The Mechanics of Miracles

Korma Chameleon delivers! Rashmi tries to help Hiroshi. She does, though not precisely in the way she wanted to.

Date: 2017-11-07
Pose Count: 55
Hiroshi Takeba 2017-11-07 20:10:15 86248
The problem with 'after work hours' in Japan is the number of people at certain companies who are chronically expected to work late. Very late. 'Sleeping at your desk is considered a sign of dedication' late.

Nonetheless, there are lights in a couple of the windows of Hiroshi Takeba's house at a reasonable hour. There is also a remarkable lack of strange purple crystals. And a remarkable lack of light-eating shadows or other signs of monsters.

Without the dark mirror involved, it's just an anonymous house.
Rashmi Terios 2017-11-07 20:13:44 86249
Anonymous is good, in the general sense. Not everything needs to be a crisis or a disaster, or even a fracas, and sometimes the quiet helps calm the nerves. Besides... The way Rashmi's been feeling lately, she could do with a little 'unambiguously being a help in little ways.'

Which is why she's standing on Hiroshi's doorstep with a red, gold and green delivery bag, and a Korma-kun ballcap.

Because some business owners actually do think this is a good idea.
Hiroshi Takeba 2017-11-07 20:30:15 86250
The door is opened in reasonable time, and Hiroshi ...

Other than not being exhausted, he looks exactly like he did last time. It might possibly be the same suit.

He blinks politely at Rashmi, eyes flickering to the bright delivery bag and up to the ballcap, and says, "Please accept my apologies, but I'm afraid you may have the wrong address." There is no immediate sign of recognition, other than perhaps a very small hint between his eyebrows of something perplexed.
Rashmi Terios 2017-11-07 20:34:28 86251
"Oh no, Takeba-san," Rashmi chuckles. "I remember this house very well, it's just that you don't recognize me. Which is understandable... But I was the one who helped you get back up after the, um... unpleasantness you suffered awhile back?"

Holding up the delivery bag, the foreign-looking, slightly Osakan-sounding redhead smiles brightly. "Anyway I figured it wouldn't quite be time for dinner, which would make delivery the perfect excuse to come check up on you. Y'know, see how you're doing after, hm... your extended illness."
Hiroshi Takeba 2017-11-07 20:44:14 86252
'Unpleasantness' does not at first ring any bells. Hiroshi blinks at Rashmi again; it's around 'check up on' that Hiroshi's eyes widen a little, and he bows to her. "Oh. I see. My apologies, then, that my home is too humble to properly entertain a guest. But if you truly wish, there is at least tea."

The guest slippers at the entrance do not show much sign of ever having been called upon, but at least they're not actually gathering dust.

The public area of the house is not large. There is a small main room, suitable for a family gathering on a Sunday evening. There is a little unassumingly beige-toned kitchen off of it. There is a flat lack of individuality, as if the place had been sold furnished and were still waiting for new owners to give in; the only flaw in it is a folder on the kitchen counter with a paperweight holding it shut and the note, 'Read this first.'
Rashmi Terios 2017-11-07 20:51:32 86253
Her shoes are dutifully exchanged at the door, but a bright chuckle accompanies her bow of thanks. "I am sorry for intruding," she says as the door closes behind her, "but I hadn't heard about how you've been doing after, and I wanted to see that things were okay."

"Also, eh..." she looks about the living area for a good place to put the thermally-insulated bag, and settles on the dining table. "I brought some things that might help? Just in case time hasn't eased your troubles all that much."
Hiroshi Takeba 2017-11-07 20:58:35 86254
"That's a difficult thing to answer." Hiroshi fusses in the kitchen, heating water, finding plates and bowls and cups and spoons. "They've told you about the memory, I presume. I ... don't know what you consider things that might help, or what you think they might help with."
Rashmi Terios 2017-11-07 21:08:34 86255
"Well," Rashmi says, zipping open the bag and setting down, first, a decent-sized jar of violently yellow-orange shreds, "I have to admit I'm not what you'd call an expert on a lot of the mechanics behind it all -- honestly I'm just good enough with math and science to hate trying to wrap my brain around half the things I have to study now -- But based on what I've seen, the memory thing is as much a problem of exposure as understanding, y'know? Anyway, all I could think of to help was more for... well I mean, you had what just about anyone would consider a pretty traumatic encounter, Takeba-san. It might have been kinder if it was someone who'd kidnapped and drugged you for ransom for a week, at least that would be traumatic in a normal sense."

