Girl Talk 4 - Live Free Or Girl Talk
Chapter 9: Steam City
Walking into the kitchen area, Melisande saw Blazingtail cooking something with the help of Akito. It seemed that everyone was getting tired of having fur in their food. She saw a head of bright crimson hair and a dark green feathered wing out of the corner of her eye. Walking up to the Icari, she clutched harder to the pants in her hands, and stammered, "Harriet...I---I realize you did not mean to hurt me. Yet, I must admit it still pains me. I...I found your pants interesting and thought we could discuss them."
Harriet shifted in her seat slightly, avoiding making eye contact with her friend. It was clear the girl was still guilty about upsetting Melisande. Her thumbs came together and as she fidgeted them against each other. “Yeah...” she mumbled. “Let’s talk about them.”
"Umm...well I found them incredibly well made. Can an Icari make something of this quality? I noticed writing was difficult for you." She put the pants on the eating table in front of them. Harriet looked at them for a moment before snatching them up herself. “Oh, no one back home made these!” she exclaimed as she stood to finally put her pants back on. “We got someone with those handy things to make them.” Melisande asked in a perplex whisper more to herself than to Harriet, "Um...you haven't been wearing pants for this long?" Harriet ignored, or more likely didn’t notice, Melisande’s question.
Harriet managed a small awkward chuckle, waving her wings in front of Melisande slightly as she did. “These aren’t very good for stitching!” Melisande cracked a smile, "Of course. I should have known. Did you use money or did you trade something for them?" Harriet thought a bit as she did her pants up around her underwear. “Well, we gave him a lot of meat! We always have lots of meat!” Harriet nodded slightly, as if agreeing with herself. “Everyone loves meat.”
"Most do," finding herself smiling again in Harriet's matter of fact enthusiasm over something so simple, Melisande felt comfortable enough to sit down next to her. The woman noticed the two large brown items in the bird girl's open pack. She had been meaning to ask her about that, but first she had other things to finish, "The clasps on the side. They look a bit different than the ones I've usually seen and are a bit larger. Can you tell me anything about those?"
Harriet reached down and rubbed the two clasps on either side of her pants; they kept the open sides from coming apart and the shorts from falling off. “Well how else am I gonna keep them on?” she asked in response.
Melisande giggled slightly, she found herself warming up to her feather friend in spite of herself. The pants were pretty much short shorts. The blue denim was of fine quality and Harriet's back pockets had embroidery to define them with an abstract design on the pocket. She figured that the design was standard and had no meaning to the Icari as she had seen it on people before. The two clasps were large and simple enough for a three year old child to have no problem with, yet secure enough as to not disconnect unexpectedly.. She noted the pair in the pack looked like a khaki material and were brown.
"Well, I just found them unusual. Did the tailor create this particular design or is this common in Icari clothing?" Melisande assumed that was all she was going to get out of Harriet on the subject and found herself increasingly eyeing that strange brown tubular items in her pack. Harriet looked down at her shorts again and thought. “I just wanted something nice. I think they look good!” she said smiling happily.
"Yes they do. I think they suit you well. I noticed a brown item in your pack that seems to be covered in a clear wrapping. What is that?" Melisande finally asked. Harriet looked in her pack as she thought about the question. “Brown thing...?” she mumbled to herself. Then her face lit up as she realized what she meant. “Oh! That’s my just in case food!” she said matter-of-factly. “Why, did you want some?” The girl asked bluntly, sounding unusually hostile considering her usual demeanor.
"Well, what exactly is it? May I see this item?" Melisande replied politely. Harriet looked at the brown thing in her pack, then back to Melisande, then back to the brown thing, before finally responding. “Well, I guess you can...” she mumbled, her voice wavering with uncertainty. “But you have to promise not to eat it! I’ll probably have to go all the way home to get more!” she exclaimed in a childishly demanding tone as she reached into the open pack on the table and gently picked up the wrapped item, handing it to Melisande, “They’re not very tasty but I wouldn't wanna go around without one!”
Melisande almost dropped it immediately and had to put it on the table. She was shocked at how heavy it was. She noted how strange it smelled and how slick the amber liquid that covered it was when she ran her finger across it. She almost didn't know where to start, "'Just in case food?' So like a food ration? This is awfully heavy. What is in this?"
