#Nate'sApartment – May 22, 2018

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It's early evening on the 4th of December. Nate had sent a message to Leah and Tara earlier that day to tell them to around sometime around seven. His apartment is located in the more vibrant end of town, amongst the businesses and more social aspects of Falls. The building is one of the few tall ones and his place is located up on the third floor. The lobby to the building makes an attempt at feeling homely with a potted plant that

seems to have rarely seen water.

Leah and Tara arrive roughly around the time they were expected, thanks to a lift from the friendly neighborhood Jasper. If only Vasquez knew just how often ol' Betsy is used as a personal taxi. Unsure of just how formal of an occasion Nathan was expecting, Leah put about as much effort into getting dressed up as she usually does. That is to say: none. Form fitting black pants, clunky unlaced boots, and a simple light blue

t-shirt beneath her dark green canvas jacket. Her hair is pulled back into its usual ponytail. Some effort was at least made to conceal the bruising along her cheekbone, but it still manages to show through. She continues to poke at the split in her lip as she backs away from the shuttle, waving to Jasper in the process. "Thanks for the ride!" she calls out before turning towards the building.

Tara is wearing a pair of simple blue jeans and a two-layered, long-sleeved t-shirt in red and orange under her winter coat with associated knit hat, scarf and mittens. She gives Jasper a small wave before following closely after Leah.

There's two doors, one marked as staircase whilst the other is signed as elevator. Almost as if on cue, the elevator doors open and an asari walks arm in arm with a human male in his mid twenties, the pair talking between themselves with the doe eyed look of young loves. They spare a quick smile and polite nod to Tara and Leah before passing by and into the evening life of Freedom Falls.

Leah kicks through the bit of snow on the ground as she makes her way up to the door. She holds it open for Tara and the pair enter into the lobby. She passes a polite smile towards the couple, making sure to step out of their way before continuing into the now-open elevator. With a raise of her eyebrows, she passes a bright smile Tara's way. "You hungry?" she asks enthusiastically.

Tara furrows her eyebrows slightly, the nod coming only after a moment's delay. Her gaze is travelling curiously about the interior of the building, and then the elevator.

Leah taps the interface for the third floor- as indicated by the information by Nathan- and takes a step back. She folds her arms across her chest as the doors close and taps a boot against the floor until their arrival on the third floor is announced by a satisfying DING. Unfolding her arms, she passes a glance Tara's way and steps out of the elevator. There's a bit of fluttering in her stomach that she's quick to dismiss

as hunger and begins her search for Nathan's apartment.

Tara follows in silence, little more than a shadow for Leah.

There's only a few apartments on this floor and Nate's is easy enough to identify by the wafting smell of cooked food edging out through the doors. The door is at the end of the corridor on the right and the very faint sound of music can be heard, the familiar noise of his rock playlists.

Leah snickers to herself as she hears the familiar music he's always playing while he works at the Redrock building. "His neighbors must love him..." she says as she steps over towards the door and buzzes it. As she waits, she takes a big whiff and closes her eyes. "Well, smells edible, at least..." she says in a whisper to Tara, very much doubting Nathan's cooking skills.

Tara shoots Leah an almost furtive glance Leah's way, voicing no thoughts of her own on what Nathan's cooking might be like. Her gaze turns low as she waits for the door to open.

Sofia is the one to open the door after a few moments. The moment she lays eyes on Leah and Tara, a bright smile etches onto her face. "Hey guys!" Without even giving them a moment to respond, she throws herself towards them to wrap them in a hug. She's dressed much more casually than usual, a simple white shirt and black skinny jeans.

Leah props up her own bright smile but, unprepared for the sudden hug, she finds herself jostled a bit and just barely has a chance to get one arm up to return the hug ambush, her other arm pinned to her side. "Oh! Uhh-... Hey!" she returns, patting Sofia a few times on the back as a snicker slips out. "Food smells great!"

Tara seems startled by the sudden hug, blinking a few times and standing frozen in place without really returning it at all.

Sofia backs up and nods, stepping to wave them both in. "It tastes great, believe me. Nate may usually be useless at cooking, but burgers is the one thing I'll give him credit for." She giggles and waves towards the bedroom door. "He's just finishing up a call with mum. He'll be out in a minute." She ducks back into the small kitchen, making sure the burgers aren't burning.

