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  • 📅 September 2023 is YE 45.7 in the RP.

RP [Yamatai] Year-End Winter Holiday Party, YE 42 [Open RP]

Takashi inspected the inner wall of the ceramic cup he held and smacked his lips audibly. "What a range of flavours," he remarked before looking at her again. "It's amazing that all that goes into this is rice and water and a species of domesticated black mold. The enzymatic action of aspergillus oryzae is wondrous."

Setting down the cup, he planted his elbow on the table and rested his chin on the tips of his outstretched fingers as he thought back to school and what exactly she might be interested in. He decided that he would give her a brief summary and assume she would ask questions if he touched on anything she wanted to know more about.

"My primary and secondary schools were quite similar. We wore uniforms. We walked or biked to school. We exchanged our outdoor shoes for indoor shoes at the entrance of the building. We were divided into homerooms. We had all our classes in the one room and the teachers would come to us. We each had a small locker in the room. We had a class president who was responsible for keeping us within regulations. Oh, and we each carried a rulebook though we were expected to know all the rules even if they were contradictory or not enforced. We said a greeting of respect to our teachers at the beginning and end of every class. At the end of the day we would clean the school. After every test, they posted the student rankings. That was always the worst," he felt his chest tighten and he took a moment to pause and breathe before continuing. "I was never the top student. But I knew that if I was less than the top 10 percent, my parents would be upset rather than simply disappointed."

"Then there were after school clubs. I was in the film club," he seemed happy to change the subject. "I was the treasurer, in fact."

"Some nights I played football. Not aerial football, I'm just a nepleslian. Regular football," he smiled and felt a rush of blood to his cheeks. "But I was never really very good. Mostly just a bench-warmer, if I'm being honest. But most nights I went to a cram school for a few hours, then came home and studied until I couldn't keep my eyes open any more."

"Next was college, which was similar. But I had a room on campus instead of at my parents' place," he tilted his head and looked up and to the side. "Actually that may be the only difference. Oh, and I ate at the chow hall instead of the bentos my mother gave me. But we called it a cafeteria. And there was no cram school. And we went from room to room instead of the teachers coming to us. Maybe it wasn't so similar. At the time, it didn't seem like a big change."

Takashi stopped talking and tensed, lifting his head off his fingertips, but still leaving his rigid hand in the same position. How long had he been talking? He remembered to breathe again. His mouth felt dry. Was that the sake? Or was he going on? Thinking back, he wondered if his summary was perhaps not all that brief.

He laughed in exactly the way that people did when they didn't really think anything was particularly funny, but they didn't know how else to react.

"Was my experience very different from your own?"
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A lot of what he said about sake went straight over Kozakura's head so she just laughed a little and smiled, "Sure is." So it probably came as no surprise that she was thankful for the change in topic to his schooling. As he spoke she took little sips from her cup, occasionally making a bit of a face when she swallowed the hot liquid. "Are your parents scientists?" she inquired, curious as to whether it was just a pressure to follow the family lineage or if his parents were simply just strict. It might have been a touchy subject and she hoped she wasn't overstepping but the sake was beginning to impact her inhibitions.

However at the mention of the film club her eyes lit up a little, "That must have been fun! I loved working on my first movie set, everyone was really passionate about the work and there was an amazing energy." What she didn't mention was that it was her only time on a movie set. Still, she remembered it quite fondly, "What sort of movies did you watch? Oh and did you ever get to do anything fun like a tour a production studio?" she asked between quiet sips.

As to his question well, "Hmm I suppose it wasn't too dissimilar. I went to a public school for the first four grades of elementary but for my fifth year on I went to the Kyoto Academy for the Arts which is a privately funded school. I had to walk to school and use public transit for the first two years, but starting with secondary school I had to live in the girls dormitory." Kozakura shivered a bit as she stated that last bit and it wasn't because she was cold. "It took a while to get used to not living at home and I missed my parents and neighborhood friends fiercely. We had a class president as well, she was always yelling at me for wearing pants with the uniform instead of a skirt."

