Good Timing


asi_icon.gif marlowe_icon.gif

Scene Title 良いタイミング
Synopsis Marlowe has truly impeccable timing with her phone calls.
Date May 15, 2019

Nagoya-shi, Aichi, Japan

10:15 AM local time

"Kitada, 状況報告いただく," Asi murmurs into her headset, binoculars lifted to her face. The situation was delicate. A low-level pyrokinetic, barely capable of doing more than creating sparks, was holed up making demands that would be impossible to meet. Such as end forced registration. The political stunt, regrettable as it was, would usually be ended with a quick arrest and minimal press coverage.

… Except for this spark-starter, as Sako had called him, was standing in the middle of a gas leak, ready to make an already dangerous situation a lot worse.

He could have picked a better way to make his point, Asi thinks to herself not for the first time since being deployed today. Still, they've set up what they believe to be the quickest path to neutralization, and from afar, even.

"準備完了." Kitada reports from afar. He's ready.

"じゃ," Asi states, lowering the binoculars. "使命を—"

Her phone chirps loudly on her person, drawing her attention away. It's a priority call. This can't wait. Eyes flitting down to her screen and then back up, she makes a split-second decision. She comms in to hold and wait for further instruction. Kitada sounds understandably confused, and Asi will deal with that later.

In the meantime, on the rooftop she occupies alone, she lifts her phone in front of her face, initiates the videocall with

a smile?


and a singsong voice, full of apology.


A wide, open-mouthed smile quickly shifts into an ecstatic greeting that is so unmistakably belonging to the named. “アスィさんお久しぶり!”

Marlowe’s face, even blurred at the edges through video call, looks done up to be on camera. Over the course of getting to know the engineer, there were very few times she’d been caught candidly. Girl likes to look cute, can’t blame her.

“今、暇がある?” Poor Asi. Her window of “free time” is quickly diminishing, no doubt. But the whirlwind energy leaping off her phone screen could be imagined as a virtual hug slung over thousands of miles across land and sea by the woman on the other side of the world.

“«Why aren’t you heeere?»” laments Marlowe with a pitched whine, “«Everybody at the World’s Fair is off doing productive things or partying, and I’m stuck here working on this presentation. You could come rescue me.»” As it happens, the camera jostles as she reaches over for… a large glass bottle of rice wine. A pitcher of wine. How much has she had of it is concealed by the fact that the glass is frosted in texture. But judging by the slur of the engineer’s words and overall response to her friend’s singsong voice with a counterpoint harmony of her own, probably a goodly portion of it.

Marlowe pours into a small ceramic tumbler that would probably be better off used for tea. “«You know that saying, it’s impolite to pour your own sake. So…»” With her bottle-hand, she nudges a second cup into view and pours a generous amount into it before setting down the sake bottle. “«This one’s for you, see?»” See, Asi? She’s a good friend, right?

Lifting her original cup, she clinks the edge of hers with that of the second lightly. The toast is reduced to a tiny drunken whisper. “カンパイィィィ…”

Oh no, Marlowe is drunk. Perhaps adorably drunk, but Asi now has another bomb to defuse in ending this call inoffensively lest she spur the poor woman's maudlin levels to spike from 1 to 15.

“«Now isn't exactly…»” Asi repeats again, in case it somehow had gone unheard in the initial squeal of delight from the other end of the line. Her smile grows strained, the corners of her eyes softening as her expression slides from forced cheer to something more earnest, even sad. She hopes her connection is hopefully blurred at that moment so the nuance in the micro-expression is able to be overlooked. Her knees threaten to buckle from the weight of the (surely unintentional) guilt trip she's being put through.

“そこに行って欲しかったのに…” Asi finds herself lamenting along with Marlowe. And she really had tried! Paperwork had been submitted, attempting to worm her way into couching a visit as an official business trip, but too much was happening on the home front to justify even a week away.

Her left hand settles on the panel for the hardened laptop she's been monitoring through, very aware of her radio silence to the other people helping defuse the physically explosive situation. She lets her phone camera tilt away slightly on accident as she keys on her comm again. “«Final drone checks underway. Stand by.»”

Asi looks back down at the phone and smiles broadly again, though this time only briefly. In the awkward tilt of her phone, it's easier to see the body armor she's standing in much more clearly. She catches back up quickly, her brow crumpling when she witnesses the clinking of the glasses.

Oh, Marlowe.

This would be the moment she'd gently pry away the bottle to check how much has been drank, but alas, she is not there. “«Kampai~»” she agrees in an equally tiny voice that trails off with a small furrow of her brow. “«I've got a minute,»” Asi informs for the sake of honesty. Not the general 'minute’ in English either. She lifts her other hand into view, flexing her index finger. いっぷん.

