Born from the Ocean

Lyn leaned over towards the mirror, holding up her upper lip and dreading the bleeding laceration she would surely find beneath. After the beating she'd taken earlier, she had been thankful not to have lost any teeth. Seeing that nothing seemed to still be bleeding, she might have sighed in relief... but this wasn't the only thing on her mind keeping her tense.

"Lyn, are you going to tell me what's going on?" Ship pouted, holding her fists to her hips. "We came here to shop, not look in the mirror! Or are you taking in the last looks of your current wardrobe before I introduce the new, permanent you?"

The operator released her upper lip, which immediately fell tight into a low snarl. Lyn figured she may have hit her head a bit harder than she'd realized earlier. That was the only way that she could figure she'd managed to let her Navi drag her into Born from the Ocean, the all-purpose lady's boutique. The navi literally couldn't remember the last time she'd been within 10 feet of a frilly skirt, and brushed by a whole rack as she furtively moved her way through the aisles and towards the dressing room in the back. She did at least have the good luck that on a day so obviously stormy as this, the boutique wasn't bustling with the normal off-the-boardwalk activity it received. "Oi, I came along, Princess, so don't start giving me lip, eeh? All I'm planning to do is let you have your giggles picking out one clown outfit and then I'm marching out of this God-forsaken place. How do you know I didn't just come in here to check my teeth, anyhow?"

Ship giggled, amused at how her operator was becoming so transparently defensive over such a little thing. "Oh, relax! I have modeling experience, all right? We'll find the perfect look for you... starting from the ground up." The Navi spoke this last part through her hands, held over her lips in an attempt to hide her spreading silly smile. "Oh! But that reminds me," she mentioned, her insightful nature when it came to Lyn kicking in. "Why are you checking your teeth in the first place?"

"Oh, I was just vomiting a little blood on the way here thinking of all the fun we're gonna have, that's all," Lyn muttered, placing her pipe back into its comfortable resting place in her teeth. One of her codes had always forbidden cheap lies to weasel out of difficult situations, but truth be told, she didn't see how admitting to Ship that she'd been about to go return her would have done either of them any good. Still... she guessed she'd have to spill the whole story eventually. Ship probably wouldn't just forget about her operator struggling winded through the rainy streets on a quest to go buy some new underwear.

"Well, get aaaall cleaned up! We have so much fun ahead of us, you'll see!" Ship even did a twirl in her smokestack before coming to a stop and clapping her hands. "You probably noticed that this store has all sorts of different styles. We're going to find the perfect ensemble to change you from Forty-Years-Too-Young Captain Ahab to the irresistible-"

Ship could tell, looking at a snarl that had dropped lower and yet curled up higher than Lyn had ever seen it, that her motivating remarks might be hitting a little close to home.

"I-I mean, not that I don't love what you wear! You've got those... clothes that tell a story, you know? We just need to pick clothes that tell a story that's, uh, a little less Moby Dick!"

"Hell, you have no idea what you're talking about," Lyn scoffed, looking down at her Navi with empty eyes. "What the f*ck do you think you know about the 'story' my clothes tell?"

Ship was clearly taken aback, gulping and shaking her head and possibly holding back tears at how quickly she'd blown her day of fun. Seeing that seemed to snap Lyn out of whatever dark place she'd gone.

"Well... they've got a story, all right? But recently I've thought about it, and... perhaps some habits are worth changing after all. So, y'know..."

Realizing she'd been given something like an apology, Ship immediately brightened back up. "That's the spirit!"

"But the coat's non-negotiable. The coat stays. All right?"

"Eeh..." Ship was clearly disappointed.

"All right?!" the operator barked, beginning to find the whole thing might have been a waste of her time.

"Uh... are you sure...?" Ship clearly had something in mind that didn't include Lyn's father's patchy old captain's coat.

Lyn pinched her temples while gnawing on her pipe. She was realizing that this limitation on Ship's fun would be equivalent to telling a kid he could have anything he wanted in a candy shop so long as it only costed a nickel. Speaking of things that only costed a nickel... "Hey, and anyhow, you know I'm spending my own hard-earned shipyard dough on this, right? I-I mean, if I walk out of here wearing anything at all!" Hearing Ship titter, Lyn reddened a bit. "I mean if I walk out of here wearing anything new, for chrissake!"

