Molly moved with grace despite the high heel of her boots, and showed no embarrassment despite the skin that she showed. Her confidence was even a surprise to the two masterminds of the plan, but neither of them had an explanation for the other. If anyone knew why Molly was so comfortable it was only herself. She did not seem keen to share that reason with anyone either as she did her best to keep herself busy.
Despite Satsuki's warning to them; Roland was the first to speak up about Molly's appearance. Even with his inappropriate comment though; Molly did not seem the list bit perturbed by anything as she continued to handle the small crowd. It seemed that after word got out about Satsuki's stunt that there were more people flocking to the booth. Although she did seem to pay a bit more mind to how Leon handled his rebellious partner.
The rest of the pilots managed to escape their shock shortly after as Roland continued to speak up about Molly's appearance. They were kind enough to avert their gaze from him, but it seemed that Roland did not notice it. Roland was ignorant of the reactions of both the team and the crowd as he continued to dig him and his master a hole fit for a body. While most of the team was kind enough to leave Leon his dignity; Satsuki was nearby as she realized someone missed a key part of the setup.
Roland may have intentions of digging a six foot hole, but Leon did not want to be dropped in it as he bowed with a quick apology before beating a retreat. He ran so fast that Molly did not even have the time to respond to him. She was also not about to speak to Roland in his stead. Especially as Satsuki finished the connection necessary to have Yumi deliver a fitting punishment to the trouble maker of the team. Since Molly could not gut punch an AI; Yumi delivered a metaphorical gut punch by limiting his access to the RAM. It was a similar enough experience to getting the wind knocked out of you that Molly would be appeased.
If she was upset about Leon taking off she did not let it show on her face. There was little time for her to though as she had to greet all of the newcomers to the booth with a welcoming smile. The crowd had grown quite a bit larger since the festival was now officially open and thanks to word of mouth and prime real estate they were easily going to be the busiest booth. One benefit of her plan to have backups though meant they had more hands on deck as the wave came.
Molly and Satsuki made a potent pair that attracted attention from all over the festival to their booth. They seemed to handle the publicity well though as they even went so far as to take a few photos with fellow fans of the series. While they were mostly just there to grab attention; Ryosuke handled the serious inquiries by sponsors, and the pilots helped take some of the load off their leader. Combined with Yumi who could provide virtual assistance to anyone who came by and the booth was running like a well oiled machine.
Despite the smooth sailing each of the pilots individually attempted to get approval from Molly to check up on their missing member. The growing crowd prevented her from granting any of them that freedom, or at least that is what she said. Although it was a revealing costume it seemed to hide her emotions well enough. Especially as even Ryosuke grew a bit concerned about whether or not they should check on Leon.
[b “Are you sure that we shouldn't let one of them go check on him?”] Ryosuke whispered during a small opening.
[b “Leon's a big boy he can handle himself.”]
It was said with a quietly cheerful tone, but Ryosuke had his doubts before shrugging it off. He was not going to change Molly's mind while they were dealing with crowds of people, and especially not when they had already gone through so much work to have her go through with their plan. After Leon's response to it though he felt bad that he did not warn the poor young man. Although he did not have the same regret when it came to his troublesome partner.
[h3 [center ???]]While the festival was getting into full swing the teammate that the Devil Bats were concerned about was slumped down against one of their trucks. Despite the out of the way location that he had found to calm down he was somehow noticed. A trio of sharp dressed men; two who looked like stereotypical security, and a third that looked like a wealthy elderly man despite a demonic face. All of whom made their approach of the young man with no apparent concern for his state.
[b “It's Leon Kennedy right?”] The elderly man asked as he crouched down in front of Leon, and in doing so revealed rather prominent fangs. [b “What are you doing wasting your festival out here?”]
While the eldest of the trio made his approach; his security personnel were quick to flank him in case the former member of the military decided to try anything. Even though their presence most likely did little to intimidate the young man after everything he had seen.
Leon would nod as he had plenty of time to help her before his other engagements would drag him away. “Don't worry I got this.” He smiled giving a thumbs up as she left to do whatever she need to do. He wondered what was left to do as everything was set up and in place. ‘Maybe she going to check up on the gears.” He thought to himself as he went back to his table. The area they had set up in was nice and would give them shade for most of the day.
After a bit some people showed up. The man looks immediately reminded Leon of a lion with the amount of hair he had. He tensed up at first thing that the group had come to cause problem but after a second, he relaxed as they called out Tatsuya's name. In returned Tatsuya seem to know them as well. Walking up to the group he smiled. “Nice to meet you Taiga.” He said reaching out to shack the man hand. He then offered it to the rest of the group. “Name Leon I one of the new members.”
Soon after that everyone eye turned to look at something behind him. “What?” He asked everyone as he turning around. “Cat got your...” He didn’t finish his sentence as he noticed at how Satsuki was dressed. Leon mouth moved to say something but nothing came out. He couldn’t find any word as he then noticed her face as she gave her warning. He didn’t hear most of it as his mind was racing a mile a minute.
“Wait didn’t Molly go with,” He said to himself only for the other voice in his head to answer. “O this is going to be good.” Just then Molly would walk out. If the first one had been a shock then Molly would have been cardiac arrest to him. He had no idea from what anime or manga they dressed up as. All he knew was just how... He couldn’t even finish the thought. “Holy shit I think she just killed you.” Roland whispered his voice trying hard to hold back a laughter. A war with millions of troops couldn’t do that.’
Leon wanted to make some kind of reply or anything but he couldn’t he just stood there like an idiot starring in disbelief. Finally, something came to him as he was able to come to some kind of control as he stepped behind something shielding himself form her. God, he hoped she didn’t try to talk to him like that or he be reverted to a blubbering mess within second however that didn’t stop his other half form staying something.
“AAAA look at the cute puppy.” Roland said snapping a picture before quickly sending it off to someone. Leon blood went cold at Roland.
“Roland what are you doing?” Leon said in a low voice trying not to look up at Molly.
“What am I doing you asked?” he said not lowing his voice. “Well I just looking at the cute puppy that isn't illegal is it? Because if it is, you’re even more guilty after looking at her like that.”
Leon felt his heart almost stop as his face went redder then last night. He could beardly say. “I was nnnoottt.”
Roland rolled his eye clearly have a lot of fun making fun of his master. “O so weren't staring at her because you wanted to pet her.” Leon could no long speck as his face was so flustered. ‘so, this is how it feels.’ He thought to himself. ‘Payback a bitch.’ “I mean you always had things for that but dam man she your boss.”
So embarrassed form everything he turn to Molly hand bowed his head before saying. “Please forgive me but I need to go for a minute.” He said before almost running outside and to behind one of the trucks. He had left Roland in the projected with was fine with him as he would need a minute or hour to calm himself down. He would hope that Molly would see that as nothing more than Roland picking on him and nothing more as he didn’t want to get shot down yet. He was still trying to get to know her better or so he told himself. Molly had been his first crush and he had no idea how to handle it.
In his past he been just like that to his friend cocky and tasting them just like that. Calling it out in front of them like Roland had. It was his own fault to as Roland was around to help take that away from him with the neural link but most time it would cause Roland to ack out instead of him.
Rubbing his face he slid to the ground and let out a heavy sigh. Resting his head in his head he asked himself. “What am I going to do.”
While there were teams that had beaten them to the school; Molly had seen to it that they got the best real estate. It involved a bit of negotiation on her part, but their performance last year made it easy. Thanks to that they were able to get a bit more extravagant with their display than most of the other teams, and per Satsuki's recommendation saw fit to include some displays to get to know the team. Across their setup they had a display for all eight pilots, Ryosuke, and one that listed a few fun facts about the support crew.
