2014-05-02 - It's Kind Of Like A Job Interview

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Title: It's Kind Of Like A Job Interview

Mai stops by Rune's dorm room to discuss the 'royal chef' offer, and winds up giving a brief lesson on making tea. And learning a brief lesson about appropriate uses of royal budgets.


Runealy Waldia, Mai Tokiha


Ohtori Dorms

OOC - IC Date:

7 January 2014 - 5/2/14

<Pose Tracker> Mai Tokiha [Ohtori Academy (10)] has posed.

Hair still a little damp, Mai walks down the halls of Ohtori's girls' dorm. Nameplates are examined, one after another, as she seeks out a certain name. One one arm, she carries her battered orange jacket and an empty cloth grocery bag - she has errands to run, but at least one conversation she's been putting off.

Uncharacteristically for her, she's in casual clothes - a long-sleeved red-and-white shirt, and a pair of jeans. Largely because it's only going to get colder tonight - January, and all that. She sidesteps a frantic couple of girls carrying suitcases - more classmates moving back in after an extended vacation - and stops at the next door. Carefully written nameplate reads 'Runealy' - this is, hopefully, the place. Mai could have texted ahead, but given who she's visiting...easier to just come here and try knocking on the door directly.

Knock, knock.

<Pose Tracker> Runealy Waldia [Ohtori Academy (7)] has posed.

This search will yield Rune's place easily enough, though her nameplate is not the only one. Rosette and Skylle are also listed at the same dorm area, and the layouts suggest there could be room for one more in a quad arrangement here.

Oddly, Rune can be heard on the other side of the door before Mai even knocks. "If it's so fast you can't even see it, then... you have to react before it's even..." This trails off, then a sharp "There!" Nothing seems to be happening to justify this. There are no loud noises, no obvious signs of trouble; it's as if Rune is talking to herself?

"And from there, I... huh?" The knock cuts her off. Runealy approaches the door and opens it. From what little can be seen from here, there is nothing of note happening in the living room. "Mai?" The princess is very surprised by this, and explains why: "I think this is the first time anyone other than the three of us has come here unless we asked them to." She steps aside. "Come on in? If it's not something urgent, anyway?" In other words, Rune has no idea what brings Mai here today.

<Pose Tracker> Mai Tokiha [Ohtori Academy (10)] has posed.

The commentary is rather bizarre - could it be magic practice? Play-acting? Enjoying a really good book? Mai's expression when the door is puzzlement, simply put. She does manage to recover - well, mostly - and gives Runealy a happy smile. "Nothing urgent, no - I hope I'm not interrupting anything important?" Invited in, Mai steps into the room, taking it in. A bit bigger than her own dorm, but if it's for four people instead of two that's to be expected...

After finishing her curious look around, Mai holds up the arm with jacket and bag. "I was about to get some groceries, and remembered that we never did set a date for me to try cooking something - assuming you still want to try that, anyway. I would have sent you a text, but, um..." She looks a bit sheepish. "Sorry, I thought this might be easier."

<Pose Tracker> Runealy Waldia [Ohtori Academy (7)] has posed.

"It's important, but you're not interrupting. Actually, you gave me half of the answer." Rune looks serious, yet pleased; her smile is a little more faint than Mai's, but the warm demeanor is returned. "So next time, I'll know what to do." About what? That isn't immediately clear.

The dorm area shared by the supposed 'transfer students from Europe' is similar to most of the others in general layout, though they have rearranged the furniture to some extent. Two couches meet at their opposite armrests to form an 'L' dominating most of the middle of the room, though the typical low table has been replaced by chairs and a higher table in a nod to western-esque preferences. Several doors to other rooms are closed, so most of the decor from here is a typical kitchen connected to the living room...

...and several accessories. The table has a red hardback book, odd given that the book has no label of any kind and seems to have only a few dozen pages at most, though further inspection is blocked by it being closed. A tall bird cage, fancy and gold-lined, rests in one corner though its door is open and whatever occupant it normally houses isn't here at the moment.

Other touches include a barely used TV; likely part of the default furnishing, but there is a bit of dust around it to suggest it isn't watched very often. On its opposite wall lies a fairly large painting, canvas-sized. It depicts a grassy field with a small number of trees, and hints of a stone-paved path leading into the foreground. The background shows a blue sky with a few white clouds, alongside a few stone and wood buildings obscuring the lowest part of a stone castle, closest to European in style though some areas are notably more colorful; reds and whites with the occasional gold are common.