"I didn't really participate in any clubs or anything because I satisfied the requirement by finding employment as an actress. It was sort of rough actually, between studying and everything that came with working. I remember being tired a lot. By the time I got to the upper secondary school level, my class hours had shrunk and I had a little more free time but I filled that with um training at a dojo...." her voice dropped a little lower as she spoke of training, her cheeks growing a bit more flushed. Apparently now that she was talking about it to him, she felt a little embarrassed over her chosen hobby. "However when I graduated I decided against college to focus on my career so I never did to get to experience that...." she trailed off a little, there was some regret there.

Her eyes glanced down at her cup and she found it empty. A small laugh escaped her lips before she stopped and glanced up to Takashi. She moved to say something but was cut off by their waiter delivering the two plates of takoyaki. The delicious dough balls filled with octopus meat had festive toppings on them and were presented upon a plate bearing the image of a pine tree decorated with lights. The waiter uttered a warning about being careful because they were still hot before he hurried off to take care of other tables.
When his parents became the topic of conversation, he realized it had been some time since he had been so close to them, at least in the sense of physical proximity. The thought of visiting them occurred to him, but he felt immediate revulsion at the idea and focused on answering her question instead.

"No, they both work in the private sector. Something to do with investment. I thought they'd be pleased when I was chosen as treasurer, but they just wanted me to be the best at everything," he exhaled for a long moment.

"Science was...engrossing," he tried to answer her implied question with a pause for reflection. "I could read about it and time would just disappear."

Feeling like he wasn't being very clear, Takashi screwed up his face.

"Usually I feel like time drags on, you know?" Once again, he stopped to consider if he was being clear and something else crossed his mind. "Though, I haven't felt like that tonight."

At this point, Takashi noticed the plates of surprisingly spherical dough balls in front of them and he wondered if they were hand-rolled or if the cook had used some tool to make them so round.

"Intriguing," he muttered before using his finger to poke one of the balls on the plate closest to himself. "The exterior doesn't seem very hot."

Something tugged at the corner of his mind, and he remembered that she had mentioned more things. What did she say? What were they talking about? Takashi suddenly felt a curious sensation that reminded him of nightmares where he had forgotten to study for a test. Like a small black hole opening in the base of his gut and suddenly consuming his internal organs.

His eyes traced a brachistochrone curve between the takoyaki and her eyes. Relax, he thought. Step one: breathe. Step two: work the problem. What were they talking about? How long had he been quiet now? No, don't think about that. What were they talking about? Oh, school! Was that it? Breathe. Film club. Ah, she worked on a movie set. No, there was something more. She had asked a question. Something about films. Or film club? He couldn't remember exactly.

"I'm sorry," he apologized, deciding the best course of action was to be honest. "Could you repeat the question?"
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Eri blinked for a moment as she looked down at the gift given to her and fished through the small bag to find the box, and tilted her head as she pulled it free. As first Fletcher joined them, Eri stood and gave the man the respect he deserved from his rank with a sharp salute, regardless of the social situation they found themselves in. She was a Shosho, she knew how hard it was already to grow in rank once you got past the NCO ranks... To climb as high as he had...

"A Pleasure to meet you sir. I pray the holidays find you well?" She asked of the man, but as she first saw Hanako, then heard her sister's toast and she raised her glass of spike hot chocolate. She was silent as she listened and her mind drifted off to think of those they had lost within their fleet over the years, the ones they had lost to enemies and allies alike, and those they would lose in the future. For a moment the smirk on her face disappeared, replaced with a more melancholic look before she turned back on the charm and drank when the time came. It was a sip, but the box in her hand remained, her fingers twisting and spinning it in her hand as she wondered what the woman had in surprise for her.

