The Nintendo seal of approval
1/17/2021 12:51:31 PM
Lost & Found, V: Normally you’re supposed to compliment a girl
[url=https://www.bungie.net/en/Forum/Post/257262473/0/0]Table of Contents[/url]
Blades of grass bend and part underneath Mina’s boots as she materializes from the digital haze of transmat. Her armor clatters softly as it settles, but the sound is whisked away by a powerful gust. She immediately takes in a deep breath, enjoying the crisp, cold air.
Ayane‘s body forms beside the Titan and she alights with the silence and grace of a predator, her cloak stirring in the wind. Mina waits patiently while the Huntress scans their surroundings. This field of grass is a clearing, a rare space of level ground nestled on a mountainside. The peak towers above them, crowned in outcroppings of stone. Ayane is unnaturally still, like a statue.
“Welcome!” Mina spreads her arms wide, eliciting a nervous twitch from her companion, “To my…”
The Titan trails off, coming to the mortifying realization that she doesn’t have anything clever to call her special hideaway. For a moment she freezes, gears grinding in her mind as she tries and fails to think of something to say. Slowly she lets her arms sink back down to her sides, feeling her cheeks warm up with embarrassment. The quiet that follows is unbearable; pure torture.
It’s a shallow compliment -probably not even sincere- but the Huntress had come to her rescue. Mina beams, expressing her thankfulness. Despite the Huntress’ previous efforts to repel her, she can tell that underneath Ayane’s quiet and subdued exterior she has some soft, gooey, kind insides. This is a relief to Mina because this whole date would have sucked if Ayane was a jerk. That being said, Ayane seems to be having a pretty terrible day.
Regaining her momentum, Mina points over her shoulder. “The view’s even better if you turn around.”
Together the Guardians turn and are received by the sight of the Last City below, stretching far in all directions. Humanity’s safe haven shines with life, rivaling the stars in the night sky with the decorations of the Festival of the Lost. Mina sighs happily, taking it all in. She never gets tired of the sight. After soaking in the feeling for a moment she inclines her head to see Ayane’s reaction. The movement catches Ayane’s eye and she speaks quickly. “It’s nice.”
A broken record. Mina is careful not to let her disappointment show. It’s now apparent this Hunter doesn’t care for scenery. “How ‘bout we sit down, relax a little?”
Ayane crosses her arms and twists at the waist to look over her shoulder, “Don’t see any chairs up here. Unless you’re packin’ some inside those huge shoulder plates.”
Not a single hint of humor in her voice. Mina is taken aback. How can this Huntress say something so funny but still look so sad? And it’s not even the first time this night. Maybe these quips are a vestige of what she was like before whatever event turned her into a husk of a person.
Mina’s concerns give her pause but Ayane takes the lead and strides forward, towards the single large rock resting in the field. The Titan follows and watches as the Huntress perches on top of the stone, pulling one knee up to her chest and letting the other leg dangle lazily. Mina chooses to sit on the ground, resting her back against the rock beside Ayane’s leg. She procures a piece of candy and holds it up for Ayane to take. The Huntress accepts it.
“You’re easy to bribe,” the Titan smirks. Ayane ignores the jab and pops the treat into her mouth. The wrapper crinkles in her hands as she smooths it out to its original shape of a crisp square.
Neither speaks for a minute. Ayane begins folding the wrapper, not creating art like the crafts they’d seen in the City’s streets but simply collapsing it into a smaller, more compact form. At regular intervals the Huntress glances over both shoulders, scanning the mountainside behind them. It seems like reflex, hammered into uniform behavior by untold years of worry and repetition.
“So, how old are you?”
Ayane’s fidgeting stops at the question. She studies Mina warily before giving an offhanded, evasive reply, “Doesn’t really matter.”
“Fair enough,” Mina folds her hands over her stomach, “You know, you look really young. You don’t seem young, though.”
“You kinda give me [i]‘Back in my day we didn’t have fun, we had bricks, knives and bad hygiene’[/i] vibes.” The Titan continues, giving her best impression of an old grouchy woman and snorting with barely-contained laughter at her own wit. “And you’re really antsy.” She adds as an afterthought.
“You’re being a bit rude, you know,” Ayane retorts flatly, “Normally you’re supposed to compliment a girl.”
Mina concedes that there’s truth in the Huntress’ barb, but moves on, “I’ve only been alive for a decade. Kinda weird comparing myself to little kids. I hear old Guardians all get super stressed.”
Ayane considers her words for a moment, “They’re not stressed because they’re old. It’s the things they live through.”
She says “they” as if she isn’t one of them, but Mina knows she is. The Titan nods slowly, wondering what things the Huntress has lived through. “That makes sense.”
Silence. Ayane exhales, now busying herself with unfolding the wrapper. Glancing over her shoulders again.
“You visit that bar often?” Mina inquires, deciding it best to change the subject.
The Huntress opens her mouth to answer but hesitates, casting a reproachful eye towards the Titan, “You’re gonna start visiting just to keep bothering me.”
A wicked grin spreads across Mina’s lips, “Noooooo…”
“I do,” Ayane answers curtly, already falling back into her nervous rhythm of folding and glinting. Mina can’t tell if the Huntress is inviting her to visit or just doesn’t care.
It’s impressive how easily Ayane can sever any discussion. A lesser extrovert might be daunted, but Mina already knows from experience that she can talk to plants for hours. This anxiety-ridden Huntress is child’s play. However, today the Titan won’t be satisfied with idle talk. What she really wants is to find the source of Ayane’s sadness, partly out of a selfish desire to prove her own theory but also because she can’t stand leaving a fellow Guardian to suffer. Perhaps the main reason for her curiosity is out of a buried hope that she’s found someone like herself.
Mina runs a hand through the grass. Time to make her final play. “Hey, Ayane?”
“Do you want to know who’s grave you’re sitting on?”
The Nintendo seal of approval -
1/17/2021 12:51:31 PM
Ah yes, silly jokes to balance out the crippling depression and anxiety. Wonderful.
The Festival is halfway done, everyone! I hope you’re all enjoying the holiday. There’s only one chapter left of this story for the last week of the event. Let’s finish strong before Beyond Light