(2016-12-09) Pizza Party
Pizza Party
Summary: So a cat, a crow, a corpse and a cobra go into a pizza joint.  The owner asks, "What, is this some kind of joke?"  (Note: RP over two sessions, Keith had a disconnect somewhere in the middle of the first and rejoined us in the second, and Seth came in after that in the second session)
Date: IC Date (2016-12-09)
Related: None
NPCs: None
Scene Runner: NA
Players:
alexander..keith..seth..taka..

     Well, this is weird.  One would think that a kid faced with the possibility of PIZZA would jump on it like a pack of dogs on a three-legged cat!  But no, standing outside the pizza place after classes have ended for the day, Alexander's hesitating.  He looks at the door, standing rather awkwardly.  He's wearing his usual clothes, though he has a coat on over it.  Not that he needs it, but it looks weird if he doesn't bundle up, since it's a little cold.  There's no fog coming from his mouth, though.

     Talk about looking weird.  There's at least one person here who is embracing the weirdness with gusto — the Cheshire cat.  On top of his already unusual appearance, you have to add the lack of appropriate winter wear.  Fitted jeans and a black polo shirt are all he needs, the weather affecting him less than your regular human by virtue of having his own built-in insulation.  Fur.
     "And here I thought you only had to stand in line fo the bathroom," he comments with a smirk as he steps up behind Alexander.  Lame line, but it's a linebreaker.  He's almost certain he has spotted this kid over there.  Maybe.  The first few days have been a bit of a blur and he can't quite remember everybody he has met or been introduced to.
     He figures that if the guy stares at him with eyes as wide as saucers, then no, he hasn't run into him at the school.  And probably isn't someone from the school….

     If Alexander is hesitant, Taká is downright uncertain of the whole thing.  He rubs his hands together to keep them warm — or, as he's probably put it more than once this evening, 'to verify they have not frozen and fallen off yet'.  "Is pit-sa really so good that being outside in the cold is worth it?"  He sounds dubious that it could be, and shakes his wings out, muttering something under his breath in his own language.
     He turns at the new voice, and bows very slightly in greeting — he remembers seeing the newcomer at the school, but doesn't recall being introduced yet.  When he straightens back up, he shivers hard and his feathers fluff out.  Not a dignified look.

     Alexander turns at the sound of the voice.  And then there's a bit of a double-take at Keith.  Blink.  There's no look of 'oh my God what the heck is this I don't even', so there's that.  But yes, it's kind of difficult to NOT know about the cat-dude from the school, even if he's never met.  Besides, Alexander is hardly someone to call someone else weird.  "Hey," he greets Keith.  As for the line?  "It's not too bad."  Easy for him to say!
     Speaking of that, he looks to Taká with a look of apology.  "I'm sorry.  It's hard to keep wings warm… they don't make wing-warmers yet."  He's only partly kidding.  He looks at the birdman's hands — if they're still in sight; it's entirely likely that Taká's placed them under his own arms to keep them warm!  "And gloves wouldn't proably fit you right."

     Taká fluffing out like that causes a look of amusement to appear on Keith's face.  To his credit, he resists the urge to say many of the things that come to his mind — many of which could be funny, but also hurt the bird-man's feelings.  Instead, he simply says "The biggest problem with the cold is static electicity.  I floof up, too, when it gets me.  You two are fron the school, no?  I know I've seen you both around…."
     He gives Taká a mischievous look, "Although I remember you hastily exiting the room when I came in.  In any case, we should go inside before we have a birdsicle in our hands here."
     He tilts his head and starts ambling towards the door.

     "They would if they were made with the right number of fingers!"  Taká counters.  "And there are wing warmers.  On my world, which is not helpful right now."
     He automatically starts following Keith, who is heading for a place that is warm and not cold.  "Apology, I had many things on my mind.  I did not mean disrespect.  I remember seeing, but I do not remember your name."
     And no sooner have his feathers smoothed out a bit when he shivers again, with predictable results.

     Alexander nods at the question from Keith.  "Yeah.  He's a little newer, though."  He tilts his head in Taká's direction, indicating the birdman.  He snickers at the mention of a 'birdsicle', and heads in with the other two.
     Taká's words of the right number of fingers — and of wing warmers — gets a smirk.  "Exactly.  Yours would have to be specially made.  Gloves, that is.  Wing-warmers is a concept you'd have to introduce to the one making the stuff."  He holds the door for Taká, and Keith if Alexander gets to the door in time.

     "Why, thank you," Keith says to Alexander and saunters right in, hands in his pockets.  "I'm Keith, by the way.  How 'bout you?"
     Inside, he lets out a brief purr at the wave of warmth that comes from the place's internal heating.  "Now the only thing this place is missing is a beam of sunlight and I could be here for hours."
     He does try to find the table nearest to a window.

     Taká stops just inside the doorway and takes a breath, the cold already forgotten.  "Oh."  Eyes go wide.  "Oh.  Is that what pit-sa smells like?"  After a moment, he shakes his head clear and follows, "Kié, Keet."  Well, he's still working on his pronunciation.  "Taká.  It is good to meet you properly."
     At the table, he turns a chair around backwards and sits in it that way, folding his arms across the top and leaning forward, slowly flexing his wings.  He appears to be studying the table top intently.  "I do not see," he finally says, "where the food comes out."

     Alexander nods to the thanks from Keith.  "Sure thing."  The offer of name gets a smile.  "Alexander," he replies.  "Good to meetcha."  He snickers at Keith's statement.  "Can always see if you can persuade the staff to aim a heat lamp on you," he suggests.  He's clearly kidding, but that's not a bad idea.
     Taká's mini-discovery of the scent of pizza gets a grin.  "Yup.  Now you see why everybody's eager to get it," he says.  He sits at the same table with Keith and Taká.  He blinks at Taká's words of the food coming out.  "That's because it comes out of there."  He points at the kitchen.  "Someone will come out, ask us what we want, and then go back and fix it.  When it's ready they'll bring it out."