And once that eyeball tour of the dorm is done, Rune looks even more surprised. "Wait, that's what you're here for? Sure! Let me just get you some t--" Sudden self-consciousness cuts that line of thought off. "Um. Would you like some water?" Despite this blunder, Runealy begins smiling again in short order; Mai being here is a pleasant surprise.

<Pose Tracker> Mai Tokiha [Ohtori Academy (10)] has posed.

"Answer?" Mai's still puzzled, but her host seems to be in no rush to explain. The setup of the apartment makes for a suitable distraction, anyway; the couch setup and Western-style table bear noting. Other rooms...separate bedrooms? A tempting proposition given Mai's frequent bedmate. The book does stand out, and Mai is tempted to ask if it's a photo album - before realizing that Waldia probably doesn't do photos. A mystery.

And then there's the painting. Mai spends a bit longer looking at that one, and it's on her mind even as she turns to Runealy's comment. She does, however, have to laugh - just one brief giggle, honest. "Water would be fine. Though if you want tea, and have the supplies I don't mind making it." She grins. "I figured we could at least talk about it more - though I do have a question, first." Mai gestures to the painting that caught her attention. "Is that Waldia?"

<Pose Tracker> Runealy Waldia [Ohtori Academy (7)] has posed.

"An answer. For what to do about your world's... 'bullets'," Rune refers to them with an air of mystery; they're one more seemingly impossible thing among many on Earth as far as she's concerned. "I didn't know how to protect myself from them until you explained how they work. They're still pretty scary, but not as bad as it was when I thought they were just 'invisible arrows.' So... thank you for telling me about them." That's an odd thing to thank one's guest for, and Rune knows it; she tries to steer the conversation along to refreshments.

"Well, you shouldn't have to... you're the guest, it's just that I..." This is incredibly embarrassing. "I've never made tea before. Someone else always did that."

This actually causes Rune to take a few seconds before she realizes Mai is asking about the painting. "Huh?" It proves to be a fine distraction, snapping Rune's mood out of self-conscious doubt or serious thoughts of training. Instead, this question suddenly energizes her. "It is! A friend finished it just a few days ago and it's just...!" Rune trails off, but this time it's because she's giddy and at a loss for words due to this. That, and she's not sure how best to identify the artist to Mai; it's probably okay to go ahead and say who it is, but Runealy doesn't know that for certain and decides to keep things vague out of an abundance of respect for a friend's privacy and safety.

"And sure, we can talk! I have plenty of time right now."

<Pose Tracker> Mai Tokiha [Ohtori Academy (10)] has posed.

Aha. That...makes sense, and Mai nods as seriously as she can. "I haven't run into them too often myself, but they show up on TV sometimes. But yeah, I can imagine them being scary if you didn't even know what they were..." Are we moving the conversation on? Great! Things make sense, move on.

...and Mai giggles again. "I'll admit I'm not an expert - so if you're expecting a formal tea ceremony, you'll have to be disappointed. I can try to show you, though, if you want to learn." Mai's already heading toward the kitchen. Her destiny is calling to her - and if Runealy has anyone who has made tea, there should be either a hot water dispenser or a traditional kettle.

Mai can't help but smile at Rune's enthusiasm. "It looks gorgeous. Quite the realm to be the princess of!" She doesn't inquire after the artist - it's not so important. "I'd like to see it some day, if that's ever possible!" There's a bin by the counter that Mai can just leave her jacket and bag on for now; they've seen worse.

After taking a moment to take in the kitchen, Mai turns back to Runealy. "Right! So, I was thinking about your offer - have you been able to get any recipes from home? If not, I'd like to at least hear about the kind of meals you normally have." She glances at the painting again - the castle really is nice - and gives a bright smile. "Who knows, maybe I can find something at least similar."

<Pose Tracker> Runealy Waldia [Ohtori Academy (7)] has posed.

"You have tea... /ceremonies?/" Rune isn't mocking the prospect, but this is obviously news to her while following Mai. "And sure... if it's really okay, I guess I should start learning at least that much! Making it, I mean! Ceremonies can wait." Once they're in the kitchen, Mai actually has her pick of archaic or modern equipment; someone has indeed brought along a kettle and placed it here but more current methods are available too.

As the painting brings up thoughts of travel to other worlds, Rune has some good and bad news. "It's possible! I don't just mean that in the literal sense, where it /can/ be done. That means you, personally, can come! In a way, she painted it to be about that... to remind us about home and let us have a little piece of it be here. The only problem is if we do go over, it has to be for a really good reason. It has to be worth risking being stuck there for weeks or more, since the link between our worlds is pretty erratic and sometimes stops working after someone uses it."