Her own surprise would come later, something nice and simple for the two, three if he showed up. She knew she had to make a better effort with him... She had to share, and she would show she could put forth the effort to short Katsuko she was ready.
Kozakura felt her drunken heart flutter as he mentioned that time wasn't dragging on with her. "I'm enjoying this time as well."

She watched with curiosity as he poked at his takoyaki, "It's the interior you need to worry about." With a small chuckle she added, "I remember the first time I tried some, the inside was like lava." Hopefully he'd heed her advice and not try to eat one straight away. Otherwise he'd end up juggling a very hot mess across his tongue.

In the absence of conversation she poured herself another cup of the sake. The steam was starting to vanish as the liquid was becoming lukewarm. She just quietly sipped it while he stared at the food. She was really curious as to what he found so interesting about the dish, but part of her was too afraid to ask. What if she broke his concentration, or interrupted his thoughts? That would be rude. When he finally looked up at her and asked for her to repeat the question she just smiled and said, "Sure."

"I was really curious about what movies you watched in your film club, and if you ever got to do anything exciting like take a tour of a movie set or something?"
Now that she mentioned it, he realized that the spheroid appetizers had a crust that suggested direct contact with a heating element. In his mind, he imagined a heating element with a spherical space into which the batter was pumped and fried simultaneously on all sides. But how would they get it out when it was done? And wouldn't there be some indication of where it had been pumped in? These questions danced along the surface of his brain while he answered her question.

"We only watched older films. It was a school-supported club, so we could only watch movies for which the school had the proper licensing, which was exclusively older films. We, the management of the club I mean, regularly put in petitions to get them to update their collection, but there wasn't any money for it. But the films we had were wonderful. I never really felt like I was missing out. Except..."

"In truth, I never felt like I was able to fully appreciate movies. I adored the visual components of film. Shot composition, cinematography, editing, and sound and all that. I love the way a video can make you feel in ways that a single photo or just audio can't. But I never really understood what people meant by «good dialogue,»" he pulled his mouth to one side of his face as he tried to find the words to explain how he felt. "I sort of felt similarly with music. I can recognize intervals and appreciate melody and harmony and how they make me feel, but when people sing that's all I hear: the intervals, melodies, and harmonies. I can't really hear the words. I have to look up the lyrics, and then they're just words on a screen."

"It's like that with movies, but I can hear what they're saying. I just can't hear something in what they're saying to differentiate poor dialogue from great dialogue. They're all just talking. They're all just saying lines and acting. I get acting. I can tell if someone is acting stiffly, or naturally, or," and he lifted up his arms and turned his face to the sky in a grand gesture before projecting the final word of his sentence emphatically. "...overacting."

"But I guess," he lowered his arms and turned his bright brown eyes to meet her red reptilian eyes. "I never developed an appreciation for the way that words are put together, either in song or script. I could never really «read between the lines» like my teachers told me to."

Takashi suddenly realized he was monologuing again, so he decided to quickly answer her second question.

"There's so much magic in film," he said. "I would be afraid to draw back the curtain and see a production studio in action."

The soon-to-be-scientist looked down at the takoyaki again and a thought occurred to him. Reaching out with both hands, he grabbed one of the balls. In a carefully pre-planned motion, he first pushed it together on both sides to break the crust, then pulled both halves of the crust apart to reveal the molten interior, causing steam to pour out. In doing so, he revealed a small piece of tentacle and his eyes widened.

"How curious."
Takeda House Patio

Hanako took a second to compose herself and look around at the crowd, who in turn was staring back at her waiting for the toast. "Ladies, gentlemen, and gentlepeople, tonight we celebrate Yule and the Year-End. This year was a story of a struggle for survival. The Kuvexians came for us and, knowing Yamatai was in peril, we refused to give up and let Nataria fall. I was there. Kuvexians targeted me specifically and tried to kill me and I saw millions of my Nekovalkyrja sisters give their lives for this Empire and the people here. And there are still soldiers out there fighting on the battlefronts here, in Kikyo Sector, and deep in Kuvexian space, who refuse to give up. And there are prisoners and MIA soldiers on Hanako's world and Himiko who refuse to give up no matter how bad their circumstances are. We celebrate life tonight, mindful that we are indeed fortunate to be able to be here and never to take a day for granted, and mindful of those who are no longer with us. We do not celebrate this hard year coming to an end for time is precious. Instead, we celebrate because a new year is here. A year we were never promised or guaranteed to make it to. But we have and we did! And in this new year we will accomplish great things! We will explore! We will love! We will end the Kuvexian War in a victory! Here's to a new year and never giving up!"
Takeda House Patio

