Fish on a Roof

April 16, 2016:

A fish seller and college student hang out in the most unlikely of ways.

Little Italy

Not quite what it used to be, it's still a popular tourist destination.


NPCs: None.

Mentions: None.

Mood Music: CARMELO SALEMI - Lu Friscalettu

Fade In…

From its old origins as a segregated immigrant community, Little Italy has always been a bustling and loud-spoken neighborhood brimming with commerce. These days there's deceptively little true Italian flavor left beneath the squeeze of tourism and population but a patient eye or ear can still neatly pick it out.

A lively and rustic flute tune floats on the air through a stream of foot traffic, coming from a young blond girl seated on the sidewalk. Her form is almost completely buried beneath the loose folds of her knitted sweater and a large bucket full of iced fish is seated beside her, along with a small cup, perhaps for busking donations.

And speaking of tourists, Heather is still new enough to the city that she may very well qualify still in the minds of some. And so it is that today she's decided to forsake the various shops and stores closer to her dorm in favor of visiting the famous Little Italy. At least the trip is only about thirty minutes!

The student has already been here a while, exploring the streets and shops, by the time she hears the flute. It catches her ear, and she starts working through the crowds in that general direction. Soon enough, she manages to find her way to stop before the blonde. She lingers nearby, clearly inclined to listen a while rather than pass along like many in the crowd.

Nerina continues playing oblivious to her audience as her sea-blue eyes rest half-lidded on her bucket, only occasionally drifting into the crowd around her. She's set up on bare pavement and a sign on her fish-pail is hand-scrawled in Italian, with the helpful addition of a dollar sign. The melody coming from her flute warbles and meanders between keys and tones as it borrows from a few recognizable pieces but improvises bridges and solos between them. Sometimes it's dark, sometimes it's light, but always it fills the air with emotion. She's not really playing for the people around her, and judging by the softness of her face, she might be mising school for this too.

Enjoying a rare break from classes, Heather doesn't seem to be in any particular rush. She does eye the bucket a few moments. She gives a little shrug, then starts digging about in her bag to withdraw a wallet. Still, she doesn't seem inclined to interrupt the music. So she continues standing there, watching the woman play, her wallet in her hand. Probably risky to keep her money in the open like that in New York, but she's distracted presently.

Nerina's eyes are drawn upwards to Heather and she trills a long, fermata'ed note before lowering the flute from her lips. The fishwife pauses and looks up with a neutral expression and eyes glazed with a distant focus that doesn't bother to completely separate Heather from the throng around her. It's not exactly the best sales pitch.

Looking down into the ice bucket, it's filled about a third of the way with a random variety of sea life; clams and oysters are poking out around cod and a mackarel. The fish at least are whole but flattened in the tell-tale way of being gutted. Needless to say, a fishy smell permeates everything immediately around; Nerina's been here for a while.

The look she's kind of given leaves Heather with a briefly reluctant look. For a brief moment, she seems to be second-guessing her own intentions here. Not the best sales pitch, indeed. Still, she's here more for the music than for the particular charisma (or lack thereof) of the seller. So instead, she spreads a smile towards the flutist.

"How much?" she wonders first in English. Then, after a brief pause, she adds, "Quanti soldi?" in heavily accented Italian, just in case. The words come a bit slowly, having to think about them. Clearly not a native speaker. She nods towards the fish bucket, still holding the wallet..

Nerina's eyes seem to come into focus at the question and there's even a spark of life after the attempt at Italian. "(Mackarel, $10. Clams, $8 for a handful,)" she answers in clearly enunciated Italian back, taking a hand from her flute to gesture a handful by squeezing the open air with an upturned palm.

