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Come Closer
Summary: Tanith invites Cagalli to her room for a heart-to-heart. Maybe. Possibly.
Who: Tanith O'Gasmeter, Cagalli Yula Athha
When: 22 May NCA 120
Where: The Argama, Space


THE ARGAMA

SPACE

NOW

Tanith O'Gasmeter found out the other day that she'd gotten -- for real -- actual /quarters/. Not just actual quarters, but quarters of her /own/. Okay, technically it's a double, but there's no one actually in the other bed. Which is weird. But Tanith isn't going to look a gift horse in the mouth.

Besides, it can /probably/ all be explained with words that rhyme with 'Battro Quajeena' anyway, because that man certainly works in mysterious, plausibly deniable ways.

Upon finding out that Cagalli would be on the Argama -- for one reason or another, what is Tanith, Cagalli's secretary? -- she put in a quick and modest request that the Princess of Orb pay her a visit to talk about something. What 'something' wasn't really specified, but the note was pretty brief in general. It at least included directions to get to her room, which were reliably efficient and somewhat ingenuous in the ways it employs somewhat-unknown shortcuts in the Argama's foot-traffic grids.

Tanith O'Gasmeter is in her room right now. It's barely decorated, but then, she just moved in. Her jacket and hat sit on her bed, and she's trying on clothes and having a nightcap in the process. She left most of her clothes behind in Neo Hong Kong, so she's been itching for the opportunity to start establishing a wardrobe again. She's not sure she likes this outfit as she surveys herself in a mirror, and the idea that Cagalli will be coming by remains a dim notion in the back of her mind.

She's sure she'll have /plenty/ of time yet.


Having come up with a team of Nemos to get repaired on the Argama, Cagalli is downright exhausted after a day of 'whooping Cronicle Asher's ass.' As such, just having the opportunity to talk with a friend seems /leagues/ better than anything else she could be doing right now, even if that relationship is skirting 'awkward' territory at the moment.

Arriving at Tanith's quarters, Cagalli knocks twice, firmly, on the metallic door. "Tanith?" she calls, just loud enough to be heard. "It's me, Cagalli. I just got onboard." That's a pretty honest 'just,' too -- those directions worked out really well. She is, in fact, still in her flight suit.


"Huh?"

Tanith is currently checking out her own ass in a mirror and vaguely frowning in disapproval -- the sudden firm bangs on her door cause her to be startled from this reverie. "Oh! Shit! Coming!" Tanith looks around. She could try and hurriedly change, but -- no, no time, she's right there, and -- Tanith chokes down her dignity.

The door whizzes open, sliding into one side of the frame. This reveals Tanith O'Gasmeter, who is wearing a short, tight red dress that is suitable for a night out at a dance club intended for people older than fifteen. Also: seduction. Because she was holding them while surveying herself, she's also holding a bottle of wine by the neck, and a once-full, now-empty space wine glass with one of her fingers on the same hand.

"Uh, hey," Tanith awkwardly says. "I was just thinking about you."

Pause.

"I mean, wait, no! I-- uhhh. Do you want to come in?"


Cagalli blinks a few times when she sees Tanith wearing /that/, holding /that/, telling her she was just thinking about her and inviting her in. "Uh..." Cagalli starts, blinking a few times. It's nice to be wanted, but... that hard, that fast? The /last/ two times girls got all hot for her they were both 'her countrymen' and 'had known her for a healthy while.' This is kind of...

It is at about this point in her thinking that Cagalli realizes she's been staring at Tanith, mouth hanging open, for about 30 full seconds. So, naturally, she attempts to save this particular interaction with yet another utterance!

"Um."

No, that's definitely not right either. God, she thinks -- this would be way, way easier if this weren't 'the first time she actually met Tanith one on one.' With Ekelia they'd spent a lot of time together before any kind of advance, Pascal managed at least a few actual dates before 'awkward drunken fumbling' (which is impressive for a Neo-Frenchman), Rangda'd had to sleep under the same roof in that shitty safehouse and had met up with her a few times after... Everyone /else/ who makes a pass at her seems to need a little time to get acclimat --

A minute fifteen now. Still no actual worthwhile words. Still standing there with her mouth open. Definitely has managed to more or less retread the same 'Jesus this girl moves fast' thought two or three times. "... sure. I, uh -- is the wine an offer, or, what?"


