Hidden 11 mos ago Post by Tenma Tendo
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Kanna Watanabe
-- August 1st, 2015 || Morning || Sadaomi Beach --

What was he going to do? He had to find the picture, but in a big beach like this, was it even possible? He had no idea where he dropped it, or if it was on sand or not. Maybe someone picked it up? What could he really do in a situation like this?
"Uhm..." Kanna flinched and rose his head, now looking at the glasses wearing girl with distressed eyes. "Is... is everything okay?" He was about to say no just to get her to leave him alone, but that wouldn't help anyone, now would it?

Seeing the others set up some kind of water gun fight, Kanna brought his attention back to Kotori, leaning a bit towards her as if to tell her that this was only for her ears and her ears alone at the moment.
"I-I...I can't find...I lost s-something really important to me..." He began, having to stop himself multiple times from not crying. He knew he looked pretty pathetic in front of Kotori at the moment, but he was in too much distress to really care. "I-It's a picture of my brother..." Kanna sighed shakily as he rubbed his eyes and placed his chin back down onto his knees and watched as the others began to assemble teams. With the mood he was in know, he knew for sure that he didn't want to play any games, at least, not until he found his picture. B-But where? "I-I don't even know where to start th-though..." He concluded, already lowering his head in defeat long before he even started.

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Kotori Shirohane - Sadaomi Beach | Saturday - Morning

Just as Kotori posed her question to Kanna, Rui too spoke up; briefly drawing her attention - and causing a quizzical expression to come over her face when she saw him standing before a veritable stash of weapons. Between their various bright colours and obvious water reserves, it quickly became clear that the pile consisted entirely of water guns - albeit in all sorts of shapes and sizes; ranging from pistols to some that looked like they weighed a hefty load even though they were made of light-weight plastic. Kotori wondered just when and where Rui had managed to gather all the aqueous arms - until a voice beside her reminded her of the fact that there was another matter that was demanding her attention.

As Samuru and Ryan picked their watery weapons of choice and ascertained allegiances for what was undoubtedly about to transpire, Kotori's eyes turned back to Kanna - and blinked in surprise when she saw that he was leaning in a little bit; his voice a lowered as he began to speak. At first, she felt a measure of sympathy for the younger boy as he stumbled over his words - but the sympathy soon turned to concern when she realised that, unlike her own lack of confidence, the reason for his stammering was all the more distressing as he explained that he had lost something very important.

Just speaking about it seemed to be making him even more miserable - his rapid blinking doing little to mask the fact that he was on the verge of crying as he revealed that the object in question was: a picture of his brother. After saying this, Kanna's wistful gaze shifted to the rest of the group, their excitement a sharp contrast to the rather sombre mood that had developed - but Kotori herself instead glanced back to her bag. At that moment, she could knew quite well what Kanna was feeling - she imagined that she would be quite the same if she lost the small silver pendant that she usually kept on her but had left in her bag when she got changed for the beach.

Kanna, meanwhile, seemed to shrink away more and more with every word he muttered; his voice shaky as he said that he had no idea where he might have lost it. Feeling a little overwhelmed at how to handle this situation, Kotori glanced between the miserable little pile that was Kanna and the by now well-armed rest of the group; almost hoping that one of them might somehow have overheared the conversation and know what to do - but between Kanna's drop in volume and the way he'd seemed to try not to draw anyone else's attention, she doubted that would either happen or do much to improve the situation at hand.

"Uhm..." Kotori started, despite not really knowing what to follow up with. What did she do when she was missing something? "If... if it's any help, uhm, I could help? Maybe..." she said - even though the confidence she inspired was likely about equal to the amount she felt in her ability to do so. Still, she thought that just saying that she didn't know what to do either wouldn't be very helpful - even if it was true. With that decided, Kotori got up from her seated position, brushing away any sand that may be clinging to her despite taking the precaution of a towel and pushing up her glasses before turning to Kanna with a confidence-inspiring smile on her lips.

At least, that's what she intended. The result looked more like a wry half-smile that conveyed a lot more of the lacking than inspiration of said confidence. A similar sentiment could be felt when she spoke up in turn: "Uhm, do y-you remember where you last saw it? Maybe w-we could... sort of... retrace your steps to there?" It sounded almost more like a question than a suggestion - but Kotori held on to the admittedly rather faint hope that it might be enough to help Kanna out of his misery. As she did so, she quickly tried to think of likely places for something to go lost - the changing rooms perhaps? She really hoped it wasn't much earlier than than, seeing as that could mean he'd lost the picture that meant so much to him on the train.

A flash of movement of bright colours out of the corner of her eyes caught Kotori's attention - and reminded her that the others were currently still setting up their water war and might be wondering why they weren't being joined by Kanna and herself. "Uhm, w-we will be right back, because, Ka-, ah, we forgot something," she said - conviction evidently not being her strong suit today as her attempt at a smile once more came up rather lackluster - but hopefully managing to let the others know what was happening without upsetting Kanna, who did not seem to want to divulge the reason for it any more than he had to.
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For a while, nothing was really going on, just the sun beating down on a bunch of teenagers looking to enjoy the lack of school. Sato was perfectly fine just people-watching from the cool shade of the umbrella, sitting beside Mako. The stress of his final year of highschool was already giving him grey hairs, and all this mirror world business was definitely not helping. Being with the team on days like this were fun, in one way or another, even if he wasn't really doing anything in particular. He would smell the ocean spray, dig his toes in the warm sand, and relax.

That is, until he heard something about a watergun fight. While it sounded sorta fun, his first thought was those dinky 50 yen things you got from the corner store that worked as well as plugging a microwave into a potato, and if they were gonna mess around with those, Sato would much rather just watch. Curious, though, he zoned back in to reality and looked over his shoulder. To his surprise, Rui and Kazuki dumped a huge pile of impressive-looking waterguns onto the sand. It definitely looked a lot cooler than the first-grader water-ticklers he'd dreaded.