There's a pair of firm nods at the answer given, along with a bit of an awkward smile to the musician. "<Where you get the fish?>" she wonders next. The words come a little faster, now, at the cost of accuracy. The grammar isn't quite right. Her tone, however, is conversational and pleasant rather than accusatory, as her word choice might indicate. She pops open her wallet and starts counting out bills. Yes, a college student in this day and age actually carrying cash. She ends up deciding on two ten dollar bills, holding them out to Nerina's free hand, "<You have a bag for the fish?>"

"<The Atlantic ocean,>" Nerina replies simply, not one it seems for long answers. Turning back, she reaches into a small day bag half-buried under her sweater and flicks open a crumpled grocery bag. The fishwife sets her flute in her lap to make the exchange and gives a small smile with a simple but heart-felt "Molto grazie" as she accepts and checks the bills before tucking them out of sight beneath her sweater.

"Molto grazie," Heather repeats in turn upon accepting the bag. She scoots over to the bucket, "<Take what you want? Fish and clams?>" The 'you' is almost certainly an error on her part, but she motions towards the bucket just in case, "<It keeps the extra money.>" Perhaps referring to the two dollars she overpaid. Regardless of the answer, she speaks again while whoever picks out the product, "<Sell here often?>" Another pleasant, slightly awkward smile is given.

Nerina looks back in mild confusion until she decyphers Heather's Italian, then she straightens the bag she's just handed the other girl and reaches into her bucket to pull out a good-sized fish and a couple handfuls of shellfish - her hands aren't too big after all. "<I like it more here, but everyone speaks too much English,>" the blonde replies as she lapses into her more natural cadence. Once the wares are dropped into Heather's bag, Nerina gives her hands a small brush on her sweater and then sets them in her lap. She doesn't quite return the smile but at least she's making conversation.

There's an internal flinch from Heather as Nerina's reaction indicates she didn't qutie get that right. She seems momentarily distracted as she goes over her word choice in her head. She seems to have mostly realized her mistake by the time the saleswoman is speaking again. It takes a little while, but Heather eventually nods and smiles when she mentally translates the words. "<I need to practice speaking Italian. Mostly I translate books instead of talking,>" she answers back. This time she speaks slowly, concentrating on getting the right words over and above talking at a conversational pace, "<Maybe I will come here more often. Good practice.>" She pulls back the bag after it's been filled, tying it closed and putting her wallet away.

"<If you want music I can play for you, or fish for you, or talk for you,>" Neri offers as one hand leaves her lap to mime the three actions and she indulges a longer, more lyrical sentence structure.

"<I like music!>" is Heather's first response with a cheery smile. "<The opportunity to practice speaking with someone it would be nice, too,>" she adds, perhaps demonstrating why she needs to at the same time. Every time she speeds up her pace, grammar and word choice fail her a bit. "<Name?" she wonders next, adding after, "I'm Heather," in English.

"Mi chiamo Nerina," the blonde replies. "<For five more I'll follow you,>" she offers, hinting that Heather might be able to buy quite a lot if she's willing to keep pulling out her wallet.

Nerina may not know it yet, but she's quite possibly scored well today. While Heather isn't a trust fund baby or heir to a family fortune, she is most certainly bordering on upper class family. She's also just sheltered enough to hang out with random fish-selling strangers. So she gives a little shrug, fishing around for her wallet again, "<You know of any cool places to hang out around here? This kind of thing is worth five easy,>" she answers, pulling out the bill with a slightly awkward smile, "<And nice to meet you, Nerina.>"

Living on the street has given the young Italian an eye for loose change - Heather wasn't a completely wild guess.

Nerina tucks her flute under her sweater and stands up as she slings her day-bag across her chest, creating a modest divot. The blonde is as small standing as she was sitting, and might even be a little shorter than Heather. Unlike the college student however, the scuffs and frays in her clothes are au naturale, not unlike her face. Make-up is a luxury for others, it would seem.

"<How close do you want to stay?>" She asks thoughtfully as she tucks the fishing net she'd been sitting on into her pack and hefts her bucket. The thought of hauling it all over the city, apparently, doesn't bother her.

Heather does wear makeup. It's subtle, though, not meant to draw attention so much as mask flaws. At least today, when she's just playing tourist for the city she's made her new home. That said, her appraisal of her new guide is only brief, seemingly more interested in what sights they'll go see next, or the (perhaps naive) hope of a new friend. This place marks the first time she's ever been away from home, and it's been a slow adjustment for her.

