Portal Breach: The Collision of Worlds :: v.4.0


    Visiting An Old Friend

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    Minion
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    Visiting An Old Friend

    Post by Minion on Thu Nov 26, 2015 9:49 pm

    Time: 3:13 PM
    Date: November 9th, 0006

    Well...visiting the Park had not been as fruitful as Mitchell had hoped it would be. Polite small talk had been made with a few average denizens who had visited the park, but none of them had been familiar to him. They at least did a good job of getting him caught up in the ways of the Breach beyond what he heard in passing in the Inn. The people he spoke to were nice enough, but there was still something...missing. The next couple of weeks had been spent mostly at the Inn, a little put out by his visit to the Park. Making small talk with strangers was nice, but he was beginning to realize that aside from the Inn staff, he didn't really have many other friends he saw on a regular basis. And certainly none that even knew about his real identity (as far as he knew at least)! There was only one person (technically two) who really knew who he was...

    And their birthday was sometime this month, wasn't it? The day was escaping him, but Minion definitely knew their birthdays were in November. He decided to himself, that whether she was busy or not, he was going to go ahead and visit her! It had been a while, after all. Some treats had been baked, and when Mitchell left the Inn that day, it was with a Tupperware container in hand. Strolling down the sidewalk with thick brown boots on and a pair of jeans, there was a big smile on the face of Minion's hologram. A dark green scarf was wrapped around his neck and he wore a dark green sweater with light green stripes and a black beanie was pulled over the top of his head. All of the clothes were merely part of the hologram of course, but Minion had programmed the hologram to be fashionable and appropriate for the weather. A human walking down the street dressed for the beach in November would catch suspicious attention...

    His eyes scanned the buildings as they passed by his vision, searching for the one he needed. If he remembered right, she should be in at this time... Aha! There it was, the reliable old building that hadn't moved since he had first visited it. A fond smile appeared on his face as he lingered by the door, just taking in the sight of it. It was strange, how much could change in only so many years... His grip on the Tupperware container tighten as he reached out with one hand. The fingers curled lightly around the handle, being mindful of the real nature of his hands. Turning it, he swung the door open and began to step inside. "Hello, Miss Pistonne? Are you in?" Mitchell called out as he entered.
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    Re: Visiting An Old Friend

    Post by Jo Pistonne on Sun Nov 29, 2015 3:22 pm

    Monday, Monday, Monday... If there was ever a day in the week that Jo wanted to ban forever and ever, it would be Monday. But that would just make Tuesday the new 'Monday', wouldn't it? "Ugh... I knew I should have taken today off." Inside the Chop Shop was none other than the head mechanic herself, her gloved hands fast at work repairing a customer's busted appliance. Yeah, yeah... It wasn't glorious work and it was kinda beneath her level of expertise, but hey - work was work, right? It sure beat lounging around at the house all day and snuggling with the cats while watching violent movies. Ha ha! Ha ha. Ha... ha... Bleuuurgh, Monday...

    Ding - dong~!

    Oh boy, looks like there was someone upstairs. Probably someone looking to inquire about yet another $40.00 appliance that had busted before the holid -

    "Hello, Miss Pistonne? Are you in?"

    ...Or not! She recognized that voice anywhere and with a loud clatter of her tools and the frantic - thump, thump, thumping - of her boots, Jo ran up the basement stairs to meet a familiar smile. "Hi, Mitchell!" And returned with a beaming grin of her own. "Golly, it's been a while, hasn't it?" she asked, hopping over the storefront counter. "Probably about a year, in fact! Still, it's very nice to see you. Big Z and I hope you're doing well and that everything is all right in your neck of the woods. Oh!" In a moment of embarrassment, Jo snapped her fingers and tried her hardest not to blush. "S-Sorry... I kinda forgot my manners. Would you like something to eat or drink? We don't have much in the way of snacks, but I can always pull a lunch break and catch up on things." It's not like the toaster downstairs was suddenly going to sprout legs and hop out the basement window with a dusty old vacuum, a ragged blanket, a fast-talking radio, and a lamp, right?
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    Re: Visiting An Old Friend

    Post by Minion on Thu Dec 03, 2015 11:46 pm

    Deep brown eyes scanned the immediate floor of the chop shop, finding it to be devoid of a certain brown haired woman. Minion blinked, frowning lightly to himself. Had he missed her? Was Jo out for lunch-?

    Thump, thump, thump!

    Each thump drew a blink, and a glance down at the floor, each glance getting lower and lower. Ah, she must have been working in the basement! The grin returned on his face as his back seemed to straighten up. Beneath the hologram, his robotic body had straightened up to the best of its ability. His muscular body looked prim and proper as his fingers curled protectively around the plastic container. "Hello!" Mitchell greeted back. Bright brown eyes, long brown hair pulled back, yep. That's the Jo Pistonne he remembered! As she approached the storefront counter, he approached in tandem. "A year sounds about right!" Longer than he had liked... But habits after faking his death had sunk in, and he kept to himself. Perhaps too much... "Oh yes, things are going nicely, I have a couple of pets at the Inn..." Not much to report at all, actually... "How about you and Mr. Zurg? How have you two been?" The two of them were some of the most well-known members of the community from what he remembered, perhaps they had more to report! The young woman suddenly snapped her fingers and apologized about her manners before offering a drink or a snack. Mitchell chuckled to himself and glanced around for a moment. Beneath the hologram, Minion was glancing around the water inside of his tank. "I...don't really need anything to drink, and I'm fine on snacks, but I was actually about to offer you some!" The container was set onto the counter and he pushed it over to Jo's side.

    "Made it for your's and Mr. Zurg's birthdays." Inside the plastic container, Jo would find two different treats. The first was four squares of fudgey brownies, a few melted Hershey Kiss candies within the brownie. These were obviously for Jo, and they were wrapped tenderly in several sheets of paper towels. Some of the melted chocolate had rubbed against the paper towel, creating a few brown spots in the pure white material. They were still warm, and soft to the touch. The other side of the Tupperware, also lined with paper towels, contained four little Carrot Cake cupcakes. White, creamy frosting on top that held a little carrot made of frosting. Two of the cupcakes had deep purple  wrappers on it, and the other two were sea foam green. They were, of course, sugar-free. No guesses who those were for.
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    Re: Visiting An Old Friend

    Post by Jo Pistonne on Mon Dec 07, 2015 9:19 pm

    Aww, those cupcakes were utterly adorable!