     Keith pays close attention to Taká's words, his curiosity has been awakened.  Following Alexander's explanation, he leans forward a little and asks in a very casual tone, "Where does food usually come out from?"
     It's not that he is making fun of the bird-man, but that was a very strange thing to say.  Unless… well.  Keith didn't recognize Taká as anyone he had met before, but if he could have made it all the way here… maybe the Jubjub bird, too?  Who knew?

     "That depends on the house systems," Taká says, quite seriously.  "In my home, it was delivered from the wall unit, but I lived alone and did not need a more advanced unit.  My parents have a much larger table; the kirát… apology.  The house auto system served from the middle of it."
     He looks up sharply at Alexander, quite suddenly.  "They will prepare it for us?  Are we invited guests?  Should I have brought something?"

     The other ways that Keith's statement could be taken don't occur to Alexander.  Thankfully.  Because he's in 'exposition mode'!  First he looks to Keith.  "Taká's only just got here from his home planet," he explains.  "He's not sure where he is in relation to it, either."  That might give some context to the odd statement.
     As for Taká's question?  "No, we're good," he assures the birdman.  "Providing food to people is a service on this planet.  There's a lot of those.  We come in as patrons to their establishment, eat, pay them for their trouble, and go on about our way.  That sort of thing."

     The cat's eyebrows raise.  "Home planet?  I'm impressed.  I'm sort of from another dimension, myself.  Well, well, well… spaceships and all of that, food dispensers in the wall à la Star Trek?"
     Keith hmmms, and turns to Alexander.  "So we have a visitor from outer space, a visitor from another dimension, and let me guess… you are the tooth fairy?" he says with a wink and a grin.  He's good at grinning.

     "Not necessarily in the wall.  And space ships.  I do not know what alastartrek is, so I don't know if I had one in my home."  Taká nods once in acknowledgement of Alexander's explanation.  "I have not been here long.  I am still learning this world's ways."  He looks around, and leans closer, and says almost conspiratorially, "They do not make much sense."
     He sits upright, and reaches to his belt for something that isn't there.  "Oh.  Pay.  I do not have access to my barter account here!"

     Alexander emits a 'pfft' sound at the 'tooth fairy'.  "Nope.  A 'visitor from beyond the grave'."  To fit with Keith's whole 'visitor' theme.  More humorously?  "I'm the zombie everybody's required to shoehorn into their setting, no matter how much it doesn't go with the rest of the setting," he replies, with a grin.  Though that part he says quietly, so he isn't overheard.
     He snickers at the mention of ways that don't make sense.  "I never thought about it.  But I guess that's what it's like for someone who's always done things a certain way.  It's not until someone who's outside that whole thing points things out that they start to recognize the silliness."  The words of barter get a shake of his head.  "They use paper money.  Or electronic.  I've got some money."
     Then Alexander looks at Keith.  "You going to contribute to the total?"  He doesn't sound like he expects it, but would likely appreciate it.

     "Contribute shmtribute."  Keith pauses, and shakes his head, "Ok, that didn't come out right.  What I meant to say is that I ain't chipping in."
     He takes out a wallet and takes out a card.  "My treat.  I figured since I'm the new kid, I'd ingratiate myself with my co-scholars in order to foster positive filial-like ties among my peers and strive towards a positive environment."
     And then he grins.  "Or maybe just piss off my old man by over-spending.  Whichever comes first."
     The mention of bartering makes him chuckle, "We don't barter here.  We have a token that is essentially an abstraction for labor-hours put forth.  We call it cash.  Money.  Moolah, and othe names.  It's pretty much a universal exchange system without having to deal with the inconvenient issues in bartering where someone already has what you are offering but they have something you need.  Makes sense?"
     "And that's cool, a zombie.  The three of us could form our own outrageous team just by ourselves.  I dig it."

     Blink.  Blinkblink.  "I think I understood about four words of that," Taká says, staring at Keith.  "The sounds are familiar, but is that really still English?"

     Alexander doesn't seem that upset when Keith says he's not going to contribute.  He's looking for his wallet when Keith pulls the card out.  He smirks at the first explanation.  And outright grins at the second.  He shifts to sit properly, wallet un-retrieved.  "That works," he replies.  And he chuckles at the mention of starting a team.  "I dunno, I'm still figuring out this whole 'fighting' stuff."
     Taká's lack of understanding gets a 'hmm'.  "This is where I wish I'd have paid attention in economics," he says, half-jokingly.  "Well, like.  Say you have a fish.  Someone else has cheese, and you need cheese.  They already have fish, so they're not willing to take it, but you need cheese.  Here, you pay for the cheese in tokens that represent wealth.  In the case of the US, gold.  It's easier to carry ten slips of paper representing ten dollars in gold than actually carry ten dollars' weight in gold.
     "Or, more recently…"  He pauses, pointing at Keith's card.  "…Electronic tokens representing how much wealth you have to your name.  There's more complicated stuff than that.  But that's… more or less the basics.  I think.  I don't really think about it much overall."

     "The electronic token makes sense.  That is how my barter account works," Taká says, finding just a little bit of firm ground to stand on here.  "If I want to trade with someone, they do not have to want what my land produces.  It is enough that someone does; the planetary barter system will make the shortest connection between what I have and what my trade partner wants.  I do not think I have ever had to go through more than ten… apology.  Eight?  Yes.  Eight trading partners to get from my spice harvest to, for example, a custom inkwell."
     He steeples his fingers and thinks.  "In your system, things are worth a set number of tokens?  What is the value of the tokens by themselves?"

     Alexander nods.  "Like that, yeah.  More or less.  The broad strokes are the same.  We just use money to pay for everything so we don't have to have the whole hub thing.  You can use money to buy just about anything.  Even stuff you shouldn't."  He smirks a little.
     The question of the 'set number' gets a thoughtful hrm.  "Well, in the world there's a bunch of those systems.  You're in the United States, though, so I'll explain that.  The dollar and the 'cent'.  One-hundred 'cents' is a dollar.  Most commonly we've got 1, 5, 10, and 25 cent coins; 1, 5, 10, 20, 50, and 100 dollar bills.  There are other kinds, but those are the most common you'll encounter."

