Talks Before Thanksgiving

* November 20th, 2070. Fall is transitioning into Winter, mirroring the mood inside a certain Bright's apartment, despite the Thanksgiving Holiday ads and decorations gracing the campus and elsewhere.

* Tina looks at various schema she has to do for her semester term project, juggling them with what datum she accumulated on the breakin, mechanically sipping mint tea. Periodically she rubs the bridge of her nose, her eyes a bit bloodshot, half resignedly waiting for concerned mail from either friends, or from Well Above...

* ...Shit....damn, only matter of time before Jean calls her on the rug for moping, isn't it? And it makes her horribly ashamed, and wishing she *was* one of the Powers, if only for a brief moment.

* Tina sighs, wondering if the Trade trace of Sandalphon or the other corp the Thieves contatcted has been done yet.

* There's a knock on Tina's door.

{Tina} Mmmmf? {pauses and gets up, setting the tea down and readjusting her spine with a few cracks as she gets up, before wandering for the door, checking the vid feed.

* Fortuantely for Tina, there is a distinct lack of Triad on the other side of the vidfeed. Instead, there is a campus cop with attendant hamsters on the shoulders, carrying a couple looped-handled bags.

* Tina blinkies, and gets the door.

* Paul smiles a bit as Tina opens the door. "Afternoon, Ms. Mano-Perez. Care for some gyros and hamsters?"

* Tina blinkies some more, "Well, wouldn't the hamsters scream a bit if you tried to chew on them with cucumber sauce?" {small grin}

* Tina seems....tired. And a bit scrofuolous, and not the perky type she usually is. And on top of everything, there seems to be no less than two week's worth of black roots poking out from underneath her dye.

{Tau} {q squeak} I know *I'd* scream. Unless it was something really kinky that I didn't know you were intoooo...

* Paul mmmms, and steps in, so that that Kyriohamsters can speak more loudly. "Well, I think they'd try to get away -first-..."

* Tina rolls her eyes a slight bit. "C'mon in, Officer Mansfield?" {small grin again}

{Tina} Oh, we have ways of keeping them down. {closes the door behind the crew}

* Paul nods. "Thank you." *he smiles a bit, and sets down the bags on the nearest table.*

* Tina hehs a little bit. "Lemme move some of the crap, it's a bit of a mess around here, Paul." {Indeed, it seems rather untidy as opposed to merely cluttered, with a sleeping Splat on a couch}

* Paul looks signifigantly at Tau and Mouon as he upends one of the bags, and transformable KyrioToys spill out. "I... think Tau and Muon can handle that, Tina."

{Tau} Right!

{Muon} Yay! Forces awaayyyy!

* Suddenly, a lot of the transforming toys start sliding around, and then getting to their mechanized little feet.

* Tina watches, in abject fascination despite herself.

* Paul smiles slightly, watching Tina more than he does the KyrioToys.

* The toys start to do the thing of shoving various piles of crud off to the side for sitting space. Muon meanwhile chirps "Working on the Chain Gang" from Paul's shoulder.

* Tina smiles a little bit, still seeming tired and a bit lost, notable especially when one considers the person in question has no real physiological need for sleep.]

* Paul mms quietly, and when there's enough space on the couch, rests a hand on Tina's shoulder, looking into her eyes. *q* "Tina? You look, and I'm not metaphotically speaking, like Hell. Sit down and talk about it?"

* Tina blinks, not resonating, taken back for a moment, then all but fights not to look away, her face burning with shame.

{Tina} {vq} I....

* Tina licks her lips. {vq} "I... {shaky breath out} O...Okay..." {crooked little smile}

* Paul holds no reproach in his face or stance as he continues to look at her, just an attempt to soothe, console, and understand. He nods, and gently guides her to the couch next to BoopSplat.

* Tina goes with, slowly, still red with shame.

* Paul helps Tina settle down next to him as he also sits down.

* Boop Splat whiffles in her sleep as she smells rodent, but prior experiences with Shoshemai have taught her not to take too much note of it. Nothing like a little Generator for some Pavlovian reinforcement.

