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No Such Thing As Bad Publicity

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They hold a hasty press conference outside of the Parnassus once all of the Burnish have been freed. In the background, Galo knows that Ignis is making sure that Kray, Vulcan, and Heris are being processed correctly, and he knows that Remi is off collecting the list of ten-thousand passengers for them to make public. And he cares about those things, but he only has so much energy. His burning soul can't keep going forever without fuel.

Getting all of the former-Burnish out took seven hours. And Galo can't remember the last time he ate or had a decent night's sleep. Before he got thrown in Kray's prison, maybe, but how long was he in there for?

The only blessing is that the press seems to be just as tired as them. Not a surprise, given the state of the city. No one slept very well the night before, so the reporters and interviewers and even the paparazzi mostly just gather on still-trembling legs, jot down what Galo and Lio say, and leave. It's not very exciting, but it has to be done. Galo does most of the talking while Lio subtly rests his head on Galo's shoulder and tries not to fall asleep standing up.

Considering that just twelve hours before, Lio was a rampaging dragon setting the city on fire, it has no right being as adorable as it is. The fact that Gueira gave Lio his jacket, which is too big for him, might have something to do with how precious Lio looks at the moment.

So Galo struggles not to yawn because Aina told him that it looks undignified on camera, and he tells the whole story. He starts from Lio's arrest and the award ceremony that the city had for him, to confronting Kray about his human experimentation, to the lab that they found beneath the ice and the truth about the Burnish's origin, all the way to forming the Galo de Lion and sending the promare back to their own universe. Lio adds in sometimes, but only for the parts that Galo wasn't there for or the bits that Galo fumbles over, which is more of the science-y parts. He seems incredibly bored with the whole affair.

But they get through it. Thirty minutes of talking later, Galo has a pounding headache but they're done. The press has questions, obviously, but Lio takes one look at all of the people clamoring for his attention and turns and walks away. Galo goes with him, because Lio doesn't look like he's walking straight and Galo has rapidly developed an intense urge to make sure that Lio is alright at all times. Luckily, Varys holds off the press for them, promising that they'll be having a second press conference to answer questions once everyone has taken some time to rest.

Lio makes a beeline for where Gueira and Meis are waiting for him some distance away, but he doesn't make it that far. He stops, looks confused for a second, and then his legs crumble and Galo is barely able to catch Lio before he hits the ground, his reflexes are so shot from lack of sleep.

Gueira and Meis aren't doing much better, but they're at Lio's side in an instant. "What happened?" Gueira asks, hands flickering over Lio's body without ever actually touching him. As if he's afraid to make the damage worse.

Over Gueira's shoulder, Meis is conducting himself only slightly better. "Is he hurt? You were right next to him the whole time!"

Galo shakes his head. He blinks hard to try and wake himself up, because passing out sounds amazing right now, but he can't let himself do it with Lio still in his arms. "Nah. It's just exhaustion." He sighs, shifts Lio in his grip. "We keep blankets in the Burning Rescue truck. It won't be super comfortable, but he can sleep there." When that doesn't seem to satisfy Lio's mother hens, Galo adds, "You two can stay with him."

"Obviously," Gueira retorts. He acts unimpressed, but there's a noticeable slump to his posture now. It's almost like relief. "We weren't gonna let you take the boss anywhere without us, anyway."

Meis nods. It looks like the movement takes him far too much effort. "Lead the way."

Not that he needs permission, but Galo complies. He carries Lio to the truck and wonders if Lio's really that light or if he's just that strong. It's hard to tell with his thoughts as sluggish and half-baked as they are. He climbs up into the truck and stumbles, but manages not to drop Lio. Then Galo riffles through the storage cabinets at the back, shoving the first aid kit aside, and pulls out every blanket that he can get his hands on.

"Here," he mutters; tosses them to Gueira and Meis. They get comfortable in the corner, and Galo places Lio between them with as much grace as he can muster. Which isn't a lot at the moment. Galo sits down in Lucia's desk chair, and fuck, just taking the weight off of his feet feels ten times better.

Gueira is busy bundling up as many blankets around them as possible without jostling Lio when Meis mutters, "You should sleep too, firefighter."

Galo doesn't hear him. He's already asleep.

