Totally Not Seeking Relationship Advice

Aincrad Tower: Tolbana

So it's a time of day. Mid-morning, if that really matters. Asuna is in her usual hang-out rental place. At least she thinks she's okay staying here. It has a kitchen, she makes food, nobody has thrown her out. Sounds like a home!

She's humming as she works around the house. She's cleaning, apparently. She fired off a few chims to her best friend, saying she has exciting news and wants to share. Then played it off as not something to stress over. But regardless, please come right away. If you can. Today? I hope?

As Asuna is cleaning things up, she's also baking a pie. The smell of it fills the house. She's mixed some fruit and berries in an experiment for a whole new dessert experience!

Aincrad Tower: Tolbana

These days Uta is part-timing as a nurse at the Clinic of Tolbana, and working as a Veterinarian at Scale's monster menagerie -- so she's often to be found in the tower.

Luck or proper planning has it that she's just done with her shift at the clinic, so it is not long before- wait.

One second, nobody is there, the next? Uta is just sitting at Asuna's table. No noise. No announcement. As soon as Asuna turns her back and then looks again, there's Uta.

Sneaky, sneaky Spriggans.

"Oh, hi!", she waves, with a smile. A pause.

Sniff. Sniff. "Hey, smells like someone is baking."
Aincrad Tower: Tolbana

Asuna wasn't expecting that. But she does handle it with grace. She doesn't scream.

It's more of a shriek.

    "Aaaaaiieeeohhh hello!"

Smooth as silk, this samurai.

    "Uta! Wow. I'm so sorry, I didn't hear you knock! I was so busy with my chores here."

She's decked out for it, too. She's even wearing a new apron. It's spotless, which makes it suspicious. She probably menu cleans it constantly.

    "That didn't take long! How have you been?"

There's a hug incoming, Uta! Sure, her friend may be sitting, but Asuna can still make it seem natural.

Aincrad Tower: Tolbana

"Aaaaaaaaaiiiiieeeohhh hello right back at- oh! Uh. Good point. Did I knock?" She sinks into thought. "I don't remember hearing myself knocking either. I either was very quiet, or I completely forgot." She scratches the back of her head in embarrassment, wings flattening against her back. "I... I keep forgetting I'm a Spriggan, and that what feels like natural moving around to me, to other races it comes off as utterly silent sneaking."

Uta looks confused at being hugged, at first, as if she wasn't expecting such a display of affection at all, but after a moment of hesitation, she returns the hug, even making an effort to stand up to make things better. A sincere, but tentative return hug, awkward: the kind that tags her as being unused to hug in general, rather than unfriendly.

"I've been okay! Working. Training. Lifting rocks. Moving furniture around. Lots of furniture. I didn't know a single person could own so much furniture. It's an enlightening experience in more than one sense."

Her eyes had lost focus in the distance at this point, but soon, they quickly snap back at attention towards Asuna. "But what about you? How have -you- been? Or Tomoe?"

It seems like she's completely forgotten if she's hugging or not at this point.
Aincrad Tower: Tolbana

There is hugging. Much hugging! It does end, sooner or later. At least, Asuna's part of it.

    "Oh, well, either way, you were invited so it's okay!"

She laughs gently. Uta always makes her feel calm. Well, when she's not sneaking up on her, that is. That will take some getting used to.

    "You have been busy! I hope the training is going well. Don't worry, no furniture to move here, though."

A brief turn to see what Uta is staring at. Just a wall. Huh.

    "I've been great! Really great. Something amazing happened. And Tomoe is doing well, too. Almost hardly ever tries to eat people when we're together. And never has eaten anyone. I mean, I did have to pay for an entire fruit card, though. I'm not sure if she was really hungry or just startled by its.. hm. Total lack of motion."

Aincrad Tower: Tolbana

"Ah, the first fruit cart damage compensation...", Uta sighs with a smile. "I remember mine. It certainly is a watershed moment in the career of a young budding monster handler. Such happy memories... the bustling commotion, the destruction all around, the merchandise scattered everywhere, the hastily looking for the funds, the profuse apologies..." She looks at Asuna and gives her a nod. "It truly is, indeed, something amazing. You're progressing at an astounding pace. At this rate, you'll probably beat me to getting to have to pay for knocking down a whole building! I'm a bit envious at your progress rate.", she says, interwining her fingers between her knees.
Aincrad Tower: Tolbana

    "She totally wrecked the cart, too. She reared up on her hind legs and attacked it! Then she spent the next ten minutes eating all the fruit while the Lander yelled at me."

