The Purity of the Proto-Romantic Friendships of Young Girls


Nahona meets Koji at Korma Chameleon and things are good! Then Fate and Arf enter. Then things get awkward. Then sad. Then confusing when Jin enters. and Koji has to call in Rashmiforcements. Everyone leaving without feeling TOO bad is perhaps the best conclusion right now.

Date: 2017-09-05
Pose Count: 47
A Siberian cat 2017-09-05 03:46:40 82365
It's a nice afternoon in Tokyo. It's just light cloud cover, the sun peeking through occasionally and there's a breeze on the wind as fall hasn't quite set in, the last days of summer struggling to hold onto the world. But life still has to go on, and while it's a holiday other places, here in Japan it's just another schoolday.

Sitting in one of the booths at Korma Chameleon, Koji has his homework, a light dinner, and his archery gear taking up most of the space. There's room for someone else to sit if they squeeze in, but right now he's trying to get ready for Fall tests and is working on his math. Normally he'd be at the Gullwing for this, but it seems as if he's chosen to do curry instead. The smell of Tikka Masala wafts off his table as he has his spread over a big plate of basamati rice.
Nanoha Takamachi 2017-09-05 03:52:26 82367
Gullwing is super busy with one of it's Frozen Drink sales again. The BIG B4 FALL #BLOWOUT! Koji wouldn't wanna study there anyways with how busy it is.

Nanoha Takamachi has come on in, alone with her ferret, it seems. She smiles as she looks around for a place to sit, and smiles just a little more when she sees Koji-kun!

She steps on over and slides into the booth side opposite him and she's small enough that she doesn't have to squeeze in at all! "Hi Koji-kun!" she says. "What'ca working on?" she asks with wide eyes. "Is it homework? I bet homework in the high grades is so hard!" she says.
A Siberian cat 2017-09-05 03:56:34 82368
Koji looks up in surprise at the voice, and the has to adjust his glasses a moment before he then tucks a couple locks of his girlishly long hair back. Tilting his head slightly, the young man says "Prepping mostly. They gave us all the subjects to prepare for, but the grades mean I can get into a better school. Maybe a cooking school even."

Reaching over, he grabs his archery bag and pulls it over to his side of the booth so Nanoha and her ferret have more space, and he even spoons a little of the curry onto a coaster for the little guy to nibble, "Thank you for inviting me to your family's restaurant. I've been watching the 'net where I can for any strange rumors that might be the Jewel Seeds. The problem is so much happens here, it's hard to tell what's what."
Nanoha Takamachi 2017-09-05 04:12:03 82371
Nanoha Takamachi nods. "Yeah. Lots of stuff happens. It's hard. That's my problem too. Because there's things that sometimes even shows up as false positives on a scan for Jewel Seeds." she says softly.

"Eventually, they'll show up." she says quietly. "We can't preempt them. Because they're dormant and undetectable until they activate." she says quietly.

She smiles a bit. "Oh, do you like to cook? Do you consider baking and cooking the same thing? Lots of people don't. I think they're the same thing thou." she says quietly.

"I mean. They're both using a stove to make food..." she says quizzically.
A Siberian cat 2017-09-05 04:15:36 82373
The broken glasses are taken out from where they hide under his school uniform, and he rests them on the table where Nanoha and Yuuno are, as Koji says, "Well... this is how I've heard it said. Baking is a science, but cooking is an art. Tyrfing liked to bake, but I really have to avoid sweets. I'll get chubby again."

The older boy actually flushes a little when says it, but he gives a little shrug, "But I like actually making baked stuff for friends and others. Cooking is more for people who I really like."

But that causes him to blush, laugh, and rub the back of his neck as some stray hairs suddenly pop up and curl, "Not that I mean I wouldn't cook for you or Rashmi, or the other Magi I know... just... I mean..."
Nanoha Takamachi 2017-09-05 04:25:43 82374
Nanoha Takamachi shakes her head. "I think I know what you mean!" she says. "There's lots of people I bake for but I don't think I'd try to cook for just anyone else." she says. She head tilts a little and purses her lips a little more forwardly as she tries to think.

"That makes sense though, baking is a lotta mixing and combining and cooking is more like making things look pretty but also taste good and stuff." she says quietly as she swings her foot a bit. "Oh! I wanted to get a lassi. That's why I came in for, a moment!" she says as she stands to go obtain said drink!
A Siberian cat 2017-09-05 04:27:18 82375
He almost gets up to get the order for the younger girl, but then sits down as she heads off. Looking to where Yuuno is sitting, Koji pushes the little bit of curry he set aside for the ferret, and then sits back to close up his books so he can wait for Nanoha to return.
Nanoha Takamachi 2017-09-05 04:33:12 82376
Yuuno is eating curry, nomnomnom. It's impolite to speak in public as a ferret because people tend to faint. Nanoha returns with her lassi and sits back down and sips at it a little bit as she head tilts and eyes the broken glasses sadly. "Still no one to fix your glasses?" she asks a little softly. "Is there anything I can do to help Tyr-kun at all?" she asks.

