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April 7th, allegedly.

Holy shit.

Had she said that out loud? No?

“Holy shit,” Kanna mumbled. Her shock was blessedly short-lived though, and before the ballistic skateboard even made landfall she retrieved the tiny, weathered digital camera from her pocket. Quick as a flick she managed to snap a picture of the poor moron—was that the Sakaguchi brother? Figures—while he was still reeling from the blow.

She checked the little display screen and bit back a grin. Action shot. Minimal blur. Good stuff. When she heard Shiori and the Olympian Ogre mutter about things getting “crowded,” she waited patiently until she heard footsteps and took another picture of them walking away from their miserly victim.

Oh, shit, right. Ken.

Once the coast was only just clear, she scrambled out from her corner without even a second thought for her mutilated sandwich. Lunch was temporary, violence made headlines. She ran over to Ken, still laid out in a daze, and snapped her fingers in his face.

“Hey, whoa, Sakaguchi—you good? Hey, how many fingers—hold on,” she said. The board had hit him square, and already an ugly bruise was forming around the split skin around his nose and beneath his eye. She took him by the chin and gently turned his head to one side, leaned back and snapped a picture, then patted him gently on the cheek. “How many fingers am I holding up?” she asked, but with one hand in a cast and the other full of camera, she wasn’t holding up any. She took another picture. His nose was running with enough blood to stain both his shirt and the pavement. “Man, lookit all this. Wow. Thank god for capillaries, huh? You’ll be fine, probably. Just don’t tilt your head back.”

Satisfied with her glamour shots, Kanna sprang back up to her feet and searched after the departed delinquents. She’d seen the direction they’d gone, and there were only so many places for them to go that weren’t back inside. An alley between the buildings, the alcove of dumpsters, maybe the old sports shed.

“Yun!” she called back to the corner, nudging Ken’s leg with her foot. “Hey, Yun! Get a teacher or somethin’, poor guy’s bleedin’ out here!”

Conscience clear, Kanna hastily scurried off. Time was of the essence, and there was no telling what those two would get up to next. Where did you go from assault? Arson? Murder? Truancy? She’d get her answers sooner than she thought, because no sooner had she passed the dumpsters did she catch sight of them amidst the trees around the sports shed.

Oh, jackpot. From Blowing Smoke to Blowing Off Steam? Puff Puff Smash? Some pun about skateboards and cigarettes that she'd figure out later? The articles practically wrote themselves.

Kanna hunched, using the trees for cover, and snapped one or two more of them lingering near the shed. Dark, murky, but still good enough quality for the page. She’d blur Shiori thoroughly first, of course, but Totsuka would be lucky to get a black bar over his eyes. If they went inside, she could try and get a few pictures through the window. The photos would be blurry, but guerilla shots like that could really bring a piece together.

She waited, watching, camera ready. Her rabbit heart kept thumping wildly, but her hands were still as stone.
Hidden 1 mo ago 1 mo ago Post by Asura
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TOTSUKA RYUSEI


June 28, 1998
I don't fucking know am



New to the campus as he was, Ryusei contented himself to follow behind the redhead, cigarette balanced precariously between his lips as he did. He hadn't the foggiest clue where she intended to take them, but he made a mental note to memorize the route regardless; it helped him familiarize himself with the school, and he could always steal whatever hideaway she decided to bring them to if she proved to be less than enjoyable company in the future. As they rounded a corner and made towards what looked like an old equipment shed, he couldn't help but quirk a brow. Maybe she intended to prove herself to be quite enjoyable company. Unfortunately for him, rather than enter into the decrepit looking structure, she brought their journey to an end near the trees just outside it. His luck had never been that good, he supposed.

Leaning up against one of the trees, the teen sighed, half in relief to have a quiet place to smoke again, and half because of his companion's question. He took another long drag of his cigarette, thinking on how to answer her question. Of course, rather than ponder his relationship with skateboards and their riders, his thoughts found their way drifting back to Kobe. To the real reason for his less than friendly response to their interloper.

"Neither. I hate this place. Hate having to be here. He just happened to piss me off at the wrong time." He finally decided, in a shocking display of self-reflection. Maybe it was unfair to say he hated Utsubyo—he had only been there for a week, and while he had quarreled with his grandpa for much of that week, he had fond memories of it as child. But something had to take the brunt of his anger and hurt, and a town was as good a target as some skater punk's forehead.