Each of the displays had been assembled with the support of the pilots themselves to make sure that there was no information shared that would make them uncomfortable. They were also backed by displays of their respective Gears, at least for those of them that had Gears. Molly's Red Death being placed front and center with the most grandiose of the displays to draw the attention of everyone who would walk past. Since she was the team leader and would be the only one there throughout the majority of the event it made sense for her to be the attention grabber.
Molly being front and center would also work well with Satsuki's plan to get her a bit better public image after all the rumors that had been spread about the team. Although with all of their setup it had to be put off until the last minute for her to get ready. Thankfully they had Ryosuke to help watch over the booth in case of any sponsors, and Leon volunteered to handle the pilot side of things long enough for them to get ready.
[b “If you could just be available until I get back that will help a lot,”] Molly said as she put on a brave face. [b “Satsuki and I have to finish getting ready for her plan before people start showing up. Don't we Satsuki?”]
Satsuki smiled widely before heading off into one of the trucks with Satsuki. It would afford them the necessary privacy to change clothes without having to make the trip all the way back to the hangar. Along with the time alone for Satsuki to do some of the makeup for Molly's costume. Something that Molly had made sure would be necessary by going through with her sparring match with Leon the day before. Unfortunately Molly's plan did not go that well as she did not have any deep bruises thanks to the pads she had worn.
While Molly was getting ready the other pilots were doing their part to be available to the public. Each had some coaching to deal with the public persona of the team, but Molly trusted them enough that they did not go through anything excessive. It was her that had put the team in the cross hairs after all; even if it was unintentional. The new recruits seemed to have a good handle on it though and their pleasant personalities did well as the early arrivals started to show up.
Before the doors officially opened though another team made their appearance at the booth. The leader of the group stood a few inches taller than the tall Tatsuya and had the air of a wild beast about him. His face softened though as he approached and put a firm hand on Tatsuya's shoulder before shaking the man's hand.
[b “Looks like you guys found replacements! I didn't expect you to get such talent.”]
Tatsuya just laughed as he patted his friend on the back. [b “You should know never to count Molly out Taiga.”]
They chatted for a moment more before Tatsuya realized he should introduce his friend to the team. [b “This is Taiga Kagami, we're on the same basketball team.”]
[b “Nice to meet you all!”]
The quick introduction was interrupted by Satsuki's reappearance. She normally would not draw so much attention, but being dressed up as Mew Ichigo made her stand out far more than usual. It was the worried expression on her face that drew the most attention from her teammates. Satsuki made sure that they were all close before explaining though to make sure that only trusted individuals heard what she was about to say.
[b “Molly's about come out and I've been told to warn you all that any inappropriate comments will be met with a punch to the gut. So be aware and beware.”]
[b “I see your boss hasn't changed much, eh?”] Taiga asked with a chuckle.
[b “She's changed a lot. We at least get a warning this time,”] Tatsuya replied with a smile.
It was not long after Satsuki's warning that Molly made her own appearance. Just like Satsuki they were given a bit of notice by the turning of heads, but Molly also managed to draw some shocked gasps from the thin crowd before she came into view. The terrifying Molly Mushanokoji being dressed up as Mew Zakuro could clearly have that effect on people. Although there was also a few whispers that could be heard about her not showing any sign of embarrassment despite the outfit; unlike her issues with the interview dress.
[b “Good morning everyone! Are we ready to give it our all today?”]
Even with all of the attention Molly came in with an unusual amount of cheer that only seemed to draw more attention to their booth. Thankfully even though the team might have been rendered speechless by their leader's appearance to keep up with the extra activity; both Satsuki and Ryosuke had prepared the shocking surprise after all. Molly herself also did not seem to have any problem dealing with the still thin audience, but it was yet to be seen if she would be able to tolerate the full crowd the festival was about to have after the doors were opened to the public.
Leon wouldn't have to wait long until someone else showed up. “Hey Leon.” Sarah said walking up to him her normal coveralls clothing replaced with a punch rock t-shirt and jeans. “How you doing this morning. Nodding to he Leon to out his head phone and returned the greeting.
“Morning and doing fine thanks” He talk to Sarah a few times before and she seemed to be very friendly. She mostly helped out Jake and Bill and seemed very interested in Seraphim. “How about yourself?”
“Fine thanks. Someone should be by soon to let us in. You ready for a fun day?” She asked placing one of her hands on his hip.
Nodding he looked back toward the school. “Yep thought I can't say I the biggest fan of large crowds.”
“Well you need to get uses to it as you’re going to be center stage.”
“The team is going to be remember that we also compete to see who get to be on the starter team.”
“O please we all know who that going to be. Molly doesn't have a chance of being beaten neither dose Tatsuya or you. You three are like all top tier. The last slot is the only one open but I pretty sure I know who going to take it.”
“Of course, who else has one of the most amazing gear I ever seen. There not a gear out there that has the kind of power that Seraphim has. Even Molly own Red Death isn’t as stronger as him.”
“Gear aren't what make a match.” He laughed thinking on his own gear.
“Well no but I never seen someone learn as quickly as Lilly. Molly better be careful or she may meet her match on the field. Yes, Seraphim bigger target and suffer in some spot but his armor and speed make up for it. Even Molly would have trouble trying to keep way for Seraphim as it can out run her. She would have to get a lucky early shot and that even harder as Seraphim armor is more likely to bonus her shot then punch.”
“I see your point but still.”
“Just you wait I bet you a lunch that Lilly will be the first to defeat Molly.”
Thinking about it Leon smiled as he shrugged. She was right that Lilly had a gear most could only dream of but even then Molly skills and year of practice made it seem pretty unlikely. “Okay I take that bet.” Just then everyone else started showing up. “Anyway, we'll talk more later let's get to work.” Nodding both head out to help out in any way posable.
Loading everything up into trucks was the easy part. The harder part was getting gear loaded up. The biggest problem was Seraphim. Since Lilly wasn't around no one could pilot it. It odd set up was beond him and plus no one had the key card. “We could have Sora move it.” Roland said shrugging. “I’m not touching some else Gear. It not polite to do so and bad juju” Leon had forgotten that Sora was in the gear as Molly and himself kept them around more.
“That must get lonely.” He said looking up at the gear. “Well what do you expect most people don’t carry their AI in the back of their head.” Roland replied. “Yumi has the hanger and can be moved easily then Sola.” he was right as Sola was more hardline then other and it wasn’t like Lilly could easily take her around like Yumi and Roland.
After a quick chat with Sola and a call to Jake as Lilly didn’t pick up her phone, they got Seraphim onto the truck. Shortly after that they started moving to the school. The group split up shortly before arriving. The truck with the gear headed to the field and hander used before battle while everyone else went to the schools' part to help start setting up table. Many other groups had beaten them and had already started setting up. They would have an hour to start setting up before people would start showing up. Lucky enough it was quick setup as Molly had said she wanted it to be simple. It had a few tables with poster and picture of teams past, event and other things alike and most importantly the date of the first match.
Leon was given his own board to set up about himself. With the help of Roland and a projector he was able to show old pictures and Metals for his early days as a gear polit. He even had a slideshow setup for himself. He would stand by it so if people wanted to talk to him about his gear or even his training. He didn’t need to do his own thing until mid-day so he would be around for quite a bit until then helping in anyway or talking to people that came and went. “So, everything seems ready than. Anything else you need before the crowed gets busy?”
