Trials of Cassiel: After Work at LiveLeg

Many folks at LiveLeg were known to put in long hours. Some worked more efficiently and managed to get out the door in a timely manner. Right now, Cassiel Garbner fell in to neither group. Although his cubicle was the only one occupied in his segment of the Living Legend (LiveLeg) offices right now, at this late hour of 6:30 pm, his purpose was not to catch up on work. He was still putting in overtime, but not the kind he could claim on his time card.

Tutoria's piercing stare (judgmental, Cassiel always thought) came not from her PET, but from his desk top. In preparation of today's extracurricular visit from his boss, he had placed a little figure of the elf on his desk, with her book open, her mouth chanting, and a clear, plastic lightning bolt hitting some stupid looking slime enemy in front of her. The toy, cutified though it was, recreated her likeness well. [I]"Yeah, she's flippin' judgin' me there too,"[/i] he thought to himself, realizing how tense he was at this moment, the start of his master plan.

Another item he'd placed upon his desk was a thick paper magazine entitled the "Trials of Tutoria Master Strategy Guide". At first, he wanted to go for "Tutoria for Dummies" which was both thinner and about 300 zenny cheaper, but he realized that name could give him away and offer d his boss before he even started.

So far, he had read about six pages: the one about Tutoria, who, as it turned out, was not the main character of Trials of Tutoria, as well as the one on QuestMan, who was. His boss's navi was based on QuestMan, he recalled. [I]"Figures... Biltz like that gotta be the main character,"[/i] he thought to himself, spinning his pen idly on his desk top.

The other pages he had read were poorly chosen, mostly because they had pictures: something about an all woman tribe of amazons in the game that was his favorite part of the game so far and also a few pages of enemy monsters. Somehow, their stupid names had stuck with him and he had realized they all closely matched colorful language he used in his day to day life. Perhaps unconsciously, the two had begun to replace one another... perhaps a defense mechanism against offending his boss with his sailor's mouth.

"Shuz, the stupid-face gooey mother-flipper that Tutoria is hitting with her thunder. Biltz, the dog-headed mother-flipper that carries knives and axes and shuz, he's gotta be the strongest one. And then flipper, that goofy lookin' frog-face mother-flipper that Carrie's a walkin' stick like he's some kinda pimp," he spoke quietly, but out loud, his narrow eyes watching Tutoria's face carefully, as if to see if she was going to tell him he passed the test.

"They're not all flippers..." the toy reprimanded him with disappointment evident in its cutesy voice.

Only it wasnt the toy, it was his ill-gotten, brain-damaged navi, the Tutoria lookalike who was going to get him through this whole mess. She was speaking to him from the PET, which was on the right-hand side of his cluttered work-station. "Damn, girl, you gonna give a brother a heart attack. Shuuuuz," he complained, clutching his collar bone with one large hand. He could feel sweat, going from his neck down into the wide collar of his long-sleeved black tee. He could also feel the gold of his two neck chains, which calmed him down a bit. Besides those, he was dressed in baggy black jeans and white sneakers, with the laces hanging untied. He wore sunglasses, but only on the top of his head. "Flippin' AC is flipped in here. Hot as a mother-flipper..."

His navi was indeed cute, he reminder himself with a look into his PET. Not bad at all, if you liked skinny white girls. Unfortunately, he had already taken the liberty of flipping his toy upside down to check beneath the robe when Tutoria wasn't watching, and he had already confirmed the girl didn't have much in the way of goodies hidden under the shapeless robe she wore. [I]"Net says elf biltzes are supposed to be lewd as shuz... but what's the point it they ain't got no ass?"[/i] he thought to himself.

That reminded him... his boss, in contrast, had a lot of ass. That was about the only thing he knew about her, other than two other equally important articles of information. The first was, according to office rumor, she was currently downsizing and keeping the company lean by cutting the bottom guys in terms of creative output from every division (that'd be him). The second was that she was apparently a freak about the Trials of Tutoria games in her spare time. That meant that endearing her with his navi, a lifelike recreation of Tutoria herself, was key to keeping his job. If he had to put in the effort to find something else, he might end up without money forever.

"You look like you're looking off somewhere else, Cassiel... Are you nervous?" his navi asked, in a soothing voice.

Cassiel was not smoother. "Nervous? My nerves are shuz, Cuz! And not just cause they're sh*t, cause they're all gooey and ain't got no hardness to them, like they been blasted by BOLT or some shuz like that," he complained, feeling annoyed that he had to confide that in his navi, who was more or less still a stranger to him. "What about you?"

"Oh, it is a very comfortable temperature here inside the homepage," Tutoria answered with a small smile.

"No, like how's your nerves? Ain't you nervous? You gonna be meetin' that hero kid, QuestBoy, that guy," he snapped back.

Tutoria's pointed ears twitched for a moment. She pressed one finger to her chin and tilted her head up, as if watching a bird fly by in the distance. The expression was so peaceful that it was making Cassiel crazy. "Why should I be? QuestMan is going to be a great hero, I have no doubt of that. A fine warrior on an exemplary journey. If he comes to me raw, then I will help to hone him, like a fine blade. I am naught but excited, really," the elf answered, a little giddiness finding it's way into her voice.

"Oh, you excited, you like him raw, that it? Okay. Okay," he taunted back, finding that answer as annoying as he expected. He wondered if he was ever going to be able to get along with a navi that put him so far out of his element. "Girl, get over to the GNA and pull us up one of those quests from the quest board! Make sure it's like... easy, though. Like, I ain't got shuz for battle chips and you don't know but like, two flippin spells."

"A quest sounds like just the way to get acquainted with my hero! I shall head there post haste," Tutoria agreed ignoring the part about how little magic she could recite. Something nagged at her, like a vague knowledge that she ought to know a great volume more spells (wasn't her book large enough to contain many more than two?), but she brushed that thought aside to focus on the new task. A bolt of lightning struck above her head, knocking her train of thought onto another track. "Cassiel, perhaps I should accept several quests in the same area. That way, we can turn them all in at once!"

"Naw, don't do that," the operator answered quickly, disgusted by the thought of how much of an effort such an undertaking would be.

"... Perhaps you are right. We should start with something simple to acquaint QuestMan with my style of support," his navi nodded, then departed for the mission board.

