Ride Safe


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Scene Title Ride Safe
Synopsis Over the summer months, a friendship is formed.
Date May 17 — July 22, 2019

A recently resettled homestead in Providence
May 17, 2019

Unlike Kara, Yi-Min had never been anywhere near as vociferous about acting as a personal welcoming party for every new set of tramps entering the limits of Providence. General Remnant or town gatherings, particularly ones involving alcohol, are one thing— but otherwise, going out of her way for the purpose is not something she had ever been wont to do even in the confines of this small settlement.

But exceptions exist. They always have, for connections to people that Yi-Min has some especial reason to care about.

It has been several days since Kara had dropped by to help the newest little family start getting settled into their fixer-upper of a homestead.

And now, it's Dr. Yeh's turn. Not with nearly as much preplanned intent to help, but nonetheless, she is here— the warm, late embers of afternoon wreathing her slender profile in a pervasive glow of sunlight, long skirt flowing behind her, a black glass bottle with Chinese writing on the label swinging from one hand.

Whoever is inside the homestead can hear the light, nimble clunk clunk of sandaled feet across the wooden beams of the porch outside, a short prelude to the sound of knuckles briskly rapping on the door a minute or so later.

From inside the house, Yi-Min can hear footsteps approaching the door. The front window is open, which helps the sound carry. A little blonde head peers over the window sill, blue eyes wide and curious about the new visitor. The door swings open a moment later to reveal the home’s new owner.

She offers a smile. Her dark hair is left to hang loose down her back, still glossy from products and soft water from the city. An old Ramones tee shirt is untucked over a pair of cutoff shorts. The little girl moves from her post at the window to step behind her mother’s legs instead. She’s dressed in a blue dress covered in white polka dots. Like she’s ready for a tea party.

“Hi there,” the newcomer greets, wiping at a dark smudge on her cheekbone. Judging from the broom and mop propped up against the wall, she’s been cleaning up the house. Before she can say anything else, the little girl pipes up.

“I’m Phillipa Allyn,” the blonde says, confident in spite of the fact that she’s still standing behind an adult. “This is my mommy.” It seems less like she’s hiding and more like it’s a position she’s meant to take up.

"Oh. Why, hello there," Yi-Min says in a gently lowered voice to the child whom she had first seen appear at the window, stooping a little so as to talk more on Little Person level. "It is nice to meet you, Phillipa." As the Taiwanese woman tries that name on for size, her gaze slips over the details of that polka-dot dress, taking on a look that is distant, but nonetheless passably soft and warm. Appreciative, too, in a more specific fashion. "You know, your dress is very pretty."

Then Yi-Min straightens again to the woman who had first greeted her, giving her an easier and more knowing smile. "I am Dr. Yeh, but you can call me Yi-Min. I am Kara's partner. And you are Zachery's." None of this is a question. "Welcome to the neighborhood, such as it is. I brought a housewarming gift, if you would like it."

Nicole can't read the characters on the label of the dark bottle Yi-Min holds, but its contents are patently some type of alcohol. She tips it up so it catches a flash of sunlight, somewhat suggestively.

The little girl’s face lights up at the compliment about her dress. “Thank you,” she responds, grabbing little handfuls of her skirt and doing a small half twirl. “I picked it out all by myself.”

“I’m Nicole,” rather than Mommy. There’s a flash of uncertainty in her expression when her connection to Zachery is mentioned, but it’s gone in an instant, replaced by something more welcoming. “It’s wonderful to meet you. I would love a housewarming gift.” There’s a little smile shared between them. It’s like they have an understanding already. “Pippa, why don’t you go up to your room and play with your ponies? You did a very good job helping me sweep the floors.”

Pippa looks up at Nicole for a moment, then back to their guest and her gift. “Those letters are pretty,” she comments, half reaching around her mother as if to ask to inspect the bottle. She remembers herself, however, and retracts her hand. “What does it say?”

If Yi-Min notices Nicole's passing cloud of uncertainty at the mention of Zachery's name, and not to worry she most certainly does, she makes no mention of it. Yet.