"Mrfgle." she mutters to herself.

"Hey..." she asks, with wide eyes again, like she's asking a VERY important question.

"Do you miss being able to be a cat?" she asks.
A Siberian cat 2017-09-05 04:36:14 82377
When Koji hears the question, it makes him stop and consider for a moment, and then rests his elbows on the tabletop as he looks at the pair for a moment. Eventually, he leans back and takes a bite from his curry and then just nods once.

But after he swallows he says, "I do... sort of. When I could do that, it made making the bed easy. I'd just sleep on top. Sometimes I'd fall asleep in my chair after studying or playing games online. And then I'd wake up as a cat." He keeps his voice low to not scare the normals, and goes on, "But I miss talking with Tyrfing. He's a little gruff, sometimes a little mean, but he almost like having a big brother."
Nanoha Takamachi 2017-09-05 04:41:07 82378
Nanoha Takamachi nods. "If I could be a kitty. I'd be a kitty!" she says. "Because. I saw this youtube video once! Of this song? And it said that. A cat is the only cat that knows where it's at? And I'm sure we could really use that to track the jewel seeds!" she says with wide eyes.

"That's true, right? Because you've been a cat. And you know!" she says.

"So is it?" she asks as she leans forward a little. Youtube wouldn't LIE to her, right?

Right?
A Siberian cat 2017-09-05 04:46:14 82379
Oh.

Koji is kind of caught in this moment, and then he looks at Yuuno for help here, but the little ferret is nomming that big piece of chicken he left sitting there for him.
"Ahhh..." He looks away nervously, and then back...

Finally though, the young male Mage gulps and says, "I... never used it for that. I never even thought of it? I didn't think like a cat, it was me, just in a body that looked like a cat. But I did sometimes act like a cat. It just sort of comes to you. But the problem with being a cat is you want to sleep. A LOT. Like, all the time. A dog would be better for looking for Jewel Seeds, I think."
Fate Testarossa 2017-09-05 05:10:47 82380
    Dogs are superior to cats. When asking an unbiased panel of dogs, nine out of ten of them will agree. The tenth will be--

    "Faaaaaaaateeeee. I'm hungry nowwwwww."

    Thinking about food.

    The door to the Korma Chameleon pushes open smoothly, and a small blonde with her hair in twin-tails strides in, flanked by an older woman who can be best described as tall, busty, and busty. But in a reveral of the usual mannerisms of adult and child, it's the older girl who seems to have been the source of the whining, considering the blonde's voice is much more level, and calm, but still clear as day. "This is the place you wanted to try, right? We're here now so you can calm down, Arf."

    It may be a rare sight for Nanoha; the wan smile on Fate Testarossa's face. But it's not an entirely genuine one. Those vivid scarlet eyes are still as pained as ever.

    "Yeah! This place's curry has all the best ratings, I had to try it for myself." The redhead pipes. "I mean ramen will always be superior- but I'm hungry now."

    It is a very canine line of thought. 'Single minded'. Though it looks like Fate and Arf haven't noticed Nanoha and Koji, yet. ... Yet...
Nanoha Takamachi 2017-09-05 05:16:36 82381
Nanoha Takamachi seems to scrunch her nose in thought. "Oh." she says quietly. "I guess that makes sense." she says. She guesses the song was wrong. Maybe only a cat that's actually a cat is the only cat that knows where it's at, she thinks. Since Koji is a Kojicat! Which must be better somehow.

She goes to smile at Koji when the door opens and then she turns to the door and there's... Fate-...chan....

She blinks once. Because Fate's smiling? But. There's still... not. Mirth on her face. The eyes, though. She looks to Koji with WIDE eyes then merely ducks under the table and grabs Yuuno with her to peek out from under it with the ferret in hopes that Fate won't see her right away. Koji is, as far as she knows, and unknown to Fate, but Koji will remember the image Raising Heart showed at the meeting of Fate for sure- if he even notices her.

"....There's not a Jewel Seed here. I'd had detected it by now..." she mutters to herself.
A Siberian cat 2017-09-05 05:21:41 82382
It's not often you watch a 9 year old leap under the table you're at when you're Koji Silvia, but given the life he's been thrust into and now lives in powerless... it's not really unexpected. But Nanoha acting like she's seen someone from school she likes IS a touch amusing. He doesn't act like it just happened, but he does look over at the pair, and then in a slow move, he takes his broken glasses which are the external form of his Device, and hides them back under his shirt.

After a moment, he then opens his schoolbag for Yuuno to hide in as well. Recognizing Fate after a moment, he only has his bow here, and it's all packed away in his schoolkit. So it's now a tense moment.

And what do you do in tense moments?

You eat curry...

...and get a cumin seed stuck in your teeth!
Fate Testarossa 2017-09-05 05:34:28 82383
    Nanoha's clever thinking avoids being spotted for the time being as Fate and Arf step into the restaurant proper and scope out the Korma Chameleon. If Arf checked the reviews, Fate will take her word on it and find a table.

    "Excuse us."