[b “See you at 5:30. Make sure to get some sleep.”]
Molly said it with a smile before she made her way out the door and to the elevator. She heard his door shut behind her only after she was in the elevator, and after that nothing but the muzak. It was an easy enough thing to tolerate for the short ride down from the seventh floor, although it did give her a lot of time to think about what just happened.
The only other stop before getting back to the hangar was a quick good evening from William the doorman. It was a bit of a surprise to see someone like him working as a doorman, but given the establishment it was not as galling as it could be. All it did was make Molly more confident that there was something shady about the arrangement Leon had. Still she would not judge him as she pulled up to a Gear hangar that was paid for by a corporate tyrant.
The first order of business once she got home was to get Yumi reinstalled into the system. Followed by a quick check of the locks while Yumi got reacquainted with her less dimensional graphical displays. Something that Molly was keenly aware she was about to have an argument about as Yumi switched to a lab coat and brought out a whiteboard on the display.
[b “You don't even know what I was going to say.”]
[b “You were going to ask me to install a holosystem for the hangar. Just like the last time I let you play around in one. Yumi you know how much they cost.”]
[b “Do you honestly think Yoichi wouldn't buy one for his cute granddaughter? Especially when she has such a cute artificial intelligence?”]
Molly just leveled a strong look at Yumi who put on the best puppy dog eyes she could. Their stare down lasted almost a full minute before Yumi finally conceded and switched back to her usual uniform to pout about it.
[b “Look, I'll make a deal with you. If you can get Lilly to beat the week thirteen program I'll talk to gramps about it. How does that sound?”]
[b “The week thirteen program? Kenta and Yohei never cleared that one.”]
[b “Take it or leave it.”]
Yumi narrowed her gaze for a moment before smiling. [b “Challenge accepted.”]
[b “Good. Oh, and before I go to bed for the night; find out how much one of those apartments cost.”]
[b “Are you sure you want to know the answer?”]
[b “Not really, but do it anyway.”]
Molly gave a wave to Yumi after that before making her way upstairs for her nightly routine before bed. Usually with something so exciting the next day she would have to do some practicing in the simulator to wear herself out, but after their sparring match Molly was more than ready for bed. Something proven by the fact that it took her no time at all to fall asleep after her head hit the pillow.
Molly awoke with a groan to her usual expletive laden alarm song. One that she shut off with no fumbling around her nightstand this time around. Although she still let out another groan as she crawled her way out of the comfort of her warm and inviting bed.
She had no time to so much as change though before there was a loud knock on her apartment door. [b “Fuck!”]
Even in her groggy state Molly was still to the front door in just a few seconds and slammed it open to find Satsuki with a large bag, along with Ryosuke who was standing just behind her. Molly's groggy state did nothing to hinder the glare that she leveled at them. They might have keys to the hangar, but she was not happy to be interrupted.
[b “I thought you might want to have breakfast with us,”] Satsuki said as she held up the large bag with her trembling hands.
Molly pinched the bridge of her nose and took a deep breath before giving her reply. [b “I hate surprises. Tell me about plans like this.”]
Satsuki gave a shaky nod as Molly breathed a sigh of relief. [b “Let me go get washed up. You know where everything is.”]
Molly took a quick shower before getting changed into appropriate work clothes; while Satsuki dished up their breakfast. She would mostly be supervising given who all was involved, but she wanted to be able to get her hands dirty if need be. Plus it would make changing for the festival itself easier; even if she was not exactly looking forward to what Satsuki had prepared for her to wear.
While they were enjoying the breakfast that Satsuki had brought for them; Tatsuya arrived to find Leon waiting outside the hangar. Understandable as there were only a few key holders for Molly's hangar, but he had to wonder if Leon should be one of them. A question he shrugged off shortly after as above his pay grade before making his way into the hangar just ahead of the rest of the mechanic crew.
Once all the on time arrivals were gathered together Molly started issuing orders to get everything they hadn't moved yet into the trucks. Ryosuke made sure to help by coordinating the mechanics that were under his purview. While Satsuki made sure that everyone was properly taken care of in terms of health and that they did not leave anything behind. All together the preparation to move over to the school did not take long, and so they would have plenty of time to set the booth up the way Molly saw fit.
Glad that she didn’t seem to catch what he had said. Laughing a bit, he looked at his bottle that was a forth gone. “I be fine to meet up at five thirdly. Trust me I could finish that whole bottle and be fine. Used to be a major drinker and still have the tolerance.” Walking back to the table he quickly cleaned it up as he looked at the clock. “Okay and your welcome. Definitely any time.” He walked her to the door and opened it for her. He would have walked her to her car but he felt like it would be nothing but awkward as she had parked at his gym. “Have a good night and see you in the morning.” Waiting a few second after she left, he closed his and let out a low silent scream. “I can't believe it.” He said to no one.
“What that you totally embarrassed yourself in front of the girl you like.” Roland said showing up on the holo system that Yumi had used a few second before. He finished up with Yuma a few second before she had been pulled. “God why can't he just wow her and get it over with.” He had said to her. “And thanks, but no as most of this is off limit to civilian AI. Plus, this coding is mostly encrypted and unless you have the key installed into your own program you can’t access it.” He had also noticed that the other two seemed to be wrapping so he stopped to force on her. “Here have this.” Opening he handed her what looked like a Rubik's Cube. “It’s a game I came up with. To unlock it you have decode a random set of number before you can move it. Once you make an action the code resets and you a have to do it over again. One you crack the cube a prize awaits you. Take it as a thank you for all you hard work these last few weeks. I couldn’t have done all that programing for Sora and the gear without your help”
Shortly after she had been pulled and left Roland and Leon alone. “She may be the most annoy AI I met when it comes to controlling thing but she not that bad.” Leon laughed a bit moving to his room. “Seem you made a friend the?” He asked. “More like an AI I don’t mind still hate everyone else.” Rolling his eye Leon went to bed the evening event replaying in his head.
The next morning Lilly woke up to find herself alone in her own room covered in her stuffed animals. Any time she had an attack her brother would take time to tuck her in with her “friends”. Growing she pushed herself up and looked at the clock. Five fourth five. She had an hour before she had to be in class. Looking at her phone she had a text form him. It was instructions on what to wear. Seeing she have time to take a shower she crawled to her closet and quickly found what she was told to wear. A long sleeve shirt and skirt that went to her ankles. Putting on the matching shoes and letting her hair flow free around her shoulder.
Once she was dressed and ready to go, she grabbed a few apples form the kitchen and headed to school. Taking her bike, it was a short drive to school as she seemed more spaced out then normal. Once she arrived she parked in her normal spot and headed in side. On the north side of school witch, she was on was empty as the festival was taking place on the South side. She could faintly make out the noise of the festival in the back ground. She wished anything that she couldn’t go join in the fun but she knew she couldn’t.
Sighing she moved inside and grabbed the elevator to the third floor. She then went to a class room that was still dark. Upon entering she heard. “You’re late.” Bowing her head she tried to say. “Sorry Mr. Gray but I woke...”
“Enough I don’t want to hear your excuses. I gave you a time and you failed to show up on time.” Bowing her head lower at her scolding Lilly said nothing. “We will deal with that punishment later but for now let get started.” Shivering a bit Lilly nodded. “Yes Mr. Gray.” Was all she said.