    Jo felt like one of the luckiest gals alive. Mini - er, Mitchell brought them sweets to eat for their birthday! "Oh how thoughtful of you..." she murmured happily, touched. A couple of delicious chocolate brownies for herself and some sugar-free carrot cupcakes for Big Z; he was going to love those. "I'll put these in the break room fridge right away so they don't spoil. Thank you so much, Mitchell!" Not really thinking, the mechanic bounced over and motioned as if she was going to hug the man, but promptly caught herself in the act just in time. "E-Er, ha ha... Oops~! Kinda forgot that I'm a lil' dirty, so..." Smooth, Jo, smooth. She retreated back awkwardly and flashed an apologetic grin, weakly chuckling. "You know, uh... oil and all that. Don't want to get all your clothes mucked up!" D'oh, stupid! Jo could mentally hear Big Z chastising her for not paying attention. Good thing she remembered about the... well, thing... The thing she wasn't supposed to talk about or let on that she knew.

    R-Right! She cleared her throat and straightened a few loose strands of unruly hair. "Mr. Zurg..." she giggled, stifling it with a hand over her mouth. "That's so cute, but you don't have to call him Mr. Zurg, Mitchell. Please! Just call him Big Z; you'll otherwise make him embarrassed~!" Maybe one day folks could call him that, but that day was certainly not this one. Besides! Where there's a mister, there's a... Oh dear, now Jo was feeling hot in the face and blushing.

    Moving on!

    "A-Anyway, we've been doing very good!" Jo answered, piping up. "Nothing really exciting to report - we kinda left those days behind - but we're enjoying ourselves! Big Z has his garden, I sleep in and kiss the cats... and there's plenty enough time for the two of us to unwind and get comfy! We don't really... uh, get out as we used to, but we're nevertheless still here!" Nothing wrong with a quieter lifestyle, right? Oh, right... She didn't mean to regale Mitchell with their everyday lives. "Sorry, ha ha. Kinda got a little excited there. It's just so good to see you! Big Z and I were sorta worried if you still hung around; Portal Breach and all that! So, you said you have pets, huh? What kind?" Wouldn't it be funny (and ironic) if Mitchell had a cat?
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    Re: Visiting An Old Friend

    Post by Minion on Fri Dec 11, 2015 3:52 pm

    Mitchell gave Jo a sheepish grin. "I apologize in advance for being a bit late with them...and taking so long to talk to you again." If Minion kept up this 'schedule' for actually visiting poor Jo, she might forget who he was! Or rather, who Mitchell was. The food would keep well in the fridge, the cupcakes could be served cold and the brownies easily heated up in the microwave. Miss Pistonne seemed very thankful for the treats he had made, and there really was no better 'thanks' than to see the smiling face of a friend who appreciated their gifts. It was a gift in and of itself! Not really thinking himself, when Jo came over and moved to hug him, he reciprocated the motion. His arms spread out wide, face beaming with a smile as he readied himself for a hug...! Only for Jo to suddenly back off.

    "E-Er, ha ha... Oops~! Kinda forgot that I'm a lil' dirty, so..."

    The smile turned a bit strained, and his arms slowly dropped to hang by his sides. Aha. Awkward... "Oh, uh, yeah...I understand! These are new so...I'd hate to get them dirty! But, it's the thought that counts!" He reassured in a chipper tone, mentally berating himself for just how dang awkward that exchange had been! Aside from Jo's less than clean status, a hug would probably reveal his secret. Skin wasn't supposed to be cold and metallic after all... The hologram on the watch looked real enough, but it couldn't alter reality. Mitchell tugged lightly on his sleeve, straightening it out even though the cuff was even and didn't need to be fixed. Gave him something to focus on as the awkward air ebbed away. "I am glad that you like what I gave you though, and I hope you both enjoy them!" It was nice to be appreciated.

    Ah yes...Big Z was a nickname for Zurg, wasn't it? Well...he remembered Zurg having many nicknames but among them was Big Z. Minion mentally sounded the word out in his head, and yet it still seemed so...foreign. Too informal! Something of a mischievous look fell over Mitchell's face as he responded "How does...Mr. Big Z sound? Would that embarrass him?~" Not that he'd ever say that to the alien's face... Aside from it being silly, the former Emperor had a temper, and it was one he'd rather not rile.

    The gossip for today was...! Actually not very gossip-y. However, it was nice to hear that Jo and Zurg were doing good. More...calm and peaceful as of late, it seemed that Minion wasn't the only one who was keeping to himself more often. Though he was sure Jo and Zurg still went out and about, the days of them being the talk of the town were far behind them. For the best...such an almost 'celebrity'-esque status was difficult to deal with. "Nothing wrong with hobbies and some downtime!" He agreed brightly, and the thought of the ex-Evil Emperor Zurg watering daisies made his grin quirk up in slight amusement. The mental image of the two of them snuggling with kitties was more on the side of adorable. "It sounds like you two have made a nice life with each other." Not a big one, or flashy...but content and nice. Mitchell blinked at the apology and waved his hands at her lightly. "Oh, no need to apologize! I also got a bit excited." Like a neglected dog that was about to receive affection for the first time in a long time... He shook his head lightly. "No, I'm afraid I'm here to stay, Miss Pistonne." He assured in a falsely grim tone, throwing in a wink to let her know he was kidding. "I'm glad to ee that you are still here too!"

    Oh boy...every pet owner's dream; being asked about their wee babes! "Well, one is Goldie! She's my goldfish." Shocker. "She doesn't do much but she's nice company, and a good listener! My other pet is a cat, her name is Cleo! She's completely bald, though I've gotten sweaters for her to wear during the wintertime, and she just showed up at my door one day! She's affectionate, and also a good listener! Good cuddler too." She particularly liked curling up close to his robotic body for warmth during the winter months. "I haven't had many pets in my life, but I think they are perhaps the best pets I've had!" Though they were also the only pets he had ever had, unless you counted Megamind's inventions. Which actually...they really could count as pets, couldn't they?
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    Re: Visiting An Old Friend

    Post by Jo Pistonne on Thu Dec 17, 2015 9:20 pm

    "Nah, you don't have to worry about the time and all that!" Jo grinned, dismissing a gloved hand. "It's the thought that counts, right? Besides! We really didn't have any expectations for gifts and everyone is always a little busy, so please don't worry yourself, alright?" It was awfully nice of Mitchell to even stop by when no one had asked him to. And, in hindsight, Jo felt a teensy-bit upset with herself for not returning the favour in kind... She should really brainstorm with Big Z and get their friend something nice this upcoming Holiday! Though not high-quality fish kibble, because that would be a little revealing...

