A Meeting of Minds

Takashi brings Ami a present.

Date: 2015-12-30
Pose Count: 33
Takashi Agera 2015-12-30 19:05:10 19957
Takashi has been coming by the Game Center Crown for a few days now - stopping in while doing his rounds of either mundane or nefarious tasks. It's easy to carry a present around when you can have your Device hold it in stasis. Probably not an intended use, but he built the thing. It's intended for whatever he wants.

But until today, he's been very unsuccessful in finding the person he was looking for. A girl with short blue hair and a usually focused expression (at least around Takashi, and around chess boards) - strangely absent around the holidays. And a little before then, actually.

So when he finally finds her sitting in the booth they play chess at, he's actually a little excited. Ducking behind a wall to get the box out of his Device, he hides it behind his back as he walks up.

"Long time no see, Mizuno-san." he says with a half-smile.
Ami Mizuno 2015-12-30 19:08:56 19958
Ami has been busy. Way too busy, with research, and dead bestie boyfriends, and solving the Caper of the Century. In fact, it's been more than a few weeks since she's had to be 'Ami Mizuno' around anyone but her mother. Sailor Mercury has become her default state.

This thought crosses Ami's mind as she hears Takashi's voice, and almost misses the cue to her own name. She looks up from the teal computer in her hands with confusion, then looks around. "Hnh?" she asks confusedly.

Then she spots Takashi, and remembers who she is, and who he is, and blinks in surprise. "Agera-san," she says, almost in disbelief. This will give him a rare glimpse into what she has on her tablet. Today it seems to be comparative prices for airline tickets to Paris? Weird.

"Hi," she says, as all the memories come back. She turns off the tablet and sets it down on the table, then smiles at Takashi. "Sorry, uh, I was distracted. It's great to see you up, again. How are you feeling?"
Takashi Agera 2015-12-30 19:13:42 19959
His right hand unconsciously roams a bit to one of the spots that used to be a big bruise. Ami probably notices. Then he laughs a bit. "I'm doing a lot better than the last time you saw me, anyways. And I'm sure you had a lot on your mind, so don't worry." he adds.

And he can't help but wonder what the significence of Paris is. He looks at her for a moment or two before continuing.

"But I've been trying to find you for a little bit - I have something for you. Is it alright if I sit down?" he asks, gesturing to the other side of the booth with his free hand, not wanting to just sit down. That'd be impolite, after all.
Ami Mizuno 2015-12-30 19:16:56 19960
"Of course," Ami says, motioning. "You are always welcome at my table, Agera-san," Ami says with a faint smile. She looks him over for a few moments, then notes, "You do look significantly better. No more bruises," she notes thoughtfully.

"So did santa bring you everything you asked, for Christmas?" Ami asks curiously. "Or did you get a lump of coal this year, like I did?" She's joking. Probably.
Takashi Agera 2015-12-30 19:21:05 19961
Takashi laughs a bit. "Not santa, but a few people got me some things that were very important to me." he admits, thinking back to his dance with Madoka and his hand leaning up to his locket that Ayana got for him, which he's now wearing under his shirt.

"Christmas and holidays like that usually... aren't so cheery for me? But this one was actually pretty good, I have to say." he says, leaning back. When the box pokes him in the back and he sits up again.

"Well, even a lump of coal can become a diamond. You just need an entirely unreasonable amount of pressure and time. Maybe with how you haven't been around, you've got the pressure part down?" he asks with a smile.

"And maybe I can help with that. I've been looking for you since before Christmas, but late is fine too." he says, pulling the box from behind his back and sitting it on the table.

It is, like most of his other gifts, expertly wrapped by someone who is most assuredly not Takashi Agera. The wrapping paper is a shimmering blue.
Ami Mizuno 2015-12-30 19:25:52 19962
"And the time," Ami agrees with his comment about diamonds. She's clearly amused by the analogy, judging by the smirk on her features. "Mine haven't been so cheery, of late, either, I'm afraid," she notes. "But I'm very glad to hear this one went well for you."

"I did get a very lovely new painting from my father," Ami waxes a little thoughtfully. "It arrived a day late, but it was very beau--" the bluenette cuts off when Takashi pulls out the gift, and her eyes widen. "What?" she says confusedly. "But I didn't know we were going to exchange gifts! I don't have anything for you!"

This seems to be very distressing to Ami Mizuno. Are those hives breaking out on her arms? She begins scratching at them furiously, briefly, but does reach up to take the package from him. "Takashi-kun," she uses his first name! "Really, this wasn't necessary. You don't owe me a Christmas gift. Oh my gosh, I'm so embarassed."
Takashi Agera 2015-12-30 19:34:18 19963
Takashi shakes his head. "We're not exchanging gifts! I'm giving you a gift, Mizuno-san." Takashi says, somewhat firmly. "You're not expected to give me anything back. I just wanted to thank you for spending time with me."