Leon awoke before his alarm an annoying habit he hated. Turning it off he got up and took another quick shower before dressing in his normal t-shirt and jeans. Taking a few second to stretch out his swore mussels form yesterday fight he put in his headphone and head down to his car. It was bit longer of a drive for him then anyone in the team as he lived on the far side of town. Stopping by a drive throw for breakfast he arrived ten minutes early then the time said to. “If you're on time your late if you’re early you're on time.” He said smiling to himself. Leaning against his car with his headphone in and a good stream of heavy metal playing he waited for the other to show up and join him.
Yumi did not react as Roland misinterpreted her statement, as it was close enough that she did not mind him taking it as an insult. She did however focus in with keen attention when he brought up the memory usage as it was that breakdown that would tell her who was right. Unfortunately it was a bit of both as she recognized the system limitations were more strict than she was used to for holographic projections. Molly's grandfather's system had quite a bit more horsepower to it so to speak, and so the hair and outfit physics of her usual program were causing a heavier load than her portion could handle. An unfortunate aftereffect of Molly either forgetting to or choosing not to plug in her expansion.
Still it was an easy enough fix as she had a mini version of the program that used a far simpler system for her hair physics. The mini program dropped the graphical quality of her projection a noticeable amount, but it should keep her host happy. Thinking about things it made sense that Roland would not have as robust a system as Molly's grandfather since he had a far simpler appearance the drain from his projection was significantly less than that of her own. She would not mention any of this though as the reason the problem came up was because of the added difficulties caused by her more expressive outfit.
[b “I doubt Leon makes a move and Molly's mind is elsewhere,”] Yumi said as she made a few more alterations to reduce her load on the system. [b “So would you like my help with your programming work?”]
Molly was fine with Leon keeping his secrets as she had said. The fact that a lot of those secrets were redacted military action just made it all the more justified in her mind. There was no reason for him to risk his freedom or good standing just so that he could tell her about what he went through during the war. She would rather get to know Leon the civilian anyway since that is who she hoped to work with most of all.
After all of the talk of redacted military secrets though she was not at all expecting his response to her showing off. A remark about him being at a disadvantage, sure, but not a blatant comment on her attractiveness. She was comfortable enough to keep from flushing from the statement, however she was thankful to have the water close at hand to help out. Even as Leon stood up and turned his attention away from her she kept the water in hand for her own comfort.
Her shoulders relaxed some as he continued to speak and in the process changed the subject. A smile spreading across her face as he expressed his gratitude for being a part of Team Devil Bats. It made her wonder though if there was ever a moment like that between grandfather and grandmother as they were both a part of the original Devil Bats.
While they were having their frank discussion Yumi was busy making sure that any pictures Roland took would not include anything that Molly would not want to be seen of herself. A benefit of both the holosystem and the fact that she was in charge of two-fifths of the system memory. If he wanted to embarrass his partner she was not about to stop him, but she drew the line at him doing anything that might hurt Molly. Only partially because she knew that if Molly found out that she did nothing that she would be reprimanded for it.
There was a moment of silence after that as Molly finished off her water. After what he had said she worried if she opened her mouth it would be to say something snarky, and after all of their talks that is the last thing she wanted to do. He may have left an opening larger than the Grand Canyon, but that did not mean that she had to jump on it. Thankfully it did not take very long for Leon to change the subject again himself and in a way that made things very easy for her.
His mention of the festival reminded her of what Satsuki had prepared for her to soften her image for the upcoming tournament. She considered telling him about it for just a moment before an idea struck her. While it was a brilliant idea in her mind the fact that it put a confident smile on her face and relaxed her posture almost certainly told Leon that something had changed. He would not get to know what until tomorrow though as Molly was quick to go along with his subject change.
[b “Since the festival opens at seven we want the booth to be ready ahead of time. I'll be getting up at five to get everything out the door in time. If you want to help with that you can meet us at the hangar around five thirty, or if that's too early given your drinks you can just meet us at the school at six.”]
She had no idea of what his tolerance for alcohol was like, but she did not want him to push himself if he was going to be hungover in the morning. Especially with the idea she had in mind for him as she would want him at his best to confirm something for her. It would make their working together a great deal easier if she could prove it to herself one way or another. That and having another able body to help out in the morning would make things easier either way.
[b “Speaking of the festival, I should probably get out of here so you can get some sleep. I've got to get back to the hangar to get things ready anyway,”] Molly said as she stepped around the chair to get to her bag. [b “Thanks again for the dinner, and for the fun match. We'll have to do this again sometime.”]
Molly made sure to flash him a smile with that before getting Yumi ready to disconnect from the system. Something that caused her to visibly pout for a moment before her display disappeared. She was always happy to get to show off in three dimensional space and Molly had always declined her requests to install such a system in the hangar given the space involved.
“is anything normal about our group.” Leon would laugh sitting back again thing about everyone in the team. Each seem to have a unique or quirky personality. “And don’t worry I don’t mind everyone need a way to distress and if that is something, I can do that for you. I would be more than happy to.” He knew from some of the story that people told him that she indeed had a bad temper but he wanted to get to know it and be able to help calm her back down. Everyone need a rock he had his in the team and he had hoped to be her. He knew he had a low chance in that but still had to try.
“I see, well whatever about the only other outfit is my dress blue and I don’t where them anymore.” Roland said still not paying her much attention. Then suddenly he stopped what he was doing to turn and look around at the AI behind him. “You can be serious I have fully controlled this area for three months and your dare blame me for using more memory in my own system then I know I using.” He suddenly pulled up a screen that showed both of their memory usage. “Your using the other 40% that I left you after I started my programing. Between using my Holosystem and your inconsistent mind you drag more than you think.” He turned back around as he went back to work. “And if you must know I having to update all most every system on Firefly my gear as I been lacking in doing it as I been helping you and Molly programing Lilly Gear and Sora. No offense to he be she was pretty back words.” He then let the information screen flow in fount of her. It was quick as he quickly upload and download new program and coding to his hard drives. “Do you thinking these two will do anything or just sit there and talk all night?” He asked talking a quick look at Molly and Leon.
Back with them Leon would smile happy that Molly would agree so easy to him just being a normal person. It felt nice having someone to talk to again and who wouldn’t treat him any deferent. “Thank for understanding to be honset again there not much more I can truly say. A lot of what we did is covered in black ink. I proimes that I tell you someday I just wanted to let you know so if I ever seem off or far off that that why.” What happened next, he wasn’t ready for. Molly would lift her shirt showing off her belly. This caused him to light up bright red as he had no idea how they got to this. He was quick to recover once she started talking again thankfully. “To be real that just me. I seen some crazy things in my time and a hot girl with a sexy body isn't much. You are you and I wouldn’t never judge what you choose to do.”
Standing up himself he walked to the window and looked out. “Truly I thank you for that it more than I ever wanted from friends and comrades. Plus, don’t worry I will bring up anything like that before it becomes a problem.” He didn’t stand up to look cool or anything no he had to hide his face after what he just said. Yes the alcohol help him came her nerves but it had made him slip up. He just called her hot and her body sexy. ’God I’m such an idiot we were talking so serious and then I let that slip. Roland must be laughing his ass off.
And laughing his ass off he was as he heard him and stopped his work. He gotten many picture and was setting himself off a phone Album to send to someone who he knew would enjoy it.
Waiting for his face to calm down Leon stood there trying to think of something anything to say to feel the silence. He didn’t know how long he just stood there looking out at the window looking over the city. “he he so what time should I show up tomorrow?” He finally said he knew it was week but it was all he could think of. ‘Dam it Leon grow a spine.’ He said to himself and he finally turned back around.
