Mi Casa Asi Casa


asi4_icon.gif chess4_icon.gif

Scene Title Mi Casa Asi Casa
Synopsis It's Chess' turn to put someone up for a while, while Asi has some plans to keep herself busy during her recuperation.
Date January 21, 2021

The Clocktower Building, Chess' Apartment

The good thing about having recently lived on the run is it makes one inclined to keep a bag ready to go should it happen again. Or, in this case, should a situation arise where one is living away from home.

Such a bag sits in Asi's lap while she herself sits in a wheelchair in the lobby of the Clocktower Building, longing for an ability she never had to begin with— one to turn invisible. She turns her head to the right to look around the passingly-familiar surroundings while she waits for Chess, her throat working in silence. The wheelchair she has is nice, at least, even if it's on loan from the Yamagato Medical Center. She doesn't have to bother with compensating for one of her arms being weak either— it's electronic.


Asi closes her eyes hard and exhales an equally-heavy breath. It'd not do for her to look like she's about to fall apart. On the inhale, she draws her shoulders up just a little higher, opens her eyes, and summons a poise she doesn't normally put on the effort of having. It's been a while, but those particular muscles still work just fine.

Yes, aside from being off of a life-threatening medical episode that's left her with considerable weakness, everything's just fine.

“Asi!” Chess greets warmly, as she steps out of the elevator and hurries over to where Asi waits. Despite the smile she wears, her eyes hold worry for the other woman. “I hope you weren’t waiting long. I was just finishing some work.”

She isn’t late, but the babbling helps her deal with her own nervousness at seeing Asi in the state she is.

“Let’s get you settled in. You want me to take the bag or you good?” she asks, pulling back her hand just as it starts to reach for the bag, as if of its own accord. She tucks both hands in her pockets until she’s asked to help — just in case they start helping without her or Asi’s consent.

"You're letting me crash with you, you're already doing enough," Asi assures. She smiles, the right side of her mouth just visibly enough not following the curve of it to the full amount it's meant to. "And no, I just got here. It took a while to arrange a ride owing to my new wheels." The bit of mirth there surprises even herself. Maybe she resents this all a little less than she thought she was.

"Thank you, again. I can't tell you how much I appreciate this. Being like this in front of Wolfhound…" Her mouth draws itself back into a thin line easily enough as she shakes her head. "I cannot even imagine how long it'd take for them to look at me like a functioning human being again if they saw me like … this, rather than another week or two from now."

"Judging by how long it took Nicole Miller to recover from her incident … It should be between them before I'm stable on my feet again," she offers up helpfully.

Chess’ laugh is short and breathy as usual but followed by a rueful shake of her head. “I could have picked you up,” she says, as she turns to head to the elevator, pressing the button to head up to her apartment. “I’m sure I could have fit the wheelchair somehow. Or got help.”

After all, Castle drives a VW Van with plenty of room in it.

When the elevator doors open with a ding, she steps in first so she can hold the button that keeps them ajar so that Asi can navigate her chair inside, leaving her to do it for herself unless she asks for help.

“I know I should probably tell you not to worry about what other people think and that they’ll get over it, but I get it,” Chess says quietly. “It’s not the same, but… back in March, in Kansas City, I wasn’t going to call for a ride or anything and just lay low for a couple of weeks. I would’ve, but Luther and Miles showed up and were waiting outside.” It was different, but still damaged and in need of healing.

“Anyway as long as you need.”

It's an awkward fit in the elevator, but they make it in. Asi smiles like it's a shield she's bearing, waiting until they're settled and the elevator begins to rise. Then it begins to fade. "I'm glad they were there for you," she relates. Things were intense on her end at the time, in a way that prevents her from offering platitudes. It'd be pointless to say she wishes she could have been there. With the way her legal status had been so in question at the time, it's probably better she wasn't.

"This is different yet, but when I… joined the Mugai-Ryu, I told myself I'd go back home and face everyone in a few weeks, much the same way."

"It took two years before I did." Asi's expression tinges with a bittersweet smile that shows mostly in her eyes. "And only then because my sister went out of her way to be there for me." A faint chuckle leaves her. "There as in supportively, but also prepared to drag me by my scruff if I resisted familial arrest."

She's never talked about her family before, but this information is offered up just as conversationally as anything else with her is. The light in Asi's eyes shift afterward as she begins some other reflection.

Maybe about what they'd say if they knew anything about what's happened to her in the last year.