"Sinkiang Black Beer," she explains cordially enough to Pippa's question, inclining the plane of the bottle so that the letters become more easily visible to the little girl, though never actually allowing any of the bottle to become grabbable. Retracted hand or no. "It is… a grown-up drink. A little hard to get around these parts, though that describes far too many things." That’s something that Nicole will likely already be in a position to appreciate, her limited time here notwithstanding.

Yi-Min meets Nicole's eye again, just a touch of conspiratorial discernment inside the sharing of their smile. “But yes. It is good to meet you.”

Pippa leans forward with her hands carefully folded behind her back. She’s looking with her eyes, not with her hands. “Mommy likes beer,” she proclaims, to only mild embarrassment on Nicole’s part. With the offering to her mother approved of, the little girl hugs her arms around Nicole’s waist briefly before offering a quick wave to Yi-Min. “It’s nice to meet you!” Then, she turns, shiny little shoes slapping on the hardwood floor as she heads for the stairwell and scurries up, presumably to her room and her ponies.

Nicole chuckles quietly in the wake of her daughter’s exist. “Would you like to come in?” she offers. “I haven’t finished getting it cleaned up just yet, but I won’t make a fuss if you don’t.” Then she tilts her head toward the doorway Yi-Min stands in. “Or we can sit on the porch. It’s a nice enough day for it. Up to you.”

"And you know, there is nothing wrong with that. I like beer, too," Yi-Min asserts very seriously down at Pippa, one eyebrow arched indifferently, revealing no hint that she should be embarrassed. When Pippa flounces away, the doctor coils her fingertips by her hip in the tiniest wave back, some warmth still lingering at the edges of her expression.

"She seems like a good kid," she remarks to Nicole as the pitter-patter of little footsteps dies away above and the two find themselves alone. Much better than some she's seen, from the. Ah. Implication. "I think it would be quite nice to sit out on your porch, also. It would be a shame to spend all of this day inside." From where she stands in the doorway, a breath of a breeze sends a fluid-like ripple through the lower edges of Yi-Min's skirt, as though in agreement with the notion. The remaining rays of sunlight seem similarly inviting behind her.

“She is,” Nicole agrees with a smile. “I’m obviously biased, but…” She shrugs and gestures toward the porch and the trio of chairs settled to one end. Two adult-sized and one for a much smaller frame. “I’ll get some glasses. Take a seat.” She slips away back into the house, closing the front door only halfway, indicating her intention to return.

And return she does, with a pair of plastic cups. One green and one purple. Nicole claims one chair and sets the green cup on the chair’s wide arm, passing the purple one to Yi-Min. “You’ll have to forgive my lack of classy glassware. We’re still getting settled.” And she has a child, after all.

Yi-Min is already lounging on the other adult-sized chair when Nicole reemerges from the house, basking like a contented cat beneath the sharply-lined orange aura of what daylight still persists. Against the sun’s haze, her eyelids are half-closed in the barest suggestion of contemplation, and the black bottle rests on the lip of the wooden railing closest to her elbow— newly opened.

"Pft. ‘Classy’ means little out here. No forgiveness needed for a practical choice." That plastic cup is met gratefully by Yi-Min, who flicks her gaze over to the side just long enough to accept it. Without rising from her comfortable seat, she sets about pouring a generous amount of beer into first Nicole's cup and then her own— cheerfully handing off the brimming green cup to Nicole a moment later.

"To your new home, hm?"

July 20, 2019

Nicole is elbow-deep in a sink full of suds, scrubbing bits of food off dishes while her guest sits at the kitchen table, at her insistence, with a cold beer. “You know, I never did think to ask you how you knew about Zachery and I.” It’s been some time since the two women have become acquainted, and the topic had always just been sort of glossed over.

“You called me his partner. I don’t think either of us would call it that.” Glancing up out the kitchen window, Nicole watches Pippa playing in the backyard, making plastic ponies gallop through the tall grass. The weather is miserably hot, but it doesn’t seem to bother the little girl. Her mother, on the other hand, is dressed in cutoff shorts and a tanktop and she’s still covered in a thin sheen of sweat.