A few more jars with more normal-looking bits of leaf and flower are set on the table, a wire-mesh tea ball, and then a pair of steaming-hot disposable insulated containers. "So I just thought of things that'd help a little with stress, maybe help you sleep if that's a problem, settle your stomach... y'know. Side effects of something hugely stressful happening. Also something warming for dinner, Mami always says there are some foods it's impossible to keep a sour mood when eating."
Hiroshi Takeba 2017-11-07 21:23:24 86256
Dishes are carried to the table: white, geometric, regular, as anonymous as everything else. Spoons and chopsticks. "There are mechanics behind it?" he asks blankly. Then glances back toward the folder. "I believe -- someone mentioned patterns, once. But not mechanics."

Of everything he could latch on to there, it's that.

Hiroshi pauses beside the table to regard the jars. "Mn. Should I bring tea at all, then? Or just the hot water?" Seeing as Rashmi has just made bringing tea to the table into bringing coals to Newcastle.
Rashmi Terios 2017-11-07 21:38:27 86257
"Sure!" Rashmi chirps, giving the master of the house a bright smile. "This stuff is for you, for later." As the dishes are brought over, Rashmi opens the containers, revealing a pale-colored curry of, apparently, fish in a thick sauce, and a deep orange soup shot through with bits of onion.

Spooning out the food into the proper dishes and bowls -- and of course giving Hiroshi the lion's share, as the food is mostly for his benefit anyway -- she thinks about the question. "As I understand it, patterns is probably a better way to talk about magic in general. What I use specifically is... complicated, but involves a lot of math that makes my brain cramp trying to understand, and I get help from..." Here Rashmi pauses, chews on her bottom lip, and finally shrugs. "...From a specialized talking computer built by aliens that I found in a secondhand bookshop," she says with a sigh. "It's been most of a year and that still hasn't gotten less weird to say!"
Hiroshi Takeba 2017-11-07 21:45:05 86258
Hiroshi nods gravely, and glances toward the kitchen again, but the water is not yet hot enough to save him. So he listens instead, apparently politely. It's possible to tell that he's actually paying attention when he frowns a little at the brain cramp. He doesn't speak, though, till Rashmi is actually finished.

Oddly tentatively: "Did it own the bookshop?"
Rashmi Terios 2017-11-07 21:57:44 86259
The tentative question gets a hard-to-mistake answer; the sort of sinus arpeggio that happens when one tries to hide a whoop of laughter a microsecond after one starts to whoop with laughter. Clapping her hands over her mouth, she blushes in deep embarrassment and simply sits there, vibrating in place with the effort of wrestling down her mirth, for a good few moments.

Finally, she carefully peels her hands away, and clears her throat. "...Actually no," she says slowly at first. "Given Chiba-san's position, and his circle, I can see how you'd probably get the idea. But no... Nicomachea's more like a really, really, really, really fancy smartphone for magic. That I stumbled across, and it allowed me to take it home."
Hiroshi Takeba 2017-11-07 22:11:41 86260
"It was more the thought that a computer with enough processing power to perform magic ought to be able to outdo Amazon's algorithms," Hiroshi offers, slightly reddened and considerably apologetic himself. "But I suppose that's a software -- oh, the tea." He steps away hastily. Perhaps the interlude will give them tine to de-embarrass.

Tea does, however, arrive shortly, and Hiroshi tries bravely to pick up. "And this... Nicomachea helps you with your math."
Rashmi Terios 2017-11-07 22:16:28 86261
"Y'basically," Rashmi says, completely composed now, and nodding. "Sometimes he gets cranky because I use the Internet for research and homework... But, I can think of a dozen reasons why it'd be a bad idea to let an alien smartphone download the entire Internet, even if it would be faster."

