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Avenger Assembled

The Man Of The Hour (IC)

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February 2019 

Midnight Manor 

 

Loyal worker though she was, February was not exactly Aquaria's season for outdoor work. She could stand very cold water, but air was different and it was nearly freezing out there! So instead she was working in one of the Manor's big kitchens today, cleaning the hard-to-reach areas up on top of the cabinets, and cooking up steaks as she went. The fine fat fish she'd caught earlier that year was more than half her height and thick, and had been soaking for a whole day in big pots full of delicious-smelling things. Now things were cooking on the stove, and soon there'd be enough fish for herself, Jessie, and perhaps Trevor and Erin as well! They had been content to let her salt the fish and store it in their home for a while, her apartment with Jessie lacking the kind of space one needed to store significant quantities of really good fish. She had other reasons for wanting to talk to them too, especially when Jessie wasn't around. 


She sang to herself as she worked, hopping from foot to foot, and opened the front of her suit to smell the good things sizzling on the stove. She was in her suit for a variety of reasons, comfort when she went outside, and also so she didn't make too much of a mess in a place where Surfacers made their food. She knew what they sometimes thought of that, even though Jessie was typically too kind to say anything. They could be so fastidious! 

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Aquaria had been left to work alone for a few hours before Erin came down, barefoot and wearing a sweatsuit with a faded logo for Ocean Heights amusement park across the front. She blinked as she walked into the kitchen, making a face that on Jessie's identical face would mean she was about to go have alone time in her room for awhile. "Hey Aquaria. That's... that is definitely quite a smell you've got going there. Fish again?" She rubbed one hand over her nose and mouth like she was checking for stray crumbs, then touched the button that turned the vent hood up to maximum. That was probably a good idea because it ventilated the air and minimized the risk of fire. With that accomplished, Erin turned and began rummaging hastily in the pantry closet.

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"Yes!" Aquaria bellowed pleasantly. "It is a great fish I killed with my hands. Thank you for your kitchen." She hopped around some more, turning her upper body so she could study Erin. She knew Erin's mate was hereabouts, Trevor being a pleasant enough fellow when the two of them visited various people in the DuTemps Building and on those rare occasions when Jessie had shared a holiday with her not-sister. He was awfully quiet for her tastes, but then she wasn't exactly looking for a mate among Surfacers. Or...was she? She thought of her problem and then croaked, "Erin, I have a question." She had learned people usually liked to be asked. When Erin turned around, Aquaria was looking at her before the stove, goggle-eyed. "It is about your mating.

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Erin stilled abruptly, a box of hot cocoa mix hanging limply in her hand. She did not say anything at all for a few moments, but her eyes had gone wider. If Jessie's eyes had done that, it would mean that she was probably going to go for a walk around the tower soon. Erin did not, though. She carefully set the box on the counter and laced her fingers together in front of her. "That's very personal," she observed, her voice slow and precise. "I might not want to answer your questions about that. What did you want to know?" 

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Aquaria considered Erin's words and croaked, "I understand," which is what she thought she should say when someone said something to her that sounded important. She tented her hands together so that the sticky pads of her fingers touched - it was often how she kept her hands together. She didn't call Trevor a Surface-Man because she knew that was not entirely polite and he was her podmate's sister's regular mate, instead she hissed, "All the...humans I know are unmated or are females who mate with females." Did Erin's eyes go just a little wider? She pressed on. "How do females and males decide they want to mate with each other?

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Erin's forehead became wrinkled as she flared her nostrils and narrowed her eyes. This was Jessie's thinking face, and in Aquaria's experience it could go on for some time. After a few moments, Erin moved her shoulders up and down. "I guess it's pretty much the same as it is between two women," she ventured. "You meet each other, you date for awhile and see if you have chemistry... um, see if that person gives you feelings like maybe you want to, ah, mate with them. And you have to decide if you're ready to do that sort of thing, and if it's a good idea, and if they want to mate with you. It's, you know, a process." She shifted from foot to foot, another indicator of Jessie being ready for a walk, but didn't leave. 

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"Okay," Aquaria croaked. "I am asking because I met a male. His name is Sgt. Shark and he has a very..." Aquaria fell silent for a while, the hiss and smell of cooking fish, the loud hum of the vent fan, filling the air. "manly way." She had learned those words from a show on the television, and her voice seemed to throb over them. "But he was a human before he became a Shark-man, so I wanted to know how people who live here decide to mate, and if the males give off any special signs.

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If not for the by-now familiar scent of black coffee it might have been a long while before Aquaria realized that Trevor had entered the kitchen at some point and was leaning against the counter to her opposite side, silently sipping from a steaming mug and listening to her explanation. She sometimes felt as though the dark haired surfacer had more in common with an octopus than the humans she with whom she interacted the most: readily camouflaged, getting into places one didn't expect, leaving inky clouds behind. Even other surfacers seemed to find him inscrutable which made him an especially tough clam to crack open for her!

 

Today he was wearing a shallow lake blue dress shirt and dark pants, with a dirty cloth tossed over one should that she took to mean he'd been working in the garage where there were many, many such cloths. He regarded her with what she took to be a serious expression - or possibly amused, he didn't really seem to do the lip movements she'd been taught to look for - then looked to Erin to await her response.

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