You walk into a very large restaurant with high ceilings that leave the rafters exposed. Fluorescent lamps hang from the ceiling, adding light to the floor and tables. Windows adorn the sides of the place, looking out onto the chaos that is Twisted. On some of the walls are paintings, photographs, and holograms of different movies, and a number of people who tend to visit the UR - caught as they're singing karaoke. The hardwood bar rests at the back of the restaurant, surface polished and shiny and all-together spotless (most of the time). Behind the bar are the various beverages that are serveed, and a giant mirror. There seem to be an inordinate amount of different drinks. A large stage rests in one of the corners of the restaurant, with an amazing sound system and a few microphones strung around it. Multiple round wooden tables are in the room, and a swing door leads into the kitchen. Another door leads to the dance club, and another to the gym. And of course, there's an exit. A large fireplace nestles in one of the walls, with a beautiful stone chimney that flows up and out. A long spiral staircase rests near the entrance to the kitchen, leading to a second-floor balcony that overlooks the UR itself. The lights up there are a bit dimmer than those down below.
Sometime during the night, Tabitha made her way back into the Usual. The troubles on her mind being too much to sleep, again, she decided to simply hide in a booth at the back of the Restaurant. Now, several hours later, she picks at a burrito she's ordered and watches the skutters slowly take glass after glass of empty drinks into the back from her table.
Zelgadis wanders in, glancing around just a bit. Boy, he hasn't been here in some time. He manages to slide his way over to the bar and take a seat. Flagging down one of the skutters, he politely requests a small bottle of heated sake, if they don't mind of course. He brushes his hood back and sighs slightly. This place tends to be 'open', so he's not too worried.
Unable to resist, the Nekojin peeks her eyes up over the edge of the booth and spies Zel as he makes his way in. Maybe it's the lack of sleep affecting her but suddenly she has an idea and starts gathering all the straw wrappers she's accumulated which the skutters haven't run off with yet. One by one she wads them up and flicks them at Zel, ducking away each time one makes contact.
Zelgadis is plunked over...and over. His eyebrow twitches momentarily before he takes a deep breath and sighs. He snaps his hand up with his usual 'demon speed' and snabs the last one out of the air. He grumbles just a bit. "Young lady, you aren't fooling anyone. This is extremely immature."
Somehow this pushes her into a state of giggles. Yep. Must be the lack of sleep. "Ya could always strike back, y'know." She props herself up over the edge of the booth and rests her head in her hands. "Sittin' up there by yourself. Actin' like you got somethin' better to do." She reaches behind herself for more ammo and flicks another balled wrapper. "The skutters have it too easy anyways!" Several of the skutters struggling to clean up her glasses stop and spin around to look at her. If they had jaws, they would be dropped. Tabitha just starts giggling again, "Shush you! All ya do is sit in th' back an' watch cowboy movies!" Well, that's true actually.
Zelgadis snorts at that one. Flicking the paper wad that he's currently holding in response, it knocks the incoming 'ammo' from the air. He turns to regard Tabi with a small smirk. "I can see that you must also be bored. Is that right? Well, instead of tormenting me, feel free to join me. I warn you though, I'm terrible at small talk."
Tabitha watches her wad of paper get deflected and follows it until it hits the ground. "...oh, yer good." With a shrug she grabs her barely eaten meal and climbs over the back of the booth, walking on empty tables until she's close enough to hop down and grab a barstool. "I dunno. Tormenting was much more enjoyable." She wobbles a bit and stifles a yawn.
Zelgadis shakes his head just a bit, although he seems impressed with her athleticism. "I'm only as good as I am, I suppose. Your own feats of dexterity are quite impressive in their own right." He offers a slight shrug and favors her with a small smile, although he's shy about smiling at people. He takes a small swig from his sake bottle to cement the point.
The girl wobbles her head as a response. "I was gonna follow in my grandma's footsteps, but... meh." She stabs her burrito with a fork. "Turns out it was just stories." Her mood now soured, the girl leans back into the barstool and lets her arms dangle over the sides. "I guess I should be grateful, but I'm not. The more I try to learn, the more it all just turns out ta be some made up crap that I've been told ta believe." She's not just referencing her 'grandmother' anymore, if that's not obvious.
Rather than trying to get the door open personally, Serenity waits until another person enters and quickly slips through the gap. The screaming-blue undulatory fins rippling in the cloak of water give the signal to float the environment suit forward. Ren 'stands' looking about at the patrons, with an expression perhaps less bewildered than yesterday's but no less inquisitive. After a moment, Ren spots a recent acquaintance at the bar and hisses a "Hello!" to Tabitha.