“I wasn’t at first, but it was a good thing,” Chess murmurs, then quiets to listen, glancing from Asi to the lights indicating their floors. She smiles a little at the chuckle, her own expression curious.

“Do you miss them?” she asks, but then the elevator stops with a chime and the doors slide open. “This way,” Chess says, leading the way toward the small apartment — yet another in a long chain of places she’s stayed that has yet to feel like home. She taps the pass code in, “1027104,” she says over her shoulder before swinging the door open and letting Asi roll herself through first.

The small apartment has definitely been tidied up in expectation of the visitor, and there’s a not-unpleasant scent of an amalgamation of cleansers in the air, with a top note of citrus. It’s minimalistic in furniture — maybe because she’s never owned any and furnished it from scratch — in grays and black. The spacious design, whether by lack of time or funds to furnish it more thoroughly, does make it ideal for wheelchair access.

“I’m going to take the sofa bed since it’s easier for me to pull it open and closed every day, and I have you in the bedroom. It’s more comfortable,” Chess says, looking a little uncertain as she looks around the place.

It takes compartmentalizing the door code for Asi to really let go of wondering if she misses her family, or how that could even be qualified at this point. Her sister up tried, but it was impossible for her to keep up those ties after the latest terrorism accusations. Mostly because her previous method of staying in touch with her was gone, and Asi… well.

It was safer if she stayed away, wasn't it? But she can't help but wonder if Kaori didn't finally become pregnant with the child she was hoping so desperately for.

Asi looks across the apartment space appreciatively, not at all underestimating the trust and respect involved in Chess's home being opened to her like this. But hearing she's given up her bed? "What?" She starts to turn and argue. "Chess, really, you don't—"

But she bites her lip, smiling awkwardly instead. "Thank you. Again. I feel like a broken record, but I need to stress I'll not take advantage of your hospitality any longer than I have to." In other words, she wins— at least until Asi's no longer needing the wheelchair outside of the house.

"This place looks wonderful, by the way," she segues as she begins to explore it rather than keep glued to the doorway. "Are you still liking things here?"

Asi’s change of direction mid-sentence to gratitude draws a smile from Chess, and she lifts her shoulders.

“It’s fine. I sleep like shit no matter where I’m at, so you may as well have the more comfortable bed,” she says lightly. To acknowledge Asi’s effort in being grateful, though, she nods and adds, “You’re welcome. I’m glad you asked.”

The only real indications anyone lives in the apartment, thanks to its careful cleaning, are the TV remote and a laptop on the coffee table, and the bookshelf — a large, cubby-style thing along one wall, it’s too large, really, for the number of books on it, but the few that are there have been cultivated from used bookstores, it seems. Only a couple of cubbies have been filled, while decorative items sit on other shelves.

Chess glances around at the question, as if to remind herself of the details of the apartment in order to answer. “It’s a place to live,” she says after a moment. “Maybe one day I’ll lose the worry about having the floor drop out from under me everywhere I go, but… “

Her smile is wry. “Today is not that day.”

"It takes a lifetime to undo," Asi advises. "If my own outlook is any indication. The best you can do is become comfortable with yourself even when you're ready to run at any point. Nest in hiding places the way other people nest in homes. Create … caches instead of whatever the fuck homemakers do."

She laughs because it's funny to her she doesn't know. There was a strange sense of peace in knowing that all her doomsday prepping essentially was well-merited, after all, when her world came craving down. It was the one good turn of it.

Looking back to Chess, Asi silently corrects herself on that.

"At least for a few days, you've got two sets of eyes on the floor in case it tries anything. There's that." Stopping the chair in front of the bedroom, she adds, "And if you need help opening a secret bank account using a dead person's identity, I can help with that, too." Asi steers the chair through the doorway, calling loud enough to be heard, "I don't need an ability to know how to scan the dark web!"

She tosses her bag onto the made bed first, then positions the chair by its side. With a measured exhale, Asi grips the side of the chair rather than the control on it, face drawn in concentration as she moves her feet to the ground. The left goes easily. The right… it takes a moment for it to heed, and even then, she only believes it because she's seen it.

"I still can't believe this…" Asi voices to the air itself. It isn't meant to be replied to, but nonetheless it can be heard.

There’s an amused huff of a laugh from Chess. “That’s what I did when I first got here, actually. I had about four places around the city, but gave one to a friend, then lost one when Ivy and Alix popped into my life.”

She glances down at the mention of both sisters, one lost forever and the other in prison. Every conversation has a landmine to navigate.