A few headshakes follow. "It's why I don't just go home to visit. What if I got stranded and someone here needed me? So you can go some time! It just needs to be the /right/ time. That's actually why I don't have any recipes yet." Rune paces around a little, her gaze wandering to check out whatever parts of the kitchen catch Mai's interest. "If it helps, the Linden Baum is kind of close. A few things they have at Midori-ya are about right too." In other words, there seems to be a little more available than the feudal castle and attached town in the painting might suggest... but any guesses in that general style are probably close to correct.

<Pose Tracker> Mai Tokiha [Ohtori Academy (10)] has posed.

Mai nods, actually relatively serious. "It's a formal thing - kind of like a ritual or performance. You might enjoy watching one - knowing Ohtori, there's probably a club for it somewhere." Maybe. Better odds than anywhere else, really. "But for everyday, it's just a matter of making it..."

Mai focuses on the modern device first. "Okay. So this is a hot water dispenser - it keeps water at the right temperature for making tea, and heats up more as needed. I think this one refills automatically, so as long as you aren't making a lot at once you should be fine." Fancy equipment. Push button, get hot water. She considers the archaic kettle. "If you wanted to wait, we could let the kettle come to a boil instead - that way you'd know how to make it even without modern technology."

While searching the cupboards for the tea leaves, Mai comments on the news about Waldia. "You...mentioned, a while back, that you had your new friends come with you to help set up the barrier, so I think I knew at least some of that. But that does sound kind of risky - I wouldn't want to chance being cut off from Takumi, myself. If things ever get more stable, though..." She turns, and grins. And then lets out an 'aha' as she finds the box of tea.

Mai's busily checking drawers and cupboards, taking inventory of implements and ingredients, trying to figure out what Runealy and her roommates are currently doing food-wise. "Okay, if Linden Baum's close, as is Midori-ya...it does sound like Western cuisine's the way to go. Not my specialty, but I've tried a few things..." Ah, there's the teapot - she sets it down, and considers. "I know that's still a lot of variety - like, for main dishes, do you mean things like the pasta dishes, burgers, steaks, or the roast beef?"

<Pose Tracker> Runealy Waldia [Ohtori Academy (7)] has posed.

"A ritual for tea..." The idea is still pretty alien to Rune, but she's not dismissing it. "I think I might have to watch one at this rate, just to know what that's like." Then Mai goes on to explain the dispenser, and that gets Runealy leaning in extremely close to look at it from different angles. "You mean to tell me this thing doesn't just know how hot the water is, but it /reacts/ to that and makes adjustments?!" A contraption that apparently thinks for itself (at least as far as water goes)... Rune realizes this with an awed tone. "We can do it either way. If this is how you do it on Earth then I'll probably have to learn your way at some point." The kettle itself is well polished, properly cared for even though its construction is slightly different from more contemporary designs.

Being left in an awe-struck mood is fitting as Mai mentions new friends. This brings back fairly recent memories, still vivid and mentioned with reverence. "They did. Most of them had every good reason to not help. After what we did to several of you, and how we did it... it would have been real smart to just let us deal with our own mess. But they helped, and without them it would have been impossible. Every day, I get to see the people I owe pretty much everything to. Some of them are even in this building, or a really short walk from here. They helped restore our Barrier, and our lives because of that! So..."

Rune sighs, disappointed for a moment before she gets fired up. "So I want you to see our home, the one they helped let us still have! It's just that... you're right. Takumi could come too, but that still leaves a lot of 'what if' to worry about. So not right now, but when things are stable," Rune uses Mai's description for it, "Then we could!"

As Mai sifts through food, the trend is strongly leaning modern. Being unable to casually go home to 'resupply' means having to adapt to Earth fare, and while the stock on hand does try to lean western-style there are several instances where Tokyo cuisine is on the menu. The trio seem to be eating fairly well though, with very little cheap 'junk food' here. Mai might recall a time where such things nearly made Rune sick during the Hokkaido trip, after all. "I think... steaks, roast, those are closer to what you're thinking of. I'm not too worried about it being a perfect match, though!"

<Pose Tracker> Mai Tokiha [Ohtori Academy (10)] has posed.

"That's pretty much how this works - I think it has a thermostat built-in, like the ones you find in most of the dorm rooms." What's matter-of-fact for one world is arcane mystery to the other. "Anyway, I don't mind using the kettle but the dispenser's probably a good place to start." Mai checks the temperature on the dispenser, then opens the teapot.