Sato nudged Mako in the side before he got up and walked over to some of the others, who already seemed pretty amped up for it. Some of the more standard weapons were already taken, like the classic rifle or some pistols. Sato also liked the gatling gun thing Ryan had, but it seemed to be the only one of its caliber so Sato looked for the next best thing for him. There were a couple ones that looked a lot better than they worked, but eventually Sato picked up a long rifle with a sniper-like snout. He did a test shot to the side. It was pump-action like most of the other ones, and it had a significantly higher range than the others, but he'd get decimated in the time it took to 'reload' the water pressure for any decent shot.

"You can go solo if you want, but don't come crying when you get shredded in a 4-on-1." Sato said, a mischievous glint in his eyes. He held his gun like a soldier on parade and swiveled around to look at Mako. "I'll keep you covered if you go first."
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"Hm? Alright then, be careful", he responded. It seems Kotori and Kanna were going to find something Kanna had lost. There should not be too much to backtrack, the station was about a three to four minute walk, so with luck whatever he was looking for was still there.

"Right then. We can do this free for all too if you want", Rui stated, spinning the pistols in his hands.

"Maybe until those two are back". It seems some people were still picking their weapons, notably Matthew and Shizuka. Regardless, those who had picked something were already sizing each other up it seems. There was no signal to start, or any indication of what signal they should wait for, the first shot fired would immediately start it.
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The whole group seemed to be stuck in a really tense Mexican Stand-off type situation, though it would've been a lot cooler if they weren't using water guns and there weren't children running around screaming in the background. Sato held his gun with a white-knuckled grip, eyes darting between everyone standing around by the weapons pile. All enemies, all targets now. Since both Rui and Ryan insisted it be a free-for-all, Sato quickly realized it was only gonna be him and Mako against the world. Though... could he even trust Mako? He doubted he would ever betray him in like, the Mirror World or anything, but in a water gun fight? It was so inconsequential in the end that it brought the evil out of everyone. They were all wild dogs looking for prey in this kill-or-be-killed game. So Sato decided he needed to strike first.

"Eat shit and die." Sato punctuated his taunt by aiming his water rifle and shooting Ryan straight through the heart. He wasn't stupid enough to stand there and provoke the others further, so he broke away from the group and started strafing away, pumping the gun rapidly to try to get more free shots in before everyone started scrambling. Mako seemed to follow Sato, joining him in his new position between the group and the ocean. The fastest, free-est, and practically only (and free-est?) way to refill their guns would be the sea, so staking out a good position would give them an advantage when they inevitably burned through their ammo.
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Samuru Amakusa

Samuru laughed as Sato and Mako went towards the ocean, before he, due to a sense of fairness, shouted: "Hey, saltwater corrodes super soaker parts!"

This, of course, wasted valuable time and space, and Samuru felt himself get hit by the next sprays of water that would come from the water fight. Grinning further, he would shoot at Rui, saying, "Hey, leader! Fancy a friendly duel?"

He, even after finding acceptance of his own identity, still had manifold problems and hurdles to cross. He accepted that and so wanted to keep the happiness he had. But enough musing; Samuru ran for the nearest water tap, one normally used as an alternative to showers and for emergency drinks. That way, should Rui accept his offer of a duel, he would have a way to fill his water gun. The fact that a portable shower chamber was nearby was a bonus; it provided cover.

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With two handguns Rui was able to land a rapid amount of light fire onto both Ryan and Sato before giving chase to everyone heading for the beach. Rui accepted the duel, however... "As civil as a duel is, this is a free for all. I don't guarantee a direct confrontation", he declared. The water guns Rui used were a little weak unless they were capped out, so moving to the beach was best.




:: Sadaomi Residential ::

Someplace a little ways from the beach was an abandoned house, sitting on the far edge of the residential street. Standing in front of it was Kazuki. Kami had decided to follow him to figure out what was up with him, but this old house... He seemed to be in thought, though none too happy about it. Kami walked out to him, the narrow streets didn't really give much place to hide unless he used a telephone pole, so perhaps talking to him would yield better results.

"Hm?... Oh Kami. Not going to enjoy the beach with Ayano?",

"How...? No nevermind, she can wait a bit. Everyone else is there too including Rui, so they'll be fine... So what's up with you today? You've been strange since coming here", he inquired, shrugging off the quip at his and Ayano's relationship.

"I guess it was pretty obvious. I used to live here, so to speak. Well... Let's just say due to some circumstances I had to move... ", he began.

"Unfair circumstances, one thing after another, and my family was taken down a bunch of pegs... And so I swore never to return until I righted those wrongs, but... I guess Tadao wanted me to move on. Ah, about him, he was an employee under my father, and a close friend, that's why he's always helping me. Still... I just can't let this go. I'll change this world...", as Kami listened, he had a strange feeling about the last line... It didn't feel like some justice-romanticism at all, but more like a guarantee... Perhaps it was just his confidence.

"I see... I'll leave you to your thoughts then. When you're feeling better, come down and see us. Megumi seemed really eager about this, I'm sure you don't want to disappoint her", he answered, walking off as he did. Kazuki yelled back from behind,

"We're not dating!", but Kami just raised his hand in a back wave. Kazuki let out a sigh and shook his head.




As soon as the water gun fight ended, everyone was feeling hungry, or it was safe to say they were. Kotori and Kanna managed to find whatever Kanna had dropped, while everyone else was putting the water guns away... Wait what were they going to do with them? Well, Megumi said she'll take care of it. Apparently Tadao has family here they can leave it with.

As for lunch, it seems one half were going to go buy something while the other were sharing whatever they brought. Megumi had made sandwiches, while the other girls brought something as well.
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Kotori Shirohane - Sadaomi Beach | Saturday - Morning

Returning from the backtrack with Kanna, Kotori looked noticeably more at ease - evidently, being successful in locating Kanna's missing photograph had managed to calm his half-panicked, half-depressed state. This in turn had lightened Kotori's mood, given how she really didn't know how to handle other people being so down. As such, she was quite glad to see that Kanna's first trip with the group wouldn't be soured by his loss of something precious to him. Even so, there was still some discomfort in movement - albeit this stemming mostly from having just walked across the beach underneath the steadily warming sun whilst still wearing her summer jacket, light though it may be.

