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Getting Too Old For This

a guest Feb 14th, 2012 68 Never
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  1. -[ 14:59.31 ]- -( @Nephene ): It's the 24th! And funnily enough, Neph is 25 today! Funny how that works.
  2. -[ 15:00.06 ]- -( Giantree ): (And that's probably barely half her cup size!)
  3. -[ 15:00.47 ]- -( @Nephene ): Our masseuse-slash-innkeeper doesn't have a whole lot of time to celebrate, unfortunately. The bar is as busy as it ever is, with all three of her Pokemon working in some capacity.
  4. -[ 15:01.15 ]- -( Nike ): (Ssh, Tree. >.>)
  5. -[ 15:01.35 ]- -( @Nephene ): Karkata is acting as - so far - the only waiter in the house. Amon is behind the counter, washing dishes full time. And Jeanne, being too small and armless to do much else, is manning the cash register. She's a smart one.
  6. -[ 15:02.30 ]- -( @Nephene ): The Hoppip, not actually belonging to her, is chilling with the plants and a bowl of greens. She makes good on her promises.
  7. -[ 15:03.06 ]- - @Nephene pats the Hoppip as she passes by, delivering two plates of curry to their respective customers.
  8. -[ 15:08.40 ]- -( @Nephene ): The influx of customers slows enough for her to take a short break.
  9. -[ 15:08.48 ]- -( Nike ): Surt whinnies outside as he approaches the Lazing Slaking. Nike dismounts, ties Surt to a post outside, attaches a feedbag, and steps inside. She's carrying a few small boxes in her arms.
  10. -[ 15:09.34 ]- - @Nephene perks up a little as her friend enters. "Nike! It's been a while!"
  11. -[ 15:11.02 ]- - Nike looks around the inn, amazed at how busy it looked, on today of all days. "Sorry I haven't been around more. Been working on a personal project."
  12. -[ 15:11.48 ]- -( @Nephene ): "Oh?"
  13. -[ 15:11.55 ]- -( @Nephene ): "What is it?"
  14. -[ 15:12.34 ]- -( Nike ): "I'll tell you over a drink. Besides, today's your day, isn't it?" Otherwise, she'd feel really silly carrying these two presents.
  15. -[ 15:13.23 ]- - @Nephene sighs. "Yeah, it is. I'm getting too old."
  16. -[ 15:15.55 ]- - - - - - -[ Join ]- -[ zoofman (zoofman@sux-D3486381.hsd1.va.comcast.net) entered #LazingSlaking ]- -[ Clones: 0 ]-
  17. -[ 15:16.10 ]- -( @Nephene ): "Business can't wait, though. Never does."
  18. -[ 15:17.07 ]- -( Nike ): "Only three years older than me. You think I'm old?"
  19. -[ 15:17.53 ]- - @Nephene sighs. "You know how old my mom was when she had me?"
  20. -[ 15:19.55 ]- - Nike shifts the boxes in her arms to one, and reaches out with the other to pat Nephene on the shoulder. "Sounds like you could use a drink more than me. Come on."
  21. -[ 15:20.14 ]- -( @Nephene ): "Alright, alright."
  22. -[ 15:20.51 ]- -( @Nephene ): She pulls out two lowball glasses from under the counter. She knew how to make Nike's usual on her own - and hell, a Blood Cherrim didn't sound too bad right now.
  23. -[ 15:22.53 ]- -( @Nephene ): She procures the entire set of ingredients from the cupboard behind her - there's the gin, there's the tonic, a lime, and the Cherrim berry flavoring.
  24. -[ 15:23.18 ]- - Nike takes a seat at the bar, and puts down the two boxes. One looks about the size of a jewellery box, the other, well, a bit bigger, with a flat top.
  25. -[ 15:24.51 ]- -( @Nephene ): She starts out making what seems to be a typical gin and tonic, except she lacks highball glasses to use.
  26. -[ 15:25.33 ]- -( @Nephene ): The flavoring and lime garnish are added last, with the former left to settle. Neph slides one of the glasses over to Nike with a sigh.
  27. -[ 15:25.43 ]- -( @Nephene ): "Welp, you asked."
  28. -[ 15:27.14 ]- -( Nike ): "Thanks. Listen..." She pushes the first of the gifts forward, the larger one. "This one's from me. Happy birthday." While her hand is there, she snatches her glass, and takes a sip.
  29. -[ 15:28.46 ]- -( @Nephene ): A light smile crosses Nephene's lips.
  30. -[ 15:29.00 ]- -( @Nephene ): She opens this one quite carefully.
  31. -[ 15:31.42 ]- -( Nike ): Inside is a light, thin, seagreen sundress with a waterlily plucked from the bank of the Sunglow River sewed over the breast. It looked about Nephene's size. "Bought it from Henry's place. Asked him to sew on that little attachment."
  32. -[ 15:32.28 ]- -( @Nephene ): "Oh, it's beautiful!"
  33. -[ 15:32.41 ]- -( @Nephene ): "And it is my size - Henry already had it."
