|To Breathe Underwater|
Serenity opens the front door enough to slide the forcefield generator through, pouring inside with an easy flow of aquamarine and fluorescent mottling. Ren slides off sideways from the entrance, 'standing' tall to look around (particularly in the direction of Rayne's usual table), but then spots her at the bar. Ren flashes a 'wing' to her image in the mirror while on the way over. "Hello," Ren hisses cheerily to her. "You are looking confident today."
Rayne blinks as Ren makes her comment. "Confident? How do I-" She looks at herself in the mirror, but this of course doesn't quite work here. She groans lightly putting a hand to her head. "Damnit, I keep forgetting about that... Oh, whatever." She smiles at Ren, then waves to Dorian as he enters. "G'evening, Ren, Dorian!"
Serenity looks a bit puzzled with Rayne's hand gesture, but continues over to the bar. Ren slides backwards and sideways into the gap between the neat neighboring Rayne and the next but leans over the nearer one toward her. "The casual attire suggests confidence, particularly for you," Ren explains, motioning a fin edge toward her. "Of course, I could be assuming too much. How are you?" Ren twists to look back as Dorian speaks up and Ren lifts a pair of fins from the water to flutter them towards him.
Rayne points at Ren with her soupspoon. "I'll let you know I happen to enjoy wearing a dress every once in a while, Ren!" She huffs out a light sigh, her shoulders drooping a bit. "I'm doing okay. Finally feeling like I'm starting to get caught up with everything, finally feeling like everything's dropping back into a state of normalcy."
Johann soon enters the restaurant, looking about for his friends. It doesn't take long for him to spot them, and soon he's walking over to join Serenity and Rayne at their table, taking a seat next to Ren. "Good evening!" he greets them with a smile, removing his gloves to lay them across his lap. "I trust everyzing is vell? It has been rather quiet of late, not zat I am complaining."
Sunset doesn't come in from the street, but from the club section of the restaurant. Not an uncommon sight considering how strong music ties into the world she came from. That and she just enjoys hearing some of the music from other worlds as well. As she's passing through she does notice a few familiar faces at the bar and waves in their direction.
Serenity offers a smile in reply to the protest. "Indeed, it's my hope that it will stay normal enough that you can wear a dress whenever you are so inclined." Ren pats the bar next to Rayne. "We have a strange sort of 'normalcy', but I take your meaning and agree. Operations at the Welcome Center, even, seem to have been smooth while I was there." Ren glances up at the sound of Johann's voice, smiling as warmly to him as one can without teeth. Ren continues 'standing' at the bar near Rayne in the space between two seats, but beckons Johann over with the edges of both fins. "Hello, Jan! I'm pleased to hear that all of your patients are leaving with the correct number of heads," Ren quips. Ren doesn't notice Sunset just yet.
Rayne nods to Johann. "Yeah, like I was saying, we're settling down again. No more Xenomorph reports, thank the gods, and we seem to be getting into a routine with the Welcome Center. We've even found a few TASK officers that seem to be genuinely good at keeping station there. That Cosgrove guy, for instance, always seems to have that 'friendly uncle' vibe that really works for keeping an eye on it." Unlike Ren, she does notice Sunset's wave and waves back.
Johann chuckles at Ren's joke, winking in return. "Leaving, perhaps, but not alvays coming in as such. I had one patient who had apparently taken a svim in toxic vaste, not realizing vhat it can do to a person... especially if conditions are just right." Noticing Rayne waving to somebody, he turns to watch Sunset approaching, giving her a wave as well. "Hello! A friend of Rayne's, I see, zhough you do look familiar. Have ve met before, or perhaps I have simply seen you across ze room once or twice?"
Well that's certainly a strange conversation topic for Sunset to walk into. Well odd from her perspective, to a degree. "I would say that sounds weird, but weird is the norm around here." She shrugs a little, though does give Johann a bit of an odd glance at first. Mostly because his accent sounds not-quite-similar to Photo Finish. But not so much that she forgets her manners. "Oh, yes, my name is Sunset Shimmer. I work with them in the Welcome Center as well."
"I'm glad that your choice there is working out," Ren remarks to Rayne with a nod. As she spots Sunset, Ren looks over to flutter a pair of fin edges for her. Johann's story gets a grin, but Ren doesn't look entirely sure how much of that is a humor. Ren pats his arm fondly with a pair of fin edges, then motions with the other side toward Sunset. "Sunset was partly responsible for bringing this Welcome Center idea to fruition in the first place," Ren supplies. "Hh, Jan," Ren adds. "I was doing a bit of shopping for the device we spoke of recently to make my home more welcoming. I think that I may have found something- Perhaps you can take a look?"