Leah swallows hard as her mouth begins to water at the mention of burgers. Her one true weakness! She follows Sofia inside and does that awkward thing you tend to do when you're a guest in someone else's house that you've never been to before. She just stands a few feet past the door, glancing about ever so slightly as she balances on the outer soles of her boots. "Soooo... Nice place!" she says, doing her best not to let

her awkwardness show through.

Tara steps into the corner of the hall, behind Leah, where she remains in silence, although she allows her gaze to wander the apartment as her curiosity gets the better of her.

Sofia grins and steps over, motioning them to the couch at the end of the room. "It is, hmm? He's always been a tight-ass when it comes to credits, but now I can see why." She laughs softly. "Make yourselves comfortable? Drinks?"

Leah follows her gesture over to the couch, studying it for a moment before she gets the implication and quickly steps over towards it and takes a seat. She scoots over a bit to allow Tara room to join her. "Ummm-... Sure!" she says, a bit of her awkwardness showing through. Hanging out at other people's homes isn't exactly something she has a wealth of experience with. "Just-... Whatever you have is fine!"

Tara follows Leah's lead in crossing the room still in her outerwear, although she takes a moment to scrape the snow off her boots, still looking around curiously, although there's hints of awkwardness on her end as well. This is hardly her area of expertise either, and she finds herself uncertain over what capacity she's there in. She carefully takes a seat next to Leah in the couch, sitting with her hands in her lap and

showing no real sign of relaxing.

Sofia nods and opens up the fridge, rummaging through it.

Nathan steps out of the bedroom, the doors hissing closed behind him. It seems he's kept the stubble from the mission and some sleep has finally caught up to him. He's dressed also casually in a simplistic red t-shirt and dark blue jeans. He smiles broadly as he sees Leah and Tara, motioning towards the pair of them. "And the guests of honour have arrived! Glad you could make it. Leah, I knew you just couldn't

resist my charm."

Sofia snorts. "She's here for the burgers, idiot."

Nathan snaps a glare Sofia's way. "I know... and get your cat off my bed will you! He's covered it in fur..."

Leah uncomfortably folds her hands in her lap, passing a nervous smile Tara's way. She shifts in place a few times, unable to allow herself to get comfortable before realizing she's still wearing her jacket. Her green eyes widen briefly as she begins to slip the green canvas jacket off, revealing a simple light blue t-shirt. As Nathan makes his entrance, however, her attention turns his way and her smile grows a bit more

genuine. "Riiiiight. Charm." she says, her tone implying the airquotes around the word 'charm'. "I'm expecting big things out of these burg-..." she begins, but Nathan and Sofia's back-and-forth causes her to switch gears and rise from her seat, leaving her jacket discarded on the couch. "Caaaaaat!" she squees, racing towards Nathan. "Show me cat!"

Tara 's discomfort seems to grow when she notices Leah's obvious nerves, her uncertainty growing. She remains tense, and warm, in full winter wear. She shoots Leah a glance when she removes her jacket, perhaps wondering if she ought to do the same, but that thought is interrupted as Nathan appears. She looks over his way, listening in silence to the exchange, but the mention of the cat causes her to perk up, although Leah's

subsequent reaction causes a slightly startled blink as she watches her race off towards Nathan from her spot in the couch.

Sofia giggles as she walks towards the couch, setting down a glass of juice for Tara and a beer for Leah. She remains silent, merely taking the seat in the armchair.

Nathan blinks as one moment Leah is on the couch and the next moment she is practically barreling towards him. He braces himself, eyes wide but a broad smile on his face. "Woah, easy there! The cat is in there. Little sod has made my bed all itchy..." He palms the interface and the door opens. On the bed there is, indeed, a cat. A young one, barely past the kitten stage, but healthy looking none the less. A perfect

split of black and white down the middle, with mismatched eyes of bright blue and golden. Pixel lazily lifts his head and looks to the new arrival, stretching out with a casual purring rumble.

Leah nudges past Nathan once the door opens not bothering to wait for permission to enter his room- awkwardness forgotten when cats are thrown into the mix- but comes to an abrupt stop as she spots Pixel. Her hand shoots up to her mouth and a loud "Awwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwww" escapes her. She's quick to poke her head back out through the door and look Tara's way, ponytail flopping about as she

does. "Cat, Tara!" she announces as if that's all that needs to be said. After quickly waving the girl over, she turns her attention right back to the cat. She makes her way over to the edge of the bed and drops down to her knees to study it. Big, unrestrained smile plastered across her face, she rests her chin against the bed so she's at eye level with it. "Hey there, lil' guy!" she says softly, as if worried she may

spook it if she speaks too loudly. But soon enough her head whips back around to look to Nathan. "Lil' guy..? Lil' gal..?" she asks.