    That happens to be the booth next to Nanoha and Koji's.

    Fate is already settling in, reaching for a radar cluelessly. Before Arf sits herself down and reaches as well, only to...

    Sniff... Sniff sniff...

    Start sniffing at the air suspiciously.
Nanoha Takamachi 2017-09-05 05:41:53 82384
Nanoha watches Fate's legs pass on by. Nope. No Jewel Seed. Are.. are they just sitting down? To Eat? That's it? Eyes peek back and forth and she peeks up for a moment to slip Yuuno into the archery bag as she then peeks over at Koji. "Um. That's Fate-chan." she whispers.

She dips back under the table and peeks out... and...

Wait. Does Arf smell her!? Ugh of course she does. She smacks her face. Stupid Nanoha! Stupid!

She hunkers down more. Don't find her. Don't find her. Dammit her lassi is up on the booth table!
A Siberian cat 2017-09-05 05:47:07 82385
Attempt for Distraction #1!

Koji slides his 3-star Tikka Masala to the edge of the table, as well as his garlic naan, and turns around to look at the sniffing woman with a smile, "S-sorry. I hope it's not my curry. I like it a little hot, Miss. If it's a bother, I can move to another table."

He gulps once, hoping this works... eyes kinda shut, rubbing the back of his neck, and if you could see it, there's a sweat-drop on the side of his head.
Fate Testarossa 2017-09-05 05:56:35 82386
    Sniff. Snnnniiiiff...

    The two are barely settled in and Arf is scenting the air like... Like a wolf on the hunt. There's almost a wild look in her eye when Koji so much as moves, turning her head to stare. It's the kind of stare a hungry wolf gives a lone traveler late at night on a dark road. The 'you are meat, to me' stare. Briefly, dangerously her attention shifts, eyes starting to edge downward to the table.

    "Arf." Fate interjects in the tone of a girl talking to a bad dog, which earns a mild cringe. But Arf rallies and...

    "Ooooh that's what that smell is!" The redhead glees when Koji puts his food to the edge of the table. "Fate-! Fate, Fate, I want that~."

    Distraction: SUCCESS.

    Fate, on the other hand, sighs heavily. "I'm sorry." The blonde says mildly. "She can get excitable when she hasn't had lunch."
Nanoha Takamachi 2017-09-05 06:01:09 82387
Nanoha Takamachi looks around under the table and slides up against the wall. She purses her lips and listens to the discussion. She sighs. Okay. They are here for food. She undoes one of her pigtails. Why?

She sliiiiiides back up. Minux one pigtail. "F--found it! The ribbon! Ahahaha I guess I didn't tie it right." she says as convincingly as she can. Which is pretty not SUPER convincing but could be chalked up to embarrassment.

She then blinks and turns to the side as if by shock. Which is partly true. "F..fate-chan?" she asks with a blink. Half her long hair is splayed out over her right shoulder without the pigtail there. She hasn't started fixing it yet.
A Siberian cat 2017-09-05 06:05:32 82388
Right about now, if Koji actually knew the Takamachi family, he'd be wishing he was one of Nanoha's older siblings. But he's just a Deviceless Mage of meager talent. But since Arf starts going very enthusiastic about wanting 3-star Tikka Masala and Basamati Rice, he gives a nervous little smile, and says, "Okay, how about this Miss..."

He takes out a coupon from his pocket, "Take this up to the counter when you make your order. Since it's your first time they give you a discount. Just don't try to ask for the Curry Challenge. Please. It makes it smell so much in here it takes a whole afternoon to make the place livable again."

Addressing just Arf for now, he tries very hard NOT to look at Fate, remember Fate, know what's going on with Fate...
Fate Testarossa 2017-09-05 06:17:39 82389
    There is a sudden snatch. There is no more coupon in Koji's hand. Arf has it. Arf is out of her seat. Arf is leaving Fate alone with a completely ordinary normal boy who is no threat to her. All for the sake of curry. "Beeee right back, Fate, gonna order!"

    Fate clears her throat as she is left alone with Koji and-- Nanoha surfaces from the depths of the table. Fate's mouth was open as though she was going to speak. A sound builds in the foriegn girl's throat and promptly dies as she stares past Koji and right at Nanoha.

    In an instant any warmth she had shown the redhead is gone. It is replaced by a dark shadow shrouding her face, hands balling into fists as layers of internal emotional defensive walls are forcibly erected with hasty alarm.

    "It's you." Is all she says at first, with all the warmth of a glacier. "We're here to eat. So please don't give us any trouble. I... Just want to enjoy a day with Arf."
Nanoha Takamachi 2017-09-05 06:32:45 82391
Nanoha Takamachi is taken aback, but she answers. Fate doesn't use her name. She never uses her name. She never knows why she doesn't use her name anymore. She just seems awkward about it is all. She bites back stuff she could say. When Fate isn't on her guard. Questions. Things she wants to say.

'You're not alone.'
'I know you love your mother, but...'
'My name is Nanoha... Nanoha Takamachi.'
'I want to help you. But...'

