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“Social visit or some sort of business?” Eirin smirks in her usual seductive way, “Maybe you want a physical, so it’s really both?”
Her office looks distinctly more spartan. Charts and diagrams, little touches of personal preference, are missing from walls and several models of the human body are gone. Even her desk looks vacant, the piles of documents and dossiers crowding the top being noticeably feweer in number. “Spring cleaning?”
“Hardly.” She looks her office over, eyes hovering the empty spaces as if tacking inventory of what’s gone. You get the impression that maybe she was just bored. The usual busy countenance she projects is nowhere to be see and there’s no incomplete paperwork on her desk. You sit as she gestures to an empty chair. “That look of yours... I take it you want to make some sort of proclamation again? I warn you that if you try to kiss me again, there’s a high probability that the lipstick I’m wearing will smear.”
“It’s nothing of that sort. I’m here because I’ve noticed that things have been off lately.”
“Trouble in paradise? It’s not my place to say, but that much was obvious to anyone from the beginning. Unfortunately, my offer does not still stand. I’d say it’s because of pride, but rather it is because you’ve made your bed now you should lie in it.”
She offers tea from her thermos. You decline, not feeling particularly thirsty. You think that she’s been cautious, abstaining from being her overtly playful self. What that means, you’re not certain. There’s probably never going to be a guide on how to deal with the wily lunarian. You’d sooner fully understand the secrets the universe than known how to handle her.
“Whatever those issues might be, I’m here to talk about you.” You try to pick your words carefully, “I couldn’t help but notice that your interactions with Kaguya have been a little... off lately.”
She scoffs, “I’m surprised you could notice anything in between behaving like an obedient little puppy and sucking face.” She pauses, looking for a reaction. You don’t have much of a reaction, having anticipated something of the sort. You’re trying to keep things on topic. You expected her to be a bit hostile, if not rude. “Not going to deny it? Or perhaps you’re just going to continue to keep your head in the sand.”
“I’d like to help out however possible. It doesn’t seem right that things are at odds between you.”
“Frankly it’s none of your concern.”
“Kaguya is part of my life and I care about her. You’re also a part of her life so naturally I’ll care about whatever happens.”
“How noble,” she shakes her head, “And rather simplistic of you.”
“You should know better than to expect any different from me,” You say with detached irony. You’ll let her have her fun if it gets her to talk.
“How irksome. A perpetually wannabe white knight.”
“Superhero actually.” You smile, thinking of the times you’ve used that line on Kaguya. “My superpower is conflict resolution and to annoy people.”
“At least one of those powers is extraordinary.”
“Ah, there we are. My other superpower worked. I made you smile.”
“No it didn’t.”
She sighs again. She shrugs as if telling herself that it couldn’t be helped and then smiles. “Well then, how would the indomitable hero help me?”
“How about you start by telling me what exactly is going on?”
She collects herself, summarizing in a single sentence, “Her welfare is my ultimate concern.”
You wait to see if she says anything else. She keeps a straight poker face. It’s not much to go on and it’s something that you’ve heard before. “Well then, has anything changed lately?”
“There is you and how she’s dealing with you. There’s a plethora of other small reasons, but that is probably the only thing that you could influence directly.”
“Wait... don’t tell me that you’re jealous?”
“That would be petty. I know I haven’t been completely straightforward with you since we’ve met, but do you take me for that kind of person?”
“The reality is that it could be true, you lunarians seems to be good at keeping people at arm’s length. It’s not probable though.” You think. Even so, there might be something to it, “Every living thing gets lonely. I’m pretty sure of that.”
“All living things likely feel loneliness,” She concedes. “I’m no different, eons have passed and I can assure you that I take pleasure in being with others. But this is different than wishing that I had you as my lover. Have I thought about it? Everyone has moments of idle and pointless thought. In any case, whatever desire I may or may not have is not the core issue here. I am perfectly content with our kind of interaction.” She chuckles, obviously amused at where her thoughts have lead her, “If you wish me to pine after you like some lovesick girl you’ll better hope that there’s another reality where that’s the case. Things are different here.”