Katsuko nodded solemnly to Hanako's words, she raised her glass, "For the victory of Yamatai!" she declared at the end of Hanko's toast. She took a healthy sip of her wine and was quite pleased with the emotional words chosen by her peer. Several others who were gathered on the patio made cheers and drank to the Taisho's words as well. When the toast was done, the waiter offered the chair to Hanako as Katsuko had offered her to join them. She knew Hanako would likely have other things to do but she was definitely not against the new Taisho staying.

In the meantime, Eri had opened her gift. Katsuko felt tense, her mind raced a little as she took another sip of her wine. Her plans for Eri and Yaichiro were forthcoming but most importantly she had the perfect moment. Yaichiro was not there so he would have to wait. The snow continued to fall, the sounds of the cheerful gathering of the patio were rejoined by the soft melody of the musicians. Food and wine were being ordered, and waiters worked quickly to bring the requests of their guests to the tables.

Katsuko reached over and took the black box that Eri had unwrapped. She took a deep breath as that it was now or never. She opened the box, and inside there was a beautiful ring made of white gold with a heart-shaped cut Taiie diamond that Katsuko had cut and prepared from her only remaining treasures of the world that was once theirs. She rose from her chair and then sunk down upon one knee. She took Eri's hand and looked up into her eyes. "Eri, love. Will you be mine in marriage? It's been a long time coming, and I would be honored if you will be my wife?" There it was, the first proposal. The Taisho was not one to go on her knees for anything, she was a proud woman who had fought the very war that life was with relentless passion.
Eri was usually one of quick wit, a sharp tongue that could cut people down if only in a more childish way. That was why it was such a strange thing for the Shosho to fall quiet in the face of the situation. She watched as Katsuko fell to a knee, confusion washed across her face as she tilted her head. She had... well there was that time in the dressing room... but that was for a far different reason and certainly not in public. Not to mention there was no reason for a Taisho to kneel to a Shosho...

She shook her head softly and stared still at the woman she considered a lover and a sister, yet as the ring was revealed, the Neko couldn't help but feel her eyes grow wide. Her tongue felt three times to large for her mouth, her heart felt like it had stopped and yet even with the situation she found herself in and knowing how much the woman cared for her, she still couldn't help but feel ready for her to pop up to both feet and shout sike, or surprise, or proclaim she had been tricked or something, anything but the words that flowed from Katsuko's perfect lips.

Finally she could draw a breath in, finally she could feel her heart thunder back to life in her chest with a vengeance and try to rip itself from her ribs. Even though she could draw in a breath, her tongue still felt thick and heavy and she couldn't trust her actual voice, so instead she spoke to Katsuko in her mind.

"Yo-... You're sure? Absolutely s-sure?" She asked as a hand was offered to Katsuko, her left hand which shook more than the first time she had flown a ship. She couldn't believe something she had always thought a dream would actually come true...
Kozakura nearly breathed a sigh of relief when he mentioned that they could only watch older films, that meant he was unlikely to have seen any of her work, at least as part of his club. Plus she got the impression that if he had seen any of the shows she was in, he'd have recognized her by now. Which meant that they could get to know each other like normal Yamatains. As much as she liked her fans she'd always been afraid that the people who wanted to be friends with her had a warped image of what she was like based on her characters.