    "How does...Mr. Big Z sound? Would that embarrass him?~"

    That earned a giggle out of her. "Sounds good to me~!" she winked. Sorry, Big Z, but your pride will just have to take a wee dent.

    It was... nice to hear that Mitchell (AKA: Minion, the undercover alien fish) still hung around and kept to himself. For a moment there, Jo had been worried that the poor guy found no reason to continue existing on the Breach. The thought alone struck her as very sad... "Aww, Goldy and Cleo," she warmly cooed. One of those was of course Megamind's cat; a rather hairless thing with wrinkles all over and squinting eyes. Jo was relieved to hear that Cleo had found a good home and wasn't, say, abandoned out on the streets due to Megamind's disappearance. Portal Breach had already suffered enough abandonment as it is... "Pets make life all the more better," she agreed, nodding her head vigorously. "Big Z and I absolutely love our animals, and we wouldn't know what to do if something ever ill befell them. Like you said, they're great listeners and even better cuddle-buddies!" Though she was mindful not to say it aloud, Jo was tickled all shades of pink to hear that Min - er, Mitchell had a cat to keep him company. Delicious, innocent irony~! Anyway, she was maybe secretly plotting to approach Big Z with several gift ideas... Shh!

    "And yep! Big Z and I just go about our days with a smile on our faces and a song in our hearts! Er, well... I do more of the smiling, since, y'know, his neutral face is a scowl. I also do more of the singing, too. ...W-Why don't we forget I even mentioned the analogy, ha ha~?" Oh well! She wiped a few loose strands of hair away from her eyes, the grease on her glove smudging just above her brow. "Like most folks, we have our unique ups and downs. Communication and lots of patience is key, though! Our lives might sound a bit boring compared to how they used to be, but it's for the best! I'd say things have never been better."

    Except when Big Z declared it chili night...
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    Re: Visiting An Old Friend

    Post by Minion on Wed Dec 23, 2015 5:11 pm

    The thought that counts... Mitchell smiled warmly back at Jo, and the same smile on the hologram was on Minion's fishy face as well, albeit a bit more toothy. It was a simple smile, and a simple feeling, yet the way it made his chest warm up felt so special. There was once a time when he felt like this fairly often, and now? Now it was rare... It was, of course, appreciation. Jo appreciated Mitchell's gifts, even if it was late. The fact that he did it at all, was special enough! Not once did Jo refer to him as a 'nannyfish'...and the appreciation didn't come down to 'oh, if you weren't here, we'd starve because we can't feed ourselves!'. Last time he'd given her something for her birthday, he left it for her to find, but it felt so much better to actually see her and talk to her... Mitchell clasped his hands together, arms position in front of his chest as he gave the young woman a nod. "A-alright! I won't worry myself at all, then! I'm here now, and that's what matters."

    Mitchell chuckled in turn, smile turning a pinch mischievous. "With your approval, I will now and forever refer to him as...Mr. Big Z.~" It was decent enough 'vengeance' for scaring his fins off that last time Minion had seen Zurg. The purple alien had come yelling into Jo's shop, and thought Mitchell to be an intruder of some kind. Zurg had apologized afterwards, having had a bad day of some kind, but Minion was sure a few years of his life had been shaved off... A fair bit of light teasing was sure to make up for it! ...So long as Zurg didn't lose his temper again...

    "That they do! They may just be a cat and a fish, but they're...like family." Members of the family that were scaly and fuzzy...wet and kinda cold. But it wasn't like Minion had ever been a part of a normal family anyway! Megamind, Roxanne, a prison full of hardened criminals and their Warden...though most of them had been more Megamind's guardians anyway. So in the end, the closest thing he had had to a family was made up of two humans and a big headed, blue alien. Did Minion's kind even have a concept of a family...? Mitchell shook his head to dispel any further thoughts, leaning on the counter with his elbows as support. "I wouldn't know what to do, either. My room at the inn would be so...quiet. And empty." He tilted his head to the side thoughtfully before looking back to Jo. "How many pets do you have?" He could vaguely remember...a cat? Maybe two? And Jo mentioned cats but maybe they got more? Cats were definitely a special species, seemingly made for cuddling and listening.

    The lips of his holographic face quirked in amusement. Jo would be the one to do the singing and smiling! Zurg was rather ill-equipped for such things, unfortunately! Jo realized her mistakes, and became rather embarrassed. "Forgotten! I don't even remember what analogy you are referring to!" Awkward analogy aside, Zurg and Jo were doing good for themselves. A normal relationship. Perhaps a bit boring...but there was nothing wrong with boring. "I'd say that too, miss Pistonne. Not everybody gets to have something like what you have with him. And just because it isn't a life full of explosions and drama or... daily battles with a God, doesn't make it anything less. As long as you two are happy, that's all that matters."
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    Re: Visiting An Old Friend

    Post by Jo Pistonne on Fri Jan 01, 2016 10:42 pm

    "A-alright! I won't worry myself at all, then! I'm here now, and that's what matters."

    "Yep!" Jo beamed right back, pleased as punch. "You're a great guy, Mitchell; you ought to give yourself more credit!" And, you know, be a little happier these days and try not to worry about certain... um, individuals - though, the mechanic couldn't' outright say any of this aloud. Cosmos, did the truth burn a whole in her heart like no other, but she must be considerate of Minion's feelings! Look at him standing over there, so cheerful and smiling... The guy honestly deserved a little slice of appreciation in his life, and she wasn't about to dash it for him. Jo winked, impishly giggling. "Sounds good to me~! I'd like to see the look on his face when you call him Mister." He'd probably gripe that he felt old and domesticated, knowing the purple lummox. As if those were bad things, Big Z!

    Anyway, the mechanic of course agreed that companions, even if they were animals, could still be considered family. She listened to him patiently, mimicking Mitchell's body language on her side of the counter. "Oh yeah, I wouldn't be able to withstand a quiet home, either," she muttered softly. Home back on Trade World had always been... noisy to some degree; traffic, yelling neighbours, criminal activity, etc. It wasn't the best of places, but it was home.

    ...How many pets did they have?