Tara 's eyes light up, and with some hesitation she leaves the couch, walking closer until she's hovering near the bedroom door, peeking into the room curiously. Her eyes widen when she spots Pixel, a small smile crossing her lips. She shoots an uncertain glance Nathan's way, as if she's not sure she's allowed in.

Nathan peers at Leah as she invades his room, but the smile merely grows at how smitten she is with the cat. He looks at Tara and motions her in, before saying, "Guy. He's a guy. A lil' shit at that."

Pixel lazily plods forwards, sniffing curious at Leah as he tilts his head, a brief moment of caution shining through. However, satisfied, the young feline makes to lean his head against Leah's cheek, purring contently for the moment.

Nathan indignantly splutters. "Seriously? You immediately go for her, but scratch me? You little-".

Sofia coughs. "Be nice to him!"

Leah turns back to Pixel after recieving her answer from Nathan, once more resting her chin against the top of the bed. She merely watches as Pixel approaches, heart visibly melting as he leans up against her. She tilts her head slightly and nuzzles back. She brings her right hand up onto the edge of the bed as her left moves to run across the lil' fellas back. "I'm just so much more lovable than you are, Nate!" she says in a

cheerful, over-the-top voice as one tends to put on when speaking to babies or animals. "Isn't that right, Pixel?!"

Tara steps into the bedroom, standing a little bit away from the bed as she watches with eyes wide in silent fascination, wringing her mitten-clad hands.

Nathan leans on the doorframe with a warm smile, glancing to Sofia as she joins him there. He rolls his eyes and makes a rude gesture behind Leah's back, grinning from ear to ear. "Sure, lovable. Let's go with that." He walks over to motion Tara forwards, voice soft as he says, "Go on, he's friendly enough. No need to be nervous."

Pixel purrs that little bit louder as he is petted, the feline enjoying the attention. He slips out of Leah's hand to meander over towards Tara, before turning and making a beeline back to the fussing of Leah. He tried to last without it, but alas, he has simple needs.

Leah breaks into a gigglefest as Pixel returns to her. "The cat has spoken! He's coming home with me!" she announces before, once again, breaking into that nauseating voice and repeating her earlier question to Pixel. "Isn't that right?!" She finally glances up to Tara, ear-to-ear grin on her face, and waves her over. "Wanna pet him?" she asks.

Tara hesitates for a moment before kneeling down next to Leah, removing her mittens. Her gaze is still firmly locked on Pixel, obviously fascinated by the little fuzzball. Her apprehension leads to an oddly serious look as she slowly reaches out with one hand to carefully pet the cat.

Nathan takes a step back and merely watches, before his eyes widen. "Burgers!" He turns and dashes to the kitchen, fumbling with the food for a moment.

Sofia smirks and instead goes to kneel on the other side of Tara, watching Pixel for his reaction.

Pixel turns to Tara and leans towards her fingers, sniffing them as they reach hesitantly towards him. After a moment, he purrs and brushes himself up against her hand, arching his back against her to receive the worship he so rightfully deserves. He lets out a soft mewl, turning around to try and get as much fuss as he can.

Sofia giggles and sits back on her legs, nodding to Tara.

Leah snickers softly as she watches. She extends one arn further out onto the bed and lays her head atop it, merely studying Tara's interactions with the cat. With her other hand, she reaches out and tugs the knit hat gently off Tara's head. "You can take this off, sweetie." she says before tucking it into the pocket of the jacket that Tara still seems to be wearing. It's a far cry from where she found herself a week ago. A

fact that brings a gentle smile back to her bruised face.

Tara lets out a nervous giggle as Pixel seems to react positively to her petting. With boosted confidence she scratches his back softly, a big grin spreading across her face as she leans in a bit closer to study the unfamiliar, but undeniably adorable creature up close, barely noticing Leah removing her hat.

Nathan pokes his head through the doorway, smirking. "So, if you lot are done fussing over the walking hand-towel, the burgers are done. Come help yourselves. Enough for two each!" He disappears around the corner, the sound of plates being set on the counter taking precedent over the drums of the music. Might also be due to him turning the music down a bit.

Pixel seems to have chosen Tara as his source of worship for now and turns to slip out of her hands. The cat then makes to stretch over to her shoulder and try and clamber up onto her, aiming to balance there with curious eyes looking at the other occupants.

