NFG Season Two - A Poolside Chat

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Description: Decisions, decisions! Arisa's path leads to a fork in the road, whereas the path forward for Chevy is clear. Does the NFG first-genner have any actual advice for the troubled Texan, or just awkward metaphors about farm life?

None of this has turned out the way she'd hoped, for the most part. At least, that's the thought in Arisa Hawkins's head, as she sits at a table on the sun deck, but in the shade of a big blue and white umbrella. With the ports of call nearby, the need for passengers to be on the deck for their amusement is a little less, but given the pleasant weather, it's still odd to see a young girl sitting by herself.

She's leaned forward enough that you could almost call her position on the table 'sprawled,' depending on the point of view. Her chest and stomach are flat against the surface, arms extended in front of her, both holding her phone. While getting close enough to read the screen in detail without Arisa knowing is probably hard, anyone bothering to look as they walk by can see that she's got her Contacts open on her phone, and this one is pretty self-explanatory: "Mom."

Said careful observer may also notice she's not actually typing anything; she's just staring at the screen.

"UuuuuuuuuUUUUUUGH," is all she really says, to her audience of one, before dropping her forehead down onto the table too. Eventually she brings up a thumb, clicks her phone back into sleep mode, then sets it down on the table and leans back into a sitting position, reaching over to pick up the other thing on the table: a plastic cup of boba (coconut milk tea, for the curious) and take a big, noisy sip through the regulation chunky boba straw.

Setting the cup down on the table, she picks up her phone again. "Come on, Arisa," she says to herself, quietly. "You can do this. She's not going to be mad or disappointed."

A long pause. "Probably."

Conversely, Chevelle Beaumont has been very satisfied with her Odyssey experience. It's true that the bar was set... a bit low after the unfiltered chaos of the NFG's first season. But, all things considered, she's come out alright. She's gotten a match against Hated R -- her first and only time meeting the elusive fifth member of Team Thunder. She'd gotten a match against Genie, one that was a long time coming after their encounter in the Rumble. And, perhaps most anticipated of all, she'd gotten a rematch with Coco!

And not only that, but she's had the time to take a few off-ship excursions with boyfriend and fellow participant Buck Finley, which has done -wonders- for her mood. Suffice to say, there's really not any outstanding problems on Miss Beaumont's shoulders as she steps on deck with a beach bag, a wide-brimmed straw hat, and a pair of cheap sunglasses. It's not that she has to hide from the paparazzi -- it's more that sunlight reflecting off a cruise ship in the middle of the sea can be pretty intense!

In fact, that's the reason she's here on the sun deck to begin with.

Options to get past Miss Hawkins to the sun loungers are limited. It's hard for her not to notice the Contacts screen as she walks past -- but Chevy's presence itself might be a little distracting, as she's wearing a white bikini with a sheer sarong cover-up. Tanlines suggest that the current swimwear is a -bit- less conservative than her usual attire. But, as she stands near a lounger and sheds the sarong, it becomes clear that she's here to sunbathe... Mostly.

She starts to work the suntan lotion into her freckled shoulders, mostly minding her own business... At least until the vocal outburst.

Even still, the farm girl seems to keep her expression locked on 'cheerful, but curious!' as she glances over to Arisa.

That expression does... -drift- a little, though, once she recognizes Arisa's face. It's... Another competitor, right? And one who didn't have a showing in the latest round...

Chevy steers her eyes downward. A bit hard to tell through the dark lenses, but still.

If Arisa's looking her way, she'd probably recognize the hayseed working up the nerve to say something.

"Hey, is that the coconut flavor? I saw that over there but I ain't gotten around to tryin' it yet. Is it any good?"


The result here is kind of hilarious, on one level; even if Arisa had noticed Chevy in any meaningful way -- and it's clear that her state of mind was not enabling that at all -- the Texan isn't exactly at peak sociability at the moment. Something is clearly bothering her, and her phone probably has something to do with it.

Which is a shame, because Chevy's question takes Arisa utterly by surprise, meaning she makes the aforementioned wacky noise and moves her hands in a way that has clearly forgotten she was holding onto a phone with them, meaning said phone is now dropping toward the ground, which: fine, but this is a cruise ship, that's her only life line, and it's extremely unlikely there's a Verizon or Apple Store on this boat.

There's a panicked moment before the ash-haired girl suddenly extends a leg, as if she were about to kick the table's pedestal... and for one glorious moment, her phone balances precariously on that extended ankle.

Reaching gingerly down with the care one reserves for approaching a wounded animal, the result looking quite a bit like she's folding herself neatly in half, Arisa reaches out, gingerly acquires her phone, and sets it on the table as if it were a pressure sensitive tripwire, breathing out slowly.

After a pause, her brain seems to catch up with the rest of her and she turns to look at the person who spoke to her, who is instantly recognizable as Chevelle Beaumont. Arisa's mouth opens a second, then shuts again, and then she responds with idiosyncratic honesty: "It's fine? It kinda tastes like depression right now."

If Chevy had parked her keister any closer that sudden wild take would have had her jumping out of her own skin. But, from such a distance, it's easier for her to take it in stride with only a slight hesitation to her suntan application routine.

She reaches up to remove her sunglasses; she's angled in such a way that their services are not immediately urgent. Which... gives her more time to fully appreciate the manner in which Arisa both *drops* her phone, and *retrieves* it with uncanny timing. And this also means that Chevy's wide-eyed surprise is readily apparent.

The response, oddly, seems to take her by even more of a surprise. Barking out a brief chuckle, she notes, "... I think that gives me more questions than it answers, but I guess we should introduce ourselves first anyway?"

She laughs, tucking one long tendril of auburn hair aside as she kneads suntan lotion into the back of her neck. The first-gen fighter had kept up with most of the young prospects; she's had to do a bit more research for herself considering Ichika hasn't been around to explain everything for her. But, she does recognize the young demon huntress.

"You're... Arisa Hawkins, right?" She bares her teeth in a broad smile. "It's nice to finally meetcha! I'm Chevy."

A beat passes. And then she chirps up again. "Loved watchin' your fight against Rox. I'm glad to see someone breakin' out o-myo-jutsu on the battlefield!"

It isn't the first Japanese word she's mispronounced, and it won't be the last.

"Uh, yeah, I know who you are!" Arisa says, although later when she re-examines her reaction she's going to regret the tone in which she said it. Even in the present moment, though, she catches herself quickly. "I mean, we watched all of the first NFG season back home, at the restaurant," she explains, scratching the back of her neck for a second. "So you're pretty recognizable."

There's a second where the Texan breathes out huffily, staring out into the middle distance, before looking back at Chevy and trying her best to smile like a normal person for five seconds. "I'm sorry. You're right, Arisa is me," she says, giving a little wave that could have more pep in it, considering. "I wasn't tryin' to be rude. It's nice to meet you."

A pause, and while Chevy applies sunscreen, the Texan retrieves her boba and takes another big slurp-sounding pull from it, before setting the cup down in front of her again. "And thanks. I wish that fight had gone a little better, but what can you do. There's always gonna be a loser and a winner, you just have to give it your all and maybe do like, a sick kick-flip off a chariot, which I did." Internally, she wonders how Chevy even came to *recognize* onmyoujutsu, let alone try to pronounce it, but decides she's potentially offended enough for one conversation.