“«You're working as hard as you need to, Marlowe. Your presentation is going to go great. Do you know if they're streaming it? I'll make sure to watch.»”

For those slow but fleeting moments, Marlowe appears not to have heard the repeated attempt to let her down easy. At present she's busy toasting her target and gulping back a long draw of sake. The ceramic tumbler thunks louder than it ought to when she's done.

Seeing as she has just a minute, though, Marlowe sees that uplifted finger. The gesture pierces through her hazy fog. But what it seems to do is poke a hole in the dam of the woman's thoughts.

"«I can't believe what Shacho did!»" The outburst follows with a quivering breath, that at first makes the woman sound intensely anxious. An emergency, maybe?

"«She- she… promoted me…»" Marlowe covers her mouth with her hand, further proving that at present her device is hands free. "どうしよ?ぜんぜん準備していなかった!また、大友先生は… «He’d need at least nine months to fully integrate with the Calceus limb along with adjustments made to his biocybernetic implants, not to mention the psychological toll and monitoring and contingencies for possible rejection. It’s not as complicated as Moni’s prosthetic, but that’s not the point so much as he needs time. And, and they want me to take over.»"

Suddenly, the hand obscuring her lips drops and Marlowe stares further into the camera, or rather, the tablet screen displaying Asi's body armor that not even the technopath's subtle reassurances could distract an engineer's eye from. "えっ? 何があった? なぜその装甲スーツを着る?” Marlowe’s train of worried thoughts jumps tracks to examining Asi and realizing within the rambling of her anxieties, she’d missed a variable somewhere. A key factor.

“What are you doing right now?” The question, in English, sounds much more suspicious when slightly slurred and accompanied by a squint from Marlowe at the screen.

Oh no.

There’s a lot to take in here, and it’s a huge dynamic shift from where Asi’s previous thought process was. What to do indeed.

“«Breathe.»” she advises Marlowe as much as herself, as she’s neglected to in trying to figure out how to approach this one. Her friend needs encouragement, clearly, and she has to somehow pull some out of her hat either instantly or not at all. That one minute was ticking down rapidly. But then the tipsy, newly-christened Director starts talking at her in English and Asi’s expression falters.

“あ.” Ah.

Yes, what is she doing right now.

“今。。。” Asi starts, blinking long and slow and looking away from her screen to judge the view her drones are providing her on the other nearby screen. “«I’m a little busy right now,»” is as close as she gets to being honest about the extent of what she’s currently involved in. She very nearly makes a joke about the fashion statement her suit makes, lips pulled back from teeth to start the joke as she realizes it’s probably horrible timing on her own part.

It’s fine, everything’s fine, pay no attention to the metaphorical fire in the background.

“That armor,” Marlowe remarks slowly, expression visibly shifted to a focused stare away from Asi’s face and on to the make and model. One does not simply try to look casually dressed in kinetic absorption materials. Not in front of the technically minded engineer whose side hobbies include fashion statements.

“アスィ、今、任務中ですよね.” Even drunk, Marlowe’s discerning eye for detail does not miss much. The question following being, what does she do about it. “«Are you in danger right now? Where are you? And do I have to go kick someone’s ass? Because I will!»” One could imagine the fighting emoji that follows such a bold statement coupled with Marlowe’s attempt to practically crawl through the screen.

“«Is anybody with you? I think I have Monica’s number still. I could get her.»” Several seconds tick by as she pokes at something off screen, presumably her phone or some other device. Leave it to her to have more than one communication gadget operating within arms reach. In the course of the action, though, she nearly knocks over the filled sake cup she’d poured for the absentee, and scrambles briefly to keep it from entirely toppling.

Only a little bit spills, but enough to dampen her papers before her. Marlowe hisses out a short swear, blotting at the alcohol with a sleeve. “You better not get hurt,” grumbles the engineer to her friend overseas. “Or I’m gonna come over and kick your butt.” Is it an idle threat or not, perhaps the Mugai-ryu don’t even know.

Asi’s facade of cool breaks when Marlowe threatens to get her help, a short laugh escaping her. She can’t help it. “日本にいないくせに!” It’s an answer that serves for a lot of what was just said at her.

She smiles warmly as she looks down at the screen, her heart feeling just a little too full at the engineer’s dedication to the wellbeing of her friends. The sigh that she breathes out does little to soothe the ache in her chest, one that surprises her every time she makes or receives these rare calls. There’s a surprising amount of humanity in these small moments, ones that serve to remind her of a life that had been within reach.

Her gaze slides past Marlowe’s representation on her phone, back to the equally real demands of the situation she was helping defuse. A notable pause elapses, something being weighed. “One second,” Asi says without looking back, the screen cutting. When the image splices back seconds later, if the cloudless sky behind her weren’t a clue something has changed, her suddenly blonde hair, worn down and cut in a wave that ends just past her shoulder, and more intensely blue eyes certainly give it away.