She just says. "T..that's okay Fate-chan! Y--you can do that! I'm not g..gonna stop it. Why would I?..." she asks. "T..there's no jewel seed! or lost logia, or anything here! So there's nothing to fight over. Right? So...! None of us need to fight right now." she says sternly with a matter of fact nod sending the half of her hair that is free from the ribbon waving across her face.

Then she kind of haphazard tries to make it a pigtail again quickly. ;_;. Usually. She has a mirror for this.
A Siberian cat 2017-09-05 06:34:38 82392
Looking back and forth between both girls, the young man takes a deep breath and his head and shoulders hang for a long moment, his eyes going wibbly as he mumbles under his breath, "Rashmi's going to scold me if I don't stop this... ummm... no... Rashmi's MOM is going to scold me..."

The troubles of Nanoha and her pigtail are a welcome distraction, and having helped many a girl dress for festivals at school, he goes over immediately and starts to get her bow set up once more without even meaning to, "How about this."

There's a pause, "This place is nice. Rashmi's mom and dad are good people... so let's make a rule now. Inside these doors, nothing bad happens. And if something bad does happen, we all stop it. The things we're all looking for aren't in here, and so there's no reason for anyone to fight... at all..."

Another beat as he finishes up the bow, "Please?"
Tin Soldier 2017-09-05 06:40:11 82393
And of course, 'jewel seed or lost logia' is what an older boy walks in on. He freezes in the doorway, a spot of sunlight piercing through the cloud cover and glinting off his hair -- it almost looks like it's spun from metal for a second -- and his eyes widen at the three girls, only one of whom he's met. His gaze darts toward Koji, and he slips in the rest of the way. "Hi," he whispers, "if this is a bad time I can go away, but I had some questions... since I, I heard there was a meeting? But Osiemnastka had me doing--"

There's a ping from his armband. Jin's face falls for a second, and then he lifts his chin and looks determined. "--stuff. And I couldn't make it. I-- if you could tell me things, I would be very appreciative. And owe you. All. Even if when you're outside here you're fighting."

He's not quite tugging on the bottom of his jacket, but looks like he'd like to be.

"I don't want to fight with anyone," he reassures after a second. And then pauses. "Oh I'm PFC Kouboku. Oh. I mean, Jin Meiyou. If you forgot," he adds awkwardly to Nanoha and Koji.
Fate Testarossa 2017-09-05 06:57:01 82394
    Fate does not use her name. It makes it easier for her. Pushing the ajar door to her heart closed and refusing to use the name 'Nanoha Takamachi', while perhaps cruel, is also one of the only things that can allow Fate to keep her drive and not falter. She does not deserve what Nanoha has to offer.

    I've caused trouble for so many people, now.

    Her attention flicks to Koji. His desire to mend the situation is commendable. Though he is in error if he had the assumption Fate had any desire to be trouble, no she is quite the opposite in fact. Painfully so. And with great pain, on reflection. If this young man was willing to step in where Nanoha's awkward shortcomings fail her.

    That girl is definitely kind...

    Fate stares in dead silence, doing her utmost to stare through Nanoha or at least to look it. But all she can do is look into those pained blue eyes while trying her best to not look like she's doing so. "Mn..." Is her only verbal reply. At first.

    "Arf will be back. Act natural."

    That's her only given warning as Arf DOES return, plates of steaming curry in hand, practically drooling. "Faaaate I got one for... You... To...o..." She notices Nanoha. But sits when clearly given a prompt telepathic jab from Fate.

    "You've been talking." Fate says almost scolding. Looking between Nanoha and Koji, frown deepning. But then she proceeds to pretend to ignore them. Enter Jin. A new face, an unfamiliar face, but one that causes the sharpest tiny thorn of pain to wedge into the crack of the door Fate thought she had sealed away to her heart.

    She can definitely make much better friends than me...

    "I don't know what any of you are talking about. We're here for curry." Fate says to seal the deal. Arf snarls, "YEAH! CURRY AND-- wait what..." The redheaded woman trails off, as though she had been expecting a fight and had it taken away from her before her blood could even start pumping. Fate tastes her curry.

    That's why...

    "This is good..."

    ... We cannot be friends...
Nanoha Takamachi 2017-09-05 07:18:47 82395
Nanoha Takamachi doesn't think anything of what Fate is thinking. She wants Fate to smile genuinely. Even the smile she kind of half-saw with her coming in, seemed strained at best and false at worse. Those eyes don't help. They never help. She sees sad eyes all the time. But she always sees them change- usually when they eat the Midori-Ya's baked goods! But Fate seems different. She can never pinpoint the reason why. Fate has never told her things beyond vaugeness.

She does make a face at 'you've been talking', and is about to respond when Arf returns and it looks things are about to get hairy. Or furry. Given Arf.

She takes a deep breath and frowns. "You mean like you won't, Fate-chan?" she says softly.

She tries to calm down before she says anything else more stupid.

"The curry is really good here." she says softly, and a little uncomfortably as her eyes look to Koji. And she just nods at her words. And then Jin comes in and she blinks and then seems to hunker even more because SHE'S BEEN TALKING.