"Kind of a shame it'll probably be my only one," she admits, sighing.

Chevy smiles a lot. She'd been told it was a good way to chase away bad feelings. Considering the people telling her that were often the same people stressing her out in the first place, that might have been a little self-serving of them, but whatever! Smiling is just the way she goes about working through problems when she's got some measure of control.

That said, her smile does dim a few watts as Arisa barks back at her, though it does recover slightly as Arisa backpedals, and recovers fully as the Texan fully backtracks into an apology.

And then Chevy realizes she wasn't saying much of -anything- just then, and lowers her eyes in a symbolic apology of her own. "Oh, nah, I didn't..."

Didn't notice? She totally noticed. She cuts herself off, but her cheeks tinge red in a silent admission of guilt for the words she didn't even state yet.

"... It's all good! I mean, I'm sorry for surprisin' you like that!" She glances aside for a moment, before bringing her gaze back to Arisa. "That was from the shop over on deck twelve, right? That lil' lady always looks so happy to get customers!" If it tasted like depression, either Chevy's prone to seeing silver linings in everything, or she might just be off on her guesswork.

"... Ah, yeah." Chevy smiles sweetly, showing she's more interested in the conversation than in any of the details about the fight, per se. "That -was- pretty sick," she agrees. A twinkle lights up her baby blue eyes. It seems she might just pull out another detail from her memory...

Then Arisa's next statement actually deflates her smile entirely.

"... Whaddaya mean?"

She even stops with her suntan lotion application, folding both hands in her lap. Sunshines and rainbows are replaced with a look of big-sisterly concern from the freckle-marked hayseed.

"... I mean, it's... it's not -management-, is it?" Chevy allows herself a dark chuckle at that. The same 'management' that saw no trouble letting the literal embodiment of a phoenix god enter the last season. "... You're ... -choosin'- to leave?"

That sounds a -bit- judgmental -- and she pumps the brakes on that a little, injecting a bit more of her usual charm into her expression. She considers offering more words. But then she remembers: that trick never works.

Perhaps unexpectedly, Arisa's response to the initial question -- basically, 'are you being forced out?' -- gets a laugh of genuine amusement from the Texan, who shakes her head. "Nah, nothing like that," the Texan says, trying to sound... reassuring? There's a part of her that just wants to leave it at that, too. It's not like there's any shortage of small talk topics to explore, here, with coconut milk tea being merely one example.

She doesn't want to lay her burdens down at the foot of this woman who she's met only moments ago and, more importantly, who Arisa would love to pepper with questions about her experiences in the first season of this competition, or event, or whatever it is people think of it as. A semifinalist! Part of Team Thunder, a group of folks with supernatural abilities that obviously spoke to the half-oni American on a fundamental level.

"It's, uh..." she starts, then stops, a conspicuous pause all things considered.

The truth is, though, that Chevy might be the exact right person to ask. It's not as if things could have always been peaches and cream for the waterbender, right? There had to be a stumbling block at some point. Granted, it might not be as big as this one, but...

A mental Rubicon appears to be crossed.

"Miss Beaumont, if you don't mind my asking," Arisa asks, breaking the pause. "Did you ever have a point last season where you thought about just... leaving?" She pauses, then smirks a little bit. "Like that Da Share Zone thing? 'work, movies, home, international fighting tourney thing... just walk out'?"

Laughter is said to be the best medicine. It's... probably more effective when you're taking a full dose rather than politeness placebos. Smiles are a good middle ground, though -- and it doesn't take the Southern belle long to understand that it's something that has to be worked up to.

Besides, sitting up means she can get back to the task of suntan lotion. Even a few minutes without that mineral-laden SPF 50 sunscreen-slash-moisturizer will have the fair-skinned Beaumont burned to a crisp -- she can already feel the heat searing into her back.

When Arisa speaks, she'll find an eager listener in Chevy.. Eyelashes flutter as she nods along with every word... well. Right up until the conversation veers into hardcore memeologist territory. Caught without a browser open to the know-it-all site, the hayseed gives a vapid "Huh?" in response.

It wouldn't be the first time she's spoken before giving a matter her full consideration, though. And a moment afterwards, she realizes there were more things to respond to, there. She presses the lotion into her arms as she nods along.

"Oh. Well, yeah, of course." She offers an empty laugh. "I mean, I lost my first fight against Tamaki. And I love cars too much to've done much'a anythin' to that ol' Hearse in the bonus round."

She pauses as she ensures her elbows have proper coverage, thinking more on the matter.

"I warn't in a good place, that tournament. I mean, just seein' how everyone else was doin' so many more -cool- things than me. There warn't no chariots to kick flip off of, but Kenzo and Ayala sure did trash the heck out of that Nissan."

She's talking about a car.

Still -- she seems to be more interested in what Arisa has to say. So she leans forward, working the lotion into her thighs. "Er... but yeah. I had family in my corner. And all the friends I met. I had a lot of pros to outweigh the cons, it just took someone special to remind me of that."

She grins, toothily. Her eyes twinkle.

"My mother."

Arisa's face keeps swiveling between a sort of 'oh, cool!' fascination and a 'you wot mate?' confusion as Chevy's extended narrative of her time in season 1, but at the mention of the Carolinian's mother, she gives a little 'heh' and shakes her head, exhaling out the side of her mouth. "You saw that, huh?" she asks, though the question is rhetorical. After all, this whole conversation started when someone not-exactly snuck up on Arisa while she was holding her phone.

There's another slurp of boba, and then Arisa leans way back in her chair, so that her head is pointing up toward the spread of cotton-y clouds in the pale blue midday sky. "I haven't walked out yet," she explains, blinking a couple times. "But that whole thing in the second round, with whatsername and that... woman that tags along after her," Arisa says, waving a hand a bit; she could probably remember Max's name with a little more effort, but Dr. Maeda? Definitely not. "It really bothered me. REALLY bothered me. And the folks in charge weren't happy either," she says, sitting up. "I've just been thinkin'... maybe this really isn't for me."

A pause, and Arisa traces a vague shape with her fingertip on her phone; the screen lights up a second, then when it's clear she's not going to unlock it, turns right back off again. "My mom and dad, they run a barbecue back in Austin," she says, looking sidelong across the table at Chevy. "At least, they do now. Does good business. Last year we had the NFG on during dinner rush every weekend, felt like," the Texan explains. "Saw all y'all fight. Listened to the Ichikast, watched Tom and Lou's recaps. Made it seem like a lot of fun. So I signed up, and Mom wasn't thrilled about it, but she said," and here Arisa's voice drops almost an octave as she replicates her mother's voice and Texan accent, "'If you're gonna do it, do it right, then. We'll be watchin'.'"

The demon hunter (junior grade) looks back at her phone and sighs. "She's not gonna be mad. She IS gonna be disappointed, though."

Chevy's eyebrows raise, as she starts to shake her head fervently: "Uh-hh, I din't see your phone, with the--"

Chevy's cheeks grow even redder as she stops herself, cheeks dimpling as her lips press into a firm line. She's... -never- been good at fibbing.

Her embarassment is short-lived though, as she breaks the tension with a laugh. "Alright, you got me there. I tried -not- to look, but." She coughs lightly, slow-walking herself back to an apology. "Sorry."