Harriet nodded in response to it being like a ration. “Yep. One of them will last me a whole day! They’re pretty neat!” she said cheerfully. “There is lots and lots of stuff in them! That’s why they’re so heavy!”
"What kind of things? How was this made?" Melisande began to stare at it in deep contemplation. Harriet tapped her chin in thought, though not for long. “Meat! Lots of it! Everyone loves meat!” the girl chirped happily. “I could make more myself but I don’t have what I’d need...” the girl mumbled with a sigh. “I’d need a press and a lot of our special cooking stuff too...”
“I may not look it, but I’m a good cook! I promise!” Harriet said with a laugh and smile. Melisande raised her eyebrow, not really believing her, but then remembered the time she almost burnt down the military academy in Lekly during cooking class. She touched the sausage looking object, noting again how hard it was. An Icari would have to swallow it whole. She wasn't sure she could find a knife sharp and strong enough to cut through it. Looking at the amber liquid, she questioned, "And what is this exactly?"
Harriet tilted her head and looked at what Melisande was referring to. She stared at the viscous amber goo for a moment as the wheels in her head turned before connecting the dots suddenly. “Oh! That’s our special cooking stuff! We use it in everything!” Harriet said with a smile and nod. A spot of drool escaped the side of her lips, presumably from thinking about Icari home cooking. “I haven’t had it in a while...” the girl mumbled to herself under her breath, though she swiftly regained her senses. For a brief moment she looked as if she had been about to snatch the thing from Melisande’s hands and gobble it up, but she did need those blocks, after all. “You can taste it if you want... but only a bit!” she said, hastily adding the last bit when she realized what she’d said.
When she looked at Harriet, Melisande realized the importance of whatever this liquid over this ration was to her and her people. She should have felt honored, but instead felt trepidation. She looked at Harriet and was reminded of before. She knew there would be more times Harriet wouldn't understand how humans operated, how she operated, and Melisande wasn't sure if she could take it again. Subconsciously, she inched away from Harriet as she dipped her finger into the ration. Out of the corner of her eye Melisande could make out Harriet salivating once again.
The liquid was more like a gelatin at this point, and slipped right off of Melisande's finger. She put a piece of the semisolid back on to her finger with the help of her other hand, only for it to slip off again. Finally, she managed to get a smaller piece, the size of her finger tip, on to her finger. Sniffing it, Melisande wasn't sure if she should put it in her mouth. It smelled like lard, bacon grease, and old meat that had been out in the sun for hours on a hot day. Against her better judgement, she put her finger in her mouth. It tasted exactly like it smelled and wiggled down her throat.
Sitting there in silence looking at the Icari wanting approval, Melisande suddenly felt a sudden intense feeling rush over her and patted her stomach, "I...I...Harriet is this---" Harriet sucked in the drool leaking out of the side of her mouth and chirped happily in response. “Yeah, it’s good, right! It’s the best stuff in the world!” Clearly Icari taste and that of humans didn't quite match up if she thought it was delicious.
Before Melisande could respond the two girls suddenly heard a bunch of the crew members laughing and talking loudly in the main hall, "Who's panties are these?!"
The two of them headed over to the main hall, Harriet (Who looked oddly excited and expectant) first, with Melisande lagging behind. When the woman made her way into the crowd of laughing and curious crew, she saw what caused their interest. Another pair of her underwear, this one black with little silver shimmering gemstones, sat in the middle of a large banner. There was a big heart drawn around the garment, with little streamer like swirls, stars, hearts, and little swords or at least attempts of them around the heart. There were big words on the top of it, "IM SoRY!"
Quickly, she went up to the banner and removed the offending undergarment from the gaze of the snickering group. Melisande blushed and felt a wave of embarrassment over her. She walked away from them dazed, unable to process what one of them said to her, let alone who said it. It was then she turned to Harriet, who looked up at her with sparkly eyes and a wide smile on her face.
"Harriet...I," Finding words useless, she bent down to the bird's level and wrapped her arms around her, "Thank you."