“Didn't expect to see you.” Eiko had grown a lot since Freya first met her. Still a girl, though she had shed her naivety. It reminded Freya of a snake parting with its skin; something shiny and new was underneath. She probably wouldn't like the analogy, but the Dragoon meant it with respect - in her head at least.
Freya shrugged and looked off into the distance. “I was just in the area.”
“In the Black Mage Village?”
“You cannot be sure that you are seeking properly unless you look everywhere.” Freya didn't know if she should admit that she was still searching for a lost lover who wanted to be hidden. In many ways it was more girlish and foolish than anything Eiko could do.
It earned a frown. “So you didn't hear about the party?”
Of course she'd heard about the party. “I'm not one for primp parties, Eiko.”
“Neither was I until Garnet showed me what a pedicure was!” She crossed her arms over her chest. “Mikoto would really appreciate it I bet.”
“You're going to hound me until I give in, aren't you?”
“I'm glad that we both understand that!” She was going to make a fine princess, if anyone ever doubted. With that Eiko turned about and started catching Freya up on the details. “We even got Beatrix to come along; of course she would have come along anyway, because apparently Garnet and I can't take care of ourselves.”
“You are royalty now, Eiko, get used to it.” Freya followed the younger woman through the village, impressed with its growth in such a short time.
The mages were trying - however stunted and misguided they could be - to make a society. It was something she'd wondered herself, was it truly possible to not have a soul; to just be a vessel? If Vivi was any indication that simply wasn't true. Though there were shops in the town, it looked like the mages and genomes hadn't updated their own looks at all. There was little deviation from the set pattern. At least, not until she rounded a corner.
Beatrix was kneeling in the dirt, slowly piling soil over a rose bush that she'd dropped to the ground. The flowers were beautiful, climbing vines that complemented the area. A hearty plant that would be easy enough to tend. Her brown hair was tied back into a simple tail and her sword was just an arm's reach out of the way. She hadn't dressed down and Freya knew better than to assume that the other woman had dropped her guard. She stood and nodded to Freya. Warriors didn't waste words.
“This doesn't look like a pedicure.” Freya commented to Eiko after returning the nod.
“Freya!” Garnet smiled from behind another bush. “Well, it's silly to get dirty after you have a good soak.” She paused and then fully faced the dragoon. “...you like pedicures?”
“They come highly recommended.”
Eiko giggled from behind them. “Are we ready then?”
Garnet looked everything over and then nodded. “Come on!” She grabbed Eiko's hand and the two summoners took off into the village.
“Girls.” Beatrix said, though she smiled. “I was hoping you'd accept my offer, Freya.”
With a sigh, Freya continued to focus on the rose bush. “There are things that need handled.”
“Chasing a man?”
Freya snapped her head over and clenched her teeth. “What would you know about being forgotten?” Beatrix had been courted, lovingly, by a man that Freya respected. A good man, while she had been discarded entirely.
“Not as much as some, more than others.” Beatrix responded evenly. “There is a place in the castle for you, room, board, a job.” She walked around Freya so that the two were eye to eye. “A purpose. Are you really looking for a man to give you that when you can take it for yourself? You're a person of action, Freya, this isn't becoming of you.”
“So now you know me?”
“We are cut from the same cloth, you and I.” Beatrix crossed her arms under her chest and shook her head. “I would hope you'd do the same for me if our positions were switched.”
Freya wanted to turn on heel and stalk away, and would have if the person speaking to her hadn't been Beatrix. With Beatrix that would have felt like backing down or giving in. Soldiers, the two of them, Beatrix would have had to understand that. Perhaps it was exactly why she confronted Freya as she did. “I know when people should be left alone.” Freya commented.
It earned a smirk. “As do I. Come on, they have a surprise for Mikoto. It'd be rude to miss it.”
It had been quite a long time since Freya had been in a bathhouse. When the heat from the water crept between her tense shoulders she realized that it had been far too long. She declined to go get a drink with the others, just to get a few more minutes to soak. Her hat was flopped on top of her clothes and she tilted her head back and peered at the lopsided item upside down.
“You have pretty eyes, Freya.” Mikoto jarred her from her contemplation.
Freya sat up and blinked. “Thank you.”
Mikoto frowned. “Was that wrong of me to say? You look confused.”
It was hard for Freya to understand where Mikoto or Vivi came from. The crippling doubt that Vivi had in himself was tangible at times. Mikoto, by contrast reminded Freya much of Eiko, though where Eiko was still learning to process, she was not any longer naïve. Mikoto was almost the opposite. Some angel of death...
“I mean... you hide them with the hat so much I'd never seen them before.”
“No, it's alright. I just wasn't expecting it is all. Why aren't you with the others?”
Mikoto shrugged. “You just seemed tense, and I wanted to check on you. It's what Zidane would have done.”
“Stupid monkey boy would have thrown something at me.”
“Do I have to throw something?”
That earned a laugh. “No, Mikoto. You don't need to throw anything. I've just been looking for someone important to me, and he's apparently taken great care into making sure he isn't found.” She made a circle in the water. “Perhaps he does not wish to see me.”
“Maybe.” Blunt, but honest. “But there's a lot of people who really do want to see you.” She tilted her head to look at the circle. “We've missed you. Vivi mentioned you a lot, and Zidane says it's boring and Beatrix gets all puffy about the new recruits and says she misses a good fight every time we all get together.”
Freya swallowed and continued to twirl the water. “I... admit I haven't been thinking about them as much as I probably should.”
“Did you really come here looking for someone else?”
“But you stayed here when he's not here.”
Freya looked up at Mikoto again, into the girl's face. “Well, my friends are here” so of course she'd stay. Traveling alone in all weather was not as comfortable as sitting with those she cared for. She'd been so focused on looking ahead for someone else that she stopped noticing what was in front of her. “Maybe I just haven't had my priorities in order.”
“So we're friends?” This pleased Mikoto, her face lit up.
“Of course we're all friends! Try this Mikoto, It's got fruit in it!” Eiko entered the room clad only in a towel and handed over a drink.
Beatrix smirked and placed one in Freya's hand. A bloody mary by the looks of things.
Mikoto looked over at Freya while the others slid back into the large tub. Freya nodded. “Yes, we're friends.”
That prompted a big smile from Mikoto. She nodded and then looked over at Garnet. “We can do this again, right?”
“As soon as we are able.” Garnet obviously would have loved to stay at least a month, but Queenly duties were not to be ignored so long. “I just have to make sure the guys didn't explode my castle while I was away.”
“They know I'd kill them.” Beatrix commented as she hauled a sack over her shoulder.
“I'll make sure we have more time.” Eiko promised as she pulled Mikoto outside.
“It's been a while, hasn't it?” Garnet asked. “I haven't seen you...”
“Since the play... I know.” Freya shook her head. “I'm sorry.”
“Well, you know we wouldn't forget you, Freya.” Garnet pulled her own bag over her shoulder. Despite knowing it wasn't exactly a queenly thing to do. They both headed out the door. “Maybe you could come back with us?”
Freya watched as Mikoto and Eiko poked the rose bushes. “No. I think I'll stay here a bit, the roses need fixed up on the banister there." She smiled at Garnet. "I'll bring some by when I come talk to Beatrix."