Catastrophic Christmas

Takashi and Ayana exchange Christmas presents. Takashi manages to make her feel incredibly guilty. But she doesn't tell him what's happened, yet!

Date: 2015-12-25
Pose Count: 19
Ayana Tasogare 2015-12-25 22:56:50 19358
Christmas Morning is a time for family and friendship; an experience Ayana and Takashi don't get terribly often, no matter what the occasion. Despite this failing in the pair, and especially despite Ayana being heartless (or at least that's what Takashi still thinks), the sneaky fox is up much earlier than Takashi.

She's put on her best Christmas dress--red crushed velvet, with white fur--a santa hat, and red-and-white striped stockings. She's tied little golden bells with green ribbon to each of her three tails. But most importantly, Ayana is doing something entirely out of character: she's in the kitchenette with a spatula, poking at a pair of skillets. In one she's cooking bacon, and in the other scrambled eggs.

They don't have a tree; Christmas just isn't a big thing in this household. But despite the lack of a tree, there's still a trio of small jewelry boxed-size gifts, wrapped, sitting on the table. Each of them has Takashi's name in the 'to' field of their labels, and Ayana's trademark 'Vm~' in the from.

She's let him sleep in, but pretty soon she's going to have to wake him if the smell of (burning) bacon doesn't do the trick.
Takashi Agera 2015-12-25 23:04:54 19359
The smell of burning things is almost an olfactory warning for Takashi. Two kinds of things usually cause fires around him: lab experiments gone wrong and hostile magical girls.

That's why the smell wakes him up after not-too-long, and he wanders confusedly into the front room of their not-so-little Executive Dorm. Takashi is dressed far less well than Ayana - sleeping gear consisting of sweatpants and a t-shirt is the height of his fashion statement at this moment in time.

But when he sees Ayana cooking, his sleep-addled brain just almost shorts out.

Eventually, he does mumble "I thought you didn't like your eggs cooked?" he asks, drowsily.
Ayana Tasogare 2015-12-25 23:08:41 19360
Ayana whirls at the sound of Takashi's voice, sending her tail-bells to jingling. She glares at him a moment, then turns back to the food. "I am cooking for you," she points out as she pulls the bacon out of the grease and puts it on a plate. It's a little extra-crispy but it's probably still edible. "Your health is my primary concern, Takashi-san."

Ayana pokes at the eggs a little. They're still slightly runny, but she pulls them off the fire as well, and puts them on the plate with the too-crispy bacon. Then she turns off the stove and then picks up the plate. "Here," she says, jingling profusely as she crosses the floor to offer him the plate.

There are little bits of shell in the eggs. But she tried?

"Merry Christmas. I have placed your gifts on the table," she notes. "When you are through eating, I expect you to open them, and then to thank me by petting my ears for at least a few minutes before you go to whatever experiment you're doing, today."
Takashi Agera 2015-12-25 23:17:31 19362
Takashi rubs his eyes. "You don't usually cook for me." he asks, tiredly. "And why are there bell..." he stops. Right. Holiday. Christmas. Gotcha. The presents help finalize that conclusion.

"Oh! You're cooking for me... and you got me gifts?" he asks, and just about as she's asking him to pet her later, his hand is almost reflexively scratching behind her ears as he takes the plate.

"Thank you, Ayana-chan." he says with a smile. Sure, the bacon is overcooked, and there are bits of shell in the egg. But nobody /ever/ cooks for Takashi, and he is probably taking this as more of a positive thing than he might take a lot of things.

"Oh, right!" he says, midway through a bite of /extra/ crispy bacon. He puts the plate down and rushes out of the room, back to the bedroom - the sound of shuffling and crashing is heard, and he comes out with two boxes. One box is very large, and looks like it was more or less wrapped by a third grader. This is because it is a gift, and perhaps the only gift of the season, Takashi has wrapped himself. There is also a second, much smaller almost pencil-case sized box which is expertly (read: at the store) wrapped. He sits them down on the table. "I got you some things, too."

Takashi starts pushing bits of eggshell to the side of the plate with his fork deftly.
Ayana Tasogare 2015-12-25 23:26:52 19366
Ayana's eyes close as she leans into the petting of her ears. Reflexively, her tails begin to wag, sending the little bells to jingling all the more.

While Takashi eats, Ayana moves to sit at the table near him. She puts her elbows on the table and her chin in her elbows, and stares at him, watching expectantly as he eats, waiting for some confirmation that she didn't do an awful job.

Except instead, she gets him turning and rushing away. Ayana's ears both perk up alertly, and she turns to watch him go with confusion. "Did I mess up?" she asks, then turns back to lean over the table and sniff at the food uncertainly.

She only looks even more surprised when he returns with a pair of packages. "W..hat?" she says, confused. "You got me gifts?"

This was definitely not on Ayana's list of expectations for the day.