    Blinking the memories away, Jo cleared her throat and smiled. "Oh! Um... well, we have two darling cats and one purple space heater for the winter~!" She of course meant Big Z; he was so toasty when the cold season hit. "But yeah, just two fluffy little munchkins," she reiterated, nodding. "We're very content with just two, and I don't think Big Z's allergies can take much more. Homo is our eldest cat - she's quite greedy and loafs all over the place. Shalti, meanwhile, is our youngest and most recent addition to the household. A friend gave her to us and Big Z nearly laid an egg, ha ha! Unlike Homo, she's a real cuddle-bug and is real sweet. A bit of a mischievous little gremlin, though!" Especially when it was time for Big Z to slip his precious feetsies into his gardening shoes. Ick, stepping into moist hairballs barefoot was not something Jo was envious of! She also wasn't envious of forgetting that analogy, no sir. The mechanic winked again, indicating that she was playing along with the ruse.

    "I'd say that too, Miss Pistonne. Not everybody gets to have something like what you have with him. And just because it isn't a life full of explosions and drama or... daily battles with a God, doesn't make it anything less. As long as you two are happy, that's all that matters."

    Aww...

    Hearing all that just made Jo feel so warm inside, and the mechanic, for the first time in a long while, felt like she desperately needed Big Z standing at her side. "We're... We're incredibly happy," she sighed, a little dreamy. "We have our ups and downs, but who doesn't? The most important thing is, is that we're there for each other. I know I can count on Big Z to dote on me when I'm sick or feeling under the weather, and he can count on me to do the same. There are surprises, but most of them are really good. I'm really lucky to be with him, and there isn't a day that goes by where I take him for granted." Was that... Was that too sappy? Cosmos, maybe she had been listening to too many of Big Z's awful soaps. Hopefully not, and she blushed upon realizing that Mitchell was right there.

    "Er, sorry!" she laughed, apologizing. "Didn't mean to, um... embark on a little monologue. A-Anyway! We're here for you to, okay? We may not be your lovers or anything, but we'll be your friends! Just say the word, Mitchell, and we'll help you in any way we can, whether you need advice on what to give Cleo or if you're just feeling a little lonely."

    It was important to reach out and network, and with a small community like Portal Breach's... yeah, Jo couldn't emphasize that enough.
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    Re: Visiting An Old Friend

    Post by Minion on Sat Jan 09, 2016 4:01 pm

    The smile turned rather bashful, a fuzzy feeling blooming in his fishy chest. Fins wavered in his tank, the luminescent protrusions above his eyes fluttering in a smooth line. The water swirled around him from all of the movement, and Mitchell let out a light chuckle, fingers fluttering against his arms in a motion that mimicked those of Minion's fins underneath the hologram. "You are very kind Miss Pistonne! But, thank you for saying that. I'm afraid I haven't done much to deserve credit recently, though..." Truth be told, sometimes just going about his daily life seemed to take so much effort. Not because it was particularly hard...especially compared to his life in the past. Aspects of it were difficult though, and sometimes he had no idea what to do with himself. Get a job...? But as what? Do what? A chef? A baker? Helping to mend and make clothes? Tinker with electronics? Minion had spent so long being number two, the 'doer' rather than the thinker, that without somebody to direct him... He felt lost. Not that he'd been receiving much direction before anyway...

    Still, Minion resolved to hold onto that nice feeling Jo had given him. Appreciation! The light frown tugging on his lips lifted back up into a smile again, before he chuckled heartily at the mental image of Zurg's reaction to being called mister. "Haha, so long has he doesn't make with the laser eyes again!" That wouldn't be so fun, yet even the idea of being fried by Zurg couldn't bring his mood back down. "I know what you mean. The home I was raised in was rather...loud!" Particularly since it had been a prison. Occasionally there had been riots, more than a couple of fights in the yard. The inmates were rather rowdy at times, though they always tried to distract Megamind and Minion from the worst of it. Even though their 'lesson plans' had been rather...bad, in terms of morals, they really did try their very best. They really were fond of Megamind, and Minion by default. The Warden had been the 'strict' one, practically his job really, but Minion could tell he also cared. "I prefer a louder home, honestly, and the Inn is perfect. Other people as your neighbors, the usual noise of the city...it's never too quiet or still." As nice as having an underwater base was, it really was...quiet. In a sense, disconnected from everything else. The view was gorgeous, but sometimes they seemed to have more rooms than they knew what to do with. As if he were trying to overcompensate for all those years they spent in jail cells, crammed warehouses... Something big and fancy to remind themselves they weren't at the bottom anymore. The gesture was appreciated, though once the impostor had taken his place...the base just felt empty and lifeless.

    Blinking away memories of his own, Mitchell leaned in attentively. Chuckling at the space heater comment, he focused back on the mention of cats. He knew they had a cat! Mitchell grinned when Jo described Homo, pinpointing her as the one he was at least aware of, if not actually saw a couple of times. Shalti was newer, and the one Minion hadn't met. "Aaaw...two sounds like the perfect amount, if you ask me. They can keep each other company!" As for their temperaments... "Ah, Homo sounds like a typical cat! Shalti sounds quite adorable though, she has the makings for a great internet video." He winked before thinking about Cleo. "Cleo likes attention... She can be a bit of a Prima Donna at times though. You know how it is...wanting food prepared a certain way, wanting to be pet her way, wanting a specific little cat bed... She's spoiled, through and through. When she acted like that, I used to call her Cleopatra, like the Egyptian Pharoh! Though, she's more cuddly nowadays...and not so picky..." Indeed, ever since Minion had found her again, the cat seemed to have...settled down. She didn't demand to be pet in a specific way, she just soaked it up. She didn't turn her nose up at the temporary bed that became a permanent one. Had something happened to his cat...? Or had she just been lonely... His gaze turned thoughtful before he shrugged. "Must be because she's getting older!"

    Oh by all means Jo, don't mind Mitchell as you waxed lovingly about your boyfriend. To be a pill, he even brought both hands to his cheeks and leaned on the counter more, in his best impression of a teenage girl listening to primo gossip. Miss Pistonne went from dreamy to embarassed very fast once she remembered her visitor, and Mitchell waved a hand at her. "Oh no, please! Do go on~!" He teased with a wide grin, chuckling in the back of his throat. The chuckle almost became a choke as Jo reassured him, particularly at the detail of Jo and Zurg not being his lovers. "Haha-um! T-that's fine! I'd rather not get in the middle of perfection anyway~! Too many cooks spoil the pot and all that..." He was, admittedly, old-fashioned like that. "You two sound very happy, and I'm glad. You deserve to be happy, Miss Pistonne, and so does Mr. Big Z. As for me... I like hearing about relationships sometimes, like your's and...others, but I'm not really one for it myself. But it means a lot to know I have you two as friends!" Though Minion had spent all of his life dedicated to one person, it had been platonic. Familial, even. While Minion could appreciate aesthetic appearances both for humans and for fish, there had never been a moment where Minion found someone that seemed to light a fire in his fishy heart. Perhaps it was part of being a fishy alien...