  34. -[ 15:34.02 ]- -( @Nephene ): "It's so tempting to try it on right now..."
  35. -[ 15:35.26 ]- - Nike lets out a sigh of relief. "Why not? Could confirm if it fits you or not." She eases her grip on her glass, and looks around. "Everyone seems satisfied at the moment...I think Karkata's got things covered for now."
  36. -[ 15:36.46 ]- -( @Nephene ): "Even if he doesn't, he's just happy being here." She takes a look around as she sips from the glass. "Alright, I'll be in the massage parlor. Give me a few minutes."
  37. -[ 15:37.24 ]- -( @Nephene ): The innkeeper retreats into the parlor's changing closet to try on the new dress. Meanwhile, Jeanne the Torchic seems to be lazing on the counter. She's a new face around here.
  38. -[ 15:37.58 ]- - Nike gives a wink and a nod, before turning in her stool to face the inn. Maybe there was something she could do to help...? She glances over and notices Jeanne resting there. "...Hello."
  39. -[ 15:40.04 ]- -( @Nephene ): "Tor!" The Torchic excitedly hops up. When did Neph pick her up?
  40. -[ 15:41.42 ]- - Nike looks at the Torchic curiously, with half-lidded, deadpan eyes and neutral expression. Was it around the time she got her Polywag? No, that was a while ago, she would have noticed this one by now.
  41. -[ 15:41.43 ]- -( @Nephene ): The Chick Pokemon approaches this new face with a definite spring in her step.
  42. -[ 15:42.57 ]- - Nike notices a few flecks of feed still on her fingers from when she was tying up Surt outside. Holding one finger out, she gently points towards the Torchic.
  43. -[ 15:43.38 ]- -( @Nephene ): Jeanne nips at the feed gently, trying this out. She spits it out almost immediately, but doesn't seem particularly annoyed.
  44. -[ 15:44.15 ]- - @Nephene returns wearing her new gift, which is indeed perfectly sized - yet another point in favor of Henry's handiwork. "Well? How do I look?"
  45. -[ 15:47.29 ]- -( Nike ): It takes a second for Nike to flick the feed off her fingers, but she soon gives attention to Nephene. She's silent for a moment, looking her over, before giving her a thumbs up and a nod.
  46. -[ 15:48.15 ]- - @Nephene smiles and returns to her seat, taking another sip of the Blood Cherrim Tonic. "Oh! I forgot to introduce you to Jeanne. I picked her up a few days ago from Joanna's."
  47. -[ 15:49.35 ]- -( Nike ): Oooooh. "She's a cutie," she observes flatly. That explains it, though.
  48. -[ 15:50.52 ]- -( @Nephene ): "Isn't she?" She pats the little Torchic on the head. "She's got four brothers and sisters back at Joanna's."
  49. -[ 15:51.12 ]- -( @Nephene ): "I'm thinking about picking the rest of them up. I feel bad about leaving her alone like this."
  50. -[ 15:54.40 ]- -( @Nephene ): She retrieves another lime, implicitly asking if Nike wants another drink.
  51. -[ 15:55.05 ]- - Nike sat back, and imagined a family of Torchic and Combusken working The Lazing Slaking. She was laughing on the inside. "Noble investment." She pushes her glass forward, implicitly saying yes.
  52. -[ 15:55.51 ]- -( @Nephene ): There goes the gin, there's the tonic....and on goes the lime and in goes the flavoring. She thinks for a moment, and decides to top herself off as well.
  53. -[ 15:56.34 ]- -( @Nephene ): "I'd have to think about how I'd support them, though."
  54. -[ 15:56.50 ]- -( @Nephene ): "Expansion. Hire new people so I don't wear myself too thin."
  55. -[ 15:58.21 ]- -( @Nephene ): "Most importantly, we need new blood in the Valley."
  56. -[ 16:01.56 ]- -( Nike ): Nike looks at her drink for a while, pondering what she could do to help her friend. Unfortunately, not a lot of skills as an adventurer translated to working at an inn, bar, and massage parlour, "Unless you needed a bouncer..."
  57. -[ 16:03.09 ]- -( @Nephene ): "Usually I can take care of them myself. I'm not exactly a wilting flower, here," she notes with a smile.
  58. -[ 16:04.29 ]- -( @Nephene ): "I'm sure you've got a lot to do as an adventurer, though. It's a tough job."
  59. -[ 16:08.03 ]- - Nike gives a small, satisfied smile. "Sometimes it really is." She leans in a little closer. "That project I was talking about? I found a map of some ruins that Lisa and Maka didn't even know about. I want to launch an expedition there."
  60. -[ 16:08.26 ]- - @Nephene looks around, making sure no one else was listening in. This sounded -big-.
  61. -[ 16:08.40 ]- -( @Nephene ): "Well, you aren't going by yourself, are you?"
  62. -[ 16:12.11 ]- -( Nike ): "Maka said she wanted to come and map the place and the surrounding area. And I figure Submission better come along to help make sure I'm not tied up making sure nothing happens to her."
