NFG Season Two - Cabana Chat with Arisa Hawkins

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Description: And her cohost, Pool Boy!

Arisa Hawkins has had kind of a... well, the last few days have been Days, meriting the capital letter.

Right now she's up on the sun deck, enjoying some Mediterranean climate mild pre-spring weather by swimming laps in the pool. It's a pleasantly mindless activity, really; the only thing to think about is keeping your arms and your legs moving, and breathing. The pool isn't so deep that she'd be in danger even if she spaced out... but the buoyant feeling of being in water plus the meditative repetitiveness of the motions of swimming help clear her mind for sure, even if that leaves it free to dwell on the things that stressed her out to begin with.

The choice to tap out of her match with Max just as the fight started continues to weigh on her mind. Did she make the right call? More importantly, did she make it for the right reasons? Even if she got thoroughly sackbeat in the process, the Texan enjoyed her fight with Roxana, who seemed like a genuinely reasonable person for a lady with a big scorpion tail and poison powers and everything.

There's a splash as Arisa hits the far end of the pool, swirls in the water to turn herself around, and starts going back the other way.

Plus she got to surf after a chariot and do that neat reverse cartwheel two gun thing you see John Woo do in the movies all the time, so that was rad. But there was something about the whole situation with Max that rubbed her the wrong way, from the very second the feline Gear revealed herself all the way to the start of the fight. But Arisa can't help but ask herself: should you have given that a chance? Were you too hasty in that decision?

This is the thought that's in her head as she reaches the near end of the pool and rises from it, white-blonde hair trailing behind her as she leans both arms on the side of the pool and puts her head on them, taking a break and making a very pouty anime schoolgirl face, For Sure.

"Look out below!!"

The warning that is bellowed across the deck isn't directed at any one particular person, beyond 'whoever happens to be in the pool'.

The warning is followed pretty quickly by the rapid tapping of feet, a little off to the side from where Arisa has settled for her perch. It's fast enough in it's leadup to a leap past the edge for only a blurry figure in some manner of swimming trunks to be made out, before...


Yup. There's a tucking of knees to a bare chest to concentrate focus weight to the center while he's still in mid-air before the plummet to the rest of the way. And just like that, a wide SPLOOSH ripples through the water's surface, sending small waves along the pool and a veritable shower spraying through the air in the immediate vicinity.

Three or so seconds pass before the culprit bursts up into view through the water's surface again with a "WHOO!" and another (but thankfully much smaller) splash from the motion.

Yup. It's Albert. In his defense, though, this is literally nothing like the life he has been used to before the start of this whole shebang. He's never been on a cruise ship before! He hasn't even been to a swimming pool before! THe best he got was the lake near the family farm with it's rinky-dink pier.


And then there's a cannonball.

Now, if Albert wanted to jump into the pool without *injuring himself*, which he almost certainly does, he's got to aim for the middle of the pool, meaning that the most Arisa receives at the edge is a little choppiness in the proverbial waves and a fine mist of spray, and... well, she was already wet, so that's not an issue.

There is the broader issue of someone doing a cannonball in a cruise ship pool but that's a discussion for another day.

While the Texan has never been on a cruise before, she has a pool at home (Texas will do that to you), so this experience is not terribly novel for her. Deciding she's had enough exercise time for the moment, the demon huntress hauls herself up onto the side of the pool and sits with her legs dangling in the water, showing off the one-piece swimsuit done up in the colors of the Texas state flag that she bought in a hurry in the airport on the way out of the US because she'd forgotten one.

Placing her palms down on the deck on either side of her, the Texan trains her grey-eyed gaze on the water, watching for whoever just cannonballed in to emerge from their Dynamic Entry(tm). As the German rises above the surface, Arisa -- recognizing the face, if not immediately thinking of name or personality -- claps with amusement.

There's probably a couple complaints made audible from some of the other people milling about the deck, honestly. But it's the clapping that catches the brown-haired german's attention. Turning about in his float along the water to where he can spot the texan sat upon the edge of the pool. There's a faint hint of recognition in his eye there immediately, but-- he doesn't quite put a name together there immediately. But he does know she's involved with this whole NFG arrangement too, so--

"Hello!!" He calls out enthusiastically, waving his hand energetically before directing himself to float closer. Eventually bringing himself to pulling up to where he can lean onto the ledge just besides her with his arms folded over there to keep him supported up from the water enough to partially expose a strong and firmly-toned upper body. Not that the clear water was really doing that much to hide him anyway, but still.