Asuna sounds excited. She even acts out the scene a bit, holding her hands up to either side of her head just like Tomoe does when she wants to look intimidating.

    "I don't see what the big deal was. He not only got to sell all his goods to just one person without haggling, but he's going to get to buy a whole new cart, too! Ohh, you think Tomoe can knock down an entire building? That would be amazing! Hmm, but I think the alliance might not like it."

She grins mischievously.

    "But if they don't know.. oh, right. I.. have a pie to get before it burns!"

That wasn't what she was going to say. Nor is it perfectly accurate. She takes a quick peek inside. It's not anywhere near done.

    "Oh yeah, I just put that in a few minutes ago. Huh. Oh... right, right. So. Kirito is amazing!"

That probably doesn't make any sense.

    "I mean, he's in my alliance. Great swordsman, awesome in a fight, really. And really nice. Soft lips.. strong hands.."

So midway through that description she got a dreamy, distant look and stopped paying attention to what exactly she was describing. Which is why her eyes go a bit wide and she blushes.

    "I mean, he's.. so I need advi.. thoughts. Your opinion! On something. Involving him. Kirito. The person that I was describing in far more detail than I should have."

Uta won't suspect a thing! Nailed it!

Aincrad Tower: Tolbana

"I mean, I'm not saying -Tomoe- will... some other monster might. Tomoe will probably not be the one and only monster you- what's that about not knowing? Have you been hanging around Setsuna?", she asks, leaning over and squinting, suspicious. Then she pulls back and downright beams. "It's okay! He's good people to hang around." A frown. "Unless he's trying to dodge work or get you to do his. Then, eh-"

She goes silent as Asuna begins to describe Kirito. She was about to say something, but asuna proceed, even someone normally as clueless as Uta can easily grasp where this is going. "Ooooh." Quiet. Said to herself. Asuna might barely be able to see the pursed lips.

Until, that is, Asuna mentions she wants thoughts. The 'advi..' kind of thoughs.

Oh, no! Relationship advi.. thoughts!

"Uh...", Uta begins, returning to scratch the back of her head. Ok, start vague enough!"Well, I did see him fighting Yuuki once. He was really good. Rarely have I seen such a capable swordsman. Haven't really paid attention to his lips, but based on what you tell me, he sounds like he doesn't need moisturizing? I can medically inspect him for you and check just to make sure if you want?"

No, Uta! No! What are you saying?! Your dire brain is on the loose and destroying fruit carts again! Take it back on track, BACK ON TRACK, before the subject of damage compensation comes up!

"So, yes, overall he seems like an Adventurer who rises above the crowd. But I'm not exactly sure what kind of advi... thoughts you're looking for? Can you be a bit more specific?"
Aincrad Tower: Tolbana

    "So, wow. No, I think his lips are great. I mean, I gave them a thorou.."

Why is she saying that? Asuna has a silent fight in her head that involves the word 'idiot' on repeat. She can compose herself, though. Other than a blush. Quite a blush.

    "So he and I.. we kissed."

There, was that so hard to say, Asuna? Was it?

It actually was really hard to say but that's not the point!

    "And I like him a lot, but I don't really know what comes next. I don't have experience with dating."

Oddly, she manages to not get defensive about this. Though she's rambling in her mind about how she's sure she'll figure it all out and not to worry cause how hard can it be, right?

Aincrad Tower: Tolbana

Uta throws her hands in the air, and manifests streamers and confetti out of her hands!

Dark and Light magic. Illusions, colors. They aren't perfect, but they'll do for an impromptu celebration. They're semi-transparent. Also, Air magic for a pop!

But then, Asuna's admission. Uta freezes in place, with a tense smile, eye twitching a little.

"Well. Uhm. Er... I... don't know how to break the news to you, but... er..."

Back to scratching the back of her head she goes, this time looking down and away, head shrinking among her shoulders while her wings flatten against her back like never before. Are her pointy ears drooping too?!

"...I ...well.. I've never been in a relationship," she blurts out. "I mean, I had this vague concept that one day I'd have liked to get married and start a family," she mumbles, blushing, apologetic, "but I was always too busy with my books and my job, and... well, uh... like the nerd I am, I've never spent much time going out and looking for a date." She downright blushes at that point.