“Think I’d need a face change, too, unless I went out west where no one has television,” she quips as Asi makes her way to the bedroom — space just big enough for the queen bed, a dresser, side tables. There’s more color here, serene lavenders and indigos for linens. A large walk-in closet looks a bit more lived in, but even so, Chess has a lot fewer clothes than most women her age to clutter it.

“You okay?” Chess murmurs from the hallway, not entering the room but leaning against the doorframe. “Let me know if you need anything.”

Asi quickly shakes her head, a little too fast to be reassurance. It's stubborn insistence she'll be fine, even when she's not. "I'm fine—" she skips past quickly, to head back to the earlier topic. "Last I knew, there's a man who can change faces who lives in the Safe Zone. I'd briefly considered it after…" Her arm shakes as she pushes herself up onto her feet. She's having to compensate for a lack of confidence in her feet. "I would have looked into it if things hadn't gone the way they had with Wolfhound."

Her feet shift on the ground, right first since it's the more difficult. Asi exhales slowly, letting go with her right hand and shuffling her left foot forward as well. She rotates, sits on the edge of the bed and balances herself with her left hand right away. Her right moves slowly across the cover at a delay, all too aware how distant the sensations feel and yet testing them anyway.

"I'm not going to be running a marathon anytime soon, but I'm definitely not as bad off as I could be," Asi assures with a small crack of a smile. It's of the black humor variety. She's at least still alive, she means to say. "And the only way I'll get back to where I was is if I push for it."

“Really?” says Chess regarding a face changer, looking impressed.

“If I have any more evil twins turn up, I may have to tap you for his number.” Like all of her jokes, the tone is light, but it falls just a little flat even for her. “Hopefully Kimberly doesn’t make me regret sharing her face.”

She doesn’t jump in to help, as others might — the two have a lot in common, and she gauges what Asi would want her to do or not do in this situation by her own impulses. “Just don’t overdo it,” she advises. “And I say that because it’s something I’d probably do. But listen to your physical therapists and don’t put in overtime, without approval, yeah? You don’t want to set yourself back because you were too ambitious, either.”

Tipping her head, she nods to a door across the hall. “The bathroom’s just there. I got a shower chair set up and there’s fresh towels and stuff. Feel free to use any of the soaps and shampoos and other stuff I’m not sure does anything that’s in there. Let me know if you figure out if I’m supposed to drink the herbal bath tea while in the bath or if I’m supposed to put it in the water, because it looks like it could go either way and there’s no directions.”

The joke at the tail end brings Asi to let out a quiet laugh, pained but desperately needed. It's easier to focus on the bath tea than the heaviness of her own situation, and she's grateful for the distraction. She shakes her head, sighing into saying, "You know, even if it's the former, it's still the latter. Soaking in tea is definitely a thing. I've only ever seen nice bathhouses do it, but it doesn't surprise me there's takehome sets for it, too."

A small smile precedes her indication, "So it's probably meant for soaking."

"No face-changes out of embarrassment needed…" she teases, then looks off with a small sigh. Her thoughts are elsewhere again already. Or rather, back to where they never really left.

"I hope the Department of the Exterior has better luck researching what's happening to us and how to stall it," Asi admits in a sudden, quiet segue. "We're homemade investigators, not medical specialists, and trying to be the latter has only caused us to collectively spin our wheels."

Chess nods at the explanation about the tea — it’s a homemade gift in a jar with a hand-printed label that looks pretty sitting on the bathroom counter, at least, but she herself hasn’t dared to try it yet. “That makes sense. Bazz is more into that sort of thing than I am, and I think he made it.”

There’s a fond smile at that, but it serves as its own segue along with hers, since he’s a DOE agent after all. “Me, too,” she says, her brows drawing together with worry. She adds more quietly, “They have a lot of shit they’re trying to figure out how to stall.”

It isn’t said in a way that sounds defensive, not of Castle or the DOE in general. It’s a matter of fact, and a dire one at that.

She tries to smile, but it falters a little. “Speaking of tea, I’m going to make some — the kind you drink, because I know what to do with that. Do you want any? Or water, coffee, anything?”

Asi's gaze darts back up with renewed focus at mention of Bazz. This is a development. A present? They weren't just talking, they were exchanging gifts. Handmade gifts?

"Yes," she answers with an overpronounced coyness, shifting her seat on the bed to bring her hands together in her lap while she peers at Chess. "I'll have some tea— and I want you to spill about this progress you've made with Bazz." It's not all gossip, though.

