2014-07-30 - Finally, Some Curry

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Title: Finally, Some Curry

For a break from studying, Mai invites Shiori over. There's a bit of venting about problems, and a lot of simple enjoyment of time with a friend.


Mai Tokiha, Shiori Takatsuki, Mamoru's dinosaur emoji


Ohtori Dormitories

OOC - IC Date:

19 February 2014 - 7/30/2014

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

Midterm week has been worth more than a little stressful for Mai. Studying sessions with friends have helped ensure that this term might go a bit better than last, but it's still mentally exhausting - and Linden Baum shifts add some physical exhaustion to the list. There's days yet to go, and Mai needs some sort of break.

So, she sent a note to Shiori. Having to get meals ready for Mikoto - mostly as bribery to make sure that the girl actually attends her exams - has kept Mai tied to home when she's not working or studying, and she can't really spare the time to go out somewhere. Ergo, an offer - if Mai's friend was interested, she could come over to enjoy a home-cooked meal.

It's also a chance to see the Ohtori campus again, if Shiori is in any way nostalgic, but that went unmentioned.

Since it seems Mikoto is out on the hunt again, Mai is left to herself in the kitchen. She's still wearing her uniform's skirt and shirt, but has discarded the mustard-coloured jacket in favor of a pink apron. There's a large bento and a plate set aside with cuts of fish in a sweet sauce for whenever her roommate comes to dine, but for herself - and for her guest - Mai is trying out a mild curry. A simple spice mix, cuts of chicken and vegetables simmering away with a few pieces of apple, a roux cooking in another pot, and the battered rice cooker working away in the background...things are all in order, and now Mai just has to wait.

She could be studying, but it's more interesting to just watch the pots, and glance toward the door.

<Pose Tracker> Shiori Takatsuki [Infinity Institute (10)] has posed.

Shiori's studying, despite having heard of a nice group, has mostly been alone, in her room, or at most with her roommates in the dorms. ...But she doesn't really hang that much outside happenstance circumstances with the other girls who live in her part of the dorms. It's been nervewracking, to say the least.

The note from Mai was a surprise, and welcome--though really, Shiori stared at it for a while and kept debating how she should answer, if she should go at all, what she should do, what the message really means, if it's actually some sort of trap where Mai will finally tell her about how much she can't stand the Infinity student--

And if she might run into someone on campus.

She replied with a cheerful affirmative in the end, and has been walking over, somewhat deliberately avoiding the higher-traffic areas she remembers. The school hasn't changed at all... though she didn't spend much time in the high school dorms, of course.

A knock hits the door, gentle and almost hesitant. Behind it is Shiori, in a short purple dress and tights, a green jacket over it against the cold. She has boots, too, though of course the look is deliberately constructed to be casual. She will smile when she sees Mai.

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

The door opens not long after the knock - Mai having little more to do than watch pots boil. The smile is met with one of her own, and the orange-haired girl steps aside to allow Shiori entry. "Shiori-chan! Glad to hear you could make it - sorry to bother you during exams, but I really needed to just take a few hours off from studying."

The dorm room is warm - even with the window left unlocked for easy entry, and the planter with a few greens sitting there, Mai's series of culinary exploits has done as much as any space heater to ward off February's chill. Hot steam from several dishes has done much to keep the heat up, and there's a mix of smells filling the air.

Faintest, something sweet - the sauce Mai made earlier for the fish. A medley of spices, fried not long ago for inclusion in the curry, adds that hint of fire to the air. Most prominent, perhaps, is a smell like that of baking bread - the flour and butter of the roux, cooked together for the final thickening of the sauce.

In short, the apartment smells of home cooking. No awkward leftover takeout here, and Mai has worked hard to train her roommate to keep things clean in her wake - just nice, housewarming smells.

As Shiori makes her way in, Mai returns to her duty in the kitchen - just about time to make use of the roux. As she ladles sauce into that pot to thin it a bit, she explains. "It's been a busy couple of weeks - some issues with another friend, I got invited to a rather bizarre poetry event, and then there was that whole cake delivery business - but I was hoping to get caught up. How have things been for you? Anything interesting on your end for Valentine's Day?"