{Tina} {q} So...

{Paul} *q* I'd ask how you were hanging in, but... *he shrugs a bit* it's hitting hard, isn't it.

* Tina looks down a moment, but doesn't lie. {q} "Yeah.... is. I'm doing a regular old wallow in it, aren't I."

* Tau twitches his nose slightly from his perch, but doesn't comment yet.

* Paul nods, quietly. *q* "Figured. But understandable, given things."

{Tina} {q} It is?

{Paul} *q* Well, you find True Love, and it's returned, but before you know it he has to go overseas or elsewhere... the emotions are still there, but you feel shortchanged....

* Tina bites her lip. {q} "I don't even know if it *is* True Love, Paul... I just...know I miss him, and if I don't stop mooning Jean'll have me called on the carpet before long, because I have an investigation to do... but it still *hurts*. {voice wobbles a bit on the last}"

{Paul} *q* Well, I'd think that'd be a sign it was more than just infatuation...

{Tina} {q} I'm not in a position to know... {tiny smile}

* Paul quirks a slight smile. *q* "Well, given there's those around who are able to double-check, I'd have to say that you could get it confirmed...."

* Tina pauses, blinks, and really goes rather bright red at something.

{Paul} *q* Hmm?

{Tina} {strangled} er well there was the triad that dropped by and well...

* Paul pauses, and blinks.

{Tina} erk?

{Paul} *q* ... well, that'd explain why the Triad Seraph was frazzled when they came to visit me, Shosh, and the Kyrios....

* Tau suddenly gets very calm. You just know on another thought track *something* is happening...

{Tina} ........yeah.....

* Tina tries to melt into the couch, scarlet in mortification.

* Paul doesn't chuckle. That'd be taking advantage of the situation. *q8 "see? If a Seraph knows it's the Truth, why worry?"

{Tina} {q} I keep wondering what the heck India saw and am feeling terribly embarassed, because I think she got the whole enchilada on the Truth. {BRIGHT blush}

{Tina} {q} And because I was born in Hell and you learn early on not to trust your own instincts, Paul? {tiny smile}

* Paul hehs a little bit. *w* "Well, take it from me, Tina. I may not be a Seraph, but I -sincerely- doubt Jean's gonna bump you off the job or have your Forces poffed or whatnot, if Shosh and I are still on the payroll." *slight smile*

{Tina} {w} Still, it's...not efficient to be mooning around like a lovesick teenager....or particularly selfless. Ian' things to do in his Role. I have my things to do. {voice cracks} I should be happy with that....shouldn't I, Paul?

{Paul} *w* "efficent?" "selfless?" To love with all your heart and soul? I don't think they aren't.... and if you'd been just 'happy with what you had', you would've redeemed like you did. Nothing says you can't figure ways to tweak Role over time... and Ian'll come back, I'm sure.

{Paul} s/would've/wouldn't've

{Tina} {w} I...yeah. I's still so new to me in some respects, Paul. And it hurts.

* Paul nods. *q* "And you aren't sure how to react to everything going on, and the fact the Job pulled him away just as quickly..."

{Tina} {q} Yeah....just about. {puffs out a breath} Less than two weeks, Paul, and less than a week of that actually...serious. You know? That's not a long time at all, even by mortal standards.

* Paul hrms, and nods. *q* "Yeah."

{Tina} {q} That's why I worry. And why it hurts.

{Paul} *q* Well, think about this. You can still exchange email through Lightning. You can still visit in the Marches, which is a damnsight better than a lot of people can do in a long-distance relationship. I'm sure he'll try and get in touch once he's able to again.

{Tina} {q} Yeah.... I know. {small wry grin} That's why I feel like a heel for griping about it or acting about it the way I do.

* Tina seems thoughtful on something.

{Paul} *q* You're still reacting to it. *slight smile* You're just as human, even as 'cousins', just like the rest of us... it's -natural- to feel this way for a time.

{Tina} {q} Yeah. {w} I still cry every so often though, Paul...