"'Sides," He began, letting another puff that he had drawn absentmindedly drift from his mouth, "Guy looked like he deserved it anyway. He probably did something to earn it. Karma, y'know."
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Ryusei's hatred of the town was definitely justified, but Shiori was caught off-guard nonetheless. Her jaw dropped a touch as she stared at him for all of two seconds before she burst into laughter. It was short-lived, as most joyful things tend to be around here, but it was admittedly a breath of fresh air. She wondered if maybe he either knew the town already, or something had happened to dour his opinion of the place. Either way, she had to admit the new kid made a great impression already, violence notwithstanding.

"First day and you already hate it here? You realize we still have two years before we leave this dump," She couldn't help but point out, though she did raise her eyebrows. "Not that I blame you, the sentiment is shared around here. Gotta love the place named after depression."

As for Sakaguchi... "You might just get blacklisted from being able to buy his 'goodies' from here on out," She made air quotes around the word and then took a puff from her cigarette before continuing, "Couldn't have happened to a nicer guy."

As much as she disliked small talk, he got her curious. "Himawari Shiori. Forgot to introduce myself in all the excitement," She decided to get that out of the way first. "What, exactly, brings you to Utsubyo? Aside from the pachinko parlor and the tea shop, but even then."




Sakaguchi didn't seem satisfied with her response at all. Ichika stayed steady, though she wondered if maybe she was coming off too strong. This place had such low energy and she was much bouncier than most of the people there as it was. And then came the next thing: apparently she was boring! That much made Ichika frown, though she wasn't sure what to say to that. She knew Shiori had her thing where she'd go outside a handful of times, but she wasn't a tattletale. She wasn't about to go breaking the rules any time soon, either, though.

"As someone who hopes to become a fruitful member of society, following the rules is the most basic way to make sure your life is on the right track," She stated. "After all, if my future husband decides to run for Prime Minister, I'll have to make sure my record is squeaky clean!"




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TOTSUKA RYUSEI


June 28, 1998
I don't fucking know am



"The scenery, of course."

The sarcasm in Ryusei's voice was almost as thick as the cloud cover above, which he vaguely gestured to with his free hand. What else was he to say? That his parents didn't want him stinking up the house any more? That he had busted too many noses back in Kobe for the school to keep looking the other way? It wasn't exactly the kind of thing you opened up about to someone you'd just learned the name of five seconds prior. He could have lied, sure, but he wasn't in the mood to conjure up some fictional tale for Shiori's sake. Luckily enough, there was something else for him to focus the conversation towards. It would be nice to talk about someone else's criminal exploits for once.

"So I ended up braining the school dealer on the first day, huh? Luckily, I don't partake. My body's a temple, after all." He took one last, long drag of his cigarette, the ember burning its way down the last few centimeters of its length until there was little left but a butt. He promptly tossed it to the ground, grinding it into the pavement below with the toe of his shoe. The last traces of it disappeared as he blew out the smoke in a long stream, one which promptly disappeared in the wind.

It was only then that it occurred to him then that their lunch break hadn't quite come to a close yet, and as much as he didn't care for small talk, the girl before him made for better company than the ones in the classroom, if only due to volume. His hands idly found their way into his pockets, and he looked up at the sky through disparate branches as he searched for his words. It was usually polite to ask a question in return, wasn't it?

"How about you? You a native to this shit hole? Seems like me and the perky one were the only new faces this year."
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Shiori quirked an eyebrow at his response. Fair, not like he had to tell her, but she was expecting something lame like having to come over 'cause a parent got transferred. Maybe it was something lame that he would be embarrassed about, like...well, it can't be bullying, this guy was twice the size of most kids. She'd hate to see whatever could intimidate that. Maybe it was something more illicit like cheating on an exam. Eh, whatever it was, it wasn't her business, and she wasn't really the type to pry.

Once he spoke of Sakaguchi, she nodded. "Mmm. Bet the twin might have something to say about that at one point or another. Assuming he squeals," She looked back towards the building. "Pretty sure the sister's in our class." Not that she knew much about her. Granted, you learn over the years from proximity just from being around for so long, but she wasn't looking to expand her horizons any time soon.

As he turned the conversation to her, Shiori leaned back and rested against the shed. "Tragically," She exhaled her smoke with a sigh. "The fact that we got transfers at all is shocking. No one who comes here wants to come here, especially with Kagoshima around the corner. It's usually the same class from start to finish with the same stories: you grow up with the same faces, you apply to college and fail, then you work at the plastic factory 'til you either pop out some kids to repeat the cycle or die. Whatever happens first."

The last inhale was bittersweet, but she enjoyed it nonetheless. "Not that I plan on staying once graduation rolls around," She scoffed.


