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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.

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.

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."

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."

June 28, 1998
I don't fucking know am

Ryusei carried on with his menacing march, too caught up in his desire to brain his fellow student with the board in his hand to pay heed to the poor guy's responses. He looked the slippery type, probably used to talking his way out of situations like this. Fortunately, the towering delinquent had long since learned to tune out the yapping of both authority figures and would-be victims alike. Unfortunately for him, someone worth at least a modicum of his attention span came hurrying over to stop his advance before he could get more than half-way across the courtyard. He paused at the feeling of fingers on his sleeve, turning around to see what in the world his brief companion wanted. Was she really going to come to this guy's defense?

Her words only baffled him. Too crowded? How in the world was it too crowded? It was just the three of them, as far as he was aware, and her gesturing only befuddled him more. A sandwich? Why the hell would he care about somebody's discarded sandwich? It was only a few seconds later that it clicked for him—sandwiches didn't just manifest out of thin air. Somebody had to have dropped that sandwich. Maybe there had been someone watching that he hadn't noticed, so caught up in his nicotine fueled nostalgia. They must have abandoned their lunch when hostilities began, and ran off to get a teacher or something. That wouldn't do at all. While he couldn't exactly do anything about the now missing witness, he could at least follow the redhead's suggestion and disappear before this became more of a headache than it already was.

"Yeah... Yeah, sure. Getting kind of fed up being here anyway," He replied, letting the skateboard drop to his side as he acknowledged her desire to leave, "Just one thing before we head off."

No sooner than the aggression had left his posture did it immediately return. He spun on his heel, fast as he could manage, and hefted the board back behind his head. Then, as if a lightning bolt from Zeus himself, he launched it through the air, javelin-like, directly into the face of the unsuspecting skateboarder who had the misfortune of earning both his ire and a second head injury for the day.

Content that justice for his interrupted smoke break had been served, Ryusei didn't even bother watching the poor lad tumble back to the ground. He instead turned to face his partner in crime, fingers finding their way back to the cigarette dangling from his mouth. After a quick draw from the carcinogenic delight, he blew a quick stream of the numbing smoke before speaking again.

"Right, so, where to next?"
Nathaniel Brightwood

It seemed as though Nathaniel had not been the only person to recall the distant, childhood promise which had brought him so far from the capital. No sooner than he had been waved off by the tavern keeper did another woman approach him, albeit one who seemed to remember his snowy white locks much better than the proprietor. It took him a few moments to place her, no doubt because in place of a soot-covered blacksmith's daughter there now stood a holy warrior, clad in steel rings and Tyrran symbology. He turned to better face her, adjusting the lute slung over his shoulder as he did.

"Almost a decade now, yes," he answered, giving her a once over with curious green eyes, "Tyr has certainly been treating you well—I don't remember you being so tall."

Nathaniel had little time to ruminate on Niala's growth spurt, however. Another soul had entered the sparsely populated tavern, and almost immediately approached. It was hard not to place this one—Tabaxi, while a part of Ardenfeld's populace, had always been less numerous than the other races. The bard gave a small flourish of his cloak at the feline's comment, allowing some of his finery show from beneath the heavy dyed wool.

"Well enough, I suppose, though I credit the aristocracy more for my good fortune than I do Labelas," As he looked over Timber, a thought did occur to him, although it wasn't exactly the most polite thing to note. Perhaps it was warranted, however, considering their circumstances.

"Time has perhaps been less kind to the two of you. I didn't think either of you the type to take up arms. Though, I suppose a desire to fight is to be expected among our number, considering our histories with this place."
Nathaniel Brightwood

"Seeing your smile is more than enough for me, Prelissa."

The first words out of Nathaniel's mouth as he stepped into the Lying Wolverine were a far cry from the ones he had last spoken there. He had been but a boy of nine or ten, lacking in the confidence and eloquence that seemed to ooze off him now that he was a man grown. One might have even been forgiven for not putting two-and-two together, and realizing that the smooth talking bard before them was the Sabitha's boy after so many years, but he made sure to squash any misunderstandings by peeling back the woolen hood over his head, freeing the two perky feline ears that had been the source of so much gossip when he was small. They twitched in their newfound freedom, taking in the sounds of the mostly desolate tavern before pivoting to stand proud atop his head.

"Although, perhaps a table comes as a close second. It has been a very long walk from Sarinan."

June 28, 1998
I don't fucking know am

There seemed a terse few moments between his asking and the redhead's response, but ultimately she acquiesced to his request. Ryusei readily accepted the offered cigarette, bringing it to rest between his lips while he fished about in his pocket. He hadn't bothered to bring a pack to the old man's place on account of the smell, but he had kept his lighter with him for the journey on the off chance he decided to scrounge up a couple at some point. As he flicked back the cap and struck away at the igniter, the teen cupped his hand over the burgeoning flame. He puffed a few times to ensure a good light, eyes drifting towards the girl as he listened to her warning about the weather.

"That's fine," The delinquent muttered on his exhale, trails of smoke already billowing from his mouth, "The rain never bothered me anyway."

A proper drag followed that comment, and he could feel himself relax almost immediately as he savored the familiarity of the taste and the subtle, numbing rush that punctuated the draw. A long, wispy trail of smoke followed his next exhale, drifting up to join the grey clouds that hung oppressively above. It wasn't exactly gorgeous scenery, but there was a serenity to the overcast skies, a subdued vibe that helped put his otherwise irritable mind at ease. He'd always found the office workers on their smoke breaks pathetic, crowding outside their little cubicle hells for a few minutes of carcinogenic relief, but standing outside the back of the school and indulging in his own little vapor vacation, he couldn't help but relate. He made a note to do this again.

Of course, he wasn't alone in his reprieve, and seeing as though she was nice enough to share her pack with him, Ryusei felt the need to at least make some polite conversation. An introduction, at the very least.

"Thanks for this," He began, his expression softening to the closest thing to neutrality since he had arrived on campus, "I'm Ryusei, by the way-"

He didn't get much further than that before a sudden impact brought his attention from his fellow smoker to the ground beneath his feet. More specifically, to the skateboard that had just careened into his ankle, sending an unwelcome jolt of pain up his leg. From the skateboard he traced a line across the courtyard, until his icy blues settled on another student, laying face down on the pavement.

"The fuck do you think you're doing? Do you not know how to watch where your dumb ass board ends up?"

All the good that was done by his brief foray with nicotine had been undone in that moment. Irate as he was, having his momentary escape interrupted by some punk ass skater was all it took to bring the days of aggression and stress prior bubbling back to the surface. He stomped down on the board's lip, causing it to jump up off the pavement into his waiting hand. A hand which promptly raised it up over his shoulder as he lumbered towards the downed boy, looking every bit the villain of a campy delinquent manga between the way he wielded it and the cancer stick dangling from the corner of his mouth.

"C'mere. I'm gonna make sure you don't lose it again."

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