A bit of boredom was starting to replace nervousness, and Cassiel spun his pen again with a hard flick. This time, it went out or control and knocked over his Tutoria figure, so that its over-sized face was buried in the gooey monster and lightning bolt in front of him. "Aw shuz," he cursed, quickly scrambling to fix it before his boss appeared.
Kelsy clacked heels through her familiar office, any given hallway of which she could likely stroll in a blindfold. That said, while the sharp-dressed woman exuded her usual charisma, it hid a layer of nervous tension. The boss was about to make the further acquaintance of one of her workers she had, shockingly, hardly ever spoken to. The only two times she’d recently heard his name was when it was being floated by several of her sub-managers as a preferred candidate for layoff, and the second was when he’d clumsily introduced himself after supposedly recognizing her watch. Now, Kelsy was faced with a man who was two things she hardly ever encountered: a permanent employee who she barely ever saw, and also someone who knew and engaged in her most intimate hobby.
”I must admit, I certainly didn’t see him as the type… then again, I hardly imagine anyone sees me as the type,” she confessed, gazing around with a small smile as she searched for his cubicle… which, come to think of it, shouldn’t she be hearing him busily typing on a keyboard, or at least the tapping of fingers on a PET? There was no one around… did she have the wrong floor? ”Or do I have the wrong building? I can hardly imagine everyone here is beating the crunch… I’ll have to keep this in mind,” she noted, filing that information in case it became important.
While her mind was working quickly, her legs moved just as fast, and she was just in time to find Cassiel muttering to himself and messing with his figurine. She smiled and raised an eyebrow. “Cassiel,” she spoke. When he turned around to meet her, he’d note her looking at the figurine, making some mental notes, then storing them away in some cabinet of her mind. “You’re looking comfortable,” she remarked, sounding conversational and not at all confrontational in spite of how the statement must surely have been meant. “I thought I heard another voice just now. Is Tutoria here…? May I meet her?”
Realizing Tutoria was away at the meeting board, Kelsy quickly glided a chair from another desk to Cassiel’s cubicle, smiling at him from behind her glasses, eyes scanning every detail of him with curiosity. “Cassiel, I must say, I was very surprised to find you a connoisseur of my same tastes. Not to say you don’t seem the type; rather, it’s simply that nobody else has approached me about this interest. But here you are, the Master Guide in one hand, and more importantly… a PET containing the hero’s guiding voice of wisdom in the other. So fortunate am I!” she laughed, putting a hand to her mouth and laughing genuinely, still seeming to scan him with eyes that a guilty man would certain feel trying to detect a lie.
“I must confess, I am very pleased, and very, very interested. I’d introduce you to QuestMan right away, Cassiel, but I’ve sent him to the mission board. Just now,” she revealed, turning her PET to show him gone. “While he has been a most competent office assistant for me, he is currently quite lacking in his qualifications of a hero. As you know, any lack of qualifications must be met with a fervent application of effort… and, perhaps, study and tutelage,” she added with a sly wink, grinning briefly.
She paused for a moment, shifting her legs and glancing over at his figurine again. “Ah, but as nice as it will be to have proper companionship for QuestMan, it shall be just as nice to spend some time with someone who appreciates the classic Shuz model. This is quite a work of art… normally, I don’t appreciate the cutesy aesthetic, but there is something adorable about the original, minimalist Shuz, isn’t there? I personally see it as the Shuz. And, certainly, we can all appreciate why Tutoria would employ her Bolt against such a creature, hm hm. The fundamentals of Trials of Tutoria strategy!” She laughed again, covering her mouth with one hand.
A pregnant pause would indicate she was waiting for a response.
Cassiel heard his name called and privately reprimanded himself; he'd been focusing so hard on preparing for this meeting (well, hard given his usual low bar) and had forgotten to even learn his boss's name. "... Boss," he answered back, rubbing his cleft chin for a moment and then turning with a smile that wouldn't look right on his face for anyone who'd been around him a few times before. "Biltz, I wish I was feelin' comfortable," he thought to himself, hastily setting Tutoria upright on the desk again. "Yeah, she's-" he muttered, beginning to gesture towards the toy, then realizing what Kelsy had meant. "She's in here," Cassiel corrected himself, placing his PET on the table. Slowly, he realized he had no idea how to project a hologram yet or even to contact his navi while she was at the mission board."Uh... yeah so, you said he's like a beginner level, right? So uh... they should start at square one. It's best if they meet first," he suggested, though his voice could tell he was irritated she wasn't there.

That was the worst outcome; QuestMan might want Tutoria as a guide, but he needed her guidance more. Tutoria was the one thing that was going to connect him and his boss. Talking about work would be worse than dead silence. "What the flip's a 'connoisseur'? Wasn't no 'connoisseur' anywhere in that book," he thought to himself, already losing track of the conversation. He lowered his shades down over his own eyes to avoid his locking with hers. "Yeah, you just never know, huh? Some people are hidin' all kinds of hobbies, talents, potential and shuz," he agreed, slouching in his chair. "You don't wanna write anybody off."

Sitting alone in the office with his boss, as she giggled lightly, he momentarily forgot what it was he was trying to preserve here. "Right, right. Job first.... Booty later," he thought, already mentally pushing his chips forward for another bet. "Damn, I wouldn't mind applyin' some effort to that ass, though," he continued idly, unable to let the idea go now that it had gotten hold of him. A token show of interest in QuestMan probably would have helped him now, but it wasn't on his mind. "Yeah, you're right. Tutoria's all about tutorin', that's why they call it-"

He bit down on his tongue so hard that tears nearly sprang out from behind his sunglasses. The words "Tutoring with Tutoria" had very nearly escaped his lips, like a hastily, accidentally dropped atom bomb incinerating his fancy new future house and every beautiful piece of hypothetical rental pre-furbished furniture therein. "That's why they call her Tutoria. Heh. That's a joke I just made about Tutoria," he laughed, thinking he was the first person to ever make that connection. He looked back to the toy he'd purchased, and Shuz's big, stupid, gaping, happy mouth as it was hit by a lightning bolt. As Kelsey questioned him, another question came into his mind, unbidden: "Why did I buy this thing? Why didn't I just buy Tutoria?" he chastised himself.

Finally, he realized the question waiting in Kesley's words, as well as her face. Several answers came to mind, most of them bad. The answers spilled forward in a rapidfire series of jokes, punctuated by chortling laughter. "Because usin' heal don't make no sense, right?" he laughed, then followed with, "Because of that thing's big stupid face, am I right? Who wouldn't wanna blast that?" He fished for another. "Cause her boy Quest's busy cuttin' the face off some biltz with his McGuffer?" That sounded less funny and more just ignorant, he realized, and tried to salvage it with another joke. "So the game developers could sell me another statue?" That one was actually possibly correct.
Despite Cassiel’s best efforts to save it, Kelsy didn’t give him any of the genuine laughter she’d been dishing out for his supposed Tutoria “joke,” humoring him with a small smile instead. Probably sensing now that he was trying to tell jokes, though, she was ready with a laugh of her own at his first attempt at providing a response. She let out a much smaller laugh at his second, probably a mixture of wondering why he would disparage the appearance of the creature she’d just called cute and beginning to suspect he was, in fact, taking a buckshot approach to responding to cover up his ignorance of the topic. Blessedly, she gave a nod and interrupted him before he could go to his self-pitying fourth shot. “Yes, that’s right. Maguffr,” she corrected under her breath, moving past it quickly and lifting the statue to inspect it more closely. “The early battle against Shuz and Biltz is the moment where the game teaches the player the difference between physical and magic combat. Obviously, Shuz’s blobby form makes it nearly immune to strikes from QuestMan’s blade. At least, in that stage of the game, before he can imbue it with magical properties. Fortunately, Tutoria’s lightning is well-suited.” She had lifted the statuette close to her eye, seemingly inspecting too-small details, then placed it back on Cassiel’s desk as she’d found it.
“In any case, as you said, it doesn’t do to write anyone off early, Cassiel,” she told her employee, turning to look him directly in the eye as though staring through his shades. “Of course, there is information you can learn about a person even before meeting them personally: observing their work output, hearing what other people say about them, seeing how they carry themselves with others…” Kelsy seemed thoughtful on these points, and took a seat again, looking away from Cassiel as she crossed her shapely legs and folded her hands. After a tense moment, she brightened again, turning her smile to him once more. “Luckily, QuestMan has done nothing but impress as an office assistant! I have no doubt he will meet the lofty expectations I have of a hero of the Net.”
Kelsy let her eyes drift back to Tutoria’s statue, then to Cassiel again, her glasses picking up a glare that hid her eyes. “Now that I think of it, how did you manage to come by a recreation of Tutoria? I personally arranged my recreation of QuestMan with the owner to avoid tripping copyright, and even then, I’ve used a lesser-known version. Is your Tutoria based on the simple, unadorned design from the first game as well? Or perhaps you’ve introduced some defect… er, change, I should say, to bring it to the right side of legality?” Kelsy was intending to make small talk here, beginning to have a hard time finding common ground before the Navis made their appearance and feeling unsure of what was on Cassiel’s mind.
"Really? QuestBoy can't even cut up that gooey mother-flipper? What kind of a piece of shuz is this guy's sword anyway?" Cassiel asked himself mentally, not understanding the physical vs. magical damage concept in the least. He watched Kelsey inspecting his toy with a gulp building in his throat. He hadn't paid very much for the whole thing... would she complain about the quality? On the contrary, she seemed to respect it. "Yeeeh boy. Hook line and sinker," he smirked internally, not sparing a thought that he might being spared from more savage commentary... but then, if there was savage commentary to be had, his boss might be the type to deliver it anyway. Maybe he just got lucky?