As the tea is poured, Rashmi bows in deep, sincere thanks, her smile bright and cheerful. "Thank you very much, Takeba-san."
Hiroshi Takeba 2017-11-07 22:30:53 86262
"Limited nearby bandwidth, even if we are in Tokyo," Hiroshi agrees. "Not to mention considerable metadata not at all contained in the actual files. I supposes that makes him cranky, too. From his perspective, it must be terrible documentation."

He bows in answer to Rashmi, when she does. "It is the smallest possible answer for your generosity, and entirely insufficient."

A pause. He blinks. "Still. Please forgive me. You use a computer to work miracles?"
Rashmi Terios 2017-11-07 22:43:23 86263
"You didn't have to let me in, Takeba-san, a stranger with unasked-for gifts," Rashmi counters, smiling gently. "You could have said 'thank you, I'm fine,' and closed the door, and I would have understood. But believe me, Takeba-san, it is an honor and a pleasure to be invited into your home." Her cup of tea is lifted in something like salute, and sipped from. Eyebrows rise as the taste hits her tongue, though whether in genuine pleasure or kind fiction it's impossible to tell.

The cup is set back down, and the redhead chuckles. "That's... a way to put it. Maybe not completely accurate, but, also not wrong. Like... I'm never going to be able to bring a dead plant back to life with a touch. That's a miracle, at least to me. On the other hand, well... ...Yeah you don't really see bulletproof force-fields in daily life, so you're not wrong."
Hiroshi Takeba 2017-11-07 23:05:52 86264
The tea is not stellar. It is impossible to have really good tea that is also unlikely to offend anyone. It is calculated in almost precisely the same way that a reasonably good restaurant might calculate its own: not stellar, stellar is for places that are more than reasonably good, but as good as it can be without invoking Opinions.

And once again, similarly anonymous.

"I suppose miracles are never miracles to the miracle-worker. It is, after all, just their job." He considers this for a few moments, then adds, "I think I may be almost as glad that we don't see bulletproof force-fields in daily life. Unless they were as ubiquitous as actual phones, whoever had them on a large scale first would be at a troubling advantage. And yet the advantage of a computer is that it does break things down and make them easily replicable."
Rashmi Terios 2017-11-07 23:14:21 86265
"Which does make me wonder what it's like where Nicomachea originally came from," Rashmi says, bobbing her head. "...But I'm probably more likely to vacation in France, or Mami's old country, than I am to find that out. On the other hand, you've definitely hit on the thing that worries me about Device Users who aren't interested in helping people first."

She sips her tea again, then looks up. "Although given all of the other things going on in the magical.. community I guess you could call it... we do have the advantage of numbers. So, y'know, that helps; knowing that for every would-be evil overlord there might be, there're at least a dozen people ready and willing to say 'not a chance.'"
Hiroshi Takeba 2017-11-07 23:20:22 86266
"For now. But if these things are things that computers can do, then eventually, won't someone take on that replication?" Hiroshi regards Rashmi with quietly evident concern...

... then glances down at the food that Rashmi has served out. "But that is a terrible topic to spoil such excellent food with. Please, my apologies. Perhaps a more reasonable topic. Does dealing with all that mathematics at least make your school courses seem easier by comparison?" And with that he finally yields to the lure of the pumpkin soup, seating himself quietly.
Rashmi Terios 2017-11-07 23:23:58 86267
"Maybe?" Rashmi says, but stumbles to a halt as Hiroshi changes the topic to the food, and beams brightly. "No apologies necessary, Takeba-san. Does it help...? Eh.... A little? If I were more interested in computers, probably it would help a lot, but math and science aren't my strongest subjects anyway. I keep my grades up, certainly, but they don't have the draw for me that civics and debate do."
Hiroshi Takeba 2017-11-07 23:27:14 86268
"Civics and debate," Hiroshi repeats. "Are you considering a career in politics, then? Or perhaps law?"

