asi_icon.gif squeaks5_icon.gif

Scene Title Wanderlust
Synopsis Interest in a far away country is revealed, and a slice of cake is brought to bridge the distance.
Date October 21, 2020


Asi's Secret Lair.

A small paper plate made up in festive colors slides onto the neatly organized workspace currently occupied by Asi Tetsuyama. A slice of cake — vanilla by the look of it, iced in chocolate, and decorated with a glob of purple and orange frosting likely meant to be balloons — rests on it along with a plastic fork. The hand bearing the snack withdraws as swiftly as it appears, seemingly leaving the woman to her work and the offering for when she should decide to notice it.

October 21, 2020

2:04 pm

Silhouetted against the still open door, Jac Childs makes an almost silent retreat from the small, dimly lit lab. Her feet still make noise, the faint creak of rubber soles against polished linoleum is enough of an indicator to have warned of her approach with the slice of cake and now of her departure without it.

Pausing at the door, backlit by the brighter ambience from the hallway, the teen looks into the laboratory again. She should explain the cake, it isn't directly from her. And perhaps she should ask how the technopath is doing. However, something leaves her with the impression that interruptions wouldn't be welcome, as it often does, and that interruptions are likely not tolerated. It's this notion that prompted lack of explanation for the offering, as uncharacteristic as that is.

But it's also what Jac wrestles with, why she lingers in the doorway when she could just walk away.

The brightly-colored plate sliding into her peripheral view draws Asi's eyes away from her computer screen, brings her to touch a hand to the side of her head, ready to draw headphones back and and address whatever comment surely is about to pair with it. But surprisingly, nothing follows. Despite that, she pulls the headphones down around her neck anyway, dark eyes flitting to follow Jac's movements back to the door.

She speaks to make sure she catches the young woman before she goes, unaware that she's waffling.

"Where is your plate?" Asi wonders aloud. It hardly seemed fair, to her, that she were to have some and Jac to have none. Any kind of respect afforded to elders definitely did not apply in the realm of cake, it'd seem. Youth was to have first dibs at all things sweet. "And what is the occasion?"

“Someone’s birthday.” Jac leans slightly on the doorframe, just so. It should appear like she'd stopped when spoken to if Asi looks over. In her mind it does, anyway. “I left my plate in Richard’s office.” She's been working with him this week, which means she's actually ahead in her usual schoolwork instead of keeping up with.

“I noticed you weren't there.” It wasn't actually announced that she's aware of. Word just got around that there was cake in the break room and it needed to be eaten. “But I wanted to make sure you got a piece too.”

Socializing isn't high on Asi's list of to-dos lately, so chances are she might've missed it entirely. The fact it was someone's birthday doesn't even draw a flicker of interest in that topic, or that person— just brings her to reconsider the cake for what it is, now that its existence has that much more meaning ascribed to it. "Ah," she intones clearly. And ah appears to be the sum of it.

The former technopath doesn't reach for the plate yet, but she walks her hand across the keyboard before her to lock the computer screen in anticipation of it. When she looks away from it, finds Jac still lingering in the doorway, her dark gaze refocuses the girl's direction. "Thank you," Asi clarifies, wondering if that's all, or if there's something else on her mind, too.

“Yeah.” Jac’s response to Asi’s noncommittal sound implies a possible likeness in thought. She'd wondered about birthdays, participated in some but none of her own, but the celebration has never made much sense. “You're welcome.”

That should be the end of it. There are some things that she could be doing, and the young woman even takes a half step back to Asi in peace. Her head turns, faces into the corridor, but any further departure doesn't happen yet.

“Ms. Asi.” Jac’s voice subtly lilts with a question. She looks back into the room, face half obscured by the doorframe.

The Japanese woman looks up from her seat out of the top of her eyes now, fork arrested in the movement of sluicing herself a smaller piece of cake for a bite. "Jacelyn?" she replies lightly.

If they're being formal, and all.

Jac was just trying to be polite, and the return catches her off guard. She manages to keep her dislike for her proper first name from her presence and turn so she faces more into the room once again. She still hasn't fully returned, remaining on the verge of leaving at the first sign of dismissal. But she's better than half way with just a shoulder and side hidden by the doorframe.

“Would…” The word draws long and fades out. Jac takes a step and slinks around the doorframe, inviting herself into the room even though she doesn't go past a single step inside. “What… part of Japan are you from?”

Asi shovels the bite of cake into her mouth following the question like it's offended her. It gives her a moment to consider Jac's personal question. She could lie. But part of her is so very tired of lying, and another part still doubts the girl would be able to do any damage with the information.

"From the Kansai region," she offers evenly, her tone full of distant poise. In the process of procuring another bite, she doesn't look back again, nor follow up her answer with a why.

If Jac wants to explain, that's up to her.

“Where’s that?” Jac’s words still form slowly but interested in the answers and lacking in any nefarious reasons. She's plainly and openly curious, with a furrow forming along her brow as she tries to picture a map of Japan. “What’s… there? Is it… is it easy to travel there? Are the people nice?”

Speaking of people, the girl draws her eyes up to Asi. “What's the culture like, in Japan?”


Asi purses her lips together in a self-willed gesture of patience. Not to mention, poise. She wasn't expecting an ambush in this form of questioning, but she handles it nonetheless. "Japan is one of the more pedestrian countries to travel, truth be told. It is interconnected. By rail, and where not by rail, often by bus. There is a social understanding of the fundamental strength in having that connection available. Even so, for those desiring to lose themselves in the countryside, to make themselves unfindable, somehow that option remains."