His eyes flickered down to her legs again as she recrossed them; it was hard for him to ignore any motion there. "Yeah, same for Tutoria. She uh... you ain't gonna believe the bright ideas she has," was all he said in regards to his navi's competency in non-questing tasks so far. "Oh, uh, little toystore called Puuuh-" he began to answer, then stopped mid-way in lying to make up the mall chain store where he'd picked up a Tutoria toy out of the clearance bin. He realized she was asking where he'd gotten Tutoria, the navi, and the lump caught thick in his throat. Should he take this opportunity to say that yes, there was an extreme defect in her judgment, to explain all of the issues the two of them were going to face? "Naaah, no way, hell no! If I do that, she gonna ask why. Then she gonna ask if she can help. Then she gonna dig around in Tutoria and figure out, whaddya know, she got screwed up in an illegal data transfer from some scum-bucket tryin' to purchase her with a fake account that came unglued halfway through the transfer," he realized. He had to keep the original bluff going. 

"You know there's a Tutoria navi, right, who's been all over the net, doin' good deeds for people and hirin' herself out and all that shuz? Well, I didn't want anything other than the best Tutoria here for ya boy, so I got a hold of her. She ain't uh... she aint' got all her powers cause, you know, uh... that mean's chips and shuz, and I just ain't got all that," he mumbled, skimming over that part. "But she got the knowledge, the unconventional thinkin', strategies, all that stuff you want outta Tutoria! She got that green robe, that gold chains, that pointy ears, all that stuff you like about Tutoria. And just you watch: when ya boy gets a look at Tutoria, he's gonna fall in love all over again, just like in the game."

Satisfied with his explanation and not seeing any point of elaboration that was likely to be needed, Cassiel turned his attention to two other navis: why was nobody else around anyway, and more than that, why was it so mother-flippin' hot in this mother-flippin' room? He thought back to his earlier question... "Shuz! AC ain't just actin' busted, it is busted! Nobody's workin' late today cause there ain't no damn air conditionin' in this mother-flipper," he thought to himself, his eyes darting up to the non-functioning ventilation. His boss may not have noticed yet, but it couldn't take too long. He rolled up the sleeves of his long-sleeve shirt, exposing lean, brown forearms, then looked down, wishing he'd worn shorts... but he almost never did, outside of the gym. Should they relocate somewhere else? "Aw heeeell nah, I can't go anywhere else. I run into anybody I know that I ain't already tolw hat I'm doin' and they'll blow my cover just like that," he thought, snapping internally. He'd have to sweat it out, literally. He spared a few glances over Kelsey, to see if she was losing her cool yet, while allowing a few mental images of what that might look like.

Whenever she spoke next, he'd speak up distractedly, "Aw yeh, yeh. I feel you," he'd remark absently.
Kelsy first raised her eyebrows, then quickly gave a titter of excitement, clasping her hands together. “Oh, excellent, the wisdom! Excellent, the iconic look! Oh excellent, the-“ she continued, visibly pausing and falling as though a shadow had passed over her. She played this off as a natural transition, smiling and adjusting her glasses. “Cassiel. Ahm, Cassiel, just one moment there. You said QuestMan will, I’m sorry. Fall in love? With Tutoria?”
His boss shifted back in her chair and rose to her feet again, still pinching her glasses between her fingers. “No, no. Cassiel, that’s a common misconception. In the Netopian version of the original game, there was, yes, some dialogue that suggested a romantic relationship between QuestMan and Tutoria. However, that dialogue was significantly modified from the original Electopian text, an error in the localization. Many less-informed fans complain about the fact that there has been little romantic development between QuestMan and his steadfast guide since the first game; the fact of the matter is, there was never intended to be any romantic development at all. Perhaps this a mechanism for the games to continue to maintain their family-friendly appeal, but nonetheless, I accept that to be the canon.”
In the course of her diatribe, Kelsy was mostly talking to herself. She didn’t seem to be aware beads of sweat were beginning to form on her forehead, nor how Cassiel was scanning her, but she enthusiastically accepted his agreement when she finished. “So, we’re in agreement then! Before anything else, it is of the utmost importance that we stress to the two the importance of avoiding the misguided fanon that is Questorieeeer,” she trailed off, biting her tongue in a rare slip up as she started to use the fandom name for the pairing of the two. “Hm. QuestMan and Tutoria,” she recovered, fanning herself with one hand. “My. You do keep it hot in your office, don’t you, Cassiel? You know, I have a change of clothes in mine that would be much better suited. Would you mind if I made the switch and came right back?” She flashed him a smile again, tossing her hair (which was starting to become a bit more damp than she preferred when she wasn’t working out).
Cassiel lowered his eyebrows and tried to decipher why he was feeling as though his foot was rested atop the pressure plate of some hidden landmine. "Well, yeah, ya boi gonna fall in love, cause I guess he like them skinny-" he started, before trailing off and listening to Kelsey's real grievance with his theory.

He nodded along dumbly, still mid-fantasy, then tried to muster up an opinion. "Yeah, I guess you right. Kinda hard to fall in love with somebody if they criticizin' how you swing your sword and shuz all the time," he grumbled, picturing that the daily life of QuestMan in the game must involve a lot of nagging, if that Tutoria is anything like his.

He was actually trying to pay attention now, somewhat desperate to get a handle on what hot button topics he needed to avoid going forward. "Okay, okay. Hold up. So when QuestMan and Tutoria get it on, that's called a Questorier? Or is it Questo-rear? Is it rear?" he asked, slouching in his chair and holding one fist to his chin contemplatively. "Hey, I'm with you. Won't be nothin' but trouble if those two get that way. I'll keep an eye on them," he shrugged. He wouldn't care at all, except for two factors: first, that his boss cared, and second, that having to help his navi with a relationship sounded like a major pain. "But uh... I should warn you... this Tutoria may not act exactly like the Tutoria you know. So uh, if she don't do everything just the way you think she should, just remember she like, a professional, and shuz."

Cassiel tossed whatever further warning he had planned to impart aside for the far more important matter at hand. "Yeah, you right, I like to keep it hot as a flipper in here, but uh, I need it to think. Yeah. And I need my whole, uh, workspace. Yeah, workspace," he repeated, as if the word "workspace" was foreign territory he was trying to make sense of. "So if you need to change, you do do that shuz, I'll... catch up on my work, at my workspace."

If she left, he would be left to ponder three equally important questions. First off: what was she changing into? "Gotta be yoga pants," he resolved, nodding to himself and watching his face in the computer screen; the screen was black and not being used for any work, of course. "Oh dang, or what if she got like... booty shorts. Damn, I psyched myself up, that's too much... I'm gonna jinx it... I'll settle for yoga pants..." he muttered, trying not to lose that image.