     "What an odd set of denominations."  Taká closes his eyes in mental calculation.  "Ai, I see.  They do make sense in base-twelve… apology.  Base ten counting.  Your ten, not my ten.  Well," he adds dubiously, "I suppose it must work or you would not do it that way."

     Alexander smirks.  "I'm not actually sure it does," he replies.  "There's a lot of things wrong with the system.  But we're a culture that doesn't like change, even if we find a better way to do things.  We're obssessed with the habit of doing things a certain way."  The smirk looks a bit bitter.  "Well.  What kind of foods can you eat?  Are you okay with meats?  Anything you're allergic to?"

     "I am… I can eat some meats.  I have been told that your people eat birds.  I… do not think I can do that."  Taká glances toward the kitchen, led by his nose and a waft of something intriguing.  "There are no birds in pit-sa, I hope."
     He leans back a little, thinking.  "The red meat is good.  A bit rich, but good.  I like grains, fruits and vegetables, fish… but I do not know if any of these are appropriate to pit-sa."

     "Okay, no chicken pizza," Alexander replies.  He'd expected that, to be honest.  "They do make pizza with fowl, yeah, but you don't have to have it on there if you don't want."  He pauses, listens.  Think.  "Hmm… meat-lovers is probably a bad idea then, if you find red meat too rich."  He's forming an idea, but then something occurs to him.  "Oh.  Right.  Have you had spaghetti yet?  Noodles with red sauce?"

     Taká thinks a moment.  "I had a noodle of some sort in the cafeteria.  It was good.  I do not recall a sauce on it, though.  Is it better with the red sauce?"  Growl: birdmen's stomachs do not chirp, and the scent of food has definitely sharpened Taká's appetite.  "I think I am glad that I have been cleared to try more Earth food."

     Alexander grins at the loud growl.  "Sorry about that.  Was trying to make sure the herbs in the sauce wouldn't give you trouble."  He rubs his chin in thought.  "Let's see.  Could do pineapple — that's a citrus fruit — and pork sausage.  If you want more vegetables, peppers and mushrooms are popular picks."  He starts to flag a server over; he can at least put drink orders in, right?

     Taká shrugs.  "The only way to find out about some things is by trying them.  I will trust you to choose since I do not know what is correct.  I do not think anything will hurt me.  The doctors have said my similarity to humans is surprising."

     Alexander can't help but grin at that.  "Which I'm assuming you found rather insulting?"  He's kidding, given the amused expression on his face.  Not to mention the playful wink.  He chuckles.  "Okay.  I'm hoping nothing here messes you up.  If it does, I'm sorry."  The wait staff that comes over does seem to have a hard time looking away from Taká's wings, but is professional enough at least to get a drink order in.  Alexander orders a regular soft drink, and a pizza with sausage, mushrooms, and peppers.  And a side order of pineapple.  Taká is free to order whatever kind of drink he likes.

     Taká has no particular objection to being looked at, he's aware he doesn't look like other people, and he's just a little bit vain enough to enjoy it.  Besides, other than Carmichael, how many black-winged birdmen are there around here?  Probably not near enough.  "Ai!  Drink?  What do they call it.  Sweet tea, yes?"

     "Yeah, that sounds right," Alexander confirms.  Order taken, the wait staff goes back to the kitchen area.  The drink machine is where it can be seen, though.  So Taká can see the wonder that is pouring a drink from a machine, hear the horrible scratching and hissing sounds the machine makes.  The sounds don't seem to bother Alexander at all, to note.

     They don't seem to bother Taká either; he assumes it's supposed to make that noise.  If it wasn't, surely they would have had it repaired by now.
     He leans forward, resting his elbows on the table.  "I wanted to ask, do you know anything about this arena game I have heard mentioned?  I do not know if it sounds like fun, or extremely dangerous."

     "Arena Fetch?" Alexander inquires.  He shakes his head.  "Aside from the name, no.  I'm a gamer nerd, nerds and jocks don't tend to get along well.  We're kind of the antithesis of each other."  He smirks a little; the expression is equal parts amused and… well, almost self-deprecating.  "Though if it helps, this country's required to provide all required safety gear, and it's supposed to fit properly.  So I'm sure it's not too dangerous.  Accidents happen, yeah, but… safety gear."

     "Nerd and jock… I do not know those words."  Taká's lips twist, thinking.  "I can only assume 'nerds' don't play sports and 'jocks' do.  I was a good qihár player at home.  Does that mean I am a jock?  Except we do seem to get along well."  He shakes his head.  "This is another confusing Earth thing, yes?"

     "Sort of," Alexander replies.  "More like a jock lets the playing of the sport define him.  It's not hard, sports-players get the chance at scholarships.  And there's been more than one case of a sports coach pulling strings to get one of his players to pass a class when his grades weren't actually good enough to, just to keep him in the team.  So there's the feeling of being able to do no wrong.  That probably doesn't help.  A nerd is… well, it's someone that's so engrossed in something that their social skills suffer.  My social skills aren't that great.  I'm a musician, and I'm pretty good, but the time I poured into learning was time that I wasn't learning how to interact with others."

     Taká absorbs that.  "I think that means I am neither.  Or both.  Or maybe that does not apply to me.  I was going to qualify for the Imperial University without any consideration for my qihár skill.  I do not even know what those could have to do with each other.  But qihár is organized at the clan and branch level, not by the schools."  His wings droop a little.  "You will still be my friend even if I decide to play Arena Fetch?"

     Alexander nods immediately.  "Sure!  Long as you don't get full of yourself if you turn out to be a really good player and start thinking you're better than everybody else because you can play," he assures Taká.  "Really it's not the playing of the sport, it's more the attitude of the player that makes that stereotype come in.  It's really not all that relevant these days, but there are still examples."
     He smiles.  "So don't worry about it.  I think you'll be fine.  I'll even come cheer for you when you play."  Here he pauses though, leaning forward and propping his chin in his hand.  "What's… kee-harr?"  So much mangling of word.