The hayseed doesn't seem discouraged though. Arisa's honesty is a sign for her to keep going. Especially when she mentions... the thing that -wasn't- on camera. She remembers the names of both people, but discreetly opts not to volunteer them in this instance. "Mm-hmm...?"

The notion that the folks in charge weren't happy, and the idea that it isn't -for- her, though... Chevy's smile dims there, as she finishes applying lotion to her shins and feet.

"Mm-hmm," she answers, the pitch suggesting that she's -heard- Arisa, and doesn't disagree with the young Texan's appraisal, but might have some alternative insight.

But, well. Chevy is easily distracted by the idea that Arisa might have some silly animal pictures to show her on her phone. Or something. When the topic changes to something that is neither about Arisa's disenchanted nature -or- animal photos, Chevy lets out a brief gasp as her train of thought pulls out of the station without her.

She follows along, envisioning herself in that restaurant. Not just barbecue -- but -Austin- barbecue. She can't keep from licking her lips.

"Oh man. That is makin' my mouth water just thinkin' about it," she adds with a grin.

Miss Beaumont has had plenty of experiences aboard ship revolving around people watching the exploits of her and her comrades. It doesn't seem like she's tired of hearing them yet; she nods with rapt interest. And when the impression comes, she raises a hand to cover her mouth for a brief snicker.

"... I'm... gonna say somethin', and I don't mean no disrespect. I don't know your mom -- I cain't even pretend to know what goes along with that pretty accent of hers." She winks, in a moment of levity.

"But, for serious. Is this your first time outside of home? First time... -without- yer folks givin' you instant feedback?"

Perhaps to the car repair enthusiast's surprise, that gets a shake of the head. "Nah. I've been at UT Austin since a couple years ago. I mean, I live at home, because it's cheaper, but, well." How to explain the rest of it? Arisa's no fool; she KNOWS her home life would be weird, even by pro fighter standards. She's not ashamed of it at all, but it makes talking about it to other people difficult.

In the end, the Texan opts for: "Hawkins women are independent and Mom's no exception. The way she taught me, well... you never know if you're gonna be able to rely on anyone else in her line of wo--"

She catches herself just in time, then mumbles, "Barbecue's a cutthroat business in Texas." Sure it is, kid.

Still, Arisa gets Chevy's point, or at least what she THINKS OF as Chevy's point, which may or may not be accurate. A big slurp of the boba, which is on its proverbial last legs afterwards with only some dregs and all those tapioca pearls to go, before she continues. "I mean, it'll suck, but it's not like I'm havin' an existential crisis or anything," the Texan explains, running her finger around the rim of her cup. "And I don't, like... I don't NEED to be here. Heck, I took a semester off to do this; if anything, leaving might actually be a GOOD thing, get me back to school faster. It just..."

A pause, then a sigh. "Y'all looked like you were having fun out there, every time. And the podcasts and videos on social and all that, it made most people seem pretty friendly, with... you know, a couple exceptions." Let's just say the daughter of a demon hunter and an oni onmyouji had Opinions on the concept of Junko or Zarine as 'friendly options'. "And I don't know if you've figured this out yet, but I'm a litle weird myself, y'know?" A little grin. "Not a lot of people who fold a working origami katana out of ofuda paper on a college campus."

With one last loud slurp, Arisa greedily downs the end of her boba, then leans back in her chair and lets her head dangle over the back again, arms out to her sides. "The scorpion lady seemed nice. Then I showed up for that second fight and that kid and her... mom? handler? I don't even know... were just... that energy was all wrong. Sounded like people who were out to prove they were better than me instead of a one-on-one match, you know? So I left. I didn't sign up for that."

Sometimes, you see your shot and you just gotta take it. Sometimes, it even works out. This is not one of those times, though, and Chevy rubs the back of her neck with a faint laugh.

She explains herself, in that brief caesura while Arisa is trying to figure out how to explain things.

"Well, for -me-, NFG was the first time I got out from behind Momma's skirt." Chevy didn't ever take psychology class, and she'd had plenty of learning experiences to teach her that book learning just wasn't for her. So it's with a brief smile that she acknowledges that Arisa... -has- something else going for her.

And that it might be something involving... barbecue.
Which she can -definitely- acknowledge is a cutthroat business.
Even though she'd only experienced it from the lesser surrogates of Oklahoma and North Carolina.

"Aheh... yeah?"

Chevy has -reason- to suspect that it was an attempt to mislead her, but she doesn't... pursue the topic just yet. The wild jab at 'onmyoujutsu' was enough; she can't exactly -make- Arisa talk about something she doesn't want to share on this, their very first meeting ever. So she's content to just listen, drawing her legs up and wrapping her arms about her knees as she nods along.

Once she realizes that Arisa takes a jab at her own 'weirdness,' Chevy answers with a self-acknowledging chuckle of her own. "I hope this ain't a trap to catch me noddin' yes when I shouldn't." She punctuates that with a friendly smirk.

Still... Arisa's mystery is still intact. There's clues left to find. And when she talks about that fight again, she remembers the thought she was going to bring up.

She leans forward a bit, drawing her arms snugly about her knees. "What did you sign up for, Arisa? You got a great life waitin' for you at college. You got a mom who loves you lots. You got time to make somethin' with your life that -ain't- the 'cutthroat' Texas barbecue scene."

She smiles.

And she listens.

Well... that's a pretty good question, isn't it?

The Texan thinks back to meeting Al, on this very sun deck, in fact, over in the pool that she can't quite stop herself from suddenly looking at, to the possible confusion of Chevy, before Arisa turns back to her. She'd told him she was looking to 'make friends,' which is... more or less accurate?

Is it all she wants, though?

"S'a good question," she says out loud, airing the thought she had seconds ago. "I mean, I kinda know the answer. Like... look," the ashen-haired girl says, reaching down, grabbing her phone, tapping a few times to SOMETHING, and then turning around... a group photo of the NFG competitors from season 1. Why she'd be showing that to Chevy, who knows them all (and is clearly in the picture), is anyone's guess.

"You got you, the tanuki, though did anyone know that about her? I saw it straight away, but... yeah I'm babbling, anyway..." Arisa begins, talking pretty quickly. "Guy who turns his hands into snakes and bird wings and stuff. A vampire, I think? Isn't the girl with the pride flag hair like... a wizard?" She takes her phone back and turns it off, putting it back on the table. "It's all weird! Really weird!"

A pause, but only the briefest one, before the Texan leans forward across the table. "And that's just YOUR graduating class! I fought a lady with an actual freakin' scorpion tail like a Kamen Rider bad guy!" Thankfully Roxy (who might be offended) and Al (who wouldn't understand) aren't here, but she has a feeling Chevy might get it. "I got friends back at school. They're all cool, but like... they're all... I mean, they're normies. And I love them! But they're normies, which means there's stuff in life they just don't UNDERSTAND, you know?"

Cellphones have introduced a ton of new social situations that etiquette is still being developed to handle. Where do you look, when someone clearly wants to show you something on their phone? Do you try to awkwardly maintain eye contact, so that they can see you staring back at them when they see you in their periphery? Do you look toward the phone, putting undue pressure on them to maybe speed it up a bit? Do you look away with the aim of -not- applying pressure, at the risk of potentially giving the impression that you don't care? So many possible ways to proceed...