As such, she was also glad to see the parasols still set up and having survived the watergun fight; the end of which Kanna and she had arrived just in time to witness and leading her to give a small wave in greeting when they were noticed. Kotori couldn't help but quickly glance over all of the participants - and feel a small measure of relief that they had all managed to avoid getting any accidental injuries if things happened to get a bit more serious than the rather goofily-coloured weapons of choice might suggest. Most importantly though, everyone seemed to have enjoyed themselves - which brought a small smile upon Kotori's face even as she stepped under the parasol that kept her bag and spread-out towel safe from the sun. It wasn't much cooler - but it took the edge off just enough for any light breeze to feel quite pleasant as she sat herself down.

Kotori enjoyed the feeling with her eyes closed behind her glasses for just a moment before she opened them at the sound of voices drawing closer too. Rui was pointing out where one might be able to get something to eat for lunch - the tips coming courtesy of Kazuki, presumably. This surprised Kotori - not that Rui knew what to do, but rather how quickly the morning had already passed. A quick glance inside her bag and to her phone indeed confirmed it. It also confirmed that the small silver locket that she'd safely stowed inside was still there too - which had been much the reason she'd known how Kanna must have been feeling when he thought he'd lost his own precious possession.

Kotori briefly shook her head - rather than think on what she might do if she lost her locket, she instead rifled through the bag a moment longer before drawing forth a pair of water bottles; blinking away a spell of the same drowsiness that had accompanied her all day, given her lack of sleep the night before, as she did. She reached for the bag again - but hesitated for a moment before glancing around to the others as they all made their plans for lunch. She had made herself a small packed lunch the evening before - and in her fretting over being prepared for the trip, had even made some extra; just in case someone happened to forget either a lunch of their own or at least enough money to buy some.

As she looked around though, no one seemed particularly distressed, so her worries had evidently been for nothing - and she'd feel a little guilty if she offered to share, given that she only ever cooked meals for her mother and herself and didn't want to make anyone feel guilty for saying no. Still, what if someone wanted to stay in the shade rather than having to take a walk to get to a restaurant? Kotori argument with herself went for another round or ten before finally, and with some hesitation, she finally spoke up - little though that might mean, given that her voice was as quiet as ever.

"Uhm... i-if you'd like..." Kotori's voice trailed off when she noticed a few of the other turning in her direction, given her lack of direct addressing - but after a moment, she slid out a bundle from her bag and placed it upon her lap. "I-I, uhm, I made some, ah, extra lunches, s-so if a-anyone would like, uhm..." Try as she may, Kotori couldn't quite help but feel increasingly embarrassed as she continued speaking; the incessant way in which her fingers were unconsciously playing with the cloth covering the packed lunches making that much obvious for all to see - if the way her bespectacled eyes were nervously glancing about anywhere but her fellow beach-goers didn't tip them off already.
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Samuru Amakusa

Samuru ate his sandwich in peace, before musing as to whether he was useful at all to the group. He had terrified Kanna, had a fun yet ultimately fruitless water gun duel with Rui, and shown no skills that others cannot fill. The group would never accept him; they were a closed circle -

Wait, was Kotori offering additional lunches? Best to make one more try at socialization, then. He would approach the young bespectacled girl, saying, "I brought my own lunch as well, but it would be rude not to accept what you are offering the group. Let's make a party of it; I'll get my food and we can all share each other's meals."

And with that, Samuru went off to get his packed lunch, before coming back with his bento box, which contained some simple sushi and pork cutlets as well as rice. He would then go to where Kotori was setting up a joint meal (if the others agreed to eat with her), and help the young bookworm with the setup. Then, the young man - easily one of the oldest people here - would look over the others, somewhat struck by sadness. They were all happy for now, but how long will this last? It appeared as though this was merely the eye of the storm.

It was then that Samuru felt shame at complaining to himself and Kanna about how the group seemed to be closed to him. Why wouldn't they be closed, when they've lost so many, not to death, but to unknown causes? That, and they might yet die soon, in this 'Mirror World'.

Before they settled down to eat, Samuru prayed early, saying the regular prayer said before the meals. Thank you, God, for the food and the peace, were his thoughts. Once he was done with his prayer, he would then quietly eat his meals.

------

Once they were done eating, he would approach Rui and say, "A moment of your time, Rui-sama? I want to chat with you in private."

The honorific was deliberate, a sign of how much Samuru looked up to him and his skills. Once he and Rui had gone off to somewhere relatively secluded, Samuru would say: "I know I only have stories and isolated plot elements to go on, but...things will be more difficult following this. So, I would like to talk about the upcoming conflict." A pause for effect, before he would say, "There has been a large slew of disappearances in our group, such that we can rely on only five or six people out of twenty-one Arcana - yes, I counted the number of seats in The Velvet Room."

"Those five people are: You, Mako, Sato, Ryan, and Kotori; Kanna is yet untested." Hopefully, Kanna was not conveniently eavesdropping, or this caution might be mistaken as lack of faith. "Of those five, Sato is the strongest, if what I saw with my own eyes in battle or what I see in his' and Mako's eyes is the truth. Mako and Ryan are the second-strongest, and I am just below them; I hope this isn't taken as prideful. Now, Kotori...she has the best healer in our group, although her options for counterattack are more limited than mine. As for Kanna...as, I said, he is untested."

Samuru pursed his lips. "So, once we've relaxed and fully rested, I want to be Kanna's trainer, assuming the latter accepts it. I will escort him to various dungeons or provide help during Velvet Room Challenges, and in doing so, make him stronger. Is that possible, Rui?"

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"Disappearances in...? Oh right", Rui turned back to Samuru to address his concerns, including the trips to the dungeon. It was true everyone else had stopped showing up to the dungeons, in fact not all of them were present at the beach too, but that came down to that there were enough people in their group to make up a full class.

"First of all, they've stopped coming for other reasons. Either they have more pressing matters in their life, and will need to step out, or have decided something else took precedence", he began. Igor would probably say something about this too being a choice in life, after all, they were responsible for their choices from then on. This was their choice.