"It was only necessary because I wanted to do it." he waves his hand a bit. "It's alright - you can relax, Mizuno-san. I'm not expecting anything in return. Just open it. It's a gift, not a social contract."

He can see to some degree the way she's scratching at her arms. "Are you allergic to anything that might be in like... wrapping paper?" he asks, his eyes a bit wide.
Ami Mizuno 2015-12-30 19:43:40 19964
No matter how much he denies the need for reciprocation, it's very clear that Ami is unhappy with being caught off guard by Takashi's unexpected gift. Nevertheless, she pulls the gift closer to herself, blushing, and tries to settle her hives by rubbing at them again.

"No, it's fine, I just," she tries to explain, but how do you explain a nervous rash without sounding like an idiot? "It's just something in the air, I think. I'll be fine," she demures.

"A-a-anyways," Ami says, trying to brush off her worries. The least she can do is open it where he can see it, so she begins carefully unwrapping the paper, as if concerned about its aesthetic survival.
Takashi Agera 2015-12-30 19:56:00 19965
Takashi leans back as she opens the gift slowly. The reaction was actually a bit unexpected but not at all upsetting, even if she seems in a bit of a panic at first. It's probably the first time he's ever caught the girl he's sitting across from off-guard in any way, so he relishes the moment for a bit.

As Ami takes off the wrapping paper she'll reveal a wooden case with a handle, stained dark blue. After she unlatches it, it'll unfold into a chess board - a marble chess board on the top, with peices handcrafted out of marble as well.

The white peices have angelic motifs on them, but are still recognizable as their chess peices clearly. The black peices are more monstrous, oni-like in their style.

"I don't normally like thematic chess sets, but it's easy to tell which peice is which with this one, which is a problem I found a bit too much. The art shouldn't interfere with the game itself, otherwise it's just a pretty display peice."

I do hope you like it. I know it's a bit different than the one you left with me. I thought blue suited you, like your tablet." he adds, pointing.
Ami Mizuno 2015-12-30 20:22:25 19966
Slowly, Ami reveals the packaged chess set, and then opens the board entirely. To say she's dumbstruck by the gift is an understatement.

Ami carefully runs her fingers over the marble board, and then picks up one of the felt bags and begins taking out the pieces, slowly. Each and every piece--down to the last pawn--she very carefully inspects, mouth slowly gaping as she lovingly inspects each one, then places it in its proper location on the board.

When she's done with the white--her side--she repeats the inspection for the black. And her mouth just keeps opening wider.

When, at long last, every piece is placed, Ami sits back and stares at Takashi. She's bright red in the cheeks, and her arms have broken out in some horrible hives.

"Excuse me," she says.

Wait, shouldn't that have been thank you?

Leaving the chess set behind in a flurry, Ami rushes away from Takashi and vanishes into the bathroom, leaving the poor boy to wonder what the heck he might have done wrong.
Takashi Agera 2015-12-30 20:30:59 19967
Takashi is, to say the least, incredibly confused. He feels both like he's done quite well, and also done very, very wrong. It's quite confusing. She doesn't seem to have hated the gift, but... she also just ran off and excused herself after staring at him.

Is there anything to do but sit here and wait for her now, perplexed? He saw those hives for a moment - maybe it's an allergic reaction to something? Something in the chess set? Something she ate before?

Takashi looks at the set. That's what she was touching right before she excused herself. He looks at the chess set, and pulls out his non-work phone and goes to search on Corona - 'marble alergies' to see if that's a thing.
Ami Mizuno 2015-12-30 20:35:14 19968
Ami stays in the bathroom for several minutes. When she does emerge, she is notably less red in the face and arms. Rather than going to rejoin Takashi, however, she instead goes to the counter and places an order. Money is exchanged, and then she finally comes to rejoin Takashi at the table.

"Sorry," says Ami, shyly, as she reclaims her seat. "I shouldn't have just left like that. I just ... needed a minute."

Ami takes a breath, then motions to the board, "Would you like white or black?" she asks curiously.
Takashi Agera 2015-12-30 21:06:46 19969
Takashi does not, in fact, find any information on marble alergies. But Ami makes her way back to him soon after she vanishes, after placing an order. He tucks a strand of stray hair back. "Are you alright, Mizuno-san?" he asks, first.