Ayana leans in to inspect the gifts curiously, then peers at Takashi. "May I open them, or should I wait until you have finished eating so that you may open yours first?"
Takashi Agera 2015-12-25 23:31:33 19369
Takashi smiles as she asks if she messed up, and shakes his head. "No, you did fine." Ayana did not do entirely fine, but food someone else has cooked always tastes better, doesn't it? Besides, Takashi wouldn't want her to never do this again.

"Of course I got you gifts, silly fox." he says, petting her again. "You're very important to me. I don't just say that." he adds, pushing the bigger box (with the smaller box on top) towards her.

"Go ahead and open yours - I'll get mine after I finish this breakfast. And thank you, by the way." he says, with a smile. He seems to be more awake, now.
Ayana Tasogare 2015-12-25 23:39:39 19373
Ayana squints a little at Takashi, then shrugs and turns to the presents. She eyes both boxes thoughtfully a moment, then grabs the large one first.

The kitsune tears into the paper with sharp claws, tails wagging and bells jingling madly. Within, she reveals an assortment of more than a dozen packages of jerky. Her eyes widen in startlement and surprise, and she licks her lips hungrily. "Tasty," she mumbles to herself. She sorts through them all quickly, selects a bag, then tears it open and shoves pieces of jerky into her mouth straight away.

While she's chewing, she opens the second box just a little more delicately. Her chewing stops half-way as she stares at what's inside. Her jaw widens, and she nearly loses the food, but instead she sucks it up and swallows it whole.

"Takashi," Ayana says, as she pulls the bracelet out of the box. "This looks very expensive." Foxes connected all in a row, chasing one another infinitely around the band. She slides it onto her wrist and inspects it, then peers at him. "I do suppose I deserve this; I am the best familiar you've ever had." Oh how much of a heel does she feel like right now? But she can't tell him the truth; it will just ruin everything.

Can she keep fooling him?

"Finish eating. I am growing impatient to see you open yours."
Takashi Agera 2015-12-25 23:53:36 19377
Takashi smiles at the way she tears into the bag of jerky. She is, at least, easy to please. Takashi is outright grinning as she fills her mouth - and then she nearly loses it in surprise. This is also good.

Takashi cannot argue with some of the things she's saying. "Well, /my/ familiar deserves the best. And I don't see the point of going to all the trouble we are, if we're going to let anybody else one-up us. So yes, you do deserve that. And a lot more. And with your help, I'll be able to achieve a lot more." he adds, smiling a bit, finishing the last of his food.

"Why does everyone act surprise when I give them expensive things?" he muses to himself a bit, sitting back. Then leaning over when Ayana says she's impatient.

The first box Takashi opens contains a small, pulsating gem - the core of a retriver, nearly overflowing with energy. Takashi grins wide. "Well, you know, you don't have to wait until the holidays to do your job... but I do appreciate it." The tone indicates he's joking, rather than being hostile, and his eyes are bright as he looks into it - like his mind is running with the possibilities all of this stolen energy could create.

The second box contains another gem, and prompts him to actually walk over and hug her tightly.

That's to say nothing of the last one, though. He opens the box, expecting a third gem. What Taksashi finds, instead, is a locket - sitting open in its jewlery box. The picture in that locket prompts an audiable gasp from Takashi, and ends his understanding of laguage for a moment.

"Ayana-chan... is this... where did... how did... what..." he stammers, holding the locket, at first pushing it away like he's too afraid to admit it exists, and then pulling it close to him like he's afraid to let it go. If one looks closely, there are small pools of liquid forming at the edges of the normally-stern teenager's eyes.
Ayana Tasogare 2015-12-26 00:03:28 19380
The kitsune continues to dig into her jerky bag--tails wagging and jingling--as she watches Takashi. "I am surprised because I did not think you would get me anything for Christmas," she explains to his question. "But I am not ungrateful. Thank you, master," she says to him, then forces a fake smile. Okay it's not actually a fake smile, but she's making it look forced.

When Takashi opens the first retriever, she grins a little. "Of course not," she says to him. "But I had to get you something, and energy is easy. Each of those," she explains as he opens the second, "is the energy of a magical girl or boy." This is a lie, but she doesn't need to tell him the truth, on this one. "Of course, they've been converted to dark energy by the retrievers, but I know you can always use more."

When he reaches for the last, she leans forward a little and becomes very still, expectantly awaiting his reaction.

She isn't disappointed.

"I found it in the laboratory while cleaning," Ayana explains. "It was in a book that was mostly burned--the edges of the picture were also burned. I think someone tried to get rid of it. I couldn't salvage the book," Ayana says sadly. "But the picture I managed to save, so I trimmed the edges and then put it in this locket for you. Do you like it? I think it is your mother."
Takashi Agera 2015-12-26 00:14:13 19384
Takashi takes another hand up. He's trying to make it look like he's rubbing sleep out of his eyes. He is failing miserably. The tears that are dripping from his eyes attest to that. He'd like them to stop, but they refuse to follow orders.