When Lio wakes up, it's so quiet that his ears are buzzing. He's disoriented for a moment because he's laying somewhere soft and warm, which feels nothing like the old mattress he has back at the settlement.

Then he remembers the settlement crashing, the frozen bodies shattered into pieces, the sheer terror that gripped him when Gueira and Meis sent him flying, and he shoots up and pries his eyes open even though he'd like nothing more than to go back to sleep.

Lio is breathing heavily. He reaches for his fire in impulse but gets no response. Nothing, not even a "no." There's just nothing there to reply to him, even though he knows there should be. He panics, breathing turning labored, and then he processes his surroundings and the confusion pushes back his upcoming panic attack somewhat.

He's on a couch and swaddled in blankets. Lio sees a garage just ahead of him, holding an enormous fire truck and a bright-red rescue jet. If that wasn't enough for him to piece together his surroundings, then the blue-haired man sleeping on the bed across from him is enough for Lio to piece it together.

He takes a deep, slow breath. Let's it out. The memories come back to him all at once, and Lio remembers. Kray is going to trial. The promare were sent away. He and Galo saved the world. He remembers bits of the press conference that they did together, but Lio can't imagine why he's at Burning Rescue HQ now, sleeping on their couch.

He pushes the blankets off with the intent to get up and immediately regrets it. A wave of cold air hits him and Lio shivers. He's never been cold before. He draws Gueira's jacket tighter around his bare chest and decides immediately that he hates it.

"Good morning." A voice startles Lio. He looks over and, next to a row of lockers, sees a man polishing what appears to be a hood ornament. Galo introduced him as the team captain before, but Lio is having trouble remembering his name now. He sets down what he was working on and walks over to Lio. "Or, I suppose I should say good evening. Did you sleep well?"

Being polite seems safe enough, so Lio nods. "Well enough," he says as if he didn't just have the deepest nap of his life. "Sorry, I'm blanking on your name."

"Ignis Ex," he offers, unbothered.

He puts his hands in his pockets, maybe trying to be casual, and Lio admires Ignis' tribal tattoos because it's easier than making eye contact with those expressionless sunglasses. And because it keeps him from thinking that Ignis is much bigger and stronger than him, and he could have a weapon in those pockets, and Lio doesn't have his promare, or Gueira or Meis, and he's defenseless, and always been a nuisance for firefighters, and he doesn't know the layout of this building or its escapes at all, and—

"Are you hungry?"

Lio blinks. He stares at nothing in particular for a few seconds more, then manages to drag his gaze back to Ignis'. "Sorry?" He asks.

"Are you hungry?" Ignis repeats in the same tone as before. Completely patient. "You were unconscious for almost forty hours. I thought that you might want food."

"Forty? " Lio's jaw hangs. "Wait, so— Is Galo—? Has he woken up yet? And where are Gueira and Meis?"

"Galo's been asleep for as long as you have," Ignis confirms with a nod. "He woke up briefly when we moved you two out of the truck, but I don't think he'll remember that. We all felt it was better to let you two sleep after how you were pushing yourselves. As for your friends, I made them go to the showers. It seemed like they were going to drive themselves crazy just staring and waiting for you to wake up. But I bet they'll be happy to see you once they get out."

And Lio's going to be happy to see them, too. They didn't have the chance for a proper reunion with how exhausted they were before.

He gets lost in thought; forgets to answer. When Ignis speaks again, his mouth is quirked ever so slightly in amusement. "So, food?" He prompts. Third time's the charm.

Lio's stomach growls painfully, as if now it's finally been given permission. He's gone longer without food before, but Lio's never been this hungry. He nods, salivating. "Please." Well-rested and well-fed means that he's ready for the day. Ready to keep putting his best foot forward. The Burnish might not exist anymore, but that doesn't mean that his people don't need a leader.

"Come on. The kitchen is right through here." Ignis gestures for Lio to follow him through an archway next to the couch.

After a moment's thought, Lio stands on shaky legs and only leaves the blankets when he reminds himself that he still has his dignity. Gueira's jacket and his torn leather pants are woefully unequipped for the cold.