Then she offers the board to him. "I'll play Black, today. You played Black when you visted me in the hospital." he then leans over a bit, looking her in the eyes for a moment, if he can. "Are you /sure/ you're okay? It seems unlike you to just vanish like that."
Ami Mizuno 2015-12-30 21:09:38 19970
Ami blushes away from that intense look, refusing to meet his eyes. "It's fine," she says with a little laugh. "Let's just play some chess. I ordered pizza and milkshakes, too," she suggests, then smiles at him.

And while he's busy diagnosing, Ami makes the first move on the board. "Also ... please feel free to call me by my first name. Mizuno-san is my mother."
Takashi Agera 2015-12-30 21:35:44 19971
"Ami-san it is, then." he says, smiling as he meets her first move with one of his own, playing a bit cautiously. "I guess that's one advantage of my situation - there's no Agera-san to be my mother or father." he says with a slight smile. It's a comment about a soft spot, but he seems to be doing better about it this time.

"I admit I missed your company when we went so long without playing. Or perhaps I am just a glutton for punishment of the chess variety." he says, leaning back a bit.
Ami Mizuno 2015-12-30 21:47:55 19972
"Agera-kun," Ami mumbles quietly, still blushing. "Stop, you're embarassing me," she says, but she's smiling at least. And rubbing at her arms like they're still bothering her, somewhat.

She makes another move on the board. Unlike their previous game, Ami isn't terribly aggressive this game. Like Takashi, she's playing cautiously, although she doesn't seem to be deliberating her moves terribly much.

"Here you go, Ami-chan," calls Motoki as he delivers a pizza on a platter, and a pair of milkshakes. The pizza has everything on it; apparently Ami isn't that picky an eater. Takashi's milkshake is a Chocolate malt, but Ami's is strawberry vanilla swirrel with bananas and cookie dough. Super deluxe.

"Thanks, Moto-kun," she says to him with a smile, then picks up her milkshake and takes a sip. "I hope you like pizza," Ami says to Takashi as she distributes a paper plate to him, and then one for herself.
Takashi Agera 2015-12-30 22:12:57 19973
Takashi laughs. "Well, that wasn't my intent, Ami-san." he says, still sounding like he's trying out her first name. "So at least I am to assume you like the present, which is good." he says, making his next move. It's just calculated, neither aggressive nor strangely defensive. Takashi actually wouldn't mind winning, after all.

There's a part of Takashi that would like to ask questions about their last conversation - but right now, that's overruled by the part of him that wants to eat pizza and play chess and not think about the other side of the world. Today, he is quite Takashi and far less Riventon.

He takes a sip of his milkshake. "Chocolate's good, but vanilla's better." he notes as he looks at her, and then takes a bite of pizza. "Pizza's great, though!" he adds.
Ami Mizuno 2016-01-02 00:05:03 20235
"Of course I like it," Ami says to Takashi with a foolish smile. "That's like asking if a rabbit likes carrots. It's beautiful, Agera-kun. Absolutely stunning, and I feel very humbled that you would think to give something like this to me, when what was lost was such a cheap and inexpensive thing."

Of course, this board will never quite fill the same function as the old travel board she left behind, but that isn't the point. Ami makes another careless move on the board, then takes a slice of pizza for herself and looks up to him again. "Vanilla? Huh, you didn't strike me as the type. But I'll remember that, for next time," she promises with a grin.
Takashi Agera 2016-01-02 00:16:26 20241
Takashi looks at Ami. He can't resist. "Well technically not all rabbits like carrots. They're more likely to eat the green leafy bit at the top... they don't handle an all-carrot diet ver..." he stops. And coughs. "...sorry."

"I'm glad you like it, though. Really glad. I wasn't sure if it'd be too much." he says, honestly. Thinking of how Madoka reacted to his gift to her. "But..." then he stops.

"I didn't lose the other board, either. But... I wanted to have something for us that felt like something as impressive as it ought to be." He doesn't even say 'for me to play on.' - he's getting better!

And Takashi makes a strangely wise and tactical move. He's been studying. He had time to study while he was laid up in bed. "What's wrong with a vanilla malt?" he inquires, a bit confused. "And next time I buy the shakes and food - that's only fair."
Ami Mizuno 2016-01-02 00:23:14 20244
The correction seems to snap Ami out of her slow trainwreck of embarassment. She peers at the boy for a moment, then sniffs amusedly. "It was a figure of speech. Yes, I know; too much sugar in the carrots is bad for their diet. Apples, too. Most still at least like the taste, though, as long as it's used as a treat and not a staple."