    Whatever it was, it didn't really bother Minion any. If he dated a fish, he wouldn't have much conversation from his partner. And if he dated a human, well... Fish aren't exactly the most cuddly of pets. It was weird, murky waters that Minion refused to tread. He could admire when others found it, but otherwise? He was satisfied alone. "I will keep that in mind for the future, Miss Pistonne! I don't doubt that maybe one day, I'll need you advice, or Mr. Big Z's. Thank you for offering it to me."
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    Re: Visiting An Old Friend

    Post by Jo Pistonne on Sat Jan 09, 2016 10:22 pm

    "Hey, that's A-OK!" Jo shrugged, all smiles. "I'm sure you'll think of something, right? You're still trying to figure out things for yourself and Portal Breach is a crazy world; things just take a little getting used to, that's all. The most important thing is you're here and that's what matters." It took nearly all of her willpower to not blab and reveal that she knew too much. Poor guy... Jo could sympathize with him, she really could. Minion had nobody - nobody - to strongly rely on, and after being the No. 2 to Megamind's No. 1 for so long... Was it any wonder the alien fish struggled? Maybe she and Big Z could make it a habit to visit and shoot a couple of breezes... Big Z was always up for a lengthy chat. Unless, you know, it was with someone he didn't particularly care for. Then he'd rather just... shoot them.

    She winked, dispelling Mitchell's lighthearted concerns. "No laser eyes, I promise!" she said. "And I definitely feel you on the noise. Born and raised in a city that never slept; on a planet that never slept. It's nice to hear the bustling ambiance, you know?" The people, the vehicles, just the sounds of life... Trade World hadn't been a happy place if you were down at the bottom, but it sure beat barren hunks of rock like (sorry, Big Z) Planet Z.

    Ugh... just thinking about those monstrous worms had Jo on edge.

    "Must be because she's getting older!"

    Or something had happened to the poor girl... something awful. The mechanic wisely didn't comment, instead far happier to agree that Cleo was indeed just getting older. No harm in a little white lie, right? "Hmm..." She put a finger to her lips, thinking. "You know, if Homo acted that way and upturned her nose to food and bedding, I think she would quickly realize that an ex-tyrant lives in the house." Not that Big Z would ever lay a cruel hand on the fur-babies, Cosmos no! But he would give that stubborn cat a run for her money. It was one of the not-so nice perks about living with someone who grappled with controlling their authoritarian streak. The warmth in her cheeks spread throughout her entire face as Jo noticed Mitchell's body language. Oh, he was leaning on the counter like a teenage girl - ! Ick, try not to appear supremely embarrassed, aye!

    But it was too late. Jo's arms seized up and a few messy strands of hair stood on their ends. "E-Er, ha ha~! I... I, uh, really shouldn't, tee hee! You don't really want to hear about that lovey-dovey stuff, right?" No way, hombre! Mitchell was a busy man with, um, busy errands and stuff! It would be silly to regale him with romantic cra -

    "You two sound very happy, and I'm glad. You deserve to be happy, Miss Pistonne, and so does Mr. Big Z."

    And just like that, Jo's awkwardness melted into a puddle of happy feel-good vibes.

    "D'aw, Mitchell, you flatter me~!" she beamed, all red in the face and hands on her cheeks. Golly, Jo felt like such a sap. Was this what happened when you settled down with someone, your legs feel like jelly and your brain turns to mush? No more of those awful soap operas for a week! The mechanic gruffly coughed once, clearing her throat. "Ahem! W-We're very happy like I said, but it's absolutely normal if you don't feel that way for someone else, Mitchell! Some people enjoy being alone, you know? Nothing wrong with that!" Of course, many moons ago and after much trial and error, Jo had previously believed herself in the latter category. Romance was icky, romance was for softies! But, after finding someone who stuck by her side and encouraged her to grow and experience the world in a whole new light, the mechanic had changed her tune swiftly. Still, it hadn't been easy!

    A-Anyway... she wiped her brow and left even more smudges on her forehead. "Hee... Well, you're welcome and please don't think you'd be a bother," Jo added. "We'd really love to see more of you, and if you ever wanted to stop by the house for a meal or just to talk that'd be A-OK too! Say, do you want our phone number?" Big Z didn't like giving it out, but Minion was a friend.

    So suck it up, you scowling grouch!
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    Re: Visiting An Old Friend

    Post by Minion on Wed Jan 13, 2016 11:20 pm

    Mitchell smiled back, feeling some amount of relief at Jo's words. This world really was a crazy one, a strange sort of crazy. At first glance it may seem like a normal level of crazy. Meeting aliens was hardly strange for an alien fish! But then disasters happened, and other things that were significantly more...complicated than what most would be used to. Minion sure as heck wasn't used to how rocky things could get in this world! Evil Gods, radioactive goo...it was new territory. "Thank you, Miss Pistonne. I'm...I'm sure I can use my skills for something." But which skill? And for what? For so long, he had used his skills strictly for Megamind. Cooking skills? Keep Megamind, and eventually Roxanne as well, fed. A talent for clothes and design? Making all of Megamind's wardrobe and costumes. Mechanical skills? Helping Megamind with his villain technology, then for his heroic exploits, and then eventually...nothing at all, because Megamind had found new people to help him build. Mitchell ran his fingers through his inky black hair, chuckling sheepishly. Beneath the hologram, robotic fingers scraped against the glass of his tank. "I'll figure something out...I always do..." He reassured himself. He'd find something to occupy his time with...