Zelgadis seems content to sip at his sake, albeit rather slowly. As he has JUST heard a new voice, he quirks an eyebrow and glances over his shoulder. "Ah. It seems as though we have a new traveler." He places his sake bottle back down and rubs his chin, turning his head back to regard Tabs. "A friend of yours, I take it?"
Tabitha smiles widely at the distraction. "Oh hey!! Um... Ser... Serena? Right?" Sure, that's close enough. "Sorry I had to run last night." Quick, another distraction! "This is..." She blinks. "Y'know, I know we've crossed paths a few times but I don't think you've ever told me your name." Well, that's a bit awkward.
"Serenity," the fluorescent mollusc cheerfully supplies. "It's good to see you again, Tabitha." Ren looks to the hooded figure, shifting to an S-shaped curve to match his seated height, and squeezes in between his stool and the next (dampening the next where it crosses the forcefield). "And to meet you," Ren sizzles to him, extending a fin from the water and shaping a vaguely hand-like projection from it to offer to Zelgadis.
Zelgadis doesn't seem to be bothered by the close proximity or by any manner of dampness. He's really been through so much worse. YOU try traveling with Gourry and Lina. ...Especially when they're hungry. *shivers* Anywhoooo, He reaches out to shake the vague hand like protrusion. "It is good to meet you as well, Serenity did you say it was?"
Hmmm... If he doesn't want to give his name, it's not important. At least that's more or less what Tabitha thinks when Zel fails to give his own. She reaches for her dri-! Damn, that's right. She doesn't have one at the moment. Taking one last look at the burrito she ordered, the girl pushes it away and sighs, sulking back into her barstool once more.
Serenity nods in reply to Zelgadis. Ren hasn't a strong grip, on account of a lack of bones, but offers a squeeze nonetheless. "And you have me correctly identified as a new traveller. I seem to have arrived somewhere even more exotic than my intended destination, though." Ren glances over briefly at the momentarily quiet Tabitha.
Zelgadis is...somewhat defensive about some personal details. Sometimes. Especially with new people. Ren doesn't exactly scream threat but judging a book by its cover around THESE parts is unwise. "Hm. I see. Whereabouts were you intending to go, if you don't mind my asking? You may still find a portal here eventually." He peers back over at Tabi, quirking an eyebrow. "I don't know your age and I *do* know better than to ask, but if you can legally drink, feel free." He nudges the half-filled sake bottle over just a bit. He seems to be done.
Tabitha raises an eyebrow at the offered bottle and sniffs it. Her face scrunches as the smell burns the inside of her nose. "No, no. I'm good. Thanks." She forces a smile and offers it back. The age statement echoes its way back into her mind and the smile on her face abruptly falls as a hyper voice starts yelling in her head, drowning out any other thoughts. The girl actually grabs onto the bar a moment to steady herself as she tries to blot out 'Tabby's' voice. "Maybe I need ta go see if Xue is back yet..."
"A portal?" Ren repeats skeptically. "In fact, I would be happy with a way to find the correct universe and year at this point." Ren gestures outward with a 'wing'. "But I was intending to arrive on Earth, as English so sensibly names it, and spend some years travelling and studying." As Zelgadis speaks to Tabitha, her reaction gets a mildly concerned expression.
Zelgadis had turned back at that point, with a small chuckle to regard Ren. "Earth? Well, I-..." He stops at that moment as he notices from the corner of his eye that Tabs doesn't seem to be doing so well. He also seems a tad concerned and turns back to her for just a moment. "Miss? Are you quite alright?"
Tabitha's words come out strained despite her best efforts. "I'm alright. I just need ta clear my head. I'm gonna step out for a bit and get some fresh air." The girl forces a smile as she eases off the barstool. "I'll be back after a while." She wobbles as she walks, but that could simply be from her lack of sleep. With a brief wave she steps outside, not wanting to take longer for fear of more questions she's not ready to answer.
Serenity flutters a fin edge to Tabitha, twisting (in a perhaps uncomfortable-looking way) to watch her depart. "Be well," Ren hisses to her. Looking back afterward to Zelgadis. "I think that something stressful may be going on in her home."
Zelgadis hms. He offers a small nod. Glancing back over at Ren, "It does seem as though something is weighing heavily on her mind. Do you have some reason to believe it is....trouble at home, if you'll pardon my paraphrasing?" He probably doesn't want to pry, but he looks a bit concerned himself. He's like that at times.
"Tabitha didn't seem to want to speak of parents," Ren explains, motioning toward the door, "and said that coming here was oddly calming." Ren gestures outward toward the tables. "While it's certainly interesting, I would not call this place calming myself."