     He says nothing about the pronunciation.  It was close enough.  And Taká's eyes sparkle: this was one of his great avocations back home.  "It is a team game.  You have two long ribbons attached to your belt.  If they are both taken, you are out.  Simple to explain, yes?  You may do anything but physical contact to get one from another player.  Game ends when one team is all out.  There are a lot of other more detailed rules, but that's it."
     He smiles lopsidedly.  "Of course, you are doing this at high speed in mid air in a whole flock of players.  It can get… interesting."

     Alexander listens to the explanations about the game.  "So a little like… capture the flag?  But the flag is mobile, and there's two-times however many players on the opposing team number of flags instead of just one?"  Seems simple enough.  But yeah, the mention of doing this while flying at high speeds gets a blink.  "Yeah, that's… that sounds dangerous.  I hope you guys have safety equipment."  Pause.  "Unless managing to do this and not die in the process is a test of strength or something.  Hopefully not as violent as Mayan football.  The losing team was sacrificed to their gods.  Sometimes the winning team was too."

     "That… does not sound like a good game to play," Taká muses.  "The only safety equipment /qihár/ needs is a net since the worst that is going to happen is an accidental collision that takes both players down.  And then they are both out."  The lopsided smile again.  "It's great exercise.  And I was good at it.  Our young adult team was regional champion."  The smile fades a little.

     The cheshire cat finally comes back, storing his phone in his jeans.
     "Sorry about that, annoying things.  What did I miss?"
     He pulls up a chair and sits down, with the chair backwards so he can rest his arms and chin on the back of the chair.  "I'm so hungry.  Did we remember to order breadsticks or something like that, too?"

     Alexander nods.  "Yeah.  There's a lot of room to figure out how to make it happen," he agrees, of qihár.  "But I'd still suggest some safety equipment.  Helmets at least.  Because contact might not be intended, but it can happen."  He looks up as Keith returns.  "Welcome back," he replies with a smile.  The mention of breadsticks gets a blink.  "Oh.  Piss.  No, I didn't.  Sorry.  I forget.  I can add that, though."

     "There is a net," Taká explains.  What other safety equipment does there need to be?  "Deliberate contact is a foul, so it is not common."

     Coffee.  Yes.  Coffee will stop their sleeeeep.  Coffee!!
     Seth drifts into the coffee shop from somewhere, and orders a Wake the Dead with extra shot.  He's wearing the classic school uniform and a wool pea coat.  His tie has been upgraded to Slytherin Green and White.  (Literally, it's a Slytherin tie, not a Metis tie.)
     "Thanks bud," he says paying the barista, and looks into a shadow.  Nearby.  Pizza parlor.  He sees three people he knows.  Either it's a convention or a conspiracy.  Or a spiraventioncy.  Nevertheless.  When nobody is looking he steps into the shadow and heads for that place over there where they are.  Where he can sit and soak up the black, bitter awakening.  Appearing from a dark corner, he steps forward.
     "Hey."
     Slump into chair.  Somehow, he still makes it look graceful.

     "Hey there!  Looks like the gang is all here now."  The cat grins, "Out of the shadows and everything like a super spy."
     He eyes Taká and Alexander with a puzzled look.  "Helmets, contact, what on earth are you talking about?  It's either some sort of sport or…," he pauses, looking at Taká.  "Do they have space gladiatorial combat on your planet?"
     Hey, he could dream.

     "Well, uh…," Alexander hedges, trying to think of how best to explain the need for more safety equipment.  "Have you seen those silly cartoons that break the laws of physics?  The hunter chasing the anthro bunny, the anthro coyote chasing the inaccurately drawn land bird?" he asks.  "These days, if a kid tried any of that, when they invariably got hurt, their parents would try to sue the makers of the cartoons.  Could be the same here.  If one of the students accidentally cracks their skull against someone else's while playing, their parents might try to sue the school.  Doesn't matter that it's not RIGHT, as long as a lawyer can convince a jury that it is."
     Seth's appearance actually gets a very typical response from Alexander.  Ever heard a grown man squeak like a mouse?  …Well, technically Alexander's not grown, but he's as close to it as he's ever going to get, at least in body.  But anyway, that's exactly what he does.  He squeaks!  And a little wisp of grayish-green smoke escapes his mouth, to float away.  He clears his throat, a 'no you totally didn't hear that' gesture.  "H-hey there," he greets Seth.
     And Keith gets a smirk.  "Nah.  Taká's planet has this aerial 'capture the flag' type game, and he's been seeing if he can get people at the school interested in playing."

     Taká is genuinely dismissive of Alexander's suggestion.  "That is the whole point, to take a calculated risk, not just blindly charge in and start grabbing other players randomly.  If you protect too much against injury, you protect against being able to make a good decision for one's self."
     Taká half-rises in greeting when his roommate appears — literally appears.  "Kié, Set'h!"  Well, he's still working on the pronunciation.  "I would ask where you came from, but I think the answer would only confuse me."

     Seth grins back, because "super-spy" is kind of what he's working on.  He opens his coffee, sniffs once and sips it very slowly.
     "I came from the coffee shop over there," he says waving in the general direction of The Mug Shot.  This place may or may not have waiters.  He waits to discover which it is, because his usual pizza is usually really easy to make, but only if the place is somewhat authentic.
     "So, have any of you figured out this insane Arena Fetch thing?"

     "I assume this game can only be played by people with wings?" Keith asks, grinning.  He's proud at the fact that Seth didn't startle him.  He likes being the 'cool one.' "Because, if you can get me a pair of wings somehow, I'd totally be game for this crazy 'Arena Fetch' thing, as 'Lex called it.  What do you usually wear for this sort of thing, anyways?  Any uniforms?"