Her brow ticks up, her look growing more pointed. "Is he behaving well? Treating you well?"

“Smooth,” Chess says with a roll of her eyes. “Also, shit am I a bad friend. It’s been a while now. Not long after we met for sake last time, I guess.” She looks a little contrite for not having updated Asi — or Yi-Min, the third of their trio that night at Bar None.

She lifts a shoulder, looking over it then, into the hall, like the answers might be there. “We’re, you know. Dating.” Her nose wrinkles, like this is a word that tastes bad in her mouth. “So I may be gone some nights and you can have the place to yourself.”

Her brown eyed gaze returns to Asi and she tips her head. “He might stop over here at some point, but if you’d rather he not I can tell him not to. I understand that everything you’ve been through, you might not want to see people who remind you of how fucked up everything is and that it’s not solved yet. I mean, I imagine that’s how I’d feel.” Her brows draw together, and she looks a little like she did that night two months ago where she felt guilty for ‘sleeping with the enemy’ so to speak.

Asi doesn't bother to repress a small grin when she's called out. Let her have this one. Even if her smile fades a little as she reminds, "Well, I went from not telling you what happened to me for… months, to asking for your help in hiding from my coworkers while I recover, so…" A forced bit of mirth enters her voice as she points out, "not that it's the bad-decision/bad-friend Olympics, but … I'm fairly sure we're more than even there."

The admission that comes from Chess still is a bit surprising in its own way. "That's wonderful, though. Good for you." Dating might be a strange word on either of their tongues, but at least she really did go grab the bull by its horns. "I'm glad things are going well."

As for herself, she looks a little less certain. Asi shifts a look back to the chair she's abandoned and slowly begins the process of getting back to her feet to twist herself back into its seat. "Chess, this is your home. And I need to… not take out my frustration over my situation on the DoE. Like you said, they seem to want to be helping. They're making an attempt. Which…" She harshes out a small laugh as she settles back in. "Honestly? Some days, it feels like more than SESA is doing for us, and one of the impacted was a member of their New York leadership."

"So, you know…" Asi demures in a mutter, maneuvering the chair back in the direction of the door with her left hand.

Chess looks surprised that Asi’s back in the chair to follow her, but doesn’t question it, stepping out of the doorframe and into the hallway to walk into the kitchen. “That’s very mature and rational, but I mean, I get if you aren’t feeling like being super mature and rational, after what you’ve been through,” she says over her shoulder, with a wry smile.

Picking up an electric kettle, she takes it to the sink to fill it with water. “I’ve got black tea or green tea, but nothing fancy,” she announces, before returning to the topic of how helpful the government’s been.

“For the record, I know it’s really frustrating them, too, from what Bazz says. I mean, we don’t go into details, because obviously that would be unprofessional.” Her mouth lifts at the corner — a lot of what Castle does might be considered unprofessional anyway, but talking about cases to the case subject’s friend is a level that even he considers off limits. “And they are trying to figure out other things. Like, Detroit kinds of other things.” Her smile is definitely gone at the mention of Detroit.

Swinging back around to Detroit wipes the smile from Asi's face, too. "Green is fine," she says offhandedly, shaking her head as she follows to the kitchen. "Something is better than nothing."

And then she mulls over the topic of what else the DoE has to consider aside from their cases. "It feels impossibly selfish to say I've not thought about any of that in a while, and yet…" Asi has the grace to visibly wince at it at least. "I've been so absorbed I've not even kept up with the mainstream news lately. With what's happening abroad with Mazdak, much less…"

Well, whatever movements the Entity might be making.

"I am still all for finding assets of Adam's to jeopardize if it would help in drawing them out in some way. Prideful, spiteful bastard like he is, surely it'd… react." Asi forces out a huff of a laugh. "We'd need an end to pursue by speaking with it, though. And that's assuming it'd want to negotiate, make deals like Adam might. Build up a prospective deck of cards still out of the eyesight of Mazdak."

Leaning forward onto the counter, she folds her arms and sets her chin on her forearms. "If there's any shred of Adam left within it, surely it's disgruntled about that whole… betrayal." Her eyes shift off to the side before she segues, "Do you know if they know Kam's alive? Would…" With a narrow of her eyes, she wonders, "Do you think what I learned of Mazdak's beliefs regarding it would be of any use?"

"Or is the going theory still the more you speak of it, the more power it obtains?"