  63. -[ 16:13.02 ]- -( @Nephene ): "Well, do you think you'll need me for anything?"
  64. -[ 16:13.05 ]- -( @Nephene ): "Extra muscle?"
  65. -[ 16:13.10 ]- -( @Nephene ): "Moral support, at least?"
  66. -[ 16:16.08 ]- - Nike holds up her hand, asking Nephene to stop, before dropping it onto one of the innkeeper's. "I would be glad to have you with us for this."
  67. -[ 16:17.35 ]- -( @Nephene ): "I guess it's only a matter of when. If I have enough advance warning, I should be able to let everyone else take care of things..."
  68. -[ 16:18.24 ]- -( Nike ): "Right, the business...well, we're still arranging everything, so the minute I have a set date, you'll be the first to know."
  69. -[ 16:20.32 ]- -( @Nephene ): "I've thought about takin a trip outside the valley, too..."
  70. -[ 16:22.17 ]- - Nike nods. "With luck, this will be just that, a trip." She takes another drink, before looking aside for a moment.
  71. -[ 16:23.18 ]- -( @Nephene ): "Well, I mean, not for ruin diving or anything."
  72. -[ 16:23.41 ]- -( @Nephene ): "I mean, if people won't come here, we should bring a bit of Oran Valley to them. Stir up something interesting."
  73. -[ 16:24.33 ]- -( Nike ): "That's....not a bad idea, actually. Wouldn't mind coming along for that; might be able to attract the kind of folk who enjoy a good tournament scene if they knew the muscle we have."
  74. -[ 16:25.15 ]- -( @Nephene ): "I've given my brother some startup money to do just that, actually."
  75. -[ 16:25.35 ]- -( @Nephene ): "He still has to talk to the mayor and Jack to get something arranged, mind you...but I think it's a risk worth taking."
  76. -[ 16:25.46 ]- -( @Nephene ): "I just just miss the days when this place was more...."
  77. -[ 16:25.49 ]- -( @Nephene ): "You know, lively."
  78. -[ 16:26.40 ]- - Nike looks over her shoulder. Figuring she meant Oran in general, she nods with a sigh. "It's been hard on my dad; with everyone so familiar with everyone else, he hasn't been able to really give anyone anything new."
  79. -[ 16:26.49 ]- -( Nike ): "Whatever he can give, they probably already have."
  80. -[ 16:27.13 ]- -( Nike ): "He was so overjoyed when Arawn joined us."
  81. -[ 16:28.30 ]- -( @Nephene ): "I can't run this inn by myself, either....and all I'm doing is serving the same pool of customers day after day."
  82. -[ 16:28.48 ]- -( @Nephene ): "I mean, we'd have to venture out eventually. We've got to do this for them, too."
  83. -[ 16:30.04 ]- -( Nike ): "Otherwise it's too easy to get stuck in a rut." Nike lifts her glass. "To the hope the expedition is the start of something new for Oran."
  84. -[ 16:30.33 ]- -( @Nephene ): "Hope alone won't do it. But it's a start." She raises her glass as well. "To Oran."
  85. -[ 16:32.19 ]- - Nike takes her drink, before remembering the other box at her elbow. She pushes it to Nephene. "This one's from Arawn." Well, technically.
  86. -[ 16:33.30 ]- -( @Nephene ): "Well, I'd like to think he already gave me an early gift....but that's thoughtful of him. I'd been wondering what that box was."
  87. -[ 16:33.37 ]- -( @Nephene ): Again, she carefully opens this gift.
  88. -[ 16:36.10 ]- - Nike blushes head to toe now, as inside is an open jewellery box...with a note from Nike. It reads, "I insisted Arawn make a gift for you. He was wrapped up in another one of his projects, so he might be a little late. But I'm sure it'll be beautiful."
  89. -[ 16:36.43 ]- -( Nike ): "If I had known the project he was working on was actually your gift..." She interrupts herself with another drink.
  90. -[ 16:36.51 ]- -( @Nephene ): "Ahahahahaha."
  91. -[ 16:37.36 ]- -( @Nephene ): "I'm not too worried."
  92. -[ 16:37.46 ]- -( @Nephene ): "I'm sure it -will- be beautiful."
  93. -[ 16:38.04 ]- -( @Nephene ): "Still, if you had to prod him to do it...."
  94. -[ 16:40.20 ]- -( Nike ): "He just gets super involved in whatever he's doing. And he tends to answer 'alright alright,' rather than 'I'm doing it now.'"
  95. -[ 16:41.07 ]- - @Nephene sighs. "He can be frustrating like that. Speaking from personal experience."
  96. -[ 16:42.06 ]- -( Nike ): "I've had to live with him most of my life," Nike reassures, her lips turning up into an amused smile.
  97. -[ 16:43.23 ]- -( @Nephene ): "Have you tried to date him, though?"
  98. -[ 16:44.17 ]- -( Nike ): "Against my father's best efforts and best intentions, nope."