Though she found his hang-ups with dialogue to be a bit strange, she was also a little curious about it too. Kozakura even laughed particularly hard at his example of overacting. "I think understanding the subtext of a work can be really difficult, sometimes I need help with that myself. I guess that's what directors are for," she laughed again. At this point her laughs were coming easier and she kept smiling even though it hurt to do so. Her cheeks were flushed and she was very much feeling the sake.

"As for the magic in film well, I'm surprised a man of science is content to just accept and enjoy the magic," she teased him with a grin. Though when he started playing with his food she just sort of drunkenly laughed again before pouring herself another cup. Her mind idly wondered if it was her third or fourth cup? She was having such a good time that she'd lost track. Finally she picked up a pair of chopsticks and plucked one of the takoyaki from her plate before taking a bite out of it. She quickly set the rest back down on the plate and did her best to chew and swallow. "Ahhh, it's still so hot," she laughed. "I thought that steam coming off of yours was just because it's so cold out!"
Tucked away in one corner of the restaurant was a rather packed little booth that had been deep in the discussion of various topics going on an hour now, those in the know would spy some telltale heads of midnight-blue hair the lesser-known Ishikawa clan was known for conversing with twin blonde humans, the 'prince and princess' of the Galactic Horizon throne as it were. The small, currently eastern, company had been making some waves lately and worked towards becoming more of an immediately recognizable brand. Though trying to make a name for themselves amidst giants such as Ketsurui Zaibatsu was never expected to be an easy task~

Regardless they tried, and had been getting a good number of military contracts lately.

Sat next to the smartly-dressed figures of Kryss and Donvan Black was the least seen member of the Belmont family, practically unrecognizable from the short, raven haired teenager the public best knew her as. No, Remy Belmont had grown into a rather fierce looking woman, her wavy hair's gradient going through a few different shades of green as it trailed down her shoulders and back, a decent bit of lean muscle tone visible thanks to her dark green dress' plunging neckline. Donvan could be seen leaning in to whisper something to the green-haired woman before she offered back a sight frown, one of her dark eyebrows slightly scarred up towards it outer edge as Remy peered over to Hanako's table from the corner of her vision, green eyes becoming noticably more luminous.

"Really...? you realize she probably has a planet-sized vault full of 'thoughtful gifts' she never plans on touching, right?" she whispered back but only got a smirk in response, causing the Belmont to huff faintly before reaching under the table. As she stood and began wandering over it'd become more apparent that, while Remy wasn't the chestiest person around she certainly made up for that with a thin waist, wide hips and strong legs that looked like they could crush a Mindy's helmet with ease.

After the toast Remy sashayed over to Hanko's table slowly, her rather showy outfit making it seem like she was there to act as eye candy, though the nickel-plated handgun holstered and decocked on one thigh said maybe she was also someone's security for the evening. With a bottle in hand the almost 6' tall Remy waited for a lull in the conversation before making her presence known with a quiet clearing of her throat, offering a smile as her eyes still radiated that ethereal, emerald glow.

"Pardon the intrusion but I am here to offer Hanako-Sama a gift from the Black family, they wish her a happy holiday season and all the best for the future, along with wishing to pass on their praise for giving a wonderful toast," Remy spoke in flawless Yamataian, offering the table a curt bow before presenting the bottle for inspection. It was a clear, glass vessel covered in Tinacen script that held an amber spirit, though maybe more attention grabbing was the small Seu'trena worm floating at its centre.

"It's a Neshaten liqueur from his own personal collection, please, enjoy it on their behalf."