"You were there with everyone else when we got on board, right? You're one of the contestants, yeah?"

He manages to tap two fingers to his brow while peering up to her from his perch.

"I'm Albert! It's nice to meet ya!"

Alright, it would be silly to wonder why he's swimming over to her when she is literally sitting there clapping, Arisa thinks to herself, before bringing her hands back to where they were before, palms down the deck, arms at an angle bracing her as she sits on the edge of the pool. As the brown-haried farm lad starts paddling? floating? levitating? something over toward her, the Texan brings one hand up in greeting before he speaks, and then suddenly, as he actually introduces himself, the light of recognition fires in her head.

"Oh yeah! Knightly cosplay guy who was with the dragon, question mark? At the thing." Super articulate, Arisa, well done. No notes.

Because she's a 19 year old red-blooded American girl, there is indeed at least a LITTLE taking in of the farm boy physique, but she's also Texan, so Arisa was raised around that kind of guy. Doesn't mean she can't appreciate it when it's right in front of her, though.

"I'm Arisa Hawkins," she says, realizing that she never actually introduced herself the first time they vaguely encountered each other, let alone now. "And yeah, I'm here for the NFG just like you are, I think. Right?"


Albert, who otherwise seems perpetually full of energy, actually looks a little sheepish for a moment over being referred to as someone doing knight cosplay. "It's not supposed to be cosplay..." He admits, though right as he's said it, energy practically bursts through the entirety of his body all over again, and he even perks visibly.

"You know how people always say 'dress for the job you want' and stuff, right? Yeah?"

He... sounds serious about it. Although maybe in that innocent kind of way a lot of younger people have where they're convinced they genuinely have a reasonable prospects at becoming an astronaut.

He does haul himself further up then, scooting himself over the ledge and turning around to seat himself there with his legs dipped into the water, stretching his arms out over his head for a few seconds after settling there. For the record, he doesn't seem at all conscious of any kind of looks sent the way of his heavily-exercised body. Or conscious of any reason why anyone would for that matter, but nevermind that right now.

"Yeah, yeah," he offers for confirmation to her question, nodding enthusiastically for emphasis. "I just got done with a fight and figured I'd actually, like... enjoy this whole joint! I didn't even know they made boats this big! Or ones that have pools!" Beat. "I've never been to a pool! It's so cool!"

"What's wrong with cosplay?" Arisa asks in response, looking genuinely curious. It's a good thing she's a fundamentally honest person, because she truly just does not have the face for lying; her emotions are clear to see on her face, and NOBODY'S that good an actor. Her head tilts a little bit to the side when she asks. "I mean, like you just said, dress for the job you want, right? Not much difference between a costume and uniform in the end, if you ask me."

The grey-eyed young woman watches as Albert hauls himself up onto the pool's edge next to her, and in the manner of people everywhere, shimmies an inch or two to the side to make room. He has no way of knowing it, but after her experience yesterday, hearing the young German's enthusiastic energy is just what the Texan needed, and she can't resist letting a smile cross her face because of that.

Well that and he said something wild, from her POV.

"Do they... not have pools in whatever part of," and here she squints briefly, "Europe you're from? I grew up with one in the backyard, so I guess I'm used to having them around, but that's the whole point of travel, right?" She gestures around. "Seeing how people do things outside of the little world you grew up in." 'Little world', says the half-oni demon hunter.

"Hmmm...." For what it's worth, Arisa's reasoning does seem pretty decent. Decent enough, at least, to make Albert frown in thought, and even rub at his chin with forefinger and thumb. "I guuuesss...? Oh, so my armor would be like my uniform then!" He seems very much satisfied with this conclusion. "Yeah, that makes sense!"

And oh, her confusion and the ensuing question about his complete and utter lack of experience with pools? That in turn seems to make the germanic boy visibly confused on his own right, to the point of tilting his head to the side by roughly fourty degrees. In much the same manner as puppies do when they've come across something that confounds them.

"I mean, they doooo, I guess? I mean, we didn't have one in our yard! I think mostly like... rich people had 'em. And spas and stuff." That last bit makes him frown all over again, and rest his chin for a moment on the knuckles of one fist. "...I've never been to a spa either..."

The Texan's mouth makes a little 'o' at Albert's explanation, before she claps her hands to her mouth, then laughs a little behind them. "Haha, look at you, making me confront my economic privilege," she says, grin evident as she brings her hands back down and finds herself looking off the side of the ship into the striking blue-green waters of the Mediterranean. "Fair point."

