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Aerith the Architect, Part 1: Five Moves Ahead
(2013-08-17 - 2013-08-18)
The long-forestalled meeting between one seeking more knowledge and one who has answers is at hand, and a mere flower girl takes the first step into becoming something more...
Aerith It'd been a long time since she'd come to this tower.

Manhattan had recovered spectacularly since the Heartless and their Shadow Lord masters turned it into their own little playground, but she could still see the nightmarish sight of a world being lost every time she slept. Spending time with Tifa helped, but nothing beat a nightmare like taking preventive measures.

There was only one way Aerith Gainsborough could take these measures, and thus she was here in front of the double doors barring the office of one David Xanatos.

She composed herself and checked her clothing for any signs of dirt or wrinkles, then pushed one of the doors open. "I'm here, just like we arranged."
David Xanatos
David Xanatos has been a busy man for the past few weeks. He's overseeing the construction of a new building in Traverse Town. While putting up a building doesn't necessarily NEED the CEO's personal attention, Xanatos feels it's important in this case for him to be involved in every level of it's design and construction. After all, when his world fell, it taught him that he needed a more...universal approach to things now.

However, despite that, his solid base of power is back in good ol' New York, and so most of his time still has to be spent over in his Manhattan office. Which is where he's been all day today, managing very ordinary business in his very ordinary way.

That is to say, Owen is actually handling the day-to-day matters, while Xanatos refines long-term plans on his computer.

"Mr. Xanatos. The project manager is reporting supply chain troubles again. Apparently the supply of refined metals is being delayed once again."

"Tell them to take a team and go get it /personally/ if they have to. If our suppliers can't deliver on their agreements, we'll do it ourselves and take the difference out of their payment. These delays are getting intolerable."
Aerith Aerith stood in the doorway, her features a mask of placidity. She showed no hesitation what so ever in closing the door behind her and waiting for him to finish. If business was this busy, perhaps she shouldn't have set the appointment. But such was life, and she went with the flow of things, as was her nature. Thus she waited, leaning against the doors and sliding her hands into the pockets of her slacks.

Aerith took this moment to take a look around the office of the most composed and refined man she knew, for she would be spending much time in it. The midnight blue carpet accentuated the plants and walls nicely, giving the illusion of power without being overbearing. Of course the view of Manhattan was quite the sight, but she paid no attention to it; not yet. This was all about the business of improving herself.
David Xanatos
Security in Xanatos's building is actually very meager for such a large corporate HQ. There are door guards and badges and all that, but nothing that couldn't be easily bypassed if someone wanted to. To be honest, anybody that Xanatos really wanted to keep out wouldn't be stopped by floor security, so Xanatos decided to forgo guards by his offices and such, for a more versatile defense. This means that Aerith has very little trouble getting to the express elevator leading up to the castle atop Xanatos's building, and finding her way to his office.

"Mister Xanatos," Owen says in his typically emotionless, flat voice, "Your guest has arrived."

"Thank you Owen," Xanatos responds politely, giving a nod to Owen. "Could you please see the rest of the paperwork is filed and taken care of?"

Owen doesn't give any verbal response, but simply nods, and gathers up his work, heading for the door. He gives Aerith a quick lookover...Not with any hostility, but a kind of cursory examination that he probably gives every person and object that passes though the door, before he excuses himself, and slips out.

Meanwhile Xanatos quickly puts his own computer work on hold, and motions to one of the chairs in front of his desk. "Please, come in Ms. Aerith. It's a pleasure to see you again."
Aerith Aerith gives a slight bow, just enough to defer respect, before making her way toward his desk and taking a seat. From behind her shades, her eyes stared into his for a few brief moments.

There it was... that presence about him. No anger, no hate, no jealousy. This was a man that was unflappable, unshakable. Not eternally patient, but it was long and plentiful. He gave off no cues besides what he let her see.

He would be the perfect teacher for her, because she needed that calm for herself.

"Let's get straight to it. I'm here because I can't think far enough ahead. I can only see what's two inches in front of me, not two miles." She gave him a smile. "My mother always said, before she died, never to discount a source of knowledge. From the moment I warned you about that first attack from Baron on this place, I knew you were someone to trust."

Aerith removed her shades, revealing emerald eyes with a faint shimmer to them, the mark of her birth right. "I want you to teach me to see five moves ahead."
David Xanatos
David Xanatos folds his hands in front of him on his desk, leaning forward a little. His posture seems focused, though his expression is unreadable. For whatever else he is, he is very good at not betraying any thought he doesn't intend to.

He has worked with Aerith before, it's true. In so far as she's been a source of useful information. Beyond that though, he'd consider her sort of an unknown. A bit of a wildcard, like most of the people he's met from her world. Unlike them, she's got no assets of resources to draw on, though. Honestly if he were laying out what he could accomplish by working with her, the 'pros' side would be pretty thin.

There's something else at work, though. It's hard to exactly put a finger down on. It's more like an intuitive sense that tells you that a game-piece is well positioned even if you can't quite piece together the strategy yet.