And that is when he tastes the soup. The startled sound is not verbal, but is certainly encouraging.
Rashmi Terios 2017-11-07 23:33:12 86269
"Politics," Rashmi says with sincerity, perking visibly at the reaction to her father's cooking. "Honestly if I had a pie-in-the-sky dream, it'd be getting elected to the Diet." At this, she chuckles, taking her own sip of soup. "I do qualify as a Japanese national, but, I do look pretty foreign. So... we'll see how hard I have to fight when I get there."
Hiroshi Takeba 2017-11-07 23:47:05 86271
"There's foreign," Hiroshi says, "and then there's foreign. Things change. Sometimes faster than we'd think possible." He adopts a wry expression briefly. "When I was younger, I worried about Kazuo's ancestry keeping him even from getting a job. But a decade ago they changed the laws so that companies couldn't see so much, and that made it easier for some people with foreign ancestry. Things do change." The wry expression is put aside in definite favor of the soup.
Rashmi Terios 2017-11-07 23:52:50 86272
"That they do," Rashmi answers quietly, nodding. "And they'll never stop, in one way or another. Thank you, Takeba-san, I'll definitely remember that."

Hiroshi gets a cheerful smile, after which she applies herself to her own soup for a moment, considering the direction the conversation has gone. "You know... you remind me of your son. You two sound very much alike."
Hiroshi Takeba 2017-11-07 23:59:35 86274
Hiroshi pauses to blink at Rashmi again. She seems to keep making it necessary for him to un-derail trains of thought. "Ah," he says after a moment. "I'm ... not entirely certain how to take that. A year ago I'd have said 'that recalcitrant overaged delinquent? of course not, he hasn't changed since he was keeping company with his criminal school friends,' but I have been firmly and repeatedly informed otherwise."
Rashmi Terios 2017-11-08 00:03:01 86275
Rashmi Terios chuckles. "Well I mean it as a compliment, Takeba-san. What you just said about how things change... it's something I could expect to hear him say. I doubt that's conscious of him, but, it seems to me the two of you think more alike than you might realize. So... it's nice, seeing where he gets it from."
Hiroshi Takeba 2017-11-08 00:21:38 86276
Hiroshi half-turns his head, looking awkwardly away for a moment. Compliments are apparently a alien substance in the house. Possibly there's some sort of intolerance. "Well," he says, and stalls. And repeats, "Well." And then says, rather hastily, "This really is very good. I saw your cap. Do you work there? Or know the owners?"
Rashmi Terios 2017-11-08 00:25:14 86278
"It's my family's restaurant," Rashmi says... and to her credit, she doesn't sound smug. But it is apparent enough that compliments are a rare thing, and there's nothing wrong with taking joy in brightening another's day. "Mami grows and mixes the spices, Papi's the chef. I help out when I don't have homework and they need the extra hands. I wasn't sure how spicy you liked your food, so I made sure it was as mild as Mami would stand for."
Hiroshi Takeba 2017-11-08 00:46:50 86280
"That is appreciated," Hiroshi says, with a hint of an emphasis on the 'is.' "Spicy food is delightful to a point, but after that point, one can't really taste the food, can one?"

... his kitchen continues not to look like something that would produce food that had taste in the first place.

"And I'm very impressed by both your parents' contributions." He hesitates for a moment. "May I ask where your mother is from? Or would that be too personal?"
Rashmi Terios 2017-11-08 00:56:02 86281
"That's pretty much exactly what Mami says when she complains about the people who order five-star everything just because they have something to prove," Rashmi says with a grin. "Which is when they noticed that a lot of Shinjuku places have challenges, and came up with one of their own to punish the pepperheads."

Finishing her soup, she sips again at the tea with a smile. "West Bengal, Mami's from. One of the suburbs of Kolukata in fact, eh.... Ja-da-fu-puro?" When Japanese is one's first language, the names of exotic locales is first against the wall...