The second question was whether he ought to change himself. The answer was yes. Cassiel did need to change several key aspects of himself. In this case, however, the question applied more specifically to his clothing. He had workout clothes too, after all, and it was indeed hot as a mother-flipper. [I]"Naw... I do that and she gonna suggest we just move somewhere else,"[/i] he reminded himself.

The third question, one which he suddenly felt dumb for not asking earlier: could he not have just bonded with his boss over exercise instead of going through this deception? "Shuuuuz," he growled, suddenly wishing he had bought the squishy Shuz toy so that he would have something to squeeze on and relieve his stress.
“No, it’s not called anything,” Kelsy reminded him, keeping a smile on despite a frustrated knit of her brows. “Not ‘rear,’ not anything, because it doesn’t happen. I appreciate your offer to keep an eye on them, but there’s nothing to consider. QuestMan and Tutoria will continue to forge a lovely bond of trust and friendship.”
Her hand had traveled to her PET without realizing it: she looked at QuestMan there, realizing he’d gotten into his mission, but she didn’t see anything amiss at the moment. It looked like Tutoria was probably there, but this didn’t seem like the right time to make introductions, so she left it alone for the moment. “Well, I can’t blame you for keeping it where you want after hours, especially if you’re considerately not running our company’s AC! I just hope your productivity isn’t hurt too much during regular work hours, since I can’t imagine your whole floor tolerates it…” She looked at Cassiel a bit sympathetically, admiring he was willing to suffer through such heat (and so poorly dressed for it!) to better his process. “Well, now. You remain here and focus on your output. I’ll be back in two shakes of a tail,” she assured him, grabbing her PET…”
”Oh, right. I can’t carry it with me without jacking QuestMan out, can I…” she noted, setting it back down. “Cassiel,” she said, checking her pocket for her little-used security card and drawing it out as she spoke. “Please keep an eye on QuestMan and Tutoria while I step away. Two shakes of a tail!” she commented again, starting on the speedy powerwalk to her office with a pleasant strut.
Kelsy managed to access first the elevator and then her office with her key card, rarely used since she had assigned QuestMan the duty. Once in her office, she reached impulsively for her PET before remembering it was downstairs. She glanced around at the fully glass wall that comprised one wall of her office, the open blinds that covered the windows of the other, and the security camera in upper corner, each of which would ordinarily be shuttered by a quick command from QuestMan. Since that wasn’t possible now, however…
Smiling pensively now, Kelsy took stock of the situation. She found herself staring down the rotating closet she’d had installed in her office. With QuestMan’s help, the closet rotated between a number of outfits she stocked at the beginning of every week. What she wanted was one of her good yoga sets, which many had been fortunate to see her wear in her own office as she did exercises on her breaks. What she was faced with was, specifically, the set she wore to the kickboxing class she was trying out after work on Wednesdays. She didn’t tend to wear this around the office. While it wasn’t intended to be showy, it definitely showed more skin than she meant to flash her employees… It included a plain grey and black sports bra and a tight black set of shorts that extended a short way down the legs, ending far above the knees. ”This outfit… doesn’t even have proper shoes,” she noted, eyeing the special black athletic socks she normally wore at her exercise. Of course, they had athletic shoes she’d wear when she wasn’t in the ring… but those were part of another outfit, not exclusive to this, and that meant they were presently a rotation away.
It wasn’t ideal, but Kelsy wasn’t willing to make a bad impression jacking QuestMan out now, or to hold up Cassiel any longer, or to ruin her good work outfit sweating it out with him in the office. As such, she kept a stiff upper lip and collected the outfit, then went to her private restroom to change. She highly preferred the open space of her own office, but beggars couldn’t be choosers.
After quickly disrobing behind closed doors and pulling on her new outfit without too much trouble (although, as she slid the bottom up tight and straightened it properly, she couldn’t help but self-consciously consider if it was quite the right size), Kelsy hurried to the elevator, thankfully not meeting anyone along the way. She bid a sad farewell to the pleasant AC of the floors she was departing, walking back into the heat of Cassiel’s floor. ”Good lord… if I’d fully considered the consequences, I definitely would have remembered to host this meeting in my own office rather than his. Something to remember for next time.”
She arrived at Cassiel’s cubicle once again, taking a seat where she had before, keeping her smile even as though she’d simply changed into some ordinary office clothes, crossing her now mostly bare legs before her. She was still wearing her glasses and she was wearing her watch instead of her gloves. Other than that, this was almost exactly the outfit she normally wore to kickboxing. “Cassiel, thank you for waiting. I trust there’s been no major developments?” There probably hadn’t been: Kelsy was nothing if not efficient, and it had indeed taken her a remarkably short time to change. It felt like the elevator speed she couldn’t control might have been the limiting process.
Cassiel started to argue again that Kelsey ought to remember this wasn't the Tutoria she knew, and it was entirely possible his navi would end up organically falling in love with hers. He then recalled that his goal was to make his boss like him, not win in a debate about a video game he barely knew about, so he kept his lip zipped. As she left to leave, he muttered back stupidly, "Yeah, I'll keep an eye on the tail. Tale of Tutoria. That tale of... Tutoria," he grumbled, realizing he'd once again let the wrong words slip out.

He slapped his face a few times while Kelsey was out dressing. "Head in the game, head in the game. You got this! Remember: secure your job first, worry about the girl second. If you don't stop thinkin' with yo junk, you gonna lose it," he reminded himself, holding tight to the mental image of Kelsey literally dismembering himself so that he could work to get his libido down.

That didn't work for long; when Kelsey returned, the situation became so much worse (better?) than he'd imagined. "Shuz! That ain't no yoga pants, that's like... like almost booty shorts! You cut off a couple inches and that's booty shorts," he thought to himself, smacking his lips idly and trying to play it cool, which meant trying very, very hard not to move his head around to get a better look at the new wardrobe. "And it ain't just that! She ain't got no shirt on! She ain't even got no shoes on!" he thought to himself. Not in a million years would he have suspected he'd be staring at his boss's exposed belly button during this meet up. "And damn, she fine all over! Aaaaw shuz, this is gonna be a real son of a biltz not tryin' to lay the lines on her right now."

"Noo ho ho, no, no major developments," he sweated out, trying not to reveal what a revelation he already found this latest change to be. "Gaddamn! I'm getting faint, like a flippin' light weight over here," he thought to himself, batting gold chains away from the hem of his shirt and pulling it out irritably. With some lingering annoyance, he realized that, while his boss was indeed fine, he was mostly just nearly killing himself trying to sweat it out here with no AC. "Say... How would you like to meet Tutoria? Yep! Time you two got acquainted. She right there in that PET, you just... you just do that and I'll... run to the bathroom," he finished, grabbing up his gym bag without saying another word and leaving his PET behind. Despite his words, Tutoria wasn't clearly on the screen at the moment, and unless Kelsey knew the specifics of his low budget PET model, she wouldn't be able to navigate it correctly.

As he headed to the bathroom in the next office over, instead of using the AC-less one in his own suite, he pondered whether he was going to follow suite and get into his own gym clothes. "She probably appreciate it, when you get right down to it. Probably feels kinda weird dressed that way. If I was too, it'd be normal. Plus, she'd see these pecs, that always helps," he reminded himself, complimenting himself on one of the few parts of his life he put genuine effort into. He'd resolved to do just that, until he ran into the bathroom door, unable to simply swing it as he'd expected. He shook the handle a few times, then again more angrily and hurriedly. Finally, he looked around, realizing why the bathroom might be locked: there were still people staying over to work, and now, staring at him. They weren't friendly faces either... he didn't associate a lot with the eggheads that worked here, and this bunch were just not his crowd.