Rayne grins and nods. "Yup! Sunset was kinda the impetus that got me to get that whole thing off the ground. Once I realized I'd not have to go it alone, it became a lot easier, and, well, let's face it, I dump half my Welcome Center workload on the two here." She grins, surprisingly unashamed of this. A good manager knows how to delegate work, right? Right?
Johann nods to Sunset, offering the seat next to his. "Really, now? I'd say you've done some good, zen. Ze Welcome Center is a vonderful idea, zank you for helping Ms. Rayne get it off ze ground." Then, turning to Ren, he arches an eyebrow curiously. "Did you? Excellent! I vill have to go vith you ze next time ve are both free... unless zis is one of zose 'online' shopping zings?"
Sunset ahehs softly at being called an impetus, rubbing the back of her head with one hand. "I've had that effect on people." Not always for the best reasons of her own, but we're not going to drag down the moment getting into that. But she smiles all the same as she takes the offered seat. "Beside, if she didn't pawn it off on us we'd have to dig her out of the avalanche of paperwork in her own office."
Serenity nods to Johann. "I can show you an image here that I took in S-Mart. For obvious reasons, my trying it on would have been less than helpful." Ren relates, tapping a fin edge on the wearable computer. "We might need to consult Dorian for a bit of modification later on, but we can go take a look when you are free." With Sunset's clarification, Ren agrees, "Indeed Rayne does delegate, an important part of being a leader, and has been doing so with some success." Ren looks from Sunset to Rayne and adds curiously, "Is there any job description in particular for which I should be watching for a candidate?"
Rayne groans slightly at the mention of the avalanche. "Ugh, yes, you would. But I'm finally nearly caught up on that with the recent lack of... dangerous sightings." She then glances at Ren. "What's this your talking about buying, exactly? And job descriptions? Uhhhh... we definitely need another counselor or two, and I'm thinking we might want some non-officers to man the front desk. Friendly sorts, even if not necessarily good at the whole... helping thing." She shrugs.
"Just someone to make sure things get organized and people get referred to where they need to go." Sunset turns a moment to flag down a waitress to order one of her usual smoothies. "I would do it more often myself, but since I'm often going between the Welcome Center and the school I'm not reliably there when need be."
Johann chuckles at the mental image of Rayne buried in stacks of paper, but Serenity soon gets his attention again. "Ah, so it is here in Tvisted, zat is good news. Go ahead and show it to me vhenever you are ready, and... vell, I hope it doesn't cost too much. Ve may be able to live comfortably, but I can't afford an Australian car." Ah, references from his own world that nobody else will understand. As Rayne questions him about it, though, he explains, "Serenity and I are looking to make accommodating landdvellers in her home a little easier, perhaps vith breathing apparatuses or ze like. Admittedly, ze motives are perhaps a little selfish." These last few words are accompanied by a grin and a wink to Serenity.
Serenity nods thoughtfully as Rayne and Sunset explain. "Administrative assistant, greeters, and counselors," Ren repeats. "I don't anticipate helping much with the hiring process," Ren clarifies, "but wondered who we were in need of. If I happen to meet a likely candidate, I'll be sure to mention it." Ren lets Johann answer Rayne's question, motioning fin edges toward him. As he makes the last remark, Serenity grins in reply, leaning in to poke him playfully in the side with a handful of 'digits' scalloped out of a fin edge. "Now, if the device is one-size-fits-all as promised, I can of course lend it out to friends for nature trips, too," Ren adds, looking back up to Rayne and Sunset. Ren taps the rhinophore-cuff computer to project an image on the bar.
The mask is designed to fit over the face. It's dominated by a clear and mostly flat window that hides very little. A clear and roughly triangular compartment surrounds the nose and mouth, connected to the larger open space by valves. A clear rubber seal hangs off the edges. The actual breathing apparatus, in an opaque tubular compartment, is located over the seal around the edges of the mask.
Rayne blinks in surprise at Sunset. "You're still going to school?" No, Rayne didn't consider that Sunset, who still looks like a teenager, to be going to school still. She herself doesn't after all! Still, it's a little sad that she didn't already know this. She really needs to socialize more, it seems. She then nods to Johann, it all making sense... And she can't help but smirk back as he mentions the existence of selfish reasons. She then clears her throat, turning to Ren. "Ah, yeah. Greeters, counselors... And man, I'm beginning to think I might need to start seriously considering a personal assistant... Things can get ridiculous sometimes..." She then peers at the device in question. "Looks promising."