Chevy just picks the phone as the target of her focus. Seems safest! And when the phone is turned to her, she... is pleasantly surprised.

"Oh yeah, I remember that photo. It took forever to get it jus' right, between Buford shuttin' his eyes, or Hawksley or Buck jus' bein' a goof..."

She laughs, as Arisa shares her observation. "Yeah, yeah... we're all a little warped in our own ways, haha." The freckle-faced farm girl grins, leaning back and sweeping her bangs out of her eyes.

"The thing that ultimately convinced me to try out for NFG in the first place, was understandin'... that this *is* the place for me. Ain't no one gonna pay me what they pay me here just to wrangle hogs into a fence. And there ain't no way I can be happy doin' -that-... havin' met all kinds of people like y'all."

Yes. She included Arisa in that statement. And she shares a self-assured smile to make sure Arisa -recognizes- that.

"You're one of the nicest boats in the ocean right now, Miss Hawkins. Some people're gonna trash talk you every now an' again, sure. But you get that in the real world too -- and out there, you get a prison sentence 'stead of a paycheck if you try an' set 'em straight."

Chevy folds her arms behind her head, making a pillow for herself as she reclines in the lounger, folding one leg over the other.

"Anyway, who says you gotta put up with their sass, anyway? They got earplugs in the gift shop."

Maybe Chevy has chilled out -too much-, lately??!

Arisa very pointedly does NOT say: I'm a Texan with access to a rocket launcher. I don't take sass as a matter of personal policy.

Instead, she runs her hands through her hair and exhales sharply, cheeks puffing out briefly in the process. "It's not that. It's just... it's like you say, you know? The 'real' world's already got plenty of people in it who are gonna be jerks for no reason whatsoever, so why add to it?" she asks, looking carefully at Chevy and studying her reaction to that question.

A pause, and then a sigh as Arisa slumps back in her chair, practically sliding down it until her chin is nearly level with the table. "It's not like I couldn'ta defended myself. I absolutely could have. I just didn't WANT to. And that's probably the real issue?" she asks, voice lilting upwards in a questioning tone at the end. "Just makes me feel like this isn't a place I'm supposed to be. Like if I was, then none of that woulda bothered me."

After a second or two, she pulls herself up back into a fully sitting position and shrugs. "And like, that's fine! It's okay for me not to be right for this whole thing. I got a college career and a family brisket recipe waiting for me back in Austin."

One more pause, and then -- perhaps unexpectedly -- she adds, in a tone of genuine annoyance, "Honestly I don't even think the kid is the problem. They were just saying whatever, it all sounded like movie lines. That lady with her, though... well. If *my* Mom were present at that fight, she'da had some choice words for that lady, I promise you THAT."

Chevy leans back into the lounge chair. It's something of a treat to live here in the lap of luxury, soaking up the sun's rays aboard a fabulous cruise ship. It's a definite improvement from her days of working ten hours a day for minimal pay.

She does not, however, look away. Her baby blue eyes stay fixed on Arisa, showing that despite her laid-back posture, she's still listening to every word. Even if the Texan seems... uncomfortable? There would have been a time in which Chevy would be right on the edge of her seat, bobbing along in synchrony. But after her time with Junko...

It's not that Chevy has become jaded. But she's come to understand that projecting -her- hopes and dreams onto others can be a bit silly. And in some cases, dangerous. She's trying not to make that same mistake again.

"Yeah. You -do- have somethin' of a life outside'a this boat..."

She lets the thought hang in the air for a moment, flapping around in space until it can be swept away by the breeze of the cruise ship's motion.

But, just as she is about to unveil the kicker, well, Arisa has one of her own. And Chevy just swallows her words with a broad smile.

"Yeah, to tell the truth, I'da probably given her what for on your behalf."

Chevy didn't even see the footage. But she can tell she's on a similar wavelength to Arisa, in some respects.

Thankfully, she didn't -completely- forget what she was going to say.

"Miss Hawkins -- now, don't take this personal or nothin', but... just, y'know, food for thought."

She draws in her breath, breaking eye contact for a moment as she looks up -- trying to remember how her agent had worded the question to her. Once she does, she looks back down, flashing a guarded half-smile to Arisa.

"Do you think you'd be... satisfied, just leavin' this as it stands now? Just one fight under your belt, as proof that you tried out somethin' new?"

"Please," Arisa says, interjecting almost in the middle of Chevy's question with some haste, "I know it's probably just how you were raised, but I think if you call me 'Miss Hawkins' one more time I'm going to literally dissolve into component molecules and float away." The Texan's face shows a bright-eyed grin, perhaps the first real sign of amusement or happiness she's shown this entre conversation. "Arisa is fine. 'Miss Hawkins' makes me think of my grade school teachers being mad when I climbed trees in a skirt."

Lot of worldbuilding and backstory in that little anecdote, right there.

Still, matters of address aside, Chevy had a genuine question, and in an almost cartoonish expression of 'who knows?', the ash-haired young woman's arms come up at the elbow to either side of her head, palms facing behind her. "I wish I could tell. I mean... I did get one sweet highlight reel video out of it." She is being modest; it's not the only one by far, considering the numerous other people in the NFG and their many skills, but that one video from her fight with Roxana has... a LOT of views on FightTube. Like, a lot. "Maybe that's enough?"

Letting her arms fall into her lap with a *fwump*, she looks a little more downcast... or, perhaps, simply pensive. "But it would be fun to hang out with Al-kun a little more," she admits, thinking back to everyone's favorite knightly himbo. "And it's not like I could do that outside of..." A pause, a circular wave of the hand to encompass the Mermaid and, by extension, its current purpose.

Up until now, Chevy might have been convincing playing the role of 'big sister.' Might. When Arisa calls her out for, well, 'how she was raised,' that's enough to earn a snicker from of her.

Sharing the story of climbing trees in a skirt is enough to force a snort of laughter. After a light cough, she admits, "Ahhh, haha, yeah... those were the days, alright. Fair enough, Arisa." She shares a toothy grin -- from one tomboy to another!

So maybe a sister, just not a -whole- lot older. Which probably tracks.

Chevy listens to Arisa bargain her way through answering her question -- and nods along in an amiable enough fashion. "Yeah, I mean, fifteen minutes of fame -- check, right?" If Arisa -really- wants to go... it's probably clear that Chevy is on board with that.

"It is a lot of pressure, fightin' in front of other people. Knowin' that every single thing you do is gonna go up on FightTube. I mean, heck, I'm sure Winn is thanking whoever came up with the blur-out filter they used for Tanwen's last fight."

She shrugs helplessly, there. Who knows, indeed?

As Arisa continues the ping-pong match against her own feelings, Chevy's just as quick to join her on the other side of the table with a broad smile.

"Albert's good people, yeah. And heck, I don't... even know if the NFG would cover gettin' you off this ship early for anythin' less than health reasons..."

Chevy shifts herself slightly on her chair, stretching her arms just a bit, but mostly keeping herself anchored in place. She's -trying- to play it cool, as best she can.

"And it wouldn't -just- be Albert you get to hang out with, either. You could try and get in on the next group photo, an' make all your college buds jealous."