Grunting, he shifted direction, stepping into the empty meeting room on the opposite side. He'd be hidden from the waist down as he threw off his garments, ending up in a white tank top and black boxer shorts, patterned with a white pattern like unreadable graffiti. He looked both ways, then threw on his purple basketball shorts. He ran a hand over his head, finding it covered in a gross sheen of sweat. "Gaddamit," he scowled, grabbing a towel out of his bag, wiping down furiously, then throwing it back in. He pulled out his deodorant, gave it a quick double swipe, then threw it in as well. He stepped back into his shoes, then threw his bag over his shoulder and came back in.

He narrowed his eyes and stuck out his lip as he exited the room. "Goin' to exercise! Somethin' you guys won't know nothin' about," he informed the two of them, loud enough for Kelsey to perhaps catch bits and pieces, before barging back into the office he'd left. "Sorry about that. You looked so comfortable in that, figured I better do the same," he greeted his boss again with a smile. "So, what 'chu and Tutoria get up to? Friends for life?" he asked jokingly, not realizing how annoying that joke would probably be at this point.
“I see,” Kelsy noted, raising an eyebrow as she watched Cassiel’s behavior. ”Poor man… he’s suffering so much for his productivity. I should make sure not to keep him too long today… I feel a bit guilty even interrupting his work for something as silly as my hobby.” Not too guilty, though: If the shoe was on the other foot, she would definitely find a way to cut unnecessary downtime and make time for her boss’s request, so it was only reasonable to expect the same from her employee. Her eyes lit up as Cassiel offered her the chance to meet Tutoria directly. “Yes! Ahem… Yes,” she exclaimed, bringing it down an octave upon correction. “Take your time,” she called after him, swiftly lifting herself to begin to sit in Cassiel’s chair… remembering how much she’d seen him sweating earlier, however, she decided to simply lean over the PET.

Kelsy was momentarily baffled by the set-up of his PET, but it didn’t last long. After all, Kelsy knew a thing or two about hardware herself, and she was a retro game enthusiast: this meant a rudimentary knowledge of archaic, outdated interfaces came naturally to her. Without too much trouble (and without many detours, leaving Cassiel’s privacy safe unless he had any unavoidable and poorly named folders) she made it to a viewscreen, seeing through Tutoria’s eyes. She was miffed she couldn’t figure how to get a different view that would show her Tutoria herself, only QuestMan…

… Who appeared to be talking about stealing things? Kelsy’s smile became concerned momentarily. That concern, however, was replaced by an obvious realization. “Silly me, I can simply…” she muttered to herself, planning to move back to her own seat, before hearing Cassiel return. She looked over her shoulder briefly, then turned around. She hadn’t caught Cassiel sounding off to any other employees, so she moved back to her seat, picking up her own PET and setting a view from QuestMan’s PoV. “Aha! There we go. Tutoriaaaa~” she couldn’t help but squeeze, grinning broadly as she took in the details. “She looks perfect, Cassiel. I’m very pleased. I think I won’t interrupt the two of them, for now. They appear to be in a formative moment for their adventure, and… and last I checked, QuestMan seemed to be a bit off on a tangent with his thought pattern. I’m sure Tutoria will help put him back on the right track.”

She cleared her throat, seeming to finally take note of how Cassiel was dressed. “Aah, you were carrying your workout clothes, too,” she noted with a smile, nodding in approval. “I admire an employee who can balance their work with their personal fitness,” she added, perhaps overestimating how much balance Cassiel put into the two. “Truly the two go hand in hand.” Unfortunately, if Cassiel was expecting to see something more than admiration, it seemed he would need to try flexing a little.

Kelsy watched her PET with interest, but it looked like she’d put herself in a corner by committing not to interfere with QuestMan and Tutoria. She stared at the PET a bit longer before turning back to Cassiel with another winning grin. “What’s your favorite title?”
Cassiel came back to a more contented Kelsey than one might imagine he would. He felt reassured that his plan was proceeding as planned, for lack of a more imaginative vocabulary, and he grinned beneath his shades. "Alright alright! Yeah, that's what Tutoria does, right? Help! And that's what I do: put in work!" he responded, choosing to interpret that Kelsey was praising his physique and not just the fact that he dressed for the gym.

He didn't understand the flow of QuestMan and Tutoria's mission briefing any better than his boss did; he noted that the elf seemed to be jogging in place. "Damn, if all anybody wanna do is exercise, why we be playin' Dorks and Dragons or whatever you call that shuz?" Cassiel asked himself. He spared a thought for QuestMan, wondering if he was just as excited by the prospect of exercising with his girl as Cassiel was. "Naaah, he better not get no ideas. If boss ain't happy, I ain't happy. That means that Questboy's magic wand stayin' right where it is: in his pajamas," he resolved, too illiterate of RPG lingo to realize that "Quest Log" would be the funniest euphanism for that part of the navi's anatomy.

Since Kelsey hadn't taken his seat, he plopped back into his own, his lips curled into a smug smile for a moment before he managed to replay the last question in his head again. He realized that what he needed here was a fact, not a bluff... what he thought of any of the games was wholly secondary to knowing the titles of any of the games to begin with. He needed a way to tap that knowledge quickly, but his lack of imagination only left him with one option.

"Damn, girl- uh, Boss Lady, you know it's gotta be that Trials of Tutoria! The OG! The old school!" he threw out quickly. "That's the one that started 'em all ain't it?" Although the question sounded rhetorical, it also qualified as a legitimate question, if she chose to answer it, seeing as he lacked even that much knowledge on the subject. He tried to think of even the most rudimentary observation to tack on to this answer. What did he know about what one actually does in Trials of Tutoria? Almost nothing.

"You know what my favorite thing is? It was always uuuh..." he droned, suddenly sounding remarkably unenthusiastic for someone talking about his favorite subject in a video game series he loved. "Uuuh... Icin' that shuz? You know when you see that goofy lookin' mother-flipper you just wanna pop a cap in his gooey ass, like blah blah blap," he suddenly ranted, pantomiming using a sideways-held gun to shoot the unfortunate slimeball on his desk three times between the eyes. He laughed with a far greater showing of audible certainty than he inwardly felt. "Aw shuz, they ain't got no caps to pop in this Tutoria shuz," he finally remembered. "And by pop a cap I mean... pop a lightning bolt in him. Yeah." He switched this hands to instead imitate holding a two-handed staff, feeling like a huge nerd as he did so.

"How 'bout you?" he asked, 100% ready to hand her back the reigns and wishing he would get a bolt of inspiration like his navi did sometimes, so he could lead the conversation.
Kelsy gave Cassiel a bemused smile at his choice… but not his choice of game, but his nickname. “Please, Cassiel. Call me Kelsy,” she insisted; anybody with any proper read on her workplace culture would understand that this was less a friendly invitation than an unspoken rule, which most picked up after Kelsy began to address them by their first name. “But really, Trials of Tutoria… I hadn’t pegged you for the type! You know, so very many of the aspects of that game aren’t shared by the rest of the series, the graphics are so terribly rudimentary, and so many of the specifics of the lore have been banished from the canon…” While it might be possible to read that as a slam on his choice, the notion would quickly display as a brilliant grin broke her face. “But that’s why it’s so wonderful, the two of us are here to carry the torch for it! We can see past those nitpicky issues to take the global view and appreciate it as the title that started it all. Like paying respects to one’s ancestors. Very good, Cassiel, very good.”