     "Oh yeah, I agree," Alexander replies.  "But that's the problem.  We've got hordes of parents trying to sue game-makers because there's stuff in a game made for teenagers they didn't want their precious toddler-age kids to see.  The parents should have been more careful and read the label, then they'd have known it was rated a little too high.  But no.  In this day and age, blaming everybody else and demanding recompense for imagined slights is a thing.  Remind me when you get back and I'll show you online."
     He shakes his head to Seth's question though.  "Nope.  I'm not really a sports-player, sorry," he replies.  "I've got my face in sheet music most of the time."  Keith's words get a tilt of his head.  "Well, uh… Arena Fetch is the school sport.  The capture the flag game is on Taká's world.  Two different sports."  He looks to Taká.  "Qihár, was it?"  He pronounces it mostly correctly this time.

     "I am trying to figure that game out, Set'h.  I think I could be good at it," Taká says.  "And judging by our team's record, we need someone who is."
     Taká contemplates Keith's remark a moment.  "You know, I suppose it could be played by anyone who flies.  Although there might be a necessary modification of the rules.  I do not really know, I have not thought it all the way through yet.  I suppose I can even imagine a way that the ground-bound could play."  His lower lip twists in thought.  "Not right now, I can not, but I suppose with some thought I could."
     And he nods to Alexander.  "Yes, very good, qihár is what we call it.  I can think of a few ways that qihár tactics could apply to Arena Fetch, if I understand that game correctly."

     "Oh, right, that game," the cat says, groaning.  "The one that has the carriers and the defenders and the wings… or was it the quaffle, bludgers and the golden snitch?"  The cat leans back and stretches.  "My eyes kind of glaze over when I read the rules.  I've never been much for team sports myself.  I like it one-on-one.  Sweaty, intense, competitive.  I guess I'm going to have to learn how to play with others, hmmm?"

     "So what are you guys eating?" Seth asks, and he sips at his coffee, and then goes into some sort of transport of caffiene that has him staring into a shadow for an uncomfortably long time.  He doesn't blink.
     "!" he says, and shakes himself all over.  "Wow that was a bad one.  eyes wide shut…."
     "Huh.  OK, don't use spells that draw on second sight without locking them down afterwards.  Got it."

     Alexander offers a thumbsup as Taká confirms he's got the name of the Akiar sport close enough.  He mainly stays quiet when they're talking about sports, since he doesn't know much about them.  Though at Keith's words, his mind immediately leaps gleefully in the gutter with all the glee of a twelve-year old leaping into a pool of cool, blue water in the summer.  And he can't help but snicker.  But he leaves whatever horrible thing he thought unsaid.  Not only because it's really not something to say in mixed company, but because Seth is reacting oddly all of a sudden.  He blinks and looks at Seth.  "Something wrong?" he asks.

     Taká nods at Keith.  "Yes, the rules are a little confusing.  I am hoping that they can be better explained by demonstration.  But if it is a matter of evasion and reaching a goal, I can do that.  The only individual sports I know are board games, or races.  They can both be intense and competitive, but usually only the latter is sweaty.  Now, I can think of a few things that are intense and sweaty, but they are not competitive."
     Like Alexander, Taká stares at Seth: that was more than a little weird.  "Set'h?  k'tavrat'h?  Are you well?"

     Keith keeps his eyes on Seth carefully, and frowns.  "You were sort of kinda staring at something that wasn't there for a moment, Seth.  If you just had a vision of an archangel telling you you are needed to conquer France, you might have intercepted someone else's vision."
     He sounds carefree, but there is a certain cautious worry to his general attitude.

     "Uh, well, I was suddenly watching some very athletic and slick men in leather pants and little else trying to toss one another around.  I think it was someplace called Edirne," Seth replies.  "It was very sweaty and intense."
     He sips coffee again.  "I have been trying out a new scrying spell.  I forgot to turn it off entirely."
     He pauses… "Speaking of intense, what have you guys ordered?"

     Alexander does snicker a bit at Keith's words, but for the time being he stays quiet to wait for Seth's explanation, if he choses to give one.  Seth's explanation though, gets a 'pfffft!' of laughter, and he tries to cover his mouth.  When he can talk again without snickering he offers, "Yeah.  Always gotta turn those second sight-type things off.  Wish I could turn mine off.  I see dead people.  Everywhere."  As for what they've ordered?  "Oh right.  Reminds me."  He flags down one of the wait staff — there's waiters here, yes.  "I'm sorry, but can I add breadsticks to our order, if it's not too much trouble?"  He's super-polite, because order-changing is a pain in the butt and he knows it.

     Taká laughs softly.  "Next time, Set'h, let me know when you are seeing something like that, so you can share it with me.  Should I expect this to happen a lot?"
     He leans across the table, and asks Alexander in a soft whisper, "I know what bread is and what sticks are, but what are bread sticks?"

     At this, Keith raises his eyebrows and smirks.
     "Glad to know you're ok, Seth, m'boy."
     A paper napkin slides across the paper, propelled by a purple hand, towards Seth.  "Why don'tcha write down that channel number, though?  I wouldn't mind tuning in evvery once in a while."

     "I am surprised you don't have it, since your words opened the scry," Seth says, and writes down two words, Edirne Kirkpinar, on the napkin.
     "I'm not sure why the Turks get to keep all the fun to themselves."
     He waves to the waiter.  "Could I get a personal-size Margharetta and a medium soda water, no syrup in it?  Thanks."
     Now we'll find out if this place even HAS the things.

     Alexander tilts his head to whisper back to Taká, "Bread that's been rolled into cylindrical shapes and baked.  Looks like a stick.  Works good for soaking up extra sauce."  He leans back, and then snickers at Keith's mention of the 'channel'.  "There was a time I'd have asked for the channel too," he says.  "Sadly, I don't think it'd do anything for me anymore."  He pouts about that.  He also grins at Seth's words of the Turkish keeping all the fun to themselves.  "The same can be said of a lot of countries, depending on what you're into."

     "Whatever it is, I am getting hungry."  No shock there, Taká has an appallingly fast metabolism.  "I am still not clear on what is meant by countries.  Is that like clans, except with separate languages as well as separate lineages?"  He leans forward over the back of his chair — his is turned around backwards, mainly so the back doesn't hurt his wings.  "You have a weird planet."  It's said completely without rancor, as if it were a perfectly uncontestable observation.