Chevy's eyes twinkle with the sliiiightest hint of mischief as she grins back.

"I mean, heck. There's a few days before our next fight card's up. Might could even squeeze in a few sparrin' matches, if you're interested."

All of this gets... well. A pretty big laugh out of Arisa, who -- when she recovers and leans forward a bit -- wipes a hand across her eyes before looking at Chevy with amusement. "You're RELENTLESS," the Texan says, matter-of-factly. She could hardly be faulted for saying so, either; a casual observer taking in this conversation would probably notice a decided pro-NFG... 'slant' is maybe too strong a word, but it's obvious what the Carolinian thinks Arisa should do.

Arisa shakes her head, then reaches both hands behind her and pushes her hair off the back of her neck. "Don't take this the wrong way, but that might be the strongest bit of your argument?" she adds, opening her eyes again and turning the cloud-grey gaze on Chevy. "Like, it's obvious whatever happened to you last season, you really found all this worthwhile, you know? Enough so that you'd go hard trying to convince someone you've barely met that she should reconsider leaving."

The Texan drums her fingers on the desk idly. "And you're right. I don't really wanna leave, per se," she says with a mild shrug of the shoulders. "I dunno. I gotta think it over some more. But I *will* think it over."

The comment about sparring matches before the next round, however, gets a faint grin out of Arisa, who raises an eyebrow. "You tryin' to say you're willing to beat up the new girl to convince her to stay? Kinda weird logic, Ms. Beaumont, if I'm bein' real." She grins at the end of this sentence, however.

"Relentless? Aw, heck, I'm barely at a five outta ten right now..." She flashes a shy smile, at that. But... ultimately, now that she's been called out on her aggressive sales pitchery, the farm girl just leans back and soaks up the sun. Her knee twitches, ever so slightly, but it seems like she's doing everything she can to keep that from happening.

"If I warn't sittin' on my hands I'd probably be fixin' you drinks and showin' you all kinda pitchers on my phone, hah!"

Still, she manages to keep her enthusiasm ratcheted back, out of respect for Arisa's personal space and/or sanity. And when it's brought up that she found the first season worthwhile, she nods quietly. "I was driftin' around without much of a clue of what I was gonna do in my life. And, maybe, halfway through the season, it just clicked, and I ain't looked back since. 'Sides from visiting the folks, of course."

Chevy might not have had a killer barbecue recipe or college life to look forward to there -- but she acknowledges that the circumstances are most decidedly different. And so when Arisa notes that she will think it over... Chevy nods with an enthusiastic smile.

"Yeah. You gotta do what's right for you. -I- feel like you fit in here, but I ain't to where I can see the whole pitcher..."

When she's exposed for suggesting -beating up- Arisa, though, Chevy wrinkles her nose, shaking her head in the negative. "Tch, naw. I ain't even got my buckets out here, most I'd be able to do is sling you into the pool. Don't sound like all that much beatdown, there!"

She cracks a grin -- though she does pause with a raised finger, afterwards.

"Oh, and -- unless you want me goin' back to my old habits -- just call me 'Chevy,' alright?"

Both hands come up in the air, palms out, at that. "Alright, Chevy it is," Arisa says, having required very little convincing to opt for the waterbender's first name only. There's a laugh at that, but then the Texan suddenly finds herself a little bit at a loss for words. She'd never been particularly *convinced* she needed to stay here -- her claim that the NFG was a choice, not a necessity, is genuine -- but she also, well...

The cloudy grey of her gaze heads towards the ship's bow, her field of vision including the sun deck swimming pool. "When I first ran into Al, out here, he said he'd never been in a swimming pool before," Arisa suddenly says, a bit of a non-sequitur. Turning to Chevy, she cracks a little self-deprecating grin. "Can you believe that? I teased him for it, but then I joked that maybe I should check my privilege a little bit. I was mostly joking, but... was I though?" A shrug. "Sorry if this comes out all wrong, but I guess I wasn't thinking about people for whom this is a make-or-break situation," the Texan says, biting her lip a bit, face scrunching somewhat in consternation. "Because I really CAN walk away if I want to, but what about people who probably couldn't?"

A moment of silence, and then Arisa makes a couple gestures with her hands, like weighing scales, before letting her arms flop bonelessly onto the table. "Maybe I've got rose-colored glasses on thinking this could all be friendly and sportsmanlike or whatever, you know?"

Chevy takes in a deep breath of the fresh springtime air. It's... nice, really, to have a good reason to bask in the glow of the sunshine without the urge to be -doing- something. This little chat with Arisa may have been just what the doctor ordered.

She does notice Arisa's shift of focus -- but doesn't think much of it until she starts to explain. And she does give the matter her full attention, once that happens, nodding with interest.


For once, Chevy doesn't have an immediate follow-up. She's got things to say -- but she can also reason that Arisa's trying to talk herself through whatever it is that's on her mind. So the redhead gives her that moment of opportunity to finish the thought.

And then... she draws in her breath, biting on her lip for a moment.

Is... Arisa talking about -her-, maybe?
... Probably not, she rationalizes a moment later.
Finally, though, she nods -- offering a light shrug. Which comes across weird as her arms are still making a pillow for the sunbather's head.

"I mean, it's -possible,- sure...? I like to say it's *been* pretty friendly and sportsmanlike this season, so far's the fights I'd been able to catch sight of. So it's definitely *possible*..."

Chevy pushes off the back of the lounge chair with her elbows, uncrossing her legs as she sits up more properly.

"I guess I ain't ever put so much thought into it before. Tryin' to figger out what's goin' on in other people's heads sounds like it could get exhaustin'."

"Ha! Yeah," Arisa says, in response to the idea that trying to mind-read other people's motivations would be tiring as hell. "Doesn't it just?" Internally, the Texan reflects on just how *direct* Chevy is, and for a second finds herself surprised to realize that the same thing -- the tendency to just Say The Truth -- is what made her want to keep talking to Albert, when the two first met. There's even a moment of her eyes going wide as she works that out.

Then she closes them and mutters, "Maybe if I'd been more like you two, it wouldn't have..." She's not intentionally attempting to hear Chevy from hearing that, but there's also every indicator that she doesn't 100% even know she's saying it aloud, but the thought doesn't get finished either way.

Then she opens her eyes again and the moment passes.

"'Sportsmanlike' probably isn't even the right word. I guess they threw the footage they had to that point out, so there's no record of it, and boy, hearing myself say that sentence, I hadn't realized how much this was bugging me," the Texan says, blinking in surprise at the sudden realization. "You're probably the first person I'm really TALKING to about it. I mentioned it to Al-kun, but... well. He's a great guy, but I don't think complex conversation is 100% his cup of tea. And truly, I think it would have harshed his vibe a little too hard and the enthusiastic puppy energy is part of his charm."

NFG love triangle veteran Chevelle Beaumont is PROBABLY hearing some familiar energy in what Arisa's saying. What she plans to do with that realization, if she has it, is anyone's guess.

Chevy reaches up and pulls the hat from her head, setting it beside her on the lounge chair as she nods. A pleased smile crosses her lips; satisfied that she's communicated the point about sticking with the NFG, and reassured that Arisa -is- giving real consideration to the option of staying in the league, she's free of the need for cheerleading quite as much as she had been.