"Papi met her when he was traveling abroad for culinary study." The rest of the story, one can likely guess.
Hiroshi Takeba 2017-11-08 01:12:45 86283
"That's a very old city, isn't it?" Hiroshi asks. "In foundations, if not in its current state. I've read some interesting things about some of the residential architecture." He reaches across to touch, cautiously, the top of the jar of yellow-orange shreds -- then slips in a glance at hs fingertips when he draws his hand back, as if to check whether the amazing quantities of carotenes might have migrated through metal and into his skin. "Is this something from there?"
Rashmi Terios 2017-11-08 01:19:53 86284
"Technically," Rashmi chuckles. "That's shredded turmeric root from Mami's rooftop greenhouse. It makes a wonderfully soothing tea, especially with a little cinnamon and ginger. I made sure to include some preparation instructions, mostly because you're supposed to simmer instead of steep."

Leaning back, she takes a sip of the admittedly beige-flavored green tea. "It is a very old place, yes... Mami says it's got roots older than many of its branches, like Tokyo. Part of why she likes living here, she's told me."
Hiroshi Takeba 2017-11-08 01:34:49 86286
... far more terrifying than carotenes. Hiroshi gives the jar a startled glance, as if he were concerned that the roots might be about to leap out of it and repaint the house for him. "That is very kind of you," he says. "Of both of you. Thank you." Possibly he's decided he can live with eternal yellow.

On Kolkata: roots older than branches. The phrasing draws a twitch of a smile, but Hiroshi nods to Rashmi all the same. "Yes. But it has its own more modern personality, too. And I understand some of the same problems that we have. The constant urge to put aside things that make it unique in favor of things that are modern. Which is well and good in some ways, but we lose some things when we do that, too."
Rashmi Terios 2017-11-08 03:15:13 86288
"Tradition is important," Rashmi agrees, bobbing her head with a grin. "A culture without regard for anything but the future is trying to build a house on sand; sooner or later it'll all be washed away, and then what would we be left with?" With a chuckle, she takes her chopsticks to the fish curry. "Papi's from Osaka, Takeba-san, tradition I know. Speaking of..." Here she grows a bit more hesitant, knowing well she's walking on shaky conversational ground. "Would it be too prying to ask, where Kazuo-san's mother came from? It's okay if it hurts too much to talk about, just... Well, I'm curious, really."
Hiroshi Takeba 2017-11-08 03:31:33 86289
Possibly shaky, but he did bring it up; invited, as a tentative bit of not-quite-shared ground. There is a pause before answer, but it is because Hiroshi is in fact admiring the curry. "Tokyo," he says afterward, but there's a hint of something just for a moment at the corners of his eyes. Whatever it was, as he speaks it fades, and his voice drops a little in volume, as if he were expecting eavesdroppers. "She was born here. But her mother came from Isfahan, in Iran."
Rashmi Terios 2017-11-08 03:35:32 86290
"Ah," Rashmi says, nodding gently. "I only know that part of the world for its cooking, honestly; Papi was kind of a vagrant chef for a couple years before he met Mami, and came back." Despite having a perfectly good notion that there are no eavesdroppers, she consciously matches his volume; respect for her host, and his sorrow. "What was she like?"

Exactly who 'she' is, left up to Hiroshi; wife, or mother in law.
Hiroshi Takeba 2017-11-08 03:49:42 86291
"Akemi?" Hiroshi asks, regardless of the fact that Rashmi has no way of knowing which of the two that might be. "She was -- she was happy." As if that were a unique enough personality trait to make no other necessary. He distracts himself with a bite of fish for a moment, but continues after. "She had a temper at times, but she knew how to use it without losing control of it, and she was always gentle with the boy. And ... she believed in things. Not always things that made sense to me, but she had that sort of firm and gentle faith that can gather people up and carry them along. She didn't believe in disasters; not that they never happened to her, but she accepted them as fate and carried on." He glances across the table at Rashmi. "I don't know you well, but I think the two of you have a few things in common."
Rashmi Terios 2017-11-08 03:51:11 86292
"I think that has to be the nicest compliment I've ever been given, Takeba-san," Rashmi says after a moment with a deep bow of her head. "Thank you, truly."
Hiroshi Takeba 2017-11-08 03:57:46 86293
Curry. Definitely attention to the curry. After a moment, Hiroshi adds, "I don't think she would ever have thought about the Diet, though. Not her sort of ambition. She wanted a family, first."