Hidden 1 mo ago 1 mo ago Post by TGM
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April 7th, Year 1


“A fruitful member of society...” Akari mused as she looked at the girl blankly. “You sound like you rehearsed that line a thousand times.”

The raven-haired Japanese girl was somewhere between confused and annoyed as her peppy classmate declared she never broke a rule ever and that it was all part of a plan to… to… net a husband who would someday be Prime Minister of Japan? It sounded like some kind of made up thing, a fantasy she had formed in her head. Akari didn’t have those kinds of fantasies, nor did anyone else she knew of in town save for a few delusional members of her class. Who was Ichika trying to convince here? Akari or Ichika? It was strange, and that strangeness continued to pique Akari's curiosity enough to where she didn't tell Ichika that she didn't care and she should stop being annoying.

Or was Akari being over-serious again?
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TOTSUKA RYUSEI


June 28, 1998
I don't fucking know am



So he had a twin, did he? Not that Ryusei was especially intimidated by the prospect of a second skater assailing his ankle with the tip of a board. Much less so if that second was a girl of all things. The fact this town was a dead end wasn't exactly surprising—he had tried looking into things to do in the days leading up to his arrival. A poor way of coping with his upcoming exile, one which led him only to tourist trap bullshit and the inevitable conclusion that the aging streets of Utsubyo had little to offer him. That was the point, of course. He couldn't exactly get up to no good if there was nowhere to go. Of course, considering he had just brained another student within hours of arriving at school, perhaps his parents had been wrong in their assessment. That thought almost brought a smile to the teen's lips. Almost.

"Yeah, you seem like a real overachiever," He eventually piped up following Shiori's little scoff, the start of a grin cracking its way across his face, "Smoking with the new delinquent out by the sports shed is a sure way into Tokyo U."

He pushed himself off the tree with that little jab, tucking his hands into the pockets of his trousers. The sky was starting to look a little more angry than it had when he first stepped out into the open air, and he figured it would begin the promised downpour soon enough. No reason to get soaked for nothing, especially when it seemed his companion would be finishing up her cigarette soon enough anyway.

"You wanna head back together? I'm not trying to play chicken with a thunderstorm, and I think our little voyeur is getting impatient." The teen gestured vaguely towards the nearby dumpsters with his head as he spoke the last bit.
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Shiori scowled at Ryusei's comment, clearly displeased. She'd definitely smack him if she didn't witness him beaming another kid less than five minutes ago. Alright, fine, it looked bad, and she might've had a reputation, and she did like to break the rules, but his smartass comment was unwarranted. Mostly. Fine, he had a point, she wasn't exactly on the straight and narrow path. But she'd rather throw herself in the river than end up getting stuck in this dump for the rest of her life. Unlike other burnouts, she actually had a plan.

She stared at him as she took her last smoke in, exhaling quickly before returning his sarcasm with some of her own. "Unless you're telling me you're on the university board, I think I'll be fine," She waved his comment away, dropping her cigarette to the ground. As she ground it, she rolled her eyes. "Not like I have super-grand plans, but if I stay here, I'm pretty sure I'll end up braining myself."

She did, however, have more of a reaction to 'voyeur'. Great. She didn't have to guess who was hiding nearby, or at least which club they belonged to. "Aww, you caught the newspaper club's interest," She smirked. "Bet we'll be seeing your face on the first page."

God, were things so boring around here that someone was really willing to follow the new kid around? The thought was depressing. With that in mind, however, Shiori stretched her arms above her head, looking up at the sky. "Y'know, most cities have nice, blue skies on their first day. I bet this is an omen," She remarked, deciding to take his cue to make sure they didn't get caught out and deciding to head back inside.




Hm, Sakaguchi's response was odd. Did it actually sound rehearsed? Then again, it was something Ichika did bring up a lot. Shiori had warned her against bringing up her one and only interest; that is, enjoying her freedom and the chance to meet boys--but she wasn't sure how that would look. Of course, all she really wanted was a little experience so that when she did meet the man of her dreams, she would be better prepared. But that might look bad.

Instead, Ichika gave a girlish giggle. "Okay, maybe a little," She'd admit it. "But I can't help it! I've got my eyes on the future and marriage is a big part of that for me."

Would it be cliche if she admitted her dream was to be a bride?




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April 7th, Year 1


“So you’re one of those girls.”