Quiet as she pulls out cups and the tea tin, Chess glances up now and then, but mostly doesn’t react to the theories or questions. She sets a tea bag in each of the mugs, and then reaches for the kettle just as the water begins to roil and the blue light turns off.

She’s still quiet as she pours the tea, a little more slowly than she really needs to, buying herself time. Or maybe she’s practicing her ichigo ichie philosophy, even for the Tazo cupful. Picking up both cups she moves to the little table — meant for four but with just two chairs, there’s plenty of space for Asi’s chair. She sets the mugs down on the table and takes a seat.

“If we could find Joy, she might do,” Chess says finally, quietly. “Not that I want to use her as bait so much, but I’d guess she’s the only one he — whatever’s left of him in it — cares about. But I don’t know. I tried really hard to break through to Eve, but…”

But except for a moment or two, it didn’t work.

“Regarding Kam, I’m not sure, but my guess is they do. They seem to know a lot more than they should, yeah?” she asks. “But I can tell Bazz, just to be sure. About Mazdak or talking about it, I don’t know. I know that Kam believed it. I think that Adam believed it. He said he and us — the daughters — were somewhat immune to that part of it. I don’t know though. It could’ve all been lies to keep us out of the loop.”

Her laugh is quiet, short, and bitter. “I don’t know what was true and what was a lie about any of it, honestly.”

There had never much too much discussion about what it was like to face Eve when she was possessed. It was a painful topic. Asi treats what Chess says of her experience with the appropriate amount of reverence for it, quiet for a while on her end, too. The shift to the table is completed thoughtfully, and once she's settled in close enough, hands cupped around her steeping tea, she lets out a hum.

"For what it's worth— I would lean toward believing it. We know so little that it'd maybe be foolish not to believe a former host, and someone who's fought it before, even if he didn't defeat it. And at the very least, Adam believed you stood a better chance against her. That one piece, though, I'm not sure about."

"I don't know if that makes you the chosen one to fight the Entity. He built up that girl Jac for it and look what happened to her."

In some ways, maybe what had become of Jac had temporarily been a blessing. She didn't have to worry about degrading from the additional abilities hardwired into her in places they shouldn't be. Unfortunately now they had to worry about this other kind of degradation, but for a while, maybe it was a kindness.

Asi lets out a quiet tsk, lifting up her mug. "If we could either find Joy or rescue Kam, perhaps we could corner them for answers, I agree. But Kam is in Mazdak's clutches last I knew. Joy, if we had a way to find her…" She starts to frown, glancing at Chess. "Do you have any idea where she might've gone to?"

Chess’ laugh is quiet and bitter, and she shakes her head adamantly, peering into her cup of tea for a long moment where she holds it clasped between her hands.

“Oh, I was never the chosen one and I don’t have any delusions of being that,” she says. “Jac for some reason was more stable for Gemini, or so he said. Whatever it was they had figured out in the decade between my birth and hers, I guess, but I don’t know if she would have lasted that much longer than Lanhua had before starting to reject it.”

Her jaw works for a moment, angry at what had been done to her sisters, and she lifts her shoulder in a shrug, before looking back up at Asi.

“I don’t think I’m actually immune either. It still got in my head. Or…I don’t know. It was and wasn’t real, whatever she — it — did to me in that moment in Detroit.” Her head shakes again,unable to explain that moment still, so Chess leans back, lifting her cup to her lips to take a sip.

“Trust me, I don’t think I’m special in any way when it comes to fighting it,” she adds, then shakes her head again at the question. “Literally no idea. We didn’t really bond or anything when I was there. They were too busy not telling me anything.”

Asi's expression solemns before she takes a sip from her tea. "You would have thought that Adam to have been more immune, too, perhaps— and look what happened to him." She decides the mug has steeped enough and squeezes the life out of the teabag before setting it aside. "It's a shame he decided not to trust you, but it's more unfair you went so far and got so little in return. You deserved answers. And you didn't—"

She thinks back to what she'd discovered of Adam's designs for Detroit, how all signs pointed to even his people on the ground being murdered by the weapon he'd meant to launch. The corner of Asi's eyes soften, and she changes the course of her spoken thoughts.

"At least you were able to come home to your chosen family," she says quietly. "I know it wasn't without suffering and sadness, but I'm glad that at least— at least he didn't take more from you than he did from your sisters."