The woman finally stopped gushing for her employee to get a word in edgewise. She raised her eyebrows, obviously understanding what he was talking about (seeing as it was, coincidentally, brought up just a few short moments earlier) but struggling to come to terms with how he was describing it. “Y-yes… it would be quite a different sort of game if Tutoria had a gun, wouldn’t it? Haha,” she muttered, looking as though she was giving it some serious thought, and as though doing so was a favor for his sake. When she offered to give her the reigns for a new topic, she gladly accepted. “As for me, the thing I love is the consistent aspects the game did introduce: the relationship of mentorship and friendship established between the protagonists; QuestMan’s enduring spirit, his rugged boyishness that lays the foundation for his selfless adventuring; the heat…”

The last one wasn’t an aspect of the game she was praising; rather, she was now commenting on the state of the room again. She glanced around, feeling the sweat beginning to glisten on her skin despite her lack of activity. “Cassiel, ahem… I understand the need to keep a warm workplace to keep up your productivity, but this environment is simply too much. Surely you can do with a bit of air conditioning? Why don’t you let me see if I can work some magic and find a temperature that suits us both?” She had risen to her feet, beginning to head towards the AC control, where she would obviously discover the controls weren’t functioning, assuming she didn’t bump into anybody else and end up striking up an interesting conversation first.
Even as he nodded, Cassiel wondered if he would be able to keep his commitment. He was self-aware enough to know that a name like Kelsy wasn't going to come out of his tough-talking mouth easily. If he tried to be casual, he would end up shortening it to "Kels", or worse, some other nickname he hadn't thought up yet. Still, his boss had made the demand, and he certainly wasn't going to let this be the end of his plan. "C'mon, you learned all that stupid shuz for this. Don't trip just cause you don't wanna say a girly name," he scolded himself.

Next came talk of a lot of other phrases that made Cassiel wonder just how deep he was going to have to go into his strategy guide to keep up with this plan. "Lore? Canon? Dang, I'm gonna replace my whole vocabulary with stupid made up shuz by the time this is over," he bemoaned, trying to imagine what he'd sound like.

Cassiel was about to take the unoffered segue to discuss how much smarter Tutoria would be if she carried a handgun instead of a book, when Kelsy blessedly moved to a new topic instead. "Huh, you like that hot boyish ruggedness, huh? Alright, alright," he repeated what he thought he'd heard, surprised to hear Kelsey so forward about that aspect. "Oh. I get it. She don't want Tutoria and QuestMan together cause that's her boy, that it? Alright, alright," he mused, thinking that was pretty strange, but remaining willing to ensure that the relationship never bloomed, as per his boss's wishes. "Sounds tough, though. 'Specially if they mentors and friends and all that shuz. Ain't nothin' make a brother horny like a friendly teacher getting up in his face. Ain't nothin'," he reminded himself, seeing that the task in front of him was tall. "It's about authority and all that shuz. When a brother see a hot piece up real close to him, one -on-one, breathin' his same air and shuz, we-he-hell, boy, he gonna lose his mind real fast-"

He suddenly realized he was watching the sweat slide from Kelsey's chin down her neck and to the upper lip of her exercise rope and checked himself. Even more importantly, he checked back in to the conversation, realizing Kelsy was about to go discover he was sitting in an un-air-conditioned office and lying about it. It wouldn't matter why (he couldn't remember why, not that it mattered); just the fact that he had lied would be enough to break the bond of trust they had established so far.

His mind raced as he tried to come up with a way to keep her away from it. "Naw, naw, you know what I do when I'm freakin' hot like this?" he asked rhetorically. The obvious answer was "work" since that's what he had said earlier, but that's not the one he chose. "I grab..." he continued, looking to the mini-kitchen break area not far from his cubicle. Unable to see the water cooler from here, he looked to the next available appliance. "Something from the fridge, let's see what they got."

As he got up and motioned for his boss to follow, Cassiel spotted the water cooler and mentally punched himself. As he reached the refrigerator he punched himself harder: he had run out of sports drinks a few days ago and not replaced them yet. "I say fridge? What I meant to say was freezer," he grumbled a bit more audibly than he intended, swinging that portion open.

Cassiel felt a bit like his navi, walking a tightrope with a crazy idea that was either too hairbrained to possibly go off without a hitch or just crazy enough to work. He grabbed a pair of popsicles out without worrying who the box belonged to. Rather than the sort of cheap, fruit-flavored ice pop one might imagine, designed to cool off workers, what emerged was a pair of chocolate candy-coated vanilla pops. "Well flip me," he instructed some unknown listener internally, absorbed with the image of how stupid he would look eating one of these, worsened by how stupid he must sound, implying he regular consumed moderately pricey, kiddy ice cream on a stick to keep cool while he sweated his brains out.

With no other particular thoughts on his mind than those regarding his ego, he unwrapped the dark, brown chocolate rod and thrust it out toward Kelsy, ice-cream first, so that there was no good way to grab it. The other one, still wrapped, stuck out from inside the knuckles of the same tightly clenched fist, but at an angle.
“What are you saying, Cassiel?” Kelsy replied with shock, blushing a bit in spite of herself as she rose to move over to the control panel. “I’m simply describing the pillars of QuestMan’s impressive design, not crushing on him,” she reassured him. ”Not since I was much younger,” she reminded herself, to herself only.

She didn’t make it to the panel in spite of her purposeful walk in that direction; instead, she listened attentively to Cassiel. “Work?” she asked with a small smile, which fell to a small frown as he went in a different direction. ”Well, just because he didn’t say work doesn’t mean he doesn’t like to work,” she reminded herself, forcing herself through an internal explanation of why “work” wouldn’t be the first thing that someone might say when asked what they liked to do. “Ah, hm… we’ll try that, then,” she agreed, still not quite sure why they couldn’t just adjust the temperature. ”It seems he has quite a process at work here. Is it possible he was recommended for termination due to his high-maintenance process? No, that’s silly. We all enjoy a…”

She tapered off, realizing he wasn’t going for a water, a healthy energy drink, or even some lesser drink. “Ah, yes. We all enjoy a… frozen treat… when it’s hot at work, don’t we?” she agreed, conjuring up the one memory she had of ever indulging this particular reward as an individual and not part of a group where everyone was getting one.

She continued to give him the same upsettingly level smile as he revealed just what snack he had in mind, tilting her head and resting it on one hand. “Cassiel. Do you know, this is very interesting. I’m quite certain there is another on this floor that enjoys this very same snack? You two should discuss, you might have more in common than you imagine! When you just talk to people, you learn all sorts of things you have in common,” she noted, reminding herself of the one and only thing she’d discovered she had in common with Cassiel besides the roof they worked under. ”Oh, and the workout predilection. See, Kelsy? The two of you will be fast friends.”

She realized she’d been rambling to herself, mostly, and reached a hand out absently for the ice cream Cassiel was offering. The puzzled smile immediately returned to her face as her hand hovered absently before Cassiel. ”He unwrapped that one, so he clearly means to eat it himself… but he’s holding it to me as though it was mine. It’s quite an unusual thing to unwrap someone’s ice pop for them, isn’t it? Do I…” she pondered, starting back into reality as she came to a realization. In the heat of the un-cooled kitchen, the thing was already beginning to melt.

“Haha, Cassiel,” she remarked, a remark that probably wouldn’t be helpful for bringing Cassiel out of his egocentric stupor. “Cassiel,” she remarked more urgently, laughing in spite of herself as she held her hands beneath the ice cream to catch the melting chocolate. “C-Cassiel, you’re going to waste-!” she snapped, her hands becoming a mess of dripped chocolate shell as she tried to manage it. Unwilling to see the whole thing go to waste, she tossed her head back to get her hair away from her forehead without touching it, then leaned down to the ice pop, extending her tongue to catch the drippings before moving her head up and placing her lips around it. At this point, Cassiel had hopefully come to his senses and released it: she would use her mouth to pull it from him, hurriedly moving to the sink while gripping the stick in her messy hands.