"Oh, he's mentioned you by name before," is something Yi-Min could not have laid out on the table more casually if she'd tried, any forthcoming explanation from her delayed by the long and deeply unhurried glug she takes from her bottle after she says it. She exhales a little sigh once she is done, not from what she just said, but from the bother of the heat. One of the slightly uneven chair legs beneath her squeaks the smallest of protests as she settles her forearm a touch further into a lean.

"I do not remember if I have mentioned this, but I knew him before either he or you moved to Providence. We met in that shabby little clinic he opened in Sheepshead Bay. I was looking for someone… disreputable enough to smuggle medicine and medical supplies to me to bring back here, and well." You know. Zachery clearly fit the bill. There is a distant amusement in her eyes.

Nicole chuckles quietly. “That explains a lot.” Rinsing a plate, she sets it to rest in the drying rack next to the sink. “I wondered why he relocated out here. It’s obviously not to be near me.” She almost never sees that so-called partner of hers.

To be fair to him, it isn’t as though she seeks him out either. She’s too concerned about coming off as clingy or needy.

“I’m glad he’s putting his skills to use out here.” Even if he is, as Yi-Min says, less than reputable. Nicole shakes her head and wipes her hands and arms off with a tea towel. That’s enough scrubbing for a while. She’ll let the pans soak for a bit. She deserves a beer.

Grabbing one out of the ice box, she drops into a seat next to Yi-Min. “Surprised he talked about me, though. That doesn’t seem like him.”

The question mark above the motive behind Zachery's relocation is met by a somewhat deliberative silence from Yi-Min. "I'm surprised you never asked him about the reason why," she comments with a mild quirk of her brow, words wreathed in a kind of reflectiveness that says she doesn't have any idea what that reason is, any more than Nicole does. It just seemed— quite a thing to go untalked about. Between, well. Partners. "It certainly wasn't to be close to the wonders of nature, I can tell you that."

So many things that could be said about that, and so little time.

There is still an understated amusement in Yi-Min's gaze when Nicole finally retrieves herself a beer and plops down in the spot next to her. Approval, too, which is a little less understated. They both deserved a damn beer in this weather. "No, I agree. I don't think he normally would have. He was near-blackout drunk when he did, if that helps to explain."

“Ah.” Nicole smiles tightly. “That does help explain it.” She might have liked it better if Zachery thought her worth gushing about to someone, but that wouldn’t have been in character for him. And arguably, isn’t his character one of the reasons she’s drawn to him? She shakes the thought away, settles into a mood that’s less sour.

“Our relationship is… casual.” The electrokinetic takes a sip of her beer and holds the chilled bottle against the side of her face for a moment, eyes half lidding in response to the cooling sensation. “Which I guess is the polite way of saying it’s largely physical.” She cranes her neck a moment to peer out the window again and ensure she still has eyes on her daughter. Satisfied that she hasn’t moved more than a few feet, she sits back again.

Yi-Min's smile right at that moment is much more carefree, but all the same, it’s subtle. It’s not an expression meant at Nicole's expense. If anything, it is much more clearly aimed towards Zachery, judging by the way she is now staring thoughtfully through the woodwork above Nicole's sink.

"Fair enough." Of course it is. Others would surely be put off by any number of Zachery's features, physical or no. It said something about Nicole that she was even willing to look past the entire lack of an eyeball.

"But for what it's worth, he did seem to think highly of you, even in that state." Yi-Min lets her lightened bottle of beer rest just inside her reach, cupped gently and loosely in the curve of her fingers, as she appears to recollect something. "He was trying to sort out… everything in his life back then, I think. Your name was one of the very few entries he had defined under his category of 'good'."

“He seems very sad.” Nicole’s head tips to one side, her gaze far away from here and now. “Maybe that’s part of what I like about him.” She is very sad herself, after all. “Maybe it’s that women’s tendency to want to fix broken men,” she huffs out a laugh and shakes her head at herself. Her gaze is slanted back toward Yi-Min, brows lifted. “I trust you won’t repeat what I just said to him.” There’s a code between women, isn’t there?