     "If you think that's weird, wait until we show you the internet," Keith grins, and gives Seth and Alexander a look.  "What should be first?  Youtube?  Oh, please let's do Youtube… I have several cat videos to show.  And, of course, there is always Carol Channing."
     Because, he is quite sure, most alien cultures would not know what to make of Carol Channing.  Here was a fine time to do some xenoanthropology, right there.

     Seth pokes Keith with a straw threateningly.  "Do not experiment on my roommate without his permission."
     He gets his glass of water+fizz (without added sugar) and sips at it.  The coffee has been stuck in a convenient shadow.  Outside food is not always tolerated.  In the kitchen someone says, "We don't serve mixed drinks"  and someone else says, "It's a pizza you idiot."
     Seth smiles to himself.

     Alexander nods at Taká's question of countries.  "More or less.  Except sometimes the lineages are shared.  My father's from France.  That's where they speak French."  He pauses, and then says something in fluent French.  Then switching back to English, "Or, in English, 'French is an even stranger language'.  He grins at Keith, the expression lopsided.  "Let's start with the cute, and break his mind with the weird slowly," he suggests.  "'One of us, one of us'," he teases.  Though he does nod to Seth's words.  "Yeah, that's probably a good idea, to let him choose the level of crazy."  He might have missed the kitchen staff's little argument.  Either way, aside from a look that way, he doesn't comment on it.

     Taká looks back and forth between Alexander and Keith in more than a little confusion.  "I agree with my roommate.  I am not an experimental subject.  And I do not think I'm crazy."
     He can't help but laugh a little.  "Though that may be only a matter of opinion.  Or in my case, the matter of a pinion."

     "My dear Taká," Keith says, reaching for his soft drink and taking a slow sip of it.  "Don't you know?  We're all mad here."
     He sets the drink down and grins, resting his chin on the back of the chair.  "But I'll tell you a secret: all the best people are."

     Seth takes a few moments to appreciate the puns, though he does mumble, "you mean the matter of a punion," and then begins to start making legos out of shadow because he's bored wating for food and he can't drink coffee in here.
     "So.  You guys plan to start with the cute huh.  I demand a demonstration."

     Alexander laughs when Taká makes the pun.  "Oh, that's a good one, I'll have to remember it."  He nods at Keith's words, pointing in his direction.  "He's right.  Insanity and genius are common companions.  Most of the really incredible geniuses on Earth, you can find accounts of them just being varying degrees of irrational."  Seth's words of a demonstration of cute gets a look at Keith.  "You seen the Long Johnson Cat?" he asks.  "It's almost creepy, but still cute, and more than a little impressive."

     Keith's expression is hard to read, for a few seconds.  "You're asking me if I've seen a long johnso-"
     Fortunately for everybody involved, the order arrives.  Copious amouts of cheesy, delicious pizza, enough to calm the most ravenous and beastly of appetites.  "Oooh yes, now we're talking.  This, Taká, is the supreme delicacy of highschool and college students everywhere.  This is the dish of divine proportions, a religious experience."
     Barely has one of the platters settled, Keith reaches for a slice and holds it aloft.  "Behold, the wonderment!"

     "I'm starting to think that going mad might be the best reaction to this world," Taká muses, "except that I have to live inside my brain, so it is not really a good choice for me.  And even worse for any fellow telepaths I might meet."
     He regards Keith a little oddly.  "I do not think I can have a religious experience, I already have Gods of my own — oh, that smells really good," he says, clumsily collecting a piece.  He drapes it clumsily over the small plate every pizza joint gives their patrons ("ai, that is hot!") and stares at it a moment.  "Is there a traditional way to eat it?"

     "Little slice, one day everything you see will be yours, in the circle of life," Seth says to the piece that Keith is holding up so it can see everything from the top of Pride Rock.  He nods to Taká.
     "And this is the right kind of pizza.  You do not use utensils unless it's a deep-dish pizza in which case you can, and if anyone gives you shit about it you can use the utensil as a weapon to defend yourself too."
     He takes one of the smaller slices, folds it length-wise carefully, and eats it from the point first.
     "Some extreme pizzavores will eat crust first.  We consider then showing off."
     Then Seth's pizza arrives.  He inspects it carefully.  It's… mostly… a Marghuerita.  Or Margharella, or Marghause.  Something Marghish.  He pulls a bottle of pills out of his vest pocket and downs two of them.
     "Lactose intolerant."

     Alexander starts to laugh at Keith's aborted statement.  "No no, it's a video of a cat who says, amongst other things, 'Oh Long Johnson'," he explains.  Pizza's here, though!  "I'll show you later.  Or if you look for it, you'll probably find it on YouTube.  Watch the one from Orange Cabinet, though."  Taká's comment about the pizza's smell gets a smile.  "It does, doesn't it?"  As for traditional ways of eating it?  "Not really.  Just with the hands."  There's probably no silverware in immediate range.  He mock-pouts about Seth's comment about showing off.  "But I like eating the crust first," he says.  "Ever put honey on a crust after eating the pizza though?  That's delicious."  Yes, he eats.  It's been a while.  The mention of Seth being lactose intolerant gets a nod.  "Actually that makes sense."  Rumors of SNAKE have reached his ears after all, and ingesting dairy can kill a snake.

     Taká watches everyone handle their slices, and ultimately takes a small bite from the pointy end of his.
     And then a much bigger bite as his eyes go wide.
     He chews, and swallows, and stares at the slice in his hand.  "c'Rhys'yw… if we ever find my homeworld, I want a monopoly on importing these there!"

     Keith laughs, after swallowing his bite, and says, "Hey, hey, careful there, you don't want to choke… are you telling me you came all the way to our little blue ball and didn't remember to keep a trail of yarn behind to follow home?  You're actually…"
     Wait for it.
     "Lost in space?"