* Paul nods, slightly. *q* "And sometimes you need to. And it's all right, Tina."

* Tau somewhere in here has crawled from Paul's shoulder to Tina's lap, and sits there, whiffling a little.

* Tina's voice breaks again. {q} "i miss holding him. i miss being *near* him, and loving him, paul..."

* Paul shifts Tina, and leans her a bit so he can hug her, fatherlike. *q* "And you'll hold him again, Tina... you'll be near him and you -do- love him no matter the distance..."

* Paul's sleeve gets slightly damp as she nods, silently. "But it's like a wound."

{Paul} *q* but over time it'll heal... and he'll be back, Tina.... shh... shh... let it out...

* Tina cries quietly.

* Paul just quietly holds Tina, letting her cry as needed.

* Tau nuzzles Tina's hand quietly as she continues to quietly weep, not saying anything. Muon, on Paul's shoulder, also remains respectfully quiet.

* Paul quietly sits there, still holding Tina and letting her get her crying out, unconcerned.

* Tina eventually quiets, snuffling.

* Paul nods slightly, and straightens Tina's hair a bit, waiting for her to say somthing.

* Tina rubs her eyes. "thenkyou, paul..."

* Paul chuckles, softly. "You're welcome, Tina."

{Tina} Damn...I feel like crap, though. {tiny smile}

{Paul} Physically, mentally, or both? *slight smile*

{Tina} Mentally. {snuffle} {wry smile} The lack of sleep and eating isn't bugging me...funny that.

* Paul hehs a bit. "Imagine that. Hm. Soothing music usually works for me... or a shower. Cleanse the body, cleanes the mind, Cleanse the soul. Or a good smoothie or two."

{Paul} Admittedly, the latter might lead to brainfreeze....

{Tina} Mm...smoothies. {tiny smile} {thinks} Hey...Paul?

* Paul hrms. "Yeah, Tina?"

{Tina} ever...felt anything for this?

* Paul mms, quieting. "A... mm... a long time ago... I thought I did. But I was just finding out about the War then, and... I felt that it wouldn't -be- right to have to drag her into that." He shrugs slightly, quietly.

* Tina closes her eyes, and nods. " You didn't?"

{Paul} *q* If I did or didn't, that's the road less traveled, Tina. *slight, sad smile* I made my choices of my own free will.

* Tina mms, and simply hugs tightly. {q} "Still...I don't know..."

* Paul hugs back, equally tightly. *q* "And hey, you've got advantages I don't on this front. You work for the same boss, you're on the same side, you can commute via the marches, and lots of other stuff."

{Tina} Yeah...I know. {q} Still... denying that...

{Tina} {q} I did for a long time too, you know?

{Paul} *q* Hmm? *nods* Mmmm. Yeah.

{Tina} {q} I... {lets out a breath} can't trust anybody in Hell. Not without Geasing.'s a matter of trust, isn't it?

* Paul nods, slightly. *q* "Yup... it is."

{Tina} {q} Oh, there's plenty of *sex*, but if I wanted that, Shal-Mari's bordellos are open 24-7 and then some. It was... {make a face, trailing off}

{Paul} *q* overwhelmingly, soul-grindingly deadening?

{Tina} {q} Yup. To feeling, to caring... It was like a really bad porn movie, only surround sound, tactile, and with the same lack of anything real to it. I...couldn't buy into that, you know?

{Paul} *q* So you got out. Despite everything 'everyone else' said and thought was true.

{Tina} {q} Yeah..... Even so, still miss my Sisters and the Guildhall even now....even Tartarus.'s a weird thing.

{Paul} *q* Well, you gre up in that... and you can't just go back and explain to them why you did what you did and 'why can't we still be friends'.

{Tina} {q} Nope. Most of them won't even get it, Paul. Even despite the whole bit with the Game, most of them won't even get why I do things for free anymore. Or that their idea of 'Freedom' is actually a big dead-end trap.