Zelgadis peers around, offers a shrug. "I suppose you're right. I've grown used to it." He sighs slightly, nodding just a bit. "This entire area has periods of relative stability AND instability. Occasionally all at once. It's hard to...make a flat judgment at any one point in time."
"What sort of stability are you speaking of?" Ren inquires curiously. "Societal? Political? "
Zelgadis rubs his chin at that question before offering a slight smirk. "Yes, I suppose that about sums it up. You could say the very fabric of this reality is ever changing. Not...completely stable. The locals manage, however."
Serenity looks confused by the reply. "If you mean 'reality' in a loose social sense, you'll need to say so," Ren says, gesturing toward Zelgadis. "I've already seen enough seeming violations of physics to warrant another interpretation of that."
Zelgadis shrugs. "Reality is whatever is real to my senses, I suppose. I don't mean to be existential. This place isn't...natural, exactly. Well, I suppose it is NOW." He laughs slightly at that one. "Violations of physics is a good way to put it, except that nothing that happens here is truly a violation. Not by this places standards anyway."
"Hhh..." Ren rasps thoughtfully. "How /does/ one manage that sort of thing?" Ren gestures to Zelgadis. "Or perhaps a better question would be, how do /you/ manage? You have an ordinary home, friends, a job, and such here?"
Zelgadis shakes his head at Ren. "No. Nothing of the sort. Not in my case. I come from an entirely different universe than this one. This place does not exist where I'm from. ...Well, I suppose it DID exist right before I was drawn in here...but it seems as though it has stopped existing in my home once more. At least for now. Some here seem to be permanent residents, however."
Serenity regards Zelgadis with a faintly confused look as he explains, eventually nodding slowly. "I don't think that I could be content to live like that," Ren says. "I already have taken advantage of free housing and hope to make friends quickly. Employment- I'm less certain, but still hopeful."
The door to the usual casually opens, and in walks Xue, who stops to hold the door open for someone. She gives the place a quick lookover, noting Zel is present, but no one else she recognizes. looking back out the door, she gives a smile "Ok. Lets get you some milk and a cookie or two. Ok?". Her tone is much more 'friendly' than zel would likely be used to hearing when he's encountered her in the past.
Following behind Xue, Tabitha comes... skipping? Her tail swishing happily behind her, the girl lets out a loud "YAY!" at the mentioning of snacks. Ducking under her arm and through the door, the girl stops abruptly and waits for Xue to walk in the rest of the way before following her closely. She doesn't seem to identify anyone in the room, or care in the slightest where she is. Well at least her mood has improved.
Zelgadis offers Ren yet another shrug. He does that a lot. "I have no idea. Generally it is a...friendly place. Employment I couldn't re-..." He trails off as Xue comes in. He seems to...stare, just a bit. As if shocked. Noticing Tabs, he seems that much MORE shocked. He certainly clammed up quickly. o.o
Serenity nods in reply, expression brightening with his characterization of the city. The mollusc marked in fluorecent maze-like patterns continues 'standing' close to Zelgadis at the bar, curved into an S-shape to match his seated height. Ren twists to follow the direction of his gaze, raising a fin in greeting to Tabitha. Then Ren looks from Zelgadis' face to Xue with a puzzled expression. "Someone you know?"
Once she has Tabitha into the place, she does her best to keep her on track towards the bar. As she follows the kitty girl her expression goes from friendly and nice to almost icy blank and serious, her piercing blue-eyed gaze losing all warmth as she again sweeps her gaze around the room. She gives Zel a nod of acknowledgement, before her eyes lock onto Serenity, seeming to look almost through the girl. After a second or two, she gives the girl a nod as well before moving to intercept Tabitha before the girl can get into trouble. Her expression, once within Tabithas view, again does a 180 from cold, serious, and even a bit dangerous, to friendly and warm. She looks to the barkeep "One glass of milk, and a plate of cookies". Also, for those sensitive to such things, the temperature in the room drops about 5 degrees when she walked up to the bar.
Tabitha looks up at Xue and smiles as they approach the bar. The girl twirls back and forth heels of her feet with a large smile on her face. She doesn't really acknowledge anything in the room for a good moment or two, long enough for Xue to scan the room and ask for her snacks at least. "OH! Can I have a STRAAAAAW?!" It's a reasonable request, right? About that time the girl notices Serenity and dashes around Xue to poke at her. "COOOOOL!!!" Her gaze briefly turns to Zelgadis and her eyes narrow. "You shouldn't eat this one! It's too pretty!" Well, it is a restaurant after all...