In the other room, Lio finds a cozy kitchen with a large dining table. Big enough for the whole team, no doubt. Ignis opens the fridge, revealing row after row stacked with plastic tubs crammed to the brim with food. Lio can't help it — he chokes on his surprise, mouth agape and eyes wide.

"The others went home already for the evening," Ignis explains, "but they were sure to drop off as much food as they could before they left. We take turns cooking here at the station, so I can promise you that all of it is at least edible. Take your pick."

Lio doesn't even know what most of it is, to be honest. In the end, he settles for the closest container to him and snatches it up like it'll be taken away if he's too slow. Then Lio just stands there in the kitchen, holding it with uncertainty. Does he eat it cold? With his bare hands? He can't imagine that Ignis would approve of those table manners.

But Ignis takes pity on him and takes the container from Lio, popping the lid off before shoving it into the microwave for three minutes. Then he digs through a drawer and comes back with a fork for Lio, pressing it into his uncertain hands.

"Help yourself any time to food," he assures. "Glasses are in the far left cabinet if you want water. I'll go get you some clothes to change into. I think those pants will have to be thrown out."

Though Lio nods, he can't help but feel a twinge of regret. This used to be his favorite outfit, and now it's gone. Just like his fire. "Alright." Then he considers it and adds, "Thank you. Not just for housing me, but you and your squad's efforts with the Burnish were—"

"No." Ignis cuts him off without raising his voice, holding up a hand to signal Lio to be quiet. "Don't thank any of us. If even half of what Galo said about what the two of you did is true…" He lowers his sunglasses to gaze at Lio with nothing but admiration. "...then it's the least we can do. Enjoy your lasagna." And he claps Lio on the shoulder and leaves, apparently off to go scrounge together a suitable outfit.

Lio is left alone to think. He doesn't think about the kindness in a stranger's eyes, because if he starts crying then he won't stop. He thinks about the housing plans that need to be put in place. The food programs that he needs to organize. The year-long cleaning expedition that they'll need to get downtown liveable again. He still has so much to do.

"Boss?" It's Gueira's voice, from outside the kitchen. "Boss, are you—? Oh, my God." He swings around the archway and freezes as soon as his eyes land on Lio. What was it that he told himself about not crying, again?

Lio settles for a wave and a weak smile because he doesn't trust himself to speak. It doesn't matter, though. Gueira rushes him, hitting Lio with such momentum that they have to spin themselves in order to keep from falling over or knocking into the cabinets.

"You're awake! Oh, Boss, fuck. We were so worried," Gueira hisses, clutching him tight and burying his face in Lio's bed head. He's still damp and hot from his shower but Lio doesn't care.

It doesn't take Meis long to join them, and then Lio has his arms around his two best friends and he's so glad to see them that he doesn't even lecture them about sacrificing themselves for him. He does, however, mock gag when Meis' wet hair ends up hitting him in the face.

"I love you guys," Lio whispers. The timer on the microwave beeps and all three of them ignore it. And if Gueira or Meis notice that his voice cracked, then they ignore that, too.

As soon as consciousness graces him, Galo rolls over the side of the bed he's laying on and dry heaves over the tile. He feels like absolute shit, no doubt due to the way that his stomach is cramping so hard that he feels like he's about to vomit it out. The muscle cramps and bruises he can feel definitely aren't helping. He chokes on spit and thinks that he might have actually thrown up if there was anything in his stomach to upchuck.

It's not nausea, though, because Galo has never wanted to eat something so badly in his life. He glances down at the blankets and considers shoving scraps into his mouth for a moment, but then he recognizes the Burning Rescue motif and realizes that he's at work.

Awesome. Aina always keeps some leftovers in the fridge. They're in her Tupperware, sure, but she never labels them which means that they're free game.

Galo stumbles to his feet, haphazardly kicking the blankets aside, and just about sprints into the kitchen. He flings open the fridge and takes a moment to be impressed by how well-stocked it is before he grabs the closest container to him. Popping the lid off, Galo is incredibly pleased to see that it's home-made grilled chicken. No time for the microwave. He just barely has the presence of mind to grab a fork from the drawer before he's stabbing the poor chicken breast and lifting it to his mouth to rip a huge chunk out of it.