"Next is... The dungeons, even if you choose to mentor Kanna in some way, for safety, it is required there be a total of four people going in, and one navigator to keep an eye on them, to prevent unforeseen dangers. I was told that you already went in once with Ryan, Mako and Sato too. It's just like that", he explained.

"If he agrees I don't see the issue, but we have rules about going into the dungeons for a reason...", with that sorted, or, for now, unless Samuru had anymore questions, they were done here. Were more questions were to be asked he would answer them before heading back to the group.

-----------

As Rui returned, it seems everyone was still settling down to eat, Kotori as timid as ever was still struggling to even propose that they eat the sandwiches she packed while the others either went off to buy something and come back with it, or were unpacking their own lunches.

"I'll have some Kotori. I only brought money, so no packed lunches from me", as he stated so, eventually she would unwrap the sandwiches and it became a free for all lunch.

"I'll go buy some drinks, anyone want anything?",
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Samuru Amakusa

"Thank you," Samuru bowed to Rui, before heading off to find Kanna. For a brief moment, he was nervous, not knowing what reaction he'd get from the boy. He had been just starting to realize how much he had scared the white-haired kid when he arrived back at the picnic spot, and now, Samuru was breathing hard. Why do I constantly do this to myself? were his questions to himself.

Approaching Kanna, the eighteen-year-old would then say, "Kanna Watanabe; we need to talk about you becoming stronger. Basically, we're about to face great perils after this, and we need to assure your safety. I want you to be safe." Samuru would then purse his lips. "Which is why I am asking your permission to be your trainer. What this means is that I, and two other volunteers, will accompany you whenever you wish to go to a dungeon or some other area in the 'Mirror World' and help you, well, get stronger."

A brief nod. "I'm sorry if this is blunt and awkward, but I think that we'll have much to learn from each other if you accept."

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Kanna Watanabe
-- August 1st, 2015 || Morning || Sadaomi Beach --

Kanna had practically stuck to Kotori like a lost and injured puppy ever since they had found his now slightly trampled photo of his brother. Even if said photo had been ripped to shreds or found itself submerged in liquid, Kanna would still treasure it the same way he does now. He had thanked his glasses wearing senpai profusely, the sadness and distress on his face slowly but surely fading at this point as he could only think about how cool his new friend was for helping him out; he was practically infatuated at this point.

As it looked like everyone was about to go and get something to eat, Kanna's gaze moved to Kotori once more as it looked like she brought her own food. Thankfully, and fortunately, the girl was nice enough to offer to the rest of the group, which basically meant that he could stay with her! An almost blinding smile formed on the pale boy's face as he sat down next to he girl and clapped his hands together.
"You really are the best, Shirohane-senpai!" He spoke happily, before his gaze moved to Samuru and Rui, who also joined. Kana slowly pulled his hood off of his head and shook his head a bit before following after Samuru and praying before diving into the food.

_____

The white haired boy had eaten mostly in silence, that is, until Rui and Samuru had gone off to talk, in which confusion and unease set in. He didn't worry about it too much though, as it didn't seem to pertain to him. Instead, he talked to Kotori, who he had grown extremely fond of over the past few hours. He laughed, he joked, and used every attempt he could to make the other smile. He could say that he was actually having fun as well. All of that crazy stuff about personas and arcana had been push to the back of his mind...that is until he heard his full being spoken out to the open, in which he turned to see Samuru.

Hearing his words of wanting to train him to get stronger at this Mirror World and persona stuff was a little nerve wracking, but the fact that he was asking had to mean that Samuru had some faith in him, right? A little taken off guard by being put on the spot as such, Kanna lowered his head, a small bit of shyness returning to his features before he spoke up.
"..Y-Yeah...I think I would like that. I want to be helpful to you guys after you helped me. If it w-wouldn't be too much trouble, then please make me stronger." Kanna ended his request with a curt bow before standing straight and smiling nervously. He had only gotten use to three of them so far, so saying something so cheesy was little bit embarrassing to say the least.
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Kotori Shirohane - Sadaomi Beach | Saturday - Noon

Kotori wasn't really sure if she should have asked whether the others might want to join her for lunch - in fact, she was almost regretting having said anything to that effect just as soon as she was done speaking. Yet at the same time, she was glad that she had done so - after all, even if no one agreed to stay, she'd at least not be berating herself later on for not having the courage to even ask a simple question.

However, her thoughts on small victories over her own nature were interrupted rather soon - and not in the way she had quite expected when someone stepped closer. Looking up from behind her glasses, Kotori saw that it was Samuru - and as he spoke of making a joint meal with everyone, the surprise she felt became quite evidently legible upon her face as she blinked in silence when the older boy pointed over to his own bag. It took her a moment to realise that it might be rude of herself to not say anything in return, leading her to stumble for words as she quickly nodded: "Ah, y-yes, right, uhm, p-please, go ahead."

As it turned out, Samuru wasn't the only one to respon in such a fashion - Kotori almost jumped when a sudden clap resounded from beside her. Its source was a beaming Kanna whose mood had done a complete turnaround since they'd found the picture he'd been looking for. Her surprise ebbed away and made way for relief at the sight - she had harboured a slight worry that his sudden burst of happiness would only be brief and fade into reserved withdrawal. However, it seemed that he'd shaken any apprehensions off and was instead enjoying himself together with everyone else and seemed to have a smile on his lips whenever Kotori happened to glance over towards him.

Kotori's relief, in turn, was supplanted by a rather rapid reddening of her cheeks when Kanna suddenly complimented her completely out of the blue. "Eh? I-tha-uh, ah, n-n-no" was the most eloquent response she could manage in short order - and making it quite evident that she hadn't the faintest idea how to handle a compliment as her voice trailed off into unintellible mumbles.

Thankfully enough, Kotori was saved from the sudden spot of embarrassment by yet another voice speaking up. Kotori's eyes practically shot up at the chance to somehow shift the topic away from herself - only to betray her surprise yet another time when she saw that it was Rui this time who too had come to join the slowly but surely growing group lunch. "Ah, uhm, y-ye-yes, uhm, please, ah, please do" she said, her voice still quite quiet and unsure following the previous surprise.