Zelgadis bristles at that one. "Young lady, I was not intending to EAT our new guest. Really." He ponders for a moment, then sighs a bit. "You're thinking of Lina. ... Or Gourry. -.-;" He shakes his head and glances over at Xue. "Xue? Can you shed some light on this? I have to say I'm a bit confused." He just kind of leaves it at that, assuming she'll know what he's asking. She usually does.
Xue raises an eyebrow as she glances at Zel "right now, theres enough going on that your gonna have to narrow it down. What has you confused?". She allows Tabitha her shenanigans. No harm done. Yet.
Serenity offers Xue a flash of smile despite Xue's momentary lack thereof. Ren reacts to Tabitha's poke in the side with a reflexive (perhaps ticklish) twist, but grins nonetheless. The thick cloak of water is likely to have left only a wintergreen-scented dampness on the girl's hand. Ren extends a 'wing' from the water to try patting her on the head. "You certainly seem to be in a better mood," Ren hisses cheerfully.
Tabitha responds to the pat on the head with a giggle and then looks to Xue with wide eyes and whispers, "...it can TALK!" Looking back the girl smiles innocently and announces, "I'm Tabby! Do you have a name?" She probably would have said something to Zelgadis in any other circumstances but... talking fish person!
Zelgadis erms. He looks a little sheepish. "You'll have to forgive me. I am perhaps out of the loop, as it were." He gestures over to Tabs and offers a shrug? Evidently he's a bit confused as to her 'sudden change'. "Is there...anything I have to worry about?..."
Serenity looks between Zelgadis and Xue with a puzzled expression after Tabitha's introduction, then back to Tabitha. "Hhh... Hello again, Tabitha. You are still welcome to call me Serenity." Ren then looks up to Xue. "Might you be a relative of Tabitha's?" Ren asks curiously.
Xue thinks for a moment before responding, her gaze firmly on Tabitha "It isn't really my place to tell. All i can ask is if your read up on your psychology, and let you figure it out from there if you can". Her tone is rather neutral as she says this, before looking to Serenity. Though her gaze DOES linger on her, if her appearance has any further impact than curiosity it doesn't show. Xue actually snickers to herself at the idea of Tabby being a reletive "No, we're not related. I'm just helping out as i can".
The Nekojin shakes her head at Serenity a second and then with a raised eyebrow corrects her, "No. I'm TABBY. Tabitha is asleep right now." She gives a sage nod and then peers over the bar looking for her snacks. Seeing the plate, the girl pushes herself up and over until she's sprawled across the bar with her tail flicking happily in the air. "COOKIES!!" Danny's not here, Ms Torrance.
Zelgadis quirks an eyebrow at that one. He nods. "Ah. I understand. That's...most unfortunate." He rubs his chin and ponders, but doesn't have much else to say on the matter. There's a lot he doesn't know about...well, a lot of what goes on here. Ah well. He picks his half-drunk bottle of sake up and sips at it once again.
Serenity nods to Xue. "Tabby is a twin?" Ren surmises after the girl's protest, then returns attention to Xue. "In any case, childcare is certainly an admirable way to spend your time." Ren smiles and gestures a fin edge to Tabitha. "Particularly when the children in question have so much energy." Zelgadis' remark gets a puzzled glance.
Xue eyes Tabitha "Nope. Not a twin. I can say this: she is also no child..... despite her current persona". She leaves it at that. She makes no reply concerning 'child care'. "Haven't seen you around before.... new to this place?". She eyes Serenity directly. Her tone is not harsh, but isn't exactly warm either. "Also, i would suggest not getting close.... liquids tend to freeze when they get too close to me". She eyes the device being worn, unsure if it's some sort of life-support or not.
Tabitha listens to the back and forth conversation as she munches on cookies. At least she's pulled herself up into a more dignified position - even if that means sitting cross legged on the bar. It's amazing the bartender isn't even trying to stop this. The girl ignores the crumbs gathering on her clothes with drips of milk as she watches Zelgadis excuse himself and leave out the front door. She does take the time to wave at him, although his back was turned at the time. Her eyes go back to the conversation and she watches carefully as each person speaks. Munchmunchmunch.
Serenity glances to Tabitha with the cryptic remark, but seems amenable to leaving it that for the moment. Ren ripples to the side to make way for Zelgadis, the motion translated into a slide of the forcefield generator as if it were swimming. At the warning, Ren frowns slightly. "Thank you for the advice." Ren then continues with a brighter expression, waving a 'wing' out toward the tables. "Yes, I'm a recent arrival. This was not my original destination, but in some ways it's an interesting alternative."