As soon as he swallows, the pain in Galo's stomach lessens and he can hear himself think again. He just about moans, he's so relieved. He goes to take another bite, then Galo finally registers the rest of the kitchen and he gags around a mouthful of food.

Sitting at the Burning Rescue kitchen table, as casual as can be, Lio is watching him with amusement. Lio Fotia. The leader of the Mad Burnish, badass extraordinaire, and single most stubborn person that Galo has ever met in his life — sitting at the table in the place where Galo works and wearing Aina's clothes as if nothing is amiss and all is right in the world.

"Good morning," Lio says when it becomes clear that Galo isn't going to need the Heimlich. And, yep, that's definitely amusement in his voice. And on his face. Fuck, he has such a nice smile, even when it's only a little curve of his lips that's hidden mostly by the tilt of his head and his ridiculously-soft-looking hair. "You slept for about two days straight."

He swallows hard around the half-chewed food in his mouth. It hurts going down, but it leaves his mouth open for talking more with Lio, so he considers that a win. "Did I?" Galo takes another bite anyway because he's still starving. "Huh. Felt longer than that." He turns back to the still-open fridge to browse his options more thoughtfully this time, shooting glances at Lio over his shoulder just to be sure that he's actually there and Galo isn't hallucinating. "What're all of those papers for? And where's everyone else?"

"Well, work started an hour ago, and Burning Rescue has been drafted to do clean-up in order to get the Parnassus out of the middle of the city and clear the rubble away. I sent Meis with them because I heard that there would be other former-Burnish volunteering." Lio takes a bite out of the plastic container in front of him. From what Galo can see of it, Lio is working on slowly picking apart a brisket. "And Gueira is helping hand out food and blankets for those without housing at the moment. They offered to go into the field for me so that I could stay here and focus on this." He gestures to the pile of papers in front of him and makes a face. "That, and they insisted that I was in no condition to be doing physical labor."

Something about Lio's tone tells Galo not to comment, even though he agrees on that. Fuck, much as he wants to be out there himself, Galo gets the feeling that Ignis won't let him until a day or two more of mandatory bed rest. He's too tired after the week he had to even think about pushing his boss on this one. "What are the papers for, then?" He asks again because that seems like a safe subject and he likes hearing Lio talk.

"This," Lio says, spitting the word like it's poison, "is a collection of summaries regarding Promepolis law and criminal procedures, an annotated history of Congress' rulings in the past, a list of all the people who were on the Parnassus, a list of all the Burnish who didn't survive so that they can be honored in some way, and examples of drafted laws so that I can write up my own proposals."

After another minute of staring in the fridge, Galo eventually selects a seven-layer dip and pops it into the microwave. While it's heating up, he starts going through the cabinets looking for chips. "And how's it all going so far?"

Lio muffles a long-suffering groan in his hands. He drops his head down against the tabletop, angling his face to pop a bite of brisket into his mouth. He groans again while he chews.

"That bad, huh?" Galo can't find any tortilla chips so he settles for Red Hot Daritas.

"The government in this city is a joke!" Lio snaps, lifting his head to glare at the stacks and stacks of paper in front of him. It looks very much like he would like to set it all on fire. He probably does. "Congress gave complete authority to Kray Foresight a year ago and, since then, they haven't done a single thing other than continue lining their pockets with bribes from lobbyists and pack their bags for preparation to leave on the Parnassus. You know that every sitting member of Congress was on the passenger list? Every. Single. One of them. And now, half of them are missing, no doubt having taken their money and ran, and the rest are scrambling to cover their asses! I'm not going to get anything past those clowns. They can't be impeached, because all the other congressmen are going back each other up, so the only thing I can do is wait a year and a half for the next voting period when hopefully the people of Promepolis have enough sense to replace their terrible representatives with anyone else. Assuming, of course, that I can sway the heavily anti-Burnish sentiment in that time frame and make sure that the votes aren't rigged."

Galo sits down across from Lio with his chips and dip as he polishes off the last of his chicken. "I'm sorry, that all sounds really stressful," he offers sympathetically. When Lio doesn't reply, he adds, "At least you have plenty of time to draft up water-tight legislation."

Lio snorts on a laugh. It doesn't sound like he's enjoying the joke, but the half-smile that he gives is at least half-genuine, so Galo will take it. He reaches over and pops a chip into his mouth. "Legislation is a big word for you," he drawls, teasing.