Even if it meant Chess continued her trend of being the one who got away, at least she hadn't died as a sacrfice upon Adam's failures. At least she didn't die reduced to the circumstances of her birth. She had a chance to live her truth.

"You know," Asi asides thoughtfully. "If I'm not dead from this soon, maybe we look into a trip abroad to fuck with whatever is left of Adam's resources anyway. It's the sort of middle finger he deserves, and—" She looks to Chess with a rueful smile. "If we need to get into an EUSR zone, you have a friend who is both sympathetic to your cause and pings non-Evolved on a blood test."

What Asi means as comfort creates a different sort of pang in Chess, and she nods, looking back down into her tea, her brows drawing together. “At least,” she echoes, though, and it’s not meant to be ironic — she tries to keep her tone neutral, to not throw back Asi’s attempts at consolation into her face. Not when Asi has her own burdens and problems to face.

The offer to go abroad to fuck with Adam draws a soft from the younger woman. “Well, that’s a silver lining,” she says brightly, lifting her mug up in a little toast of sorts, but when some tea sloshes over the side of the full vessel, she grimaces, and hops up to get a towel.

“Anyway,” Chess says, returning to mop up her mess. “I didn’t mean to get all emotional at you. Do you know of other resources he has out there? Because I didn’t inherit a treasure map — or anything else for that matter.” The quip falters a little in its delivery.

"Admittedly, I'm not sure of the extent of what he had available to him," Asi relates with a douring of her expression. "Fake names, proxies, and the virtue of having a relatively un-unique actual name make for a game of cat and mouse. There was only one account I was able to track to strongbox in France— an account that was opened long enough ago that it seemed likely to belong to our fair immortal. Enough that I was willing to bet on it."

"If I put more time and energy into it, I could find more. But with everything that's going on…" She lifts one hand in a loose, general wave at her own situation, what the DoE is staring at in the dark, and a fistful other mundane distractions. "It's been hard to fry up all the fish we want."

Thumbing the side of her mug as she sets it down, Asi stresses softly, "But if it's important to you, I'd find the time." She considers Chess out of the corner of her eye with a subtle but certain nod.

“Could be interesting,” Chess says, almost in the manner of someone distracted trying to answer politely, but curiosity is piqued, and it shows in the lift of her brows.

“If you have time and energy,” she begins, and that sounds more ominous than she means, so she presses on without letting too much space fill in around the heavy implications of the phrase, “but I don’t want to send you on wild goose hunts, you know? God knows I’ve had enough of those. And sometimes it just seems pointless.”

Like when she considers the apocalypse might be nigh, and that the most optimistic person she knows couldn’t answer when she asked if he had hope to stop it.

Her lips press together and Chess shakes her head, trying to clear it of the maudlin thoughts. Dark, solemn eyes return to Asi. “If you want to, that’d be great. Let me know if there’s anything I can do to help. Deveaux has some resources and tricks up its sleeve, but I’m not always smart enough to know how to play them.”

Asi gives Chess a knowing smile over her uncertainty. "You're not comfortable enough yet to know when and how to play them," she counters with a gentle pointedness. She won't let Chess put herself down like that. "This is all still pretty new."

It'll take more than just a few months to get her feet under her in the new, vastly different world she's entering into and all of its facets. At least she wasn't alone in it, though.

"Let's order out tonight," Asi decides abruptly, sitting upright. "My treat. What do you want to try?"

“Learning to be a person in the world?” Chess murmurs a little wryly. “I think the groove in my shoulder is finally starting to go away from not carrying my bug-out bag everywhere I go.” She rubs her shoulder a little ruefully, glancing down at it from the corner of her eye, as if she could see through her shirt to any mark left there.

Lifting the mug for another sip and tipping her head to the side, Chess considers the topic of food and the prospects close enough to deliver.

“There’s a new Ethiopian place not far from here that just opened. I haven’t had it but I could smell the injera from the street and keep meaning to try it. I should make you help me practice my Japanese while you’re here, too. Really make you earn your keep because I’m atrocious at it. The Duolingo owl is so disappointed in me.”

Asi follows the first potion of things well enough. Food, yes. The switch to language, though, takes her off-guard. The lights are on but the person inside is struggling to catch up at the sudden change in topic. It's the mention of some disappointed owl that loses her entirely.

"Wait, what?" She's going to need that one explained to her.

The laughter that comes from her is startled and genuine. It pierces right through her attempts to be lighthearted and in the moment and firmly, finally places her within it.

And honestly, that's the best kind of healing one could hope to have

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