2013-10-14 - Friendship blossoms from embarrassment!
|"Oh, gosh, oh, no, I'm sorry, I was trying to help and explain it away and--"|
Misunderstandings ensue, but friendship occurs in the arcade!
| OOC - IC Date:|
10/14/2013 - 10/03/2013
Lera is back in the arcade, having gone there after school. She helped save the world -- a world, anyways, because Earth isn't /her/ world -- yesterday. It feels fair to decide that means video games, not studying, when she gets out of school. She played a few, but then she went to the arcade section. She sits at one of the tables by herself. It isn't hard to figure out that she comes from Infinity Institute, judging by the plum jacket she wears. She tugs at it nervously.
Then, she takes a sip of the bubble tea she ordered, and looks around. She has to repress a yawn; she stayed up late dealing with Fusion last night, after all.
She also has a nick on her lip, which hasn't quite healed yet, from where she was thrown. She sips more of her tea, idly glancing back at the arcade part of Crown.
"N-no, Mom... I-I know, I'm sorry, I didn't mean--" Yukimi winces as she's cut off by the person on the other end of the phone. After a moment, she continues, "I-I'm sorry, I know I should've called. I totally just forgot, I just--" Again she's cut off, expression falling glumly. "I'm sorry... It just turned out that way... I'm really sorry... I'll be back home right after school tonight... I'm tired anyway, I caught a cold... U-um, yeah, I'm--" She swallows nervously, licking her lips. "N-no, I don't think... you know her, she's a kouhai of mine, I, um, I helped her out with something and she, um, she invited me over for dinner and it just got late and, um, she offered to let me stay the night, and, and, I'm really sorry I didn't call... B-but I'm at school right now, first thing next morning, and I just got a uniform for the day from the teachers, doesn't that count?"
The tension drains from her body at the answer she receives. "I'm really sorry," she repeats, more quietly but with a note of relief. "Um, yeah, if she says it's okay, I'll invite her over for dinner too... W-we're not really friends, she was just really nice... Her name?" The panic returns. "Um... ummm... I-it--I don't remember it right now, it's--Mi... Mi-Mizu... Mizuno... I think? R-right, I'll be sure to ask her properly! I'll come home right after schoo--oh... you and Dad are going to be home late? What about--oh... O-oh, well, that's fine! I need rest anyway... Um, I'll be in bed, so you can just, um, peek in to make sure I'm there this time, okay? Right," she confirms, relieved. "Right... Thanks, Mom... I'm really sorry..."
A moment later, she hangs up, and then stares at her phone, looking miserable. Then she turns it off and tucks into her briefcase.
That was this morning, right after begging the Juuban administration staff to lend her a uniform for the day since she came into school wearing the T-shirt and shorts she was wearing last night when she got mixed up in the incident at Tokyo Tower. Later in the day (and not much later at that), she's sent to the nurse's office and spends most of the rest of the day sleeping there, having a somewhat elevated temperature.
Now it's after school, and while Yukimi told her mother that she'd be home right after... well, no one's going to be there, and she's thirsty, and while she's bad with crowds, she wants some noise and flash to distract her right now from the lack of presence of her partner within her. It's why she enters the Crown Game Center, looking and feeling a little better from this morning, especially after her conversation with her classmate Maron, and why she orders a melon cream soda before sitting at the arcade area, breathing in a long breath and then letting it out in a sigh.
As the unassuming brunette waits, she turns and looks around at the games. She doesn't come in here often, due to the aforementioned dislike of crowds. That foreign-looking girl in the Infinity uniform... Her eyes widen in wonder at her. Yukimi doesn't meet a lot of foreigners, and for a moment, she stares at Lera. If their gazes meet when Lera herself looks around, she flushes and quickly ducks her head.
Lera spots Yukimi staring at her and doesn't think much of it. She got used to the stares early in her month-long tenure here. She does not remotely look Japanese -- handily, she looks American -- and that got her a few looks. She sees the stare and brings her hand up to wave when she catches it. Then Yukimi turns, just as the wave starts, which is like ten kinds of awkward. She ponders on this for a moment.
She reminds herself of the fact that she is supposed to make friends out here. Her mother told her it would be hard; it was probably a way to get under her skin. That Lera tries at it so hard suggests it worked.
She gets up, then she moseys over into the arcade area, walking closer to where Yukimi is sitting. She tilts her head to the side and -- after quickly glancing at Yukimi -- looks at where she stares off at.
"I don't see whatever moved so fast!" she says, loudly. It is an effort to help Yukimi save face and it is the worst idea that she has had all day.
Yukimi really should know better than to stare. After all, there's a lot of foreigners in Tokyo (well, compared to the rest of Japan), particularly within the Yamanote line where tourism flourishes. Granted that this is Shitamachi, not Yamanote, but still, it's not *that* far away! But then, there are quite a few Japanese who'll stare anyway. At least Lera isn't offended by it, even if Yukimi does end up embarrassing them both when she quickly looks away before Lera can wave and let her know that it's all right.