     Seth makes an aside to Alex, "I have not seen this cat video.  I spend most of my web time finding weird bits of human history and yelling in exasperation.  They make me want to bite things and I was banished into the shadows in the library recently.  However, I suspect this is a growling cat making threat noises," and he pauses just long enough to spring the joke, "on the human's Johnson.  Hence: NO long johnson."
     Marghuerita pizza is… good enough.  Not fresh mozzarella but at least it has tomatoes and fresh basil.  Seth takes several bites.  He deliberately ignores the Lost In Space conversation.

     Alexander smiles when he notes Taká's response.  "Good, ain't it?" he notes.  "The sauce is spiced a little different than spaghetti sauce, but it's close.  And you can just about put anything on it.  Some even put the cheese on the crust first, and then the sauce on top.  Lots of different ways to make it."  He snorts at Keith's comment and pre-emptively offers explanation to Taká, "'Lost In Space' was an old series on TV, and a not-so-old movie.  Basically a family got shipwrecked on an unknown planet and had to survive.  Admittedly I didn't watch a lot of it — kinna before my time, given I'm not even twenty yet."  Seth's statement gets a laugh, though.  "I know.  Human history is so headdesk-inducingly frustrating," he admits.  As for the cat video?  "No, it's a cat that's doing like cats do when they're scared but threatening another cat.  He's puffing up and making noises at the cat, but it sounds like he's actually speaking.  The words are strung together nonsensically, but they sound like actual words — 'oh my dog', 'oh don piano', 'why I eyes ya'… that kind of thing."

     Taká blinks at Keith, and says, quite seriously, "Yes."  And there is today's lesson in pulling gags on people without 40+ years of awareness of American culture… he listens to Alexander's explanation and says, "Oh."  Not enough to wring a laugh out of him.  Of course, he's never seen an episode.

     "…oh."  Open mouth, take out pizza, insert foot.  Keith looks sheepish for a moment.  "…have you been introduced to chocolate yet?" he says.  If not… well.  Maybe he could make it up to Taká.

     Seth nods about the cat.  Figured as much.  Watches Vorpal's autopedivorous moment with mild amusement.  Pulls a small notebook out and notes something down, then smiles at Vorpal thinly.
     "Hey, Taká, have you ever had a bad reaction to any human foods?"
     He eats another slice of the pizza he got for himself, and wonders if the tomatoes they used are just not ripe or if they just had no Roma tomatoes so used Beefstake, er Beefsteak.

     Alexander adds, "It's pretty good, what I've seen of it.  Though I wouldn't expect a lot of scientific accuracy."  And then he reaches over if possible, to pat Keith on the shoulder for comfort.  Pizza is had then, and he looks at Seth at the question.  Good question.  Though since his mouth is full of pizza he doesn't say that.  He just looks to Taká for the answer.

     Three words.  Three small words that can conceivably be life altering.  Taká asks, "What is chocolate?"  And he asks it quite innocently, before turning his attention to Seth's quite important query.
     "No, I have not," he says.  "I have been tested for incompatibilities, but none have been found.  Earth food and I are compatible.  Of course, there are some things I like better than others.  And many things I have not tried yet."  He takes another bite of his pizza, chews appreciatively, and swallows.  "So far, my experiences, this one included, have been positive."

     "What is…?"
     The question dies on Keith's lips.
     "I WILL BE RIGHT BACK."
     And with that, the Cheshire is gone.  Literally.  He has vanished into thin air.
     It's at most a couple of minutes that he is gone.  When he comes back, he appears out of thin air, again, but this time holding a cup of something.
     He seems to be clad in… chainmail?  With a tabard, and a sword.  And he heads over to Taká's side of the table.  The cup is golden, and it gleams.
     As he steps towards Taká, a heavenly chorus, disembodied (of course), begins to sing.
     "My liege… for thee."
     And so Keith kneels and offers the Grail up to Taká.
     There are several scoops of Chunky Monkey inside.

     Seth sits back and watches, paying careful attention.  He's going to have to come up with a match to this after all… at some point.

     "…Oh God," Alexander mutters, at Keith's reaction to Taká's question, the words half-muffled through a facepalm.  But he's grinning.  "Please be careful, I don't want to know the kind of damage a loaded telepathic birdman can do to the surrounding area or its denizens."  His tone is half-teasing, at least.
     Suddenly Keith is gone!  Alexander blinks.  Looks at Seth.  "…What happened?" he inquires.  Though before he can wonder too long Keith is back in… "…Aw geez."  He can't help it, he starts to laugh.  But he at least has the decency to try and cover his mouth to stifle it.  Mainly because, like Seth, he's interested to see how this all turns out.

     It's fair to say that Taká is taken aback at Keith's disappearance.  "Wh — ?" is all he can get out at first.
     And he's even more taken aback at the reappearance, especially with the change of outfit.  He regards the cup curiously, and hesitantly takes it.  "Is this chocolate?  Or are only parts of it?" he asks, and samples the yellow creamy bit, which is quite nice.  The walnut, which is also quite nice.
     The dark brown chunks.
     Oh, holy Gods and Goddesses, the dark brown chunks.
     Taká freezes when it first hits his tongue, taking it in, letting himself get absorbed in the flavor.  His eyes are unfocused.
     He sets the cup on the table, and slowly gets out of his chair.  And then he grabs Keith by the lapels and kisses him full on the lips.

     Keith's eyes snap wide open at the kiss, and at first he can't quite grasp how far south this particular stunt has gone.
     Eventually his thoughts align along the lines of 'Note to self: chocolate is aphrodisiac for space birds.'
     'Note to the note self: introduce him to Nutella next.'
     'Note to the note to the note to self: Keep bucket of cold water ready.  Just in case.'
     All right.  He's being kissed.  He's startled at first, but then he lets himself adjust and enjoy it — maybe even give a little back if time permits before parting.
     When he's not being kissed anymore, he smirks.  He might be blushing, it's hard to tell because of the fur, but his hair is mussed up.
     There's no actual reason for it to be, it just is.
     "…I had that same reaction at a restaurant once.  I had to leave a very generous tip," he finally says, voice a little husky.