"So, uh,", she resumes, head tilted downwards and to one side, but eyes turned to look up at Asuna, "...maybe I'm not the best person to ask about advice? All I have is just second hand experience..."
Aincrad Tower: Tolbana

The magic has her laughing and feeling, well, even more embarrassed, but something about it is fun, too. She has a kind of uncertain, shy smile. It's obvious she's really happy, though.

    "And, it's okay. I mean, I'm not a child and yet I'm completely confused about the whole thing. I know how I feel around him. I was so nervous around him and said really dumb things and acted like a silly girl. Which, I guess I am.. was! I am okay now. Right?"

She's not sure if she's asking Uta or herself if she's okay now. Judging by the kind of dumb, happy smile on her face, though, she's probably just fine.

    "But really, any thoughts are better than nothing. I just don't know who to talk about this, and you're a friend. With you I can just.. talk and relax and be excited. I know you aren't going to tell me how weird I am. I mean, not in a rude way."

Aincrad Tower: Tolbana

Uta, reassured by Asuna's accepting attitude, relaxes once again. She shares in the joy of her friend.

"You are as okay as you can be," Uta reassures. "And don't worry, it's pretty normal. Excitement, young romance, it's all good. And, well," she laughs a little. "I'm glad you consider me a friend."

.After some thinking, she adds, "My main thought at the moment is... that I'm happy for you," and her expression does confirm what she says, "and that I should probably just listen. You have so much going on, that I can add little at this point, but the excitement at what you're telling me, or about to tell me."
Aincrad Tower: Tolbana

    "Of course you are my friend! We totally bonded over monsters. That was the best fun I'd had in.."

She looks like she's actually trying to figure it out. Let's see.. carry the one.. move the decimal point.

    "Well, in a very long time! I was able to just relax, which helped me figure a few things out. Scary things, but scary good, you know? Not that it helped a lot in the end, cause I was a total weirdo and clutz around him in the end. But.. who cares! He likes me anyway!"

Asuna laughs at herself. She does a little dance, the excitement just radiating from her. Sure, she won't let Kirito see her like /this/ or he might think she's even more crazy than he already does..

Aincrad Tower: Tolbana

Uta who, by now, had resumed her regular complexion, dips again into a slight blush at being called a friend. It takes the whole span of Asuna attempting ineffectual mathematics for her to recover again. "We did bond over monsters, yeah... I guess that makes us Monster Handling Buddies or something! Beast Friends Forever? No, that's for animals. Dire Beast Friends Forever?"

"He likes you? That's great!" Pause. "I mean, you... kind of mentioned you kissed," she resumes, drawing circles with her hands so it would have been pretty awkward if he didn't. "And don't worry, you're one of the least weird people I've met since getting trapped in this world." That hopefully didn't come of as offensive, since it wasn't.

"Are you dating already or something? Is it official?", she asks. "Or... are you looking for advi... thoughts on what the next step could be?"
Aincrad Tower: Tolbana

Asuna laughs and nods excitedly. Dire Beast Friends sounds fun to her. She's just bubbly and far too excited to hide it.

    "And yes, he does. I.. hmm.. dating. I don't know. There aren't movies here, but I suppose we could go eat somewhere, but I think he prefers my cooking. But wait, does that mean.. if he eats here is that a date?"

A brief pause. She looks so serious.

    "What is a date, exactly? I was really nervous last time, and we ate some melon bread together. And we did kiss."

Perhaps there is a judge of dates somewhere..
Aincrad Tower: Tolbana

"You know, these are simpler times," Uta begins, "but they allow you to rediscover long lost form of entertainment." She stands up from her chair, and begins to pace around the table, gesturing around as she declaims, "There are bards. Plays. Duels!", she exclaims, spinning and poiting at Asuna, wings springing up in excitement. "I am in the Duelist's League! You could come see someone beat the stool samples out of me! And while you slowly embrace his arm and lean your head onto his shoulder, you can point at me and whisper, nonchalantly, 'See that one who is getting skewered? We're friends.' Like, no big deal." She mimes the whole scene as she describes it, and in the end, she crosses her arms and nods once. "Nothing like being shish-kebab'd by a sword to cement a relationship."

Pause. Blink.

"Oh, eating here works too."
Aincrad Tower: Tolbana

    "Oh wow, so you are duelist! You fight other adventurers for fun."