Sofia tuts and reaches to try and take Pixel off of Tara. "Noooo, bad cat. You have sharp claws."

Leah remains where she is, almost losing track of time as she simply watches Tara interact with the adorable feline, head laying against her arm. It brings her a certain comfort just seeing Tara be even the slightest bit carefree. A reminder that she had a hand in bettering this girl's life. She did something good. Sure, it may not balance the scales. But maybe that doesn't matter. Nathan's voice snaps her out of it, causing

her to lull her head to the side slightly to look his way. "Don't be jealous just because Pixel is more charming than you'll ever be!" she teases as she lifts her head from the bed.

Tara doesn't seem to mind as Pixel starts to climb onto her, especially with the jacket mostly shielding against potential scratches. She scrunches up her nose as the tail brushes against her face, leaning her head away a little and reaching up to continue petting him with another giggle and an "It's okay." as Sofia goes to remove the cat. She doesn't even seem to notice the burger announcement.

Sofia blinks but smiles a warm, happy smile. She nods and stands. "I'll go help him by reminding him that the burger goes between the bread." She chuckles and walks over to an indignant reply by Nathan in his mother-tongue.

Nathan then responds to Leah from the kitchen. "I'm plenty charming! I could charm the armour off a krogan!" There's a pause before he calls out loudly. "Not that I would want to! But I bet I could if I wanted to and I'm just going to stop talking now and finish these burgers." Another pause. "You're getting the smaller ones!"

Pixel kneads his paws and claws into Tara's jacket before crouching low and seemingly settling himself upon his perch. This is now his throne to rule upon. Tar has been chosen. He purrs contently and nuzzles his face against hers, a soft mewl once more. His tail flicks around, curling around to tickle the back of her neck.

Leah's smile only grows as the cat climbs on Tara. Nathan pulls her attention away, however, when he begins running his mouth. "Ya know, I think I would pay good credits to see that. You~ Some mood lighting~ An angry krog-..." she comments at first until he brings food into the mix. Scrunching up her nose, she puts on her war face and glares through the bedroom door, cocking her head in a failed attempt to catch him in her

vision. "Alright, alright, alright! It's all fun and games until you mess with my burgers!" she warns.

Tara remains on the floor, grin still plastered across her face as she scratches Pixel's head gently. The flicking tail causes her squirm slightly, shoulders rising briefly. She's entirely preoccupied, the exchange between the others not registering.

Nathan laughs. In the kitchen, he smirks and takes up two plates with a pair of burgers on each. And not just some throw in the pan kinda burgers. It looks like he hand rolled the patties himself, flavoured them and assembled them together with salad, cheese and a little dash of sauce, before tucking it all between buns and spearing it with a stick. It's a tantalising sight to say the least. He walks into the

bedroom and kneels down to hand a plate to Leah and sets one besides Tara. He then points at the cat, narrowing his eyes. "Don't you even think about it."

Pixel scents food in the air and immediately hops off Tara to approach the burgers.

Nathan plucks up the plate and holds it out of reach.

Pixel tries to clamber up Nathan, dangling off his t-shirt with claws buried in his skin.

Nathan hisses, biting down on his lower lip as not to swear loudly at the cat.

Leah accepts the plate, giving another snicker as Pixel begins scaling Nathan. With a glance to Tara, she nods towards the door, well aware it would be in bad form to eat atop Nathan's bed. "Let's go eat. You can play with Pixel some more when we're done." she says, having naturally fallen into that role of big sis to Tara somewhere along the way without much thought given to it. She places her free hand against the bed to

assist her in climbing to her feet. As she back out of the room, she gives the burger a sniff. "...Passes the smell test." she says tentatively.

Tara stands up as Pixel starts to try and scale Nathan in hunt for food. She hastily reaches out to relieve him of the plate before he fails to fend off the vicious predator, not so much taking the plate as grabbing hold of it and waiting for him to let go. Assuming he does, she bows her head politely and offers a slightly awkward "Thank you." to their struggling host before following after Leah.

Leah gives a glance back towards Pixel, smile still etched onto her features. "Get him, Pixel!" she cheers the lil' cat on in a stage whisper before continuing towards the table to collect her beer. She doesn't sit at the couch, however, instead looking to Sofia expectantly, as if awaiting directions on where she should be sitting.