"The rule is usually one small spoonful of tea leaves for every cup you want." She scoops in the appropriate amount, then reseals the container of tea. Setting the pot under the spout, she inspects the dispenser...dang, it's nicer than hers. Rather than push a button, she points to one. "Each time you push this button, the spout will pour out one cup's worth of water - want to give it a try? We'll need two cups' worth for this pot." And with that, Mai steps out of the way to let Runealy give it a try.

While the Waldian princess encounters Tokyo technology, Mai thinks over Runealy's statements - she can't help but smile for her friend's sake. "They sound like good friends. Amazing friends, even. Don't worry about the inter-world...thing on my account - I can wait. Should wait, even." She'd rather not leave town for a day, if it really came to it. "I just wish you could visit home more easily."

Mai looks over the open cupboards, and sheepishly starts closing them. "Okay, I think I have a good idea of what you might like, then. One big difference between Western and Japanese meals is that we tend to serve everything at once, while they...'stagger' it. You get your soup or salad, then when that's done a main dish, and after that a dessert. Does that sound anything like what you're used to?" Even as she asks, she's thinking to herself. Maybe she can ask Kazu for a few tips - and worst case, Mikoto would be happy if Mai had the ability to just roast a big piece of meat.

...hm. Roast over an open fire? No, risky and tiring...

<Pose Tracker> Runealy Waldia [Ohtori Academy (7)] has posed.

"What's a therm-ohh..." Rune 'gets it' when Mai seems to anticipate the question and explain where thermostats are commonly found. The princess even looks back at one on the wall, then at the dispenser. "I think I see where they fit it into this. Neat!" She has the right idea at least, even if the details are embarrassingly wrong. "The dispenser is fine. It needs electricity, right? I think the entire time we've been here, the walls stopped having electricity for just one evening. Chances are pretty good it'll be here for making tea!"

Then Runealy settles in to learn the operation, the measurements... and she heeds Mai's words with a sharp focus, as if Mai were teaching amazing martial arts secrets but was only going to show them off one time, ever. "One spoonful to each cup... this button gets one cup and we're aiming for two, so..." The princess does indeed step up to try, though she does it with cautious hands and plenty of nerve as if about to perform delicate surgery. When the lightest finger-tap fails to yield water, she tries a little more force and then leans back in surprise when it works! "Just like the faucet, except it knows how much it's using! Just like you said...!"

Yet she cooperates with the change in topics. "'Amazing' friends, yeah... I'd go with 'the best.' I've only been here a bit over two months, and already there are people I can trust to help us protect our home and life, and..." Suddenly Rune is looking over to Mai. "...And to fly me over cliff edges. Since I can trust you with even that, some day you and Takumi are going to get to visit! Until then, I'll be okay even if I have to wait too."

After that outburst of admiration, Rune is brought down to more mundane topics fairly easily. "'Courses' of a meal, right? That's about what we did... sometimes it was closer to what you're describing around here, but usually it was the other way. So you know, though?" A tiny nod. "It doesn't have to be exactly back home. I was thinking about hiring Mai Tokiha, not asking her to be a perfect substitute for the castle's cooking staff. You can do things your way and it's okay by me!"

<Pose Tracker> Mai Tokiha [Ohtori Academy (10)] has posed.

'Good enough is' with understanding modern technology. Frankly most of the students here treat these devices as magic, even if they don't use those words. "Electricity, and water. Odds are good - it's just good to have a kettle like this one as a backup. Some people pay close attention to how they boil the water, for the sake of the flavor - I'm not quite that finicky with my tea or coffee." Caffeine above all else.

Runealy seems to be understanding, and Mai smiles. "Good! Now that we have enough water in there - put the lid on, and wait for two minutes." With an eye on the clock, Mai continues to explain. "Again, if you're using the kettle, you have to pour out the right amount - something like this makes it easy, though."

Still a little over a minute to wait - and Mai can't help but blush at Runealy's comment. "...thank you. For your trust, that is. If you're certain - then we'll be happy to visit at some point." Mai glances down, not sure what to say - so she focuses on the description. "Not exactly, no - but the point of this is so you can have something that you can actually enjoy. Just like I wouldn't make Mikoto anything too spicy, I wouldn't-" Another glance at the clock, and Mai moves to check on the tea. "Sorry, green tea shouldn't steep too long or it gets bitter. With this kind, two minutes should do it."