"<I have no other place to be today,>" Heather answers to the question with a noncommittal shrug, "<We can go as far as we need.>"

"<I know a nice vista,>" Nerina offers.

"<Sounds good. Lead the way!>" is Heather's response to the offer. She's apparently already forgotten the fish she's hauling along, which should likely be refrigerated sooner rather than later.

Nerina nods and trudges into the crouch, making a small walking musical as her metal bucket clunks against her leg and a water bottle poking out from under her sweater slaps against her thigh. The fishwife glances back to make sure Heather is following as she leads her through the thick of the crowd. The air grows heavy with the smells of hot cheese and sauces as they turn through a restaurant street and continue into the thick packing of tenement buildings. Ducking and weaving as she goes, Nerina seems familiar with the route, although she hangs to the far side of the sidewalk whenever she can, distancing herself from other pedestrians. Trailing behind her, the smells of cold fish and seawater are constant accents of the journey.

After three blocks of housing, Nerina glances back again for a sight of blue-green eyes before she turns down an alleyway.

Heather follows along easily enough. She seems keen on seeing where this adventure takes her, if nothing else. Then the smell of food momentarily distracts her, even as she manages to keep following as she takes in the scents. A little "Mmm" manages to escape her throat. She has a little trouble following all teh ducking and weaving, clearly not a big city girl herself. Then, there's the alleyway. For once, Heather is given brief pause. Nerina wouldn't know it, but last time she took this sort of shortcut, she had a gun pointed at her by a mugger. It takes a moment, and a deep calming breath, but soon Heather follows even there.

Nerina finally stops at the base of the building's fire escape and sets down her bucket before rolling stiffness out of her shoulders. She turns fully to see if Heather followed her across the threshold and nods with an amused grin as her eyes run down the older girl's shirt. "<Your fish are getting warm,>" she notes, staring at the plastic bag.

"Mm?" Heather wonders a moment, blinking a bit like a fool. Then she looks down to her bag and wrinkles her nose. "Oh. I guess it is," she slips back into her native English for a moment. "<The house is half an hour away. I think I have not thought this through,>" she continues with a bit of a sheepish expression towards Nerina, "<But we can move forward. I want to see what they show me.>"

It takes Nerina another second or two to comprehend Heather but by now the school-Italian is money to the fishwife's ears - and it's still better than speaking English. "<I'll fix that,>" she assures casually before pointing up the fire escape. "<The vista is up there.>"

Jumping up to grab the molding above a window frame, Nerina pulls herself into a chin-up and makes a grab for the lowest rung of the fire escape ladder before swinging herself up to a rung on the stairwell's frame and hauling herself up between the bars. She looks back with a smile while her lower half dangles in open space and winks at Heather before kicking back a leg to make a small shelf. "<Hand me the bucket.>"

Said schoolgirl peers up at the fire escape, not looking entirely thrilled with the prospect of getting up there. Still, she watches with keen interest as the other girl climbs up. "Cool," she murmurs, once again in English, "Not sure I can manage that…" Still, she reaches for the bucket and offers it up to the flute player. Then she tries to offer her bag, too. The one with the fish. Not the one with her money. She's not that naive. "<Will you help me up?>" she wonders hopefully.

With the bucket hooked on her leg, Nerina squirms and contorts enough to pass it up to her hand and then drop it onto the escape with a clank. She takes the bag in the same way but more easily and drops it into the bucket as well.

"<You don't think you can do that?>" Nerina replies while playfully kicking her gray boots back and forth.

"<I never took, um … gymnastics. Or, uh … cheerleading?>" Heather wonders, struggling with two of the words, "<But I think I can try!>" She then hops a bit to try and get a grip on the window that Nerina used. It's no good. She tries again, this time falling onto her backside. She frowns, rising to her feet and dusting herself off. "<I think I need help, I'm sorry," she finally admits.

Nerina hides a snicker as she watches the display, taking a measure of pride in watching Heather drop below her. Little did the schoolgirl know how many times she'd done the same thing; it only looked easy with practice.