Akari had heard it before, though admittedly in less of a… perky way. After all, for some girls the only way to get out of this crappy town was to get married to someone who was from Tokyo or Kyoto, or anywhere that wasn’t a dead end like Utsubyo was. Akari didn’t have those kinds of interests. If she was being honest, relationships were as much of a dead end and they certainly weren’t worth her time. Her dad hadn’t exactly lived up to a great father, so Akari didn’t think much of relationships. Had her mother not been so devoted to him, maybe she wouldn’t be halfway in a bottle every night?

It was a thought she thought about often, but now was not the time.

She shook her head, “I don’t know. Sounds so one dimensional to me. If I am going to get out of here its because I did it myself, not because I married some big shot.”
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April 7th, unchanging
Pain Time™ A.M.



The sudden display of precision and violence was quite the sight to witness, even from an obscured view. While shock was the correct initial response for most people, a hearty belly laugh was instead the visceral response from Yun. It was ridiculous, after all! All of his theories about their new wonder of a classmate just got a major boost to their credibility!

Before his imagination could run wild even further with regards to the mystery that was Totsuka, a cry for help beckoned for Yun. His immediate response upon hearing this was to turn about and leave. The idea of Yun being responsible for someone else’s health should be horrifying for everyone involved but Kanna had bolted before he could protest the idea. Now left alone with Sakaguchi, Yun reluctantly went over to the injured skater to give words of assurance before leaving for help.

"Uh... Hang in there guy. I’ll go get... Someone more responsible. Yeah.” Pop quiz, who the hell was the school nurse? Regardless of the answer, Yun already failed this test as he decided to go back to his classroom instead. To his credit, he decided to power walk back with urgency. The last thing he needed was to get disciplined by the school prefect for running in the halls. On his way back, he was already muttering to himself what he would actually say. His message needed to be concise and to the point. Arriving at his home room’s entrance, Yun cleared his throat and announced his message with vigor appropriate to the situation.

"Uh, Sakaguchi got injured on his skateboard and it was in no way funny... I think he’s still on the ground out there."

Nailed it, Yun.
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TOTSUKA RYUSEI


June 28, 1998
I don't fucking know am



"Hey, you don't know that. Maybe my dad's a big shot university president, and I'm just here roughing it with the poors for a few years before heading back to Tokyo. You better start sucking up if you wanna get in." Ryusei was quick to retort. It was only half a joke—he was pretty sure uncle Ryuta did serve on Kyoto University's board, but university was never something he put much thought into, and frankly, his family had already been occupying far too much of his headspace that day for him to want to think about them any further. Besides, he had bigger fish to fry in the moment; the last thing he needed was some overzealous news club freshman trying to impress their senpais by trailing him like an old timey PI. With his hands still tucked in his pockets, he trailed after Shiori as she made her way back towards the school.

It wasn't until they passed the dumpsters that he momentarily stopped. Tilting his head back to where he had last seen the alleged journalist-to-be, he gave his best attempt at a stony, stoic face. Which, in his experience, was pretty darn good, considering the usual reaction he got.

"Whatever the fuck you think you're doing: don't. This ain't a request."

Content that his little warning would spook the poor kid enough to keep her from following him around further, he continued after Shiori, his long strides making it easy enough to catch up to the redhead as she disappeared into the school.
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April 7th, Year Negotiable.

Kanna sat back against the dumpster, flipping through the photos she’d taken with barely-suppressed glee. Between the skateboard javelining, Sakaguchi’s glamour shot, and the candids of Shiori and Totsuka blowing smoke beside the sports shed, the front page was going to be spoiled for choice.

What a way to start the year. Maybe this didn’t lead anywhere—assault was hard to ignore, but Sakaguchi wasn’t exactly a local hero, and sad as it was she doubted school officials were chomping at the bit to defend him. But hey, if it did, she’d be plastering the takedown of the Utsubyo Ogre all over her college applications. This was way bigger than the Familymart Weasels, and almost as big as the Pic-Land apple seed scandal. A few more like this, and Kanna was sure she’d have internships clawing each other’s throats out just to get ahold of her.

"Whatever the fuck you think you're doing: don't. This ain't a request."

Kanna yelped, but thankfully this time she slapped her uncasted hand over her mouth. Shiori and Totsuka had passed—she hadn’t even heard them coming, oops—but the big fellow had stopped to mad dog her, and give some less-than-subtle advice before stomping off.

She sat there for a few more moments, quiet, before peering out to find that she was alone. A smirk wormed its way onto her face.

“Well boy howdy buckaroo, you betcha,” she mumbled in her best—or worst—kansai accent. He’d said it himself, it wasn’t a request. If he wasn’t asking, then she didn’t have to answer.