She holds up a thin wire mesh, and holds it over one of the cups. "The trick is, you don't want to drink the leaves - so when you pour a cup, use this to filter them out." She demonstrates by pouring one cup's worth of tea, then hands over the strainer and teapot for Runealy to do the other.

<Pose Tracker> Runealy Waldia [Ohtori Academy (7)] has posed.

"Sounds like a lot of 'one's and 'two's in all this. One spoonful to one cup, get two cups, work it for two minutes..." Rune gazes over to the clock as Mai does, picking up on that hint without further explanation. "Right. The kettle in reserve. Or... really, for when we go back home. There's no such thing as electricity where I'm from. Still, we can go over that after the way that works almost all the time. Earth's way first." As if using a kettle is, somehow, not 'Earth's way'?

"And yes, I'm certain. If I ever wasn't, that got cleared up already. With as many times as you've worried about what's good or what's right, it'd be hard to /not/ trust you!" After that enthusiastic appraisal, Rune concedes: "Right... we're both getting something out of this if it happens."

Thankfully, the princess at least knows what filters are or else immediately figured out what they're for. "Yeah, no leaves... that'd be pretty messed up!" Rune is in easy agreement there, and repeats Mai's process with the other cup. For all Rune's ignorance, she's at least paying attention and picking up on general lessons well enough.

<Pose Tracker> Mai Tokiha [Ohtori Academy (10)] has posed.

Mai chuckles again. "Hadn't looked at the recipe that way, but I suppose you're right. And let's use the kettle next time, if only for practice. It's always good to know how to make a cup of tea or coffee, after all." She grins, and takes one of the cups of tea, moving from the kitchen to the Western-style dining table. "Though Earth uses kettles too, you know..."

Once seated, she takes a sip of the tea, sighing in satisfaction. "Safely leaf-free and everything. Anyway, meal-planning... I could try doing something like what Linden Baum does. Pay attention to what ingredients are on sale, come up with a few ideas for meals for the week, and let you choose what you want from that. I'm kind of used to just cooking for myself and Mikoto, and that girl will basically eat just about anything..."

Mai takes another sip of her tea, then sets the cup down. "...with that said, I'll admit that I'm still a bit uncertain. I know you're a princess, but I don't want to end up making you spend all of your Japanese money." She looks down to the table. "Whatever else, I don't want to cause trouble for a friend."

<Pose Tracker> Runealy Waldia [Ohtori Academy (7)] has posed.

"Okay!" Rune is easy enough to talk into learning other methods of drink-making, but winces as Mai points out the obvious. "Right... you're right. I've seen plenty of kettles around here, I just..." She trails off; that was embarrassing. At least the tea seems to have turned out okay, and Rune follows over to sit at the seat opposite Mai's. "So their menu changes with what they can get a hold of? Guess that makes sense. You know, I need to actually /meet/ Mikoto sometime. We've done a lot together already, but I barely know anything about her."

"Trouble? How would that be trou-- wait. Wait a sec." Runealy tilts her head a little, giving a funny gaze to Mai while trying to figure something out. "I have plenty and can get more. There are places around Tokyo that will trade some of our money for yen. I'll show you!"

And thus Rune abandons the drink for a moment, rising to rummage through a drawer and then return with a few gold and silver coins. "A few places take these as is, like the Midori-ya. For everywhere else, we just exchange a set amount for the week and use that as our budget for the time being. We've been doing it since we got here, and it's working fine!" Her other hand holds up local currency to illustrate the point.

<Pose Tracker> Mai Tokiha [Ohtori Academy (10)] has posed.

Mai grins. "Don't worry about it - it kind of works as a name. There's other ways to make tea, too - you can get tea bags so you don't need the strainer, but those tend to not be quite as good. And then there's tricks for making higher-quality tea, but I tend not to bother with those." She looks thoughtful for a minute. "Ohtori's library probably has a book or seven, come to think of it..."

On to actual discussions of how this could work. "Well, Linden Baum has specials. Basically, there's items they always have available, for which they keep ingredients on hand whatever the cost. But some times of year, either one ingredient is in season and thus more available, or there's just a surplus the manager wants to get rid of. Today, for example, the manager held a big special with bacon - he had a lot, so he offered customers a better deal to get it sold off more quickly. I'd probably do something similar, if on a smaller scale - have some recipes I can always make on little notice, and then give a few other suggestions each week. And...yeah, Mikoto's been trying to track down her brother full-time since we got back from Hokkaido, she should be on a shorter leash once classes start again."