This was not the response that Molly had expected to get from Leon after her statement. It was a welcome change from what she had expected as he seemed happy to step up to the plate for her and the team. He was former military so he had clearly carried his fair share of burdens in the past, but the fact that he was willing to do so for her so soon after he joined her team was impressive. Even if it felt a bit strange after what she had to do to inspire loyalty in the past.
The idea that Lilly would demonstrate a similar loyalty was not entirely surprising given her circumstances, but the fact that it was Leon suggesting it made it feel more real. He had spent the most time with Lilly besides herself and for him to see that spirit was a good sign. Even with her own burdens to bear Lilly had proved to be a reliable teammate. Given how hard the two of them had worked it almost made Molly thankful that her former subordinates had screwed up.
[b “That is a hell of a thing to offer.”]
While Molly was listening to Leon; Yumi was getting her own share of information from his artificial intelligence half. It seemed Roland's concern with the neighbors was based on history, and the fact that their neighbors seemed to complain so much made Yumi thankful that Molly's hangar did not have such struggles. If they had neighbors that could peek in or hear them there would almost certainly be complaints about Molly's behavior. Of course Molly's hangar was not in as nice a neighborhood as Leon's apartment seemed to be.
[b “You are welcome. I can see how that would be annoying.”]
Yumi paused for a moment at his next question as there were several answers she could provide. However she did not want to say anything that would leave Molly feeling exposed. [b “A person should be prepared for any situation and an artificial intelligence is no different. Regarding where I got them it is the custom work of my creator and myself.”]
His last line struck a chord with her though as she was confident she was not fidgeting enough to cause any form of memory drain. Unless their holographic system had been improperly setup which seemed unlikely, or if Roland was using far more than she would expect for some simple programming work. She was not about to just take his statement in stride either given the implications.
[b “I promise you that my program is efficient enough that there should be no drain on your resources. So either you have some faulty components somewhere, or you are up to something that is much too big for you. Mind telling me what?”]
Leon poured himself another glass as he continued to explain himself to Molly. This time by writing off his need for special treatment by explaining his own eccentricities. Hearing him lay it all out like that reminded her of her time taking Lilly to her appointment with that less than pleasant doctor. He may be right that he was not normal, but neither was she, and so she wanted to be sure he was aware that he could still feel at home with the team.
[b “You may not be normal, but you'd never know it from looking at you. Besides I think normal is overrated anyway. No one on our team is exactly normal, but I don't want any of you to feel like an outcast on the team. We may not fit in well with the rest of society, but we fit in well with each other which is what matters.”]
What followed that was a far heavier subject matter than she had expected to deal with on a trip that started with them sparring to relieve tension. Molly had dealt with some difficulties in her life, but she had never faced anything close to a combat zone. So the idea that he would not expect to get out of such a situation alive did not sound odd to her at all. Everyone wants to say that in a situation like that they would step up and be a hero that would lead their side to victory, but Molly was not so foolish as to believe that she would have been any different. Well she probably would have had a longer outlook, but only because the future has always been a thing that gave her hope.
The war he spoke of was one that she was not unfamiliar with even as a civilian. She had done her due diligence when he had applied to her team after all, and the dates lined up that he would have been involved in it. Still she mostly had journalists accounts to work with in getting an image of what he went through. That and the knowledge that war is hell that she had learned from just about every war that she had studied through her time in school.
The fact that after all of that he just wanted to be treated like anyone else was an understandable one. It also made Molly's job that much easier as she already had one teammate that she probably worried about too much. She would readily take it on if it meant keeping this promising team together, but the fact that he seemed to be adapting well was a promising one to her.
[b “That I can do. Promise.”]
Her face faltered though as he left the floor open to her for any questions that she might have for him after his speech. He had been through a terrible war that had left him with scars both obvious and obscure. There were plenty of questions that she could ask him, but there were no answers to those questions that she would be happy to hear. Still she knew she had to say something about it as he clearly left it open for her.
[b “Leon I'm not going to push you to tell me anything. We all have our own burdens to bear and our own skeletons to hide. If there is anything you want to tell me I will hear you out, but you don't have to tell me a damn thing.”]
Molly stood up at that point to help demonstrate her point even going so far as to lift her shirt to show her toned stomach. [b “Look at me Leon. Even with my muscle I know I'm not what you'd picture when you think of a mixed martial artist, but I beat you all the same. You didn't ask me why I knew how to do that, why I'd put in the effort to learn all of that, or anything like that. Just accepted that that is who I am and moved on.”]
[b “It's the same thing here. You are you and I am me. If you want to tell me more I'll hear you out, but don't feel like you owe me anything in that regard.”]
Molly paused a second after she dropped her shirt. [b “Unless it is going to impact our work together; then maybe let me know ahead of time if you can.”]
She gave a bit of an awkward chuckle at that before picking up her water. That whole experience left her feeling a bit dry, and so she was happy to have some liquid she could easily down. Especially as it left it on Leon to fill the silence if he felt it necessary.
Leon nodded. “Thank I think I can rest easy knowing that I got you on my side.” He knew it sounded cheesy but he couldn’t think of anything better. Returning to the couch he placed two water bottles and the bottle of jack. He forgot that drinking age in Japan was different form the US and had forgot that Molly could drink. Taking a sip of his own glass he listened to what Molly had to say. His face didn’t change but kept an interested expression. He knew some of this from story and what Lilly and Tatsya had told him.
“Well if we are being straight then I don’t mind.” He said laying back into couch again. “You got a lot on your shoulder with everything. Especially since you're doing this for more than fun. I respect that and will give it my all to make it easier. I sure Lilly would do the same so don’t worry about it do what best for you. I support any way I can and if you need someone to hit then I’ll be happy to help relieve any pent-up stress.” He said keeping his eyes locked with hers.
Roland laughed as he took a secret phone for later. Sending a copy to Yumi to use how every she wished. “Thank for covering up truest me the neighbors complain about everything and it may sound mean but I doing what best for my home and master. Also, why do you have so many outfits what that a program thing or something you add?” It seemed odd to him that an AI would have such thing. Sure, he could change his own image but he like that bomber men look and didn’t change it often. “As stop acting so fidgety I can feel my memory draining because of it. If you wanna help your master with Leon then do so I don’t care I got work to do and only watching because it funny.”
Finishing his first glass he poured another one. The licker making easy to keep his nerves about him. “And thank you but you don’t need to change anything for my sake. It just enough for me to be part of a team and have friends again. Plus what part of me is normal. I’m an American that used to be in the army and have and over hyper AI that lives in his head. I’m shy and can barely take to girls without getting flustered.” He laughed a bit at that word. Normal.
“To be honested I don’t know what to do with myself. I believed I would die before getting out odd as that may seem. I lived almost two year in a combat zone and you don’t see much farther than the next hour.” He was a bit hesitant to keep going but she at least had a right to know. “And if you are being honest then I should to. Just note that a lot of the stuff I can't take about. Not because I don’t trust you or don’t want to but because I was told I couldn’t. I’m under oath to never speak of what I saw but this is what I can tell you.” He sat up and looked down at that floor.
“I served in the Second Korean War. Short after the North invaded the south my unit was sent in to help hold the line until the US could send more help. To put a long story short, it didn’t go well at first we lost a lot of men and many friends. Even when we were finally able to turn the fight in our favor we still got hit hard. I know on the news it said that we stomped the North but in true we didn’t. I during that whole thing I was someone you won't recognize. I’m still recovering but for the most part I healed. I thought you should know to understand why I am the way I am.” A sad smile came to his face at the end. “So just know having you Lilly and everyone else around make me feel better and more comfortable. Just keep treating me like you would anyone and I be happy.” He finished his second glass and without thinking pored himself a third. He been a big drink in the army so it would take several more glass before he would feel it hit him.