Seeing such a large turnout coming for her own proposal did bring a small measure of happiness to Kotori - and even though the sudden colour that had flushed her face hadn't quite died down just yet, a small smile did manage to work its way to her lips as she began unpacking the extra lunches that she'd brought along. Samuru had retrieved his own food in the meantime - and was approaching Kanna once more. However, before Kotori could notice more than that, Rui spoke up once more as he asked the group at large whether anyone wanted something to drink seeing as he was going.

"Uhm, no, thank y-you," Kotori quickly said, looking around before finding the still full water bottle she'd brought along too. "I-I already have some," she added with a shake of her head - which was both true and not the sole reason; seeing as she knew she'd probably feel rather guilty for having someone else get something for her when she could do it herself.

Glancing about, Kotori noticed that Samuru had taken Kanna slightly aside - but her momentary worry about the younger boy being intimidated by the older one was quickly put to rest when she noticed that the mood didn't seem quite as stiff as before. Instead, it seemed that they were discussing the Mirror World and their involvement therein - a subject which was quite heavy in and of itself. After all, they still didn't know exactly what that other realm was or really anything about it - only that it seemed actively harmful to any trespassers. On the other hand though, it was the one thing that tied everyone in the group together - and as such was, in a roundabout fashion, the reason they were here at the beach in the first place.

Kotori pondered that thought for a moment - but realised that, ultimately, it wouldn't lead anywhere and instead just shrugged to herself; focusing her attention instead on the food before her - and trying not to criticise her own handiwork too much, even if it was a task doomed to failure from the get go.
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Now, Sato felt super cool dashing around and shooting people with a gun. He was weirdly reaaallly into it. To the point where he aggressively screamed at every major firefight he got into, but by the time they were all done with shooting water everywhere, a heavy sobriety hung over him and the realization of what the hell he was doing slowly sunk in as they made a pile of water guns for Megumi to deal with. As she did that, the group decided that they'd go and grab food.

Sato didn't really have any money to buy more food, but he didn't really feel like relying on Kotori and the others for their packed lunches. It felt weirdly skeevy for some reason, so instead Sato turned to Mako and tugged on his wrist. "Come on, let's go check out the shops. I'm wondering if there's anything good here..." He started off towards the market street, smelling all the food the stalls were cooking up for the crowd gathering in front of them. With the hunger rolling over all the people at the beach, though, came those places that were mysteriously empty looking compared to every part of the place.

After grabbing something to eat (for free, for Sato), the two returned to the group, the circle of people forming a beach picnic kinda vibe. "Hey, just..." Sato sighed and looked over at the crowd of people all around them. Watching them all bustle around was weirdly calming to Sato. "I'm just wondering what's gonna happen after this is all over. I mean, school and the investigation team and everything. I'm going to university in Tokyo if everything works out, but... What are you gonna do, Mako?"

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Sadaomi Beach

Saturday
1/8/15
@Tenma Tendo@Takaru@Amaterasu@floodtalon


Lunch was going along nicely, Rui came back with a bunch of drinks while everyone was eating, and was distributing them before sitting down and getting more food to eat until the topic of the future came up. That's right, not everyone here was a first or second year, next year was going to be the last year of school for some of them. Rui being in the second year meant he had one more year before he needed to think deeply about it. Some took up trades while others went onto tertiary education. But for the sake of conversation...

"Hmmm, personally I hadn't quite thought about it. But Mako, your grades are pretty good, I'm sure you can do whatever you wanted", he said.

"How about you third years? Anything planned after graduation?", he asked. Sato, Matthew, and Ayano were all third years, and so was Kazumi and Megumi in their own school.

"I'm probably going to enter the police force... I hadn't thought about anything else", as expected of Kami. He had what it took though so no objections.

"Hmmmm... I... I don't know. I'd only begun thinking about it...", Ayano was sort of a NEET before she met with everyone so Rui nor anyone here was surprised. Kazuki was silent, looking away from everyone, but Megumi seemed to have something.

"I've been talking with some of my teachers about medical schools. I'm thinking of becoming a doctor", a little unexpected, but at the same time not. It wasn't hard to see her as a doctor.

The other third years were Sato and Matthew though, did they have something to say or undecided...?
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Kotori Shirohane - Sadaomi Beach | Saturday - Noon

Kotori spent most of her lunch peeking up from behind her glasses at the others whenever they took a bite from the packed lunches she had shared with them - but try as she might, she couldn't seem to find much in the way of overt distaste whenever they did so. As such, Kotori was at least a little relieved - but before long, the ever-present doubts at the back of her mind started to wonder if everything really was to everyone else's tastes or if they were simply being too polite to show otherwise. Still, seeing as no one made any comment to that effect, Kotori cautiously decided to err on the side of optimism - at least for the moment.

---

With lunchtime over and the various shared things having been returned to their respective owners, Kotori stifled a yawn - and spotted the return of the more outgoing members of the group who'd preferred to try the local cuisine. She gave them a small wave before whilst everyone seemed to be engaging in smaller groups for conversations among one another - leading Kotori to glance over to her bag and ponder whether to retrieve her book under these circumstances. However, just as she decided against it - for now - Rui spoke up; catching the attention of everyone as he so often did - and bringing up the topic of what the third-years were going to do after graduation.

As her upperclassmen began speaking about their plans - some more surprising than others - Kotori's eyes began to wander much as her mind did. Though only the third-years had been addressed, her thoughts shifted to herself and what she would say in the same situation - which lead her to realise that she well and truly did not know. Until now, she'd always just thought of graduation as some event far off in the future that might happen at some point - but never as a real and actual fact. Of course, it didn't take long for her to remember why she'd put off thinking about the future too much. The expression upon her face became a lot more sullen for a moment as she almost instinctively lifted a hand to her chest - but after a second or two, Kotori shook her head.