Blonde Asi flashes what she means to be a reassuring smile, confident and lopsided in its delivery. “It’s just another day at work, Marlowe.”

An impeccably curated brow arches up at her friend's laugh. Pointedly, while Asi is weighing things, Marlowe reaches for the bottle to pour another serving into her own cup. The actions are deliberate, patiently waiting while the technopath does her thing. She's no stranger to waiting.

When the shifted image appears, the change certainly gains Marlowe's attention again. Mid sip. She nearly spittakes at it what with such a drastic flip of scenery. Her cup gets set down, and she reaches over to tap on the tablet screen as if trying to adjust the levels. "«Waaait. What happened, why are you blonde?»"

Just another day at work, she said. While it doesn't satisfy her question, what the reassurance does is serve as a reminder of her own work still to be done. That gets a groan from the engineer, a heaving sigh. "もう, アスィさん忙しいだから, そういっていたね… I should let you go back to work."

Not that she wants to. Pout. Just as she's reaching over to tap to end the video call, though, a different topic pops up and she blurts out, "Could you do me a favor?"

Master of multi-tasking that she currently is, Asi only grins again, more mischievous than before, at the question of what's changed. It lacks a certain glint to her gaze that might normally be there, but the blue of her eyes flares in an imitation of it.

"«I did say I was busy,»" is echoed back without any joy in it. "«And so are you. You have a public to impress soon. You should get back to prep.»"

That seems to be that, so Asi waits for the call to end, leaving the hanging up part to Marlowe, apparently. But she doesn't. With a surprised blink at the temporary continuance, her gaze refocuses back on Marlowe. Her answer is made without hesitation, an emphatic "Of course," stated in English for extra emphasis. No question is made as to what it is, even though she suspects it may not be something she could accomplish now, or soon. If nothing else, she could at least offer best effort. "What is it?"

Another groan follows the reminder of work, but Marlowe is ever evasive of tasks when she's stubbornly refusing to do them. See example: current moment. At her request being humored, though, she brightens up again and blinks to focus at the blonde-and-blue-eyed face on the screen, leaning in.

"«If you're in Okinawa, sometime,»" she says slowly, "«drop by my folks and check up on my grandfather? A representative of the Mugai-ryu… he might be impressed.»" There's some doubt in her tone, but a willful stubbornness to push the askance still. "«I know it's a bit much. Just, if you're ever in the area.»"

Still her finger hovers over the tablet screen's End Call button. “そしていっぽん泡盛をちょうだい!” Just one bottle package service. Really. The finger that hovers moves up to press her palms together and accompany a shining gaze of hope.

For a moment, the only sign of Asi's intent to reply is how her mouth parts. She's frozen, like the feed might have cut, but she finally gives a slow nod of her head, still trying to figure out how to word her reply. "We don't head down there too often," is a carefully stated explanation rather than an excuse. "But the next time we do." she promises.

Her deer in headlights look fades considerably when she lets out a huff of amusement. "«'Impressed?' He'd be more impressed if I were male and single, I'm sure.»" she teases. Still, though.

She smiles, because that's the thing to do here. Comfort her, reassure her, smile. Make the promise.

At the request for a bottle of alcohol to be sent back, she lets out a short laugh, one hand lifting into view to gesture vaguely in the direction of the small glass that's been poured for her, just a little too precisely. "もちろん," Asi tells her. "このとおりのまま." Just like this, right?

Asi knows it's not quite what Marlowe meant, but there's a little too much solemnity in her expression — smiles aside — to not know she's putting the favors, all three of them, in her back pocket for another day.

Both hands lift into view, ever so slightly waving back and forth in an earnest farewell. "«'Til next time.»"

And with that, Asi's end of the call simply drops.

The Mugai-ryu operative blinks without seeing, one hand on her laptop while the other is on her phone lying facedown next to it. Coming back to the moment, she blinks again and the blue of her eyes shift, finally visually monitoring what she can see from her drone's camera.

The spark-starter is on his knees now, frantically trying to summon his ability with stuttering snaps of his fingers. But the moment he opened the door for the 'negotiation' with the flying bot, Kitada was able to shoot him from afar with a negation dart. The local police force are moving in now, gas masks over their faces. Hands up, they say, but he already has them there. Be still, they order, and so they move to detain him after he hangs his head in defeat.

Asi swallows finally, mouth dry. The plan had worked. In the critical moments between getting hit with the dart and negation kicking in, he hadn't blown himself and the building up. It had been risky — banking on his ability failing in those crucial seconds either due to lightheadedness, sheer panic, or both.

It could have all gone so differently.

"«Good timing, Kitada.»" she keys over her comm. "«It made all the difference.»"

Just another day at work.

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