Each word was crisp and to the point without coming off as rushed, her tone was half-hummed and polite, this was clearly the kind of thing Remy excelled at.
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"Ladies, gentlemen, and gentlepeople, tonight we celebrate Yule and the Year-End. This year was a story of a struggle for survival. The Kuvexians came for us and, knowing Yamatai was in peril, we refused to give up and let Nataria fall. I was there. Kuvexians targeted me specifically and tried to kill me and I saw millions of my Nekovalkyrja sisters give their lives for this Empire and the people here. And there are still soldiers out there fighting on the battlefronts here, in Kikyo Sector, and deep in Kuvexian space, who refuse to give up. And there are prisoners and MIA soldiers on Hanako's world and Himiko who refuse to give up no matter how bad their circumstances are. We celebrate life tonight, mindful that we are indeed fortunate to be able to be here and never to take a day for granted, and mindful of those who are no longer with us. We do not celebrate this hard year coming to an end for time is precious. Instead, we celebrate because a new year is here. A year we were never promised or guaranteed to make it to. But we have and we did! And in this new year we will accomplish great things! We will explore! We will love! We will end the Kuvexian War in a victory! Here's to a new year and never giving up!"
The toast rang slightly hollow to Matsuvo, who leaned against a low wall just inside the Takeda House, looking out onto the patio. The patriotic words and the wishes for victory warmed his heart, but he knew that no matter what destruction the Star Army visited upon the Kuvexians, it would not undo the terrible devastation of the war. No matter the material losses the Star Army could inflict upon the Kuvexians, it would not bring back the millions lost at Nataria.

No matter how many starships the fleet brought down, it would never undo the destruction the Kuvexians and their mercenaries had visited upon Nishitama and Himiko, or help him forget the horrors of Wisteria.

Most of all, no matter how many bodies he and other infantry could pile high in the halls of boarded Kuvexian vessels, how hard anyone could rage against the Kuvexian war machine, it would never heal the rift between him and Meissa, who had grown distant since he had been assigned to the Eucharis in early YE 40, before they had split permanently in YE 41.

He took a large sip of Kanzake to stop the negative thoughts before they got the better of him, and turned his attention to the young woman who'd just left her table to try and speak to Hanako. Almost certainly, someone was trying to get in the most famous Ketsurui's good books. It didn't take long to figure out who though; the technicolor scarf of Donvan Black was easy to spot even without a Minkan's enhanced eyesight and digital mind.

Most might not have known of the Blacks, or their company, but Matsuvo had seen troops training with the new equipment that their company had produced for the Star Army. Now things began to fall into place. Still, he was curious to find out more, perhaps there was some new equipment coming, and being in the know was never a bad thing. He began to weave his way through the crowd, taking time and extra care to not spill his drink as he made his way to the Blacks' table. When he arrived, he looked to the seated businesspeople and simply asked, "Happy year-end, Black-san. Trying to curry a bit of favor?"
"If you pick them apart, they'll cool down faster," he laughed. "The takoyaki, I mean."

The ball of dough, whose constituent parts now lay open and rapidly cooling to the elements, drew his attention and he watched it for a moment as the steam dissipated. When the gooey centre seemed to have given up most of its heat, he picked the ball up, placed it delicately into his mouth and chewed. The crispy exterior, gooey interior, and the tentacle provided delightfully contrasting textures but not a lot of flavour on their own. However, this was more than made up for by the green mayo and red fish flakes that garnished the treat. The experience made him utter an audible sound of appreciation.

"These are delicious and were a fantastic suggestion," he said after swallowing but not before turning to face her. "But I have to wonder if I might have appreciated it more if I hadn't picked it apart. Would the surprise octopus have enriched the experience? What if I hadn't liked what I saw? Maybe I got a particularly pleasant looking piece of tentacle and another piece might have visually put me off before I even tried it."

"I guess I feel that way about movies, too," he continued while picking up the carafe and filling his own cup. When he did so, he realized the carafe was very nearly empty. Momentarily, he realized how rude he was to pour himself the last full cup, before he looked over and saw that she had just filled her own, which made him visibly relax. "Maybe the opposite could be true. Maybe once I pull apart films, I might appreciate them even more. I just can't help but feel scared that I won't like what I find or, perhaps worse still, I find something that I just can't understand or appreciate."