And then she's just uncomfortably quiet. Not even a hi to Jin.
A Siberian cat 2017-09-05 07:30:38 82396
This is not a situation that Koji is really ready for, not with two girls who really kinda like each other but don't know how to express it, and are not the age where romance manga or dating sim games are really appropriate benchmarks for such. Not that Koji ever reads those or play those at all. Light Novels are not really his thing and why would he ever play dating games...

Yes, maybe there's one or two of them there, but those are Tyrfing's and he said they were for research. He told Koji so!

But the boy blinks a few times and the reaches over to hook Jin by the arm, and drag him off to one side, head close to head in the typical manner of conspiritorial whispers everywhere as they face a window that may or may not be some otherworldly being's viewpoint into the world.

...no seriously, it could be...

"Jin-san, this is a very tense moment with two girls who I think really like each other, and we have no business getting involved. I'll tell you all about the meeting later, I promise, and please forgive me, but for now if you could just eat curry and keep an eye on Nanoha I would be truly grateful. I'm going to go around back and see if I can get Rashmi... because this is obviously a GIRL problem. Also..."

He looks over his shoulder at the very large and very WOMANLY redhead, before returning to Conspiritor's Whisper Position, and putting his hand up to block the murmurs from getting out, "I think her friend is a foreigner."
Tin Soldier 2017-09-05 07:35:19 82397
Jin pauses, uncertain of exactly what's going on.

He looks a little desperately between Fate and Nanoha, then to Arf, then to Koji.

Then the grey-haired boy straightens up and does tug his jacket down.

Yes, genius, it's a bad time, an unwelcome voice says sarcastically, where the other mages can hear it, but no one else can. Next up on your agenda: read social situations accurately.

Jin squeezes his eyes shut, even as Koji's drawing him aside.

Get your food and leave. You're never going to be as good as--

"Shut up," Jin hisses under his breath, "they can hear you." He pauses and his eyes shoot open wide and he looks at Koji in alarm, hands lifting to grab Koji's sleeves and stay in the Conspirator's Huddle. "Not you. I mean maybe they can but I didn't mean you. Yes. I will do this thing," he says in low-voiced burning determination. "I will help you defend the purity of the proto-romantic friendships of young girls. By shutting up. And eating delicious food. Thank you."

He turns on his heel and goes straight for the counter to order some mild lamb korma.
Rashmi Terios 2017-09-11 01:32:47 82499
One hurriedly-tossed pebble behind the restaurant and a hurried explanation of What Be Going Down later, Rashmi all but flies into the restaurant, wearing her apron with the restaurant's aggressively cute mascot, glasses slightly askew. Coming to a halt at Fate's table, she takes a moment to straighten her glasses, then folds her hands in front of her, and puts on her highest-wattage smile to Fate. "Hi! I'm just checking up, is everything to your satisfaction? And did you want anything to drink to go with your meal? We have a good amount of tea, but I'd reccommend the saffrom lassi myself, it's very good with that dish."

Icebreaker, Waitress Stance.
Fate Testarossa 2017-09-11 01:45:52 82500
    There's a sudden clink of silverware dropping, right then and there. If anyone were to turn and actually look back to her, Fate has gone stone still. The elegant young blonde has dropped her spoon, and for a moment the cool demeanor is replaced by a doe-eyed look of mixed shock, confusion, and horror.
    She had done her level best to make sure the moment was NOT tense, by making it very known it was her intent to let Nanoha exist in the same location as her without conflict. Pointedly so in reining Arf back.And she clearly has to rein the redheaded young woman in, considering how Arf is beginning to growl. At Koji. She can HEAR you, bro.
    Koji killing her composure aside, Fate does her level best to rally. "Arf." She says, reminding the redhead that humans do not growl like that.
    Fate's eyes eventually slide toward Jin. It happens when she hears that voice- but it's a moot point when conspirator huddles come into play, so Fate steels her resolve with a slow breath. She's about to say something...
    It dies when Rashmi arrives. But the girl's smile is met with tired scarlet eyes. Fate does not smile back. She simply speaks. "Mn. It was already very good, but if you say so." It's easier to respond once she manages to act like the other three don't exist- even if it's only for a few seconds.
Nanoha Takamachi 2017-09-11 01:59:51 82501
Nanoha Takamachi can only frown and look between Koji, then Jin with a short blink, and what the heck are those two up to?

She sighs a bit and just shakes her head and pulls up her own mango lassi and takes a large sip. It's what she came here for, after all.

Rashmi-chan? Rashmi-chan! "You should listen to Rashmi-chan. This is what she knows about." she says.

She sighs a bit and shakes her head a little and sort of rehunkers down.

Feeling unwanted. Feeling like she's ruining Fate's time here just by existing.

"Hi Rashmi-chan." she says silently.
A Siberian cat 2017-09-11 02:03:36 82502
Hardly anyone... except maybe Arf... had witnessed Koji's departure to cast his one usable Spell at a time like this. Summon Rashmi Lv1. So he comes back around to that glare.

