That Night's Rider

Shin Heno
Alne - Plant Hwyaden HQ

     Contrary to all imagination, Shin Heno does not go off and punch a bunch of spiders, or run headfirst into a dungeon solo, or go run out of Alne to blow off steam.

     In fact, the minute he leaves the sewer, he's...

     Walking down the street, cheerfully, as if nothing ever happened. He's examining the coin, he's greeting people with a smile and a bit of a cheesy thumbs-up that provokes eye-rolls from players and probably nothing from Landers. His course is straight back to the guildhouse.

     When he gets inside, he...

     Just pulls up a not-totally-dilapidated chair, kicks his feet up on a table that doesn't seem too bad, and closes his eyes, a smile on his face.

Alne - Plant Hwyaden HQ

U.L.P. tends to be pretty good when wanting to stay hidden.  After all, he sometimes had to be out of sight when his people were on the clock and underperforming in ETO.  Still, following Shin was...well, he was more troubled by the LACK of lashing out than not.  Thinking about it, the normal response would have been to vent one's frustrations, not put on a fake smile, and...then keep it on.  Maybe in public, sure, that's natural, but here?  Now?

Once the time for stealth was at an end, the bard walks on in, finally coming to the table after producing his own chair.  He sets a bottle of wine between them.  It might taste terrible, but it's better than nothing.  Pouring himself a drink, he slides the bottle over to Shin.  

"How old were you?" he asks, simply and to the point.  There was no need to dance around the issue, and unlike most Japanese, he was a /business/ man. There was a time for pleasantries, and a time to cut to the heart.
Shin Heno
Alne - Plant Hwyaden HQ

     "Ah, thanks!"

     Shin picks up the bottle and pours himself a glass. "Y'know, this stuff tastes terrible, but after a few parties you don't even notice the taste anymore. It's just one more kampai." He waves the bottle around in front of himself, still smiling that same cheerful smile.

     "Hm? Oh, seven years ago." He doesn't...sound that broken-up about it. Nor does he ask for clarification. In fact, he's still got that odd, uncomfortably cheerful smile.

     It doesn't reach his eyes.

     His eyes are hidden by the glint of the light, by the glint off his glasses. It's not the Villain-In-Glasses Pushed-Up-Because-I've-Got-A-Plan sort of glint. It's the kind of glint where he's angled his glasses just right so that U.L.P. *can't* see his face.

     "Just out of college for me. Honestly, I made my peace with it." And that *does* sound honest, except...again, his eyes are hidden. It's hard to tell. There's something *wrong* here, something *wrong* with his tone. He's not being *dismissive*, but there's...something under his words that doesn't feel right.

     His anger *probably* wasn't about his dad, though.

     So that's...interesting.

     "Who'd you know? You said yours didn't go like that. So who did? Friend? Girlfriend? Casual acquaintance?"
Alne - Plant Hwyaden HQ

"Friend," U.L.P. says calmly.  He drinks from the glass, perhaps taking a moment to remember who he lost, or perhaps to find the words he needs.  There was something wrong in all of this, mostly because he notices that Shin isn't making eye contact directly, doing everything to avoid it.  He is patient though.

"Wine's a bit different than Sake, honestly.  European's do their booze differently than ours, so it tends to have a sweeter or sourer taste.  We were rivals in college, and when we moved on to the working world, we always worked to outdo the other.  What he lacked in raw ability, he had in pure tenacity." he says, leaning back in his seat.  

"So what is the actual issue.  You say you're over it, but that outburst in the sewers says something different.  Also, you're avoiding eye contact with me," he says, leaning up and looking at Shin.  "We're both adults, and from my counting, we're the same age."
Shin Heno
Alne - Plant Hwyaden HQ

     "Alcohol's alcohol in the end," Shin says cheerfully, swinging the bottle in front of him again. "It's all the same to me. It could taste sour or sweet, awful or amazing, and I wouldn't even notice anymore."