  99. -[ 16:44.58 ]- -( @Nephene ): "It's probably an entirely different story."
  100. -[ 16:45.18 ]- - @Nephene sighs. "Says the only thing he wants to be attached to is his work."
  101. -[ 16:48.55 ]- -( Nike ): "Listen, I didn't go for it because he's pretty much my brother. But he's a good man, even if he is a workaholic." She wanted her friends to be happy, and if this was a way for it to happen, then by all means.
  102. -[ 16:49.53 ]- -( @Nephene ): "Maybe I should just stop trying."
  103. -[ 16:53.11 ]- -( Nike ): "No, no. You can't stop trying flat out."
  104. -[ 16:53.12 ]- -( @Nephene ): She simply opts for one of the beers on tap - Gulpin Pale Ale.
  105. -[ 16:53.20 ]- -( @Nephene ): "Well, just with Arawn, I mean."
  106. -[ 16:53.25 ]- -( @Nephene ): "He seems pretty set."
  107. -[ 16:53.58 ]- -( Nike ): "Do you truly feel something for him?"
  108. -[ 16:56.13 ]- -( @Nephene ): "I'd like to think so."
  109. -[ 16:56.28 ]- -( @Nephene ): "It's difficult to tell when I can't even get his attention."
  110. -[ 16:57.22 ]- -( Nike ): "Then try. Just one more time. Let him make you that gift." She'd drag Arawn out of his workshop to take this woman on a date if she had to.
  111. -[ 16:58.31 ]- -( @Nephene ): "....alright."
  112. -[ 17:00.06 ]- -( @Nephene ): "I'll see what I can do."
  113. -[ 17:00.15 ]- -( @Nephene ): "I just don't like my chances."
  114. -[ 17:00.45 ]- - Nike takes Nephene's hand in her own, and uses the other hand to pat it, but doesn't say anything on top of that. Hopefully, the gesture conveyed enough.
  115. -[ 17:02.17 ]- -( @Nephene ): "Thanks, Nike."
  116. -[ 17:02.28 ]- -( @Nephene ): "Not just for the gift, but...I really needed to vent."
  117. -[ 17:02.35 ]- -( @Nephene ): "I don't really get many chances to do so."
  118. -[ 17:06.04 ]- -( Nike ): "Anything I could do to help. You've helped me keep perspective and ease my spirits before. I couldn't bare not doing the same."
  119. -[ 17:06.35 ]- -( @Nephene ): "Anything you need while I've still got you here?"
  120. -[ 17:09.51 ]- -( Nike ): A sharp pang ran up Nike's shoulder blade and up to her, well, shoulder. "Hunching over a desk working out routes isn't easy on the back," she admits. "Sitting on a stool leaning around like this probably doesn't help."
  121. -[ 17:11.30 ]- -( @Nephene ): "Yeah, I know." She gestures to the parlor. "Suit up. I'll take care of you."
  122. -[ 17:12.38 ]- - Nike stands from her seat, and walks around the bar to the parlour. This would be a first for her, so she probably had a lot of tension in her back and shoulders built up over the years.
  123. -[ 17:13.18 ]- -( @Nephene ): "Where's the pain?"
  124. -[ 17:13.33 ]- -( @Nephene ): She gestures to the chaning room, which is well-stocked with large, fresh white towels.
  125. -[ 17:16.06 ]- - Nike steps into a changing room, and starts disrobing. Figuring the top was enough, she leaves her pants on, and wraps one of the towels around her bust. "Mostly the upper back," she figures. "Really in the shoulders. Using a bow and a sword a lot is a real workout..."
  126. -[ 17:17.07 ]- -( @Nephene ): "Probably the biceps, too."
  127. -[ 17:19.10 ]- -( @Nephene ): "The usual disclaimer applies - I'm not a doctor. All I can do is relieve the pain, but if something else comes up, see someone with actual medical experience."
  128. -[ 17:19.20 ]- -( Nike ): "Oh most likely." She stops and considers. "Then again, the lower back gets a few bumps and bangs from riding Surt..." She steps out of the change room, holding the towel up just to be sure it stayed up.
  129. -[ 17:19.34 ]- -( Nike ): "I'm sure it's just strain and pulls, anyway."
  130. -[ 17:19.54 ]- -( @Nephene ): "It probably is. Lie down here, face down."
  131. -[ 17:20.13 ]- -( @Nephene ): With that, she prepares some massage oils, with a distinct vanilla fragrance.
  132. -[ 17:20.57 ]- -( @Nephene ): Once they're well-mixed, she heats it over a gentle flame in a wide, shallow pan.
  133. -[ 17:21.34 ]- - Nike does just that, and already the smell of the oils is causing her to relax, tranquility awash on her face.
  134. -[ 17:22.24 ]- -( @Nephene ): "Whatever it takes to help you relax, Nike, just let me know."
  135. -[ 17:23.15 ]- -( @Nephene ): With that, she brushes her fingertips along the surface of the oil, and gets to work, starting with the shoulder blades.