Catching himself, he realized he was almost soliloquizing now. It occurred to him that he should ask something of her, to let her have a chance to open up to him. But he hesitated. Instead, he lifted his cup. <"Cheers"> he said to her with another bow, and tossed back the sake. It was colder now, and the flavours he had enjoyed before were subdued, but somehow the taste of mushrooms lingered longer.

"Why did you enlist, if you already had a career as an actress?"
"That's true enough," she laughed, "though I don't think I could ever eat them like that myself. Part of the fun is in how silly one looks when eating one too soon." While her statement wasn't a lie, she was holding back some thoughts about not looking a certain way by using her hands to pull apart her food in front of a cute guy that she seemed to actually get along with.

Kozakura just smiled back at him as he spoke, the expression maybe a little lopsided due to the sake. "You know you ask a lot of good questions, I guess that's why you're a science man.," she giggled lightly like what she said was funny. "Maybe it's best if you never take that leap, let movies be magic. I don't think having a little magic in their life ever hurt anyone~" Her smile grew a bit wider before she just laughed lightly again and felt her eyes break away from his gaze.

When she heard him says cheers again she instinctively called it out herself and downed the rest of her cup. The question he asked caused her to adopt a serious face, maybe even an overly serious face. "Well... after the war started the live action work I was doing just sort of dried up, and sure I found work in voice acting for anime but it just wasn't the same. Part of me always wanted to make a difference on Yamatai. It's part of why I donate so much of my royalties to charity.... but I just didn't feel like I was making an impact the same way I was before. So I said 'screw it, I'm gonna join the Star Army and fight to protect my home!'" As she said that her words were very rough, almost like she was trying to sound manly, though they quickly softened as she continued. "Though the recruiter convinced me of another way, Instead of using a gun and power armor to fight I'd use a camera. Inspire others to take the plunge I did, as it were."
Sonoda Takashi listened attentively, somehow finding himself capable of smiling wider when she laughed and giggled between sentences. All the while he watched her expression change as she spoke and he wondered what she was thinking about.

A little magic in their life never hurt anyone, her words floated into his ears once, but he heard them over and over again in his mind. Between each replay, he saw scenes from old films unfold. Each scene had a different context within its story and had different technical elements, but they all shared a common theme that reminded Takashi of his present circumstances. Takashi felt his chest tighten again. He shifted in his seat. He was suddenly very aware of his breathing. Somehow, he couldn't bring himself to act.

"Can I," he started then stopped. No, that's not right.

"May I," he began before he suddenly found that his throat was too dry to continue. He looked away. He coughed slightly. He swallowed. He looked back into her eyes. "May I touch your antlers?"
After she finished speaking, Kozakura took another bite of takoyaki, <"delicious,"> she declared in Yamataigo with a much more light and happy tone than the serious one she had adopted when talking about why she enlisted. Though she stopped chewing and swallowed quickly as he began to speak. She looked somewhat excited, as he stopped and started again. Her mind racing with the possibilities of what he was going to ask. She could feel her heart pounding in her chest relentlessly. Then he asked his question, she looked rather surprised for a moment and then maybe there was a flash of disappointment, but she recovered quickly with a smile.

"Sure, just um... be gentle okay? They're pretty sensitive."

With that said she leaned forward and tilted her head down so that the antlers would be in reach of his hands. If Takashi was brave enough to reach out and touch them he'd find that the antlers were covered with a soft layer of skin from which small velvety hairs sprouted. In addition he'd be able to feel how the antlers were warm to the touch even in the chill air of winter in Kyoto.
"Thank you," he said with another small bow the likes of which he gave each time he said cheers to her. He watched her as she leaned towards him, focusing on keeping his breathing steady. You can do this, he thought. "I will be very gentle. I am going to stand up now to get a closer look."