Xue smirks at that description "'Interesting' does sum this place up rather nicely without becoming unkind..... you have nooooo idea". She looks to the barkeep "get me a screwdriver.... and i don't mean the metal tool. The other one with alcohol in it". She sakes a seat on a barstool next to her "Might not be needed, but be careful around here. It's usually safe in here, but this whole dimension is terribly unstable, and highly dangerous"
The girl tries to imagine Xue drinking a screwdriver which sets her into a small fit of giggles. Finally hopping off the bar she approaches a barstool, petting it for some reason. "Is it okay if I sit here?" The barstool doesn't respond. "Okay then." The girl starts to climb onto it but stops, looking at her hands and feet and then back at the barstool. "Zhoo? Why is everything so small here?" With a hop she throws herself onto the stool, forcing it to swivel around once or twice before she stops it with a hand on the bar.
Serenity backs up with a ripple of screaming-blue undulatory fins and slips in between the barstools, putting one between self and Xue and moving closer to the cookie-consumer. Ren frowns at the latter remark from Xue. "Given that I can't travel between universes, I'm not sure that a warning about the local physics is likely to do me much good. Now, dangerous people- those I can avoid." Ren glances over to Tabitha with a smile at her question.
Xue says, "Things aren't small, your just much larger today" she takes a sip of her drink as it arrives "the local physics off the road outside are VERY hard to control even to those capable of such.... dangerous people ON the road abound, unfortunately..... " she takes another sip, longer this time "So how long have you been here? As you can tell, my name is Xue"
Tabitha headtilts at Xue's statement. Why would she be larger? Leaping off the barstool, the girl gets up and walks off towards the ladies room to look at herself...
"Local physics..." Ren repeats uncertainly, then nods at the introduction. "You may call me Serenity. I'm pleased to make your acquaintence." Ren starts to extend a fin from the water across the barstool, but takes it back quickly. "I've been here for only a few days, but have been fortunate so far. My luggage is even safely in a free apartment room, if not exactly a well-suited one." Ren glances over curiously as Tabitha takes off, then returns eyes to Xue. "And have you been here long?"
Xue nods "should be safe there..... haven't heard about damage to that place since the Joker and Harley were around.... " she takes a long sip "Hard to tell. I've been around a long time, in many places besides here. I've never been the type to keep track of time all that well.
The door to the ladies room is kicked open and out skips a younger version of Tabitha who at best guess looks to be about four or five. Her jacket and pants are gone and replaced with a knee length red plaid skirt and matching shirt. Plastic-looking red shoes click on the floor with her footsteps as she bounces back to her barstool and literally crawls up onto it. "I'm not larger!" The girl crosses her arms and huffs. "You tricked me." She scowls angrily. A moment. Then she realizes she missed a cookie and starts off finishing it off.
"I would have expected that danger and change would make the passage of time all too clear to you," Ren remarks thoughtfully, motioning to Xue. "That, or changes to friendships or work, or Tabitha's growing up. I'm still young enough to count years between school and work, myself." As Tabitha returns, Ren looks over. And then looks over again at the person taking Tabitha's place.
Xue says, "i'm far older than i appear.....". She idly peers over at Tabitha as she comes back, and stops mid-sip and does a double-take. "oooooooook..... thats a new one...." (note to self.... investigate that). She slides her empty glass back to the barkeep "Ok tyke.... i have to get back to the sanctum. Want to help me with a new experiment?". she does her best to fake being excited, seeing if she can stir Tabby up. looking back to Serenity "Sorry, but i need to look into how she suddenly changed appearance ASAP. youll see me around, more than likely"."
Tabby hears the tone of her voice and immediately gets excited as hoped. "OH!? YEAH!" The girl leaps back to the ground, kinda falling into a crouch from the unexpected height, but takes it with cat-like.. well, she is a cat. She does it smoothly. Not even waiting the little girl darts for the door, but stops and calmly walks back to Serenity. "It's nice to meet you, " she says with her head down. "I'm sorry I poked you." Then she looks back up at Xue and darts for the door again.
Serenity watches Xue for clarification on the new girl. "Changed appearance?" Ren repeats, looking to Tabitha and back to give her time to reveal the joke. With no punchline forthcoming, Ren frowns slightly. "Hh... I suppose you do. And yes, I do expect to be returning here often... Fare well until then." Tabitha gets a confused, if genuine, smile with her apology. Ren waves a hand-like shape extruded from the fin.
Xue nods, and dashes off to try to keep up with the limber catgirl!