Lunch was all but over, and Kanna headed back into the classroom still unbothered by her lost sandwich. What was there to mourn, really? She had a full plate now, and she’d be chewing on this story all night.
Hidden 1 mo ago 1 mo ago Post by Hero
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April 8th, 20xx
5:45 a.m.
Weather: Dark Clouds

"I feel like we're gonna get in trouble for this."

Umeko looked up from her computer, the screen reflected on her glasses. At this point, they were ready to print, but she usually went over one last read-through of the paper. She was actually surprised that anyone was questioning the paper--for once, things were actually happening. Granted, she fully believed they weren't going to be able to publish anything this gossipy, but Nakano's push for the story to be published won over the editor, and thus her story was on the front page. Personally, she had no real issue with it--if the new kid was a delinquent, then everyone deserved to know.

Shoichi, on the other hand, didn't like it. While he definitely thought that Sakaguchi deserved it and more based on the rumors, he thought it was kinda harsh to basically rat out the new kid day one. Everyone had heard what happened as Sakaguchi was basically dragged to the nurse, but he refused to tell who actually did it. If Sakaguchi himself didn't want to say who it was, then it was wrong for Nakano to tattle. Sadly, he was in the minority.

Letting out a sigh, Umeko saved the file before looking over at Shoichi. "We're bringing the troublemaker to justice. What's wrong with that?" She asked him.

"Touga wanted feel-good stories. This is the complete opposite," He replied. "Plus, if Nakano's story is true, don't you think he'll get mad and come here?"

"And?"

"He beamed Sakaguchi with a skateboard! Who's to say he won't come to do the same to us!"

Umeko rolled her eyes, double-clicking her mouse. The printer whirred to life and got to work. "Nakano put her name on it, so she'll be the one to deal with it," She said. "Besides...if he didn't want trouble, he shouldn't have done it. Did you see Sakaguchi's face?"

"Oh no, someone gave the druggie a boo-boo," Shoichi's sarcasm dripped off every word. "It's like a vigilante dealing with a criminal. Are we really going to fault the vigi for doing what everyone else wished they could?"

"We'll see what everyone thinks then. Is he a hero, or just another troublemaker?"

April 8th, 20xx
12:00 p.m.
Weather: Heavy Rain

HEADLINE: UTSUBEATDOWN! BRUTAL ASSAULT IN THE HIGHSCHOOL PARKING LOT!

While many students returned to Utsubyo High excited for the new academic year, others harbored darker intentions. At lunch yesterday, two unknown individuals, alleged to be underclassmen, came to blows in the high school parking lot. In the aftermath, the apparent aggressor and another student retreated to the old sports shed for a little R&R.

We caught up with the victim, (Who has asked to remain anonymous) and you can read his statement on page 3! Be warned, the pictures may not be suitable for the faint of heart!


While the day had started the same as yesterday, today's lunch was a little different. While the newspaper had been available bright and early, the whispers really didn't pick up until later on. At that point, the story had spread like wildfire; everyone was talking about it, for better or for worse. Copies of the newspaper were now hard to find, as people clung to the evidence just so they could show it off to one another. The news had also spread to the faculty room, for better or for worse. There had been an impromptu meeting where poor Miss Touga had gotten reamed about the circumstances. Unfortunately, she had failed as both a homeroom teacher and as a supervisor of the Newspaper Club.




Shiori had noticed the murmuring, but she was too upset with the rain to care. She could probably get away with sneaking over to the old shed, but was it worth it? She burned three cigarettes yesterday--two at lunch, and one after a particularly stressful dinner where Ichika insisted on burning everything that touched the stove. Her pack was a little too light for her liking, and she wasn't going to go to her parent's house before the weekend since her father wasn't going to buy more cigarettes until then.

As she deliberated, her eyes briefly rested on her partner-in-crime. Her supply would definitely dwindle faster if he saw her leave, and she wasn't sure if he was gonna hover over her. He didn't seem like the type, but anyone that can get anything free was sure to return. She had to scowl at the thought, though she wondered why she wouldn't just say 'no'.

She looked over at Ichika, who was absorbed in the day's paper. Right, she did see it around a lot more than usual. Before she could question it, however, Ichika let out a comically loud squeal and looked over at Shiori with a horrified look.

She quickly flashed the paper at her, pointing to a picture. "Is--Is this you, Shi-shi?!" She squeaked.