(Or she let Hiroshi think she did.)
Rashmi Terios 2017-11-08 04:00:50 86294
"Well," Rashmi chuckles. "Of course I couldn't speak to her ambitions... but there are ways and there are ways," she says in echo of Hiroshi's earlier talk about foreigners, down to similar use of tone. "From what you describe, she seems the kind of person who can find a way to get everything she'd want, and be perfectly content with what she gets."
Hiroshi Takeba 2017-11-08 04:09:48 86295
"She ... yes. That's a good way of putting it." Hiroshi starts to frown at his curry, but the curry doesn't deserve it; he frowns at his tea instead. That may be more warranted. "It wasn't a good time for her family. Her mother was here legally, but most of the people here from her country weren't. People made mistakes. Jumped to conclusions. Her parents moved out of the city altogether a little before Kazuo was born, off where they'd be safer. But Akemi wanted to stay, even after she stopped working. I worried about her. She never seemed to worry at all."
Rashmi Terios 2017-11-08 04:11:48 86296
"I'm sorry to hear that," Rashmi says quietly. But there seems to be little more she can say, and instead of filling the silence applies herself to dinner; if Hiroshi wishes to keep talking about this, he certainly will. If not, he'll find another topic.
Hiroshi Takeba 2017-11-08 04:24:12 86297
Hiroshi glances up and across to her, with a politely apologetic smile. "Ancient history now, of course. My apologies for burdening you with it. Things aren't nearly so bad these days, and I trust we've moved past them enough that with any luck they won't be in your lifetime. You'll have any number of other things to deal with, of course." The economic effects of commercialized forcefields? "But perhaps not that one."

He draws a breath. Holds it for a moment long enough to be noticeable; whether or not that moment is meant to get past a 'TELL ME ABOUT THE BOOK' is an excellent question, but that apologetic smile reappears after all the same. "So you focus on civics, and you dream about politics, and you also help with a restaurant, and perhaps with a garden, and come and ask old men questions about their families which they are undoubtedly grateful to answer, and you also haunt second-hand bookstores and do interesting things with a talking magical computer. Asking if you have any other hobbies seems redundant. Perhaps I should ask instead how you find time to sleep?"
Rashmi Terios 2017-11-08 04:48:39 86298
"Sleep generally finds me," Rashmi answers ruefully. "I can't count the number of times I've fallen asleep over my English homework. ...Which, completely weirdly, is the one thing this whole magic nonsense has helped me with. Apparently the languages of two separate crazy advanced alien civilizations, is English and German?"
Hiroshi Takeba 2017-11-08 04:55:03 86299
For a moment, Hiroshi looks as if he devoutly wishes that NSAID curry were a thing that existed.

"Well," he says slowly. "I suppose it makes a sort of sense. If one presumes that the German is the 'advanced' part, and the English the 'crazy.'"
Rashmi Terios 2017-11-08 05:10:25 86300
"Other way around!" Rashmi says, flailing her arms. "And I have to know their math! It's crazy and half the time the only way I can even manage to cope is just taking a deep breath and saying 'this is your world now Rashmi' and if it wasn't for the fact that I've made actual friends for the first time in my life I'd've probably found what ever secret agency had to exist to track this stuff and handed Nicomachea over!"

