working on ships like this?"
  • Hanae leans down over the sink and scrubs at a pesky piece of crusted food. "I was born out of here, Key. My parents were sand tribe. Raiders, really. Crimson Claw tribe. Heard of them? They're pretty far from here, in Si Wong Desert. The farther the better." She pauses to reach her left hand over the cabinets and concentrates for a second to pull sand away from the nooks and crannies, drawing up a small bit, then she sort of sandblasts the bowl with it. Then she blows the bowl clean and smiles, then puts it away.

    "As soon as I could bend, they had be on the sand raiders, 'pushing sail'. I was seven. I didn't get to play with the other kids. I grew up hating my bending, which ended up making me fuel it with my anger, so I sealed my own fate. I knew I would never get off that raider. Captain So called it the Sand Swan. I ha... I didn't like Captain So. I didn't like any of the crew, really. They didn't like kids, they didn't treat me like anything but 'the girl who made the ship go'. It was really lonely.

    "Then, when I became a woman, my poppa, Okko, he tried to marry me off to Corkan of the Yellow Dusk tribe. Captain So was mad, but he couldn't stop it. My mate was another raider captain and maybe it would have been different, being a concubine instead of just the sail pusher, but during the trip over, I ran away. I didn't trust any of them anymore. I just wanted to get away. Anywhere but here sounded really nice."
    she's finished putting up all the dishes and turns around to scoot herself up into a sitting position on the counter, still looking at you.

    "I ended up in Plains village. I was hungry and scared until a man named Li gave me some chicken-pig eggs and a place to sleep. He was my first friend. I was... a really awful friend, Key." She pauses, like she has more to say, but she's a little worried that she talked too long.
  • I'm honestly touched by her story. She's different than I thought. A lot tougher, braver. Her life sounds hard, full of the sort of misery and suffering that comes from not having anything, the sort that I've just barely experienced. And yet, I can relate to her in a strange sort of way. Both of us had no say in our lives until we got the courage to just leave, run away from it all.

    I walk over to lean on the counter opposite her, facing her. "Well, you've only ever been a really good friend to me." I say firmly. I give her a smile that's a little softer. "So how did you end up on Yun's Lucky Dragon?" I add, encouraging her to continue if she'd like. I don't mind listening.
  • Hanae looks in your eyes for a little, searching. Then she licks her lips and looks away, continuing her story, "I spent a few months on Li's farm, learned about chicken-pigs, more than anyone would ever want to know. I didn't trust Li at all. I slept in his barn, I wouldn't eat in his home, I was so afraid of trusting him. He was patient and kind, Key. And I didn't understand WHY. I...I didn't deserve it!" Her voice hitches for a second, she started to get drawn up into that moment, but she calms herself.

    She finds a stray piece of wood on the counter, a splinter that she picks off, then she looks at it for a little. "After a few months, I became restless. I still wasn't ready to trust Li and I was scared Corkan would find me, so I got into a fight with Li. Over the egg count. Of all things, I argued with him about how many eggs there were that day. I got worked up about how I was right and he was a..." She looks up at you, slightly guilty, "I called him a bad name. Well, several of them. Then I left. I left the village and walked to the closest city I could find.""

    "It didn't go so well. In the city, they don't really care what you know about chicken-pig eggs. I had no money, I ran out of food. I had no options, other than to find a ship that needed a sand bender. I was... hrm, I was going to say lucky, but I think I will say fortunate to stumble upon the Dragon. I liked Yun and Iwao. Jyuu was... Jyuu." She smiles for a second and says quickly, "Sheng-Li was just a cabin boy when I first started, Key. He was promoted on our third voyage, but he was really funny as a cabin boy. We all knew he was going to become first mate. So Iwao and Chongy would make fun of him all day long. It was pretty silly."
  • I continue to listen to her quietly. It's hard for me to imagine a life like hers. It's sad, but at the same time, it makes me appreciate her more as a person. This is why I had such a hard time getting along with most nobles. They expected everything to be handed to them. Even if they were nice people, that entitlement was still there, it was just more subconscious. Even Ji kind of acted like that. I hope I don't act like that anymore. I hope that my time with Clay Street helped get rid of that attitude.

    I smile back at her. "I'd say I'm pretty fortunate to have ended up on the Dragon too. "

    I debate saying something about Iwao, but I chicken out. We've strayed comfortably away from talking about relationships. I don't want to bring that back to the light. So instead I tell her some stories "about" myself, borrowed from Canlid. Thankfully he's got quite the collection of adventures to choose from. Hopefully he won't mind that I'm taking credit for a couple. They're silly and entertaining. Afterwards, I thank her again for the dessert and head back out. I want to find Dash before bed so I can let him know he doesn't have to worry about Hanae. And to smack him for not telling me about this sooner.
  • Hanae laughs mightily at your stories. Its obvious this gives her a very different opinion of Key now. She still seems attracted to you, she plays with her hair a bit, gives furtive looks, not the kind of flirting, but body language that indicates interest on a subconscious level, you're just painfully clued in on it now.