Mai examines the currency that Runealy produces, eyebrows raised high. "...the Midori-ya actually takes gold and silver directly? Huh. That's kind of interesting. Though, I do have to ask - and I'm sorry if this is rude - but with travel to and from Waldia as tough as it is, how much can you really spare? I know Ohtori isn't a cheap place to be..."

<Pose Tracker> Runealy Waldia [Ohtori Academy (7)] has posed.

Rune repeats bits about tea in a whisper; Mai might overhear things like 'stay away from tea bags' and 'the library?', but they're not full sentences. Still, it seems the advice is sinking in.

Yet Rune doesn't linger on this, as she's more interested in hearing Mai explain the meal plan. "That... actually sounds pretty close to how we do it back home. Some constants, some things rotate in and out, that sounds fine!" Talk of Mikoto's sibling situation draws only a facial reaction; Rune's expression flickers with concern, but she doesn't directly ask anything about it.

She does try to downplay some of Mai's worries about money, though. Even as Mai checks out coins that bear a woman's face on one side with a shield bearing a heart symbol in its center on the other, Rune has plenty to say. "I don't know if they're doing it to be nice to me or not... they looked at it kind of funny when I first tried it and then went along with this. I still need to..."

Several abrupt headshakes cut her own thought off, as Mai has brought up something more important. "'Rude'? Maybe. It's definitely digging at things." Despite these words, the princess is patient. "And it's smart. You're planning for expenses after the healers give Takumi a second heart. So you have to ask those questions! Is this an offer from someone who talks nice but can't actually make good on it? Will it be stable or am I going to run out of money to pay you inside of two weeks? You deserve to know, and you /have/ to know if you're going to make plans to help him right. Ask whatever you need."

That's not an answer to what Mai was actually asking, though. Rune realizes it, and holds up a hand to buy a moment more to conclude: "I can spare what I need to. We have to go home sooner or later to get supplies anyway, even if we risk being stuck there for a little bit while the portal decides to start working again. So you tell me what you really need to make this work, and we'll figure out the details from there."

<Pose Tracker> Mai Tokiha [Ohtori Academy (10)] has posed.

There really is only so much Mai has to say on the subject of tea - there are connoisseurs, and then there are people who just need the caffeine, and Mai is firmly in the latter category. Try someone else for that subject.

Mai does seem to be thinking over the meal plan a bit - but she needs to peruse cookbooks with a bit more time than she's recently had. Admittedly, there are other concerns - though Mai does wince. "Sorry, I didn't mean it to come out like that - I was worried more for your sake. I don't want to wind up accidentally bankrupting your food budget. Though....those are concerns, yes." Mai glances to one side, frowning.

Eventually, she looks back up to meet Runealy's gaze. "...during the school year, there's rules about how much I can work at Linden Baum. I've...skirted those rules, sometimes, but even with tips I don't make more than ten or fifteen thousand yen per week." She taps her fingers against the table. "...with that said, I'm pretty sure that's more than the food budget would be for you and your roommates, and that's without bringing the cost of ingredients into things."

Mai purses her lips, looks at the coins again, then looks at Runealy. "...maybe we could look at it on a per-meal basis? I could try asking for fewer hours at Linden Baum - just one or two days a week - until we have an idea of how well things might work out..."

<Pose Tracker> Runealy Waldia [Ohtori Academy (7)] has posed.

"They're good concerns," Rune insists. "Now, as far as our budget goes? After the Barrier was restored... dad and I talked. We talked about a lot of things, but money was one of them. And we both knew it would cost a certain amount for us to be here, to live comfortably in Tokyo. We figured out the numbers on that, and added a little extra just in case. This is about as 'in case' as I can think of!"

She carries on, very swept up in this topic. "So we have our budget, and this can fit in it. I'm going to make it worth your while, because there's a lot that goes into this if you agree to do it. Just... don't worry about it from our perspective. Dad made sure I grew up knowing a little something about how money works, so I'm not going to be constantly hurling it everywhere. And even if /I/ somehow completely lost my senses on it?" For all her intensity, Rune smiles on this point: "He's watching the numbers too, and he'll make sure I don't empty our treasury. Being here to stop monsters from reaching our portal, to stop people from taking over Earth so they can't march on us afterward, that's important and it's going to cost us. Still, we know the costs and what we're getting out of it. We know what's left to make life back home work out, too. It's okay if we hire a few people for things we need on Earth!"

Then it comes time to talk schedules, and Rune is patient. "You've got it. You figure out what makes you comfortable, what fits your life, and we'll work with that." A single, deep nod follows as the princess smiles.