  136. -[ 17:23.23 ]- - - - - - -[ Quit ]- -[ castfromhp (nnscript@sux-98B21251.hsd1.il.comcast.net) has left: (Connection reset by peer) ]-
  137. -[ 17:23.29 ]- - - - - - -[ Join ]- -[ castfromhp (nnscript@sux-98B21251.hsd1.il.comcast.net) entered #LazingSlaking ]- -[ Clones: 0 ]-
  138. -[ 17:24.02 ]- - @Nephene 's fingers glide over Nike's skin, occasionally stopping to knead and untangle those muscle pains.
  139. -[ 17:25.28 ]- -( @Nephene ): She works outward, rubbing down the arm muscles to ease the pain beneath.
  140. -[ 17:27.08 ]- -( @Nephene ): Even the spaces between Nike's finger receive their fair share of attention before works back towards the spine.
  141. -[ 17:28.03 ]- -( Nike ): With each knead and each rub, more and more Nike seems to melt. She really did feel like a coiled bundle of nerves, so this massage was really giving her a chance to unwind and relax her muscles for the first time in a while.
  142. -[ 17:28.13 ]- -( @Nephene ): Occasionally, she dips her fingers back into the oil to ensure that the massage is as smooth as possible. Nephene even hums an old valley ballad to herself as she works.
  143. -[ 17:28.51 ]- -( @Nephene ): But the shoulder were what bothered her...so she makes her third pass over the area the final part of the massage.
  144. -[ 17:29.05 ]- -( @Nephene ): "This is your first time getting a massage here, right?"
  145. -[ 17:30.02 ]- -( Nike ): As Nephene works, the ballad even starts to make Nike drift. The extra attention on the shoulder makes her stretch and let out a little groan. "You could say that." First real massage ever, really. Sure her mother or her brother could give her a quick back rub, but NOTHING like this.
  146. -[ 17:31.32 ]- -( @Nephene ): "Let me know how it is. Slaking policy, first one's free."
  147. -[ 17:32.32 ]- -( @Nephene ): She stops briefly. "Which arm is your drawing arm?"
  148. -[ 17:32.59 ]- -( Nike ): "This one." Nike raises her right arm.
  149. -[ 17:33.27 ]- -( @Nephene ): "Right, there's some tension right above your shoulder blade."
  150. -[ 17:33.52 ]- -( @Nephene ): She rubs that area down, easing away as the rigidity fades.
  151. -[ 17:34.13 ]- -( @Nephene ): "That might have been what was giving you trouble."
  152. -[ 17:35.05 ]- -( Nike ): "Oh I don't doubt it, this was more than useful."
  153. -[ 17:35.31 ]- -( Nike ): "How often do you get repeat customers for this?"
  154. -[ 17:35.33 ]- -( @Nephene ): Neph towels off her hands, and turns off the burner that was heating the oil pan. "I'm more or less done here, anyway."
  155. -[ 17:35.48 ]- -( @Nephene ): "Um...-maybe- the most common is once a week."
  156. -[ 17:35.59 ]- -( @Nephene ): "This is a niche service more than anything. Strictly luxury."
  157. -[ 17:36.22 ]- -( @Nephene ): "I don't even get customers who want massages every day."
  158. -[ 17:36.56 ]- -( @Nephene ): "I mean, way back when, this parlor was actually part of the pantry over there."
  159. -[ 17:37.03 ]- -( Nike ): Nike's eyes open wide. "Well when you put it like that, I can see that, but still, that's..." She chuckles. "I might just have to become a patron."
  160. -[ 17:37.53 ]- -( @Nephene ): "If it's helping you, I'd be glad to do it."
  161. -[ 17:38.26 ]- - @Nephene smiles. "Just let me know. If I'm here, the parlor's open short of technial difficulties."
  162. -[ 17:38.50 ]- -( @Nephene ): (( *technical ))
  163. -[ 17:39.04 ]- -( Nike ): "And if it helps your business, I'd be glad to support it." Nike gets up and moves to towel off, before realizing her situation and moves to the change room to do so.
  164. -[ 17:42.18 ]- -( @Nephene ): "But yeah, if you've got muscle aches or even a sprain, I should be able to help at least temporarily. Open wounds are a no-go."
  165. -[ 17:42.40 ]- -( @Nephene ): "Don't worry about the drinks today. I'm feeling pretty generous right now."
  166. -[ 17:42.52 ]- - Nike laughs from within the change room. "Well of course. I can't imagine those oils in an open wound would do any good."
  167. -[ 17:43.27 ]- -( @Nephene ): "Just making sure you know."
  168. -[ 17:43.32 ]- -( Nike ): She soon steps out, dressed back up. "Are you sure about that? You're not just thanking me for the dress? This is supposed to be your birthday, after all, that dress was a freebie."
  169. -[ 17:46.10 ]- -( @Nephene ): "Well, I'm not going to -stop- you if you insist, but I'm pretty sure, yes."