"<Climb up my legs, just don't rip my clothes.>" she answers down, offering the dangling limbs at at least a slightly lower height than the ladder itself.

"<I will do my best,>" comes Heather's response after a brief moment of silent contemplation of the request. A brief grin comes after the words. She is a bit more fit than one might expect of an art history student. Her inability to climb thus far hasn't been due to a lack of strength or stamina so much as just skill. Not knowing how to contort her body in the right way. So a moment later she's hopped up to climb up Nerina's legs as indicated, moving to the ladder soon after, face suggesting she finds this whole thing incredibly awkward.

Nerina isn't any more used to being climbed on and her slender frame doesn't offer the best grip as Heather works her way up. A belt offers something to grab at the top of her legs, although the fishwife wiggles and tries to kip upwards to the point where it's not needed.

Nerina climbs the rest of the way into the fire escape once Heather is secured and knocks imaginary dust from her pants before hoisting the bucket. "Qualcosa di un'astice," she mumbles to herself while scratching her cheek awkwardly.

The belt is avoided by Heather if she can at all help it anyway. This is awkward enough for her without going that far. There's a bit of a flush to her cheeks by the time she gets her footing on the fire escape proper, and it grows at Nerina's mumbling. "<I'm so sorry,>" she murmurs herself by means of response. "Where to next?" she wonders, embarrassment precluding translation for the moment.

Nerina points upwards again and, standing further from the staircase, waits for Heather to set off first this time. She might be ready to switch places.

"Got it," replies the college student once again, starting towards the way up. She starts to climb the fire escape, continuing until she's told to stop. She does glance behind her every so often, making sure she doesn't get abandoned.

The clunking of Nerina's boots on the metal stairs offers ample reassurance and this far from the hustle and bustle of the city streets, the subtler sounds of her movement finally fade into notice. There's a healthy accompaniment of jingling and clunking but odds and ends hidden beneath her sweater or on the blonde girl's back.

Ascending staircase after staircase, Nerina never actually says 'stop' and Heather is allowed to lead all the way to the topmost floor where the fire escape ends. The fishwife doesn't produce any key for the door and her eyes drift tellingly up to the lip of the roof.

"<More climbing?>" Heather wonders warily, following Nerina's gaze to the roof. She glances next to the railing of the fire escape, hoping that at least will provide her a good leg up this time around.

Nerina nods. While the railing might provide a boost, it's not quite enough without jumping, and by now it's also the only thing separating the pair from a very large drop. The Italian sets down her bucket and leans back against the railing while eyeing Heather curiously, to see what she tries first.

Heather squints over at Nerina a moment. "<Maybe you give me a hand? A push?>" she wonders hopefully, eyeing the distance once again. Even if she knew she had powers, they wouldn't help with a fall of this distance. If she landed wrong, she might not make it. While not quite to the point of a phobia, she seems uncomfortable with the height.

"Sicuro," Nerina giggles as she pushes off the railing and steps by the wall, overlapping her hands palm-up to make a loose step. "<Like this?>"

There's a relieved smile from Heather as she gives a nod. "Yeah," she answers reflexively, moving to put her foot into the step. It takes her a few overlong moments to get comfortable with her posture before she tries to hop up, reaching for the edge of the roof. If Nerina provides the boost, she manages.

It's not too much of a boost, but with the extra height from Nerina's step and a well-timed lift, the lip of the roof just barely comes within reach. Heather might notice too late just how far out it hangs from the wall. She's not hanging completely off the fire escape but she's further back than when she started.

There's a brief moment of panic. This isn't what Heather had in mind for today. Not in the least. But she's committed now. With more upper body strength than one would expect from looking at her, she hauls herself up onto the roof, quickly stepping back to put a buffer between herself and the edge.

"<You're not so bad,>" Nerina commends once Heather is over the threshold, and sure enough the Italian blonde is smiling faintly in amusement - though perhaps at something else. She grabs the bucket of seafood and lifts it up by the bottom, holding it high over her head and rocking up onto her toes to pass it to Heather.