...speaking of which, she does still have some leftover chocolate from Mamoru's stash to use up. Maybe offer that for dessert? Something to contemplate while finishing the curry. "Oh, and just leave your jacket anywhere - chair, bed, closet..."

<Pose Tracker> Shiori Takatsuki [Infinity Institute (10)] has posed.

Home cooking isn't a smell Shiori knows much about; the welcoming air of this dorm is frankly strange to her, puts her slightly off-balance, since she isn't sure what she should do. But Mai speaking up at least gives her something to hold onto first instead of just being paralyzed by all the new scents. So, when Mai greets her, Shiori replies brightly, "It's not a bother at all! I'm just glad you thought of me."

She even bows, slightly, because she is a guest, after all. But then she does make her way in, and while Mai returns to the kitchen, she looks around, finally letting her eyes widen to take it all in. She picks up something sweet, but she cant even identify all of it. ...Is this really a dorm room?

How impossible is Mai?

Shiori follows along a moment after. "Oh--I hope you sorted it out," she answers about the issues, then tilts her head. "Hm. Are you the sort who's into poetry, Mai-chan?"


"Oh, it's been the normal boring time for me," she replies, dismissing the matter as she stops a bit behind her friend. "I didn't really do anything for Valentine's. I guess it's not a day that I have much for."

Hm? Oh right! It is already warm in here, and she remembers she's wearing a jacket and that's part of why. "Okay!" she answers, and glances around--approaching Mai's bed, actually, to set the jacket down without further comment, before heading back out Mai's way.

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

Mix broth with roux, give it a stir, then add it back to the main pot so the curry gets thick enough. No more than a couple of minutes until Mai is done cooking, at this rate. Good timing that Shiori showed up when she did, or is this just a meal that could be held as 'nearly done' indefinitely?

"Well, I like spending time with my friends when I can - and I do like cooking. Hopefully, it turns out well - I haven't had much chance to actually use spices in a while, my roommate can't handle them." Mai grins, a bit self-conscious - but continues stirring the pot. "As for everything else..."

She lets out a sigh. "Things are a bit awkward with that friend - she said some things that hurt, but there was some magical thing going on - she wasn't entirely in control at the time. The poetry event was...interesting, but more for the company than for the poetry itself. I did have a good time, though." There's a soft smile on her face, remembering the events there...

It takes a moment for her to snap out of it, and she reaches for the bowl of peas. Last ingredient for the curry! "I can kind of understand - I did a few things, but just obligation chocolate. Something for my brother, for his roommate who helps take care of him, and for a friend of mine who helps out sometimes. Not exactly expecting much on White Day."

Mai's bed is made, though not as neatly as her roommate's. Still, straightened up enough for a few things, even if her school uniform's jacket has been left there. Its owner is a body in motion - while the curry finishes simmering, Mai goes to get a couple of dishes from the cupboard, bringing them to the table. "Just need to get drinks - water okay? And at least if it's quiet, nothing's been going horribly wrong, right?"

<Pose Tracker> Shiori Takatsuki [Infinity Institute (10)] has posed.

Shiori can't tell the difference, between the meal being ready at the right time and the meal being extendable in preparation for a while. She just takes it as more evidence of Mai's greatness, not really thinking terribly critically about it.

"Haha, is that right?" she asks about spices. "Well if you like it, I'm not going to complain about the invitation."

Ah... Said some things...? Shiori tilts her head, though of course she's behind at the moment. What could those things have been? And what magic? The poetry, even though it's an interest of hers, doesn't quite compare to the emotinal details of the moment. Not until Mai, in turn, seems to sort of get lost in the memory.

"..." Shiori starts to say something from behind Mai, but doesn't quite get it out in favor of continuing about valentine's. "Well, you said before that people just remember what they want to remember--if they're not going to give you a chance, they dont matter much, right?"

Jacket is near jacket then! It's a good place for it, Shiori thinks--it if nothing else means she'll have to go far to get it before she can leave.