You wonder about that reality. It does seem like an impossibility, something only possibly in another time line. It’s not something you’d be too eager for; You see her as a different kind of person and nothing could change that. It’s difficult to imagine circumstances beyond the present reality.
“If something were to happen here, it would be something like an adult relationship.” You muse. Something discrete, passionate in its own way but never approaching the likes of an amour fou. “Meetings, talk, instants of revelry. No doubt your offers have all been something like that.”
“I think you misunderstand.” Eirin corrects you, her posture relaxed and eyes calm, “What you are describing there is not an adult relationship. It is anything but that. I’ll say it plainly - it’s a misconstrued archetype which is, frankly, childish.” There’s a glint from buttons on the front of her blouse as she shifts around in her chair, sitting with her back straight. She calmly continues, “I imagine that whatever it is that you imagine might have happened, had you opted for myself or Udongein to satisfy your urges or if you had agreed to my guidance, is not what a real relationship would be like. You’d do well not to confuse discretion with substance nor satisfaction with connection. “
“Very well, I was mistaken in assuming that. Then just what would the adult relationship look like?” You take the chance to ask, feeling that she’s genuinely not patronizing you.
“That’s a label you’ve adhered to it. It’s an unnecessary label, and anything in which equals knowingly and willingly participate has the same foundation.” Her definition is pithy, “Mutual respect and a clear understanding of what you want is only what you need.”
“Isn’t that overly simplistic?” You don’t say all that you’re thinking. No matter how naive it may seem to you, pointing that out wouldn’t help things.
“Perhaps. But if you have those two things in a relationship’s foundation, I would wager it’s going to be solid. I suppose it’s also true of friendships and not just amorous liaisons.”
“So, humor me. If we had a thing, what would it look like?”
She smiles, having probably already thought of her answer long ago. This is Eirin at her peak confidence and natural assertiveness.
“I would expect something resembling a mixture of companionship and a practical assistant for some of my more personal endeavors. I suppose I would provide emotional and intellectual gratification over time. The physical aspect would certainly be generous and reciprocal. Getting into anything more specific is pointless and best left for to ponder about as you lie in bed tonight.”
“How both specific and all the same very vague.” It’s about what you expected from her. Without getting into the muddy field of psychology, you’d bet that her role in a relationship would be nurturing and guiding while yours would be complimentary to her limitations.
“I can’t say for certain how things would be. No one can. It’s the best answer you’ll get.” She uncrosses her arms and, with her left hand, grabs her long braided hair and places the end on her lap. She fidgets with the ends of her hair, stroking it in a reassuring manner. It‘s a gesture that‘s both disarming and alluring, “There is of course the possibility of engaging in the physical but however pleasurable such a tryst might be, I don’t think either one of us really wishes to deal with the aftermath just for the sake of frivolity.”
“I think we should get back on topic.”
“Really? I was having fun.”
Of that you have no doubt. And you’re somewhat inclined to continue the conversation. You’d be lying if it wasn’t interesting to hear her talk about this sort of thing. You came here for a reason.
“What do I have to do with you getting along well with Kaguya? Besides the jealousy angle I don’t really see anything else I could be causing. You are the one that’s been acting strange towards me, no, us.”
“Yet I’m still having a pleasant conversation with you now. I wouldn’t call my behavior strange. Everything is a means to an end and this conversation is no exception.” She brings the end of her hair to her lip, “I’m not the one with a problem. I’m just doing what I always do.”
“Your methods are questionable. I’ve never been able to tell just exactly what you hope to accomplish by anything. Yet you seem to get whatever it is you want just fine.”
“That’s a virtue of taking time to think things through.” She drops her tail of hair back onto her lap, there’s a soft thud. The silver against the red-blue backdrop resembles an emblem or flag of sorts. “If things work out, there’s no need for me to explain myself.”