Putting those thoughts aside once again - and hoping that she wouldn't drag the mood down if she didn't - Kotori instead looked up to see which third-year would divulge their own plans for the future next - or whether they'd remain silent on the topic much like Kazuki had.
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Sadaomi Beach - Afternoon > Evening

Saturday
1/8/15
@Tenma Tendo@Takaru@Amaterasu@floodtalon
@EntertheHero@Sen@itano123


The entire group played more on the beach throughout the day, there was a lot of time and Tadao's family even give them the means to go fishing for a short while. There were a bunch of the usual too, including watermelon-smashing and volleyball, but before they knew it the day was nearing it's end. The train they were to take was in a little over an hour and a half, and it was too late to keep playing on the beach, so they decided to go into a restaurant to get something to eat before lighting some fireworks and then going home. The restaurant was owned by Tadao's family, so they kind of ended up doing both at once. Someone suggested a test of courage, but there wasn't enough time left in the night, but it'd be the mountain path up to the local shrine so it seems.

Rui was getting the fireworks ready with a few of the others outside, they mostly just had some of the usual sprinkler ones. The warm night was contrasted by the cool breeze of the sea at night, making this an especially refreshing evening. Whenever it would feel too hot, just step outside and be met with a salty breeze, and it was still early enough in the evening that some of the warm air could still be felt.

"We've sure got a lot of these", he commented. They'll have to be sure to dispose of them properly afterward. There was enough for everyone to burn about 3-4 each. It seems it was surplus from a store nearby which Megumi had managed to acquire... It seems Kazuki's group was quite well-acquainted with the people here. Rui took two for himself to start with.
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Ryan Chideta
Sadaomi Beach


Ryan had a lot of fun at the beach, he had never been so this was an entirely new experience for him. He had even managed to work up the courage to go swimming in the ocean, despite how cold the water was. He got the pleasure of smashing the watermelon himself, nobody was really expecting him to swing so hard he got watermelon all over everyone. Luckily there were showers they could wash off in nearby, some people just went swimming in the ocean like he did. He sat out the game of volleyball, he wasn't a big fan of sports, but Rui absolutely killed it with those devastating spikes. Finally they went to a nice little restaurant, Ryan covered the bill for everyone despite protests from Tadao's family.

Now Ryan was helping Rui set up the fireworks along with a few others, he wasn't too nervous around small stuff like this. Back in America he would handle the really big stuff with some of his fellow cadets all the time. "We've sure got a lot of these." Rui commented to nobody in particular, Ryan taking 3 of the sparklers and smiling cheerfully.

"Yeah, we sure got lucky huh?" He wanted to light one already, but he decided to let someone else go first.
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Sadaomi Beach || Aug 1


Approaching the rest who had changed into their swim wear ahead of her, Shizuka arrived just in time to witness the unfortunate scene. From the distance, she swore the upperclassman's gaze wandered towards her direction before tripping and into the sand. Typically, the teen was well adjusted to the feeling of being looked at, due to her experience as a cosplayer, but... A slight blush tainted Shizuka's pale cheeks as she suddenly became conscious of the fact that her senpai stared at her in a bikini.

While the members of the group engaged on their own conversations, Rui and Kazuki suddenly came back with a bunch of different water guns. Impressed at how prepared for the beach they were, Shizuka applauded before being told that there was going to be an all out water gun war. Reminiscing a particular cosplay photoshoot involving a shooter game character, the maiden enthusiastically picked up a sniper type water gun. Dramatically whipping the tropical skirt (which covered her lower swim piece) away onto the ground, Shizuka struck a very in-character pose, "Let's get this started!"



After such an exciting event, it was no wonder most of the people who had participated realized their hunger as soon as the excitement died down. With a feeling of accomplishment at how she was able to shoot at people caught off guard from a long distance, Shizuka smiled to herself as she joined the rest of the group for lunch. Fetching the bag that had contained the sandwiches consumed from the train trip earlier in the day, the teen brought out another bunch of boxes containing a set of rice balls.

"Um, if anyone would like rice balls, I-I brought these for everyone to share! There's salmon, plum, bonito flakes, and gomoku rice flavors." Glancing over at Matt slightly, the underclassman noticed he didn't bring much of a luggage presumably due to the rush to catch the train this morning. "Wo-Would you... want some, Ha-Harvester-senpai?", Shizuka hesitantly asked.

“oh, u-uh yea sure i was uhh getting hungry thanks” after seemingly nervously taking a rice ball Matt took a bite and his eyes lit up “oh so good” with that comment the food in Matt's hand vanished. Afterwards it seemed as if a rice ball vanished from the basket every moment, with the only proof of their resistance stuck around Matt’s mouth.
“thanks for the food”.

As the group enjoyed their meal out on the sunny beach, Sato brought up an intriguing topic. What would happen after all this? If this were a game or some sort of fantasy anime, they would defeat the final boss, the town would be saved and a happy ending for everyone. But... what was beyond that? Shizuka was still on her first year of high school so there would still be enough time to decide her career but her skills on making clothes was definitely going to be of use.

Subtly eyeing with more than just mild curiosity, Shizuka wondered what Matt intended to do after his last year of high school in Japan. "W-What would you be doing, se-senpai...?"

Matt was sitting in the group oddly quiet for a moment until after the question about future plans was directed towards him.
“oh uhhh well” for another moment the boy went quiet in thought again.

“i guess after my year ends here I'll have to go back to Australia to get all my graduation and stuff sorted and enrol into a university to work for a bachelors in agricultural science, what i'm looking to get into has an international program so i can come back to japan and would help with furthering to a masters… and also japan's agriculture is so much more fascinating" After blurting out his answer Matt went quiet again, it seemed like there was more on his mind than just his future studies.

'I guess after my year ends here I'll have to go back to Australia ...' The words Matt spoke... they echoed through her head and faded into silence. It shouldn't have come as a surprise considering the older teen was just a foreign exchange student but... Shizuka was naive to think that the moment they could innocently stay together like this would last forever. Reality finally caught up to her and it shook her. Literally.