Just in case.

"Water's fine!" the Infinity student answers. "...Mm, quiet isn't always a good thing--but I'm not worried. I think things are going OK right now."

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

Mai starts in surprise when Shiori speaks up from behind her - she'd been caught up in table preparation, and had lost track of her guest. It takes a moment for the words to sink in, and when they do...

...she flushes a moment, then furrows her brow in frustration. "It's a...complicated situation, and I kind of feel like I'm taking the easy way out sometimes." She goes to get the drinks, but turns to talk directly to Shiori again halfway to the cupboard.

"I...well, you know I'm kept busy with work, and hospital, and everything. Which is why what R- what that possessed friend said stung so much. The point is, I've been avoiding dating because of that - I'd worry I don't have the time to devote to romance." She retrieves a couple of glasses, and gets a pitcher of water from the refrigerator.

Pouring drinks, she continues. "I'm just...if I found someone who could understand that I have those priorities, then maybe...sorry, I shouldn't bother you with my problems like that." Mai musters a smile, trying to bring cheer back in place of frustration. "I'm glad to hear things are going well."

<Pose Tracker> Shiori Takatsuki [Infinity Institute (10)] has posed.

Shiori is silent, of course, as Mai quickly responds. She can sense a little heat there after all, so she pauses where she is, looking Mai's way again but not quite making eye contact as the Ohtori student actually faces her. Her expression is a little tense, her eyes down and her mouth set in a mild worry.

She lifts her head, as Mai goes on, though, noting the R but not saying aything about it. Instead, she waits, stepping over as Mai pours the drinks. She reaches to pick one up, and even the other if she isn't stopped.

Only now does the more delicate of the two try for eye contact. "I don't mind," she insists. "You can bother me with anything that's on your mind, Mai-chan. ...I think it's admirable, to have things that are so important to you."

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

Mai is hesitant to make eye contact herself - not able or willing to stop the drink retrieval until it's too late. Eventually, though, she does look up again. "...thanks. I really don't want to be a burden, though. I'm just...trying to figure out what I'm doing." She gives the curry a stir, and turns off the heat to the burner - all without looking away from Shiori.

"What's important...I'm taking care of my brother, and honestly, my roommate. I have my job, which I need for taking care of my brother. Then there's school, and dealing with the magic side of things, and figuring out what one friend's deal is-"

Mai stops, suddenly, as there's a chime from her pocket. Puzzled, and frowning a moment, she takes out her phone. Something critically important, perhaps? Or a question, or- she facepalms, and shows Shiori the screen.

It's an emoji. Specifically, a dinosaur. No message, just a silly little dinosaur made of text symbols.

"And then that same friend sends things like this and is prone to foolhardy stunts. I don't suppose you have any clue if there's some hidden meaning behind this, or am I worrying over nothing?" Frustrated, she snaps the phone shut, and tosses it to slide along the counter. The curry's done anyway, and Mai carries it to the table.

<Pose Tracker> Shiori Takatsuki [Infinity Institute (10)] has posed.

Shiori just stands there for a few moments, while luckily Mai does look up before the purple-haired girl does more than set one foot back, in preparation to move. She ends up staying right there, replying as Mai stirs the curry, "You aren't any kind of burden. I mean, you're cooking, right? I want to share a little of what's on your mind."

Her roommate, too? Hmm... Shiori has seen some of this, but not all of it. It seems like a lot to keep track of, really. "I don't know how you have time for--" She had started speaking, but when Mai actually looks at her phone, Shiori stops talking over the chime. She thn blinks as she sees the screen. A...

A dino...saur...?

She blinks again, and her expression is the very picture of confusion. "I think it's really sweet of you to make friends with a little kid," she answers, smiling as she thinks she found just the right thing to say for the moment. "Here, I'll take the drinks out for us!" Shiori, too, starts to the table.

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

Mai smiles, gratitude warm on her face. "That does mean a lot. Having friends to talk with, that is - I didn't have much luck before transferring. Not many people used to dealing with duties and all that." She rubs at the back of her head. "Still, apologies in advance if I wind up venting a bit."