Then Lera gets up, starts staring around, and then loudly announces she doesn't see what ran away so far. Contrary to helping Yukimi save face, it makes her turn an even darker shade of red as, from the Japanese perspective, she's having her rudeness shoved in her nose. She wrings her hands in her lap, wishing the earth would open up beneath her and swallow her whole, wishing desperately that she had Ruet with her right now, and keeps her eyes firmly down. "S-sorry," she squeaks, on the verge of tears again.
That, Lera determines, was the opposite of helping.
She stares at Yukimi for a moment when she reddens -- and then looks like she will start to cry -- and confusion quickly becomes nervousness. It becomes guilt after that and she holds both hands up in front of her, then she starts shaking her head quickly. "Oh, gosh, oh, no, I'm sorry, I was trying to help and explain it away and--"
She realizes in the middle of it that a public scene will probably only make this worse, but that walking away like nothing happened would be rude and hurtful too. With a confused, uncertain noise in the back of her throat, she sits down hastily across from Yukimi and shakes her head rapidly.
"Please don't cry, I'm really sorry!" she whispers. "I thought I was helping. It's okay."
That was /definitely/ the opposite of helping. Even moreso when people notice the two of them and start to stare, which just makes Yukimi feel even more humiliated, and then Lera starts to apologize herself and then sits down--
Well, at least the scene quieting down means people start paying attention to their own things again, and right when Yukimi flickers her eyes up at Lera with uncertainty, Unazuki from the cafe upstairs appears and cheerfully delivers her cream soda, which helps break the tension. Yukimi toys with the straw, reminding herself of what Ruet would do in this situation, and steeling herself with the idea that she needs to do her best if she wants Ruet to come back, she takes a deep breath and lifts her head.
She doesn't quite meet Lera's gaze, and her smile is horrendously forced, but it's a start.
"N-no, it's my fault for staring. I'm really sorry," she whispers back. "It was rude of me. U-um." Pause. The awkwardness increases by the second, and Yukimi almost panics before she remembers-- /Your name. Tell her your name. Introduce yourself and ask her who she is!/ "I-I'm Yukimi!" she adds quickly. "Yukimi Amane. U-um, and you are...?"
Lera may have some social skill lapses, but she can see the smile is forced. She also knows a forced smile beats the hell out of a glare or a command to get lost, and that's something, at least. She tilts her head, with a smile that is a little less forced than Yukimi's. It is a little bit; she still has a gnawing sense of guilt in her stomach from the embarrassment. "Oh, don't worry about it--um, it's probably the red hair. It stands out."
She holds a lock of it up, as if to demonstrate. "I'm Lera," she says, with a little bit of a brighter look. "Lera Camry. I'm a regular normal Earth person like you are!"
Maybe her Japanese isn't great?
"But I am from San Francisco." She nods, knowingly. "There is fog there and some hills. And people wear flowers in their hair. And Mowgli lives there."
Like /really/ not great.
Forced or no, it's still setting a better mood than before. Of course, any mood would be better than 'humiliated and about to start crying.' At least Yukimi feels reassured that it was just a language barrier thing, a hiccup between cultures. This girl seems pretty nice, and also really forgiving. "Oh, um--a little," she admits shyly, shifting a little in her seat before covering it up with a sip of her soda. She sits up straight when Lera actually introduces herself as--
Yukimi stares at Lera despite having *just* been embarrassed over having done just that thing, uncertain of how to react to that statement. Then Lera keeps talking, and Yukimi stares a little more.
Before uttering, "pfft," and bursting into quiet giggles. She must've been trying to tell a joke to lighten the mood. She really is nice...! That thought helps Yukimi relax more, and while there's still a thrum of nervousness to her demeanor, her smile is more sincere now. "Um, it's nice to meet you, Camry-san! Um... You attend Infinity Institute, right?" She nods a little at the uniform. "My sister attends university there... It's a really cool school, isn't it?"
Lera looks confused for a moment -- she isn't sure what she said is funny (and her impressions of San Francisco come from songs and movies) -- but then she shrugs it off and smiles back. It is, likewise, more genuine. She nods her head at Yukimi. "Oh, yes! I transferred there." She pauses, then adds, like it's necessary, "From San Francisco. I really haven't seen anything like it before. I've been happy there, even though I'm far from home."
Light years, to be precise.
"What school do you go to?" she asks, after a thought, looking Yukimi over. "I'm still, um, learning all of the uniforms! It's hard to get used to, still."