{Paul} *q* But some have. And for every one that does, that means a little bit more, they can do it. Those raised in Hell's worst enemies are themsevels, I think... mental blinders all around.

{Tina} Hmmm?

{Paul} By knowing nothing else buyt the sturm and drang... how can they figure what it's like to give -of- oneself ofr a better purpose?

{Tina} Yep... Hooray, BalProp.

* Paul nodnods. "Yup. Making political ads sound like the utter truth by comparision."

{Tina} Yeeeaaah.

* Paul skritches Muon, absently. "But every demon that Redeems, who 'gets it', serves as an example to others, -despite- what spin job others might put on it... so then aother demon 'gets it'... and on, and on."

* Muon is scritched, listening closely. Tau seems...rather quiet himself.

{Tau} ...Yeah. That it does. {fuzzles Tina's hand}

{Paul} So, it may not be immediate, and it may not be all that once... but every little bit helps. *slight wry look*

{Tina} ...Hope so.

* Paul quirks a grin. "Know so. After all, you're here, right?"

* Tina looks down at herself. {pause} "Looks like!" {innocent look}

* Paul chuckles, and ruffles Tina's hair. "Yup, you are."

* Tina grins a little bit, hugging Paul back in a very daughterlike manner.

* Paul hugs back, very fatherlike, as Tau and muon are likely noticing.

* Tau looks rather proud. Muon merely whuffles Tina's ear as she hugs Paul.

* Paul smiles. "Now then... up for some smoothies and gyros?"

{Tina} ...I could use that. {small smile} Though I'm feeling a bit pongy if you know what I mean. {sheepish} I'm kind of a smelly Lilim at the moment.

{Tina} I take the fuzzballs come with?

{Paul} Well, I brought them -here-... *gestures at the bags on the table*, so we can wait. *grin*

* Tina blinks, then brightens a bit. "All right...unless you don't mind stinky Lilim here. I didn't want to disgrace the outdoors with my presence."

{Tau} {m} need more deodorant...

* Tina lightly fingerbaps him.

{Tau} {m} Owie.

* Paul chuckles. "Nah, I've been through worse. Go on, get cleaned up. You'll feel better after."

{Tina} All right. {small grin} Back in ten.

* Tina dislodges the Tauhamster from her lap, and darts back toward the bedroom.

* Tau watches her go, climbing onto Paul's leg.

* Paul looks down at Tau. "Trying climbing, Tau?"

* Tau nodnods a bit. "Least she seems a bit better..."

* Paul nods, and skritches the Tauhamster. "It's hitting her hard.. but I think this helped."

* Tau nods, relaxing a bit under the scritching. {q} " is. The poor kid really hasn't had too much in the way of love in her life. At least, I couldn't think of better than Ian for her."

{Paul} Yeah. *nods in agreement, and skritches Muon, too.*

* Muon is happily scritched, not having much to say at the moment, though a few common appliances do seem to whir around a moment or two...

{Tau} He's a good guy. I'm not saying that because of his Choir, or because he's an angel. But because he's a decent guy, and he has qualities I think the kid really desperately needs.

{Paul} Steadfastness, devotion, caring, and Love? *slight grin*

{Tau} Wow, you got it. {beady hamster wink, twitch of whiskers}

* Paul chuckles, and then considers the table with the bags 'o food. "Hey, some guys've got it. C'mon, let's go and get these set up before she comes out."

{Tau} The steadfastness is what she needs, mostly. And sure. Hey, *Muon*! Snap out of it already!

* Various Kyriotoys start to straighten up as Tau puts Forces in them, and begin to help Paul with the effort.

* Muon erks, and the appliances shut up as Muon follows Tau's example.

* Paul gets up, heads over to the table, and starts unpacking the Smoothies and gyros, which were stored in QuikCool and KeepWarm containers, respectively.

* A couple of the containers are toted along on little robotic shoulders like the old depictions of ants making off with a picnic.

* Paul grins, and gets the bags cleared off the table, as well as some desserts set up, before he goes hunting for plates and utensils and glasses and whatnot, though the smoothies have their own big recylable-foam cups.