But, there is still a bit of a gulf in communication between the two. Chevy is ... honest to a fault, but she's still missing some details.

Like, any sort of knowledge as to what -actually- happened between Arisa, Max, and Dr Maeda.

"... Yeah, I..." Her eyes widen for a moment as she glances aside in a moment of self-reflection. "I cain't exactly say -I'm- the best at complex conversation, to tell the truth..."

She laughs softly, as she turns her baby blue eyes back to Arisa. "But I mean, nah, I didn't see or hear the p'ticulars, but I can fill in the gaps. Max is lab-grown, home-schooled, ain't picked up the right social skills. And I'm guessin' Doc M was her teacher, so..."

Her lips had started to form the shape of a 'b'. But then she draws in her breath and smiles, as she knows she's talking to a Texan.

"It's a little cliche for us Southerners to say it now, ain't it?"

Fingers sift through auburn locks as she shares a smile with Arisa.

"Where's he from, anyway? Albert, I mean. I thought everywhere had swimmin' pools!"

Okay, see, nobody conveyed THAT piece of information to Arisa, which would explain why her reaction to Chevy casually saying 'lab-grown' throws her for a very visible loop... not that reading Arisa's reactions to things is hard, as she is probably a pretty terrible poker player too. "I'm sorry, Max was what?" Her brow scrunches up as she tries to remember anything about Max the competitor, and comes up more or less blank.

"Gonna be real with you, I didn't do a lot of reading up on the competition?" she says to Chevy, sounding both embarassed but also with a degree of consternation in her voice... born of self-reproach, perhaps. "I thought, 'well I'll meet 'em in the ring so, it'll be fine'. I know looking at her that Max ain't exactly Factory Defaults, but, you know," the ashen-haired young woman says, reflecting briefly on her own non-discernible but definitively unusual heritage, "who is?"

A pause. "Plus that interview she gave was just her mad scientist-looking 'mom' talking and--" A hand gesture, commonly known, for 'yap yap yap', "--I kinda tuned out, tee bee aych?"

There's a moment of silence while she sits with that information for a bit. 'Lab-grown' can mean a lot of things, especially to the daughter of a highly experienced demon huntress. It would definitely explain some of the things that got said, though.

And then, out of the silence like an ambushing ninja, Arisa snaps her fingers. "Oh! Sorry. Germany, I think. Out in the country, on a farm somewhere, he said."

Chevy blinks in surprise. Without Ichika around, she'd had to do her own research on the new entrants, so she'd just... assumed other people had done their own research too. But having said that, and it being a -surprise- to Arisa, Chevy actually looks downwards with a little embarassment at being so blase about the pair.

"I mean, I... I'unno. Somethin' I picked up, maybe it ain't the nicest way she might like to be called." She laughs unsteadily, scratching at the back of her scalp.

"But, yeah... Dr Maeda said in their interview, somethin' about her bein' a Gear, and a bio-weapon an' all. And she can do that shape-shifty thing to make herself bigger, kinda like Braun." She laughs awkwardly for a moment, folding up her legs to sit criss-cross applesauce on the lounge chair, fingertips laced comfortably in her lap.

Chevy smiles faintly, as she thinks to herself for a moment. "But yeah. I don't know if Kahuna and Roxana have similar stories or what, but I wouldn't put it past 'em. Maybe Coco knows a lil' more, but even if she -is- bein' all pally with me I doubt she'd tell me much."

She looks over at Arisa, smiling once Arisa recalls Albert's country of origin. "Oh! So he's a farm kid like Buck an' me! Maybe we -do- have more in common then..."

While it's certainly possible for the average person to know what Gears are, after the whole Justice thing over in Japan and the UN's involvement, when that all went down, Arisa Hawkins was a mere, tender 12 years of age. 'Mere' and 'tender' is a bit precious, since by then she was already being taught how to shoot by her mother and how to turn ofuda origami into weapons by her father... but that was all safely at home, more a way to bond with their kid than anything else.

It's not like the Texas public school system ever had her write a history paper about that or anything, and while there are some Wikipedia loops you can get unexpectedly trapped in at 2am, that's probably not a likely one.

"Oh, right. The, uh..." She snaps her fingers a couple time. "...yeah I got nothing. I was little when that all went down. Huh." The idea that Max isn't even a human being didn't really enter her mind at all. With Roxana -- not that Arisa knows she's a Gear either -- she assumed Rox just had some sort of Darkstalker heritage or something of that sort.


"I'll level with you, Chevy," the Texan says, her lips suddenly pursing into a thin line, her jaw set, as if she were preparing to stick her hand in a lobster case at a grocery store. "I'm not gonna judge 'em for that. Truth is, I'm not entirely human myself," she admits. It's not something she's shared with any other NFG folks she's met, and she DEFINITELY didn't share it with the NFG organizers herself. "I don't have any cool powers because of it or anything, though. Well, not that a normal human couldn't learn on their own."

A brief pause, then a sigh. "Truth be told, you'd have to be not paying attention to notice pro fighting gets more than its fair share of Darkstalkers and people with weirdo powers and all sorts of other stuff and, well... I don't have a lot of friends like that. Don't get me wrong -- I love the friends I have, a lot! But sometimes you wanna talk to somebody who's gonna get what you're saying, you know?"

Chevy shakes her head in commisseration. Likewise, she has nothing to offer. "Yeah, same here. Only gears I ever looked into was the kind in flywheels and rack-and-pinion steering. If it warn't for the internet I wouldn'ta even known what folks was sayin' about those two..."

The breeze keeps the temperature tolerable for the moment. Any hotter and it's quite likely the waterbender would seek to cool off by diving right into the nearby pool. For now, she's perfectly content to nod along as the Texan confides with her. Chevy's widening eyes show that the news comes as a bit of a surprise.

"Oh, really?" she interjects, but hushes in order to listen to the admissions.

She seems a little... -concerned-, actually, considering she's not a Gear and she's not a Darkstalker. She does, however, note with a growing smile that she falls into the third category mentioned.

"Well, yeah. I got weirdo powers, so you can always count on me to sort things out with you."

She flashes a toothy grin. It's all in good fun, of course!

"Though, I know you're still makin' up your mind an' all... offer's open to chat, even if you -do- end up headin' back to college or whatnot."

She ponders for a moment... and then her smile fades, as she gets a more serious look on her face. She also lowers her voice -- so as to make it harder in case eavesdroppers might be walking by.

"... does it make life more complicated for you? Er, y'know, the 'not-so-human' part?"

"Nah," is Arisa's response, and there's nothing about it that suggests she's being anything but truthful, despite the dismissive wave of her hand. "It's 'cause I pass. Like yeah I got weirdo youkai blood, but I don't have to do anything special to look or act totally, 100% human. And as long as I'm admitting stuff, my mom -- the American -- is a demon hunter." A faint flash of a grin from Arisa. "If anyone's an expert on knowing little tells or whatever, it's her."

It's the truth: Arisa has had a comfortable life and her oni heritage has never been a source of anything other than interest, or even sometimes joy, in her life. Not everyone is that lucky, and she well knows it, too, because there are people out there she knows *personally* who CAN'T pass the way she can. Who take night jobs in remote places so normies won't call the cops.