     "Kampai." He knocks the glass back and pounds it on the table in the style of every salaryman who has ever been to a party ever.

     "The issue?" His smile falters only a little bit. "I don't want her to die. Is that so surprising?"

     "I hate that attitude. 'Handle people with a soft touch.' It's cowardly. She's killing herself and the only reason I didn't drop party right then and there to knock her out is that she's not worth losing this group." Shin shrugs and looks up at the ceiling, pours himself another shot, gives another "kampai," and the glass hits the table again.

     "Handling people with a soft touch doesn't work. It's how people get screwed over. They don't say something's wrong, and nobody does anything about it when they do." His hand tightens around the glass. It cracks a little. He's strong. "You're not supposed to. You're supposed to mind your own business, right?"

     "Our society is twisted."

     He takes another shot. "Kampai." Thump. The glass breaks in his hand, little red lines across his palm. He shakes his hand a little bit before reaching for another one. "Don't you think we have an obligation to do *better* this time around? To *make* people better? To tell people, 'hey, stop hurting yourself' instead of looking at the ground and mumbling 'it's not my problem'? 'Soft touch, soft touch'?"

     "Besides." Shin picks up the glass and points at U.L.P. "What do you think happens if she falls asleep on the job? Or her pills stop working? You know what happens to a team when one guy strings himself out and then falls asleep in the middle of crunch time."

     "Imagine what it'll be like here. Imagine what it'll be like if she just tips over because her pills stop working."

     "Won't just be her eating it. And, no offense, I don't really want to find out what dying is like because somebody else screwed up."
Alne - Plant Hwyaden HQ

"So, tell me.  If your father didn't you think you'd have the same attitude as you do now?  Do you think you'd still think working hard is the most important thing?  We're all the products of our environments as much as we are the products of our genetics.  The issue here is that /forcing/ someone to change often time has the reverse effect of what you want it to have," U.L.P. says as he takes a sip of the wine.  

"You're clearly upset about this, despite what you're saying.  It's not just because you're afraid for your own life, but rather it seems you think the only way to solve societal issues is to point at them and scream as loud as you can."

"That doesn't work, doesn't work all the time.  Do not confuse subtly with compliance.  Do not confuse a gentle hand for a flippant attitude.  As I said in the sewer, you have to look at the tools at your disposal, you have to look at the attitudes your working with, and you have to consider all angles of a situation.  Doing the same thing over and over again, and expecting a different result is madness."

Then he pours out another cup for himself.  "My friend was stubborn, he tried to match me at my strength, and neglected himself.  I mourn him because I feel good rivals make good friends.  We were both, but I think in the end he decided that he had to outdo me no matter the cost, and it consumed him."

He closes those eyes, "Now that we know of her issue, we can better plan around it.  Getting her to accept the problem might run deeper than just saying 'go to sleep moron'.  Imagine if I told you to 'stop feeling upset about your father.'  Imagine if any of you decided to call me crippled."

"You want to be concerned, fine.  But grabbing her by the shoulders and shaking her isn't going to solve the issue...unless you're not about solving the issue at all.  If you are, then you might want to get to know her better, and spend time trying to get at the root of the problem.  A soft hand isn't a weak hand."
Shin Heno
Alne - Plant Hwyaden HQ

     Shin raises an eyebrow. "If my father hadn't died, would I still be angry at her? Yes."

     He taps his finger on the table. "I meant what I said. And she knows it, too. Didn't you hear her? 'Either let me go or flag up.' She understood what was going to happen. *I* understood what was going to happen. But..."

     He looks up at the ceiling. "..."

     He shakes his head and waves his hand. "Who are you to lecture me, anyway? She's a kid pushing herself because she's afraid she'll die. She *really will* die the way she's doing. We're both adults. It's our job to tell the kids to go to bed and scold them when they're being stupid."

