“Is it you?” Uncertainty gentles the old Chuzei’s craggy voice. You don’t stay to hear your Sifu’s response. With Mei Mei by your side, you head downstairs. The sound of Mei Mei’s paws as she pads by your side echoes though the hallway. The windows illuminate the dark hallways with violet light of the predawn sky. You unlock the door to your dorm and sneak inside. Masaru is still asleep.
Neat stacks of manga cover your bed. You set your bag aside and clear the bed of the manga. Mei Mei jumps onto the bed and curls up at the end. You snuggle under the warm down comforter and close your eyes. It’s almost been a day since you last slept, yet your mind will not turn off. Your premature exaltation, the Elder’s vote, your missions, the Shogun’s death. All these thoughts swarm your mind and keep you from sleep.
With a groan, you throw off the covers and search your bag for the leather bag that contains Mei Mei’s grooming kit. While Mei Mei had a bath a few weeks ago, you have neglected to brush her as often as you should. The shaggy puppy leaps down from your bed and sniffs at your bag while you dig. Upon pulling the grooming kit out of your bag, Mei Mei backs away. You catch the puppy by the back legs before she can make it under the bed.
“You need a bath.” You whisper. Mei Mei whines in protest. “Shhh… You’ll wake up Masaru.”
“Svante?” Masaru rolls over and blinks at you. He brushes his blue hair out of his eyes and sits up in bed. “When did you get in?”
“Not too long ago. Go back to sleep.” You hold up the shaggy puppy. “I am going to give Mei Mei a bath.”
Masaru checks the clock on his nightstand. “I’ll come with you. I need to be up in an hour anyways.”
The laundry room smells of soap and damp. Large canvas bins sit empty along the wall. On the opposite wall is a line of sinks. You pass the struggling puppy to Masaru and start filling up a sink with warm water. Mei Mei howls when she sees the water. “Hush you. You’ll wake the whole dorm.” You hiss at the dog.
Masaru holds Mei Mei close to his chest as the puppy still struggles to get away. “She does not like baths.”
“No.” You stifle a yawn as you empty Mei Mei’s grooming kit on the floor and begin sorting through it.
Masaru rocks a whining Mei Mei, trying to calm her. “I assume you didn’t come back to school just to wash your dog.”
“No.” You check the temperature of the water and take your puppy from Masaru. Mei Mei fights to get away and you end up dumping her unceremoniously into the sink. Despite the warm water, Mei Mei shivers as you pour water over her fur. “I’m going to be a student again.”
“You chose a bad time to come back. We have exams this week and Chiyoko is pissed at you.”
“What?!” When you saw your girlfriend a few days ago, she seemed fine. You squirt shampoo all over Mei Mei’s back and hand the bottle to Masaru. “Why is she mad?”
Masaru watches you scrub Mei Mei’s fur and then asks. “Have you really gone on missions without us?”
“You don’t remember giving me a letter to give to your brother?”
Masaru frowns. “No.”
Fucking Arcane Fate. With your three missions, you didn’t need this right now. You focus on scrubbing behind Mei Mei’s ears, keeping the suds from her eyes. “I’ve gone on only one mission without you.”
“Oh, that’s not that many. Aiko made it seem like you’ve gone on tons of missions without us.”
“Fucking Aiko. I’ve only been on one mission so far and….” Mei Mei struggles in your hands. You tighten your grip on Mei Mei, but the soapy slick puppy wiggles out of your hands and dives out of the skin. “Mei Mei!”
“I got her!” Masaru tackles the dog, but Mei Mei slides out of his arms. Her wet tail smacks the water aspect in the face.
Mei Mei bolts for the door, leaving a soapy trail in her wake. You step in front of the door to block her escape, but she dodges you and retreats through the back door.
You help Masaru to his feet and follow the wet puppy prints out to the hallway. You turn a corner and run smack into a Fire Aspected Chuzei. The Chuzei flame red hair is severely pulled back, accenting her the sharp lines of her face. Soapy bubbles cover her freshly pressed uniform pants. She holds up a dripping Mei Mei by the scruff of her neck. “Does this belong to either of you?”
What do you do?
- Use Force Decision to chance the Chuzei’s mind about punishing you
- Explain that you have permission from Chuzei Enki to wash the dog in the laundry
- Avoidance Kata with Trouble Reduction Strategy to take yourself, Masaru, and Mei Mei away from the whole situation