“That could be seen as arrogant, and be causing this whole mess.”
“No.” She stands up suddenly, causing you to involuntarily recoil. There’s a look on her face that confounds you. It could be as easily a look of grim determination as it could be one of an enlightened being at peace. She begins to pace around the room; Her slow footsteps echo on the hard wooden floor. With arms united behind her back she continues to speak, “I haven’t changed, my behavior hasn’t changed either. Nor has anyone else’s for that matter. You may be more confident and direct, but at heart you are just being who you always were. It stands to reason that the issue is not with anyone but Kaguya.”
“So all of this is her fault? Her ill-disposition and sometime outright hostility towards her has nothing to do with how you’re behaving.” You find it hard to believe. Things can’t be as one-sided as that. “I can’t buy into that easily.”
“Of course my behavior has to do with it. I didn’t say that my behavior wasn’t affecting her.” She turns sharply as she reaches the opposite end of the room, swiveling in place. “If something that didn’t bother her before does so now, it means that she’s changed her outlook.”
“Alright.” You have your reservations but hear her out, “Let’s say that’s true, how has she changed and why?”
“I’m not the best reader of hearts. If you tell me to figure out a problem with known elements I will likely be able to do it. It is my belief that most of this is due to your relationship with her and how she views things.” She stops pacing, looking at you in the eye, “I have a personal theory, nothing more than a feeling from having spent so much time with her.”
“Which would be?” You see something that you haven’t really seen in Eirin before - hesitation. It makes you feel anxious. Her grey eyes - so often cool and focused - are full of doubt.
“It’s not my place to say. If I’m right, it’s something that you need to bring out and deal with by yourselves. Hence my earlier comments that the only thing you can mend is your own relationship.”
You stand up. “That’s it? Not going to help me help you? What the hell!? This is important and you’re deciding to be as cryptic and uninvolved as ever.”
She does the unexpected. Her lips curl up and tremble and then she begins to laugh.
“What’s funny about that?” You demand to know.
“It’s just that... ah...” She’s nearly to the point of tears, and she’s struggling to breathe. She takes a deep breath and tries to stop before cracking up again. It takes two more tries before she’s able to speak again, “I’m actually putting your interests ahead of everybody else’s! I don’t... I don’t know what’s gotten into me but I swear that I’m not even thinking of the most efficient way to solve things here anymore.” She chortles, a brief relapse, “It would be much easier to let things go on and get rid of you, and thus most of the headache. Yet here I am, acting in your best interest. I seem to be what you’d call a sucker.”
“I don’t know whether to thank you for your kindness or ignore everything you say. It’s gotten that bad.”
“Getting cross with me won’t solve anything. Think about it,” She poses a hypothetical, “if say you were with Udongein or that troublemaker, is this how you’d expect things to be? Activities and sharing limited by a barrier you can’t get by? Where’s the promise of a happy future in there? This is neither rejection nor complete acceptance - it’s limbo. Perhaps it’s a cruelly long rejection in fact.”
“We’ve had our moments, shared a lot. During our little escape and before that we enjoyed ourselves. And since then we’ve laughed and grown together.”
“Can you honestly say that it would be the same were it anyone else?”
“I wouldn’t want it to be anyone else. It’s pointless to speculate.”
“What I’m trying to get at is the rate at which things would have progressed if it weren’t such an avoidable uphill struggle.”
“I can’t expect everything to be perfect from the beginning, can I? I may be a romantic at heart,” If anyone could be a romantic from indulging in the media you’ve indulged it, you’d certainly qualify, “but I can be realistic and patient. If there is something that she’s holding back it’s for a reason and I should give her time. Again, this is why I came here, to fix things between you and her. We’re fine.”
Eirin sits back down, slumping in her chair. Her long braided hair flopping to the side, over her shoulder. There’s quiet in the clinic and you can hear your own heartbeat. Eirin eventually sits up straight. She crosses her legs and looks at you calmly.