Death Gaze...

He just sort of sidesteps... then again... then again... trying to get over to where Jin has settled himself, even though it's a little farther from Nanoha and all his school-things than he'd like. The young man almost jams himself into his seat, a bit relieved at the presence of Rashmi and her ability to communicate.

So he takes that moment to lean in close and whisper to Jin with a gulps, "Why.. why is she staring at us like that?"
Tin Soldier 2017-09-11 02:10:28 82503
Koji's gone to fetch Rashmi, and Jin is focused on Mild lamb korma! And a crumpled and old flier from the restaurant with a discount -- which probably, actually, honestly, may be worth honoring even if it should happen to be expired, given the hand-repaired clothing and the limp. (Because yes: no cane or anything, and it's harder to see when he's not hurrying across the room to order food-- but there is a pronounced unevenness of walking there.)

Rashmi has arrived to save the day! So Jin tones down the determination and says very politely, "I'm sorry it's been so long between when I got this and when I came in! I have very much been looking forward to trying your food. I haven't tried much, but I do know I like yoghurt and the spices sound wonderful, but I think I would like to taste the spices first before adding the stars?"

If you can't take the heat, stay out of the restaurant.

Jin ignores his mouthy armband and tries desperately to focus on what the person behind the counter is telling him. He smiles winningly, even if his shoulders have tensed slightly. "That sounds perfect!"

You know, they probably knew your brother. They're probably just being kind. Why are you wasting your time in here? You need to work harder. Stop trying to make friends. We have a job to do.

Jin's fingers curl, white-knuckled, on the counter. He can't even tell Osiemnastka to shut up again. And they might even still be able to hear it-- it's being a jerk more quietly, but it's still a jerk. His smile's a little more tense as he pays-- then he remembers he's supposed to be keeping an eye on Nanoha for Koji, and he glances back over his shoulder worriedly, but she's talking, and Rashmi is there too, and Rashmi can figure out Girl Things-- and then he looks back hurriedly and paints the smile back on his face to nod and go sit down.

Thankfully, there's Koji sliding into the seat across from him. Jin looks actively startled, and leans in to answer uncertainly, "Probably because we're whispering? What makes you think her friend is a foreigner? She might be an actress instead."
Rashmi Terios 2017-09-11 02:38:04 82504
"Hi, Nanoha-chan," Rashmi says, turning the same smile on her fellow Mage, then turns back to Fate and Arf. "I'll be right back with your lassis then, and see what else I can scare up. Just a moment!" she chirps, turning toward the kitchen. She pauses at Jin's table, and glares daggers at the TSAB agent's armband. "You," she murmurs, "will keep a civil voice in my family's restaurant, or I'll have Chandra babysit you every time Jin-san comes here. You can talk about his Fruit Ninja scores, or his special friend." With that, she sweeps into the kitchen. "Papi! Saffron Lassi for Table 5, and rose kulfi on me?"
Fate Testarossa 2017-09-11 02:47:22 82505
    Poor Nanoha. But the sad fact of the matter is Fate would prefer to be anywhere the friendly redhead is NOT. It's easier for her that way. It's... Just easier.
    Arf kept a keen eye on Koji, however, even if she's stopped growling.
    "IT's because I can hear you."
    Familiar senses- especially those of a wolf, are more powerful than human after all and maybe- just maybe there's a bit of a preen when Jin assumes her to be an actress.
    Just a little.
    Rose Kulfi on the house or not, Fate returns to reticence because...
    She still has some really good curry to enjoy. Believe it or not the Jewel Seed hunting busybody does need to eat and...
    "Mm. Thank you." That was to Rashmi. Fate is, polite, after all.
    It looks like she can at least enjoy the curry. Even if she has to hide how miserable it makes her feel that she has to wall Nanoha off, casting a furtive, and hopefully hidden glance at the other girl. Contrary to popular belief...
    She does not enjoy it.
Nanoha Takamachi 2017-09-11 02:57:26 82506
Nanoha Takamachi is mostly just sitting there quietly now. And Sadly.

She gently blinks at Koji and over to Arf and frowns a little. She can't hear them. But she's also not paying super attention. Oh. Right. Arf is like a dog... wolf thing.

She's sure they have super hearing, she thinks.

What kind of super animal does Yuuno have then? Probably to just be adorable and chew holes in things.

Ferrets.

Nanoha takes a deep sigh and a sip of her Lassie as she eyes exchanges.
A Siberian cat 2017-09-11 03:03:17 82507
Koji almost jumps out of his clothes when Rashmi shows up, and begins chewing out... the armband. For a moment, he looks a bit relieved, and then he hears Arf's words really penetrating his skull, and he turns back slowly with wide eyes and a shaky jawline towards the red-headed woman.

His reflexes are still true after all this time, and he stands up quickly to bow at the waist and say, "Sumimasen, Miss. Your Japanese is very good."

Probably not the BEST comment, but a safe one.