<Pose Tracker> Mai Tokiha [Ohtori Academy (10)] has posed.

Mai nods, hesitantly, and listens to Runealy explain Waldia's royal finances here. She does take note of one answer to something she hadn't dared ask - the fact that Runealy's father, at least, is still alive. "There's tricks to staying in a food budget - the difference between living off of instant noodles, or decent meals, or having a personal chef. Though it feels like some of the students here prefer the latter..." Of course, what does that make Mai herself? Eri's concerns still ring in her head, on that front.

"I do understand both your and his concerns - I've got the scholarship covering school expenses, so anything I earn is basically going toward Takumi's health, but I still watch my finances like a hawk." It has helped her in math class, though. "I'd love to be able to make money doing something I enjoy more than being a waitress, but I couldn't in good conscience do it full time - there's reasonable expense, and then there's paying someone to cook you meals every day of the week."

Mai seems to think of something, and takes her cell phone out of her pocket - from which a certain few charms dangle. "...with that said, Rune-chan, I know you want to help. I just...to some degree I want to take care of as much as I can by myself. So, I can try being a cook - but only as much as is actually reasonable for you to pay for in a week." Her eyes glint, and she starts to grin. "Maybe if I have those double as cooking lessons for you?"

<Pose Tracker> Runealy Waldia [Ohtori Academy (7)] has posed.

Rune is bewildered throughout most of this. Talk of /not/ having a personal chef borders on heresy to her, and going all the way down to cheap pre-packaged food causes her eyes to flicker wide for just a moment... betraying shock or distaste. Yet this isn't the most alarming thing Mai said. Instead, there is a clear and lingering show of wider eyes at a very specific point. 'Going toward Takumi's health' has definitely alarmed Rune, and she doesn't immediately respond to talk of how to frame the job as a mix of cooking and lessons on that.

Instead, once Mai is done talking... Rune is very cautious. "Go back a little. Did I hear you right? I thought the healers' expenses were already covered and it was everything else you were concerned about, not the other way around. Now I'm going to ask something a little 'rude' to wonder about, and fair is fair on this since you already did it... am I missing something about what's going on with Takumi?"

<Pose Tracker> Mai Tokiha [Ohtori Academy (10)] has posed.

Mai's grin fades, and she starts to retort. Pauses. Thinks it over, and sighs. "...it's tight. Our parents made sure there'd be money to help take care of us, and combined with everything I've earned and a few other things -" Scholarships and more loans than she's going to admit. "- there's enough for the operation. Just...the money was technically supposed to be for life afterward, and there won't be much left over for that. So...from my perspective, I have to keep working for the sake of everything. I try to think of it as going towards Takumi's health, and so that we don't have to tap other resources as much."

Mai sighs. "I just...try not to bring any of this up to Takumi, and I'm hoping you won't either. I've just told him things will be fine and that it's all handled - his heart's weak enough as is and I don't want him stressing out about things he can't do anything to change."

<Pose Tracker> Runealy Waldia [Ohtori Academy (7)] has posed.

The explanation seems to work, addressing the contradiction as far as Rune is concerned. "So you're facing a situation where he gets his second heart, and then... you're /that/ far out of money? That sounds like having to budget for everything when you don't have anything."

That's rattling, and she's quick to agree with Mai's decision to keep things secret from Takumi. "No, no, no no no! By the Barrier," the words are used as a slang statement of shock, rather than having anything to really do with a vast demon-seal, "There's no way you could tell him that and I won't either! Mai, I... I didn't realize it was like this. You're talking about living on fifteen thousand a week, on a /good/ week, for two people?" Strictly speaking, that's actually possible. Yet Runealy's sense of living expenses is skewed, and she is visibly terrified at the notion of two people living on what the princess almost sees as pocket change. Even with a sound understanding of money thanks to her father's teachings, it's still astonishingly low to her.

"Listen." Rune forces herself out of that shock, staring hard at Mai with narrowed eyes. "This is a real offer. It's true, part of why I'm doing this is to be nice. But you know what?" The question is rhetorical, trying to demand attention. "I can justify a decent number. You don't have to do this every day for us, this has always been an offer to fit your schedule and what you need... but this /is/ dignified. I'm not throwing money at you for nothing in return; we're getting something out of this too. And if it makes things easier for you and Takumi? Good!" While fired up on this topic, Rune isn't angry. Dramatic and willful, but not mad at Mai.