Once the curry and drinks are safely on the table, Mai pulls out a chair to sit on. Before actually taking that seat, though, she gives Shiori a flat stare. "The sad thing is? He's an upperclassman."

<Pose Tracker> Shiori Takatsuki [Infinity Institute (10)] has posed.

"I know how it feels," Shiori answers. "...I told you a little about that. And now that I'm over at Infinity... I don't have a lot of people to talk to, either. So even if you vent, you're kinda doing me a favor that way." Her own smile widens after that, though--she can really feel the sincerity in Mai's appreciation there.

Shiori sets down the drinks relatively gracefully; it's quiet, they don't spill, there's no problem. She's about to move to sit too, until she freezes at that flat stare--and then stares back, leaning her head foward slightly which makes her eyes look even wider. "Whoa, seriously?" She shakes her head and siiighs before sitting down.

"Then I don't even know."

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

Mai's own sigh echoes Shiori's as she starts to take her place at the table. "That makes two of us, then. Just a tall absurdity to wonder about." She freezes, halfway through sitting- "Oh, blast, I forgot to grab the rice, one moment!"

It's a quick dash to the kitchen to retrieve the rice - rather than stand on ceremony, she just brings it with her to the table to serve from directly. "Anyway, he's one of the few people I can talk about problems with - including you, I've got maybe four in all. So I can put up with some eccentricities."

A helping for each plate, and the curry's ladle offered to Shiori first. "Back to what we were talking about before that interruption - time's definitely a problem. I have to squeeze in recreation here and there...so it's great that you could make it on short notice with a friend. I know dinner at home isn't exactly much of an outing, but...it's something, at least."

<Pose Tracker> Shiori Takatsuki [Infinity Institute (10)] has posed.

It's a good thing, of course, that Shiori doesn't know the particular identity of that friend. ...It might be awkward. As it stands, she instead blinks as Mai runs off for the rice, and watches her return with some speed.

So many! ...Maybe she shouldn't say that. "I guess everybody's got something about them, right?"

Not everyone. But it's not like Mai is friends with the person who comes to mind for Shiori.

Shiori in turn of course sets some curry out for Mai before she sets her own down, on the plate beside the rice, while listening to what her friend has to say. "You do so much! Your roommate is pretty lucky, isn't she?" A beat, before, "You can call me whenever you like, Mai-chan. I can make time for you. ...Besides... I've been living in dorms most of my life. Dinner at home isn't something I'm really used to."

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

So much awkward potential - but there are more important things. Like paying attention to the friend in front of her. "There's always something." She lets out a sigh - one friend has a horrible home life, one's a total goof, and her roommate might as well have been raised in the wilderness.

Mai looks up in surprise when the first plate filled is hers. The comment about Mikoto draws a chuckle, and Mai gives a warm smile. "Then consider this an open offer to drop by any time you want to. It's no more trouble to cook for three, than it is for two, and I'm happy to spend time with a friend." A normal friend - or, at least, more normal than anyone else Mai knows.

A thought does strike her, and worry flickers there. "Just - when you do drop by, try not to just barge in. Mikoto's kind of like a feral cat, and attacks when surprised - I'm trying to get her to at least hold off attacking friends." It shouldn't happen...but Mai would really prefer to avoid disaster again.

<Pose Tracker> Shiori Takatsuki [Infinity Institute (10)] has posed.

Shiori is just happy to be here.

Mai's surprise gets the sort of look from Shiori that's the precursor to a laugh, but really only ends up going as far as focusing on dishing up the food for the moment. When the ladle is set down, then she looks up at Mai again, her eyes wide and soft. "Really? ...You're too kind. You really do keep a lovely room, though--I almost thought I'd gotten out of the dorms somehow."

She is of course quite terribly normal.

But--...? "A-attacking friends?" Her nervous tone is cut off by her sitting up a little straighter, "Oh, that's fine. I can call first anyway; it's not like I'm on campus very much otherwise."

