104 posts in this topic

"Perhaps we can call that Plan B. Or somewhere else down the alphabet," Winifred suggested with an expression she hoped was neutral enough to be polite while Raina laughed. She appreciated the charity responsible for the bounty with which they were walking out of the store but ultimately she'd be happier when she didn't need to rely on anyone else for the very basics. "I'll hold you to that, Matthew, about the music shop. Before food, though, ah..." The alchemist shifted from one foot to the other, an unusual show of hesitation given her usually perfect posture. "...thank you, both of you. For your patience, Matthew and your guidance, Raina. I can say without exaggeration that I would have been otherwise lost. I've felt like a... visitor, here and it's past time I... that is, all of this, ah..." She cleared her throat conspicuously while her cheeks coloured faintly at the admission that she'd needed help. Her shoulders shifted up and down as she tried to gauge whether it would be appropriate to offer a handshake or attempt an embrace or something else.

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Matt made some kind of vague motion with his arms but it ended almost as soon as it began, weighed down with his burden of bags, loose clothing, and second-guessing; he managed to transition it into an awkward shrug, instead, fooling no one. "Yeah, well," he said, clearing his throat, "everyone's a stranger in something, right? Life's all about feeling out of place, and then you die and you're just a visitor somewhere else. I've been told a bunch that people only really regret not doing and learning stuff, when it's too late."

 

He paused, and made a face. "Which is kinda grim, sorry. But seriously, any time - everyone could use a hand once in a while, and I bet you I'd have been just as lost if I were in your shoes. Uh." He peered down into one of the bags. "All of 'em."

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Raina gave Fred's shoulder a quick squeeze. "Give it another year, this place will really seem like home," she promised. "You're starting to fit in more and more, and the clothes will help. It's easier when nobody's looking at you weird, things start feeling more normal. And hey, if you can do all that stuff you were talking about, you won't even have to worry about getting a job when they boot us all out of the system in a couple years. You'll be set." Double-checking to be sure she had her own bags accounted for, Raina led the way out of the store as confidently as she'd led them in. "Now you just need to get Merlin to teach you how to use the internet. You might think you know, but he'll prove you wrong on that in like ten seconds. It's a rite of passage." 

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"You're an oddly altruistic rationalist, Matthew. I appreciate the sentiment," Winifred assured her classmate with hint of a laugh as his expounding took an unintentionally dark turn. Her voice was a little thick as she quickly dabbed the corners of her eyes with the end of her sleeve, regaining her composure enough to give Raina a grateful smile at the supportive gesture. "Hopefully my family's entrepreneurial streak has bred true, yes. The principles of internet commerce seem essentially the same as a catalogue but I admit the mechanics of creating a hypothetical storefront are as of now beyond me. One more thing to learn." Compared to that morning she didn't seem too daunted by the prospect.

 

"Now then! You had me with 'orange' and 'vanilla' but a 'smoothie' sounds positively wretched. Let's go try that."

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