Holding the popsicle between her lips while washing her hands, she turned back to Cassiel with an awkward smile around the treat, bits of white goop still flecked around her mouth. With as petite of a slurp as she could manage, she removed the popsicle and held it carefully over the sink. “Cassiel, if you don’t mind my saying, this snack seems a bit of a mess to eat during a work day. Do you regularly eat these during the workday?” she asked him, turning to lean back against the counter as she placed the popsicle in her mouth once again.
Some might find Kelsey's protest cute, but not Cassiel; every sign of displeasure morphed into the image of receiving the proverbial pink slip I'm his mind. "Y-yeah, he got that pillar," he croaked, fumbling his words as he tried to imagine what Kelsey even meant by pillars of design. When they awkwardly moved to the freezer, things didn't get much better. "Alright alright! Yeah! Frozen treat!" he agreed, sounding unfortunately similar to a child who views a chocolate dipped popsicle as an object of ultimate hype-building. "Yeah whoever that uh... other person is they sure know their uh... frozen treats."

The whole situation looked worse and worse, until suddenly, it actually wasn't so bad. The image of that bright pink paper seemed like a vague memory as he was treated to the sight of his boss suggestively licking and then tugging on a chocolate ice pop with her closed lips, with several very familiar motions that he'd seen... other places. "Damn! Daaayum!" he repeated, which would hopefully be interpreted as an expression of how bad the situation had gotten and not an expression of how pleased he was with this sudden direction. [I]"She's goin' after it like she knows somethin' about it!"[/i] he cheered mentally, suddenly wondering if he ought to be moving seducing his boss to number one priority instead of number two.

As his mind recovered from the numbing display he'd seen, he refocused on his boss, suddenly picturing that pink slip again. He willed away the onset of a physiological reaction that might show through his athletic shorts and tried to answer her instead. "Yeah, I just eat it over the sink. You know, like you doin,'" he answered, figuring that reassuring her she had the right idea was a fine option.

He moved over to the sink next to her before opening up his own popsicle's paper. The melted ice cream immediately plopped out into the sink, falling completely from the now bare stick, which read out a hidden message of "YOU LOSE" as part of some sort of contest across its length.

His first thought was "Well who the flip cares?" It was quickly replaced by "Aw shuz, Cuz," as he answered his question: he cared. This was his special afternoon treat, which he had purchased, of course. It'd make sense to be a little angry.

He proceeded to give his best impersonation of a little angry. "Flip this mother-flipping ice cream," he swore, throwing the stick into the garbage with a hard "thwap." That's how he would handle a similar unfortunate occurrence on the basketball court or during a game of War Zone, the competitive shooter he sometime played. "I mean yeah I love this stuff and I eat it every day but flip that shuz."

Glossing over that, he moved on, allowing Kelsey to enjoy her ice cream by herself. "Lemme get you a towel," he finally offered, reaching up and grabbing a roll. Once again, rather than tearing one off, he held out the whole roll to her, like this was the first time he had ever tried to do a favor for somebody and the concept was foreign to him.

" Damn, that Quest Boy got it good," he mused, thinking how good it must be to work for a fine piece like his boss without having to actually do any work; Cassiel viewed a navi's life as mostly goofing around and playing games, as opposed to the real work he performed, applying the word "performed" generously. "He got this and he buggin' out about no-ass Tutoria? Guess he ain't know she got no ass," he resolved.

With nothing else on his mind, he decided to broach the subject, since he had been curious. "Say Kels, why you think when they made Tutoria they made her look... uh... like a kid, instead'a... you know..." he asked, stopping himself hard as he nearly said "you". "You know, like she grown? For real, I always wondered if she all wise and shuz, why she ain't grown?" Cassiel pondered, as though butt size was related to smarts. "I mean, not that Tutoria ain't great the way she is. We both love her that way," he added, with all of the enthusiasm he had previously summoned when he described eating chocolate coated popsicles every day.
Kelsy watched Cassiel with an arched eyebrow, finishing her ice cream with a gulp. "My my, Cassiel, having an off day on your snack? Hard to believe you eat this every day, preferably in this heat," she joked in her typical manner that made it impossible to tell if she was joking. She noted his more-or-less thoughtfully offered towels, carefully tearing off a bit with her were fingers to dry her hands and clean her mouth.

The boss considered Cassiel's question with more care than he'd asked them, to sing her towel in the trash and crossing her arms as she crossed as she leaned against the sink. "Well, I could offer the rudimentary answer from a business perspective, or in terms of trends in games at the time, but I think the best most interesting answer is to consider it from the character designer's perspective. Recall that bbn in the original title, Tutoria was also a young woman chosen by fate to be QuestMan's guide. Being a similar age allows us to consider them as equals, partners on the adventure. Now obviously, as for why QuestMan had to be young, you and I know..."

As Kelsy continued to pontificate, she turned and began pacing, clearly giving the question way too much thought... As she did so, Cassiel would become aware that as she'd leaned against the counter, she'd leaned into some of the ice cream that had plopped or dripped there. However it had gotten there, it left her with a hard to ignore white spot on the seat of her shorts which she seemed oblivious to.

"-So naturally, the audience wouldn't have that emotional connection if QuestMan was a muscled-up barbarian or Tutoria was an old man with a beard. But, as a fun thought exercise, what would you change about Tutoria? If you could change one thing?"
Cassiel at first took pleasure to see that Kelsie hadn't taken offense at his like of questioning. If he stepped back and really thought about it, he could admit, it was possibly a little ill-advised to start down this track. On the other hand, he immediately regretted that he was now going to have to listen and pay attention to this nerd talk... and do it while avoiding particular conversational landmines, like mentioning that if the two were the same age, it might mean that they had been intended to be an item.

Even without a suggestive stain on the back of her pants, Cassiel's boss would have found him easily distracted simply by turning around. As it was, he stared dumb-faced, powerless to pay attention in the face of a far more interesting subject. A myriad of dumb options presented themselves to him: he could try to wipe it himself, he could suggest see if somehow he could finnangle this into her removing her pants... however, even he was not so ridiculous (or horny) to think that these delusions could ever be made manifest.

He was still pondering what to do when he heard Kelsie direct a question towards him. He responded by blinking a few times, then answering the first thing that came to mind. "Cream on her ass?" he asked, as a perfectly serious question.

He stared just long enough to realize that answer hadn't been what he had intended to say as an answer to anything, no matter what the question had been. "Naw, hell, naw! I was tellin' you you got cream on your ass!" he corrected himself. "You uh, better take care'a that." A bit of an anticlimatic way to end that, he thought, but at least he had made a one-hundred percent flawless recovery, he estimated.

"Okay, you were askin' me about Tutoria and what I'd change about her, right? I mean, let's be serious, alright? She like somebody's mom or some shulz. What's yo mama like Kelsie, she someone you wanna talk to all the time? No, probably not! I kinda wanna see her, y'know, loosen up," he rambled on, rolling his hand. "She always like 'Don't forget to charge the PET, Cassiel,' or 'Tooty ain't a good nickname for me' or 'Your alarm clock went off whatever blah blah blah,'" he complained, recounting the already frustrating events of his short time with Tutoria. "What about QuestMan, don't he ever do shuz that just makes you like, I dunno, wish he'd do somethin' else?" He kept a close eye on his boss, in case she decided to make an impromptu show out of cleaning her tight shorts.
“Cream, hm…?” Kelsey responded with her same smile, having fallen pretty well into the pace of needing a few seconds after any response Cassiel gave in order to work out his meaning. Realizing exactly what he said, however, her ordinary expression of calmness finally gave way to a too-loud shout, as she hadn’t realized they were not alone. ”Cream on her what?!” She didn’t manage to fix her face as Cassiel clarified, instinctively looking over her shoulder although it obviously wouldn’t be possible to see her own behind. “Oh, ah, oh my, how did I…?”