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

Lovely? The compliment brings another flush to burn briefly on Mai's face. She still has to replace the lamp Mikoto broke a few days, and she hasn't had time to make the bed properly... It's a moment before she can reply. "Thanks. I just - as long as I'm living here, I want to make it my space as much as I can."

Mikoto is, of course, an eternal concern - but Mai nods. "That's a good plan - call first, and I can be here to answer the door. It isn't really a problem, she just tends to, um. Overreact." A bit sheepish, Mai turns her attention to the food - doing the quick pre-meal 'itadakimasu', she takes up her utensils.

"I hope it's all right - like I said, I haven't had much opportunity to make anything spicy in a while." She looks at Shiori, frowning in concern as an earlier comment returns to her attention. "So, Infinity's dorms - are the meals there decent, at least - or are you stuck with convenience food most of the time?"

<Pose Tracker> Shiori Takatsuki [Infinity Institute (10)] has posed.

Shiori, while Mai is unable to reply, beams. She seems to stand by her assessment of the space. "Make it yours... That's an interesting approah, isn't it? Sort of bold. I think it's like you."

Shiori doesn't really understand the nature of the Mikoto concern, and won't until she has a chance to see more and meet her. So for now, she can only sort of play along, "Sure!"

...Is that really just a way to keep her away?? Shioi can't entirely dismiss the idea.

Shiori, too, politely begins her meal with utensils and all, only looking down after the little ritual is complete. "MM, it smells really nice." Shiori glances back up, seeing--

"Aah..." Well it's something that can be checked, of course. "They're fine," she insists, "The dorms are pretty extensive. But it's not the same as something like this, you know? It's... different, when it's someone you know."

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

Bold? Maybe. Mai does grin just a bit at this. "Well, if you're not comfortable in a situation, leave or change it. I can't exactly leave Ohtori - my brother and I were lucky enough to get a scholarship, I wouldn't waste this chance for him - so I went with trying to make this somewhere I can be comfortable."

She takes a bite of the meal - it's got a bit of heat, but is overall a relatively mild Japanese-style curry. Still, it's nice to finally have something with that kick for a change, and Mai's face brightens - though she does watch for Shiori's reaction. Is her guest as satisfied? The cook must know!

After another bite, Mai speaks up again. "In all honesty...a home, dorm or otherwise, isn't so much the location or the things as the people. It's been kind of weird being separate from Takumi - though his roommate is keeping an eye on him in my place, which is a relief - but I wound up with an interesting roommate."

Mai glances to the window, briefly, then back to her guest. "She's a bit feral, mind, but when she's home she's always happy to welcome me whenever I do get in. It helps. With that said..." She gestures with her spoon, suddenly, pointing it at Shiori for a moment. There's a bright smile on her face. "Having friends over and sharing a meal is the best thing. Whether we're talking seriously or just enjoying a meal, it's nice to have company."

<Pose Tracker> Shiori Takatsuki [Infinity Institute (10)] has posed.

"You make it sound so easy," Shiori replies before she even thinks about it. She stops for a moment after that, however, the hesitance briefly showing in her eyes. She brightens almost in a blink, however, "Is that how it worked? He's lucky to have a sister like you. ...I don't have any siblings," she admits at the end there.

She quickly takes a bite as well, and it does indeed a fine job of covering her previous moment; the curry hits her mouth, and her eyes widen a bit; clearly she has felt the kick. "Mm," she pronounces a moment later, and while her face is a little red, she smiles after she finishes the bite. "You weren't kidding!" she remarks, but then adds a beat later, leaning in, "But it's fun to have a little spice, right?"

The people, rather than the location... "I..." Shiori glances to the side, thoughtful. "Maybe you're right," she answers, but it may not be terribly convincing.

Now, she looks back to her host. "Feral...?" Beat--she's pointed at! And smiled at, no less. "O-oh," she replies, still a little red--maybe because of the spice, but mabe not. "...I'm happy that you think so. It's nice... to be company, I mean."