The only way to chart Tanith's reaction to this minute and fifteen seconds of silence is via her mouth. It moves from awkward smile to even more awkward less-of-a-smile to vague look of concern to actual look of concern to frown (of concern) to half-frown-thing of general confusion. She doesn't prod, though. And she tries not to do so mentally, either, although Cagalli might as well be waving a sign around that says 'panic.'

"Jesus Christ, I don't /bite/," Tanith sighs, forcing a smile, trying to make it sound relaxed and easy, probably making it sound 'easy' in an entirely different sense. "--wh? Offer?"

Tanith looks at the wine in her hand, and her lips part as if she were surprised to be holding it. "Oh! Uh, sure, if you want some, I was just, uh, indulging myself, I guess. Come in, come in! Sorry about the mess! It's kind of... I mean, I thought you'd be busy having, like, eight-hour strategy sessions with Captain Bright or checking in with the Amuro task force or visiting your sister or whatever."

Tanith sashays back into the room -- it's the kind of dress that turns every walk into some degree of sashay -- with her braid trailing her. She looks around, turning her head this way and that while hunting for another glass -- "Uh, the only other cup I have is..." Tanith looks over at a mug with kitties on it.

"...yeah." Pursing her lips thoughtfully, Tanith opts to just pour Cagalli a glass of (red) (cheap) (space) wine into the space wine glass she'd been using, and offer it over to Cagalli. "But yeah, there was something I... really wanted to talk to you about. But, uh, you mind looking away for a sec, so I can get into something more comfortable?"


Maybe not the best way to lead off, Cagalli thinks in hindsight, but it definitely beat standing there in silence for over a minute. Stepping in, she visibly relaxes a little when the conversation becomes a /little/ more casual. "Oh, nah. To be honest, I'm kinda... avoiding Bright," she says, with a shake of her head. "You probably heard all about it... or at least, he came out of that meeting kinda cranky, I bed." A pause. "Bet." Goddammit.

"It's cool, back until we got a foothold on the islands again I, uh." Cagalli pauses awkwardly, before saying, "I kinda only had Bonta-Kun cups," taking the glass of cheap wine. Cheap is better -- or at least, more what she's used to.

Tanith asks her to look away so she can get into something more comfortable. This is sounding dangerously like one of the Neo-Cinemax softcore movies that she spent her last birthday (a year ago, not half a week ago) watching upon realizing she could in fact get Neo-Cinemax on a ship now that her ID registered her as 18 years old.

Nevertheless, she says, "... s, sure," turning away. She takes a long drink; she is reasonably sure she'll need it.


The 'bed' gets a pause from Tanith as she apparently is staring at Cagalli for a moment.

Then things move on.

There's a rustle of clothes. Then another, and another -- in fact, a suspicious number of them. This is because Tanith is kicking through the clothes scattered around from her 'try on everything ever' session looking for a pair of space pajamas or something. Upon finding them, she pulls them up over her legs -- blue, with green cartoon Haros on them -- and then unzips her dress after grabbing a t-shirt. From there, it's just a matter of switching them out and fixing her bangs. "Okay, sorry!"

What Cagalli sees when she turns around may or may not be what she expects, as Tanith is now in a t-shirt that says something or other in Chinese and Haro jammies. "That thing was like, yeah, I need to lose a few pounds if I want to wear it out anywhere, I mean, you probably saw my ass in it, need I say no more."

Perhaps mercifully, Tanith then says no more on it.

"But -- yeah, sit, sit, somewhere, anywhere." There are two chairs -- two desks, it being a double -- and two beds. "But yeah, I... I don't really know how to ask this, because... it's kind of personal and awkward and I'm not sure if you're... open to it, but... if I /don't/ ask, it'll just gnaw at me because it's like some of the most vivid feelings I've ever had, but... oh Jesus I'm babbling like an idiot, uh, I should probably just come out and say it..."


The sheer number of clothes getting tossed around makes Cagalli nervous. It reminds her way too much of any of the numerous times her maid would try to force her to dress like a lady, which is sort of like trying to teach a retarded dog a trick. It'll do it eventually, but you can never be sure it did it on purpose.