“I sure you have question and feel free to ask just know that I may not be able to answer them all.”
Molly considered making a comment about the fanciness of his apartment, but Leon seemed unsettled enough that she kept her mouth shut. The fact that he would want to do better though made it easy to see how he was an an unintentional lady killer. He had a good physique as she learned clearly during their sparring match. Along with a decent enough personality to get people interested in him.
[b “Relax. I appreciate it.”]
Yumi kept her grin on her face as she kept in contact with Roland via their private messaging system. It was worth her time as Roland revealed that Leon had had a change of heart sometime in the past year that made him the awkward mess that she was cheering on. She appreciated that information even if it came with a comment about her unique design.
[b “I don't have legs, but I'll see what I can do.”]
Her inspiration was from a manga that was technically aimed at children, but to be fair it was one that routinely generated controversy for being a bit too dark for them. Still she wanted to be a gracious guest even to the rude Roland so she would do what she could. There were a few outfit programs she had that would at least give her the appearance of legs.
Scrolling through her outfit programs meant she was not able to say anything when Leon began to babble. It seemed genuinely heartfelt as far as the artificial intelligence could tell, but it was not exactly the most coherent compliments in the world. Still Molly seemed to take it well as she flushed a little at the unexpected praise.
Molly took it all in as best she could without interrupting as Leon's train continued along a few changes of course. She was not about to turn down praise of herself even if some of it did make her feel bad for him. The idea of someone being caring and kind being seen as an outlier rather than the norm was a sad one. It felt as though he had clearly seen much worse people in his travels than she had, and it clearly left a mark on his perception.
[b “I've got yours,”] Molly said quietly at the apparent end of his speech.
The rule of thumb she had learned in her experiences was that perception was reality. If he perceived her well that was for the best for obvious reasons, but seeing a world where caring and kindness were uncommon would certainly be a difficult world to live in. Just the fact that he had clearly done so for a while was enough to impress her, however it was something she hoped to rectify if she could. Another problem for her to tackle for her team, and yet another way for her to avoid her own issues.
Before she could say anything more about it though he excused himself to offer her a drink. She was only a little surprised that he did not offer her anything alcoholic given the circumstances. It made her wonder if Leon was just trying to be a good influence, or if he even was a drinker. Not exactly something she would ask him about given the amount of landmines such a question could stumble into, but after his previous speech it did leave her to ponder it.
[b “Water would be great. Thanks.”]
While Molly was left to think about how her host was getting along; Yumi got to hear some playful banter from her own host Roland. Yumi was aware that her master had taken a bit of a different understanding of his speech though. Whatever reason it might be it seemed that she was not able to see through Leon's awkward activities. If not for Roland's presence she would consider stepping in to help them both out, but she was not about to expose any of her or Molly's inner thoughts to Roland if she could avoid it.
Molly took the break in conversation as an opportunity to finish eating the meal that Leon had bought for her. It was a nice gesture that she intended to repay despite the fact that she had done similar on a few occasions by now. A bad habit of hers was always wanting to do more for her friends than they did for her; probably because of her upbringing, but still a bad habit nonetheless to see it as a kind of competition. Since being competitive was another of her habits it did not go together well.
Thankfully she was broken out of this negative thought train by the sight of Yumi in her winter attire. Molly raised an eyebrow at it but Yumi just swept her arm in front of her pants to justify the change. If she wanted to have the appearance of legs she was allowed to make that decision herself; Molly was not about to tell her to change. Luckily their nonverbal conversation was over when Leon got back with their drinks. Which included one that answered an earlier question of hers to a degree.
[b “Thank you, and thanks for the meal. It was good.”]
Molly took the presented opportunity to sip her water to avoid having to come up with something more to say immediately after Leon got back. There was no point to rush what she wanted to say when there was a logical reason they were not filling the silence. Still it did not take long for her to set the drink down and focus her attention on him.
[b “Look I'll be straight with you Leon; I'm not half as nice as you think I am. Ask Satsuki or Tatsuya and they'll tell you that you don't want to see me when shit's going wrong. I'll be honest if things are going bad for the team I'll be the first to hold myself accountable, but everyone is going to be held accountable in the way I see fit. Hell ask Lilly and she'll tell you what kind of taskmaster I can be.”]
[b “All that said; if you need more help to adjust let me know. I don't want you to be uncomfortable with our team even if it isn't exactly filled with the most normal people. You may just be here for schooling or may be looking to live here full time, but either way you deserve to feel at home here. Just let me know what I can do to help make that happen, okay?”]
Molly comment would make him blush as he tried his best to keep his emotions under control. He went over several thing idea of what to say but went with the best one he could. “Well if I had I would have taken you some where more fancy then my dull apartment.” To be honest to himself he would have no idea where to take Molly on a real date if he ever had the courage to ask her. “Sorry if this seemed a bit awkward, I use to buying dinner after coming home and figured you be hungry as well.”
“Man, he killing me.” Roland would say to Yumi in their privet chat room. “It crazy to think a year ago he would have no issue asking Molly out. Then again, I don’t think she would happy or interested in a guy that act cocky and rude.” Roland was working on some coding at the same time only paying a bit of attention to the two. “Also, if you're going to use my rail system would you please put legs on, I don’t need the neighbor complaining because their kids are having nightmares because they see you standing in the window with no legs.”
“I still getting used to this whole civilian life style to be honest. I lived so long with rank and structure that I hard to get out of that kind of thinking. I'm so lucky I got you and the other back at the hanger to put up with me.” He finished his meal as he leaned back into the couch. “I nice really that I was able to get along with everyone and they treat me like a normal person. I think that got a lot to deal with you so thanks. The way you lead from the front and demand only the best from your team is amazing.” He closed his eyes with a smile. “You may not see it a lot but Lilly really looks up to you. She reminders me of a little puppy following around the big dog wanting to be like it.” This made him laugh as even with Lilly in a chair she was almost taller than Molly. Opening he eyes and sitting back up he smiled as he looked at Molly. “And I trust you a well you shown me you're not like most people. You are caring and kind to your friend and comrades. We still may not know much about each other but know I got your back until the end.”
Roland whistled as Leon had caught him by surprise. “Well maybe your right.” He said to Yumi laughing a bit. “You may not be able to protect her from that charm.” he knew what she meant but it was still funny to him.
Leon did his best to keep his voice even and calm making it look like he said it with some kind of courage final he said. “Any way I never offered you anything drink. That was rude of me would you like anything. I got water some sweet tea or some juice.” He stood up and walked over to a small bar and pulled him some Jack and coke to help calm his nerves. Taking a small sip, it helped him finally get himself under control after saying something so embarrassing as that. ‘She must I such wiredo for saying something like that.’ he thought to himself.
Molly just waved off his concerns as she knew the man from experience enough to know that he was not the invincible being he claimed to be in his glorified advertisement. She would prepare for him just as she would any of her other opponents. He was not so dangerous in her eyes to deserve special treatment as of yet, but of course that could change based on how the season progressed. If you asked anyone at the start of the last tournament if they were worried about her they would surely have written her off as a rookie, but they had a podium finish all the same.
Molly's shoulders slumped a bit at the response to her question, but it did not last long as he followed it up with an interesting offer. [b “Are you sure?”]