     As soon as Vorpal's lips are touched by Taká's lips and the illusion starts to de-rezz, Seth pulls a bit of shadow and blows it like pixie dust over the scene, and the cup of gold is now decorated in scenes one might find on a typical Greek storage jar (in the temple of Pan) and the knightly armor stabilizes into something more like what our knight would be wearing if he were drawn the way women's armor is drawn.  But at least it doesn't vanish completely.
     "And now you see what happens when the common house cat encounters an eagle," Seth says, and grabs his last bit of pizza.  As he brings it to his mouth, an utterly unexpected cat made of shadow pops out from under the table, steals half of it, and claws Seth on the hand, before vanishing into the shadows again.
     "OW!" he says.  "Am I going to pay pizza tax forever or something?"

     And that, that kiss, is Alexander's cue.  He can't hold it in anymore.  He erupts into peals of laughter that are WAY TOO HIGH PITCHED for his usual speaking voice.  He can't even draw breath to make a joke, because he's laughing too hard.  Fortunately he won't suffocate from lack of air.  But his sides are going to hurt something fierce.  Seth's new illusion and the appearance of the shadowy cat do nothing to dampen Alexander's amusement, either.  Give him a minute to pull himself together; he's like barely not literally falling out of his chair laughing.

     If nothing else, at least Taká managed to keep his mind behind his own eyes during the physical contact, though it was a bit of an effort.  Well, mostly.  "What is nu-te-la?" he asks, still not having released said lapels.
     And he is instantly chagrined.  "Apology, Keit'h.  I can normally not reach non-telepathic minds, but physical contact… ai."
     This is where he notices the outfit that Seth has provided Keith, and he releases Keith from his grip.  "Oh.  My."

     "One thing at a time, Taká, one thing at a time."  The cat grins.  Then he looks down at his 'armor' and raises an eyebrow.  He used to wrestle in school, the outfit is only a few triangles less of a singlet.  "Well, now how am I supposed to captivate guys if there's no nore mystery, I ask you?"  He gestures to his outfit and asks Seth.  "You're traumatizing this poor starchild over here, Seth!" he reaches out to pat Taká's cheek, "And Alexander would be choking to death on his own laughter if he could die again."

     Seth chuckles.  "You'd be naked otherwise.  I couldn't take the aura of purity."
     He notices the incoming waitress, and flicks a bit more shadow over Keith and he's suddenly apparently wearing a spandex one-piece under the armor with spray-on pattern.  (It's the same illusion-cast, just an alternate visualization.)
     "Could I get a Greek salad," he says to the waitress as she approaches and is confused by the non-exposure.
     "I think I need something fresh."

     Alexander is getting himself under control again.  The peals of laughter have calmed down now, though they've calmed to rather undignified, childish giggles.  His name is Alexander Dubois, and yes, he is twelve years old.  "Oh God, this is too funny," he says, between those childish giggles.  Keith's words of choking on his laughter get a nod, and he takes a breath to calm himself a bit more.  "So true.  There are few times when I'm glad that I'm already dead."  Finally though he calms.  Though Seth prompts a fresh fit of snickering, but it's not nearly as bad as earlier.

     "I… uh… it is fair to say that I am impressed."  Whether with the chocolate or Keith's outfit, Taká does not elaborate.  he flicks a glance at Alexander, then at Seth, then back at Keith and slowly takes his seat again.
     He eyes the remaining ice cream in the goblet almost nervously, then shrugs and eats another spoonful.  "Ai, c'Rhys'yw…"  is all he says.  Even without speaking his language, the tone carries for the table the message that yes this confection is much appreciated.

     "Just for the record: I think being paid in kisses is a perfectly acceptable method of payment," Keith smirks.  And then reaches for a slice of Pizza.
     "…yes.  Definitely need to get you some Nutella."

     Seth pulls out money and wanders over to the cashier to pay for his part.  He sends over three giant chocolate chip cookies via the waitress — after he's gone — and then returns to the table.  Chocolate chocolate chip.
     "I'm afraid I need to get back to my bowl, gents.  I have homework to do.  Keith, I may come to talk to you tomorrow sometime.  We might be able to collaborate on a thing."
     He reaches into the shadow and pulls out the still-steaming coffee, replaces the lid, and steps backwards into the shaded spot he came out of before, and is gone.

     "I have to say, I've never seen someone react like that to chocolate," Alexander replies, looking in Taká's direction.  "Actually yes I have but there was 'bow-chicka-bow-wow' music in the background, so I knew where it was going instantly.  Straight to places that shouldn't be gone to in public."  He grins.  Keith's words get a snicker.  "Totally is," he agrees, to kisses being acceptable payment.  Seth seems to be ready to leave then, so Alexander nods, and then raises a hand to wave.  "Take care, man."  A smile.

     "I am almost afraid to ask what nu-te-la is," Taká says, finishing the ice cream and returning to his pizza.  "I can not imagine that it could be better than those dark brown chunks…"

     "You might be surprised," Keith grins, making short work of the pizza.  "If you're up for a shopping trip on Sunday, we'll get some then.  I want to stash some snacks in my dorm room for my study sessions."  He looks at his schoolmates and hms, eyes turning to the window.  "You know, we should probably start heading back.  Looks like we might get some heavier snow.  We can box this up and eat the rest in the commons, what do you say?"

     "It's made of the same stuff as those dark brown chunks," Alexander replies.  Then he explains, "Chocolate and hazelnut, prepared into a spread that can go on bread.  Simple but filling snack."  Keith's mention of the weather gets a look outside.  But he nontheless nods to the suggestion.  "Sounds like a good idea to me.  Did you say you got it, Keith?  I got a bit of cash on me if not."

     "That sounds like a good idea," Taká replies, then hurriedly finishes his slice of pizza and takes another before it can be boxed up.
     He blinks at Alexander.  "What is a hazel nut?"  Then he falls quiet, occasionally glancing up at Keith.  Another telepath would know he's trying to piece together all the fleeting thoughts he picked up during his brief physical contact.  Alas, there is no other telepath here.

Unless otherwise stated, the content of this page is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 License