    His grin quirked at Jo's wink, giving her a wink of his own. "Good. I might be a fan of barbeque, but I'm not a fan of being barbeque." Plus, the smell of fishsticks would probably rat him out! "I know what you mean. How quiet is it out in the 'burbs where you live?" It likely had an ambiance, but was it close enough to the city to have the city noise? Or would the ambiance be more...domestic? The sweet, sweet sound of soccer moms and little children? As for picky kitties, Minion was sure that Zurg was a good disciplinarian. He might be a soft bear for people he loved, but he wouldn't tolerate behavior like that. Mitchell gave her a sheepish grin. "Yeah, I think her previous owners spoiled her rotten. I spoil her too, but I mostly do it with affection and little hand-knit sweaters." No doubt about it, back at the base Cleo had gotten used to having things done her way. Such a change in behavior...maybe something did happen...

    Oh, looks like someone wasn't used to being lovey dovey, particularly with an audience! Jo stammered and laughed, body getting stiff and even some hair sticking up as though she'd been caught red-handed! Mitchell sputtered and waved a hand in response. "I used to be roommates with a married couple, I'm used to lovey-dovey stuff!" The compliment was enough to turn Jo even more bashful, blushing now and looking very much like a sap! But it was adorable to see someone like Jo so soft and in love. The young man chuckled in response, grin as toothy as ever. "I'm glad to hear it. And, you're right! It's completely normal, and I don't really need anything like that anyway. It's a nice idea, but...not for me." And life could go on without having a loved one like that. Love was special, not a requirement in life.

    Jo continued to welcome Mitchell over to her house, either to talk or just for a meal. According to her, they actually would like to see more of him. She even offered her phone number! His amber eyes blinked in slight surprise. "Phone number...?" His brain seemed to stall out, before it sunk in and he grinned. "Sure, that'd be great! I don't have mine memorized, but if I call I'll let you know it's me." Going to someone else's house, sharing a meal with somebody that wasn't a fish or a cat... It sounded heavenly.
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    Re: Visiting An Old Friend

    Post by Jo Pistonne on Sat Jan 30, 2016 2:54 am

    Jo nodded, grinning all the way. "Mhm, you will!" she encouraged. "You might have to explore outside your comfort zone and aimlessly flounder about, but the discovery will be worth it. Believe in yourself and don't give up." Let your heart be filled with determination, Mitchell!

    "How quiet is it out in the 'burbs where you live?"

    "...How quiet?" she repeated, head tilted to the side. Oh... Oh! Mitchell meant how quiet the neighbourhood was. The mechanic gave a sheepish chuckle of her own, Jo's rosy cheeks once again flushing. "S-Sorry... can you tell I'm not used to living with a lawn and white picket fence?" It didn't help that her friend's barbecue comment had made her hungry... Not wanting to be insensitive (because fish sticks and sauce sounded so, so good right about now), Jo placed a furtive hand upon her stomach and gave it a little pat. Behave, you! "It's not too loud and it's not too quiet," she piped up. "I mean, we obviously don't hear all the traffic and bustling crowds where we live, but there's enough joggers and bicyclists going up and down the street to make everything seem inhabited. Kids walk home from school, folks walk their animals and tend to their gardens... It's not a perfect neighbourhood, but it's really pleasant!" Kind of boring sometimes, but that was the price for tranquility. The peace of mind at night was well worth the sacrifice.

    Oh, but the lovey-dovey comment... Jo's wide smile fell just a smidgen; it was more noticeable at the corners. "You did, huh?" she asked, trying to keep things polite. Eurgh, Megamind and Roxanne... If Mitchell was referring to the couple both she and Big Z had to put up with during that awkward double-date, then the mechanic felt incredibly sorry for the poor fish. That was not lovey-dovey... She cleared her throat and gave her abdomen another pat, tongue sticking out playfully. "Bleh! I bet that was an experience, ha ha!"

    That was Jo's subtle way of saying: I know, Minion, I know...

    "And yeah, phone number!" she replied, eager for a change in gears. "Here, let me write it down - as soon as I find a piece of paper..." Golly! Jo really did need to clean up around the joint. After a couple of seconds running her fingers through a few piles of sheets and various order forms, Jo eventually found a sizable piece of black paper to write their digits. "Found some~!" Golly... she really needed to clean this place up before Big Z started his shift. The bellyaching so wasn't worth the drama. But she'll worry about that later, because now was the time for showing Mitchell her proud chicken scratch. It wasn't the neatest handwriting and it was probably reaching Kev-levels, but it was still legible! She finished writing a string of numbers down and happily offered the leaflet to him. "And there you are! Here's our house number, so feel free to call at anytime! ...Well, not any anytime, but you know what I mean." Not that Mitchell would call during all hours of the night, but...
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    Re: Visiting An Old Friend

    Post by Minion on Thu Feb 04, 2016 12:54 am

    Right, right... Ironically, when Jo described it like that...it sounded like fishing! Setting out some bait that would float about in the water for a while, waiting to finally catch onto something... It might take a while, and new fishing spots may have to be utilized...but as long as you kept trying and didn't give up... You'd catch your fish. It was time for Minion to try and catch his own fish! ...Though if he were actually fishing he'd let the fish go afterwards. Mitchell gave Jo a hopeful smile, touched by her faith. "Thank you, Miss Pistonne! I'll...I'll work to believe in myself. If I haven't given up by this point, there's no point giving up now, huh?" Not after all this time... It would have made leaving Megamind in the first place a waste... Mitchell's broad chest seemed to shudder as he heaved a sigh. "Now I've just got to figure out where to begin... Maybe I could...put something up on the bulletin board, with all of my skills and offer them to people?" Sure, there was already a seamstress, and there were numerous bakeries and cafes...and Jo herself seemed to have robotics and machinery down... But, maybe somebody out there needed some assistance with those things? It was somewhere to start, at least...

    Mitchell gave Jo a little nod to confirm what she had asked. Yes, how quiet? The woman soon turned sheepishly, apparently misunderstanding what he had been asking! That drew a chuckle from him, a nice bubbly one too. "Yeah, but, only a little!" He replied, pinching two fingers together to indicate a small amount. Of course, Jo's confusion spelled out how new she was to the domestic life and it certainly wasn't a small amount! But, Minion was polite, and some subjects had to be handled delicately. Besides, Jo already knew how new she was to this life, she needed some assurance that she didn't come off as some doe-eyed newbie who'd never even lived in a house! Mitchell listened to her descriptions with a faint smile on his face. "It sounds like the movies always make it sound..." He mused wistfully, imagining such a life. Rows of white picket fences, smiling neighbors and laughing children. Friendly pets that walked right up to you and greeted you like a member of the family... Health conscious joggers and bicyclists also set the mood for Jo's neighborhood, the thing looking like something from the 50's in Minion's mind. Their neighborhood certainly wasn't a ghost town, but it wasn't filled with constant noise either! "It does sound pleasant, Miss Pistonne. I'm glad you enjoy your neighborhood. Hopefully the neighbors are all as nice as you are!" Though with a housemate like Big Z, he could imagine a few rivalries.