    When you hunt around for Dash, you find him at the end of the hall in a small alcove, he's practicing some sword moves. He stops when you appear and smiles, "Hey." He's worked up a little bit of a sweat from the work, just enough to show the muscles he's building from this hard work. His shirt is off... did I mention that? Oh, it is.
  • I saunter up to Dash, trying (and failing) not to notice how good he looks with his shirt off. "Hey." I say back.

    I stop in front of him, and then I suddenly flick my arm, smacking him on the shoulder. Not hard enough to really hurt. "That is for not telling me about Hanae earlier." I growl in a low fake mad voice. I'm trying to scowl at him, but I keep accidentally grinning. He looks really good with his shirt off.
  • Dash smirks and pretends to wince at your smack, rubbing the muscle as he looks at you. "Keee...uhm, Key, I didn't know. Honest. Like, I know girls now?"

    He turns to you and gives you a dramatic bow (with really bad form) and says, "Evidently, we haven't met before... hi, I'm Dash, my best friend had a secret crush on me for years and I had no clue and I could have been kissing her and sneaking off to try Boot - Mew Mew stuff for who knows, maybe years until I was thrown into prison..." He rises and puts his hand to his forehead and looks to the sky, "For a crime I didn't commit." Then he looks at you with a mock inquisitive expression, "Who are you?"
  • I smirk back and airly do a dramatic bow with perfect form. "Pleased to meet you, Dash. I'm Key. My best friend didn't confess hi—her crush on me until I turned myself in to prison for a crime I also did not commit." I pause for effect with a fake wounded expression.

    Then I step towards him until I'm so close I can feel the heat radiating off his body. I lower my voice so only he can hear, my eyes dancing mischievously. "And then I had to fight off numerous guards, break out of prison, cut off my hair, and nearly get mauled by an owl-cat....just for a kiss." I lean closer until my breath is tickling his cheek, my voice low and smoldering. "And that kiss? Definitely worth it."

    Before he can react, I dance backwards, cheekily grinning at him.
  • Dash nearly falls forward when he sees you coming in for his cheek and then you hop away. He recovers his smile and snickers at you, giving you a "you got me" look and even pointing. Then he asks, "How are your hands, Key?"
  • I hold them out for him to inspect. The wounds on my hand are slowly fading to pink scars that will never totally go away, and I've got a few new calluses that I'm pretty proud of. They're still a little sore, but they're healing nicely. I won't have perfectly smooth noble lady's hands anymore, but I'm totally ok with that.

    "Almost healed." I say cheerfully. "So when do I get to actually sword fight with you?"
  • Dash reaches up to take your hands in his. Its a great excuse for him to hold you without looking like he's... holding you. Of course, he does so badly, holding you softly, not at all like you're a guy. Luckily, nobody is around.

    "They look much better," he observes after looking at them too long. "Sword fight me? Why, Key, we can have any tussle you want. I thought you were taking it easy on me. If you think you're ok, well, I'm sure Hornet wouldn't mind giving us some time to, ahem, to spar. I, ah, may need some private lessons, you know. He gives you that sly smile that melts you a bit, "I'm sort of... shy.

    Down the hall you hear Iwao and Jyuu coming belowdecks. Quick as an owl-cat, Dash drops your hands and moves a step away from you, pushing himself against the wall, still smiling. You should probably break this, whatever it is, up. Or move somewhere more private.
  • Heat sizzles up my spine when he takes my hands. We haven't had much time together. Especially now that Hornet and I are teaching him how to use a sword. Practicing and lessons have consumed our evenings. And finding time during the day is nearly impossible. Lately every time he's touched me, it's felt like lightning. When he gives me that sly smile, I melt completely.

    "You do need private lessons. Your form is terrible." I grin, but my eyes holding his are definitely more than friendly. I glance in the direction I can hear people approaching and lower my voice. "So we should, you know, go somewhere more private. Right now."
  • You and Dash are both smirking at the end of the hall when Iwao and Jyuu head to their bunks. Then you sneak back to the supply closet, right? That's the makeout spot from last time, makes sense it would be the closest private place now, of course.

    You're leading the way. Did you take his hand or leave it until later? You creep down the hall, careful for the creaks you remember and slide open the door to the closet. Dash comes up right behind you, he's got his hands on your side, his body pressed against you, like he wants to get you in there so bad he'd shove you in.

    Light spills into the tiny room. And you get a little surprise. Evidently, you aren't the only ones who discovered this is a nice private place for trysts and there are two people already in here. You catch the bare, well defined back of, yes, you think its Sheng-Li and he is facing away from you slightly. you realize he's kissing someone and you see long tapered fingers gripping his shoulders and a shapely leg curled around him. Evidently he pushed her against the hull and he's really enjoying this.

    That's when you see the hand move slightly and in the dim light, you see that the woman's hand has tattoos of beeds, wasps, in fact, flying across the back of her hand. If you stand there and gawk, they're going to notice you. Sneaking back and away will be difficulty two.
  • I do gawk, for just a split second, but then I'm pushing Dash backwards and trying to sneak back out without them noticing. I'd love to tease both of them mercilessly, but that would require explaining why Key and Dash were sneaking into the closet together. And I'd rather not go there.
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