  170. -[ 17:46.27 ]- -( @Nephene ): "The massage being a freebie is Slaking policy, though - I'm not going to budge on that."
  171. -[ 17:48.41 ]- -( Nike ): "Alright, but I insist on paying for at least ONE of my drinks."
  172. -[ 17:50.03 ]- -( @Nephene ): "That's just 100, then."
  173. -[ 17:51.40 ]- -( Nike ): "Deal." With that, Nike digs into her coin purse, and takes Nephene's hand, dropping the large denomination coins into it.
  174. -[ 17:54.22 ]- -( @Nephene ): "Thanks much. Anything else I can do for you?"
  175. -[ 17:55.43 ]- -( Nike ): "Let's see..." She counts off on her fingers. "Presents. Drinks. Massage. Expeditions...I think I'm good." She stops and considers. "Maybe...there's something I can do to help you out here? I mean, to m
  176. -[ 17:55.55 ]- -( Nike ): *to make sure you're not overworked on your birthday."
  177. -[ 17:56.24 ]- -( @Nephene ): "I'll live, Nike. You enjoy your day....and maybe find out a little more about this expedition."
  178. -[ 17:59.46 ]- -( Nike ): "Alright. You take care of yourself, and...happy birthday." Nike thinks for a moment, then shrugs, puts two fingers to her lips, and waves with them as she makes her exit. Surt was probably itching to get moving again, anyway.
  179. -[ 18:00.56 ]- - @Nephene waves, and gets back to work. That's enough relaxing for a while, she thinks.
  180. -[ 18:00.58 ]- - - - - - -[ Nick ]- -[ Nephene is now Break ]-
  181. -[ 18:01.22 ]- - - - - - -[ Nick ]- -[ Nike is now Cecil ]-
  182.  
  183.  
  184. -[ 18:26.07 ]- -( @Nephene ): The Slaking has cleaned out somewhat since Nike's visit. Rush hour seems to be over, for the most part.
  185. -[ 18:29.58 ]- - Submission enters the inn rather hesitantly. He's not been seen in town for two weeks now save two short trips to Balthazar's lab. Today, he's clean-shaven, dressed rather nicely for his typical work clothes, not a shaving of wood on him, and carrying a large satchel not unlike the one he had two weeks prior when... that happened. He looks around as he enters, trying to gauge what the
  186. -[ 18:29.58 ]- - Submission business is like and how to approach Nephene. His face doesn't show that uncertainty though, instead stoic and composed.
  187. -[ 18:33.36 ]- - @Nephene 's gaze wanders over to the entrance of the Slaking. "Oh! Hello, Sub. Is there anything I can get for you?"
  188. -[ 18:37.44 ]- -( @Nephene ): Business has slowed down somewhat since lunchtime - enough for our wayward innkeeper and her Pokemon to take something resembling a break.
  189. -[ 18:39.46 ]- -( Submission ): Submission seems relaxed. He takes a seat off away from most customers, a regular habit of his, and says, smiling, "No, nothing today. I brought you something, though. It's your birthday, after all." The satchel is lifted up over onto the counter, where Submission opens it to reveal a rather... poorly wrapped package. Well, it's nice, really. The paper's simple, decorated with flower
  190. -[ 18:39.46 ]- -( Submission ): prints that are surprisingly well drawn, but the way it was wrapped suggests perhaps Submission doesn't wrap gifts often.
  191. -[ 18:40.18 ]- -( @Nephene ): "You knew?"
  192. -[ 18:41.00 ]- -( @Nephene ): She's pleasantly surprised that he remembered....and showed up at all, considering how long he's been gone. She'd started to grow worried.
  193. -[ 18:47.20 ]- -( Submission ): "Of course," he says, grinning softly. "I don't forget anyone's birthday." Slowly, he puts the satchel down under his stool before coming up and staying silent a moment, obviously thinking carefully about his words. "I've been... working hard lately," he says, trailing off. It doesn't seem like he doesn't know what to say, but rather that he doesn't really want to say anything after
  194. -[ 18:47.20 ]- -( Submission ): that.
  195. -[ 18:49.51 ]- -( @Nephene ): "I'd imagine," she responds, carefully undoing the wrapping on the package, wary of making even the slightest tears.
  196. -[ 18:55.08 ]- -( Submission ): Underneath the wrapping paper are two things. Depending on which way Nephene opened it, she first sees either a leatherbound book on top, thick green cover tied with a white, satin ribbon. The tips of a leaf and stem can be seen sticking out of the sides. Under that is a rather large, ornate wooden box, decorated with vines and various grass-type pokemon. Here a Pansage plays amongst
  197. -[ 18:55.08 ]- -( Submission ): the vines. There a Torterra plays home to a few Pidoves. It's intricate and obviously took a lot of care and effort.
  198. -[ 18:56.01 ]- - @Nephene opens the book. "Oh......my."
  199. -[ 18:56.09 ]- -( @Nephene ): "Sub....Sub, did you make these yourself?"