    Huh, what an...odd response. Mitchell's smile stayed in place, though his eyes had become more critical and lost some of their humor. What he'd meant as a reassurance and light-hearted joke seemed to...hm. Minion couldn't put his finger on what exactly it did, only that Jo's smile had fallen. The corners of her mouth seemed to sink at the mention of a married couple. Had he hit some sore spot? Managed to make a faux pas of some kind? The reaction only became stranger as Jo patted her own stomach and stuck her tongue out, apparently thinking that living with a married couple was a rather unpleasant experience! Which... well he couldn't exactly deny that! But how...? How would she know that? A chill ran down his spine, and the hologram's form stiffened up as the fish inside of the tank reacted in turn. His smile became a little strained, before he waved the panic off. No, no, there was no way! Minion had been...careful! Yes, Jo was probably talking from experience! Mitchell chuckled at her joke, a few seconds off in his reaction and sounding a little forced. "Hahaha! Well, you've got me there. It was an experience, alright. Two's a party, but three's a crowd, and that sums up living with a married couple in a nutshell!" The grin widened, before he stuck his tongue out with a small "Nyah!' He refused to consider the idea that Jo knew the truth. Because if she knew the truth...what did she think about it? Jo had once been Megamind's friend, but Megamind had also burned many bridges...

    For a brief moment, temptation lingered in his skull. Temptation to tell her the truth, grab onto Miss Pistonne as if she were a life preserver and finally spill his guts about everything. Every moment of doubt, of anger, his sadness, his guilt. How betrayed he'd felt, how trapped he seemed to be back then... How confusing all of it was. How irritating...the simplest of requests, ignored... Subtly, Mitchell's hands tightened into fists, thumbs rubbing against his own hand lightly. Water filtered in through his gills, both fish and hologram taking a deep breath and letting the temptation ebb away. If ever there was a time for that...it was not now. Mitchell waited patiently as Jo gathered up a piece of paper, taking a few moments to find a scrap that didn't already have writing on it. Mitchell reached out to take the paper, pinching it between his fingers in a measured move, and he folded it up neatly. Every single crease was precise and delicate, fingers smoothing the paper down like a folding machine. "Thank you for the number, Miss Pistonne. I'll be sure to call during a normal time of the day!" Stashing it away now, he grinned back at her. He felt steadier now, calmer. The paper was like an offer of good will, and he appreciated it. However... "It's been great catching up, but I think I'm ready to get out of your hair now!" He had noticed her earlier pat to her stomach. Though Minion came over to give her some treats, she needed actual food right about now! He'd kept her from her work for long enough! "I'll keep your number close by though, and I promise that it won't be another year before you see me again!" Despite the farewells, Mitchell lingered by the counter to allow Jo her chance to say good bye. Running out before she could get in any last words would just be rude.
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    Re: Visiting An Old Friend

    Post by Jo Pistonne on Thu Feb 04, 2016 10:44 am

    Hmm... the bulletin board could be a good method of finding work. Jo gave it some thought and looked upward, closing one of her eyes tightly. "It's always hard starting out, so I suggest you sit down, really think about what you're good at and what you want to do, and then go from there!" Like Big Z said: coming up with a thorough plan in the beginning saved you a loooot of unnecessary work later. "And when you figure out those things," she added, "then you can specify what kind of person you'd be wanting to work for." What good are all those skills if Mitchell ended up slaving away for another Megamind? Or worse, cooking for another Roxanne? Jo shivered at the thought. "...You'd also want to negotiate your terms firmly and upfront. While work is nice, you always gotta make certain you protect yourself first and foremost." Freelance work wasn't the easiest, but Mitchell wasn't a quitter!

    "It sounds like the movies always make it sound..."

    Jo chuckled. "Well, for the most part," she winked. Sure, sure! The neighbourhood was pretty decent and it wasn't as crime-infested as the streets of lower Trade World, but that didn't mean their little neck of the woods was free of grief. The mechanic could go on and on about how Big Z and the Cardigans didn't get along, or how the local kids terrorized his garden. Then again, Big Z liked to fight fire with napalm, so... "Some of the neighbours aren't bad, but you know how Big Z gets. Memory of a moozle, that rascally ex-tyrant of mine."

    Uh-oh...

    Was that droop of her lip a little too telling?

    He was panicking - she could tell by his body language, hologuise or no hologuise. Oh Cosmos... Oh Cosmos, oh Cosmos! Her and her big mouth, oi! Jo tried her absolute hardest to ignore the warm prickling sensation on the back of her neck. Please don't ask what's wrong, please don't ask what's wrong...! Someone up high must have heard her desperate prayers, because Mitchell - thank the stars - gave a forced chuckle and went along with her joke. The temptation to breathe a sigh of relief was overwhelming. "Y-Yeah~!" she grinned, eagerly nodding. "Three is definitely a crowd, alright! I couldn't imagine bunking with two, uh, lovebirds and still finding enough sanity to enjoy the rest of my day!" Huh... was this how Lawrence and Proxy felt? Gosh, that really sucked... At least those two had their own rooms, and it wasn't like either Big Z or Jo were practically inept at taking care of themselves; though, really, the former would disagree in regards to the latter's hygiene... So she didn't change her underwear everyday, big deal!

    "You're welcome, Mitchell! I couldn't see you off without parting with it." Because Jo knew - oh, she knew - just how awful it was to live in a city full of people and still feel so lonely. That was a terrible fate and Mitchell didn't deserve that! But, alas, he was right. Catching up had taken a small chunk out of both their days, and Jo still had plenty of work to do. Ugh, just thinking about all those piles of broken gadgets downstairs had her mood souring...

    But not sour enough to not say her goodbyes, of course! "I'll hold you to it," she winked again. See those muscular arms of hers, buddy? You better hold to your promise, because these guns? Yeah, these guns weren't just for show. "Bye, Mitchell! It was really nice talking with you today, and I hope you take care, alright? Stop by anytime you need something fixed or if you just wanna hang out! We won't fuss at all! Oh, and..." Before that fabulous fish could even object, this time Jo didn't bother with the charade. She as quick as a Yukari and swiftly planted an innocent - smooch! - right on Mitchell's cheek; and Minion's glass dome. Jo hopped back and rocked on the balls of her feet, hands behind her back. Just look at that mischievous smirk on her face... "See ya 'around, Mitchell~! Don't get into any trouble and remember to keep your chin up!"

