|Summary: Tanith tries to console Rachel after some rough times.|
Suddenly, the Princess disappeared!
It wasn't for long, though. The pink M1A Astray disappeared from the hangar of the Argama only a couple of days ago, and the pilot of the machine was nowhere to be found. Eventually-- that is to say, the wee hours of the morning-- the machine requested clearance to dock. Wearing the colors of a sailor from Mithril and carrying a small Mithril-issued duffel in her hand.
Hours later, she snaps awake almost instantly. She sits up, stretches, and glances over at the clock built into the wall. Her legs stretch next, right down to her toes, and the dusky-skinned girl consigns herself to a shower and a change of clothes. When she returns to her mirror, it's with a tiny case that can fit in the palm of her hand.
Opening her right eye wider and wider, she slips on the golden-iris contact lens, blinking until it settles in. The case goes into the top drawer of her dresser, and she turns toward the work desk along the wall.
Sitting down, she looks over a datapad regarding Mobile Suit repairs. Which machine needs tuning next, if the engines need a touch and tweak. She's looking at it, but she's not quite... seeing it. She's got her mind on other things-- like on a submarine, down on Earth...
Presumably entering into Rachel's train of thought is that her door buzzer suddenly goes off like six times at once, as if that was even /possible/. And yet, somehow the limitless energy of one Tanith O'Gasmeter is able to make even things as meticulously controlled as doorbells spaz out and act as loud and disruptive as she does. Perhaps it is some kind of amazing Newtype Gift.
Then comes the intercom, Tanith so loud on it that she may well be pressing her mouth right up to it. /Maybe she is/. (She isn't.) "YO!" comes the initial blurt, followed by: "I mean, uh, hey! Rachel! You in there? I saw your, you know, your, what was it Jesus Christ the um uh--" Then the time runs out on the intercom and it automatically shuts off.
So Tanith bangs the button again, and yelps, "Look, the important part is I saw you were back on the ship, and, you know, I just thought I'd say hey and see if you wanted to--" It cuts out again.
Tanith depresses the button a third time. "Uhh, who designed this stupid thing? Because I'm getting kinda sick of dealing with it, so like, you know, I mean I'm not going to be /bossy/ because it's /your/ room but if you want to--"
And again, it cuts off, but by now, Rachel probably gets the drift of where the teenage navigator is trying to go with it.
A rapid series of buzzing-- and then Rachel looks up. Before the white-haired girl can even get the words "its open" out of her mouth, the door's intercom system is assaulted time and again with the ravenous attention of a fifteen-year old girl trying to call and see if anyone is even home.
Listening to Tanith go on and on is something amazing, even if it is a little bit loud. Still, she doesn't say anything, instead moving to the door to click the button. It swishes open, and a tired-looking Rachel Miu Athha gestures for entrance. "Come on in..."
Her hair's still a little bit damp, but she's dressed, with the towel around her neck. She's wearing a raglan-sleeve t-shirt and a denim skirt, one that leaves her legs bared from just above the knees-down. Toned and sturdy as her legs are, there's a bit of scarring there, too.
Rachel's room is amazingly ... neat. It is, probably, what one would expect out of someone from such an elite family: A place for everything, and everything has a place. The only exception to this rule is, probably, her desk-- pads laid across it, paper reports stacked to an inch high on the side, and a magnetic paperweight to keep a few sheets from floating off into zero gravity.
"Did you need something?" she asks, trying to sound focused on the girl with the veiled eyes.
Said girl with the veiled eyes floats. She's not dressed casually, but then, she's so brazenly modified her Argama uniform that she might as well be anyway, since the dominant elements are 'jacket' and 'hat.' Her own skirt is far more problematic in a low-gravity environment, but she seems to be able to handle it ably enough. It's all in how you move your legs. Tanith fans her head around, looking over the room and letting out a low whistle. Tanith doesn't even /have/ her own quarters.
"Uh?" she says, snapping back into reality to respond to the question. "Well... no, not really," Tanith somewhat sheepishly admits. Her braid hangs over her shoulder, and she takes it into her hands, playing with it gently. "I just, you know, wanted to see if..." Tanith pauses. Her Spider-Sense is tingling -- or, rather, her Newtype brain is attempting to get her to shut up and listen for a second. She can feel the weight hanging over the room easily, now.