"This stuff... it's between us, okay?" she says to Chevy, briefly all seriousness. "I'm not ashamed or anything, but people can be a little weird about it and I don't need that energy in my life right now. Plus, you know, you were there for season one," the Texan adds, raising an eyebrow. "You know how people got about whatsername with all the burns, and the vampire lady, and stuff. For now I've got my hands full being Just Arisa."

Yes, Chevy knows all about whatsername. The main reason she's not flipping out from Arisa's revelation is the fact that the nascent waterbender didn't have to pry it out of her. Constant conversation keeps Miss Beaumont's mind from wandering -- thus allowing Arisa to keep full grasp upon her short attention span.

"... Youkai..." mumbles Chevy, turning the words about as if some exotic delicacy. Saying it aloud helps her remember it -- though, she does not to encourage Arisa to continue talking. She picked up a working knowledge of 'aizuchi' during her time in Southtown -- just don't expect her to know that one by name.

She's still keeping her voice low as she responds. "Mm-hmm? Oh, yeah... I won't tell anyone else, promise." She punctuates that assurance with a bright little smile -- which might seem disingenuous for anyone who doesn't know really know how honest Chevy can -be-, really!

"... I guess that means your paw and maw get along good, huh?" She grins. "So I'm guessin' you grew up here, right? D'you ever go to Japan? I loved it over there, it was real nice seein' how all the old buildin's were all jumbled together with the new!"

"She, uh... she saved his life," Arisa says in response, a little more quietly than she intended to. Putting a finger on it would be hard, but there is something about Chevy that makes her easy to talk to. Perhaps, after all, it's the fresh-faced honesty she projects. Maybe it's that she'd never even met Arisa before today, but still decided to spend the better part of an hour convincing her to stick with the NFG.

"'Youkai'," she says, being deliberate about it since Chevy had repeated the term, "is... I mean, it's a lot of different things. Kinda like how 'monster' can mean a werewolf or a fishman or whatever. It's just like with people. A lot of them that look human-ish, like Dad does, live pretty normal lives." Arisa scratches the back of her neck a bit. "Sorry. Started up a TED talk outta nowhere, I guess? You don't need to know all that. But Mom was never the type to hunt down somebody that wasn't hurting anyone, just trying to live their life," the Texan continues. "That's how I feel too. If this were a comic book they'd be calling me 'child of two worlds or whatever' but..."

Suddenly, the ashen-haired girl makes a gun shape with her finger and yanks her hand back, 'firing' her finger gun with a smile, and turning on a LITTLE bit of Texan accent that she doesn't normally use, figuring Chevy will appreciate it. "My momma took me out to the mountains to learn how to shoot, and my daddy made me climb Mt. Fuji with him so I see where else I came from." The smile widens a little, the accent dropping to her normal way of speaking. "I'm the luckiest girl alive. Being different made me strong."

While Arisa might see that as a devotion of her time, Chevy does have -something- of an ulterior motive at work. It's nothing sinister though -- just that she likes to talk with interesting people!

She saved his life? Oh... well, maybe Chevy -did- just insinuate that the demon hunter uses the threat of extinction to keep him in line, in a roundabout if conversational way. She cracks a smile, all the same, to show she's interested in hearing more. Also ... she reminds herself to relax a little bit, unfurling her legs and planting her palms on the lounge chair. After all, her -other- ulterior motive is letting her skin roast under the sun's carcinogenic rays.

"You don't gotta apologize, I like gettin' to know more about'cha." She's interested in hearing whatever Arisa has to offer -- but makes it clear she's not -trying- to pry, at least.

She -does- flinch, though, when the 'gun' gesture is pointed at her. With how the NFG operates, there's always at least some -baseline- level of threat that can go along with someone making a gesture like that. But once she realizes it is, indeed, a joke, she leans into it, crossing her hands over her heart and reeling backwards with a shudder.

"... Man, y'all got to go to Mount Fuji together, too!" With her hands back on the lounge chair, she pitches forward a few degrees. "I really didn't put a whole lot of stock into climbin' mountains afore I came here. But goin' to Mount Shasta with Buck and Ichika, that..." She pauses a moment to catch her breath, at the memory.

"I'm glad to know your folks are still a big part of your life. I got to spend lots of time with Buck's family over the holidays. He's an Oklahoma boy, you know? And... just seein' how they all do things was an eye-opener."

She draws in her breath, swelling up with emotion at the memory. "It's a grand ol' time, yeah."

There's a tilt to the side of Arisa's head again, as Chevy starts talking about Buck, and then the faintest hint of a smile that grows out of it. Is the Texan aware of the vibes she was giving off herself when discussing Albert? No. Can she see... well, not entirely equivalent, as Arisa merely finds the German cute... but similar energy on Chevy's face as she talks about Buck? Yuuuuuuuup.

"Actually..." There's a pause, and then the ashen-haired girl actually clears her throat, sitting up. Nothing in her interactions with Chevy so far has suggested that the Texan is even remotely uncomfortable with... well, basically anything. Considering Chevy is functionally a celebrity here, and a total stranger besides, the expectation that she would be a little more cagey, a little more cowed, is not off the mark.

NOW, though, she does look a little... uncomfortable.

"If you don't mind me asking... well, okay," she says, watching Chevy's reaction carefully. "I dunno how much you know this, because you were just, you know, LIVING IT at the time, but like... the NFG broadcast people, they really seemed to love playing up this love... well, not love, maybe like, like 'like' like... triangle with you and Coco and Hawksley." She used 'like' FOUR TIMES IN A ROW there, folks. You didn't imagine it.

Is awkward dating discussion Arisa's kryptonite?

"ANYHOW I know that ended up going different ways for all three of you, and since you brought up Buck just now, did, uh..." A furrowed brow for a moment, and she actually turns to look out at the sea, before turning back to Chevy. "Was it hard? Having an entire media whatever commenting on that stuff all the time?"

Chevy only really knows that Arisa has spent more time with Albert than darn near anyone else in the NFG. That knowledge comes courtesy of Arisa -mentioning- him more than darn near anyone else in the NFG. It's enough of a hint that she might have feelings for the boy, but... well, up until now, she hasn't really had enough info to really pounce on that particular upraised length of thread.

Once Arisa clears her throat, Chevy tilts her head to a similar angle. Blood flows into her cheeks as the Carolina girl breaks into a pleased smile. "Actually?" She knows that Arisa's good at reading her expression, so she makes sure she radiates some big 'Please, do go on!' energy.

When the notion of an actual -triangle- comes to light, she just gets the -biggest- smile.

"It warn't hard, naw."
She actually laughs.
For a few seconds.

She runs fingers through her hair, composing herself to throw a blanket on the doubts that she's -lost her mind-.

"Naw, it warn't a thing. I cain't live my life right without knowin' the truth. So if I'd had somethin' to ask Hawksley, I just up an' did it."

She cradles her wrist in one hand, bringing them both close to her heart. She closes her eyes for a moment -- the sincere Southerner considering how much of her heart she really wants to expose to this near-stranger. And after a swell of breath, she continues, her eyes lifting up to Arisa's.

"I cain't speak for Coco and Hawksley, but I can speak for me. And as I done told him the first time we met -- he reminds me of my Paw."