Trembling lips managed a melancholic smile before parting to reply, "T-That sounds wonderful. I hope you succeed in your future plans." While her words were sincere and she did mean every word of it, the subtle shaking of her hands were evident if one observed enough. "U-Um, I apologize but I feel a little u-unwell, so I'll have to excuse myself fo-for uh... a bit of fresh air." Without giving much of time for anyone to reply, Shizuka rose up and ran away from the crowded scene of the beach.

hm? did i say something wrong? as Shizuka ran off claiming to be sick Matt tilted his head in confusion with the feeling something that he said was wrong, after a few moments of staring off at where Shizuka left Matt decided to follow suit, "uhh I think someone should go make sure she's ok so I'll go off after her" trying to sound as casual as possible Matt walked off after Shizuka.



The sun had already set, enveloping the shore with a cool ocean breeze and spreading the night sky with little twinkling stars. It was quiet and serene, with nothing but the sound of the waves calmly splashing onto the sand. It was the kind of tranquil scene Shizuka needed for time to herself. Tears along her cheeks had started to dry but the moist in her hazel eyes still remained. Sitting at the edge of the shoreline, the teen stared into the ocean, deep in thought.

Should she let this time slip through her fingers and bid him goodbye when he leaves? Was that what she really wanted? She supposed she brought this onto herself back at the hospital when the maiden attempted to break off the bond between them. It was for his sake, she would reason out to herself, but the more she convinced herself did it sound like an excuse. An excuse to make up for the things her shadow blurted out. But didn't Matt reject the idea because regardless of what the shadow had said, he refused to let go?

A sigh escaped her lips.

Soon after a sigh was heard a hand lightly touched one of her shoulders, "finally I found you". Jumping at the sudden touch, Shizuka turned to her upperclassman, Matt.

Matt seemed to be slightly out of breath and tired, of course he had been looking around for Shizuka all afternoon but with the people around it ended up being difficult to find her. He just wanted to find her and talk, something they hadn't really done in a while. "are you ok, you didn't look too good so I wanted to make sure you were ok" Matt didn't really know what to say so he seemed kind of awkward and rushed, but the genuine worry was there.

After the initial shock, Shizuka turned her gaze away from the boy and back to the serene ocean. "Um... I-I'm alright, it's nothing alarming." There was an awkward silence between them afterwards, before Shizuka spoke up again. "We've only met this year but... A lot has happened, hasn't it?" She weakly smiled at this while her eyes were clouded with a melancholic aura. "Thank you for the time and memories we've shared... and I do hope you'll do well in Australia."

With Shizuka’s last words Matt’s face went blank for a few moments before any reaction came, but as soon as his mind processed what was happening his arms flung forward and around Shizuka from behind before they tightened embracing her.

“Why...why do you make it sound like everything just has to be a distant memory? Do you want it to end that badly?” As Matt spoke his grip tightened with tears welling up in his eyes, “I don’t want there to be any goodbyes… I only want there to be a see you later”.

Before anything else could be said Matt buried his head and started speaking more softly, “I…. I love you, I might have to leave for a while but it wont be forever….”

The cold touch of the boy's arms caught Shizuka off guard. She was about to break away from the embrace when the ever energetic upperclassman's tone changed. The embrace made her realize that not only was his voice shaken, she could feel him shake lightly. There was a burning sensation upon her cheeks when the soft voice spoke a certain phrase, one she had heard for the first time from her dear upperclassman. "Se-Senpai...!" She bit her lower lip, resisting the urge to break down into tears again, yet the freshman already felt a drop of tear rolling down her cheek.

"I-I... I've terribly hurt you once, I.. I just can't bear to hurt you again. I-If you leave for Australia, p-perhaps... you can forget about me and start anew wi-with... someone else." Shizuka's last words were but a whisper with an evident pained tone until she couldn't hold the tears back and started to sob softly.

Matt quietly continued his embrace while listening to the replies that shot through him, cutting him deep, it took a long moment for Matt to form any kind of speech from his mouth. “I-I don’t know what to say…..” Matt’s head seemed to droop lower with the tone of voice, “I…. I don’t want to leave you as a memory… I don’t want to find someone else, I don’t care what happened in the past, I get it… but…” as the words flowed out so did the tears that were stowed away in his eyes.

“I only want to be with you, for now and forever… I refuse to move on” As the tears flowed more his grip tightened.

The firm grip of the boy's arms showed how much he wanted her to stay, despite all that has happened. Was it right for her to keep denying him, even if she herself wanted to stay by his side? Her delicate hand held one of his gently, as Shizuka replied, "Harvester-senpai... If... If you persistently wish to be to-together despite the inevitable pain that may come along with it, ... I-I wish to be by your side as well. I... I just believed that it would be more painful for you to be with me."

Hearing Shizuka’s words, Matts spirit seemed to suddenly lift, “I want to be with you no matter what, and no matter what happens from now on if we stay together i'm sure we can overcome any hardships”. Matt loosened his grip only to turn Shizuka around and re-embrace her, “no matter what i’ll continue to love you”

Embarrassed from all the things Matt had said, Shizuka shyly buried her face onto the boy's chest as her hands slowly calm their shaking and return his embrace with her own. "Yo-You're truly dear to me, senpai, and I am willing to wait for the day of your return." Taking a pause to set aside her embarrassment, the girl stood on her toes to reach higher, closer to Matt's ear and whispered softly, "I-I... I love you as well se-senpai."

The two teens fell silent in embarrassment with blushing cheeks until their lips curved into bright smiles, as bright as the stars that shone above them. As the embrace loosened, the two eyes met and without a word, they mutually understood. Shizuka being timid as always, Matt chuckled a little before pressing his lips softly against the other's for an innocent kiss. Pulling back a short moment afterward, the boy embarrassedly scratched the back of his head while the girl fidgeted with her skirt.

"S-Shall we head back?"



By the time the two had returned to the group, each member had a stick or two of fireworks in their hands. "I-I apologize for my absence bu-but I do feel better now, thankfully. May we join in the festivities?"
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Kotori Shirohane - Sadaomi Beach | Saturday - Evening

Sat at the seaside restaurant table, Kotori stifled a yawn - and not for the first time that evening. As they day had carried on - and particularly once the excitement and energy of the afternoon had started to fade much like the sunlight, the tiring effects of her rather fretful sleep the night before were making themselves known once more. With the rather cozy post-dinner atmosphere in the still-warm night, it didn't take long for Kotori's mind to wander as she thought about the events of the afternoon whilst only listening to the ongoing conversations around her with half an ear. For despite the pleasant ongoings, she couldn't help but worry about her fellow two Agriculture Club members.