"Well, uh, if this is a bad time, I can-- y'know." Tanith makes a vague gesture toward the door that involves wagging her braid at it. "I just... I got off bridge duty just now and..." Tanith feels selfish and stupid for a moment, going on about 'I I I.' Her face reddens slightly (what can be seen of it).
"Hey, you know," Tanith says after a brief pause, letting go of her braid, "...if you need someone to talk to or something... I mean, I'm not, you know, I'm not a wizard or a sister or whatever but... you know where I'm going with this? Like, if something's up, you don't have to..."
Tanith bobs from one foot to the other, as if hesitating before just coming out with it: "You don't have to keep it all bottled in."
Question number two. "Do you want to sit down?"
There are only two real places to do that. One is the single chair at her desk. The other is of course, the made-military-precise bed at the opposite wall of the room. Her footsteps on the floor are light and rather precise, putting forth just the exact amount of momentum at the exact moment she needs to keep from flying off and slamming face-first into a wall, making it something more of a lightly bounding gait.
Tanith's playing with her braid. Her eyes are absent for a moment, and the first thing she thinks of is the space an inch from Tessa's neck, where that braid slinks around over a slender shoulder. She plays with it, too, just like that, though the memory evokes the sensation-- the moment that they began to resonate, and the moment when their minds crossed wires.
Tessa. Soma Peries.
Her knees bend, and she sits at one end of her bed. Drawing in a breath, Rachel lets out a sigh, her gaze shifting off toward the wall. "I really am that obvious, aren't I?" she asks, but perhaps in that 'ironic' way. "I know that you mean well, Tanith, but... the situation is very complicated. There are a lot of things in my life that I can't really talk about."
She looks down a little, hands folding and thumbs tapping together. "I don't ... I'd rather not keep secrets, but there are things I just can't say. What I probably /can/ say is that someone I once knew showed up in my life again out of nowhere, and seeing her again was... was not how I expected it to be."
"I suspect for both of us."
The offer of a seat is considered for a moment. Tanith glances around, spying the one chair and the bed -- and with a quiet word of thanks, Tanith drifts toward the chair. She could have sat on the bed, but that'd be... weird. Tanith keeps her legs pressed together when she sits.
"Well, it's kinda..." Tanith chuckles grimly, as if she was thinking of a joke that wasn't particularly funny. "Yeah, you kinda /are/ that obvious. It's not just you, it's like... all over the room. I bet if a Newtype saw me when I was in a shitty mood, though, it'd be the same way. But, uh, that's -- you know, that's beside the point."
Tanith leans forward slightly and adjusts her hat. She tilts the brim upward a bit -- and then just takes it off entirely, holding it by the brim in one hand. The gears are spinning in her head. Someone Rachel once knew coming back into her life. Knowing Rachel is adopted, Tanith's first thought is 'birth mother.' But she was adopted really young, wasn't she? Would she even know her mother? Is her real mother even alive? Probably too much of a whole Thing to even risk getting into. But what if--
No, she couldn't mean--
Tanith's heart skips a beat for a second.
"Wait," she says, before she can even stop herself. "You mean like... an ex-girlfriend?" A pause. A long, awkward pause. "Because, I mean, you don't need to be... self-conscious about that, I mean, it's, it's NCA 120, it's not like that's... /abnormal/ in this day and age..."
The gears are spinning in another direction for the girl sitting on the bed. Tanith is looking for the truth, and Rachel is trying to find a way to fit it into the perfect lie that is her current life, like fingers groping in the dark for the last piece to the perfect puzzle or the cog that restarts the machine. Tanith talks about the empathy, the emotions-- and she nods a little bit.
Being the protoge of Amuro Ray may speak volumes as to what Rachel Miu Athha is-- or may be-- but the truth of the matter is that she still has trouble getting those feelings to awaken. When she met Soma in Earth's orbit, her voice carried... without the use of a communications suite. Soma heard her voice-- and she knows it.
Now, Soma is sitting in a room in one of the Danaan's bulkheads, a makeshift brig. The thought leaves her feeling absolutely awful, but at least she can try to call the Colonel and get a communications link going.