It's then that she returns her gaze to Jac. "Kansai is on the island of Honshu. It forms the ancestral heart of Japan. There are … many things there." She sits upright, fork lifting as she ventures, "As for what Japan is like … if you have spent any significant amount of time in Yamagato Park, you have somewhat of an idea what it is like in Tokyo."

She waits until after she's finished that bite before airing calmly, "But why ask me?" Surely, there are better representatives. Certainly more friendly ones.

“Not much different from here,” Jac muses over the travel description in nearly a whisper. She seems to catch herself at the end of the comment, and folds her lips in over her teeth to avoid further interruptions. “So,” she begins once Asi pauses to take a bite of cake, recalling what she can of Yamagato. “Tokyo is where the past and present-future meet.”

It's a thing to ponder. But the question directed at her pulls her far away focus to sharpen on Asi. “Because you're direct when you answer, and I don't think you have any reason to lie or elaborate unnecessarily.”

A shoulder lifts, and the teen's weight shifts forward. She doesn't wander too far into the room, traveling only a couple of steps and then stopping well before entering Asi’s space. “I'm interested in what it's like in Japan. I want to visit one day, but… everything is so different. I want to learn and understand, so I don't upset anyone by mistake.”

"Tokyo," Asi opines with a quiet nerve in it, "isn't representative of Japan. But yes, it does get all of the fancy baubles most the rest of the country gets a decade later, if at all." The next stab of cake is particularly vehement. "It—"

None of the words she wants to say paint a picture, so she lets go of them with a sigh. "If there were a time to go, it would be now. Travel there when you have an ability, especially if you're an outsider…" She glances up at Jac, concluding, "You'd have an easier time navigating the country now."

It leaves Asi to wonder if she might have that same ease, stripped of her ability now. But that would mean admitting it publicly.

"If you're going to visit, see both sides. I could not give a lesser shit about the Tokyo Exclusion Zone for all its marvels, but I'd recommend visiting Kansai to understand the past." The harshness of her tone softens to something else next. "Go see Kyoto and Nara and experience the temples. See where past meets present in Osaka— where Osaka Castle sits amidst a modern city." Her head tips slightly to one side as she suggests, "Understand the present by visiting Hiroshima, to see where your country's history began to become intertwined with mine. Read about everything that followed that war's end."

Settling back, her brow lifts. "And then re-examine the current postwar climate here in the US. Japan's heavy-handed interest in the rebuilding of the Safe Zones." The next bite of cake is audible, teeth sliding against fork tines.

Taking the statement of travel as an invitation, Jac eases a step closer. Her attention is on Asi’s words, absorbing the woman’s opinions and suggestions like a sponge. The not quite subtle inflection of hostility toward Tokyo isn't missed, and the instruction to look at the postwar climates between the two countries awakens another curiosity. Perhaps, when she returns, that's another conversation they can have.

“There's so much to see,” she says, thinking aloud. But doable, maybe. “Are there festivals I should attend? I was thinking of going to Hokkaido, too, if I can get there from the main island.”

"There's planes, ships…" Asi muses idly, looking down at the plate while Jac comes closer. There's no hackles raised, no extension of claws when the girl draws nearer. "As far as festivals, there's plenty no matter which season you go. But…"

She looks up finally, setting the fork aside. "Fall is best. The changing of the leaves is beautiful for longer than the flowers in the spring. There are light shows in the winter, and other festivals still in the summer. So, there is no bad time to go. But fall has temperate weather and a pleasant background."

Not that she's biased or anything.

First, nodding as though it were the information she was expecting, Jac looks across the room to the hallway beyond the open door. “I bet fall is amazing, no matter what part of Japan you’re in. One day I would like to be able to spend a long time there. Maybe there will be a study abroad kind of program.” It sounds hopeful, but also understanding that the chances are pretty unlikely. At least while she would still be young enough to qualify for that kind of adventure.

It’s still something interesting to wonder about, entertain a wishful thought. She lingers on the idea for a short moment. Her eyes drift from the hallway to the floor, then eventually return to Asi.

A half formed grin tugs at one corner of her mouth. “Thank you.” It sounds almost like a question, or that it wasn’t quite what Jac had wanted to say. There’s probably more questions, more interest in the country. “I’m sorry…” But a reluctance to continue intruding, even if the other woman seems more amicable to it, remains. She shrugs a little. “I shouldn’t take up more of your time. You’ve told me a lot.”

Asi doesn't argue with either point. But she does look back to Jac directly. "Come back after you've learned more," she suggests. "Tell me your favorite thing you've learned. I'll rate you on your depth of study. If you pass, I'll tell you about a scholarship I know of."

"Study abroad may not be impossible, in the shoes you walk in now." It's hard to tell with how impassive Asi so often is, but there's a softening to the hollow look in her eyes. "I'll look forward to seeing what you find."

Jac dips her head, a nod of acquiescence, the shadow of a more formal acknowledging bow. Her grin sobers fully. "Thank you," she says again. She was earnest before, but the depths of her gratitude go even further with such an offer. For a beat she seems to want to say more, but nothing forms, and she's already used up a lot of Asi's time. To say more now might be insulting, groveling; the best thing is to follow the woman's instruction.

So she dips her head again, longer this time by a second or two, and turns away. In a few quick steps, she crosses the room and turns down the hallway.

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