"Grazie," responds the brunette, looking a bit more pleased with herself than she probably should at the compliment. She cautiously leans over the edge to take the bucket, setting it back a few feet from the edge. "<Need a hand?>" she wonders next, remaining near the ledge. Her legs are splayed out a bit behind her, as if she's worried about falling over. Her hand is offered out where Nerina can take it or not.

Planning to show off one more time it seems, Nerina shakes her head. "No, <I can make my own way up.>" Turning around to the railing, the young blonde sets her boot on it with an authoritative clang and hauls herself onto the precariously thin springboard…

Now might be a good time to reflect on the recklessness of youth.

"If you're sure…" Heather once again finds herself slipping into English, looking dubious. She keeps her hand extended, just in case the other girl changes her mind. A look of concern crosses her features. This is far more risky than down at the bottom.

Nerina's leg slips out from under her as she climbs fully onto the railing but the blonde keeps her hold and pulls herself back up. She steadies herself with a look of focus and effort that's blocked out the open air behind her. Then she coils herself together and leaps for the roof…

Nerina's hands find a purchase on the stonework just beside Heather and she bounces against the wall before hauling herself up with a grunt.

"<I'm sure,>" she answers with a triumphant smile as she dusts off her hands and scoots away from the ledge. Spread out before them across the rooftop is… well not very much. A small water tower and an access door, plus a few trails of piping, are all there is to see, but further out, the dense pack of buildings that typifies the city is broken up by warm beams of sunlight streaming between gaps in the high rise district. Taller than its neighbors and nestled away from the looming brick factories, this apartment in particular is afforded a rare, open view of the sky.

"I'm impressed," Heather murmurs to herself as Nerina manages her leap. It's almost enough to erase the memory of the slip, which nearly gave her a heart-attack. "<It's the point of view?>" wonders Heather in a particularly mangled attempt at wondering if this is the destination. She turns to look over at the scenery, such as it is. She seems to appreciate it, at least, if only for the effort it took to get here.

Nerina nods. "<That and no fire marshals,>" she affirms as she pulls off her bag and rifles through it. She pauses to give Heather a smug smile, rubbing in her athleticism just a little before producing a small propane tank and burner. Walking over to a clean-ish section of roof, she sets the tank down pulls out a lighter.

"Uuuuh…" Heather wonders as she sees the the fire-making materials come out. She fidgets slightly, "<What is this? We'll get in trouble?>" she wonders in her broken Italian. Once more, she seems anxious at the idea, even if the height doesn't bother her so much now that they're relatively safe.

"<Do you have anything else to cook with?>" Nerina asks rhetorically as she sizes Heather up. Without waiting for an answer, she sets a small wire rack atop the burner and turns on the gas. A click from her fire-starter lights a small but cozy flame that she smothers a moment later with a fish from her bucket. The grill hisses angrily as steam drifts into the air.

"<I have a, um, a microwave? In my dorm?>" Heather tries to offer, but she doesn't look to really expect she'll be taken up on the matter. "Really wish I could have afforded a place with a kitchen…" she murmurs to herself after in English. "<Bring all that stuff with you?>" she wonders next, back in broken Italian. Still, despite her protests, her own bag-o-fish gets set down next to the impromptu grill.

Nerina nods as she takes a seat beside the grill and pulls out her flute. Quiet, contemplative notes float out as she warms up.

Heather gives a helpless shrug, moving to sit across from Nerina with the grill between them. "<I like your music,>" she manages next as she listens to the notes.

The slow, thoughtful notes grow into small scales and aimless runs as Nerina lets her fingers wander. The music stays soft and slow in a natural breathing rhythm as the smell of cooking fish fills the air with it. A seedling of a melody sprouts into a rambling and wistful tune and the flautist's eyes drift shut through deeper passages. At one point she motions with a circling of her instrument for Heather to turn the fish and eventually she stops, abruptly in mid-measure, to reach into her bag and pull out a tong. There might be music, but they aren't dining in high style today.