Fortunately for them both, Yukimi is too busy giggling to notice that confused look that Lera gives her, and then they're both smiling and things are much more relaxed now. "Oh, I see," she replies, when Lera over-explains her transfer--maybe people have been asking otherwise...? "You're still working on your Japanese, huh?" she says aloud, in an unguarded moment of tactlessness. "Your accent's pretty good, so just keep working at it! Infinity students are smart and they've got lots of classes to help you out so I'm sure you'll be okay! I wish I could attend Infinity--it looks really amazing--but..."
She trails off then, realizing that the logical conclusion to that statement is 'I'm not smart enough for it.' Fortunately or unfortunately, Lera asks after her own uniform, and Yukimi gets mentally thrown.
"Oh--this--isn't a uniform," she admits, looking embarrassed as she looks down at her T-shirt and cargo shorts. The ones she wore yesterday. The ones she slept in. When she gave back the uniform she borrowed for today, well, these were the only clothes she had to change into. When she goes home, she'll be able to bathe and change and use her usual uniform for tomorow, but for now... It's pretty embarrassing, though at least it's probably embarrassing for Lera too to not realize that this isn't a uniform.
Seriously, what school would have a T-shirt as part of their uniform? If one exists, Yukimi wants to know about it so she can transfer there!
"I, uh, I attend Juuban High School, though!" she adds, then takes another sip of her soda to help settle the butterflies in her stomach. "I'm a first-year student, fifteen years old. My, my uniform... it got dirty, so I had to change right after school let out. I had some spare clothes in my locker and all," she explains, feeling a need to explain why she's not in her uniform despite the fact that school only just let out maybe half an hour ago. "Um, what year are you...? If you don't mind me asking..."
"I am! Amane-san, right? Prefixes are still a little hard," Lera says. They did not quite have something like that on Mid-Childa -- actually, she essentially spoke English, through strange cosmic coincidence -- and learning Japanese had been a little easy because of that. She tilts her head to the side, though, and smiles. She hears the implication there and doesn't know what to make of it.
Yukimi doesn't sound unintelligent, but she knows there is more to academics than hard work. She isn't that good at a lot of them.
The misunderstanding about the uniform is embarrassing, but there isn't much she can do about it. She reddens -- and then she smiles, cheerily, and shrugs the whole thing off. Explaining could make her look even more alien. Literally. She takes a sip from her bubble tea. "I'm fifteen too," she says, "but I'm in third year middle school. I hate when these uniforms get dirty! It's such a pain."
Well, it's not like students who attend Juuban are blistering idiots. Infinity Institute is for those with *lots* of talent, and not in the poorly-dubbed sense, and Yukimi is... painfully ordinary. Reminding herself of it doesn't help her self-esteem any... but that's all the more reason she has to try hard, to help Ruet come back!
(oh please come back ruet please please please don't leave me we've hardly spent any time together)
"R-right! That's right, it'd be Amane-san," she confirms. "Um, I think you mean suffixes... Oh, but they're usually prefixes in English, aren't they? Sorry, I'm not really good at English myself, so I can't really... say anything, huh?"
She sips her soda again to cover up her nervousness, though the too-quick way she does it is probably more of a tell instead. "Oh, I see. I guess you just had your birthday, huh?" she wonders. "I'll be sixteen in December..."
Oddly, she doesn't seem very enthusiastic about this prospect. Still, she nods enthusiastically at Lera's complaint. "I know what you mean! I'd like it a lot better if we could just wear whatever we wanted. On the other hand, this way we don't have to worry about fashion, so maybe it's better this way..."
In Lera's case, her transfer student status has more to do with it -- that and she is a Mid-Childan mage of great talent, which makes her a prodigy with math. She nods her head at that, hands sliding together and her fingers interlocking. The motion is meant to hide some of her nervousness. Sometimes, talking to a new Earth native feels like she is waiting to make a terrible, revealing mistake.
"I did. It was before I came over, though, which I guess was nice." She doesn't sound that enthused. "I got to see my friends and my mom, and everything..."
She shakes her head.
"I can't complain about it," she adds, after a moment. She grins, sheepishly. "I'm still trying to figure out Japanese fashion. It is not like most Earth fashion!"
Lucky for Lera that Recognition Inhibition is a thing. It's quite possible that Yukimi's assumption that Lera's making a joke is part of that. Ironically, seeing that Lera's nervous makes Yukimi less nervous; it feels more like they're on equal ground, so she doesn't feel like she has to work as hard to impress her. She might be a foreigner, but she must feel pretty out of her league here in Japan! Maybe she could use a local friend to help show her around... It's not the same as a magical friend, but a beautiful (if Amazonishly tall compared to Japanese girls) foreign Infinity student friend wouldn't be bad at all!