Following that outburst, and a short spate of panting, she clears her throat and attempts to collect her poise again. "...Thankfully there's the whole friends thing. That's worth a lot, y'know?"
Hiroshi Takeba 2017-11-08 05:14:18 86301
Once again Hiroshi focuses in on one small fragment of flotsam in the torrent. And he sounds startled, and perhaps indignant on Rashmi's behalf. "Surely not the first time!" -- except that there's a little hint of question in there, too. Because it might not be hyperbole after all.
Rashmi Terios 2017-11-08 05:24:59 86302
"I was a huge bookworm," Rashmi admits, flushing. "I mean I had acquaintances, but like... not really friends, y'know? Usually I was happy enough just reading or doing my homework or helping Mami, and..." she trails off, shrugging. "I think it's probably the one thing that keeps my parents from getting upset if I come home late some nights; I have friends now, and they trust my judgment."
Hiroshi Takeba 2017-11-08 05:28:23 86303
"I'm glad that they can trust your judgment," Hiroshi says. And then adds, rather than any acerbic commentary on that being unlike some people's children, "But not surprised."
Rashmi Terios 2017-11-08 05:38:00 86304
"Thank you," Rashmi says, rather than laugh at that statement... though her cheeks still flush at being complimented again. "It is kinda important to me that my parents can rely on me if they need it. And y'know... it's kinda nice to be the one they ask for help sometimes, y'know? Sometimes as a kid, you think your parents have it all figured out, but then it turns out that sometimes they need you too... It's a good feeling, being able to help like that."
Hiroshi Takeba 2017-11-08 05:47:25 86305
Hiroshi's expression is warm for a moment, at Rashmi's first sentence or two; that transmutes into something less readable as she continues, and he regards his emptied dishes for a few seconds. Then glances for a moment across at Rashmi's before he looks up to her face again. "I suppose that is the way normal families work," he says. "It's good to be reminded of that sometimes."
Rashmi Terios 2017-11-08 06:07:05 86306
"Y'know," Rashmi says gently, "I'm far from normal... but I think it applies to you and Kazuo-san, too. I meant what I said, you two sound a lot alike. Which means you probably think at least a little alike. What could it hurt to ask your son for help, Takeba-san?"
Hiroshi Takeba 2017-11-08 06:23:20 86307
"It's not the same situation." Hiroshi gives a little nod toward the kitchen. "That used to be Kazuo's. After his mother died, after we ran out of other alternatives, when I was working too much to be able to take care of things ... he used to cook for us, and do the day-to-day things around the place that I couldn't. It didn't change anything. It didn't bring us closer together, or give him that kind of good feeling. It only meant that I didn't have to send him to his grandparents, and they didn't have to waste their time chasing him down when he ran away. These days, he doesn't have to worry about being sent to his grandparents. He meets with me for a half-hour or so a week because the boy he works for wants him to. Apart from that? I don't have anything he wants, or values. I don't have anything that he'd accept as a fair trade for his time. I don't even understand what he does enough to find something that would require his help, instead of just resulting in his sending someone else."
Rashmi Terios 2017-11-08 06:32:20 86308
Rashmi falls silent at this, looking from the kitchen to the dinner, and back again. For awhile, she simply sits there, brimming with unsaid words and half-baked platitudes ruthlessly squashed before they can make things worse.

After awhile, she reaches back into the delivery bag, producing a slightly-weathered flyer for the Korma Chameleon. "I wish I had an answer for that," she says quietly. "But I don't think anything I could say would help, Takeba-san. And I have too much respect for you to risk hurting you more, anyway. So... here. We're on Juuban North, not far from the Harbor subway station."

Drawing in a deep breath, she pushes her worry and sadness for a poor lonely man aside, and smiles. "Dinner'll be fifteen percent off if you give that to the server, okay?" In the grand scheme of things, it's barely even a kindness; almost more commercial pitch than gift.

But she's got the worst poker face in the world; she desperately wants to help, and this is all she can think to do.
Hiroshi Takeba 2017-11-08 06:41:09 86309
"Thank you," Hiroshi says all the same, quieter than it might have been. Quiet in a way that underlines her gesture, emphasizes it, rather than diminishing or dismissing it.

He does not bring the flyer the first time he comes in, two nights later. Or the second, three nights after that.

The third time he comes in, unprompted, he greets Rashmi by her name.