#Halisi'sApartment – February 27, 2020

December 22nd, late afternoon. Good weather has held up throughout the day, the temperature hovering just below zero as Typhon graces Freedom Falls with its rays. Aite's ring cuts a bright band across the blue sky, only partly obscured by a few hazy clouds. Halisi has only recently arrived home, work holding her up longer than she anticipated when she gave Ilyna her suggestion for a suitable time. She's still in her doctor's coat, and

her apartment is a bit of a mess, with clothes thrown over the couch, a half-eaten Elkoss Combine frozen meal on the coffee table and dishes piled up on the kitchen counters. She's currently at the sink, elbow-deep in soapy water as she tries to clear up the dishes before Ilyna arrives. Her long black hair has been tied back with a scrunchie.

Ilyna didn't account for her being later than expected, and thus the doorbell rings nearly on time. This time she bothered Jasper to take her there rather than taking a taxi. She's wearing her black winter jacket, and the hood is still up. Ilyna appears a bit distant, though she is awake enough to ensure that Li's boots aren't carrying in too much snow.

Halisi looks over as the doorbell rings, letting out a sigh and drying off her hands before hurrying over to open the door. "Hello, you two..." she greets, a tired but genuine smile crossing her lips, before slipping away as she glances back over her shoulder. "Come in." she offers, stepping back. "I... I apologize for the state of this place. It has been a... chaotic week. I haven't quite had time to clean up." she says with a

small wince of embarrassment. "I probably should have rescheduled..."

Li seems to be in fairly high spirits today - perhaps all the buzz around the approaching holiday has helped distract her from what has been a harrowing month. In fact, she's still wearing the Christmas hat that Va'ynna gave her the day before. She's expressed eagerness to see Halisi again for the first time in a while, and as the door slides open its not long before she runs inside, boots still on, and near-enough tackles the

doctor with a hug.

Halisi is caught off-guard, letting out a surprised chuckle as her uncomfortable apologizing over the messy apartment is interrupted, and she leans down to scoop Li up and return the hug, another laugh slipping out, embarrassment and exhaustion replaced by a warm smile. "Good to see you too, Li..."

Ilyna returns the smile, and watches Li run off to hug Halisi. She resists admonishing the girl for running in with the boots on, however, and lets out a chuckle instead. "No, that's okay," she says as she looks past Halisi at the aparmtent's state. "I can help with that." She steps over to take off her own boots and hang up her jacket. She's wearing simple gray pants and a black sweater under the jacket.

Halisi sets Li down, her smile slipping away as she glances over towards Ilyna. "I-... I can't ask that of you." she says, a bit of discomfort returning with the offer. She watches the two of them get out of their winterwear, briefly crouching down to help Li get out of her boots before heading further into the apartment. She picks up some discarded, holiday-themed wrapping paper and strips of leftover ribbon from the floor, going

over to the kitchen to throw it in a bin. Seems like she's spent some time wrapping presents.

Li runs further into the apartment once she's free of her jacket and boots, making a little circuit around part of the main room before climbing into the couch. Her observation of "It's messy here." elicits an awkward chuckle from Halisi.

Ilyna watches Li run into the apartment, smile still present on her face. "That's why you don't have to ask, Halisi," she says, and follows her to the kitchen, picking up the unfinished meal on the way to set it on the counter. "Has something happened this week to make it unusually chaotic?" she asks with a tilted head. "Or did the need ot buy gifts sneak up on you too?"

Halisi doesn't seem quite sure what to say as Ilyna makes her intention to help clear, but the question that follows earns her an incredulous look. "You mean aside from the shuttleload of bleeding people Leah brought back to base?" she asks, a faint smirk briefly crossing her lips. She heads over to the couch to collect the clothes strewn about, some going to a laundry basket and others into her bedroom for the time being. "Had to

call in some favors to get the materials for all that... and with the holidays coming up things have been even busier than usual at the clinic. Most of the human staff is taking a few days off." She lets out a sigh as she returns to the main room, rubbing her palms against her eyes for a bit. As she spots Li on the couch, fiddling with the remote, she reaches over to help her. "What do you want to watch?"

Li hands Halisi the remote. "Sands of Tuchanka!"

Halisi furrows her eyebrows. "...what is that?" she asks as she navigates the interface, looking a little skeptical.

Li smiles. "It's about animals!"

Halisi skims the description briefly. "Documentary..." she mumbles before glancing over towards Ilyna. "Is this alright?" she asks, feeling like it's best she check with her.

Li looks over towards Ilyna. "I watched it with Vaskes!"

Ilyna frowns at the answer. "Oh, I thought with Sandbeck taking over that the burden of that was off your shoulders," she says. "Does that mean you're expected to be there on Christmas day, too?" She looks around for something to do as Li picking out something to watch catches her attention. She walks over to her to also read the description on the interface. "Tuchanka isn't exactly known for it's pleasant

wildlife," she says while reading it over.