Moving with the deliberate motions of someone who had considered each movement in advance and the slowness of someone who is painfully self-aware, he braced himself against the table and slid off the stool to stand closer to her. Once standing, he looked at her, leaned in, and brought his hands up either side of her head without touching. His gaze and hands traveled steadily upwards until they reached her antlers at which point he lowered his fingertips just enough to feel her velvety hair. The warmth of her antlers made him keenly aware of how cold his hands were, but he pressed on and hoped that she wouldn't be too uncomfortable. He resumed his slow motion, drawing just the sensitive tips of his fingers along the length of her antlers, mostly feeling her downy hair, while just occasionally brushing the soft skin underneath. When his fingers reached the tips of her antlers, he stopped again. His hands started to shake slightly and he knew that if he took even a moment longer to think, then he wouldn't be able to finish what he started.

In another complex, leisurely, premeditated motion he moved one hand to the back of her neck and the other to her chin against which he would press his fingers lightly, bidding her to raise her head so he could lean in just a little further and give her a kiss.
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Koazkura remained silent for a time, drunkenly allowing a man she'd just met to touch her antlers was a little embarrassing. That being said she was just drunk enough to only mildly care about or even realize that fact. As his cold hands touched the soft skin of her antlers, she let out a small surprisingly feminine cry of shock, and even though she felt her face growing even warmer she just held her head low and allowed him to continue.

Heart now pounding in her ears at the strange intimacy of the moment, the din of the others within the surrounding area seemed to fade away until all she could hear was her own heart and the breaths she took. That was when she felt him bidding her to raise her head. The pounding grew louder as she slowly raised her head. Her eyes looked up from the table to gaze at him only to realize that he was mere inches from her own face. In that moment Kozakura felt like she was going to die until their lips touched. Then all at once the pounding seemed to fade away too, until all she felt was the sensation of their lips touching.

After a second or two she'd pull back to sit back down, her cheeks were entirely red and she was grinning from ear to ear. Her first real kiss, not a staged one for a role and not one from one of her moms on the cheek. A real honest kiss. She didn't know what to say, it was then that the normally cool Kozakura felt entirely out of her element quite suddenly.
The feeling of his lips pressed against hers lasted forever, but when it ended he couldn't remember it lasting more than the span of a single heartbeat. After she pulled away, he opened his eyes and smiled down at her until he felt his hands start to shake again and he realized that he had no idea what to do next. Making a quick decision, he pulled his hands away from her so she couldn't feel him tremble. He put one hand down on the table, knocking his empty cup slightly. He put his other hand down on his stool and he pulled himself back onto the stool. He wobbled slightly, but didn't fall. He looked down at the space between them.

"I'm sorry for the deception," he apologized. "I'm not used to doing anything without asking permission, but they never ask permission in the movies which are my only point of reference in this situation."

He sat motionless for some time.

"Anyway, I decided on a middle way," he moved his trembling hands into his lap. "I figured that if you would let me touch your antlers, which seemed rather intimate, you might not mind if I kissed you. In retrospect, I feel a little uncomfortable with my actions. I think perhaps I'll ask for permission next time. Or perhaps I'll just give you a little more warning."
Takeda House Patio, Kyoto Downtown

Am I sure? Katsuko took a deep breath and her fuzzy blue ears twitched slightly as she rose back up. She took Eri's digit in her grasp and put the ring on it. "Eri, you already know I don't do anything without being sure," she replied. It was definitely true. The Taisho eased back into her pose in her chair at the table. She had spent more time on Yamatai in the past two years than she had ever expected. When the Tokyo finished repairs they would head out again, the mighty Izanagi had taken a beating in the Tange System, but like most things, it was in good hands. They had still yet to catch Kiyoko and her co-conspirators. This Kuvexian, the Baron Gello Kordoon, had proven himself to be a cruel adversary and Katsuko knew she had to put him down. It would have to wait for this holiday to be over though.

Katsuko took another sip of her wine and she looked towards Eri and said, "I guess Eidan got tired, Taro has decided to let him sleep and stay in for the evening. Perhaps we should excuse ourselves a little later and join him? In the meantime are you hungry?"