She’s not drunk enough (read: at all) to start talking about feelings too much, but there seems little harm in admitting these small things. “I’d like to date him properly, but I can tell he’s not the type. He’s like a tomcat. He wanders in and out of my life as he sees fit.” Usually, Nicole feels, when he wants to fuck.

The only thing Yi-Min can do is give her head the most meticulous of shakes after noting Nicole's look of melancholy, letting her slightly more shadowed gaze slip down to the table in response, where it drifts into matter-of-factness. "I don't date men, but I hear this kind of thing is only destined to bring you grief. It seems like an ill-advised road to travel down." And Nicole is probably wise enough not to need to hear this again from her. But still. Sadness had the tendency to multiply among the like-minded, and all of that.

Then Yi-Min's fingertips tighten all the way around her bottle, and she lifts it for another drink. Before she does, she gives Nicole a look of mellow, very tacit reassurance. "Don't worry. Your words would have been safe with me, regardless." Being a secretkeeper is an unfortunate role that Yi-Min is already long used to; adding one more to the score does not trouble her. Her poison does not take the form of pernicious gossip.

Nicole snorts softly. “You’re better off,” she says of Yi-Min’s eschewing of men. “Women are by far…” The bottle is waved gently through the air in lieu of a proper word with which to end that sentence. But it was a positive one she was searching for, for certain.

“I’m glad I’ve gotten to know you, Min.” The smile and the sentiment offered along with that declaration are genuine. “You make me feel a lot less lonely around here.” As much as she claims to be happier in Providence than she was in the Safe Zone, Nicole still had to leave everything comfortable and routine behind. That includes social circles.

"…Less like men." Yi-Min finishes helpfully for Nicole, brow lifted just a little. Mm, she gets it. No elaboration needed.

The ex-Vanguard operative is no stranger to leaving everything comfortable and routine behind, after all. At least in that respect, Nicole's arrival in Providence is a mirror of what her own had been like in months past. Thus: to both of these things, the expression Yi-Min wears in response is one of quiet and simple commiseration.

"Same. But, you'll probably get to know everybody around here far more closely than you ever cared to," she states with some dryness, eyeing the bottle that Nicole wiggles in the air for just a moment, then filtering a little glance back down to her own. After all, there was little enough to do for fun in these small towns besides—

July 22, 2019


"And that is why I stole all of Kara's hair ties and hid them around the factory," slurs Yi-Min with some air of finality, punctuating the word with a graceful but also poignantly unnecessary gesticulation of her hand.

They are back on Nicole's wraparound porch, a place which had come to serve as an easy locus of socialization between the two of them, especially with Pippa inside. This time, however, they had chosen a side of it that more rarely saw company. This late in the evening, the halo of a slow-waning moon provides a peaceful, if slightly eerie illumination over the field of tangled greenery stretching away from the back of the house. Beneath that faint, nebulous light, untroubled by clouds, several murky glass bottles and cups sit neatly lined on the railing overlooking the scene.

What can be seen of it in darkness, anyway. Yi-Min currently seems far more interested in what is taking place right where she is, between her and the other woman.

“I bet she’s real pretty with her hair down,” Nicole speculates, painting an image of Kara in her mind’s eye as she looks out at the darkened sky. She slants a grin over to Yi-Min and takes a drink of her beer. This is number… Mm. A few. Yes.

“I honestly wouldn’t have expected that kind of mischief from you.” Nicole pauses whatever might be left of that thought in order to giggle for several seconds. She’s very pleased by the story she’s just been told, apparently. “It’s great.

"She is. She is beautiful," Yi-Min says with a little laugh that seems too-bright with honesty and longingly fond, all at once. She tilts her head back, draining what remains of her own cup. Beer number… well. Also a few.