((its*))

Li frowns. "They're cool! There's big lizards! Like dinnosaurs! And bugs! And a really big worm!" she exclaims enthusiastically, spreading her arms as if trying to show how big the worm is as she shoots Ilyna a pleading look.

Halisi sighs quietly. "I... haven't given an answer yet. I'm already taking tomorrow off to drop off some presents. I don't exactly have any plans for Christmas itself so it feels a little unwarranted to take time off..." As Li speaks up she snickers quietly, raising a questioning eyebrow as she looks to Ilyna for her answer, remote still in hand.

Ilyna frowns at the mention of a big worm, having seen one in person before, but the pleading look and holiday cheer melts through Ilyna's defences this time. "Fine, you can watch it," she says with a sigh, "but if it gets too extreme, I'll stop it." Ilyna then addresses Halisi, and the frown starts to fade. "Jason invited me and Li to spend the day with them," she says, "and he was fine with me extending

the invitation to you too." It's not exactly the words he used, but they don't need repeating right now.

Li grins and turns back to the screen as Ilyna concedes and Halisi presses 'play'.

Halisi looks a little surprised as Ilyna addresses her, turning to face the asari as the documentary starts to play, opening with a view from space of Aralakh rising over Tuchanka's horizon as an asari narrates. "Oh. Really? I..." A small smile crosses her lips. "I'd love to." Her eyebrows furrow slightly as she studies Ilyna. "Erm... assuming this is you extending said invitation...?" she asks, searching her face.

Ilyna doesn't look away from Halisi as the documentary starts, assuming that it at least waits a minute before getting to grizzly scenes of thresher maws. "Of course," she says, returning the smile. There's a slight purple coloration to her cheeks as she considers Jason's words again. "He didn't offer that without letting me know that he has... noticed... us, though."

Halisi 's gaze shifts away as Ilyna speaks, looking out the window for a moment as a hint of awkwardness enters her expression. "Oh." There's a pause as she processes this and considers her words. In the background, the narration continues. On the screen, a large beetle falls victim to a carnivorous plant. Li watches, enraptured. "And... what did you tell him...?" the doctor asks quietly, fingers of her right hand drumming a little

restlessly against the back of the couch as she looks back to Ilyna, scanning her face for answers. They haven't exactly defined what's going on between them, beyond the fact that they enjoy each others' company.

Ilyna closes her eyes for a moment, rubbing the back of her neck. "I... didn't say anything," she says. "I wasn't prepared to explain, and I... well, I don't... I didn't have time to." She takes a quiet, but deep breath. "I really just... don't know, Halisi," she says. "It's.... I'm sorry, it's... with all going on, I don't feel.... I don't feel I'd be making this decision with a clear head."

Halisi is quick to shake her head, a faint but fond smile crossing her lips as she steps closer, placing a hand on Ilyna's upper arm and giving it a gentle squeeze. "Nothing to apologize for." she assures, making sure to meet her gaze steadily. "As I have told you before, all I want is to be a part of you and Li's lives, in... whatever capacity you are comfortable with." She lets out a quiet sigh, briefly glancing over towards Li

who is still watching the wildlife, paying no mind to the conversation behind her. "I suppose it was inevitable that there would be... questions." she admits. "But I'm alright with however you want to handle that. You don't need to feel pressured to make any decisions, or to tell anyone anything." A small smile spreads across her lips. When she speaks next her voice is lower and softer. "I... believe I have made it clear that

I find you... remarkable, in a lot of ways, Ilyna." There's a moment's pause as she draws in a breath. "But that doesn't mean I have any expectations. I just want you to be happy and comfortable." Her hand slips down the asari's arm to briefly clasp her hand and give it a light squeeze before withdrawing.

Ilyna tenses up slightly at the touch of her shoulder, but she doesn't pull away. "I want that too," she says, her voice barely above a whisper. She also glances Li's waay to check if she's listening in, and at least it looks like she's not. The last comment is enough to make her cheeks flush again, and she loses any response she would have about what came before it. "I... I, uh...., thank-...," she stumbles

over her words. "Goddess," she mutters as she glances away, seeming not to react any to Halisi retracting her hand. "I'm sorry." She takes a deep breath, again trying to be quiet. "I've made it clear what... I think about you too, it's what makes this so difficult."

Halisi 's smile seems to be reinforced as Ilyna gets flustered, and she studies her with an affectionate amusement. The words that follow causes the smile to soften, sympathy entering her gaze. "I won't pretend to understand what this is like from your end..." she says, her voice little more than a quiet murmur. Her gaze wanders briefly to the documentary, where two varren are fighting for leadership of a pack. Li is on the edge of

her seat, baring her teeth and making quiet growling noises at the screen. "...but I hope you know I'm here to listen if you ever want to just... talk about it." she continues just as quietly, looking back towards Ilyna. "And if there's anything I can do to make things easier, you just have to ask." she finishes, propping the smile back up for a moment, shooting the asari a tired but reassuring look.

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