“I told you I’m not proficient at reading hearts. But isn’t it possible that you’re just giving her time to be indecisive and escape commitment?” It dawns upon you that Eirin is giving you relationship advice. It’s eerily surreal and the more you think about it the more you expect the walls to melt away and a vast dreamscape to be exposed.
“What would you have me do? Force her to do something she doesn’t want?”
“In a sense, yes. There may be something she wants but doesn’t know how to obtain or is unsure of the method. Mind you I’m not telling you to do anything stupid, or physical for that matter, though that may well be part of the process. What has to happen, has to happen.”
You half-expect her to reach into her drawer and give you something for the occasion. She does no such thing, keeping her stare squarely on you, “Do you understand what I’m saying? You need to face things instead of delaying. The rest will work itself out.”
She smiles confidently, probably hoping to bestow some of the same confidence on you. For the rest of the conversation, no matter how else you try to bring the focus back to what you can do about her, Eirin simply refuses to engage. She tells you all about the human circulatory system with the enthusiasm of a child. You learn a lot. Unfortunately it’s not exactly what you wanted to learn about. There’s simply no way to get her to share anything more, in particular her theory for Kaguya’s behavior.
The message is clear, you are to push things and that’ll make everything magically perfect. It’s ridiculous. As you lay in bed that night, you think that maybe Eirin is making fun of you. The fumes from the now-running distillery add to the suspicion and you feel that you are getting nowhere fast. The dreams you have for the next several nights get ever stranger and during the day you try to deal with Eirin however you can. There’s no budging her from her position and you’re honestly sick of learning so much about anatomy and biology. You can’t even get her to change the subject matter to chemistry, much less back to Kaguya.
It’s a cycle that lasts a week. You see less of Kaguya than you wish and during your time together you’re preoccupied with thinking of ways to bait Eirin. You think that Kaguya knows what you’re trying to do and is willfully ignoring it. The lesson that’s force-fed to you that week is that lunarians are possibly the most stubborn individuals you have ever dealt with. They’re somehow more stubborn than your usual ceaseless and single track drive. You have to concede defeat when your dreams start to be about the human body - as seen from the cellular level.
“Tewi!” You’ve had it with this thing. “I don’t care how much you’re making off this little operation, I want it out of my room!” You storm out in the morning, resolved to get things done. It’s hopefully the last trip you’ll have to make to the clinic for the day and week.
“Oh good, you’re just in time. I was thinking about the spleen and its-”
“No, it’s not time to talk about the spleen. Nor anything but what I want to talk about.” You cut Eirin short. “We need to fix things. Even if you believe all that stuff you say you believe. You need to go see Kaguya, make amends and shake hands. It doesn’t matter if you don’t really mean it. Stability will return and everyone will eventually be happy.”
“And why would I do that? I don’t have anything to gain from it. Our friend the spleen on the other hand...”
“Hear me out, will you?”
Double-damn the spleen
“No, I’m afraid I won’t. I already have and I stand by my reasoning. I’d rather spend a pleasant time with you than an unpleasant one. If you keep pushing it, it will be rather unpleasant.”
“Then we won’t ever reach an understanding?”
“We already have. I will steer clear, do nothing, while you ensure your future and everyone’s tranquility. It’s simple and I don’t have to do anything but sit here and think about how I enjoy quiet walks on the beach.”
“You leave me with no choice. I made up my mind that I’d get you two to fix things and there’s no way I’m backing down. There may be truth to your suggestion but I’ll deal with that separately. It’s one issue at a time here. And yes, I am acutely aware that you see everything as a single issue. No need to remind me.”
“Well then, good for you. If you want to talk about the spleen I’ll be here, doing little more than twiddling my thumbs. Maybe I’ll write in my diary or, I know, spin some yarn, wouldn’t that be a hoot?”
You retreat in order to regroup. You know that you’ll be back soon.
 Get Tewi to help
 Get Reisen to help
 Shadow Eirin until she relents