"Remi used to study political science so he talks about it a lot," Galo says. "I don't really know what legislation means. Did I use it right?"

That time, Lio graces him with a full smile. "Yes," he sighs fondly. "Good job." He snatches another chip and Galo tries not to stare when Lio licks the Red Hot dust off of his fingers.

After, Lio goes back to his paperwork and Galo stays at the table to finish eating. It's a companionable silence and one that Galo hopes he isn't making a mistake by getting used to.

Lio is cleared to be working in the field, but he's taking the day off out of anticipation for this event. He can't trust himself to be around his people when he's as angry as he knows he's about to be.

He's alone at Burning Rescue HQ with Lucia, who's working with the more tech-savvy side of things to help get the city back on its feet again. She's taken a break for lunch and, at Lio's prompting, pulls up Promepolis Daily News on channel seven.

Right now, it's literally just the upcoming week's weather forecast. Lucia groans, leaning back as far as her chair will go and shoving a sucker unceremoniously into her mouth. "Why are we watching this garbage?" She whines. "It's so boring. Come on, you used to blow up buildings and make motorcycles out of fire! Is this really your idea of entertainment?" Perched on her desk, Vinny is too busy gazing lovingly at Lio to agree with her like he usually would.

"Shh!" Lio quiets her as the weather segment finally ends. He makes a mental note to purchase an umbrella and cranks the volume up. "It's the lieutenant governor's inauguration. I want to see what kind of god-awful speech she's going to make."

The footage on-screen cuts to the location of the temporary capital building. City hall had been destroyed with the rest of the Parnassus, so now all of the useless officials are huddling in an old military base at the edge of town until a quick replacement can be built. Because that's so much more important than housing. God, Lio is grinding his teeth and the woman hasn't said a word yet.

After a useless, flowery introduction by some other official that Lio doesn't know the name of, Yvette Espinosa-Miranda takes the stage. Lio feels his blood boiling just looking at her, the same amount of disgust that he felt when he watched her disembark the Parnassus with the rest of the dazed passengers just a week before.

But because Kray is being held in maximum security until his trial and sentencing, the lieutenant governor has to step in to replace him. Lio's never heard anything about her, but he takes one look at her painted smile and knows that she's just as bad as Kray. Figures. The man surrounded himself with the sort of money-grubbing ass-sniffers that would do whatever he said without question, and now the rest of them have to clean up his mess.

The polite applause from the audience gathered dies down and Governess Miranda smiles like she has a gun to her head. "Thank you all for being here on this momentous occasion," she says over the courtyard. Lio snorts. Of course her first words are pointless, dripping with false politeness, and praising all of the other corrupt bystanders who are letting her speak at that podium. "Despite all the efforts to tear our city apart, it warms my heart to see us all able to come together and keep pushing forward through this adversity."

Lio's digging his fingers into his arms so hard that it hurts. "That bitch," he snarls, as the realization sinks in. Lio knows exactly where the rest of this speech is going and she's only said two sentences. "She's going to blame the Burnish for all of this! As if we're the bad guys when the government that put her in power was hunting us like animals!"

Lucia looks mildly concerned, glancing between Lio and the screen. "Didn't she pardon you of all crimes?" She asks, pointing at Lio with her sucker.

"Because it doesn't matter if I'm in jail or not!" Lio paces back and forth, incensed. "I'm not creating controversy if I'm in jail! And if I'm not creating controversy, if the leader of the evil Mad Burnish isn't allowed to roam free, then what are people going to be angry about? Maybe the lack of housing? Maybe the limited access to food and clean drinking water? I'm a good scapegoat, nothing more!" He throws his hands up in frustration. "If people are throwing rocks at me and protesting terrorists not being locked up, then guess what they're not doing?" Lio gestures wildly to the screen. "They're not demanding that she gets thrown in right next to Kray, just like all of his supporters should be!"

He's panting heavily, red-faced by the time he finishes. Vinny is cowering, hiding behind his hat as best he can manage. Lucia reaches over to pet Vinny reassuringly, then reaches into her pocket and pulls out another sucker. Lio glares at her, exasperated, but takes it and tears the paper off before shoving it into his mouth unhappily. The sugar does little to help.