But then he goes to sit back down as he whispers once more at stagewhisper level for Rashmi, "Thank you for coming. I was scared this might go someplace it shouldn't. She seems like she really wants to be here." Eyes going to Fate shortly and back, "Thank you, thank you, thank you."

Finally going back to Jin, he says something a little more reassuring, "It's allright. When Tyrfing and I could talk he was... rough with me too. I'm not a very good mage. In fact, I'm probably the least powerful mage you've met. He always had complaints about my casting charge, or my formulae speed... but they mean well in the end, Devices. They try to encourage us the best way they can, and sometimes they forget how... human... we are."
Tin Soldier 2017-09-11 03:15:10 82508
First Jin looks startled again -- oh no Arf can hear them? Well she looks pleased maybe she is an actress -- and then looks increasingly terrified when Rashmi chews Osiemnastka out. Both hands over his mouth; ears reddddd; back of neck red; shrinking in seat... "I'm sorry about him, Terios-san, he--"

He's perfectly welcome to leave me at home, the armband says silkily. But I'll remember your warning.

Jin covers his whole face with his hands.

Koji's talking, and Jin's voice, in answering, begins muffled and miserable, but veers off into determined again. "You're right... you're right. And he's not too mean to me. Without him, I'd be nothing. He's helping me, I'm just-- I'm not very quick. But he's helping me be the hero my brother was meant to be, and I don't blame him for being impatient. I-- I just need to work harder."

He deflates a little and offers Koji a smile. "You're very kind. Thank you for-- for encouraging me. I should pick up my food, it's ready. And I should take it to go. Osiemnastka is right, we have work to do."

With that, he slides out of his seat and stands, offers Koji a bow, and then goes to ask for his food to be packed.
Rashmi Terios 2017-09-11 03:36:29 82510
Rashmi Terios bops out of the kitchen a moment later, a tray in each hand. "Are you sure you want that to go, Meuyou-san?" she says, setting a tray *filled* with bowls of ice cream of varying colors on a nearby table, "Cos I was going to invite you to have some." A bowl with three large saffron-yellow pearls of ice cream glisten, next to Jin's curry. Another, faintly green, set in front of Koji. "Thanks for calling me," she whispers, beaming at her fellow junior Mage. Straightening, she picks the tray back up, bopping over to Fate and Nanoha's tables. "So! Two saffron lassis," she says, setting a cup each down in front of Fate and Arf, "And here... kind of an Indian ice cream called kulfi, made with rosewater. There's one for each of you, and..." Straightening, she turns to Nanoha, setting down another bowl, this one crusted with crushed pistachios. "And pistachio for you, Nanoha-chan." Nanoha gets a reassuring smile, and she moves back to Fate's table.
Fate Testarossa 2017-09-11 03:43:28 82511
    DOES Fate want to be here? She's slowly eating. And every now and then, if someone is attentive they might notice the glances at Nanoha. But the small blonde, aside from focusing on her meal, has gone silent.
    The new voice that speaks- audible only to the Device users- pops up with no warning. A deep and resonant male voice, buzzing with an electronic edge, cuts into Koji and Jin's conversation.
    [No.]
    It's so sudden, Arf's head turns. Even Fate pauses, to glance down at the golden medallion worn at the collar of her dress.
    [To support. That is the job.]
    Bardiche, the taciturn black axe of golden light is known only to speak so very rarely. The Device saves his words, more often expressing himself with the simple and silent support he always gives Fate. [Not complain.]
    When he speaks it is always short. Direct. His points are as sharp and keenly made as his edge, especially when it comes to the relationship between a Device and Master. Fate silently flusters, a faint pink tint rising to cheeks when her own Device so brazenly leaps into a conversation that was none of his business. A rare occurrance that would almost be out of character for the axe, if not for his staunch opinions on the topic being discussed.
    It's Arf, clearing her throat, who tries to get back on track. "I'm a fast learner. Fate can teach me any trick and I just pick it up." That's on the topic of her Japanese.
    It's probably a good thing Fate had just finished her curry just beats before Bardiche spoke up, as Rashmi returns with kulfi. The blonde cnan barely manage a quiet and awkward 'thank you' after the social fiasco that has just gone down. That ice wall is cracking only by virtue of Fate trying to rein in her Device and Familiar at once and avert further unwanted attention while surrounded by other mages.
Nanoha Takamachi 2017-09-11 03:50:44 82512
Nanoha Takamachi is being quiet. It's not odd for her to be quiet. But it's odd for her to be quiet this long. She could say any number of things to Fate she wants right now. But she doesn't wanna upset Fate while Fate seems to be having /something/ resembling a good time. Or a facsimile of a good time.

She's missing the glances. Or not picking up on them. She's also just. Peeking. Trying not to stare or look or acknowledge her own existence for a moment.

< Agreed. > pipes Raising Heart. RAISING HEART NO ONE ASKED YOU, thinks Nanoha for just a split second as she fidgets. She wants to leave.

Then Rashmi provides Pistacho encrusted Kulfi. Well. She can stay for that. "Thank you, Rashmi-chan." she says silently. Nom. Nomnomnomnom.
A Siberian cat 2017-09-11 04:01:44 82513
Alone again...