"Wouldn't you have? Mmm. With Kara in particular, it is such a joy to do these little things sometimes. Not just her, though. Life is much too short to be a… what is the expression in English?" She waggles a few of her free fingers helplessly, as though trying to find and snatch the missing words from somewhere in midair. "A 'stick in the mud.'"

“She is rather serious, isn’t she?” Much the way Nicole pretends to be among people who don’t yet know her well. Not the person she pretends to be in Providence. Maybe the person she is in Providence is someone who isn’t pretending?

“You miiiight catch me eyeing her once in a while,” she confesses, holding up a hand preemptively to ward off any argument. “I promise I’m fully aware she is yours, but I still have eyes and she’s still worth admiring.” Nicole gives Yi-Min’s seated form a quick sweep then, punctuated with a wink. “So’re you.”

Now this is the kind of frankness that Yi-Min adores. She can't help but let out a spirited chuckle, scanning Nicole over the tippity-top of her rapidly draining bottle. It's a moment or two before she sets it down, but when she does, she does so easily enough.

"Bless your honesty," Yi-Min declares alongside the dull thunk on wood. "That is beyond fair. I cannot say I have any problem with just admiration." She hadn't missed the wink either, and the glance she gives in return is swift and knowing. It’s indisputably appreciative, in its veiled way.

Under a different set of circumstances, Nicole would certainly not have been out of the realm of possibility.

"She seems very serious, yes. But there is almost a different person entirely beneath that prickly shell. Few see it, but I know it to be there. Funny, no? Few would guess, in their wildest imaginings."

“I used to know a man like that,” Nicole muses, expression a little wistful, faraway. “Had an exterior like steel, but inside, he was one of the kindest people I knew. He cared so deeply about doing the right thing.” There’s a bittersweet tone to that, but Nicole doesn’t let it linger. Instead, she reaches into a bucket of ice and plucks up a bottle, shaking some of the moisture off gently.

“Want another?”

Several Hours Later…

"Surely you deserve someone who actually makes you happy," Yi-Min sighs with a lightness that nonetheless conveys the long, drawn-out lethargy of woe. And. Alcohol.

It's a pronouncement, equal parts meditative and insistent, that follows the end of Nicole's recollection of her various romantic partners up until this point in time. Ending with, of course—

"Miller. I am sure he has his virtues. Very, very deep down.” Sure, we’ll go with that. “But it is not your responsibility to 'fix' him, and you must know this."

Nicole rubs her face to stave off… Fatigue? Inebriation? Depression? She’s not sure, but she’s grinding the heels of her palms against the hollows of her eyes until she sees stars against the lids. “I’m not sure he can be fixed,” she posits, dropping her hands into her lap with a muted clap of skin against denim. “Or that I’d want to change him even if I could.”

Now her hands come up again to drag her fingers through her hair for about the fiftieth time since this topic began. Her love life is not a particularly happy topic, even if she can recount it without tears or excessive bitterness. “At least I got Pippa out of the last relationship,” Nicole supposes. “Every relationship has given me something.

With a grin, Nicole lifts her nearly empty bottle. “Here’s to hoping this one doesn’t just give me the clap.” She tips back the beer with a snort of laughter.

The sigh Kara Prince makes as she approaches might announce her better than her footsteps, hand on the railing leading up to the porch. She settles there in a lean while fireflies dance in the distance behind her, the last vestiges of light fading from the sky. "I do hope haranguing you about your love life isn't the only thing Yi-Min does while she's out here," she remarks ruefully, head tilted vaguely in Nicole's direction though her eyes never leave her slight drinking partner. "I know we're hard up for conversational topics at times, but there's got to be better things to drink to."

She pats her palm against the railing with intent. It's her purpose here to be the wet blanket that drags Yi-Min home, but she finds herself unable to say those words just yet. Instead, she shakes her head with a small smile. For all her ribbing, these two seemed to be having a good time.

That's a hope that Yi-Min will gladly drink to, after a somewhat softer snort from her own nostrils. So, she does.