* Toward the back of the apartment, the shower shuts off.

* Tina has a few, and fortunately they're clean.

* Paul gets them out, ans sets out four place settings... two for himself nd tina, two for the Kyrios.

* MuonToys make little cannibal tribe chanting noises as they set the table!

* Paul grins, and gets things set up more, divying up the drinks and gyros.

* The toys finish with their jobs. "Done, sah!" Tau yelps, happily.

* Paul chuckles. "And now, we wait."

* Tina pokes a damp head out of the bedroom, looking far cleaner. "But not for long." {small grin}

* Paul grins. "That's okay, tina!"

* Tina heads out some more, now dressed in clean sweats, and sniffing at the food. "Ooo...smells good through..." {small grin}

* Paul smiles, and sits down at his place. "Then help yourself, Tina. Got your favorites."

{Tina} Yay! {says this with some actual enthusiasm, and plops down, grinning}

* Paul grins, and gets his own Gyro and smoothie.

* Tina dives into her Gyro, munching away, as do the KyrioHamsters.

* Paul munches away, to, enjoying the meal.

* Tina comes up for air after a few minutes.

* Paul eats at a much more sedate pace. "Is good?"

* Tina nodnods, a bit of pita hanging out of her mouth before she chomps on that.

* Paul chuckles, and slurps smoothie.

{Tina} well, doing anything for Turkey Day?

* Paul thinks. "Wasn't planning on much, aside from watching the parades on TV and staying on-call for anthing weird..."

{Tina} Me neither. {small wry grin} Should we make something turkeyish of it?

{Paul} Iiii think I could be talked into that. *slight grin*

{Tina} Me too. You guys?

* Tau nodnodnods!

{Muon} ...Turkey?

{Tau} I'll explain in a bit, Muon.

* Paul smiles, and skritches both Kyriohamsters.

{Tina} Good time to at least give thanks for what we do have... {small smile}

* Paul nods. "And I am thankful that I know you, and Tau, and Muon, and Shosh, and all the rest. Aaaymen."

{Tina} Yep. As am I. And for knowing all my friends who don't know who I am.

* Paul nods.

{Paul} It's a good campus. And a good life.

{Tina} Eet's a wonderful life, eet ees.

{Paul} Yup. After all, what other life produces things like this...

* Paul opens up a container between them... filled with chocolate-coated whip-cream and vanilla-cream-filled eclairs.

* Tina looks at it.

* Tina whimpers.

* Paul winks at Tau. Then says plainly, "So, who wants dessert?"

* Tau winks back.

{Tina} ....Meeeee....

* Paul offcers the container to Tina. "Take whichever ones you like."

{Tina} ....that's a very cruel thing to say, Paaaaul....

{Paul} Hey, I bought plenty just in case.

{Tina} You smart. Plleeaaaase?

{Paul} Yes you may, Tina. *smile*

* Tina nodnods, grinning, and snitches three eclairs!

* Paul smiles, and takes one for himself.

* Tina happily snarfs away, making happy yum noises.

* Paul eats more sedately, byt no less appreciateively. He also cuts up one eclair of each type and distributes evenely among kyrios.

* The kyrios seem to like this just fine! Muon makes happy blissful squeaks as he snorfs at filling.

* Paul finishes his eclair, and wipes off his mouth with an available napkin.

{Tina} Mmmm....these are good,...where'd you get them?

{Paul} Little bakery 'bout twelve blocks west of campus in Champaign proper.

{Tina} Oo. Must remember.

* Paul nods. "I'll email you the addy."

* Tina nodnodnods, and grins.

* Paul then considers the plates and the remains of the meal. "Want help cleaning up?"

{Tina} Not a problem. {small grin}

* Paul nods, and gets up. "Let's get to it, then." He smiles, and packs away the edible remains of gyros and smoothies and eclairs into their respective containers for consumption later.

* Tina gets up and helps with it.

* And with the help of Kyriotoys, we Fade.

In Nomine 2070