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

Mai is quick to drop the subject of Takumi, flushing brightly at the praise. "I tend to worry about him, is all..." There is, thankfully, a meal to focus on - thick sauce, slightly sweet to go with the spiciness, with a variety of vegetables and a bit of meat. She nods, the spice bringing red to her own face, and leans in as well. "It really, really is. Worth making the next time it's just the two of us, then?" She grins.

As for what makes a home worth having...Once Mai leans back in her chair, and has a bit of water to wash the curry down, she tries to give a warm, comforting smile. The spicy food heating up her face doesn't help, mind. "Well, you're welcome to be company any time. Don't worry about Mikoto - she's kind of like a cat, as long as she knows you're not an 'enemy' she's generally nice."

A passing thought, as the meal goes on. "So, I'm getting far too used to Linden Baum's western meals coming with dessert - I've got some surplus chocolate from a far too popular friend, if you want something sweet after supper."

<Pose Tracker> Shiori Takatsuki [Infinity Institute (10)] has posed.

Shiori is happy enough to let the subject fall, and it may even look like it's because she's respectful of Mai's hesitance on the matter! ...hether that's actually the reason is a bit harder to say, but the purple-haired girl is too busy eating another bite to say much of anything else for now. Chewing a bit (not quite as daintily as she thinks she is), she swalls and then grins back. "...I think that sounds good," she answers.

Well there's enough warmth to go around; Shiori watches Mai for those few moments, her eyes studying her friend's face. "...Great. And I... Well, I hope I can get along with her."

Ah? Blink. "You--you do?" Chocolate? ...Valentine's chocolate? "Oh, um... Sure," she answers, and the surprise doesn't quite go away.

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

The food is good. A recipe worth making again, in spite of its complexities. Not something Mai can ever serve to Mikoto, unfortunately, but if she has other company over... Shiori's grin - and apparent enjoyment - are heartwarming for the cook.

Mai's face, as the 'feral' roommate is discussed, is a blend of emotions. There's a bit of worry and sheepishness visible - one doesn't normally refer to people like wild animals. But strangely, even when discussing Mikoto's behavior, Mai seems...fond. Content, a little happy to have the frustrating roommate.

What she says, however, is more direct. "I hope so too - it should be fine, honestly. Bribe her with food if you have to."

As for the chocolate - Mai is a bit sheepish, and rubs the back of her head as she explains. "My friend was...kind of popular this year, and wound up with more chocolate than he could eat. I do not envy him come White Day. Anyway, he invited everyone he knows personally to declare open season on things, so I have a few small stash. I'll get it out after this." And with that, she returns to her curry.

<Pose Tracker> Shiori Takatsuki [Infinity Institute (10)] has posed.

She would, left to her own devices, probably try for much spicier than she can handle, but Shiori's meal has instead been in the hands of a rather more practiced chef than the Infinity student herself.

Fondness... Even though this girl seems to cause Mai trouble. How is that? Is it something she has over her? ...Does that mean Mai's a little more like her than she was thinking?

Her thoughts unvoiced, Shiori just smiles during all that while Mai describes her roommate. And then--bribes, "Haha, okay, I'll have to find some snacks or something to keep onhand."

Her thoughts on Mai only further inform her thoughts on the chocolate. ...She seems to be a little shy about it herself, glancing away as she listens, though she is still smiling. "I see," she answers. "...It's only fair to share a little, isn't it?" Maybe she might not like the friend so much, if he's so popular, but in this case....

Shiori, too, goes back to her curry. This has been a good outing already.

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

Is Mai like Shiori, when it comes to how she feels about important people to her? It's hard to say. All that can be said is that Mikoto earns more warmth in Mai's tone than Takumi does, for whatever bizarrd reason.

In spite of embarrassment - either hers or her guest's - Mai keeps a cheerful expression going. The meal turned out well, albeit not as professional as Infinity's usual far; her friend was happy to come over; nothing terrible happened. Finishing her plate - and aware there'll be leftovers for later, Mai pushes herself back from the table with a grin.

"I'll go get it, then - thanks, I was wondering what to do with it." This has been a great evening, all things considered - Mai heads to the kitchen, to dig out that large bag of miscellaneous chocolate. Best to be a good host, after all!