Shiori was probably never going to get used to that level of energy. She had no idea what she was talking about, either, only seeing a picture of one extremely blurred-out mess of red and white and--holy shit was that Totsuka?! She snatched the paper out of Ichika's hands and quickly poured it over. There wasn't just one picture, but two of her and Totsuka. She was blurred out, but she recognized both the scene of the crime and the shed. Speaking of which, there was a beautiful shot of the new kid reeling back with skateboard in hand. The only thing that almost made her laugh was that there was a black bar over his eyes and Sakaguchi's, but the picture of his injuries killed any sense of laughter.

The redhead grimaced, then looked over at Tostuka. "I'm borrowing this," She told Ichika, ignoring her protest as she got up from her seat.

Unfortunately, she wasn't the only one looking for Ryusei. Miss Touga returned to the classroom, looking very much like a scolded child. She noticed Shiori, striding over and stopping the girl in her tracks. "I need to see you and Totsuka," She stated, crossing her arms. "Come with me to the faculty room."




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TOTSUKA RYUSEI


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The town of Utsubyo certainly seemed hellbent on keeping Ryusei's doldrums going. It had been overcast all week, and while he could appreciate the silence of a cloudy, windy day, having the sky piss on you while you biked to school was a sure as shit way to have any inkling of joy snuffed right out. It must have put him in a real bad mood, because nobody seemed willing to meet his gaze that day. Not that he especially minded, of course. He didn't want to deal with the bullshit that came with being the new kid in a town where everybody had known each other since kindergarten. Being a novelty got old real quick, and the sooner they learned not to fuck with him, the better. He had hope they'd direct their curiosities towards Shimizu, bright and bubbly as she was, but as the day dragged on and classes passed, he couldn't shake the feeling that all eyes were on him.

Which meant the whispers were also probably about him. He wasn't a stranger to being the topic of gossip having been on the receiving end of it since elementary school. More often than not it was undeserved, the way kids liked to craft stories about the class delinquent. Of course, some of the time, he definitely painted the target on his back himself. He was the talk of the town when he had gotten into it with the baseball club freshman year. He busted up two of their starting players and nearly caused the coach to have a stroke.

It was in those precious moments of reminiscence that it occurred to him—he had done something since yesterday to draw attention to himself. But surely nobody had been watching the parking lot during lunch. There was the chance the little fucker had cried to the teachers, but if he was the class druggie, why would he want to bring that kind of attention to himself over a busted nose? Unless...

It was just as the cogs turned in his head and he remembered his dumpster-bound stalker that someone called out for him. Shaken from his daydreams, the teen found himself peering up at their homeroom teacher, and not so far off, Shiori. Neither of them seemed especially pleased, and if the rumor mill had been grinding yesterday's events all day, it was easy enough to see why. The redhead had probably been deemed guilty by association.

"Lemme guess," He began, rising from his desk into his trademark slouch, "It's time for my welcoming party? How thoughtful."
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Touga wasn't happy about Totsuka's comment, nor was she happy at Shiori's snort. She beckoned the two to follow her, ignoring the class for the most part. Shiori slinked along, throwing her head back in exasperation. Welp, the Newspaper Club was definitely on her shit list, but she was a little confused as to why she was getting dragged along. Then again, Ichika recognized her instantly--maybe Miss Touga thought that she had something to do with the little incident yesterday.

Speaking of which, what was she supposed to say? Despite being strangers, it felt wrong to just throw him under the bus. Sakaguchi hadn't shown his face, either. Maybe she could lie and say he started it? Then again, the retaliation was kinda brutal. Before she could make up her mind, they had arrived. To her surprise, the faculty room was empty. She was so sure the principal was going to show up, but maybe they got lucky?

Touga let out a huff, her hand to her forehead. "I don't think I need to ask if it's actually you two in the paper," She began.

"Are you sure it's me?" Shiori asked, waving the paper. "This blurred image could be any redhead."

Touga snatched the paper from her, mimicking Shiori and waving it around. "This is not a joke, Himawari! Totsuka has been here for one day and he's already taking after you!" She snapped, though she turned her attention to the man in question. "Did she put you up to this?"

Shiori's jaw dropped, though after a few seconds she recovered and let out a huff of indignance. She couldn't believe she was being blamed for this! Go figure, you do something nice and suddenly you're pointed at as some corruptor. This was some karmic bullshit that she didn't like.