Arisa shrugs, before turning back to Albert, then reaching down and letting her hand drift in the water a little bit. "I suppose in the US they're not exactly *common* or anything. You mostly find them in the suburbs where there's room to put them. In the city it's too crowded, though a lot of cities have public pools that anyone can use. Or people swim at the gym, or stuff like that... Hmm."

Another pause, and then she looks at Albert with surprisingly intense scrutiny for a moment, brow furrowing. "I guess that means you grew up out in the country somewhere? That's legit. Did you have like, a local lake or pond or something? I mean, pools are nice, but I went to this mountain lake in Colorado one summer with my mom on a training trip, and it was WILD, the water was so clear and clean, not like the chlorined-up stuff you get in a pool. Hard to beat that."

"Making you what now?" Yes, this is genuine confusion on Albert's part again. Really, the boy did not mean to bring up any comparisons to economic and social inequalities or anything of the sort. He has never even given any thought to such things!

His heart is probably going to break the moment he learns about slums.

The curiousity in his eyes grows again while she's studying her with such intensity. But then he's lighting up when she makes her guess on his origins, prompting him to rapidly nod his head. "Yeah! My family lives on a farm! I mean, I did go to a bigger town every now and then, but... I guess it was still way smaller than most towns? Huh... If these kinda things are normal elsewhere..."

He doesn't so much frown from thought this time, but he does cross his thickly-muscled arms over his broad chest, slowly nodding his head once. "Hm! I guess the world is even bigger than I thought... But!" The thoughtful expression makes an immediate 90-degree turn to flash an utterly excited smile in it's place. "That's cool too! Means there's a lot of places to explore! New things to experience!" He even pumps his fist once in the air in front of him while he conveys this particular positive outlook. His eyes definitely are sparkling in that childlike sort of way that is eagerly looking forward to what tomorrow brings.

He does give a light kick of his foot through the water, tipping his head down to peer at it curiously. "Chlo...rine? Huh... I guess that's why it felt a little different? We have a lake near the farm I swam in a lot, and... mmm..." Now his brows do furrow down to try to find the proper words to convey what's on his mind. "I'm not really sure how to explain... but... different, you know?"

For a moment -- JUST A MOMENT -- Arisa, who is a mere year older than Albert, is giving him a look that can only be described as 'protect this tiny child'. She STRONGLY resists the urge to reach out and pat him on the head, because she's a savvy Zoomer and knows that would get Weird, Fast.

She also stops herself from saying 'yeah that tracks' at 'I grew up on a farm'.

"No, just... if you grow up with comfortable money or a pool or whatever it's easy to forget not everybody has it as good as you did," Arisa says, rubbing the back of her neck a bit. "You didn't do anything bad. My dad says you should never take your lucky breaks for granted and he's a pretty wise dude so, you know. Stay humble, right?"

She pauses, trying not to grin at Albert not knowing what chlorine freakin' is, before continuing herself. "Before this whole thing I'd only ever traveled inside the US, except for a couple trips to Japan to visit my dad's side of the family," Arisa adds, pausing after saying that as she's assaulted with the amusing-in-hindsight memories of her dad's oni family meeting her big, brassy American demon hunter mom turned barbecue joint owner. "Which is pretty sad. Happens a lot in the US, you know? People never leave their home city or see any of the cool stuff out there. I promised myself I wasn't gonna do that, so... here I am."

She grins, turning to Albert before play-punching him in the upper arm. "Well, stick with me, Al-kun," the Texan says with a grin, christening a nickname on the spot. "We can check out all this ridiculous stuff together."

"Hmm... I don't think we had a lot of money either... But you know?" Rather than letting himself be caught on some kind of unfortunate bit of reflection, the germanic brunette is immediately flashing another wide smile. "I had a good time, anyway!" Well. He clearly doesn't really entirely understand just what kind of troubles lack of money could result in. There is a non-zero chance that his parents never let him be privy to any potential woes on that front.

He *does* seem to get just a little self-conscious while the blonde texan talks about people not leaving their hometowns, even scratching his cheek lightly with one finger. "Ah, well... I guess I never went even outside the county before this all..."

He probably wasn't going to stay down from that for very long anyway, but the playful punch and offer for joining forces in seeing the word definitely help him in bouncing right back to smiling bright enough to rival the luminosity of the sun. "Ahehe, yeah, alright! It'll be fun! Although--" Aaand his face practically snaps right back into a questioning stare upon her.

"...What does 'alkun' mean...?" Oh. Yeah, figures he might have never heard about japanese honorifics, huh?

