#IlynaApartment – May 4, 2021

Ilyna smiles softly when Li pulls her hand, and after a glance Halisi's way, she gets up from the couch with a grunt. She has taken time off to spend with Li, after all, she cannot forget that despite the state that she's in. "We have a dragon to fight," she says, but her tone still is a little flat. Ilyna goes to sit down on the floor beside the castle, and begins to look it over to take stock of the knights that

she and Halisi has gained temporary command over.

The battle is fierce (and frequently interrupted by a Li that is displeased with the pair's unconvincing performance as the knights protecting the castle). By the end most of the castle's defenders laid slain, but the beast fell with a final mighty roar, brought down by the last of the knights. The castle that they just spent most of the day building is, thankfully, still mostly intact. The few missing flags and parapets should be easily

repaired. Growling stomachs soon beckon for dinner, and Halisi offers to assist Ilyna in the kitchen, while Li watches cartoons to pass the time and distract from her hunger, lest she start digging into the Christmas candies to sate it.

Halisi is standing by the fridge, door open as she studies the contents of the shelves. "What did you say we need for this?" she asks with a look towards Ilyna.

Ilyna was happy to have Halisi help this time. She has always been thoughtful about cooking, especially now that she is responsible for Li's health as much as her own. Today they waited until stomachs rumbles, though, which called for something quick. She walks up to the fridge after Halisi asks, and looks through it beside her. She is not as uncomfortable standing right next to Halisi this time, but she doesn't

brush up against her either. "One pack of that should be enough for us, I think," she says, gesturing to a package of roughly 1-inch thick pieces of meat from some Aitian bird. "But let's start with vegetables," she pulls out the vegetable drawer and looks through it. She lifts up a head of lettuce and puts it back, before reaching for a purple cucumber-shaped one and a long blue pepper.

The fridge is well stocked, and the city's human majority and Ilyna wanting what's safe for Li means that Halisi is bound to find some familiar things in there. For example, onions, garlics and peppers. The meats are from space cows and local game, though.

Halisi looks a little surprised as Ilyna joins her by the fridge, and... maybe even a little awkward? It's somehow almost harder to know how to act now. It's short-lived, her attention following to the pack of meat. She grabs it, nodding as Ilyna starts to collect the vegetables. "Sounds like a plan." she agrees, studying the label for a moment before setting the package down on the counter and turning to face the asari. "I stand ready

to assist, just let me know what you need." she says, the smile that crosses her lips a bit playful. "With the hours I work I don't get to cook as much as I'd like."

Ilyna picks out an onion, and a few pieces of a garlic from a plastic box she had in the fridge. "All of this needs to be chopped up, so take your pick," she says with a chuckle, as she puts it on the counter. She pulls out a drawer, and digs through it to find three chopping boards. "You should try to find more time for it, though," she says. "Do you not have a ktichen you can use down at the hospital? Or should I

start making daily deliveries to your office?"

The package contain 4 pieces of Tunga meat, with a total weight of around 350g.

Halisi glances around until she spots the knife rack, selecting one that looks suitable. "Can do." she says in response to Ilyna's instructions, grabbing the garlic cloves and putting them on one of the chopping boards. The words that follow from the asari make her stop for a moment, the quiet laugh that slips out at the final suggestion a little flustered. "No public kitchen - or the time to use it if there were one, I'm afraid. But

the cafeteria food is quite alright." she assures, before adding, tone light and a little teasing: "Of course, if you're offering, I wouldn't say no." A flash of a small grin in Ilyna's direction accompanies the words, and then her attention turns back to the garlic. "Am I just dicing these?" she asks, seeking confirmation before mistakes are made.

Ilyna starts to peel the outer skin from an onion, nodding to Halisi's question about the garlic. "I'll barely see you if I don't do something like that," she says, "maybe you'll even forget about me." A chuckle escapes her and she reaches for a knife of her own and begins cutting the onion, squinting her eyes a little as she braces for the vegetable's spirited defence.

Halisi nods and starts rapidly chopping the garlic cloves into fine pieces with expert precision - no surprise given her experience with a scalpel. Ilyna's words catch her a little off-guard, a quiet half-chuckle slipping out. She pauses briefly, looking down at the board for a moment before casting a glance Ilyna's way. "I don't think we're in any danger of that." she assures with a smile, which softens as she adds: "And I know I work

a lot, but I'm not entirely without free time."

Ilyna dices the onion with precise, swift cuts. "You do important work, Halisi," she says, returning the soft smile. "I shouldn't expect you to take more time off or that you spend all your free time with me, that... would be selfish." She frowns as she looks back at the onion, and begins on the second half of it.

Halisi 's smile falls away as her gaze returns to the cutting board. She continues chopping in silence for a moment. Work-life balance isn't exactly her strong suit - it is important work - which often makes her feel guilty about any time taken for herself. "I think you could stand to be a bit more selfish, Ilyna." she says with a look her way. Her expression is soft but serious - she's not joking. "You deserve to be."

Ilyna shakes her head at Halisi's suggestion. "I... am selfish enough as it is," she says, looking down at the onion as she cuts it. Her eyes are getting a bit watery despite the swift and sharp cuts. "I've been unfair to Linda and Jason about Ehanis, and... I lean on others much more than I give-" It sounds like she was going to continue but decided against it. She sighs when the onion is finally diced, and she

pushes it aside to get started on the purple vegetable.

Halisi shoots Ilyna a sympathetic but disapproving look as the familiar conversation rears its head. "You're too hard on yourself, Ilyna." she comments with a sigh before finishing up with the garlic. "All done." she says, shifting closer to the asari, showing her the board and its contents. She almost places a hand on her shoulder but refrains at the last moment - when Ilyna is holding a knife is probably not the time to figure out

their boundries. "What am I doing with this?"

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