It doesn't matter if he's in jail or not, anyway. People run in the other direction when they see him on the streets. Or they scream. Or they throw things at him — everything from rocks to trash to their phones, if the person in a throwing mood happens to be holding it at the time. There isn't an in-tact store in Promepolis that will let Lio inside. In order to get any clothes at all, he had to give his sizes to Galo with very clear instructions about what sort of clothing Lio wanted. Galo and the rest of Burning Rescue have become something of pseudo-celebrities. Probably, Lio thinks bitterly, because the vast majority of publications seem to have gone out of their way to write him and the rest of the Burnish out of the story about how they saved the world.

He tunes back into the Governess' speech and immediately wishes that he hadn't. "...official pardons have already been issued to Freeze Force and the rest of the military under former-Governor Kray's command. They were, after all, just following orders." Miranda pretends to look sympathetic, and Lio isn't sure which pisses him off more: that she's giving sympathy to people who hunted and killed innocents under the shield of "just following orders," or that she can't even be bothered to be half-way decent about it. "My heart goes out to all those negatively affected, of course." She wipes her eyes; sniffles. Her cheeks are bone dry. "I've demoted all of the previous military officials and I will be carefully replacing all of them. Something like this can't be allowed to happen again."

Lio bites down hard on the sucker in his mouth. He feels something snap, and he's not sure if it's the candy or his teeth. He doesn't care. "Turn that shit off before I put a chair through the screen," he says lowly.

Unimpressed, Lucia rolls her eyes. "Well, now I'm actually invested. Plus, up next they have news about Heris." She sits back and pats her lap, scratching Vinny's belly idly when he nestles in between her thighs. "Aina said that she might get a lower sentence since she's being so cooperative and telling the officials all sorts of secrets."

"Of course she is!" Lio throws his hands up and whirls around, storming into the kitchen. "Why wouldn't she be pardoned? Everyone gets pardoned! Let's just pretend that consequences aren't real and nothing bad happened at all! Oh, that enormous ship that crashed in the middle of downtown! That's just our new modern art piece! Who cares how many people suffered—?" The rest of his rant comes out muffled when Lio pops open a leftover container in the fridge and shoves the cold food into his mouth. His pacing, however, is clear as day as he stomps around in his boots.

With a sigh, Lucia bends down to speak quietly to Vinny as she continues to pet him. "Quite the short fuse on that guy, huh?" She mutters. Vinny's only response is to swoon. "You and Galo have such questionable taste," Lucia says with a little laugh and scratches that spot Vinny likes on his back while Lio continues to rage in the room over.

It's at least a good thing that he can't set things on fire with his mind anymore.

It's quiet while they work because moving piles and piles and piles of rubble takes a bunch of energy already and no one feels up to talking. Normally, Galo is happy to keep a one-sided conversation going for hours if he has to, but being around the Parnassus makes him stiff and uncomfortable until it's out of sight again. That, and today, he's got something heavy on his mind.

They're just shoveling up rubble and dumping it into bags. Varys and Remi are using their mechs a little distance away to heft the larger chunks onto trucks, while Aina rakes bits of glass and plaster out of the grass and off of shattered sidewalks. Then Galo shoves what she rakes into bags, ties them off, and tosses them into the pile for later. There are a dozen other teams like the four of them in the immediate area, and more armed with only shovels or even their bare hands doing what they can. It's slow, repetitive, and tiring work.

Perfect for letting his thoughts wander while his body moves.

Galo shovels some rubble into a bag. He wonders if Lio is still upset after yesterday, and hopes that he isn't. Another shovelful into the bag. While on lunch break, Galo got a personal message from the new Governess wanting to hold an award ceremony for him. Just him. Not Lio. Not the rest of Burning Rescue. The next shovelful goes a little more aggressively than the previous ones. He hasn't told Lio yet. Another motion with the shovel. Galo's palms are starting to blister from how hard he's holding it. He hears someone say his name and ignores it. Would Lio be angry with him? He would understand that Galo didn't ask for selective treatment, right? And he doesn't want it. Galo wants to say no to the offer, but he hasn't yet because he's not sure about all of the "political nuances" that Lio was ranting about the night before. He doesn't know what he's doing. It's not obvious, isn't it? He's not making himself look like a total ass in front of Lio, is he? He's trying.