Don't get Sunset started on age differences between worlds. It's confusing enough she and Twilight appear the same age as humans when technically Sunset is a couple of years older. Something something Equestria having a different maturity rate or some such. "It's also so I can keep an eye on kids and other childlike beings and make sure they're adjusting properly. Since I, you know, still look similar and familiar to most of them." Pause. Uh. "No offense, Serenity. But you would be a bit of a shock at first. Until they start going 'Coooool!' at your, ah, uniquity."
Johann looks back and forth between Rayne and Sunset, then just props his elbows on the counter and hms. "I can never tell who is still in school around here. Must be tough balancing vork and school, hm?" he says, then takes a look at the image Serenity has produced. Rubbing his chin and nodding thoughtfully, he adds, "Mmhmm, zat looks like it could vork! Might look a little silly, but if it functions..." And then after Sunset's comment, he reaches into Ren's forcefield to pet her fins. "She is quite beautiful, once ze initial shock vears off."
"I find it very encouraging that there is a particularly responsible young person living among the schoolchildren," Ren remarks optimistically in reply to Sunset. Johann's latter comment gets a warm smile in his direction as Ren extrudes 'fingers' between his. With the fins on the other side, Ren motions toward Sunset. "Yes, that is a fair point. I think that having the reception desk between me and visitors provides some reassurance. Some slight discomfort with the familiar is not something that we can or should fully insulate new arrivals from, though." Ren adds, "As I mentioned to Rayne, my particular brand of shock proved useful in convincing someone that Twisted was not a prank, when our human desk attendant was having trouble doing so."
Rayne sighs and shakes her head. "You'd think I'd have realized that before now with you only ever working evenings...." She sighs before slurping up a spoonful of soup. "Well, it's good to keep an eye on the students, then, I suppose. I'll have to throw less paperwork at you, then... if you have to deal with homework on top of it." She does tilt her head slightly at Ren's words. "Well, I've always said it was having you as a friend that really broke me into the weirdness of this place, Ren. That shock really can work wonders."
"True. It's something that some people need to be eases into, though," Sunset replies. Then laughs softly at Rayne. "Don't worry about it. My class load is light, I was practically going post-secondary at Canterlot High as it is. The former me may of been an egotistical manipulative bitch, but I still put full effort into my studies." She pauses a moment, then shrugs and leans on the bartop on one elbow. "It is, as ashamed as I am of it now, how I got away with as much as I did. I wasn't your typical bully because I still did exceptionally well in class." A heavy sigh. "The old me was such a pain in the tail."
Johann returns that smile to Ren, his fingers curling to grasp those fin edges between them. "Heh, ze sight of a giant mollusk floating around in a bubble of suspended vater convinced zem it vasn't a prank? Perish ze zhought!" he jokes, then nods to Sunset. "You seem a rare sort, Ms. Shimmer. Very mature for your age, and a hard vorker! I cannot say I have met many like zat in my vorld." This is immediately followed by grumbling that sounds like "Zem Scouts, I svear to God..." A moment later, though, he clears his throat and then offers a hand for Sunset to shake. "Ah, pardon me, I didn't introduce myself, did I? I am Dr. Johann van Windhoek, currently ze head physician at ze clinic."
Serenity offers Rayne a smile with her observation about friendship. The exchange on responsibilities has Ren glancing from one to another with an amused expression. It fades into a thoughtful look as Sunset explains further. "Perhaps you shouldn't be so quick to dismiss an offer to lighten your workload," Ren observes, motioning a pair of fin edges toward Sunset. "An extra stretch of free education is a valuable opportunity." With Johann's joke, Ren briefly stretches lengthwise some, flexing to stay between the barstools. His assessment of the girl gets a nod of agreement to Sunset, while the grumbling gets an inquisitive glance in his direction.
Rayne spoons up the last of her soup. "Well, I for one am glad you're not a bully anymore, because I need all the help I can get." She then offers a grin to Johann. "And I'm guessing I'm included in those not acting their age?" She laughs at that before sighing and standing up again. "Well, I suppose I should get going, now. Busy day tomorrow as always... So I'll see you guys later, okay?" That said, she leaves a tip on the counter and starts heading for the door.
"What can I say? A few good friends and I learned my lesson." Sunset sits back up from the bar and turns a bit to accept the offered handshake. "Sounds like you keep pretty busy as well, then." Then leans over a little to wave after Rayne, before turning to smirk a bit at Ren. "It's not about giving me less work. I'm worried who she would give it to instead!" She laughs a bit at this, before picking up her smoothie and slurping on it intently.