For the most part, Heather is more than content to listen to the music. It's what drew her into this little adventure in the first place, after all. It takes her a moment to gather what the gesture means, and she herself has no utensils. She reaches over to quickly and carefully flip it with her hand, trying to avoid getting burned. After the music ends, she wonders, "<Where did you learn?>"

"<Nowhere>," Nerina replies as she pulls a metal spork from her bag as well and uses the tongs to pull the fish off the fire. "<Just a natural calling.>" She spears and tugs off a strip of meat and chews on it thoughtfully before offering the jury-rigged dish to Heather, silverware and all. "Buon appetito."

"<That's some talent. If you were never taught,>" Heather answers a bit more slowly, careful to get the words right this time. There's some disbelief obvious about her, but she doesn't seem inclined to make a fuss about it. Particularly stuck on a roof with the flutist as she is. "Grazie," she answers. There's a brief hesitation, but she actually does try a bite. Perhaps a bit braver than one might expect of someone in her station in life.

It's plain, unseasoned, ungarnished fish, but with a startling shock of freshness and light, flavored saltiness. The dish could benefit from some sauce but it's far from flavorless on its own and is well but not over-cooked. There are still bones to eat around if Heather hasn't noticed already.

Meanwhile Nerina slaps another fish on the grill and watches the oil hiss and flare. She puts her flute back in her mouth thoughtfully but doesn't resume playing just yet.

"You're from Italy?" Heather wonders, next, after a few moments. It seems the silence makes her a bit uncomfortable, so she tries another attempt at conversation as she pokes idly at the fish. She holds the plate out a few moments, as if wondering if the fisherlady wants more.

Nerina nudges the food away with her flute and nods, seeming to have lost some of her taste for conversation. A distant gaze falls on the second fish - hers most likely - as the girl looses herself again in her thoughts.

A sparse, haunting melody flows from her instrument as she breathes new life into it with long, wistful tones.

Heather seems to give up for the moment, once the music starts to play again. She sets to quietly sitting and eating. Her gaze shifts occasionally to the cooking fish or the musician, primarily focused on the 'vista' she had been promised at the start of this.

Nerina seems quite content in her own little world with just herself and her flute. It's only another interruption that draws her away from it and forces her back onto the rooftop with the chestnut-haired girl she's just met. Without another pair of tongs to grab her food with, the young Italian reaches down and turns off the gas once her fish is cooked to satisfaction.

"Thanks for this. Grazie," Heather attempts yet again to converse with her partner for the day. At least this time it doesn't demand much of a response. "<I enjoyed this. Maybe again sometime?>" she adds a little more, glancing curiously towards Nerina as the college student takes another bite.

"<Maybe,>" Nerina grants. "<If you have more money I can deliver.>" The brief affection for long, flowing sentences seems to have faded away once more.

"<Can I pay, if this is a problem. Something wrong?>" is Heather's response, once again a bit broken and not entirely correct in her phrasing. The shorter, more concise sentences from her guide do not seem to go unnoticed.

Nerina pauses and furrows her brow. "Repeat that in English?" Her own accent is at least a little lighter than Heathers, no doubt from daily use.

"I can pay you," Heather repeats as asked, giving an easy shrug, "But is something bothering you?" She gives an apologetic look that her Italian failed her, at least for the moment.

"<I can pay you, but is something bothering you?>" Nerina repeats in Italian for the student's benefit. "<Nothing special,>" she answers vaguely, shaking her head. "<I wander with my fish, so if you have money and want food, or music, or practice with Italian I can deliver.>"

There's a gentle nod given to the correction, smiling gratefully a little. "<So you said. I'll probably accept, if I can find you again,>" Heather answers slowly. Once again, she puts more focus on selecting the correct words to speak. Then back to English, "It's nice to hang out with somebody. I don't have many friends here yet."

Nerina answers smoothly this time, not having any corrections for Heather's latest sentence. "<Friends are over-rated.>"

"<A lot of things are. But I like to have a couple of friends anyway,>" answers Heather, not really disputing that fact. Instead, she merely gives a shrug after saying her piece. "But I can pay for those things in the meanwhile. No friendship required if you don't want," she adds in English.