"Hey! Earth to Galo!" Aina yanks the shovel out of Galo's hand with a tone suggesting that she's been calling to him for a while. "What's gotten into you? You decimated the bag!"

He blinks, looking down, and realizes that she's right. The plastic bag has been ripped and Galo kept piling rubble on top of it without realizing it. He sighs, pulling a new one from the pouch on his waist. "Sorry, Aina. I'll get it."

"Yeah, damn right you will." She presses the shovel back into Galo's hand, crossing her arms over her chest. Then her expression softens with concern. "What's got you in this funk? You're usually a pretty tough guy to rattle but you've been out of sorts all day."

And he thinks that this is a stupid thing to say out loud, which is why Galo hasn't brought it to Lio yet. But Aina is his best friend, and Galo hates to keep secrets and never stops himself from speaking his mind, so he ends up considering it for only about two seconds before opening his mouth. "Do you think I would make a good congressman?"

She doesn't laugh at him, which is a good sign. Aina does, however, raise an eyebrow. Which is a less than ideal sign. "Do you even know what a congressman does?"

Galo bites his lip. "Uh… I know what they don't do?" He tries. Aina raises her other eyebrow, unimpressed. He deflates. "No."

"Thought so." She takes the shovel back from him and gestures for Galo to hold open the new bag. He does so, and Aina begins shoveling his mess into it while she talks. "What brought this on, anyway? Was it Lio's rant?"

He shakes his head. "No. Well, not the first one, anyway. I think he started about seven different rants last night." Galo adjusts his hold on the bag, staring off into space as he continues. "He's just so upset. He says that there's nothing he can do until the current congressmen are up for reelection, and I thought… A year and a half is long enough to put together a campaign, right?"

"A year and five months," Aina corrects absently, tucking a strand of hair back into her ponytail before resuming her work. "Voting is in November and it's about to be June."

"Well— whatever. You know what I mean." Galo rolls his eyes. "Having someone in Congress who would look out for Burnish interests would help Lio out a bunch, right? And if it helps get his proposals through, then it'll help all of the former-Burnish, too."

Aina hums thoughtfully. "As far as your ideas usually go, that's not half bad, actually," she allows. "You might even be able to get elected if you played your cards right. Most people don't care about voting for Congress and you're pretty popular, so… maybe." She shakes her head, sending her ponytail whipping back and forth. "But you don't know the first thing about politics, Galo. And even if you did, having one congressman on his side isn't going to speed up the process any. If you wanted to help Lio, you would, oh, I don't know…" She gestures flippantly with one hand. "Run for Governor or something. Now tie off that trash bag and throw it with the others so we can keep going."

He moves to do as told… But then Galo pauses. An idea strikes him and his face lights up. Politics… Help Lio… Governor… Fumbling for his phone, Galo pulls it out and checks the email that he got from the Governess. Three days until that award ceremony, huh? Maybe he will accept.

Grinning, Galo shoves his phone back into his pocket and ties off the trash bag before tossing it with the others. "Aina!" He shouts, grabbing her by the shoulders. "You're a genius!"

"I am?" She asks, confused, but Galo is no longer listening. He spots something moving out of the corner of his eye and his head whips around.

Meis walks by them to drop one of his trash bags with the others, due to be collected at the end of the day and hauled off. He turns to go back to his group and nearly runs into Galo's chest, he's standing so close.

"Galo." Meis blinks and takes a step back, only the faintest ripple of surprise across his stony face. "What are you—? Ugh!" He grunts when Galo shoves the rest of his empty trash bags into Meis' arms.

"Sorry, can't explain right now. I gotta go do something," Galo says in a rush. "Do you know what time city hall closes? Can you take over here for me?"

"Uh, five o'clock, I think." Then the rest of the statement registers and Meis scowls. "What? No, I have my own workload to do today! I'm not going to—!"

"Thanks a million, Meis, you're the best!" Galo calls over his shoulder, already sprinting away. He leaves Meis and Aina to stare after him, befuddled, without a second thought.

Three days is plenty of time for him to pick up and fill out some paperwork.