As such, she'd only half-heartedly participated in most of the events of the afternoon - deigning to sit out on the fishing on account of having no knowledge thereof and not being all too eager to acquire it; even if she was somewhat surprised that someone actually managed to fish up an old boot. She declined participating in the volleyball match, too - though that was unsurprising, given that she wasn't exactly the most sporty person even if she didn't end up out of breath after just a few minutes of strenuous activity.

Still, she did enjoy the watermelon that had been brought along - even if she ended up getting some of it on her jacket in the process, albeit that not being of her own fault. She didn't blame Ryan for it either though - he seemed most surprised of everyone that his swing ended up sending watermelon bits flying all across the beach and in no small part over himself, too. Not wanting to leave her summer jacket in such a state, this did force Kotori to reluctantly doff the thin yellow garment as she gave it a quick rinse under the nearby showers. On account of it being soaked through, it left her little choice but to return without wearing it - and instead, much to her self-conscious dismay, wearing only the swimsuit she'd worn beneath all this time.

Ultimately, Kotori was almost glad for it - after all, she'd probably just been mentally beating herself up if she'd actually bought a new swimsuit and furthermore even gone to the ocean and then proceeded to never actually dip as much as a single toe into the wide blue sea. Besides, she told herself that everyone else was wearing their swimwear too, so there was nothing to be embarrassed about - though telling and believing were two different things entirely.

Still, whether true or not, she couldn't help but feel like she was drawing more attention that she liked as she quickly made her way back to the towels to let her jacket dry on the nearby warm rocks in the sun. As such, Kotori soon hurried over to, for the first time ever, actually feel the ocean waves curl around her legs - and most definitely not using the opportunity to hide herself beneath the water's surface, clear though it may be and thus doing little to actually conceal the light blue and white colored pattern that rose into a multitude of blooming summery floral prints that made up the upper half of her swimsuit. And with her glasses ever firmly in place, she didn't submerge herself any lower than her neck - though that hadn't stopped her long black hair from rising up and floating behind her.

It was quite a while yet before she actually headed back out of the surprisingly warm ocean waters, as she told herself it was purely because she actually enjoyed the gentle motions of the waves and the feeling of the sand shifting beneath her feet and most definitely not because it took her that long to work up the courage to do so.

---

With her hair long-since dried - though still feeling a little funny after both only getting partially wet and also having been in the salty seawater for some time - and once more wearing her trusty summer jacket, Kotori's thoughts were suddenly interrupted by a rather unexpected sound. Blinking rapidly, her tiredness was forgotten in an instant as she locked eyes with the source - and her face grew paler yet when she confirmed for herself that someone had, in fact, just suggested a test of courage. Luckily, and to her great relief, it quickly turned out that there simply was not enough time left before the train they wanted to catch left - and as such, Kotori was unusually enthusiastic in nodding her agreement when it was decided to not conduct it after all.

After that brief shock, Megumi showed up - and once again, had managed to acquire a whole host of things from seemingly nowhere. This time, the objects in question were a few small boxes of fireworks - which were soon handed over to Rui, Ryan and a few others who began setting them up. It wasn't long before they called everyone else outside - and to the sight of neatly prepared sparklers which were soon thrust into any unoccupied hand. Kotori was no exception to this and soon found herself grasping an unlit firework. One by one, the others lit theirs and quickly the sound of spraying sparks filled the air. The flickering lights illuminated the faces of their holders, showing smiles almost all around.

But even in all the merriment, Kotori couldn't help but glance around in worry - the sun had set, yet there was still no sign of either Shizuka or Matthew. She was growing slightly restless, even though they still had more than an hour before their train left. So in thought was she that she didn't even notice someone offering to light the firework in her hand - and taking her silence as a yes. Preoccupied as she was, Kotori almost jumped at the sudden fizz coming from so close; eyes wide in surprise behind her glasses at the sparks flying off into the night and vanishing after just a heartbeat.

Her surprise softened into a more relaxed state after a mere few moments more. Watching the small motes of light break off in all directions reminded her of shooting stars, glowing brightly in a dark night's sky before vanishing forever - even if she'd never actually seen one for herself. The thought almost brought a smile to her lips as she realised how silly the comparison was - but it stuck with her nonetheless. So much so, in fact, that she tentatively wondered if someone had perhaps thought of wishing upon a sparkler before.

Shaking her head, Kotori reprimanded herself for such silliness - but that didn't stop a small voice in the back of her head being more true to herself: "I hope those two come back safely soon..." Her voice was even more quiet than usual - and thus completely drowned out by even just the single firework in her hands. Hearing the others all around her being far more joyous - and, as she noticed after looking up from her own sparkler, sporting a lot heartier smiles - Kotori sighed at herself for always being such a downer; even if she couldn't help it.

Still, having looked for so long directly at the bright sparks that were being sprayed in all directions, Kotori fruitlessly blinked a few times to try to rid herself of the bright spot in the middle of her vision that was being rather persistent about not going away - only for her to suddenly stop mid-blink when a voice spoke up from the light-blinded darkness: "I-I apologize for my absence bu-but I do feel better now, thankfully. May we join in the festivities?"

Finishing her initial blink, Kotori followed it up with a few more as she turned to face the source of the sound - and once her eyes had adjusted to the actually still-light evening instead of the glowing fireworks, managed to recognise her for who she was: Shizuka. But not only that - beside her was the other missing member in the form of Matthew. Glancing between the two, relief slowly brought a smile onto Kotori's face as she nodded. "Of course, Otonashi-san, Harvester-senpai. Welcome back," she said, this time at least loud enough to be audible.

And though she didn't realise it herself, Kotori's smile grew softer and more heartfelt when she slowly realised that the strange and subtle mood that had been plaguing the two seemed to have finally been lifted. Perhaps, Kotori thought, there was actually something to those shooting stars.
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