"Oh, come now. There is truly no better time to discuss matters of the heart," is something that Yi-Min announces very seriously towards Kara's sudden appearance in the doorway without missing a beat, rising up elegantly from her seat to greet her partner's arrival. Her glass is still guarded daintily in the arch of one hand, and as she gets to her feet, she takes a lighthearted swig from it.

"And listen. I am not haranguing." The words may be reproving in form, but her tone is clearly still mock-serious as she flicks a glance at her drinking companion. "We are having a very cultured conversation. Isn't that right, Nicole."

Nicole can’t quite keep back her laughter, though she keeps it to a small snort against the back of one hand. “That’s right. We are the two most cultured bitches you can hope to find in Providence.” Which is something else she will drink to, thanks.

“You should join us,” Nicole encourages Kara with a lift of her brows. If not this time - because it’s clear she’s here to call an end to the fun and games - perhaps the next. What she does not do is point out that Yi-Min’s love life is given equal conversational time, even if it’s spoken of positively. “We’d love to have you.”

That was definitely not a double entendre. Nope.

There's a slight lift of Kara's brows in return as she hears the words— and the undertone in them. Her gaze moves on quickly from Nicole and finds itself in Yi-Min's direction rather than at her directly. "It falls to me to be the uncultured brute who comes to steal you home, then," she apologizes, finally glancing down to her partner.

She refuses to let herself even acknowledge the suggestion in Nicole's voice. Charity's nose knew no boundaries, held nothing sacred, and overexaggerated frequently. But if she doesn't politely smile, doesn't return even so much as a look, maybe they'll all collectively be safe from the clairvoyant's gossiping gaze. Kara doesn't think she can handle any more mistruths and halftruths floating around her.

"Summer isn't over," she suggests not unkindly. "Plenty of evenings yet for porch drinks." The corner of her eyes crinkle in the small smile she gives Yi-Min. "Just have to put a nightcap on this one." A vaguely remorseful twinge enters the look. "Before anyone starts any uncouth rumors." is meant to be nothing more than a lighthearted tease, but…

Only time will tell how safe Kara will be from the propagation of future mistruths, half-truths, etc.

But right here, right now, she is not safe from the cuttingly skeptical look Yi-Min slopes towards Kara in answer to that halfhearted smile from the blonde, like a swift whiplike wind. "Kara Prince," the much smaller woman chastises, tilting her head the tiniest degree to her other side— the better to visually demonstrate her censure. "You have fought in wars. Wars, plural. Seen things that would make grown men cry. And yet, you mean to tell me now: that you live in fear of the rumors spun by a gossipping little shrew with the ugliest fuzzy slippers this side of the county?"

If Yi-Min weren't still holding her glass with one hand, both of her slender hands would be planted squarely on her hips right now. As it is, she only stands stock-still with her weight leaned onto the back of one foot, head slightly cocked, radiating that air of silent, supreme disapproval.

“Are you truly going to let the woman who insulted me like a child ruin this beautiful evening without even being present? Come. There is plenty of this evening left. One drink. At the very least.”

That is all.

Giggles bubble up from Nicole at Yi-Min’s description of Charity that she makes no attempt to quell or even diminish until they subside on their own, a hand pressed to her chest as she catches her breath. “Oooh, my gosh.” She grins as she holds a bottle out in Kara’s direction with her brows lifted.



A broad grin breaks out across the electrokinetic’s face as she waggles the drink once from side to side. “Let them talk. The three of us here are completely capable of kicking the ass of literally anyone in this town.”

Kara eyes Yi-Min ruefully as she goes off on her impassioned putting-down of her foot. She's wholly unimpressed, meeting her gaze unflinchingly.

She doesn't even look at Nicole as she takes the beer from her, gesturing at Yi-Min with it. "One drink," the munitions chaplain concedes, not unhappily, not grumpily, but with the air of someone refusing to admit they've let someone else win. Then she looks back at Nicole finally with one corner of her mouth turning up. "Damn straight we are," Kara agrees, beer bottle lifted in cheers for that.

Yi-Min's reaction is to suppress her own subdued giggle of joy, ostensibly from the minor victory she had just won, but really more at how delightfully stoic and unimpressed Kara is being by all of this.