"Oh... really?" /That's--that's odd,/ Yukimi realizes, lifting her head as Lera talks about her birthday. She doesn't sound thrilled anyway, but she senses... regret and... anger...? /Maybe she didn't want to leave her friends and family,/ she thinks, pursing her lips. "I-I'm sure you'll make plenty of friends here!" she thus says quickly. "You seem really pretty and nice, Camry-san, and you must be smart too... If you're still getting used to the area, maybe..." She tries not to overtly swallow and betray her terror at putting herself out like this. "...maybe I could show you around sometime...? I-I mean, I've lived in Tokyo my whole life, so I know all the good places and all...!"
A pause as Lera goes on, and Yukimi smiles back, the expression slight and shy but sincere. "Heehee. Have you traveled a lot, Camry-san?" she wonders. "I mean, if you're from the United States and all... I wish I could help you with the fashion, but I don't really..." She glances to one side quickly, nervously wrapping a finger around a loop of her shoulder-length hair. "I don't really follow fashion..."
Obviously, given her outfit.
Lera beams a little, at Yukimi's claim. It actually proves more touching a sentiment than she likely meant. Memoies of her mother telling her that she likely wouldn't make friends -- that lying would prevent that, and Earth's lack of development, and the goal to show her wrong -- come up. Hearing that she could make friends (and nevermind the false circumstances) makes her smile brighter as it sinks in.
She nods, finally. "Yes!" she says, eagerly; maybe a little too eager. "I-I mean, I'd like that a lot. I'm still trying to make friends here. And it gets a little confusing sometimes, still. So, um, if you would be willing, I would greatly appreciate such an offer!"
She takes a deep breath and gets some calm back, before she looks up. She appears confused; her head tilts sideways again, the way it does when she is.
"You don't?" she asks. "Your manner of dress does not seem strange to me. And I have traveled quite a bit." She raises a finger up, knowingly, and smiles with a hint of pride. "I have been to..." She searches her memory of Earth culture, and tries to find locations, before settling on some: "Jamaica, Bahama, Come On Pretty Mama, Key Largo, Montego, and place called Kokomo!"
Lera would probably be less touched if she realized that Yukimi both has no friends, and what friends she's ever been able to make in her life, she drove away with her utter lack of tact. It's like being told by someone who regularly burns water that they're sure you can prepare a souffle right the first try.
On the upside, that means Yukimi doesn't read into Lera's eagerness. Obviously she just feels out of place having just moved to a new country! It's amazing that she'd still feel that way for someone who's so well-traveled, but Yukimi's never been out of Japan and has barely ever even been out of Tokyo, so what would she know?
"Oh, well, I hear T-shirts are pretty popular in America, so I guess it wouldn't be," she admits, smiling bashfully as she picks at her shirt. "I guess this kind of stuff is normal to you, huh?"
Then Lera lists the 'countries' that she's been to, and geography might not be Yukimi's best subject, but it's not so bad that she doesn't know that Come On Pretty Mama is /definitely not/ an actual country. She stares at her for a few seconds...
...and then bursts out giggling again. "Camry-san, you're so funny!"
Her phone, which is in her school briefcase, chimes then--incoming text, it sounds like. Yukimi jumps, then looks intensely guilty as she slides a hand in and pulls out her phone. It's from who she thought it was, and she slides Lera a guilty look. "...s-sorry. I was actually supposed to go straight home, and, um... I really should be going." She grabs her cream soda and gulps the rest of it down as best as she's able. This takes a couple of tries, so Lera will at least be able to say her good-byes and offer her number before Yukimi has to split.
Lera isn't sure why she is funny -- it /could/ be a country, she heard of weirder Earth names! -- but she still grins brightly. There is a look of surprise, though, when she sees Yukimi get that guilty look. Something had to be going on there, to prompt that. The explanation suggest some of it. "Oh, right! Of course! Don't let me keep you. But, ah..."
She reaches her hand into her pocket. She brushes against the crimson pen in there, before she pulls her phone out. She holds it up at Yukimi. "Want to swap numbers? For when we go hanging out later!"
Yukimi finishes her drink just in time for Lera to pull out her own phone, and might have hurried away out of sheer panic (good thing she paid before she got her drink) save that the Midchildan mage offers to swap numbers so they can hang out at some point. Her eyes light up, and she nods enthusiastically. "Yeah! We need to do that, don't we! We're not at the same school, so we wouldn't know how to find each other otherwise, huh?"
She picks up her phone and pushes the correct buttons for the phones to auto-swap numbers (good thing she still remembers from when her big sister showed her how; Yukimi's very grateful to Ouka at that moment). When everything's set, she grabs her briefcase and clutches her phone to her chest like it's a treasure, smiling brilliantly. It makes her look quite pretty, honestly. "See you again, Camry-san! Thanks a lot for everything!"
She bows quickly, and pulling up that dreaded text, Yukimi hurries out of the arcade, a new spring in her step. Even when it is, as expected, one from her mother asking if she's home yet, and even though Ruet still hasn't stirred within her consciousness, Yukimi feels like she's made huge progress today.
And maybe that's what counts.