     He waves his glass at U.L.P. again. "You 'really knew' your friend, didn't you? I 'really knew' my dad. You think 'really knowing' them made them stop? No. Kampai." Thump. "That doesn't *work*, dammit. It's a thing people say because it makes them feel better about looking down at the ground, whether they didn't want to get involved or just failed. Most of them don't care because it's easier not to. God."



     "Maybe it won't solve the issue, but now it is *an* issue. Now it's not everybody pretending like it's OK when somebody says 'I haven't slept for a literal month and change.'"

     Shin shrugs. "Maybe somebody else can *do* something about it." His tone changes to a bit of a barb. "Somebody who 'really knows' her."

     He stands up. "And, yeah, I was pretty pissed at that V kid treating it like a joke. Didn't really make me believe the whole *soft touch* thing, huh? Doesn't fill me with confidence in how he's handling it. How anybody's handling it."

     "But I'm good now." He smiles. "I am. I meant what I said. It won't come up again. She can do whatever she wants. It's in your guys' hands now! You can deal with it however. You can tell them that it's totally solved and it won't come up again."

     "Anyway." He stretches. "I'm gonna go see if I can do anything with this coin. See you!" Not a hint of aggression or sarcasm in his words, now.
Alne - Plant Hwyaden HQ

"Do you think she did that because she was embarrassed, or because you grabbed her like that?  What do you think would happen if you did that out in the real world?" After a thoughtful pause, he laughs, "Probably nothing if you're rich enough, so hopefully that."  It's not a 'ha the poors' laugh, but an off-color joke.

"And you're right, most of the time it is a thing people say to make themselves feel better.  I don't.  I regret it every time, I think maybe I should have said something.  However, what could I say?  Would I have made it worse?  Being the source of his drive?  Eventually, it was too late..."

"So I know how you feel if that means anything to you.  I've come to a different conclusion from it...and maybe you were right on this one.  Maybe.  Really, what was making me come out to talk about it was...well..." he motions towards Shin.  "You did not handle that at all as I expected.  I am concerned, that is why I am talking to you, and if it comes across like lecturing...well it's not.  Just advice from one adult to another."

"She," U.L.P. says about Count V, "I think, anyway.  It's probably not important, but I think her deal was more because Whis is a lady, she seems like someone who's got her own problem with Japanese society.  Did they say the wrong thing?  Maybe, she too probably has her own conclusions."

"What I am trying to say is, If you think something is wrong like that, and it's not /directly/an immediate danger, take it to someone directly.   Come up with a solid plan..." Though there is a small pause as if realizing something, "After all, aren't there hero's who approach their problems besides directly?  Or is it because you can not do so easily in the real world that you try and solve things so forwardly here?"

U.L.P. just leans back as Shin moves to leave, "Try and avoid getting gouged on the open market.  You're new to the game and all, if you need any advice on pricing, give me a ring," then before he's gone, "Or we can adventure for some good gear later."
Shin Heno
Alne - Plant Hwyaden HQ

     Shin waves over his shoulder. "Oh, I'm not gonna sell it."

     He pauses.

     He looks over his shoulder, still smiling. "Just out of curiosity, how *did* you think I was going to handle that?"
Alne - Plant Hwyaden HQ

"Hm? Oh well...get into a fight? Run out and punch the first monster you see. Try to solo a duty," U.L.P. says, "Taking your frustraitions out. Even I've been known to hit something when I become too frustraited. I can't tell if you're more mature than you let on, or if you're bottling stuff up."
Shin Heno
Alne - Plant Hwyaden HQ

     Shin laughs.

     "Well, now you know better. You guys don't need to worry about me getting angry and doing something stupid."

     "What I am gonna do is get some sleep, though, and then see if I can figure out a warm bath myself."

     "By the way," Shin says as he opens the door, "People fall asleep in nice, warm baths, you know."

     And then he's gone.
Alne - Plant Hwyaden HQ

"Yeah, and sometimes they slip in under the water and drown.." U.L.P. says, to nobody apparently. Looking at his own clothes, however, he decides that he needs at least five baths.