The Navi could tell from the way she'd dodged around continuing the back and forth that Lyn had weakened... Lyn had let herself believe, for just a moment, that she might want to wear something different after all. Her problem was that she just couldn't see herself in anything but her current get-up. Ship was going to introduce her to the beautiful butterfly waiting to burst out of its ratty hand-me-down cocoon. "I know the coat's important to you, but trust me. I'm not going to make you buy anything you don't think is the perfect fit."

"My coat's already the perfect fit, and you ain't making me buy anything!" Lyn ignored the fact that her dad's duds were a size too large for her and kept up her defensive. "And anyway, Princess, you didn't think we were having a day off, did you? No, today's time for an important lesson: multi-taskin'! For a Navi, nothing is more important than focus, and... oi." Lyn stopped, barking sharply at her Navi who had gone into a daydream. "Nothin's more important than focus! Being able to handle two tasks at once is one of the basics of being a Navi. You may have your own little mission, but we're going to handle a real mission while we're at it."

"Yeah, okay," Ship nodded in response, already flipping through the store's digital catalog and taking everything in. "You know, isn't it neat how they have the virtual modeling system here? You could even share clothes you're just trying on with friends to get their opinions! Of course, the kind of modeling we'll be starting with won't be shared with friends...~"

"Gggh!" Lyn griped, not really making a proper onomatopoeia out of her frustration. She was clearly regaining any ground in her attempt to elevate herself to the master position by enforcing hard work. "So that means we can jack in there? All I needed to know." Realizing she had basically been talking in the bathroom this whole time, Lyn removed her pipe to gargle and get the last blood-tinged spit out of her mouth before heading out to find a booth and plug Ship in.
Lyn sighed, rising to her feet and taking another glance at her ridiculous maid costume in the mirror. Wincing, she suddenly felt a pain in her mouth, a sudden sore reminder of her earlier misfortune. "Got the sh*t beaten out of me by a f*ckin' fashion designer and lost my dignity to my Navi and her funny friend... what a day."

Letting out another loud groan, Lyn resisted the frustration to simply tear the outfit from her person. She already got away with assaulting some sort of executive today, so no need to push her luck. She hadn't even seen the price tag on this particular bit, anyhow, since Ship had clearly never intended it as an actual purchase.

Now that she thought about it, Ship hadn't really succeeded in her goal to pick the operator out a new outfit. "So much for multitaskin'," she thought, roughly undoing the bow of her apron and casting it on the floor. She tore open the buttons of her blouse and lifted it over her head, growling when it got stuck on her pipe. Her teeth had been clenched on it so reflexively she'd actually forgotten about it.

Removing both the pipe and shirt, Lyn stepped out of her skirt. She frowned, glancing down at her outfit... she didn't really feel private changing clothes in the stall after what Ship had done earlier. Rushing in a way that might alarm anyone listening outside, she stepped out of the inappropriate garment in lightning speed. The operator was in the buff for no longer than a moment before she was back in the strange sweat-stained garment she'd arrived in.

Feeling she was now in the safe zone, the operator stepped into her pants, hauling them up and fastening her heavy belt. Her relief at being back in some familiar clothes was counteracted by the repugnant reminder of how smelly the rain and the fight together had made them. Lyn was half-convinced to let Ship sell her on an outfit after all, but decided she'd better let the Navi wind down before she tried anything of the sort.

Once she was completely dressed, Lyn threw back the curtain, placing her pipe in her mouth and hurrying towards the exit. The sight of a cleared, sunny day outside put her in a good mood.

She glanced back at the curtain she'd left unceremoniously open, the maid outfit she'd tried on still tossed all over the stall. Feeling especially generous, she decided she couldn't leave things that way. She called to the cashier. "Oi! Cleanup in stall 3! Just put that stuff back on the rack for me, arright?"

Smiling at her good deed for the day, Lyn hoofed it for the nearest bus station.