Nathan manages to pry the agile little devil off of him, raising him to eye level and glaring at him for a moment after handing the plate to Tara and offering her a warm smile. Pixel merely flares back, the two standing off in silence. Eventually, he sets the cat down and walks back into the living space. Before Sofia can answer, Nate waves a hand to them with a relaxed smile. “Sit anywhere you want, wherever is

comfortable. If you can’t tell I... didn’t really invest in a dining table.” He rubs the back of his neck with a sheepish smile, leaning against the counter next to his food.

Pixel plods into the room, immediately moving between Tara’s legs and rubbing his head against her, purring. That’s right, be lured by his adorableness. Abandon your food!

Tara looks to Leah for guidance after Nathan's instructions essentially boil down to 'do whatever you want. As Pixel starts circling her legs, however, her grin returns in an instant and she crouches slightly, reaching down to pet him while holding the plate up out of reach best she can manage. "Are you hungry...?" she asks quietly.

Leah snickers as she carries her food and drink over to the kitchen counter to join Nathan and sets her plate down- assuming Tara is most likely going to follow suit. Climbing onto a stool, she takes a quick swig of her beer. "It's fine. We mostly eat in front of the TV at home anyway." she explains with a shrug. "Every now and then dad likes to have a meal at the table-..." she says as she replaces the beer with her burger

and brings it up to her mouth. Taking a big bite, she continues as she chews, "...and pretendmm we're civilized." After a moment of chewing, she furrows her brow and licks at her thumb. "Thismmf is actually mmreally good!" she says- mouth still full of food- clearly not having expected the burger to actually be edible.

Pixel gives an affirmative mewl to Tara.

Sofia grins at Leah and subtly transfers herself over to the armchair once more, settling herself in with her food and a glass of wine.

Nathan nods as he chews on a mouthful of his own food, waiting until after he has swallowed to start talking. “I think just using a plate is civilised enough for us, no?” He chuckles and gives her a look of mock hurt, placing a hand over his heart. “Frauline, you make it as if you were expecting it to be anything but! You wound me with your words.” After a dramatic pout and tilt of his head, he relaxes and

takes another bite, humming a laugh. “Mrrm

Nathan “-, you know, you mention your dad a lot. But you never really speak about him, y’know? What’s he like?”

Leah places the burger back on the plate for a moment as Nathan speaks, snickering slightly as he mentions her expectations. She looks over her hands, her sloppy manner of eating having left trace amounts of condiments on her finger tips. She licks at some mustard on her thumb as she considers his question. It wasn't a conscious effort to mention her father so often, it was just difficult not to when he was such a central

part of her life. And had been for-... well, forever. There was never a lapse of contact or a period of her life where her parents weren't actively in her life. Even when she was in the military, regular phone calls and visits were the norm. She shrugs her shoulders, a simple smile returning to her face as she thinks of her father. "Stubborn." she says, returning her gaze to Nathan. "Stubborn and-... And he's my dad, ya

know?" she asks, growing a bit self conscious. "He's just... a sweet, stubborn old man with more love in his heart than he knows what to do with." The comment causes her gaze to turn towards Tara. The way her father had so quickly accepted Tara as if she was a member of the family was just one of so many reasons she looked up to him.

Tara furrows her eyebrows, glancing around. "I don't know if you can eat this..." she says, her voice still low. She seems surprisingly talkative with the little cat compared to how she usually is. She stands up and, after a moment's hesitation, decides to take a seat in the couch rather than the counter in a rare moment of initiative, perhaps not wanting to take the last spot by the counter and leave Sofia off on her own.

"He's hungry..." she shares, looking to Sofia.

Sofia looks up to Tara, then down to Pixel, then back to Tara. She smiles and nods, setting down her food. “It is about time he gets fed. You wanna help? It isn’t difficult, but since you’ve both taken a liking to each other...”

Nathan looks to Tara as Leah does, his smile growing a tad larger as she talks about her dad. If anything, he was a little envious of her relationship with her father. With his being away so much, he never really truly connected with him on any real level. Sure they had good times, but it was never a true bond in a sense. “Your dad sounds like a hell of a guy,” he says softly. A detail did not escape his notice,

however, but he is reluctant to bring it up for fear of treading on thin ice. Instead, he asks, “Was your dad military in his day? Like father, like daughter?”

Tara nods almost immediately, setting her plate down on the coffee table and waiting for instructions from Sofia.