Oh NO. Come on, this is 2024! Even white European kids have seen anime and used the internet! How could he not know?!

Laughing a sheepish, nervous little laugh, Arisa clears her throat. "Well, you're Al, obviously," she says with great authority and exactly 0 permission to do, "and in Japanese, you add -kun after someone's name if they're... well." How do you explain the concept of honorifics to someone who didn't know what *chlorine* was until 5 minutes ago?! And really, why did it have to be -kun, the vaguely complicated one?

A pause as Arisa's thought process gets caught on the idea of explaining why he was 'Al-chan' to this guy like a tape getting stuck in a boom box.

"Like friends from school your own age and stuff," she finishes lamely. The Texan had been raised in a bilingual household -- her mother had been the one to insist on it, weirdly enough -- so she's perfectly fluent in Japanese, but her only real PRACTICE using it nowadays is watching unsubbed anime and talking to her dad. The cultural subtleties are maybe a little lost even on her, let alone Albert.

"Don't think about it too hard. You are Al-kun, and Al-kun is you."

She doesn't bring up that she should technically be using a last name he didn't offer, but that's neither here nor there.

Albert finds himself giving Arisa this kind of... blank stare. It's that stare people usually give when they're listening to something that they don't really understand at all, but are still politely letting the other person go on instead of stopping them from talking about something they're clearly knowledgeable about.

But once she tells him to not give it that much thought, he immediately gives an easily-agreeing nod, even clapping his hands together. "Okay! Al-kun it is!"

'Not thinking about it' comes pretty easily for him, it turns out. He promptly hoists one hand up, and gives a light, friendly clap onto her shoulder too, grinning toothily. "Let's have a big, fun adventure, huh?"

Once his hand has been withdrawn, he leans back a little, hands pressed to the tiling surrounding the pool to support his lazier recline. "How's this thing going you so far, anyway? I mean, besides how cool the ship and the sights are and everything. I kinda scuffed when I fought the dragon, but... It was pretty fun anyway!"

Oh yeah. Himbotastic. But, like, not in a bad way.

Info Arisa files away for later.

The question of how the actual tournament is going, however, makes her freeze up, briefly but discernibly, for a moment. He has no way of knowing what just happened, after all. And as Arisa herself was just saying in her own mind, it's not the ONLY experience of this tournament she'd had so far. Thus, she focuses on the one she did have, and turns to Albert with a wild grin.

"Oh I got my assbeat by a supermodel sentai hero who's also a scorpion?!" the Texan says, without the faintest hint of embarassment or rancor. And then she remembers that Albert PROBABLY isn't going to recognize the word 'sentai' and course-corrects at the last second. "Sorry. Roxana? That was my first fight. Hot lady who has a scorpion tail?" She makes a little curved gesture with her arm meant to give the visual impression of a scorpion tail, which probably doesn't work too well.

"I mean... my mom and dad have been training me since I was little, so I know my stuff, but I'm still a beginner here, you know?" she admits, getting a briefly far-away look. "It woulda been nice to pull out the win, obvs, but I did get to do some sick action movie stunts that LOOKED and FELT really cool so like... moral victory?"

That part is true; one of the most viewed clips so far on FightTube from this season of the NFG has been Arisa surfing behind a chariot before leaping into a reverse cartwheel, both guns blazing.

The look on Albert's face definitely suggests he definitely does not at least immediately recognize the 'sentai' term. But thankfully Arisa's caught on before he can even ask about it. And apparently 'hot lady who has a scorpion tail' is much more understandable.

"Oh! That hot lady from back then?! ... Wait, huh?!" He perks up all the more when the 'scorpion tail' part properly sinks in, his eyes widening while they sparkle on. "She's also a scorpion lady?! It must have looked cool!"

Yeah, he definitely looks like he would have loved to see just that. But then something else hits him in that line of thought, and the smile mostly fades away. "Wait... aren't scorpions poisonous or something? Is... is she poisonous? Did she poison you?!" Apparently completely disregarding the facts the facts that 1) She already said this was her *first* fight and 2) SHE IS VERY CLEARLY SITTING RIGHT THERE INSTEAD OF THE HOSPITAL, he's quickly bringing a hand up over to press the back of it to her forehead in what must be an effort to test for a fever, and asking "Are you okay?!"