  200. -[ 18:56.54 ]- -( @Nephene ): "These are -beautiful-."
  201. -[ 18:58.21 ]- -( Submission ): Inside the book are a collection of pressed flowers from various parts of the Oran Valley and nearby regions. It's by no means complete, but it's a very strong start into what would be called a collection. Submission's face goes a little red despite his ruddy appearance. "Well, what's inside the box is Balthazar's work. I've no mind for machines, but the outside, the flowers, and what
  202. -[ 18:58.22 ]- -( Submission ): the box does are... yeah."
  203. -[ 18:58.58 ]- -( @Nephene ): "Your handiwork is amazing, Sub," she notes with a glimmer in her eye.
  204. -[ 18:59.32 ]- -( @Nephene ): In order to judge Balthazar's work, however, she needs to know what's inside. She slowly opens it.
  205. -[ 19:01.46 ]- - Submission gets more red. As the box opens, a lilting melody begins to play, slow, graceful, a dancing waltz. Inside, a miniature figurine of a Bellossom dances delicately about. Little gears whirring can be heard faintly beneath it all.
  206. -[ 19:02.47 ]- -( Submission ): "I spent a while thinking before working out the melody," Submission says, not prideful, but plain and matter of fact. In fact, it seems almost apologetic.
  207. -[ 19:02.59 ]- - @Nephene smiles warmly, slowly memorizing the tune of the waltz. As the bars begin to repeat, she's already got the hang of it.
  208. -[ 19:03.31 ]- -( @Nephene ): "Submission, this is -amazing- work. It's definitely the most intricate music box I've seen."
  209. -[ 19:03.58 ]- -( @Nephene ): She gently sets the box down, and squeezes Submission into a hug.
  210. -[ 19:10.28 ]- -( Submission ): "Well, I made it for you," he says, standing to let her hug him properly. It's really apparent just how big he is, too. Standing over a foot taller than Nephene, he just stands there for a moment. "I'm... I'm not going to beat around the bush, Nephene. I put a lot of time and effort into your birthday gifts for a reason. I... still have feelings for you," he admits, now sure that he'll
  211. -[ 19:10.28 ]- -( Submission ): scare her off. Drama incoming.
  212. -[ 19:12.53 ]- -( @Nephene ): She's not exactly sure how to react, so she simply looks eanestly into Submission's eyes.
  213. -[ 19:13.12 ]- -( @Nephene ): "And...well, I know you -mean- it."
  214. -[ 19:14.47 ]- -( @Nephene ): "Sub, I might not feel the same way....but I know I can depend on you."
  215. -[ 19:16.03 ]- -( @Nephene ): "I can -trust- you."
  216. -[ 19:18.56 ]- -( Submission ): A rather disappointed smile crosses his face. "Of course you can, Neph," he says. "You shouldn't have to worry about that." For a moment, his eyes go to the ceiling as he's lost in thought. As he looks down at her, looking into her eyes, he asks, "Is there a reason you need to say that?" He has his suspicions, but women are an impossible race to read. Who knows the inner machinations of
  217. -[ 19:18.56 ]- -( Submission ): their minds.
  218. -[ 19:21.45 ]- -( @Nephene ): "Just so you'll know that even if I don't return those feelings, I'm still returning something very valuable."
  219. -[ 19:23.29 ]- -( @Nephene ): Something seems to click as she says this.
  220. -[ 19:23.47 ]- -( @Nephene ): It's a realization, regarding her own romantic situation.
  221. -[ 19:23.56 ]- - Submission nods, silent a moment.
  222. -[ 19:30.16 ]- -( @Nephene ): She's not exactly sure where to go next with this, so she opts for her usual business demeanor. "Um....do....you need anything?"
  223. -[ 19:33.17 ]- -( Submission ): The player was actually waiting to see if there was anything more to that realization, and then he forgot what Submission was going to say. A simple shake of his head and a smile is all Submission gives. "No, but let me ask you something. Is there anything you need? Someone to talk to, maybe?" he asks. "I see you work so much and even before a couple weeks ago, you seemed... unhappy."
  224. -[ 19:33.46 ]- -( @Nephene ): "I wouldn't mind that. It's just a matter of trying to find the time, really."
  225. -[ 19:38.25 ]- -( @Nephene ): "I try to deal with things on my own, but..."
  226. -[ 19:38.39 ]- -( @Nephene ): "If I need the help, I know one person I can turn to," she says with a grin.
  227. -[ 19:40.16 ]- -( Submission ): "Well, I'm standing here now," Submission says, "Tell me about all your problems. I'm listening." He says that last bit with a fair amount of overdramatic flair, really getting his pomp on for just a moment in an attempt to make her laugh.
  228. -[ 19:40.51 ]- -( @Nephene ): "Mostly? I worry about how the inn's doing, but that's pretty much related to how the Valley's doing as a whole."
  229. -[ 19:41.06 ]- -( @Nephene ): "We don't have enough new blood here. The occasional merchant passing by isn't enough."