Leah gives a gentle nod and a simple: "He is." to Nathan's first statement. His question, however, illicits a loud snort. "My dad? Hah! No, no, no. He's not really-... That isn't really his thing." she clarifies, her smile wavering ever so slightly. "No... He's proud of what I do-... what I did." she's quick to correct before giving a shake of her head. "But no. It wasn't really a 'family' thing. I just-..." she forces a

smile as she meets Nathan's gaze and reaches back to tap at the base of her neck, "...guess I just met the right requirements for their recruitment office." None too eager to linger, she's quick to turn it back on him. "How about you? I recall you mentioning your siblings were military...? Parents, too?"

Sofia grins and motions towards the kitchen area. “His food is in the bottom cupboard. I’ll grab his bowl. He’ll follow you alll the way.” She giggles and walks towards the side of the tv where a bowl resides on the floor.

Nathan nods along with her words, a trace of a smile on his lips as he takes another bite of his burger, washing it down with a beer. He doesn’t seem to be about to press any further on the topic and can easily recognise when the baton is being passed onto him. “Yeah. Elder sisters are active duty, probably patrolling some backwater out in the arse end of nowhere and dad was ex-military. But my mum?

Nooooononono.” He chuckles, meeting her gaze as he leans lazily on the counter. “She was a teacher over from England. She was the reason I, uh, considered teaching myself.” He shrugs lightly, a small smile etching onto his face. But there is a lingering sadness there which he quickly covers up with a swig of beer. “Mum and I are the only two who aren’t military. Well, I’m kinda... military?

Hmm-... glorified cop? Ex-cop. Glorified ex-cop.”

Tara nods again and stands up, leaving the couch behind as she walks over to the kitchen, catching part of Leah and Nathan's conversation. She glances back to Sofia in search of guidance as to where she can find the food.

Leah's gaze lowers briefly as Nathan mentions his mother, causing her to turn her focus back to her burger which she promptly lifts and chomps into as she listens to him speak. The mention of considering teaching gets a laugh out of her, which forces her to bring a hand up to her mouth to keep any food from shooting out. "I'mmm shorry!" she's quick to offer, realizing it may come off as offensive. She hurries her chewing,

swallowing the large bite with a bow of her head to get it all down. "It's just-... It's just-... You're just so-..." she trails off, searching her brain for the right word. Ah, there it is! ."Dumb!" she explains, shoulders rising and falling with laughter. "But adorably dumb. You know? Like a puppy!" She flashes a big bright smile his way. Despite the laugh at his expense, it's pretty obvious she's just teasing.

Sofia nods and points downwards as she approaches with a bowl. “Yeah, second door on your left. Big blue bag!”

Pixel is right at Tara’a heels, now meowing quite loudly at the prospect of food.

Nathan gives Leah a flat look as she bursts into laughter, doing an impressive job of remaining completely unamused. However, as she flashes him her bright smile, his stoic attempt wavers and a smile threatens to break out. So, he does the only thing he can think of to maintain his dignity and grace. He reaches to snatch her plate and hold it out of reach of her arms. “Now you’ve just lost all food privileges in

this apartment. Congratulations.” He smugly smiles at her, flashing her a wink. “...I’m not sure whether to be offended or complimented, though.”

Tara scours the kitchen cabinet in search of the cat food, taking the bag out once she finds it, snickering to herself as she notices that Pixel has followed her. "You'll have food soon!" she assures, her voice breaking a little and turning hoarse as she fails to raise her pitch. Her eyebrows furrow slightly and she looks to the bowl, grancing briefly to Sofia for confirmation before filling it up with catfood.

Leah swiftly reaches out in an attempt to swipe her burger off of the plate, only to come up with a hand full of air. "I warned you about messing with my burgers!" she calls out, trying- and failing- to put on an oh-so-threatening angry face. A soft blue glow envelopes her and her lips contort into a flat, unamused line as her green eyes lock on to Nathan's. The burger- surely convinced by Leah's love, adoration, and sheer

hunger of her rumbling tummy- lifts off the plate. Maintaining eye contact with Nathan, Leah calmly lifts a hand as the burger gently glides into her grip. "You were saying?" she asks, every bit as smugly.

Sofia leaves Tara to fill the bowl and to receive all the adoration from the little fuzz ball, smiling broadly at how more open Tara seems in the presence of the cat.

Pixel is now purring loudly, the vibrations of his joy rumbling every time he makes contact with Tara’s legs. As soon as the food hits the bowl, his head is buried in it, gobbling up the feed. Bits of it lands on his head, but he pays it no mind.