What was alcohol good for if not coloring everything around with extra happiness, after all? Her heart swells with the contentment of just having the both of them here, and accordingly, her expression glows with a kind of soft, serene brightness.

Which carries over as she leans over to murmur in Kara's ear at her approach. Very conspiratorially. But also very, very audibly.

"Actually… well. You know. None of us are."


Kara pauses midsip, somehow before there's any drink to potentially send her into a coughing fit. All she does is lower the drink again, a wearied "Oh my god." coming from her less than inaudibly in return.

Yi-Min really went there.

Nicole clinks her beer to Kara’s when she agrees with her assessment of their badassery. She watches her movements with an unveiled interest. There’s a certain enjoyment she gets from seeing the other two together.

Not like that mind you.

Well, maybe a little bit like that, but not necessarily so.

She snorts at Yi-Min’s joke, chest seeming to constrict a moment until she indulges and releases a bark of laughter. “She’s not wrong,” Nicole points out. “I just play it for appearances. Should’ve seen me in college.”

It’s better that they didn’t, probably.

If that was indeed a joke from Yi-Min, she isn't acting that way. Save, perhaps, for that lone, mischievous quirk of her brow that signifies how sorry she isn't.

"Appearances," Yi-Min repeats, shaking her head as if the sound of that word alone was enough to bring her sorrow. What were appearances good for? But there is also deep interest in her expression as she tilts her glass back to her lips.

"Well go on, then. Do not leave us here waiting. What would we have seen when you were in college?"

With a touch of side-eye for them both, Kara observes the exchange with a quiet sip from the beer she's been granted. It's with effort that she bites back a chuckle, one coming from her stifled anyway. College days aren't something she's had, but there's enough stories she's heard from other people, enough references in pop culture to let her mind go places.

Least of all: "So you've finished your 'phase', then, and moved on in life?" Kara asks, lightly. Completely well-meaning. It's a joke— she thinks. She attempted it anyway.


“Oh, I mean, I wouldn’t call it a phase,” Nicole counters, lips pulled into the slightest of pouts. “I—” There’s a thoughtful hum as she takes another sip of her beer, trying to put her words together. “Was the love them and leave them type in college. Never spent the night. Didn’t call back. I wasn’t a good partner.”

Arguably not much of a good person either, apparently. Maybe this business of her with Miller is some kind of karma.

Nicole’s expression softens. Before Kara can feel too bad for hitting that nerve — which Nicole absolutely brought on herself — she offers a quiet chuckle and wave of her hand. “I’m being much too serious,” is a very diplomatic way of putting that. “My sister thinks I need to settle down with a nice girl.”

Blue eyes shift between the other two women in turn. Her mouth curls upward in a grin. “Looks to me like they’re already taken.” And Nicole will most definitely drink to that.

"As long as you are on the same page as those you're loving and leaving." That serves as enough of a contribution from Yi-Min, who sees absolutely no problem with it if that's the case. Of course, Nicole's implication might be that her love life hasn't always been so balanced, but Yi-Min airily waves that possibility right off. Perish the thought.

"I do have to say," she quips, picking up her drink again, "that if what you're looking for is a nice girl, I'm not so sure you’ve been doing it correctly."

As far as Yi-Min's been able to tell, Zachery is 0-2 on both of those descriptors.

"…But," she then emphasizes in the tone of a particularly important afterthought. "The important thing is that he is the one who brings you happiness." Yes. That's the most important thing. As though to demonstrate what she means (since the object of her demonstration is so conveniently nearby), she pops a grateful little kiss right onto her partner's cheek before Kara can even protest, drink still lifted in the other hand. Ganbei!

Kara's expression is largely unshifting— save for the look in her eyes as she wades through Nicole's diplomatic presentation of her situation. The light shifts in them repeatedly as she turns each little thing said over for its true meaning, feeling woefully outpaced. "Ah…" she says, trying to sound gracious in her understanding.