"Ayana-chan... I would know her anywhere. This is my mother." he says, calmly. "I don't... really have any pictures of her, but I see her in my dreams, I would know her anywhere. This is exactly the woman my Father described. I can see her... I..."

Takashi actually has to sit down. He's cradling the locket in his hands like a tiny baby, looking at it. There's no doubt in his mind who she is. He'll process the rest of what she said later, perhaps. But for now, he cannot. All the talk of retrivers and energy is quiet in Takashi's head for a moment as he just takes it all in and tries to regain himself.
Ayana Tasogare 2015-12-26 00:17:56 19385
Takashi's tears and pain were not at all Ayana's intention. She had hoped he would like the picture; she had hoped he would be happy with it. Instead it seems she's only upset him.

But she's not supposed to be able to experience this sorrow and worry that she has.

So instead she takes a jingling step towards him and puts her arms around him gently, then lays her head on his shoulder. "I'm sorry, it is a bad gift. I will take it back, since you are disatisfied."
Takashi Agera 2015-12-26 00:27:38 19388
Takashi shakes his head, and when she mentions taking it back he actually stiffens, grasping it close. "No, Ayana-chan. This is... a wonderful gift." he assures her, letting one hand come free so he can pet her head, scratching her ears as she leans on him.

"Ayana-chan... it just means a lot to me." he says, assuming her response must be part of what happened to her. "These are good tears. My mother... I never knew her. I told you that. I never even saw her. She was dead as I was born. She gave everything up for me. So this picture... it makes me cry, but it's a good thing."
Ayana Tasogare 2015-12-26 00:39:45 19393
Ayana considers Takashi's words for a very long time, even as she leans against him, relishing the feel of his fingers in her ears. "I see," she replies thoughtfully. Overwhelming happiness is not an emotion she's supposed to feel.

So she bottles it up, and wraps her arms around him gently. "I am pleased that you like it, then," Ayana says to him faintly. "Although I think your sentiment may be dangerous to you. Try not to leave my protection if you are going to cry."
Takashi Agera 2015-12-26 00:46:45 19395
Takashi looks down at Ayana. "I'll be okay." he assures her. The tone of his voice may not be so assuring though, as he pets the familiar and holds her close. "You did very good, Ayana-chan. I knew I could count on you."

Takashi scratches her ears again. "You really are the best familiar. That's why I can trust you. I know you'll look out for me. I know you won't turn against me."
Ayana Tasogare 2015-12-26 00:49:54 19397
Ayana can't look at Takashi when he says those words. She stares at the wall--and then closes her eyes. He's praising her for the very things she know she is failing at. No, she won't turn against him. But she knows he would view just the fact that she is not telling him the truth about her emotions as a betrayal.

So she stays quiet, and refuses to look at him. "Of course I am the best familiar," she says to him quietly. "I am your familiar." But even her tails have stopped jingling. She isn't wagging them. She's just leaning against him, appreciating the petting, and the affection, and feeling like a traitor.

"You should finish your food," she says at last. "You have important things to do today, I am certain. Do you have any particular instructions for me? Or shall I entertain myself?"
Takashi Agera 2015-12-26 01:01:40 19399
It still takes Takashi a while to gather this thoughts, to respond to Ayana. "You've done very well, my little fox." he says, squeezing her again.

"I know you don't like hearing this, but... it'll be a while before we can move into the next step of my plan. These things just take time. But you've been a huge help already. For now, just keep entertaining yourself - keep getting data and energy. You've been such an important part of... what's going to come soon." Takashi says with a smile.

"Soon we won't have to worry about those magical girls anymore. We'll have all of the strength we need to win."
Ayana Tasogare 2015-12-26 01:04:05 19401
Ayana inclines her head a little. "Okay," she says to him faintly. "Then I will probably go and ruin someone's Christmas dinner." She grins a little, because she's pretty sure Ikiko won't complain about having her crash her dinner.

And then the grin fades as she thinks that through. Betraying him already? Such a terrible familiar she is. "I may not be home tonight," she warns him. "I may stay out and annoy several people. Or something. If you need me, call me? I will make certain I am available for you at a moment's notice. And I will keep Still Night with me."
Takashi Agera 2015-12-26 01:13:04 19402
Takashi nods. He takes the grin on her face to mean something else entirely. "You have a lot of strength, Ayana-chan. There are days like today that I have to rely on yours, too. There's nobody else I trust enough, for that."

"If I need anything, you'll know. Have fun." There's a malicious smirk on his face as he says 'fun' - fun likely means actually ruining dinners rather than dropping in, to Takashi.
Ayana Tasogare 2015-12-26 01:15:57 19403
Ayana nods her head once more, curtly, and then turns to kiss him gently on the cheek. "Merry Christmas, Taka-kun," she says quietly, and then bounds for the doorway, tails jingling loudly with every bounce. She pauses just long enough to slip on a pair of Mary Janes, and then she's out the door, heading on her way anywhere else so that she can cry.