Turning back around when Tanith says she's ready, Cagalli is surprised by the more casual -- maybe a little too casual -- clothing. Then again, this is space -- they have kind of... different ideas, up here. Maybe this is normal.

"I dunno, I thought you looked pretty good in -- uh -- actually, yeah, a few pounds maybe," she replies, blinking a few times as she tries to decide where to sit. She looks at the desks, considering them for a minute -- and then realizes that it might be a little weird to sit at one of Tanith's workspaces. As such, she instead plants her butt on the corner of the bed.

In hindsight, not the best choice.

As Tanith starts babbling about vivid feelings and openness and babbling, Cagalli thinks back to some recent events in her own life and promptly gets exceptionally nervous. "I, uh -- I'm not gonna judge you. I mean, you kinda have to... uh... feel it out, I guess?" she says, trying to sound like she knows what the fuck she's even talking about. "With that kinda... personal stuff, I mean. It's way harder in space, too, since you're usually, like... stuck on a ship, and alone, and stuff, and people are dying everywhere, and you just -- you need to open up about the personal stuff then, and, uh..."

Oh God, Cagalli thinks to herself. Am I talking a girl into coming onto me the first time I've seen her outside of a mess hall? Is she talking me into talking her into coming onto me? Is that what's going on? Am I talking myself into telling her about my love life? Is /that/ what's going on?

She finishes the wine upon realizing that every part of this situation is the worst thing.


Tanith bounces onto her bed to sit next to Cagalli. Not too close, but not keeping her distance, either. She lays back for a moment just because of how she landed, and then slowly sits up, listening to Cagalli go on.

"Um..." Tanith says after a moderate pause, biting her lower lip as she tries to figure out what in the name of Space Jesus Cagalli is talking about.

"Wait, I... no, I think I follow... weird, it's like you... answered what I was gonna ask before I asked it. Spooky." Tanith smiles, but not brightly.

"I mean, I was just gonna ask you... is... is Rachel okay?" Tanith scoots away, as if fearful that she just set off a batch of dynamite. "I mean, I know it's not really my place to pry, but like... like every time I'm around her, I just... feel so sad. Like when you two were in Bright's ready room the other day, I could... I mean, I know it was Rachel because literally like every time I see her I get that same vibe, like... like having a box around my head that's filling up with cold water, you know? I just... she seems so... unhappy a lot of the time. And, you know, I mean, I know it's not my place, I know, I'm sorry for just kind of horning in on it, if it's like a family thing or something you can just tell me to let it sit, no problem, but... if there's anything I /can/ do..."


... This is what you didn't expect!!

For a moment, Cagalli looks at Tanith, shocked again; however, after a second or two, she realizes that life is okay and that Tanith did not move directly to 'so can we make out.' Which is probably best for everyone. "... Rachel," Cagalli starts, as if affirming that that is, in fact, what they're talking about. "Rachel's... she's had it rough. When we met up again on the... I think it was the Audhumla, we both just started crying."

This is actually not that bad to talk about, comparatively, Cagalli thinks. "To be honest, I don't always know what to do with her, but... just be supportive with her, I guess. I mean... she's still kinda trying to figure out her place in stuff, and..." Frowning, she adds, "She's been kinda... repressed, for a really long time."

Realizing how awkward /that/ sounds, she says, "Like -- emotionally. For a long time she couldn't express herself, but when we found her after the crash," /presumably/ the Kaguya Mass Driver getting wrecked all those months ago, something that certainly would've scattered 'Rachel Miu Athha' to the four winds, "she... kinda found her voice, I guess. And since she's had it rough..."


Tanith listens. She brings her legs up onto the bed and turns herself to fully face Cagalli -- she bends her knees and pulls her heels in while holding her feet, leaning forward a little bit. The general effect: a child listening to an adult. Which, comparatively, is closer to the case than should really be true for two people who are maybe three years apart in age.

Though her eyes are hidden from view by those /intensely/ yellow bangs, it doesn't seem far fetched to think that Tanith has her eyes on Cagalli the whole time. Her face -- what can be seen of it -- wears its sympathy on her sleeves, full of emotive frowns and even the occasional tiny "oh" or "aw."