'You mean like... an ex-girlfriend?'
Rachel blinks a few times, eyes wide. "What? N-No, no, no-- no, not anything like that!" she exclaims, hands lifting up in front of herself. "She's a friend. I haven't seen her for a long time, and we've just..."
The white-haired girl's hands fold in her lap, and she frowns slightly. "We've kind of ... gone in different directions... if... if that makes sense. I've tried to understand all of her decisions up until this point, and... it..."
Her head shakes, a few wet bangs splaying across her forehead at alternating angles. "I'm sorry. I just... it's hard to get into."
Tanith almost flinches when Rachel gets flustered. The suddenness of it is enough to make her empathy flip out -- Rachel gets embarassed, and Tanith gets embarassed, and it's just a bit of a mess, emotionally. But Tanith gets a grip -- she can't help but feel some of what Rachel's feeling, though. When Rachel frowns, Tanith frowns too.
"Well, I mean..." the fifteen-year-old begins, and then stops, stammering herself to a halt before she can even really get started. Tanith whaps her hat against her white-covered knee. She turns her head this way and that -- her gaze seems somehow clearly not on Rachel, down toward the floor if anywhere.
"I don't... really like talking about this," Tanith begins again, slowly, her own voice quiet and careful, like she was attempting to navigate a minefield via tiptoe. "But like... my daddy died when I was really young. And when I was eleven... my mom and I went on vacation. And that's the only reason we didn't die when the Titans gassed our colony." Tanith is quiet, and hunches forward, resting her forehead in one hand. Her bangs hang, still covering her eyes, although her frown is emotive enough for the task at hand. "And then, you know, I... in Neo Hong Kong, I left all my friends behind, and my mom, too, so I could go... do... all this." Tanith waves her hat at the walls of the room.
"So I'm not gonna... I mean, I can't... I'm not you, and I'm not gonna..." Tanith sighs, seeming to give up.
It's a long moment before Tanith figures out what she means to say: "If I got to see my daddy or my friends from the old colony again, I'd just... want to make the most of what moments I could steal. That's what'd be important to me. You know? I just-- that's all I'm gonna say about it."
Before she can ask what the story is about, it becomes clear all too quickly. The Titans gassed a colony. People died. Lots of people. Tanith's father. She left her mother and friends behind. That in particular seems to strike a strong chord in her heart, as Rachel closes her eyes and lets out a slow sigh.
"I... I think I understand."
There's a bit of unconscious emphasis on 'think.' She's still trying to get her emotions sorted out, the feelings that stir when people talk to her like this. She doesn't have much in the way of these personal experiences to understand, but the thought of leaving friends behind...
She can identify with that very well.
Bringing a few fingers up to her face, she hooks back a length of hair to tuck behind her ear. The story is full of half-truths, but the emotions themselves are genuine. "I found out that she... is in A-LAWS. There was an incident, and I went down to Earth to check in on it. I got enough leave to look in on what happened."
She swallows, just her right eye opening-- dominantly out of habit. "Please don't say anything about it to anyone else. I had to make sure that she was all right, when I found out."
Tanith's head doesn't move. This, if nothing else, is as good an indicator as any that her attention stays fixed on Rachel as she speaks -- that her gaze stays on the other girl, in whatever form a gaze takes when it's deprived of eyes. Tanith's grip on the brim of her hat is tight. Her fingers keep clenching it a bit too tight, then relaxing, then going back to gripping too tightly...
Tanith frowns, but doesn't judge. There's more sympathy within her than anything else. She wants to extend her friendship out toward Rachel and somehow use it to make everything okay, but it's not a magic wand and it doesn't work like that -- and short of a magic wand, Tanith doesn't really know what else she can do.
"I won't say anything," Tanith says, nodding once to punctuate the sentence with some finality. Her voice sounds as resolute as it really can while kind of catching in her throat. "I mean, for what's worth, my... my mom's part of the Earth Federation military, too. And, you know, if -- something happened, or, you know, anything--"
Tanith looks down again, and scratches her temple, jostling her bangs but not allowing access to what lies behind them. "I mean, I'd have done the same thing." Tanith squirms in her seat. She tries not to talk about this stuff -- she tries really, really hard. But there's something in the air of the room. All that stuff she keeps pinned down inside her heart churns and demands release, because it's not like she ever dealt with any of it properly.