Nathan blinks and looks to the burger in her hands, then back to the plate

Nathan that is now sans a burger. He huffs and sets it down back in front of her, pulling a face and mimicking her voice, “You were saying.” He may have made it a few notes higher than it rightfully had any reason to be. But he does smirk at her and leans across to give her an affectionate nudge in her side. “Yes, teaching. I considered teaching. Let’s all laugh at Nate for wanting to be a teacher.” He

snickers and sips at his beer. “Come on, we’ve all had at least an inkling of what we might’ve wanted to be in some other life. Is there anything you wanted to be?”

Tara 's grin only grows as Pixel starts to eat. She puts the bag away before crouching down to watch him, forgetting about her food for the moment as she studies the animal.

Leah rolls her eyes at Nathan's mocking, but her smile makes a return as the plate is sat down before her and she sets her burger back atop it. As he begins to defend himself, she puts up a hand, waving him off. "I'm just giving you shit, Nate." she admits through her grin. Nathan's question goes unanswered for the moment as she teeters on her stool when the sound of cat food hitting a bowl grabs her attention and she looks

Tara's way. "Tara~ Foooooood~" she reminds the girl in a singsong tone. It's only once she has finished looking after Tara that she begins to really consider Nathan's question. Normal. Until that knock on her door, the military was never even a consideration. But the Alliance had a good sales pitch. Good schooling that her parents never would have been able to afford. Training to manage her 'gift'. A stable career. A

future. At least, that's what she had hoped for."It's stupid." she says, scrunching up her nose as she looks back to Nathan, a bit of red already creeping into her cheeks as she swipes a loose strand of hair back behind her ear.

Pixel eats away happily, seemingly burying himself deeper and deeper into the bowl. His tail whaps against Tara once or twice.

Nathan grins and flashes her a wink, mouthing, “I know” to her. He spares a glance at Tara and chuckles softly. “You can keep him.” This comment earns him a slice of tomato being pelted at his head from across the room which, by all accounts, is a hell of a shot. He sends a withering glare Sofia’s way (which earns him a tongue being poked out at him) before he refocuses on Leah. Seeing the red creeping

into her cheeks, his grin stretches and he plants both elbows on the table and rests his chin on his hands, watching her intently. “Go on. Now I’m curious.”

Tara seems to be in her own world, smiling to herself as she strokes Pixel's back. Leah's voice snaps her out of it, and with a slightly awkward expression she nods, turning briefly back to Pixel. "I need to eat too." she says in almost a whisper before standing up to head back to the couch. Once she settles in she studies the burger for a moment. The dish has become quite familiar to her since Leah became a part of her life,

and she's quick to take an eager bite upon realizing just how hungry she actually is.

Leah flinches as the tomato nails him from out of nowhere, causing her to snicker and glance Sofia's way. "Nice throw!" she comments. Nathan pressing on causes her to swivel back on her stool to face him once again. Planting her elbows against the counter and shrugs her shoulders dismissively. "It's really stupid." she repeats in a wince. Pulling in a deep breath, she props her chin up in her hands and rolls her eyes. "Okay,

but you have to keep in mind that I was, like-... Like-... young when the Alliance came knocking on my door, alright?!" she prefaces. With a loud sigh, she winces once again, her forehead wrinkling as she closes her eyes. "Before that, I guess I-... I always wanted to be a dancer. I took dance for 8 years and-..." something seems to occur to her and her eyes snap open once again. Brow furrowed as if she's already upset

with Nathan, she narrows her eyes on him and the rapid-firing commences. "If you make one stripper joke so-help-me I will kick your ass! I know where your mind is going! Not cool! I mean classy dancer! Like-... I don't know! On a stage or something! You know, intricate choreography? Good outfits?" She scoffs, scrunching up her nose as her mouth finally slows down. "Perv. Get your mind out of the gutter!"

Nathan smirks at first. His initial reply was going to be reassuring. Dancing isn’t stupid, it’s actually rather enjoyable! Nothing from stopping you from going for it now and yadda yadda yadda

Nathan . And then she immediately goes into Leah overdrive. And this isn’t a normal one. Oh no, this is a special one. One so out of the blue that Nathan is just stunned into silence, eyes going wide. And, for a brief moment, he looks as if he was going to apologise for something he hadn’t even done. However, he manages to regain enough of his wits to realise that he was totally innocent in this affair and-

oops, now the image is in his mind. He flushed red and splutters indignantly, mouth opening and closing like a fish out of water. “I-... you- I wasn’t! But now you made me thi-... I mean you...”. The beer bottle is in his hand and he’s chugging it like water, avoiding eye contact with her. Innocent made guilty. All through the power of rapid fire Leah.