She clears her throat, then looks back at the board and hastily makes her own move. She is really n ot paying close attention. "Nothing's wrong with Vanilla malt," she say as she returns her attention to the boy. "I just didn't think of you as the simple-but-tasty kind. You seem more like you'd like the most outlandishly complicated and glorious thing you can get your hands on. But then, I guess they all pale in comparison to you, so why bother, right?" She's teasing him, here; that is not a legitimate compliment.
Takashi Agera 2016-01-02 00:32:30 20249
"Sorry. I just... I do that sometimes." he admits. By 'that' he means 'is kind of a jerk about proving his intelligence.' It doesn't take a genius of Ami's level to figure with what she knows that he feels the need to prove himself to other people, given his tummultuous personal history and family issues.

But apologizing for it? THAT is new and recent.

He takes the teasing in stride, too. The only appropriate response is to smile, nod a bit, and carry the joke a little bit to its destination. "But of course. I don't need a glorious drink - it'd only distract from the wonderful ME." He's not being serious, just leaning into the teasing punch a bit.

"I'd have figured you for a drink that was... well... more blue, I guess." he says with a bit of a smile. "I'm not sure how blueberries would work with the cookie dough, though." he adds, a bit thoughtfully. Then he makes another careful move. If Ami was paying full attention she might have noticed he was playing somewhat better.
Ami Mizuno 2016-01-02 00:40:18 20251
"Honestly, I don't usually spring for milkshakes at all," Ami admits to Takashi with a little shrug. "A coca-cola's pretty much all I really go for." She leans forward over the table, considering the board for the first time all game.

"You've improved," Ami notes with a frown as she realizes the predicament she's put herself in. Four moves from mate, if he presses his advantage.

Ami starts to move a piece, then hesitates. Yes hesitates. "Besides, just because blue is my favourite colour doesn't mean it's my favourite flavor," she mumbles. In the end she winds up moving an entirely different piece.
Takashi Agera 2016-01-02 00:46:32 20256
Takashi is pressing his chess advantage - albeit carefully. It's like he's been giving the board all of the attention Ami hasn't been. He takes a sip of his chocolate milkshake before he makes his move. "Yeah, I find most drinks without some form of caffination to be inferior to those with. But I do like something sweet every now and then."

He moves his peice, finally. "And I suppose I'm one to talk. I prefer a blue - a dark blue - myself, and that doesn't really match up to a vanilla malt at all." he says, then shrugs. "But sometimes it's hard to see in yourself what's easy to see in others, I suppose. The good and the bad."

He doesn't respond verbally to Ami's note of improvement - it doesn't seem right to deny it or thank, so he just nods a bit.
Ami Mizuno 2016-01-02 00:51:52 20257
Ami actually giggles at Takashi's choice of words. "'Inferior'," she repeats the word, then smiles at him. A shake of her head sends the edges of her bob flying, but she's back to staring at the board.

He's going to beat hert. She's fairly certain of it. Unless he makes a critical mistake, or does something particularly dramatic, Ami Mizuno is going to lose her first game of chess to this boy. Admittedly it's in part because she let herself play the first several moves while distracted, but the rate at which he's improved is almost startling.

Is he cheating?

No, Ami won't accuse him of that. Losing one game of chess to a very intelligent but inexperienced player while distracted is not worth a temper tantrum. It does, however, rankle, and she frowns severely at the board. She reaches for her king, as though ready to simply tip it over in admission of her defeat. But at the last second she switches to her queen.

He went to so much trouble to buy this set for her; she may as well give him the thrill of a hard-fought victory. And so Ami changes her strategy from trying to win to instead making him work as hard as possible to earn his victory.

"I prefer a lighter blue," Ami says after moving her piece. "But dark blue is also nice. I suppose that means we have a similar taste in colours. Not surprising, really, I suppose." Pause. "How were your grades this year? Top of the class as usual?"
Takashi Agera 2016-01-02 01:02:30 20263
Takashi is actually not cheating. Not today, anyways. Once he bought the set he spent a fair amount of time improving, because the gift itself seemed less great without an appropriate opponent to play against, and - with great personal sour-heart feelings - he knew at the time he wasn't what she'd consider a worthy opponent. And he should strive to improve in all things, shouldn't he? Wouldn't his mother not want him to have a losing record, even in a game like Chess?

"I'm not surprised we have a similar taste in colors. Though I do find a dark blue can pair very well with a white or a bright grey. Like the sky before a rainstorm." he says, offhandedly. Why is he revealing these little things... after a time, all Takashi Agera can do is go with it, rather than overthink everything. There's time for introspection later, when he's not trying to win a game.

