Paid In Advance


asi_icon.gif monica_icon.gif

Scene Title Paid In Advance
Synopsis Monica is owed something, even if she doesn't believe it herself.
Date June 6, 2019 Local Time

Asi's Townhome, Tokyo Restricted Zone, Japan

The morning after the Americans arrived, it was a surprise to no one that Asi was the only one who rose at a decent hour. Stepping between and over sleeping bodies, she'd gathered herself and head off to work. She came home before dark, which wasn't saying much given the lengthening days heralding summer's approach, but it was late enough she'd sent word ahead to help themselves to the kitchen for dinner.

And then when she did arrive, she'd hardly said hello before slipping into the back half of the apartment, not so much as turning the lights on in the hall before heading into the equally dark space of her bedroom. Some habits were hard to break.

A long, thin band of light embedded in the ceiling casts barely enough light to see by, but Asi had made her way easily enough in the din to maneuver her way through the two futons and personal effects sprawled across the woodpanel floor. The room is appears more narrow than it is thanks to an entire wall being covered in servers, components, and cooling agents for them, organized in black cages and that look deceptively like bookshelves playing host to dark-bound 'books' blinking with blue lights. In the center of that wall, a nook is carved out for her computer. A comfortable if well-worn gaming chair sits in front of the desk, unapologetically taking up the excessive amount of space required for its existence. A few feet behind it, her bed rests on top a nearly waist-high frame embedded with dressers and a cabinet, with additional storage built in above the bed leaving only a three-foot clearance for the prospective sleeper. It's clear in a look that space is optimized if not sacrificed in favor of the electronics in the room.

Asi is curled to the side in that chair, one foot on the floor while the other is tucked heel against thigh on the chair itself, when she hears the door slide open. The light of the screen glints off her eye when she turns that way, putting out the cigarette she'd only just lit. (Maybe that was for the best, though.) "Hey," she greets softly, a touch of fondness in it instead of her usual deadpan. "Something on your mind?"

"Just wanted to say thanks," Monica says as she leans in the doorway, "you're taking quite a risk here." She seems to be handling the jetlag better than the others, but she's used to travel. "But I did get a place outside Tokyo, especially for the illegal ones to bed down in." Not to mention those with the more flashy powers to hide out in. It works out either way. "I'll ask Miles to take us back and forth if we need to come and go. At least until we officially leave. Ideally, nothing that goes on will be linked to you." A beat. "Even Eve."

She smirks there, because while Eve is a handful, she's a handful Monica is indulgent of.

"How do you keep from hitting your head?" is a nonsequiteur, as far as the conversation m, but perhaps not unexpected.

"Ah," The news that they'll be heading out, or at least splitting the party is neutrally regarded, and Asi nods her acknowledgement of it. Her look cracks, the corner of her mouth tugging over at the comment about Eve. "We will see if that works, but I'm not about to go knocking on wood, there. I am a little worried that the first thing she'll do should she get arrested is shout 'where is my Tech Witch? Get Asi in here, she'll explain everything!'" She doesn't even try to imitate Eve, though she does modulate her voice.

Asi lets her hand lower, it having waved expressively during her hypothetical, a rueful smile now playing. The non sequitur merits a glance to the bed and a simple tip of her head to one side in something like a shrug. "I am very careful to not have nightmares," she informs overseriously, turning her chair but pulling both legs onto her seat to sit crosslegged. "And occasionally hit my head anyway. Only when I have had one too many."

Her gaze has fallen to Monica's arm — the one that's missing — in a way neither of them probably like for it to. Asi doesn't leave it to awkward silence. "When did you part ways with Yamagato?" And for lack of wanting it to be a sour note in their conversation, she goes on to share, "You know, in a past life, I worked extensively with cybernetics. Getting to the source of why people needed them is what lead me to my work with drones — a number more than I was comfortable with required prosthesis because of IEDs, which could have been scanned for or uncovered by bots."

Her face draws and she shakes her head. "It was a long time ago, but it's not like I've forgotten everything." Asi's brow lifts subtly. "Only if you are willing."

"I wouldn't worry about her getting arrested. I'd worry about what she'll do to the people who try," Monica says, her tone dry. Eve's gonna Eve, either way.

Noticing where Asi's attention moves to, Monica stiffens up, like she's physically preparing herself for whatever might come out of Asi's mouth next. Normally, Monica hides whatever she might feel about her situation under a fun exterior, but that moment gives away that it's as much as mask as anything else.