Sofia seems to have choked on her food and burst into laughter, not even attempting to hide it.

Tara blinks, still chewing with burger in hand, and looking over towards the kitchen with slightly furrowed eyebrows as her attention is drawn by Leah's ramble and Sofia's laughter.

Leah cranes her neck back, a faux look of disgusted on her face. She flares her nostrils, muttering a soft: "Gross." She gives a small shake of her head and grabs her burger. Pivoting to look Sofia's way, her expression turns sympathetic. "How do you deal with him every day?" she asks before taking a large bite of burgery goodness and looking back to Nathan. "Unbelievable."

Sofia grins and raises her wine glass, giving it a small shake in the air to answer the question and punctuate it in one go. “Awww, don’t be too harsh on him. It’s not his fault he’s a moron


Nathan just grumbles into his burger. “Never inviting you around for dinner again,” he says. He sends a glare his sister’s way, pointedly chewing on one of his homemade burgers.

Tara just observes the exchange in silence, taking another bite of her burger.

Pixel finishes off the last of his food and begins to strut around the apartment, finding his way back to Tara. He hops up onto the seat next to her and curls up besides her, purring contented.

Leah gets a chuckle out of Sofia's dig. Nathan's comment causes her to poke out her lower lip in a mock pout. "Awwwww. Is Nathan getting grouchy?" she asks in the same voice she used on Pixel. Deciding to relent on the teasing, she stuffs the last remaining bite of her burger into her mouth and shuffles in her seat. "For what it's worth-..." she begins once the bite has gone down the hatch, "...I'm glad you didn't go the whole

teacher route." She offers a sincere smile before adding with a shrug, "Because then I never would've gotten to know Sofia and Pixel!" Okay, not so much 'relenting' as twisting the dagger. She punctuates her statement with a bright, cheerful grin.

Nathan leans right up to Leah, wagging a finger underneath her nose. “You’re lucky I like you. Or I’d be installing a Shocker into your armour. One button and ZAP! You’re doing the voltage breakdance.” He smirks at her, but he seems to have taken most of the teasing in good stride. Most. There might be a shocker in her armour in the next few days. He makes to give her a small poke in the side before

finishing off the remains of his food, looking across at the cat near Tara.

Tara smiles as Pixel joins her on the couch, pausing her eating briefly to pet him. She's not far behind Leah, most of her burger gone already - while she's started to get used to regular, full meals, the habit of getting whatever she can down as quick as possible is hard to break. Her smile wavers as she overhears Nathan, an odd glance going his and Leah's way for a moment, but as soon as he looks Tara's way her attention

returns to her burger, taking another bite. Still, the smile doesn't resurface.

Leah crosses her eyes to focus on the finger in her face. "Uh huh. Lucky me." she continues to tease through a grin as her eyes uncross. The prod in her side causes her to flinch and she's quick to return it with a poke of her own. But once they're even she calls it quits and follows his gaze over to Tara and the cat. Her smile widens as she watches the pair. "Thanks for inviting us over..." she says softly and sincerely, gaze

lingering on the two for a moment longer before looking back to Nathan. Reaching out, she loops an arm around his a bit unexpectedly. "So-... umm... How are you holding up...?" she asks. "After-... You know.... everything."

Nathan smirks at her, glancing at her from the corner of his eyes. His attention is, however, fully given to her as her arm is linked with his. He blinks in surprise and his cheeks redden ever so faintly, but her question is quick to sober him. He chews on his inner cheek, thinking over her question for a long and quite moment. “Honestly? I’m... trying to deal with it. But-“ He falls silent. He then reaches to

her shoulder to turn her away from Tara and Sofia, dropping his voice. “I looked through the footage. All of it. And-... there was so many pods like ours. Thousands.” He swallows. “I can’t get that out of my head. How can I...? And I know there was nothing we could do and that getting out of that ship itself was a miracle.” He shakes his head, sighing softly. Lock it down Nathan. Lock it down.

Don’t ruin a perfectly good evening with your crap. Don’t think about how many of those pods were just kids, scared and alone and forsaken to an unknown fate with the Collectors. “Heh, don’t worry about it. I’ll be fine after a few more weeks...”

Tara has returned to silent eating, an almost sullen look on her face, but it's not all that easy to tell. Once her burger is done her attention turns to Pixel, leaning back on the couch to free up her lap and reaching down to stroke his back again.

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