<Pose Tracker> Mai Tokiha [Ohtori Academy (10)] has posed.

Mai winces, as Rune seems to have the idea - though she holds up one hand when Runealy brings that number up again. "No! No no no, not quite that far gone. There's a scholarship I mentioned - it covers Ohtori's tuition, the rent for the dorms, and provides an appropriate amount for meals. Takumi's living expenses are covered, and I'm putting something away from the food budget by skipping the cafeteria and cooking for myself. The fifteen thousand is entirely going to savings, honest." Which...doesn't change the fact that it's still pocket change by Ohtori standards, or that her approach to saving on the food budget is a bit absolute.

Mai looks down at the charms on her phone. Specifically, she looks at the pink heart, and then holds it up, meeting Rune's serious look. "...okay. I'll treat it as a serious offer, just like this medal. If the test dinner goes well...maybe we can start with once or twice a week, and see how things go from there. If you're willing to at least match what a Linden Baum shift would pay for an evening, then I can try cutting down my hours there in exchange for cooking. An evening for an evening."

...which does leave weekend morning shifts a possibility.

<Pose Tracker> Runealy Waldia [Ohtori Academy (7)] has posed.

"'At least match', what?" Rune speaks indignantly, but this is probably a good thing as it brings her back down from other moods. "I'm not going to 'match' anything! If you're getting hired on as a royal cook, you'll be paid what that's worth! Maybe a bit less due to this being at your convenience, but this is a step up from what you've been doing!"

With social status thus protected, Runealy calms down. "So... work with me on this. You figure out what schedule is realistic for you, we'll figure out what kind of pay is right... and we'll do this. It'll fit your needs and ours, and we'll all come out better for it. Sound good?"

<Pose Tracker> Mai Tokiha [Ohtori Academy (10)] has posed.

Mai shrinks back a bit at the indignation. "I...sorry. There's a lot of the world most of Ohtori lives in that's kind of foreign to me - it's a big deal for me to spend three thousand yen on a meal, so I honestly don't know what you were expecting to pay a cook." A pause, and Mai tries to recover - suddenly grinning a bit. "...though do I really count as a 'royal cook' if I'm just cooking for three people?"

Okay. Work this out. Sure. "All right. Bear in mind that I do want to have a trial run - I know the first week of class is going to be a bit hectic for all of us, but if you can get your roommates on board we can trade emails nailing down a day. If that works...yeah. Maybe start with a couple of weekdays a week, and see if you want to do more than that?"

<Pose Tracker> Runealy Waldia [Ohtori Academy (7)] has posed.

"It counts when you're doing it for royalty, and two of her closest friends!" Rune insists this with confidence that she has the upper hand in semantics... as she certainly doesn't have it in technology. "'Email'?" This is clearly said in a 'what is that?' tone. "Well, whatever we use to figure it out is fine. You're not making an oath to me, you know. If you like it, great! If not, you can back out of the arrangement. It's not like we're going to starve. So we'll try it out however you like."

<Pose Tracker> Mai Tokiha [Ohtori Academy (10)] has posed.

"Well, if the princess says it counts, I guess it has to." Mai grins - and tries very very hard to not laugh at the confusion. "Sorry, I keep forgetting - basically email means the same thing as a text message. Writing something on your phone." She actually visibly relaxes at the comment about oaths. "Sounds good to me - I know that you three have to have been eating something all this time, after all. But...yeah. Once we get through the first few days of class, I'll put together some options for your roommates to choose from. I need to look at my cookbooks anyway...maybe ask Kazu for advice, he does a lot of Western-style cooking."

<Pose Tracker> Runealy Waldia [Ohtori Academy (7)] has posed.

"Ohh. Okay!" With the equivalency made in her mind, Rune 'gets' email. She doesn't, but at least the idea makes some sense now and she's quite pleased with how things have turned out. "Sure! It sounds like you know how you want to try this, so we'll be in touch and make it work. Thanks for giving this a try!"

<Pose Tracker> Mai Tokiha [Ohtori Academy (10)] has posed.

Mai takes a long drink of her tea - finishing the cup - and sets it down with a try. "You're welcome - I'm looking forward to it! Now, I do have to get a few things at the grocery store for the next couple of days - I should get going before it gets too dark out. Send me a note - or just leave a note under my room door if you prefer - once you get a chance to talk to your roommates, okay?"

She stands, gathering her jacket and shopping back, and gives Runealy a smile. "...good luck with classes, by the way. Ugh, I think I have Sugiura-sensei first thing in the morning..."