"<It's how I make a living,>" Nerina affirms. Fishing and busking at least. "<Where do you get your money?>" She asks back in idle curiosity.

"I have a few scholarships. No full ride or anything," Heather explains to Nerina with an uncomfortable little frown. She doesn't seem to like bragging about money. "<My parents help, too,>" she adds back in Italian, "But I'm not rich by any means."

"<What are you studying?>" Nerina asks.

"I'm in NYU's Conservator program. Maintaining ancient art and artifacts. That sort of thing. Mostly took art history courses before coming here," Heather explains, using her native language for the more difficult concepts, "They required a foreign language, which is why I know Italian. I know a couple others, too. Do you go to school?"

"No," Nerina answers. If those same difficult concepts didn't survive her own limited vocabulary, the fishwife doesn't ask. Instead she grabs her fish by either end and nibbles on the middle.

"Just work, then? Fishing?" Heather wonders. After a brief pause, she nibbles a bit more on her fish, watching nerina all the while.

"Mhm," Nerina vocalizes with a mouth full of fish. Her own disappears more quickly than Heather's. 'Unsold fish on a camp stove' is a dish the Italian is used to.

"That's cool. <Do you like?> Your work, that is?" Heather wonders next, between bites. Her use of English is increasing the later it gets, it seems, seemingly fatigued by using a language she's not fluent with.

"<Too many people, too many fishing boats,>" Nerina grouses. The shift is met by short, bite-sized segments of Italian. Then again, she's eating too.

"<It's a shame,>" Heather responds with a faint frown, "I'm not big on feeling crowded. I picked a career where I can mostly work alone." The student gives an amused little grin, "You might not believe it, but I'm actually not an extrovert."

"Extrovert?" That's a new word for Nerina.

"I'm not an outgoing person. I usually keep to myself," Heather tries to explain to the other girl. She gives a shrug, "Help me down after we're done eating? I should probably let you get back to work. Five dollars isn't much for as much time I've taken…"

"<Twenty-five dollars,>" Nerina corrects. "<I'll help you, just don't climb down my leg,>" she answers with a teasing smile.

"I'm sorry. That was so awkward," Heather answers with a blush and an averted gaze, clearly still embarrassed. "At least getting down is the easy part, yeah?" she gives a grin of her own.

Nerina giggles quietly to herself, a touch of color on her cheeks as well. That was awkward for her too, but not so much she can't joke about it. "<Gravity helps on the way down.>"

"As long as I don't break anything, <I will call a victory," Heather answers back with a slightly lesser grin. She takes a last bite of her fish, frowning faintly as she considers where to put the remains.

"<Try going feet first,>" Nerina recommends in jest.

"I'll be certain to do my best," Heather answers solemnly before breaking out into a grin again. "I've never been much of an outdoorsy type, if I'm honest. Usually at home with my nose in a book if I'm not hanging out with friends," she explains.

"<Try swimming some time. It's good for you,>" Nerina advises more genuinely.

"I have a pass at the gym where I take self-defense classes," Heather explains with a small smile, "So I sometimes swim there. I can bring a guest, if you ever want to join me. I should swim more often, though. You're right."

"<It's hard to join you if I don't know where you are,>" Nerina points out.

"This is true. You probably don't have a cell… I can show you my dorm, if you have time today? It's pretty close to the gym I go to, too," Heather explains, frowning a little at the logistic difficulties.

"<I have no other place to be today,>" Nerina answers, feeding Heather's words back to her.

"Want to go now? After you help me not fall to my death," Heather gives a little bit of a smirk, pushing up to her feet and giving the Italian a curious look.

"<Once I finish my fish,>" the younger woman assents. "<Would you like any more?>"

"I'm fine, but thank you. <You catch good fish,>" Heather offers, moving to sit again while she waits on Nerina. Eventually, they'll head to her dorm, where Heather will provide a little tour. But for now, she waits.

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