She cleared her throat loudly and moved to action, tearing off some more paper towels, acting quickly to drench the towels in cold water from the sink. She did this as Cassiel answered her question, clearly applying effort to paying attention to his response. “Well, Cassiel, I subscribe to an Electopian tradition of honoring one’s parents, but I must admit I’ve had similar experiences with my parents as well. A more friendly and less ‘revered’ Tutoria might be interesting, but I think the dichotomy of her receiving guidance for QuestMan would be hard or indeed dangerous to alter…”

She gave Cassiel an awkward approximation of her earlier grin as she looked over her shoulder, holding the paper towel alongside her hips. “Er, a quick aside, Cassiel. In order to keep this stain from setting, I am going to have to apply cold water. Could you, perhaps, let me know with a ‘warmer’ or ‘colder’ if I’m close to the correct spot so I can dab it out…? I hate to ask you to do something so embarrassing for the both of us,” she concluded, hovering the paper towel a short distance from the right cheek of her pants seat (the stain was on the left) as she unconsciously stuck her backside out a bit towards him, as if he would need a better view for the task. If Cassiel was willing to play along, she’d continue to seek the correct spot as she spoke.

“As far as QuestMan the Navi goes, he is still very much in development, so I don’t think it’s fair to harp on the deficiencies he still needs to correct,” she continued, facing away from Cassiel. “But as for QuestMan the character… hm. That’s a very interesting question. I guess one thing all of us probably do is selfishly wish QuestMan would break character and ask directly some of the questions that we, the audience, have for the game creators. So much in-universe foreshadowing which is slowly doled out could instead be given direct answers if QuestMan would only ask Macguffr or Tutoria the right question at the right time! But I suppose that’s the privilege of information only the audience is privy to. We can hardly hold that against him.”
For a moment, Cassiel felt his boss's exclamation shooting through him like a storm of bullets, eviscerating his chances at getting through this odd situation he'd manufactured successfully. A few seconds later, he was left breathing heavily and hoping his startled expression hadn't been too obvious, as his boss bought the revision he'd offered up. He couldn't really picture the version of Tutoria the two of them were talking about, nor did it have a lot of weight compared to the new topic related to Kelsie's butt, so he had a pretty hard time paying any attention.

He was forced to comically raise his shades and rub his eyes as he tried to determine whether the events unfolding in front of him were a dream or one of the fantasies he kept lapsing into. His boss was sticking her very fine butt out at him, with cream on it, sweat on the exposed parts of her body like her lower back, and was now wetting the rest of her pants-seat using a towel, asking him to watch and dictate directions. His conniving mind worked double-time, trying to think of all of the best exploits he could use in this relatively risk-free situation. "Nah, you're cold," he murmured, watching intently. "Cold cold cold. Cold," he kept repeating, allowing her to wet up as much of her backside as she felt like wetting and spend as long rubbing it down as she felt like rubbing.

He took a break from his cold-calling to finally respond to her statements, realizing that the safety of his butt-watching was riding on carrying on conversation like everything was normal. "Yeah, yeah. I guess you right. I only known the guy a little while and I'm already like, 'do this and do that, boy,'" Cassiel agreed, thinking that QuestMan getting turned into a beta male by Teamster (and to some extent, Tutoria) so far was pretty embarrassing. "I dunno, he'll get it. Once he sees that things go better when you just, I dunno, assert yo'self and man up, he gonna be walkin' tall," he nodded, as if he'd just imparted some sage wisdom.

"Oh yeah, so, there's only a bit left," he murmured, finally switching back over to his favorite topic. I think it got on and maybe inside the band of your shorts a little. If you pull it out a bit, you can get at it," he coughed into his fist, watching with eager eyes to see if she would manipulate the band, or better yet, get fed up and ask him to do it. There were a number of exciting ways that could go down, as long as she didn't protest over the fact that she'd already wet down her whole pants-seat by this point, presumably.

"So anyway you uh, you play all kinds'a games?" he asked, pondering Kelsey's personality as he did. He only saw two possibilities now: either she was an airhead who was somehow in charge of a very technical operation, LiveLeg, or else, she was actually trying to seduce him in a low-key, sexy way. He was determined to use this time to prod into the second possibility a bit. "Like games with dudes, I mean. You play games with dudes?" he asked, his eyes still focused on her butt for as long as she was willing to stick it out. "What other kinds'a games do you like to play with em?" he reiterated, lowering his eyebrows seriously.
Unfortunately for Cassiel, Kelsy seemed to have impressive motor control and spatial awareness (if not social awareness): while it seemed like he might be able to have as much of a look as he wanted, his boss was managing to expertly maintain the towel in a glide to the various parts of her pants without touching the garment at all. “Hmm. That’s a very fine point, Cassiel. Even for a Navi in the mold of a hero, there is always a transformative point in a hero’s journey. Except… hm, as I said, I don’t mean to criticize him, as he’s only started.”

Speaking of things she didn’t want to criticize but was about to end up criticizing anyway, she was beginning to get a bit frustrated with how long it was taking Cassiel to finally let her know when she was getting warm. “With all respect, Cassiel, there simply aren’t that many places it could be…” With his report, however, she grew even more baffled, raising an eyebrow behind her glasses as she glanced backwards. “The band? Cassiel, if it was the band, you might have simply told me so at the beginning.”

Straightening up, Kelsy turned to face away from him, turning her eyes away in concentration as she methodically ran the wet rag across the inside and outside of the band, clutching it in a bent shape to get both at once. After doing so, she just as quickly grabbed a dry towel and worked to dry it. Of course, none of this had actually accomplished stopping her stain from setting at all, if Cassiel would spare a moment to warn her of that.

She raised her eyebrow at Cassiel as he asked his question, seeming to understand there was something he was trying to get at with his questions. Her own eyebrows lowered seriously before they finally arched, a flush spreading across her face. “Oh. Oh! Cassiel, um, to be clear… I didn’t intend for that ‘hot and cold’ silliness before to be any type of game…! I’m very serious about these things, you understand. If I tell you to do something like that, it is in the spirit of seriousness, with no kind of playfulness about it,” she attempted to clarify, obviously working hard to get back to a dignified outer impression.

“What I mean to say, Cassiel, is while I’d like us to have a bit of fun today, I must seriously request that we do it without sacrificing my clothing to any sort of messiness, all right?” she asked, giving her band one more run with the relatively dry towel. “I don’t want you to think of me as your boss in this matter, but, if it helps, please do,” she joked, cracking a smirk. “In any case, I’d be happy to play games with a guy like you, Cassiel. To be honest, sometimes I even sneak a quick play session in while I’m on break in my office… Maybe I’ll invite you some time,” she added, tossing the uselessly used rag deftly into the trash.

”Cassiel certainly seems a bit awkward in socializing,” she thought to herself sympathetically, reviewing how awkward even getting a snack seemed to be for him. ”It’s selfish of me to only consider his merit as a gaming buddy. As an employee under review, he’s probably distracted thinking of my evaluation and how he can improve.”

“Anyway, Cassiel… we don’t have to just think about Trials of Tutoria,” she segued, putting her hands on her hips. “If there’s something distracting you here at work, why don’t we go ahead and take care of it? With work out of the way, we will be able to focus on our leisure.”