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April 8th, Year 1


“How could this happen?” was the kind of question that normal families asked in these kinds of situations. When Akari’s brother stayed home from school on the second day of the new school year, Akari was already yelling at him–but it wasn’t the kind of yelling she thought she was going to do. Kenzo had a predisposition for getting into trouble, falling with the wrong crowds; telling Akari to mind her own business and reminding her exactly how far in the hole he actually was. He didn’t explicitly say what happened, but with their mother halfway in a bottle for most of the night, Akari wasn’t buying the usual “I fell.” excuses. Excuses that eventually led into a “I’m not a snitch.” retort. As usual Akari threatened to beat him worse than whoever did this to him. Ranting about addicts and bad behavior. How much of a loser he was.

It led into the next morning. Kenzo didn’t budge. But the school newspaper did.

Akari’s fingers curled into fists. It didn’t take an expert detective to deduce who was who in the photographs. The journalism club had gotten busy early this year and it was annoying, but the taller Sakaguchi twin had far different feelings about the situation. Her brother was the quiet delinquent, sure, but it was actually Akari who was the aggressive, competitive, and violent one. It was part of why she was involved in team sports, but it took everything in her body not to get ready for a fistfight. Not that her brother’s honor needed to be defended; but if her parents wouldn’t do their jobs and protect the family, who else was there to do the job?

Her teeth pressed against one another, steam leaving her nostrils as her brows twitched. It was very evident she was upset. Not a great mood to be in as she stared emptyily at her lunch; for the second day in a row she was so irritated she barely wanted to eat. She ate anyway, but angrily.
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April 8th, yesterday’s future.

The air in the school was charged by lunch, Kanna could feel the hairs on the back of her neck standing up. God damn was this good.

She sat at her desk grinning like an idiot, too absorbed in the paper to touch her sandwich. It was beautiful, absolutely pristine—she’d owe Umeko and Shoichi sweets for the killer formatting. There’d been some brief tentativeness over publishing a story like this in their first issue of the year; one editor had called it a hit-piece, but Kanna was firm that it wasn’t gossip and in the end, she liked to think her article and the evidence were compelling enough to put it to print.

And wow, the effect had been incredible, and that made sense. Intrigue! Peril! Blood! Highschool kids loved blood and they ate up danger like they’d been starved for months. And in a way they had been starved—of entertainment. Utsubyo wasn’t nearly as boring as it led people to believe, but all of its interesting bits were buried and convoluted and, frankly, it was much harder to sell her peers on scandals in a local orchard than it was to get them buzzing over a bully, even if the Pic-Land was up to some actual shit. Totsuka might be middle-sized fish, but Utsubyo was a small pond, even if it was deeper than other, bigger ponds.

Her mood was dampened a bit though, when she saw Ms. Touga enter the room looking like she’d just been left out in the rain. Immediately she snatched up Shiori and the Ogre, and Kanna felt a little pang of guilt. Well, half a pang. She didn’t care much about Totsuka, but Shiori wasn’t a bad person—depending on who you asked, and right now Kanna was asking herself. Sure she was a little rough, more than a little rude, and occasionally she would beat people up, but the story hadn’t been about her doing any of that. The whole point of blurring her in the pictures had been to avoid getting her in trouble, which wouldn’t count for shit if she just up and confessed to a teacher.

Damn, should have cropped the stupid picture instead, she thought, but didn’t really mean it. Cutting Shiori out would have ruined the balance. God, why’d she have to have red hair? No, that looked good too. Really, it was just an unwinnable situation and her hands were tied.

Sort of.

Kanna tore a chunk of paper from her notebook and scribbled onto it: NO EVIDENCE, PLAY DUMB. This was true; Kanna had blurred and barred the photos herself. The originals were still on her own, personal flashdrive, and she didn’t see any reason they needed to be anywhere else. It felt a bit wrong, but she could square herself with that. She had a strict rule—she didn’t lie about her work, but omitting things wasn’t the same as lying about them.

She took up her sandwich and got up from her seat, making her way to Shiori’s. In her mind, just dropping off her note would have been a bit too obvious, so she decided she needed a cover. And, wouldn’t you know it, there behind Shiori’s desk was just such a cover.

Kanna briefly set her sandwich down on Shiori’s desk, and as she did, she subtly slid her note onto the clutter of books and other delinquent miscellanea—cigs, switchblades, a leather jacket or something, Kanna didn’t know, she didn’t look closely. Then she took the seat, spun it around, and sat down facing the desk behind her.

“Heeeeey, Sakaguchi~!” she chimed, taking up her sandwich again. Akari ate like a tiger mauling some idiot who had fallen into her enclosure, but Kanna was already committed. This was dangerous work after all, sometimes you dealt with tigers, sometimes you got eaten. The French had a saying for it, but she didn’t speak French.