    And then the mechanic was gone, already skipping behind the beaded curtain and plodding into the downstairs basement to finish her current project.
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    Re: Visiting An Old Friend

    Post by Minion on Mon Feb 08, 2016 10:30 pm

    Yes, yes... Perhaps sitting with a notepad and writing down ideas could help. Minion always found his best brainstorming involved writing of some kind! Whether it was a notebook, a clipboard, or a chalkboard, brewing up idea seemed to come better when he could write them out. Tweak the good ones, erase the bad ones. It was quite like cooking, or fashion design. You work with what you have and improve on certain thing while erasing others. Snip an odd thread, sear the meat 'til no pink was left...frost the cake on all sides.

    Jo Pistonne wrote:"And when you figure out those things, then you can specify what kind of person you'd be wanting to work for."

    "Hm?" Mitchell looked back at Jo, having let his gaze wander off in thought. His chocolate brown eyes blinked in honest confusion. With a shiver, the young woman added that he would need to negotiate with anyone offering a job, in order to take care of himself. "Protect myself...first?" The man seemed stunned by the very idea for a moment, as if thrown a curve ball. Of course... After a few moments of thought, Mitchell rubbed the back of his neck and chuckled awkwardly. "Ehehehe, right, of course! You are, uh...absolutely right." His smile still remained rather toothy, even as his nibbled the corner of his lip. Aside from a job possibility with Sonia that hadn't gone anywhere (due to getting busy with things, then being kidnapped, and then faking his death...), Minion had always worked for and with Megamind. He never got to really...'choose' it. Or choose to do so. It didn't feel like a choice, it felt... It felt like eating, or sleeping. It was just something he did. Megamind's parents had given Minion to Megamind, to care for him in their place. Deep down, the little alien fish hoped he made them proud.

    Now, though... He was his own fish. A concept he still grappled with. An idea that still seemed strange. Mitchell didn't have to take on the first person to hire him, serve them with loyalty as if he were a servant. Now that he was Mitchell...he could make sure he was treated fairly. With pay, with breaks, with recognition! All the things normal people got...! He was not hired help, he was no nanny! He was Mitchell Finnley, and Mitchell Finnley would be treated like a person. Even though his 'body' was a mere hologram, it still reacted in kind to this revelation. Virtual muscles shifted and relaxed, looking for all intents and purposes as if a great weight had been lifted from him. "Don't you worry, Miss Pistonne. I won't be hired by anyone who will mistreat me."

    Aha...even the perfect neighborhood came with a catch, and appropriately enough...it was the neighbors. Mitchell let out a bubbly chuckle. "That's something I love about the Inn, my neighbors are rather kind! When I actually see them, that is." Most people had their own lives to live, their own adventures taking place in the background. Minion had no idea what a moozle was, but he gave Jo a crooked smile all the same, dipping his head to her in understanding. "Good thing you're always there to keep his temper and his memory grounded, huh?" Indeed, Zurg would be a very different person if it weren't for Jo Pistonne. It was rather similar to Megamind and Roxanne, though Roxanne had been a lot less... 'hands on'. Intentionally, at least.

    Minion almost wanted to eat his own fist, even though he didn't really own a fist and sending a robotic hand flying into his tank would only exacerbate the situation, make a mess on Jo's counter and it would all end with Minion suffocating in Jo's shop. Not a good idea at all! Yet, it was preferable to the sudden tension and nervous energy that seemed to create static in the air. A tension that lingered between the two of them and made Minion wonder... How much did Jo know? Or was she just reacting to his own panic...? There was only one way to find out, but Minion would not make that step today. Not today...

    As quickly as it had draped across them, filling the room like a heavy fog, it steadily dissipated as both awkwardly moved on, picking up the pieces of their conversation and creating a new one. As if to cover the real intentions and cause for it. Of course living with a married couple was only an 'experience' because three people in a house with a crowd! "Y-yeah, sometimes it's like you're not even in the room! Like, get a room already, sheesh!" Mitchell blew air out of his teeth (water in Minion's case) and waved a hand dismissively. "I'm glad to be a bachelor all on my own!" That little blunder behind them, it was almost as if it had never happened. The energy of the room had settled, into the casual one they had before. Calm, friendly... He'd taken the scrap of paper and stored it away, grinning back at the mechanic. "I'll call you as soon as I can. Maybe I can even get Cleo to say hi!"

    Mitchell took her wink in stride, knowing that if she really wanted to, Jo could probably track him down and drag him out of the inn by the metaphorical ear! No siree, he'd seen Jo in a fight and he didn't want to grapple with her, or test her patience. Mitchell did not have a death wish. "Oh, I will, Miss Pistonne! You take care too! I may drop in, if it doesn't look like you're doing anything too important...-"

    Smooch!

    "...!" The invasion of his space had been quick, but definitely noticeable. Jo had propped herself up on the counter, leaned over, and planted a little kiss right on Mitchell's cheek. A thick hand reached up to cover his tanned cheek, staring at Jo with a wide-eyed gaze. Beneath the hologram, Minion swam a little closer to the glass dome of his tank. His eyes roamed over the gentle, almost ghostly image. It was the outline of Jo's lips, condensation fading from it even now. Mitchell blinked several times, remaining in his dazed state even as Jo gave her final farewells and disappeared downstairs. The only thing he remembered about her leaving was the sight of a mischievous little smirk on her face. Seconds ticked by, Mitchell all alone up in Jo's store, before he snapped back to attention. His body jerked, and he looked around at all angles, as if expecting Zurg to come storming out of a secret door and throttle him...! When a purple alien did not appear, Mitchell heaved a deep sigh and called back out, a hand to his mouth. "U-um, yes, bye!" He turned on his heel and marched right out. As he walked down the road, further and further from her store, he chuckled to himself. Now that the shock had left his body, he could see the humor in it! That little trickster! Oh, he'd have to get her back, mark his words...

    It wouldn't occur to him until hours later that Jo might have felt his glass dome through her little smooch.

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    Re: Visiting An Old Friend

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      Current date/time is Thu Dec 14, 2017 7:58 am