Well, Albert's overprotective response is going to dovetail nicely with Arisa's response to his question, which is: "Oh yeah, she definitely did, it sucked." Which: accurate! Roxana's abilities did include a potent toxin of some kind, though it's not clear if that's because of the scorpion part, her being a Gear (not that Arisa knows this bit), or some other reason. "I mean, it's not like it was unfair or cheating or anything, if you got a scorpion tail you should use it, but that doesn't mean it was plea--"

Then Albert's hand is on her forehead, and this actually briefly stuns Arisa into silence. She is really learning a lot about this earnest young doofus today, for sure.

Gently but firmly, the Texan maneuvers the young farmboy's hand off her forehead (which did indeed show no signs of a fever), resulting in her briefly holding his hand. "Awww that's sweet, Al, but I'm fine. It wore off before the fight was over." As a choir singing in the same major 3rd interval as a doorbell sings o/~ HIM~BO o/~ in her head.

Coughing, Arisa takes her hand back. "And honestly it did look pretty cool, just like someone off of a Japanese martial arts superhero show." Do not mention Kamen Rider to Albert; the results would be unpredictable at best. "Which... I only know 'cause Dad watches 'em and I hang out with him while he does that sometimes. ANYHOW. She's super nice. Most of the folks I've met so far have been pretty nice, though it's not a long list..."

This isn't a lie, but it IS a slight misdirection owing to hiding the fact that n=3 in this situation. Four, if you count Dr. Maeda.

Thankfully Albert doesn't fight against getting his hand drawn away from the blonde's forehead. Nor does he get reduced to a blushing mess either for more or less getting his hand held momentarily by a girl(!!). At least the worry in his eyes starts to die down thanks to her assurances, though, even if the whole concept of 'scorpion poison' might seem like a scary prospect to him.

"Well, if you're sure..." He does offer just before she pulls her hand away from his. Settling his hands back onto his lap in turn, he nods along with her following words -- and the last remnants of worry leave him entirely. He definitely hasn't seen any of these shows she's referencing, but he seems like he might like the concept of them at least.

"Well, if it makes you feel any better, I haven't met that many people here yet either," Albert admits, but... he doesn't seem that bothered about that. But he does also segue right into a wide, warm, eye-closed smile, with a singular thumb-up thrust out in front of him. "But hey, we can both add one more person to the list now, right? And you definitely seem nice!"

As his eyes open, there's a warm spark in them again. His smile gets a bit more subdued at that point, but-- that *somehow* makes it look even *more* sincere than usual. "So add one 'friend' there, yeah?"


Arisa definitely can't keep at least a little bit of color from coming to her cheeks. After all, not only is she chatting up a hot boy on the deck of a cruise ship, but he's almost instinctively causing the entire scenario to take on strong visual novel vibes. Look, she's 19! She didn't have a lot of friends growing up. She's technically only half human, though there's no real way to know that and she has no special powers. There are like 500 fics on AO3 that are specifically THIS SETUP.

"Y-yeah!" the Texan stammers, at the declaration of friendship. "Sure thing. I mean, that's the vibe I'm looking for with this whole thing, right? Making... friends and... stuff."

There is a long pause. It is definitely too long, especially for a quick talker like Arisa.

And then out of nowhere, she says, in a performance-level loud voice, "OKAY! Time to get back in the water, Al-kun," before reaching over and slapping Albert on the back hard enough to, if he's unprepared for it, definitely send him face-first back into the pool.

Shortly after, she herself is back to swimming laps, off in the distance.

As for Albert? Albert's hardly versed enough in all that kind of fiction to really recognize what he has been inadvertantly doing. Actually, would he even be self-aware enough to realize it even if he was? ... Probably not, right? Which probably doesn't make it any *less* like any given visual novel.

But either way, the girl's stammering makes the german boy blink curiously, tipping his head sidewards in that canine manner again. Once she falls into that uncharacteristic fit of silence, he does frown with further, confused concern.

"Hey, is everything okay? Did I say something weird...?"

And despite his own seemingly endless levels of energy, the sudden loud declaration from her actually makes the wannabe-knight jump a bit where he sits. "Huh? Oh, ok--WEH?!"

Yeah, so he was not prepared for that shockingly strong slap to his back. Despite looking like a fairly sturdy specimen, he does in fact, get sent involuntarily back down into the pool with a graceless *SPLOOSH*.


Submerged unexpectedly for a couple seconds, he does cough a couple times over when he resurfaces-- but nothing too serious. Left taken completely off guard by that whole chain of events, he just stares after the blonde for a few seconds, somehow already on the far other end of the pool.

"...I guess I'll ask her later."

Log created on 13:27:56 03/20/2024 by Arisa, and last modified on 11:48:37 03/21/2024.