Ami's aggressive mood almost catches him off guard, and as he moves his piece, he will have to work for it. "Naturally. A little hospital stay couldn't possibly have changed that outcome." he says. "Even at Infinity, I hav... I was top of my class, yes." He dodges, by a moment, just saying 'I have to be the best.'
Ami Mizuno 2016-01-02 01:11:33 20268
"I can't say I'm surprised," Ami says with a faint smile as she once more moves a piece defensively. "I was also top of my class, and somehow managed to ace all of my finals despite taking a week's worth of tests in less than four hours."

She looks up at Takashi, then feels the need to explain, "There was a death in the family the weekend before finals, but of course I didn't want to miss them. So I had to take them all early, and then take the rest of the week off to deal with funeral duties. Very frustrating. But still, perfect is perfect, regardless of how quickly it's achieved."

She's such a bragart.
Takashi Agera 2016-01-02 01:22:13 20273
Takashi smiles a bit. "Four hours is impressive - even if they're not Infinity's notorious finals." he says, a playful jab at her school of choice.

But, when she says she has a death in the family, though, that smile drops.

There are a few things that can really get Takashi's attention, and actually drag real empathy out of the boy. One of those is family members, and their harm or death. "I'm sorry to hear about that." he says, looking away from the game for a moment and at her directly. It explains where she was. And he's not sure what to say here. At all. "Please. My condolences." he adds.

"And you still managed to score perfectly. That's impressive." There's no hint of sarcasm here - he is impressed. He's glad his birthday is in a time in which school is out - since it always reminds him of his mother and he can be a bit of a mess during it.

Finally, he moves his piece to counter Ami's continuing defenses.
Ami Mizuno 2016-01-02 02:10:22 20290
"Mmm," Ami agrees quietly. "Just a cousin," she explains, "but there was a lot to do to get the funeral together right before Christmas."

Amu looks over the board, then makes one final defensive maneuver. He's going to have checkmate in two moves, at this rate, but she can at least take his bishop!

"But thank you," Ami says with a smile. "I appreciate the well-wishes, even if we weren't terribly close."
Takashi Agera 2016-01-02 02:12:48 20291
Takashi nods a bit. "Just a cousin but... any family would be precious, I would think. But maybe that's just the comments of someone who longs f..." he says, as she talks about her 'relative' - and his bishop is taken - and he cuts himself off. "Nevermind." he says, and makes a step closer.

"Check." he says a bit triumphantly. Distraction or not, a win after so many losses is a nice thing - and a month or two ago Ami would still have won this match.
Ami Mizuno 2016-01-02 02:14:52 20293
"And mate in one more," Ami agrees with a faint frown. She tips her king over. Just because she acknowledged defeat several turns ago doesn't mean she hadn't been hoping for him to make a crucial error.

"I was distracted," Ami notes to him, almost defensively, then stuffs her face full of pizza petulantly.

After chewing and swallowing, she asks, "So have you thought of your New Years' resolution? Anything in particular you intend to do different next year?"
Takashi Agera 2016-01-02 02:21:36 20296
Takashi nods. He sits back when she tips her king over, and basks in it - but only for a moment. He even grins a bit when she stuffs her face with pizza. "Ah, but you still lost." he says with that smirk. It's not meant to be cruel though.

"I'm sure next time you will get your righteous vengance, though." he adds with a wink.

"Mmm, no. I don't have a resolution." he admits. "I... usually work to improve myself in some way, even if it's not academic. And that's what those resolutions tend to be, self-improvement. So I'm not sure why I'd make a bold declaration to do a thing I've been doing since I was five."
Ami Mizuno 2016-01-02 02:40:58 20305
"Fair," Ami replies thoughtfully. She picks up the king piece and scrutinizes it almost lovingly for a moment, then begins to put the pieces back in their little bags. "I still can't believe how beautiful this set is," she observes quietly.

With the white pieces put away, Ami goes for another slice of pizza. "Thank you," she reiterates, before she starts eating that slice.
Takashi Agera 2016-01-02 03:07:00 20310
"I'm really glad you liked it. I wanted to get you something to thank you for spending time with me... but I didn't want it to be some peice of junk you'd stuff in a drawer and forget." This is a much more subtle way of saying something he said to Madoka's mother - he wanted to give a gift that would make it easy to remember him. He has learned a little bit about the need for subtlety in the conversation with the stern Junko Kaname.

"You're very welcome, Ami-chan." he says. He reaches out for a peice of pizza. And then he suddenly stops, dead. Ami can't hear it, because it's pinging him telepathically, but something very big is going down in the city tonight - something that will very much require the attention of Riventon. So suddenly, he stands up and makes a little bow to her. "I'm sorry, but I do need to run. I can't wait to catch you again, so that you can get your revenge." he says with a smirk. And then he's walking BRISKLY out of the Game Center.