And, then, she snickers. "And I loved my Paw. We were like peanut butter and jelly, right up until he died in that bar fight. So... it felt like reconnectin' with the old man, more'n anythin' else."

She pauses to let that set in a moment, running fingers through her hair again as a calming gesture.

It's a few moments before she adds to that. "Whereas Buck... he don't feel like that. I feel like I could run with him forever."

She looks down for a moment, mentally winding her way back to the earlier conversation. "Oh, so, um... " Looking back up with a bright expression, she adds, "The media's just a side benefit. It's like, the media invents this 'mirror' of whoever they want you to be for a moment. That mirror looks like you, it walks and talks like you -- but it ain't you. Once you get used to that, it ain't so hard to square up!"

Well, this Took A Turn, as the kids say (the kids no longer say this). Arisa is listening to Chevy's amused-seeming discussion of the probably-a-media-construction 'love triangle' of NFG season 1 with the goofy smile of a fan getting inside info, right up to the moment where the Carolinian casually mentions her dad, whom Hawksley reminded her of, dying in a bar fight.

Arisa's face falls, pretty much instantly, into a look combining horrified embarrassment with no small amount of regret. Eyes lowered, she clears her throat once Chevy has said her peace. "I'm sorry," she says, deeply subdued. "I didn't mean to dredge up unhappy memories."

If there's a theme to this conversation in its entirety, it's that Arisa knows she's lucky: she comes from a family of comfortable means, with parents that love her, and with a huge range of opportunities in front of her to pursue. For a half-human kid only 19 years old, it could be so much worse.

By that metric, is worrying about whether or not the NFG is 'right' for her an effective use of her time, all told?

Clearing her throat after what is almost certainly going to be a briefly uncomfortable silence, Arisa gives Chevy a helpless little laugh. "Oh that's DEFINITELY the case. I know I haven't been in their crosshairs much but I gotta find out what kinda substances Tom and Lou are taking before they do those promos because it's probably the good stuff. I am pretty sure they're 'right' about all of us maybe 50% of the time."

Chevy's open about her past simply because she's had time to come to grips with it. She does, though, feel a -little- guilty when her unfettered honesty brings about an understandably embarassed response from Arisa. With a small half-chuckle, she she shakes her head. "... Oh, honestly, it ain't dredgin'. Dredgin's totally different. You should watch it sometime! Sometimes they just stick a CAT excavator out on a barge..."

And then to demonstrate, she stands up for a moment, balancing on a seam of the deck like she's on the edge of some steep cliff. Teetering forward, she makes it seem as if she's trying to grab something off the deck. "... an' it just like retch over and -scoops- mud right over the edge! It's a small miracle the excavator don't just tip right into the sound like that."

Levity? More than a little -- and Chevy's grinning up a storm as she sits back down on the edge of her lounge chair. "But naw, seriously. It ain't no big deal to me now, took me most of last year to work through." She smiles, making sure that her tonal shift is given a moment to breathe.

"Hawksley reminds me of everythin' *good* about my Paw. All growin' up folks, told me he was a dummy and a drunk, but..." Smiling cheerily, she draws in her breath; her cheeks darken to show how strongly she believes in him. And Hawksley, in a way. "He may've been a drunk but he warn't no dummy. I can see that now, his heart was always strong as can be."

She may not be as lucky as Arisa, or as drunk as Lucky, or as... okay let's stop.

"Fifty percent?" inquires Chevy. She seems unconvinced. "... When they ain't runnin' offsides, *maybe*."

The hayseed shrugs her shoulders mildly. "All I'm tryin' to say is, just be true to yourself. I've got an agent -- friend of the family, really -- who helps me wade through the social media waters. Dev... kinda just took care of the rest for me, so no, with Dev's help, it -warn't- a big deal."

Today we all learned an important lesson about dredging! Arisa wears a sort of fascinated expression at Chevy's 60-ish degree turn into heavy construction equipment, complete with accompanying gestures, but toward the end of it, the Texan can't help but laugh at this. That, she reflects, might have been the whole point from the jump. "Are you forklift certified?" Arisa asks, nonchalant. "I feel like you're about to tell me you're forklift certified."

The idea that Chevy has an AGENT seems to throw her for a loop, but getting a briefly quizzical look, Arisa seems to shift to pondering that and realizes it makes a sort of sense. "I suppose that makes sense. After all, you were a semi-finalist, and uh... well. It felt like Team Thunder really had the media's love, anyway."

A brief pause, and then Arisa gets an almost wicked smile on her face. "I can tell you that you specifically were a big hit in the '18 to 30-year-old Texan boys who eat barbecue' demographic, if conversations at the tables were anything to go by." She brings her hands to her chest off to the sides, as if hitching up suspenders. "'That's an all-American girl, right there,' they'd say, pointing at the TVs. I dunno your level of patriotism but I'm PRETTY sure it was a compliment."

There's a lull for a moment, presumably to let that sink in, before Arisa's idle thumb taps her phone and she blinks at the screen in surprise. "Oh wow I had no idea it had gotten so late!" Thumbing the phone off, she puts it in a pocket and turns to Chevy. "Hey... I dunno what it was you were planning to do with your afternoon, but thanks for spending some of it talking to me. It really helped me, anyway, and you could just as easily have walked right on by."

The Texan's laughing! That's good.
The Texan then brings up forklift certification.
And for a brief instant, there is a flash of horror in Chevy's eyes.
She wasn't upset talking about her Paw.
But she tried not to think about *that* part of the swine farm biz.

"N-naw," she responds with a sober smile. "That was Sanchez's job..." ... Once she realizes it was just a moment of levity, though, she laughs softly to keep from dwelling too long in the darkness.

The idea that Team Thunder had 'media love' does get a more honest laugh out of Miss Beaumont. "Yeah, we really lucked out there. All our mentors were fantastic -- I love 'em to bits -- but it really seemed like Princess Lightheart made it her personal mission to make sure we had plenty of coverage.

She ... blinks, afterwards, at the extended discussion of how well she played to certain demographics. For once, the talkative Carolinian finds herself at a momentary loss for words -- though her reddening cheeks may explain some of that. "Mm... " Looking away for a moment, she rubs the back of her neck as she considers a response. "... Ah s'pose I'll -take- it as a compliment, yeah," she concludes, upon looking back to Arisa with a shy smile.

Her embarassment and erubescence fade nearly instantly with the sudden announcement of... well, lateness! Sitting bolt upright, Chevy folds both hands in her lap as if she'd been suddenly called upon during math class. "Uh! Oh, it was... basically just this, really!" She pats her thighs -- still warm, and a couple shades darker than the start of the Odyssey voyage. "Tryin' to get to where I don't blind people with my pasty white skin!"

She flashes a broader smile, nodding along. "And I was more'n happy to talk with you. I hate I didn't get to talk to you afore just now, but it's felt, like... totally non-stop, y'know?"

She looks down at the phone for a moment, and she looks to be -thinking- for a moment, again, before she speaks.

"If I can offer some more advice, though?"

Chevy smiles -- waiting for permission before she speaks.

"Just hit 'Dial' and figure it out as you go. Keeps you from thinkin' things overmuch."

Log created on 21:50:58 05/13/2024 by Chevy, and last modified on 06:03:47 05/21/2024.