All of this weighing angles happens in under a second in Xanatos's mind, though, before he decides on his own play. A defensive one. He smiles, and gives a soft laugh. "I'm afraid I'm not much of a teacher, my dear. I'm a businessman. You're a businesswoman yourself, I believe?"
Aerith Aerith nodded. "It's a simple thing, but I sell flowers. I help a friend of mine out with a bar and inn of hers in my world as well, but mostly I'm just a humble florist." She chuckled. "Believe you me, that's hard to do considering the place you live in doesn't support life in normal fashion." Aerith shrugged. "The events that have happened don't necessarily harm my business. They do however, place in danger something far greater than that. I'd rather not go into the details; suffice it to say that it's for more than just my best interest to learn how to see farther and fight smarter."
David Xanatos
And there it is. That angle that Xanatos was trying to suss out. She's a soldier of some kind. No, not a soldier. She's like Goliath. An independent force. Some rogue element in the system. Like Goliath, Xanatos has little luck actually getting that kind of person to fall in line with what he's doing for too long, too. Usually that just creates enemies he has to deal with later.

This situation isn't exactly normal, though. No, she's looking to stand up to her own demons. Or at least the same things that are attacking everything, Xanatos reasons. He can sort of form the picture of it now. She was involved enough to give him some information a while back, but what he knows of her world wouldn't make him very confident about their ability to defend it either.

So that's the situation, at least. Still, he can almost smell the idealism on her, but at the same time, they all have the same enemies. Plus, there's still something in there, that he can't quite place.

"What exactly is it you have in mind? How did you see this arrangement working?"
Aerith Of course, that's the thing about dealing with someone unknown. Aerith knew he had no idea of her heritage, or at least couldn't guess right away. That was fine, he didn't need to know yet. Knowing that would give him leverage, and while she trusted him, she didn't trust his ability to keep THAT secret.

"First things first," she said with a knowing smile. "The actions you took during the defense of Manhattan were too coordinated to be those of a businessman, so I don't believe you're just that. I think you would make a wonderful teacher, simply because of the fact that you just don't get angry. Nothing you do is out of malice or spite, but necessity." She nodded. "You undervalue yourself."
David Xanatos
"There's a big difference between 'showing' and 'doing,'" Xanatos responds, mostly reflexively, since that's not the issue anyway. He never really tried to deny his involvement in the battle for Manhattan...Maybe downplay it, but not deny it.

"Still," Xanatos adds, his voice a little more firm, "You didn't answer my question. What is it you're hoping to get here?" Xanatos reaches over to the edge of his desk, and picks a silver dollar off it.

"Business, I can teach," he says, before flipping the coin over to the other side. "Perhaps even strategy." He flips the coin again, into the palm of his hand this time. "But you're after something else, I think. You don't strike me as the type that wants to be a titan of industry or war. What are you actually trying to be?"
Aerith Aerith nodded. "You pegged me there. Personally I'd rather not fight at all. It's useless and there's no point to it; a waste of effort and energy." Her face hardened into a grim mask of determination. "That said, I'm more than willing to do battle if it's required."

She shut her eyes and took in a breath. "I'm not sure of what I want to be... but I know of what I don't want to be, and that's scared and helpless." Aerith opened her eyes, features once again placid. "The only way to remove fear, for me, is to remove the possibility of fear. To do that, I have to see beyond what's in front of me. Motives, means, ways, ends." She could do that in a limited fashion, but it wasn't enough.

Not nearly.
David Xanatos
It's obvious that the girl is very conflicted about something. It's not hard for Xanatos to peg that one down. 'fighting is a pointless waste of effort but I'll fight when it's required?' David almost stops her to ask her when that would be, but he doesn't. He'll get that answer another way.

At least now he's got a clear idea of what she wants, even if she doesn't realize it yet. The question is 'why', though. It's all so personal to her. Like she was holding it up on her own.

Still, Xanatos needs to confirm it, though, so he leans forward a little and says, "You're not afraid for yourself, though. Are you?"
Aerith Aerith shook her head. "Oh no. Not for me. If I told you the things I've been through since the age of five, I guarantee you'd see I'm not afraid of much." She smiled. "Then again, I'm not making much of an effort to hide anything. You're just figuring most of it out on your own." She shrugged. "But the real question is... who am I afraid for?"
David Xanatos
That more or less shores that up, Xanatos figures. Combined with the other evidence he's gotten, he's pretty certain what he's dealing with. Though he has no idea what that means. His timeline didn't account for this, but he's good at staying flexible.

And recognizing an opportunity when he sees it.

"Well, if that's the case, then I don't see that I have any choice but to help you figure that out, Ms. Aerith," Xanatos says with a practiced smile. He extends a hand to Aerith across his desk as he adds, "I still don't know if I can 'teach' you what you're hoping to learn, but if you're willing to take a chance, I can hardly do any less, now can I?"
Aerith Aerith reached her right hand across to meet his, and gave it a firm shake. "I don't consider this business, mind you. I consider these meetings a combination of two things. The first is quite simple: lessons. The classroom is wherever you choose it to be, at whatever time you want. While I'd prefer to start now, you can pick a time and let me know when you're up for it."

She pulled her hand back. "The second is more... complicated. I genuinely want to get to know you, to be more than just some kind of instrument in a greater symphony. I'm not even saying we're required to work together." She smiled. "I'm interested in people, Mr. Xanatos. Who they are, what they can do, what they're made of. And you are very, very interesting. I'm not sure you even have room for them, but I'd like to consider myself your friend."

This scene contained 15 poses. The players who were present were: David Xanatos, Aerith