When Jin turns to the counter to get all of his stuff to go... there's this little moment where Koji is sitting there with a hurt puppy look to match Fate. He tries to reach out. He tried to help. He did all the right things and there goes Jin after thanking him like he's not needed. The young man fights it down. He breathes a couple times and looks at his green tea ice cream.

There are more important things happening than you.

You're not alone. People are here. If you say something they'll listen.

...

But what if they don't?

Working fast before that last thought takes him over, he gets up with his green ice cream and goes over to where Nanoha is, and sits down with her once more, and just starts to eat at the kind of speed that says he's trying hard to avoid something and leave too.
Tin Soldier 2017-09-11 04:09:07 82514
Jin automatically turns to smile gratefully and apologetically at Rashmi, and opens his mouth to gracefully decline-- and then he sees the ice cream.

His mouth opens and shuts.

"I wish you'd shut up," he finally hisses at his armband. Then, suddenly tensing, he says very quickly to Rashmi as he picks up his bag, "No I-- thank you very much, I really do need to leave. Now. I need to go--"

(If he were in an Italian restaurant instead, he'd be stuffing breadsticks in his man-purse.)

--and then Bardiche speaks up.

And then Raising Heart does.

And it's in looking at everyone else's embarrassment at the situation, in looking around with this gut-level panic at what these people must think of him because of Osiemnastka-- it's in looking that he sees Koji. And he doesn't have time to stand there and process all the pieces of social interaction that fit into what's causing Koji to look like that, because...

Well, because Osiemnastka.

He's out the door in the blink of an eye.
Rashmi Terios 2017-09-11 04:34:48 82515
Rashmi Terios blinks after Jin, sighting faintly and shaking her head. "Thank you, Raising Heart," she says quietly in Nanoha's direction, pitching her voice low so it doesn't carry. Giving the User herself another it's-okay-don't-worry smile, she turns back to Fate. "And your Device, what's his name? Thank you for trying to help, either way. Fate-san?" Taking a chair, she pulls it over sitting down and laying the tray on her lap. "Just so you know... You are always welcome to come here if you need a meal, okay? You and your... friends." The look she bestows on Fate is utterly sincere; there's no hint of for-Nanoha's-sake or pity in Rashmi's eyes, as she looks to Arf and gives a respectful nod. "We have a big menu, and I'm sure your friend would love almost everything on it. My name is Terios Rashmi, by the way. It's good to meet you."
Fate Testarossa 2017-09-11 04:49:45 82516
    Kulfi. Kulfi is good. It;s the first time Fate has had it, but she focuses on that kulfi like it was a lifeline to hold on to in the dire straits of this social nightmare she's beginning to want to escape.
    That girl looks sad.
    Fate knows it's a result of her presence, and the simple fact that her existence is bringing Nanoha more pain, as usual... As sweet as kulfi is, the taste rapidly withers to ash in her mouth.
    There goes Jin. Fate is too preoccupied with her own personal hell to even judge him or his Device when he rushes out the door. Koji has rejoined Nanoha and looks just as miserable. Niether of them looked anywhere close to being that downtrodden until Fate arrived.
    It's all her fault.
    Just like she can't make her mother smile, she can't seem to do anything else right, huh? Fate Testarossa wants two very simple things in life. To see her mother smile. And to not cause anyone any pain. The latter however is something she always seems to do- be it in the line of duty for the former, or just existing.
    She's so lost in her own internal world, her head jerks up, staring almost through Rashmi, before those tired scarlet eyes can focus on the older girl, too miserable to even piece together that the girl probably learned her name from that pigtailed girl.
    Arf is looking very awkward, not knowing how to help her master. Fate struggles on her escape.
    "Mn... Th...ank you." She mumbles numbly, before she forces through it. "-Fate Testarossa. And I need to go. Now." She at least maintains propriety in returning the introduction before rising. "Arf, we're leaving."
    And trying to not look too hurried in fleeing the Korma Chameleon, leaving some cash on the table prior to her exit.
A Siberian cat 2017-09-11 05:41:42 82517
With Nanoha's silence, Koji cannot really talk, almost giving himself an ice cream headache with the rapidity of his spooning out of the dessert he was given. There's a brief but wan smile that comes from the young man to Rashmi before he gathers his backpack from school and his archery bag from the booth he was sharing with Nanoha, and beats a quick departure with the others, a strain in his eyes as he adjusts his normal glasses once or twice.
Nanoha Takamachi 2017-09-11 06:00:53 82518
Nanoha Takamachi frowns at Fate as she leaves and when she leaves, she makes a jump. Like she wanted to say something, to get in Fate's way and say any number of things. But she falters. Because right now it's important that Fate has something fun to do that isn't fighting her or confronting her or dealing with her right now in her head. When Fate is finally gone, she just sort of mubly goes. "T..thanks Rashmi-chan. I'll... go.. go too. Not. Feeling it right now, so-sorry!" she says with a stammer as she hops out of the booth and takes her Pistachio encrasted Kufli with her!