She did not take him for the kind to casually invite his boss over to his apartment, or the type to have a spare room to be honest. Still it was a welcome offer to avoid having to drive home after building up such a sweat. Unknown to her it was an offer that drew Roland's approval as he gave a thumbs up and a wink behind her back as she was busy putting on a hoodie to cover up before they went outside. His act did not go unnoticed by Yumi though who gave her own nod of approval to the brave offer by the young man.
[b “If you're sure.”]
Molly would normally be a bit more reserved going to a man's house like this, but after their fight she was far more comfortable. It helped knowing that if need be she could beat him in hand to hand combat, and in a dangerous situation she knew she was far more frightening than she might look. Still with how chastely he had behaved to this point she was not worried about him. Unfortunately for him it was partly because she doubted he had any interest.
Leon took the lead as they made their way down the street to his apartment. Molly looked at the surrounding buildings with only a bit of surprise registering on her face as she did. He had to be doing quite well for himself as retired military to be living in such a nice area she thought, but she made sure to keep it to herself as they approached his apartment building and its doorman. Seeing him she would have felt a bit under dressed if not for Leon's own attire.
She made sure to give a small bow to him before they made their way inside. Once inside her appraisal of the situation changed as she realized just how ritzy his apartment building was in fact. The answer to how he could afford it on a salary from such a small class was answered by it being a retirement gift from an old friend. Not the type of friend she would expect a member of the military to have as her mind immediately went to yakuza.
[b “I live in an apartment above a hangar I'm not about to judge,”] Molly said as she put her hands up.
The fact that he was a bit uncomfortable accepting such a lavish gift made her lean more into the yakuza theory, but just as she said she was not about to judge. She got most of her expensive things from her grandfather after all. He may not be yakuza, but the differences were not large enough for her to feel comfortable judging him about his own acquisitions.
[b “Thank you for having me.”]
It was not what she would normally say upon entering a home, but she figured it would sound better to Leon's ears. She could not be certain of it, but at least her international friends seemed to prefer it. Which was good enough for her to use in this circumstance as she slipped out of her shoes.
[b “Sounds good,”] Molly said with a small laugh as she took the time to plug Yumi in before heading to the guest bedroom.
Molly did a quick check for recording devices on her way into the bathroom as more a force of habit than anything else. It was a quick check since she brought her phone with her and one that proved unnecessary thankfully. So with towel in hand she made her way to the shower to clean up before the dinner that he had managed to rope her into having with him.
Since she could not exactly bring her phone into the shower with her she was left with plenty of time to think about the day. Which brought to mind her earlier conversation with Yumi where she had made a comment about her sparring match being a date with Leon. She had brushed it off initially as just some playful banter, but here she was back at his apartment. If it was intended to be a date he had clearly done a good job of it since they were about to have dinner together.
Being former military she would expect him to be more forward, but since he seemed to be a bit embarrassed about being seen without a shirt that might not be the case. Roland on the other hand would have almost certainly let something slip by now if that were his intent. Leon might be able to keep tight lips, but Roland was the exact type to sink ships in situations like this from Molly's perspective.
The thoughts were enough to keep her mind going though as she finished getting cleaned up. A quick change into a black outfit consisting of a sleeveless shirt and shorts that left her decent enough to join her host in the living room for the meal that he had ordered for them. One that he played off as soon as she arrived.
[b “Here I thought that you were doing all this just to get me to have dinner with you.”]
Molly just smirked at her own comment as she took a seat with only a cursory glance at the anime that he had playing in the background. Whether it was from her comment or something else she could see the maniacal grin on Yumi's face. Not unsettling to her, but it did make her wonder what had made her artificial intelligence so pleased.
[h3 [center Yumi]]After Leon stepped out, but before Molly had Yumi was sure to make use of her ability to move around his apartment. She had caught on a bit after the comments and was keen to see something entertaining for the evening. Especially after having spent it putting up with Roland so that he would not interrupt his partner putting the moves on her master.
[b “I know I usually protect Molly from danger, but I don't believe I have the type of protection that she will need tonight.”]
She managed to say it just moments before they heard the shower turn off. While she was happy to tease Leon she was not about to do something like that when Molly could hear them, as she knew what Molly was like. Besides if the young man wanted to pursue her he would have to do so himself.
Leon would just shrug. “Still there away some true in legend and I wouldn’t set him aside just yet.” Leon would say listening to both Molly and Roland. He wouldn’t never put it past someone to have a trick up his sleeve. “Just don’t get cocky if we do end up fighting him, I can tell that his cockiness is a act for the TV.” Point to a screen that Roland had frozen on. “Take a second look at his eye they are not of a man that don’t have a plan.”
That last question caught him off guard. “No haven't got on as I'm only renting this place.” He said picking up his own bag and placing a few things in it. Take a few second to build his courage he said “But I live a block down if you wanna use that.” Lucky her back was to Roland as he gave thumbs up and wink much to his disappoint. “It fine really as I got a spare room and shower.”
Packing up the rest of his own gear and pulling Roland and Yumi from their game. Handing Molly Yumi he returned Roland chip to his implant. With a quick and a shack of his head he could feel the calming felling of Roland in his head. Once he had everything picked up the lead Molly to the entrance before locking the door behind them.
“This way please.” He said leading the way to apartment what was just a block down. His heart was beating a mile a minute as he led the way. ‘O calm down you had girls over before.’ Roland said in his head. ‘Yea but not one that I liked.’ He replayed back. ‘Act normal and you will be fine.’ Roland laughted man if only Windy could see you she laughs her ass off. The great commander Kennedy frozen up at the idea of a girl coming to his room. The great commander Kennedy frozen up at the idea of a girl coming to his apartment.’ He felt a small amount relief in the fact that Molly could see his face as it would be the only give away that he was flustered.
After a short walk they came to a building about ten stories tall. An older man in a coat waited by the door of the building. “A Mr. Kenndy welcome back.” He said opening the door from the two. “Evening William how the kids?” Leon smiled shacking the man hand. “Good as normal thanks for asking. Would you like the normal for dinner this evening?”
“Please and could you send up a second. I going to have company for an hour or so. Thanks” He said handing the man a ten. “As you wish I have it up in ten.” He man bowed. “And welcome to the Phantom Apartments madam.”
Leading Molly to the elevator he pressed the seven floor botten. “Before you say anything yes I know this is extremely expensive Apartment but it was given to me as let say a retirement gift from an old friend of mine. Im well off but I couldn’t ever afford this on my own. I once asked to see my bill but they told me that I wasn’t allowed to as I would never take the room.” With a ding they arrived on the floor and he led them a few more feet before coming to a room with his name on it. Pulling out his key he unlocked his door and opened into a very fancy room.
The floor where a hardwood that let to one side of the apartment what had all windows overlooking the city. Furniture loosely spread out the room made up two couches and a 62-inch TV handing on one wall. An open kitchen sat in one corner and two doors lead deeper into the house. “Welcome to my home.” He said dropping his bag on couch. “Guest bedroom has its own bathroom that you can clean up in. You have to grab a towel from the closet but other than that you should be good.” Taking out Roland again he pugged in into a wall port as rock music started to play softly in the back room. “Also if you want there a second port if you wanna plug Yumi in. The room got full size projection and they can walk around freely. Don’t ask how long that took I don’t wanna talk about that hell.”
Walking off he went to take a quick shower and change into his normal jeans and t-shirt that she would be use to seeing him in. After getting dressed and ready he returned to his living room as their food arrived. Tipping the man, he pleased food on the coffee table and turned and some anime as he waited for Molly to return from her own bath. He knew she wasn’t stubbed and she would have question for him and he was ready to answer the one he could. “Welcome back food here if you want any.”