When Cagalli finishes telling the story, Tanith is quiet for a moment. "That's so... wow," she murmurs, adjectives momentarily failing her. It's not like her to 'pause' or 'speak quietly,' but then, this is only the first face-to-face meeting between the two anyway. "I just... you know, I feel it. When she's sad, around me. It's like, most people... I don't know, someone's having a shitty day and I can kind of feel it but I can ignore it, but Rachel it just... fills my entire field of vision. Or, like, my brain's field of vision or something. And I want to help her. Like... like... like... god, this is gonna sound awful, but like... a stray puppy or something. That you just wanna take in and give a good home."

Pause. "...I didn't mean to call your sister a dog."

Swallowing and looking away for a moment, Tanith tries to recover: "But, like, I promised her I'd teach her how to cook. I mean, she seemed into the idea, but is that... like, was she just humoring me, or is it something she'd really like? Because... you know, I don't want to just be... you know?"


The Princess of Orb is by no means an adult, least of all if you're willing to believe 'most of the adults on the Argama, except maybe Kai Shiden.' 'Maybe.'

"Yeah..." Cagalli says, with a nod; she knows what Tanith's talking about even if she hasn't quite experienced it personally. Lord, she wishes she could, sometimes -- all that talk about the oneness of Newtypes, the beauty of true human connection. Sometimes she's jealous of it. "And, uh -- it's, it's OK, I know what you meant. I kinda feel that way too... like she's lost and you just wanna help her find her way home."

When the topic of teaching her to cook comes up, Cagalli nods very firmly. "I know she's really into it, or at least, I can guess," the Princess tells Tanith, a smile crossing her face; for the moment, the awkwardness leading up to this point is forgotten. "She hasn't known what 'normal's' like for a long time, and even before then, her experience was pretty... pretty different from normal, even from what /I/ think is normal." Trying to think of an eloquent way to sum what she's just said up, Cagalli opens her mouth again.

What comes out is, "So, yeah, no, it's cool."


Tanith chews her nail a little nervously as Cagalli explains things to her. She nods along with it, and once she realizes she's biting her nail, she jams her hand under her thigh to keep it away from her mouth. "O-Okay, cool," Tanith says, smile forming and proceeding to quickly brighten.

"Just because, I mean... I know what it's like, going it alone. Like... I know Rachel has you, and I mean, I had my mom, and... I don't really want to, you know, this isn't like swapping life stories and it's two different lives anyway so I mean it's like apples and oranges just by /default/ but... no, I mean, I'd have gone crazy if I didn't have my friends." Friends who either died choking on poison gas or were abandoned by a fourteen-year-old deciding the AEUG was the life for her.

But Tanith conveniently forgets to remember that part.

"I mean, that's... all I really wanted to ask. I figured you'd know best, and I mean, you know, Amuro's gone, and you're not around all the time because you have your own life which is totally cool I'm not judging that or anything I think you're totally like inspiring but yeah, and I don't really... /know/ who else, if anyone, she really... has... to hang out with? So like. I guess I want to get on that list. I mean. Does that sound dumb? I think it sounded dumb. I mean I still feel the same but it sounded dumb still, and... I don't know. Urgh."


"... yeah," Cagalli says, unsure what else to say to Tanith right now; she's /really/ glad that Rachel is starting to find friends, though. For a long time she was worried that it'd turn out poorly, but... now, things seem to be going genuinely well. Maybe they can make this work out after all. Maybe 'Rachel Miu Athha' has a place in the world.

"Yeah, I definitely get it -- I dunno if I know best, but... thank you for asking, at least," comes the Princess's voice again after a little thought. "And, uh, no, don't worry about it! I mean, it doesn't sound dumb, and I'm glad you wanna be on that list. I mean -- her list. Of people to hang out with."

Having, for the moment, forgotten the horrifying possibility of Tanith still wanting to make out with her /in spite/ of the 'you're totally like inspiring,' Cagalli adds, "And I'd be glad to hang out with you, too, if you want. As, uh -- as long as you don't come to the door in a club dress with a bottle of wine again?"


Tanith purses her lips and twists them to one side a bit when Cagalli makes her request. Without access to her eyes, the expression could mean any number of things, but the thing they all have in common is 'a moment of silent thought.' "...okay, um, deal," Tanith says, her tone maybe a little bemused, a little embarrassed, and a little confused, but trying to find good humor and grace nonetheless. It mostly kind of sort of half works.

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