"If you want me to leave you alone, though, I can go."
Strangely, the weight on her shoulders seems to lift. She can sit up a little straighter and not frown nearly as hard-- and while there does seem to be a perpetually sad aura around Rachel Miu Athha, it seems to have lessened up just a little bit: Those first layers are peeled back, slowly but surely.
Rachel slowly nods. There's so much to her family history that's left in the dark, and all that she has to grasp for in this new life she has is Cagalli-- her, and the stories of Uncle Homura whom always seemed to run a tight ship for a man whom was related to Uzumi Nara Athha.
Tanith assures her about her secret. "... Thank you."
Looking up a little bit, Rachel shakes her head. "You don't have to if you don't want to. I was just looking over some paperwork, there," she says, gesturing to the datapads left on her desk. "I don't have to report for another hour or so, anyway."
Tanith pulls her lips inward, chewing on her lower one just a bit. She rocks on the seat, heels bouncing on the floor -- she doesn't feel the gloom as being quite so oppressive anymore, and the energy that this unchains has to get expressed somehow. Solemnity doesn't suit Tanith well at all. "No problem," she says. "Seriously. No problem."
Tanith looks at her knees, or -- somewhere. Who knows. It's not like her face offers much of a clue. "Well, I don't want to -- put you off that, I mean..." Thoughts buzz. Tanith tries to swat at them. Her hands rest on her knees and grip them. Tanith protests, but she doesn't get up. Her heels continue to bounce, but her legs don't rise.
"You know, my parents used to do a thing," Tanith says, reverting to rambling if only because it's her natural mode -- a pathological desire to fill any silence she's presented with. "If things got, you know, all like they are now, that was when we used to have a big meal. Like, they'd go into the kitchen and cook, and I remember... helping once or twice, before... you know, I told you. But I think I picked up the habit. When things are shitty for me, I cook for myself and it... it doesn't make things any better, I guess, but at least there's good food to be had." Tanith flashes an awkward, goofy smile. "I guess what I'm saying is if that pancake dude, Pascal, can commandeer the mess hall facilities, it can't be /too/ hard for us to..."
Almost instinctively, Rachel stands up. "Honestly... I think it's fine. Cagalli always tells me I need to socialize more, anyway." Only after the words have left her mouth does she stop and stare at the floor, mouth hanging open just a little bit. "That-- not that-- Not that I'm saying I feel obligated to, that is-- I-- just--"
Rachel's eyes shift off to the side, and her expression seems somewhat flustered. Anxious. Maybe a little bit frustrated, too. "I'm sorry, I'm ... I grew up in a different house than Cagalli, Uncle Homura was never really one for parties or inviting people over..."
Sliding the towel off of her shoulders and giving it enough of a push that it goes over the end of her bed and stays there, Rachel's fingers brush up and down against the back of her head and neck, shaking off a few excess particles of water into the air of the cabin. Princess or not, she seems to have the same hair styling habits as her elder sister.
She looks haunted.
She looks horrified.
"I don't know..."
She looks mortified.
"... I don't know how to cook anything..."
Tanith settles, although it's more of a psychological thing -- she's still moving. Her body seems full of bundled-up motion that's been waiting for a chance to act and finding what little ways it can to get out -- she drums her fingers on her knees, shifts in her chair, bobs her shoulders a bit. She watches Rachel -- or, maybe she does, but even with Tanith's eyes obscured, there's still that particular feeling of /being watched/.
And then the shocking revelation.
For a moment, Tanith is given pause. She runs her tongue around the inside of her mouth, sucking on her cheeks. Her thoughtful expression then immediately gives way to a bright, easy grin -- as if the shackles of those negative emotions she'd been feeling (and opening herself to, really) had finally been cast loose.
"Yeah, well, you gotta learn sometime," Tanith says, hopping to her feet. "And lucky for you," she continues, brashness fully restored, thumb jerking at her own chest, "/I/ happen to be /awesome/ at cooking. And if I can teach /myself/, I can definitely teach you! So it's a date!"
"Well, I mean, not a... you know, it's, like, a hangout date, not..."