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"Chinese, then."


"... Mongolian?"

"Swing 'n a miss."

"It's gotta be Korean, then."

"You've already guessed that."

Marina wrung her hands in an only partially facetious show of exasperation. "I got nothin', then. I mean, I'm in the right ballpark, right? You're some kind of Asian, aren't you?"

"Some kind," Wu confirmed languidly, leaning down with both elbows against the surface of the front desk. This was anything but her first exchange of this sort with Marina Jackson, who seemed to routinely and utterly forget all about the last dozen few times she'd raised the subject whenever the thought struck her anew. At this point, Wu would have figured if Marina was so damn interested, she might have hit up the internet and done a little sleuthing, but then, Wu didn't really see why it was worth going to such lengths over in the first place. Even she didn't really give a shit about her own heritage; why anybody else had a reason to was simply beyond her.

Nevertheless, Marina appeared determined-- at least, until she completely forgot the exchange and started it up all over again next week. "Well, you can't evade me forever," she warned light-heartedly, rubbing her hands together nefariously. "One of these days, I'll--" Wu saw her face light up as she stopped short, and then she perked up, a wide grin pasted across her face. "Hey, I think that's our new coworker! Wait a sec here, sunglasses, I gotta go get the welcome basket." And then, without so much as an upward glance from Wu, she took off.

Idly, Wu reached over and whisked up her MP3 player, flicking through her array of bands for something to listen to. As far as she was aware, the new woman was going to be working at the coffee shop, so she probably wouldn't have much to do with her-- shit, the only reason she even spoke to Marina at all was because Marina was right there, working the other cash register, and Marina was too damn chatty not to talk to Wu. Of course, business could get pretty slow some days, so Wu presumed-- maybe hoped was a more apt term, although she really wasn't emotionally invested in the prospect enough to really call it that-- Marina would spend her fair share of time over by the coffee bar, chatting her new coworker up--

"Hi there. I'm Ashley Nara."

Aaaaaaaaaand just like that, Wu's train of thought stopped short. No no, didn't just stop short-- it derailed completely, went right off the tracks, went sailing off some nearby cliff and came crashing down in a glorious blaze. Dozens killed. Millions of dollars lost. Sorrow and disaster all around.

Slowly, almost arduously, Wu forced herself to look up at Ashley Nara, hoping-- sincerely, ardently hoping-- that ... that voice wasn't what she knew it was, that Ashley 'Nara' wasn't her Ashley. She damn near recoiled at the sight of the vehemently red hair, the vivid blue eyes, the smooth shapely face Wu could remember tracing her fingers along many a lonely evening back when she'd been just a teenager... and the 'y'know' just cinched the deal.

Wu felt a dense wave of dizziness hit her then and there, and it only grew all the worse as Ashley continued to rattle off a ramshackle introduction, with a clear anxiety that was distinctly not like the Ashley Wu knew. Ashley had a daughter? Did that mean... not that there weren't single mothers who adopted, but no, it seemed far more likely that meant Ashley had found somebody else since Wu, somebody she loved enough to raise a child with her, especially given the change in surname. But I don't really have a right to be bitter about that, do I? It was thirteen years ago. Just because Wu hadn't moved past it didn't mean Ashley hadn't: Ashley had always been the stronger of the two.

But she hadn't just moved past it... she'd forgotten Wu completely. And that, that hurt much more than the prospect of Ashley loving another woman ever could have. Wu hadn't physically changed all that much at all since she'd been a listless eighteen year old with not much clue of what she wanted to do with her life except love Ashley, certainly not enough to justify Ashley failing to recognise her face to face. Certainly not enough to make Wu feel something for the first time in all those years-- namely, a cold, bitter pain in her gut.

"Oh," she said. And then returned her attention to her MP3 player, grateful that the aegis of her aviators obscured the irksome moistening of her eyes.

"Sunglasses!" Marina chose just about that moment to make her grand return, toting along a little basket with a few pastries-- brownies, cookies, that sort of thing. "Don't mind her," she directed to Ashley as she arrived at the front desk, setting the basket down beside Wu, who kept her eyes resolutely on her MP3 player's screen. "You must be the new girl! My name's Marina. I'm pleased to have you with us! In fact, I took the liberty of putting together some welcoming stuff for you-- hope you like sweets." She took the basket and held it out to Ashley, before scratching the back of her head. "They're actually all from the coffee shop, to be honest," she admitted with an abashed smile. "But it's good stuff nonetheless! Sometimes I think we oughta get outta the book-sellin' gig and just be a plain ol' coffee shop."