Leon opened with a series of light jabs from a standard boxing stance. After just a small series Molly felt confident enough to go for a grab; a confidence that was justified as she got a hold of an incoming jab. Once she had a firm grasp a feint of a throw gave her enough room to get off a flying armbar for a quick tap from Leon.
[b “You said not to hold anything back,”] Molly said with a smile and a shrug before getting into her stance for the second round.
The second round was not as ideal for her as Leon showed a blend of moves that allowed him to keep her at a distance. Whereas with just the boxing it was easy enough to predict her guards to go for an easy grab; the change up made it much more difficult for her to predict his actions. She did her best to keep up with the guard, but with one of the four fundamental forces of the universe helping him she could tell her guard was softening.
Thanks to her weakened guard Leon was able to connect with a strong roundhouse to her stomach. The force of the blow sent her sliding along the ground almost clear across the room before she dropped to her knees. Since the blow knocked the wind out of her Leon gave a moment to catch her breath before they got into position for the next round. Her stance was a bit looser this time to give her the mobility she would need against his blended assault.
During those first two rounds Yumi was getting acquainted with Roland's system and more specifically the area he called the game room. According to Roland it was an Army exclusive, although she had seen something similar at the Hackers Conference. Of course it was entirely possible that it was an Army design that they had stolen, or it could be they had been there with the designer and just were not aware of it.
[b “How nice,”] Yumi said not commenting on the sad suggestion of the man. If he wanted to expand on it he would do so without her pressing him, and given their circumstances she was confident he would rather not discuss something sad at the moment. [b “That sounds like an easy enough game for us to enjoy.”]
The third round went even worse for Molly than the second as she had not fully recovered from having the wind knocked out of her. Combined with her looser guard meant to protect her torso and Leon was able to break through her guard far faster. This time he connected with a lucky cross that sent her to the mat with no hesitation. An act that was followed by taunting from Leon that only served to make Molly see red.
Getting up for the fourth round Molly got to see that Leon was bouncing from foot to foot out of excitement. This time Molly opened with her own rush that Leon clearly was not expecting as she was able to get a solid elbow to his chest before he could react. An attack that shattered his guard giving her the opportunity to get a hold of him for a simple shoulder throw that left him flat on the mat.
Molly kept up the aggressive attack in the fifth round by going straight into the clinch to help her avoid his superior stand-up fighting. She was better than him in the clinch, but he was smart to work to keep his distance from her. At the sight of a potential opening Molly's attempted grab got countered by a hold that left her in a half nelson that forced her to tap out.
Even after the loss in the previous round Molly maintained her aggressive assault on Leon as she had proved it could work in the fourth round. Just like the round before he was smart about trying to keep his distance from her to make use of his advantages. Thanks to his size he had a reach advantage and a power advantage even with his safe striking style. Still she was confident enough in the clinch and in her ground game that she continued to rush in all the same.
Despite a couple of the rounds being quick they were both covered in a layer of sweat by now, and that would only serve to make it harder for her to get a good grasp on him. She knew she would have to get things over with in short order before that slipperiness became too much for her to overcome. Thankfully for her an opportunity presented itself as Leon went in for another half nelson that she was able to counter. Even with their combined sweat she was able to get a solid enough grip to perform a satisfactory armbar on him. That tap out leading to a tie with just one round left to go, and being that close to victory Molly was at her best.
Molly changed course in the seventh round as Leon was quick to circle her in preparation for an attack. Since he was the one doing all the work it gave her a bit more time to catch her breath and prepare her for when he finally took the initiative. When he finally did she was ready as she put up a defiant guard that aimed for a decisive counter at any presented opportunity. He was careful though to prevent her from getting many of them and was able to slip away the rare times he did. Leon even went so far as to rip his shirt off to get out of the first good grasp she got on him.
The sight of his scar covered torso had no real impact on Molly, although she did spend enough time looking at it that Leon almost connected with another lucky cross. She was able to get her guard up in time though to keep from being sent to the mat. After all of their fighting it seemed that his strikes were getting a bit soft and that meant that there would be an opportunity if she could keep her wits about her. She was the type of person that would always come through in clutch and was at her best when the spotlight was on her. So now that it was the final round she was at her best as she waited for him to present her an opportunity.
He was happy enough to oblige as he went for the same kick that won him his first point. While it worked then as her guard had weakened; it failed him this time as she was just waiting for it. A move that telegraphed was an easy one for her to counter when at full speed, and even rounds after his taunting still helped to motivate her. The fire inside burning at its hottest she was able to get a firm grasp thanks to his sweatpants and perform a textbook kneebar that forced him to tap out.
After that all that was left was for Molly to bask in her victory, and after all that he had put her through it was a well won victory for her. He was as tough an opponent as she had expected him to be, and just as she initially believed his outfit had helped her out on multiple occasions. There were at least two points that she relied on his loose clothing to get the point, but since it was his choice to come in with that she was comfortable with her win.
Laying on the ground she slowly removed her pads as she debated on when to take off her compression garments. While she was having that internal debate Leon started a laughing fit that lasted a full minute at least. One that drew a puzzled look from her as she waited patiently for him to explain himself and his outburst. The mention of the war drew a solemn nod from Molly as it was a more than satisfactory explanation for his odd outburst.
Molly was quick to take him up on his offered hand, although his follow up statement tempted to her to keep the fight going. He was quick enough to backtrack from it though that she was willing to let it slide just this once. Especially as she was more focused on his back as he suddenly turned to get on a new shirt. The sight was far more interesting than the one she had seen from the front, as he had a series of tattoos that painted quite the picture for her. She would not comment on it, but she would make sure to remember it in case he brought up anything relevant at a later date.
[b “Good fight.”]
He apologized after for getting excited at the challenge, but she just waved it off as she was not about to complain about him getting excited. It would be rather hypocritical of her after she got so heated during the fight herself. After all of that though she at least was happy that she had not gotten so heated that she got into trash talking him. They were teammates after all, and she did not want to damage that any with her attitude.
After he got his shirt on Roland spoke up about keeping Leon from turning into him, and made mention of a date that drew a raised eyebrow from Molly. The fact that Yumi had said something earlier made her wonder if those two were getting along better than expected. However what he had to show them was enough that it drastically changed the course of her train of thought. Team Firestarter were the projected number one seed in the tournament and it was good that Roland was sharing it with her, but the arrogance the leader demonstrated was enough to cause her to laugh especially as he broke into song.
[b “He's not lying about being undefeated, but he isn't exactly being honest either. Not enough of a record to judge him as the best by solo competition, and he's had the benefit of a strong team since he came into the competition,”] Molly explained after she managed to stop laughing. [b “Don't get me wrong he's damned good as a pilot, but I wouldn't say he's the best pilot in our competition, and he sure as shit isn't better than anyone. Hell I may be confident in myself, but even I'm not so stupid as to say I'm better than Sabrina.”]
[b “Far as our competition goes I'd put at least five pilots in his tier, and at least one above him. Besides myself of course,”] Molly said with a confident grin. [b “All this means is that he's just proved I was right not to worry about him in the first place. You let a guy that get cocky and he's just going to fuck himself in the end; reminds me of a certain quarterback's comments during an undefeated season leading up to the bowl. They lost to a much worse team than mine could ever be, and that was with hall of fame players on both sides of the ball.”]
Molly just laughed a bit more as she absentmindedly took off her compression top to stuff it into her bag. [b “Right now the only idea I have is to hit the showers,”] Molly said before she paused. [b “Actually does this place even have showers?”]
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