She's not. This is all still a bit new for her, so she's just lucky at all to take it mostly in stride.

"Do what makes you happy," Kara stresses as earnestly as she does cordially, lifting her bottle while she says it. "The rest…" Then Yi-Min is standing up on her tiptoes, pecking her cheek with a kiss. The munitions chaplain almost trails off for the smile that comes over her involuntarily as she looks down at Yi-Min. Much softer than before, she finishes, "The rest will sort itself out."

Nicole snorts at Yi-Min’s assessment of how she is definitely at 2-0 (in the ball-strike count) with Zachery. She doesn’t refute the assertion, because she’s right. And Colette reminds her frequently that she’d be better off if she could just stop it with the Vitamin D.

But there’s a little bit like permission in the end, from both women, and Nicole smiles congenially. She doesn’t say that he makes her happy, because she’s not sure that he does, not really. But the moments are good, when they come. “Thanks,” she murmurs with a gracious incline of her head. With her voice lifted in volume, stronger now, she declares, “I’m glad I know you ladies. This is good for me.”

Beneath the quiet rays of Kara's smile, Yi-Min simply glows.

Maybe that's mostly the alcohol.

"Well, good! I am glad you think so. We must do this more often." Knowing her, that isn't an empty social assurance, but an insistence. Without looking, she accompanies this with a cheeky nudge of her elbow into Kara's side.

Kara's glance down at Yi-Min turns a bit rueful at the actual ribbing. Yes, she heard you. They'll do this again sometime.

"In the meantime, I'm dragging you home tonight before you get to a point you'll fall off the horse. Mm?" That sounds like a fair bargain to Kara, anyway. She takes another swig of beer before setting it aside, taking a step back off the porch to gesture to Yi-Min with outstretched arms, hands closing twice to beckon her onward. "Come on, then."

“As much as I hate to see you leave…” Nicole just lets how she might like to end that phrase hang in the air. Instead, she pushes to her feet as well, offering a smile. “Kara.” She gives a short nod. “Glad you joined us for the last round.” Setting her own beer aside, she offers a hand out to Yi-Min to help her to her feet.

Not that she needs it, of course. And not that Nicole’s much of an anchor. She could easily simply topple over herself in her efforts, but it’s the thought that counts, isn’t it?

“We’ll do this again soon. Next time the pipsqueak is sleeping over at her dad’s.” Nicole pulls Yi-Min into a hug, perhaps unexpectedly. But she keeps it brief, remembering herself after only a second, that she didn’t even ask if that was okay. She glosses the moment over with a quick smile and shake of her head that encompasses apology and sheepishness together. “You both ride safe, alright?”

Oh, fine. Yi-Min doesn't physically pout, but she knows better than to argue with Kara when that voice is being used. She takes the opportunity to empty the remainder of her glass into her mouth first, though.

And then Nicole is on top of her. No, Yi-Min hadn't been expecting that hug. But after her initial surprise is over, she receives it nothing less than joyfully— giving the other woman a reassuring squeeze in her arms when Nicole attempts to pull away early. No sheepishness allowed, you.

"You too," Yi-Min responds a little bit too happily just before she turns to begin down the steps of the porch. From the saucy twinkle in her eyes as she says it, that phrasing doesn't seem like a mistake.

This would be a moment to chastise Yi-Min with a middle name if she had one. The look in Kara's eyes says it's even odds whether it'd be done meaningfully or jokingly. She looks over the top of the Taiwanese woman's head, helplessly shrugging at Nicole.

Ride safe, she guesses.

"We'll do this again soon," Kara echoes back, because it's not a proper farewell if you don't say goodbye at least three times before actually shoving off. "Thanks for having us over." Then her arm slips around Yi-Min's shoulder and she turns away, rubbing the shorter woman's bicep fiercely as she squeezes her tight. "What'm I going to do with you?" she murmurs lightheartedly as they walk for the fence line. "Can't take you anywhere, I swear…"

Nicole snorts at Yi-Min’s parting remark and says to the women’s retreating backs, “You know I always do.”

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