  230. -[ 19:47.06 ]- - Submission nods. "I think you worry to much about the valley, Neph," he answers. "We're a community who works hard. We don't grow much in the short term, and this year's been harder than most, but it's only temporary." He stops, looking across the quiet inn. "Some people like how small we are," he says firmly.
  231. -[ 19:48.11 ]- -( @Nephene ): "I like how quiet it is, too....but that won't matter much if we can't keep ourselves afloat."
  232. -[ 19:50.45 ]- -( Submission ): Another nod. "We have a variety of talent here, you know. Woodworkers, farmers, inventors, writers..." Submission's mind flicks to someone who represents each. "I think... and this is the carpenter in me speaking... we really just need to be better at being a community. You... uh... can't hold the roof up without distributing the load evenly, you know?"
  233. -[ 19:51.37 ]- - @Nephene sighs. "Maybe you're right."
  234. -[ 19:52.05 ]- -( @Nephene ): "I know we'll definitely have something for you to try soon."
  235. -[ 19:54.00 ]- -( Submission ): "It's about communication." Submission leans against the wall next to the window and the bar. "The festivals are good for town culture, but perhaps they don't happen often enough." As Nephene says her following line, his eyebrows raise. "Oh? What's that?"
  236. -[ 19:54.35 ]- -( @Nephene ): "I don't have many specifics worked out, but we do need to expand the Slaking a bit."
  237. -[ 19:56.55 ]- -( Submission ): "Your welcome to my services. I'll do it for free, too," Submission says, not really offering so much as stating a fact. "When you figure it out, we can get the details down easy enough."
  238. -[ 19:58.24 ]- -( Submission ): A moment's silence, and he adds, "By the way, would you want to go up to the hot springs on Amaranth this week? Just as friends? We could bring Mirror Move and your brother if you want."
  239. -[ 19:59.39 ]- -( @Nephene ): The hot springs?
  240. -[ 19:59.40 ]- -( @Nephene ): ....
  241. -[ 19:59.43 ]- -( @Nephene ): Well, this is awkward.
  242. -[ 20:00.18 ]- -( Submission ): Heh.
  243. -[ 20:00.21 ]- -( @Nephene ): "....the....hot springs."
  244. -[ 20:00.34 ]- -( @Nephene ): "I....usually go by myself when I find the time to."
  245. -[ 20:02.06 ]- -( Submission ): Submission nods, not obviously disappointed. He's taking things this time a lot better than before. "Maybe somewhere else then. I was just thinking you needed to get away from work more often, and your brother told me you liked to go there." He sighs, thinking about how nice it is up there. "It's my favorite place, especially in the winter."
  246. -[ 20:03.05 ]- -( @Nephene ): "Don't get me wrong, I love going there, too."
  247. -[ 20:04.25 ]- -( @Nephene ): "I just.....go. Alone." She seems quite insistent on leaving it at that, hoping that same insistence will communicates some of the details.
  248. -[ 20:04.54 ]- -( @Nephene ): "If we go somewhere, it'd likely have to be somewhere closer...."
  249. -[ 20:05.14 ]- -( @Nephene ): She suddenly remembers the expedition. "Though, we might actually work together sooner than you think."
  250. -[ 20:06.44 ]- -( Submission ): Submission doesn't say a word or even nod regarding her decision. Only speak when necessary. "You and Barkeep and Raven could come by my house some night. It's not that far out, after all." And it's actually really nice in there. Submission made it himself. "And I'm sure you'll figure out the inn's expansions soon." WOW THAT MISINTERPRETING IS AWESOME.
  251. -[ 20:08.03 ]- -( @Nephene ): "I'll bring some wine, then."
  252. -[ 20:13.13 ]- -( @Nephene ): "And I'll bring it up with them later. I wouldn't mind just....taking a night off to relax."
  253. -[ 20:13.14 ]- -( Submission ): Slow nod. "I have a few in stock, but if you like that better, feel free." Suddenly more quiet. "Is there anything else you wanted to tell me?"
  254. -[ 20:13.37 ]- -( @Nephene ): "For now, that's really it....I should get back to work. Unless you need anything?"
  255. -[ 20:17.37 ]- -( Submission ): "No, though I don't think you should have to work on your birthday." Ah, the life of a self-employed craftsman. Free to be artsy when you like. "If you do need something, don't hesitate to ask, Neph. I may not have anything more than a friend, but you're the best friend I have here, so I try to look out for you." He gets to his feet to leave. "Have a happy birthday," he adds, gesturing
  256. -[ 20:17.37 ]- -( Submission ): to his gifts.
  257. -[ 20:18.15 ]- -( @Nephene ): "It's good to see you again, Sub. Don't disappear again - and don't be a stranger."
  258. -[ 20:21.19 ]- -( Submission ): "You'll have to come get me if I do," he says, laughing lightly. "You should come visit sometime, yourself." As he walks out the door to the inn, a quietness settles into the room. It's hard to ignore just how much space he occupies.
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