"Late April. It wasn't by choice." Parting ways is a very polite way to put what happened to Monica. She never was any good at being polite. "Kimiko said she wasn't cruel enough to take out all my wetware, as if the surgery to rip off my arm was a kindness." To her, that's how it felt. Getting a piece of her torn apart, piece by piece. It's the memory of that surgery— and the one before it— that leaves her in lingering silence after Asi makes her offer. That and fighting away anything like hope that starts to creep up. The two feelings entangle together— fear and hope— in a strange dance that Monica has to shake herself out of.

"Contact Marlowe," she says. It's her way of accepting the offer, "she's head tech witch over there now. And she worked on my— on the arm before, she's a good resource." Her words come in clipped professionalism that's almost completely out of character.

"But before you do anything," she says, "you have to understand that I can't repay you. Like, in any capacity of the phrase." Monetarily. Emotionally.

"The timing may not have been by choice, but you weren't exactly happy there," Asi remarks. "Getting to work closely with good people is a bandage that can be ripped off at any time." Her gaze darts off to her screen to avoid wincing at what she's said, either for the choice of words or because it's advice she could stand to take to heart as well, among other reasons.

Like that the people you work with could turn out to be spies, and you might be asked to kill them.

She starts to breathe a sigh from her nose but it's thankfully interrupted by better news, and the flow of it is interrupted with a chuckle at the casual interjection of 'tech witch' into everyday conversation. Makes her feel less singled out. "I heard," she says of Marlowe's promotion. "She called me drunk the other morning to worry about it. I was a little busy, but it was good to talk to her." The lightness in Asi's tone tries to overcompensate for the trouble the subject causes Monica. "If the wetwork still exists, maybe we can get you something that is close to comfortable, at least."

Asi unfolds her legs, letting them rest on the floor as she looks back to Monica, considering for a long moment that she 'can't pay'. She considers in silence how to phrase her reply, a healthy pause lapsing before she finds a summary suitable enough.

"You already have."

Before that can weigh on the conversation any longer, she draws in another breath and inclines her head ever so slightly. "And as for resources, I did note that is something you're lacking in right now. This desire of yours to go digging into Praxis' affairs… I would worry if you went alone, Monica." Asi turns one hand over in her lap as she says, "I would have fallen into Praxis' hands if not for you. Will you let me make sure you don't?"

"Happy is relative," Monica says. It is true that while she worked at Yamagato, she wasn't always happy, but it started before then. It's the whole reason she accepted their offer. "But I was finding it increasingly difficult to accept my orders. I was thinking of negotiating a new position, but obviously that's a moot point now." She hadn't previously thought Yamagato to be the problem, but her place within it. But she may have been proven wrong.

Maybe now, though, she can have a chance at happiness.

The silence drags her attention back to the moment, over to Asi. The answer gets a frown— mostly because she doesn't believe that to be true.

But she doesn't have time to argue before Asi continues on. Her hand moves to her hip as she considers for a long moment. "It could be dangerous," she says, "for you, maybe for your job. You okay with some risk?" Monica is, as has probably been obvious for a long time now, a fan of risk.

"I think the guilt of not doing the right thing would burden me worse than a reprimand will," Asi intones, then pushes herself carefully to her feet. She leans to one side in an odd stretch, trying to ease the tension in her lower back. Too many office days, lately. In the middle of twisting her torso, one hand on her desk as leverage, she looks back to Monica. "Besides, it's not like you're planning on getting caught." she points out with a thin smile. "It'd be a different conversation, then."

"Then you're in," Monica says with a crooked smile. "I've gotten used to working with a partner, anyway." Even if Kay was a voice in her ear on missions, she kept her alive more than once. "Oh I never plan on getting caught. And it takes quite a bit to accomplish it, historically." Militaries have been involved. But she's pretty sure getting caught by Praxis wouldn't lead to a jail cell. Not if they've been paying attention to what Boom has been up to. Worryingly, she doesn't seem concerned with the idea that getting caught is a possible contingency. But she's pretty confident in her improvisational skills.

As is Asi. Those skills saved her life at least twice.

She allows her smile to widen just a touch before letting her gaze wander back to her screen and the unfinished items she'd been delving into. She still had her own mysteries to solve, her own set of skeletons she hoped to shake out of other peoples' closets. Instead, Asi walks her fingers along the keyboard to lock the computer and makes her way to the door, hand swinging by her side.

That arm comes up to wrap around Monica's waist when she comes close enough. "Hopefully there will not be a repeat need for buddy parkour," Asi asides with a hint of mirth before she nods down the hall, back in the direction of the light. Come on, then. "Let's see if Luther cooks as well as he eats."

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