“How’re you doin’? How’s things? Been a minute, just figured we could chat, y’know? Heard about your brother—awful shit. How’s he holding up?”
2x Laugh Laugh
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April 8th, Year 1


Akari wasn’t one for pleasantries and honorifics, knowing she was one of your friends was tough. Tricky. She was so informal it felt like she didn’t care about anyone or anything. And that was when she wasn’t angry.

The smaller girl’s insistence to talk to her did allow the raven-haired girl to snap out of her rage, even if it was for a moment. Akari wasn’t dumb. She knew what particular club Nakano was involved in, so if anyone knew about who took what picture, it was her. Might’ve even been her for all Akari knew, and she wasn’t exactly in the mood to be dealing with snoops. Akari ripped into half of a melonpan, angrily chewing on the dough before looking at the journalism club member dead in the eyes.

“What do you want, Nakano?” She remarked, flatly. “Kenzo is fine. Which is more than I can say who started this is gonna be.”

Akari got into fights just as much as Kenzo or Shiori did. She was the meanest girl on the girl’s volleyball team. Before the new kid arrived, she had been the tallest person in class and had been for awhile. To say people steered clear of her when she was angry was an understatement. However, for Akari to just bluntly say she was after the new kid–who was taller and brawnier than her–was something beyond her normal threats and “sunny” disposition. Kenzo had told her to not get involved, that he would handle it when he got back to school, though Akari never respected anything her brother had to say and she wasn’t about to start now.
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TOTSUKA RYUSEI


a date where smartphones exist
i don't fucking know pm



Although it was undoubtedly not her intention, the long walk down the hall to the faculty room practically was a welcoming party for Ryusei. How many times had he faced similar marches, carted off behind some irate teacher so they could dress him down in the sanctity of their precious lounge, surrounded by their fellow wet blankets. The novelty of it had long since worn off on him, leaving behind a kind of familiarity that was almost comforting in its normalcy. He cast an idle glance Shiori's way, figuring the girl had been through this before herself—she seemed calm enough at the prospect of academic discipline, and the kinds of girls who smoked behind the school during lunch break were typically also the kind who pulled each others hair in the parking lot after hours.

The emptiness of the faculty room was a pleasant little surprise, however. Maybe they liked to mix it up here at Utsubyo High? Or maybe they wanted to go easy on him since it was his first offense? The answer to that inquiry came quickly enough, riding the heels of a confirmation of earlier assumptions; it seemed their homeroom teacher was eager to pin the blame on the resident delinquent in lieu of the new arrival. He had to hide the little grin it almost brought to his face. He had half a mind to agree with Touga-sensei, if only to see the reaction it would get out of his redheaded co-conspirator. Of course, that would make him a rat, and the only thing he hated worse than gossipy little shits were those who went crying to authority whenever something went wrong.

Plus, he hadn't so much as built a bridge with the only fellow smoker he knew yet. Now wasn't the time to burn it down. Who else would he bum off of between classes?

"Sorry, sensei, but if my own ma can't put me up to something, I don't think fire crotch over here can either," The teen admitted, raising his arms as if to gesture to himself, "I am what I am."
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April 8th, yesterday’s future.

Still alive, not bad.

Akari was not the easiest person to have a conversation with. She wasn’t quite as prickly as Shiori could be, but Akari had a certain…vertical presence that inspired doubt in those who approached her. Kanna had been a fearful sort herself once, too intimidated to risk the ire of people much bigger and stronger than she was. Now, though the prospect that Akari might at any moment become tired of her presence and hurl her headlong across the classroom was still there, it didn’t scare her.

Besides, what had started out as a means to cover her little informational dead drop seemed to be blossoming into something worth sticking around for.

“Vengeance? Spicy.” She held her sandwich in her mouth and pulled the notebook from her pocket. “I didn’t know you and Kenzo were so close. Is it an honor thing? Or is it, like, about respect?”

The beatdown article had been a good one-off to start the year, get people’s blood pumping. Kanna had planned to do one or two follow-up pieces to cover Kenzo’s recouperation and whatever punishments got dolled out, enough keep people’s interests for a few more issues until the buzz wore off, and she’d had enough time to find a new hit.

But if Akari was planning to make some kind of crusade out of this, Kanna was more than happy to keep tapping the vein. Chances were high that Totsuka would just body the girl and it’d be over in another day, but that was another solid article itself. And hey, maybe there’d be an upset. Maybe Akari would hold her own—hell, maybe this campaign dragged on for days, or weeks. With the right coverage, this little spat could turn into a thrilling serial.

“You ever been in a fight with someone bigger than you?”
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