Eventually she gets there. The whole act makes her laugh a lot. Though the stool sample reference gets her eyebrows shooting up for a moment.

    "I'm betting you win your fair share, though. And hopefully don't get skewered if I come watch you. I might not be able to just stand by and watch that!"

She's not a big fan of skewering people, it seems. Or of observing such a thing. Ironic for a cook to be so squeamish about skewers, though!

    "I figure a meal, a walk, and then.. I have no idea what happens after that. I think it involves a lot of making out, though. When my friends were talking about this sort of thing I was tuning them out."

Aincrad Tower: Tolbana

"Technically I fight other adventurers for training," Uta corrects. "This world is dangerous and trying to kill us. The Apocalypse hit during my first gaming session, so, as you might understand, I was..." she gestures vaguely and looks away. "Scared and incapable. Monster fodder."

She inhales, and reutrns to look at Asuna. "Xander, a top raider and ETO veteran, and a warrior through and through, made sure that I'd get tough enough to survive. And recommended I train against as many Adventurers as possible. So, to me, it's just free practice. And hey, I get prizes on top!" She thinks some, looking away with one finger on her lips. "I... uh... I don't really keep track of whether I win or lose. But knowing me, I probably lose a lot. I suspect the prizes I got must be participation tokens or something along those lines."

Uta pfffts and flicks one hand. "It's fine, the duel system ensures that no -serious- damage is suffered. I can probably patch myself up just fine after a fight. Unless I get my hands cut off. Then someone else will have to take care of me."

She says that likef it's no big deal.

"Well, yeah. I suppose it does. But I suppose you two will figure it out as you go along. You look like you're smart people and both your lips are properly hydrated. So you should be fine." She looks up and away, once again, gaze lost in the distance as she places one finger on her lips. "Hmmm. Maybe I should look into some sort of lip balm? Just in case?"
Aincrad Tower: Tolbana

    "Wow, so you had a mentor taking care of you! That's amazing. And now you are capable of taking care of yourself and doing monster hunts of your own, too! That's pretty awesome, Uta!"

Asuna is suitably impressed. And she doesn't quite buy the whole 'participation' thing, really. She has a high opinion of her bestie, after all.

Also, the whole proper lip hydration comment gets her giggling. A lot. It takes a while to compose herself again.    "So.. yeah, our lips are definitely hydrated. And no cotton mouth, either! But I suppose lip balm might be good. Or cream? I want to make sure my skin stays healthy."

Aincrad Tower: Tolbana

"No, I cannot do monster hunts on my own," Uta protests. "I just handle them. I am kind of terrible at capturing them." She looks down and, twiddling her thumbs, she mumbles, "...I fail to capture even Dire Snails, and am outsmarted by Dire Rocks..."

" I've never really specialized in dermatology, but I'm sure can prepare such basic preparations. Hm. Maybe I should start looking into that field." She wonders, looking up and away.

She then laughs and shakes her head. "Oh, no, no. What am I thinking. I am herding too many cats already."

"...Oh, and, uh, well, 'taking care of myself' is a bit..." Again that fidgeting with her fingers, and avoiding eye contact while she looks for the right words. "I... I think I might be in need of constant supervision actually. I tend to get a bit... ah... distracted, at times."
Aincrad Tower: Tolbana

    "I see. It's okay, though. We can capture monsters together! Whenever you like. And I would be happy to keep an eye on you, Uta! Just let me know what you are up to. It's not the safest world to be alone in. It's important to get help."

That's all said with no outward sign of a cringe. The ronin girl who always is off on her own dispensing 'seek help' advice. The irony is there.

    "Plus I imagine that Kirito and Klein will be around, too. So you'll have lots of people to hang out with. And everyone is so nice! I'm sure they'll appreciate more company."

Or else...

Aincrad Tower: Tolbana

"Oh, sure, I'll be glad to meet your boyfriend! Date! Future husband! Kissing buddy?", Uta attempts, in an increasingly disasterous chain of attempted saves that dig her in deeper and deeper at every deeper and deeper digging herself in.

"Sorry, sorry!", she exclaims, waving her hands and shaking her head. "I think I'm talking too much myself. Am I talking too much? I tend to talk too much. Half of my friends probably think I talk too much but are too nice to tell me. The other half probably can't get a word in because, well, I talk too much and-"

Pause. "Right! Friends! I'd love to meet them!"

Deep blush, but in Uta's case, of social embarrassment.