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Ding dong.

"Welcome."

The words came out her mouth like a machine. Monotone. Perfect. But without life.

Mana maintained that cultural imposition of giving great service, no matter how soulless she truly felt about it. When someone stepped into the convenience store, she welcomed them -that was simply the requirement. The apathy latent in her voice battled with a forced friendliness, as if two voices came out of her at once.

But there was more to it today; a certain level of distraction came through as well, and her averted gaze from the customers, even as she turned her head to them, made it plain her attention was elsewhere. Mana was on autopilot. Across the street, gray beams of light silted onto the city as the dreary weathered held fast. It refrained from dropping rain for the time being, but she couldn't help but recall the smell up on that rooftop the day prior. The dampness in her clothes, and a worry that a cold would latch on through the drooping attire.

And... the girl. The weird girl. She knew of two students her age who had commit suicide, neither of which were close in any sense, so the reality of such a world was no stranger to Mana. But seeing it in person -nearly, anyways- had left far greater an impression. One which she couldn't shake from her thoughts. Just how casual could someone be about killing themselves? The girl expressed such little shock, such little regret.

A customer placing the basket of groceries onto the conveyor belt roused her temporarily. She made the exchange, never forgetting the final 'thank you', and quickly drifted off back into her thoughts. She'd had even worse sleep than usual, and something about the attempted suicide urged Mana not to use some sleeping pills the night before. Her eyes were dark and sullen, but her lips always managed to lift up that courteous smile.

When a hand suddenly planted itself on her shoulder, she jerked. Asahi was standing behind her, a mild smile on his face.

"You alright? You really don't look great," he asked. There were no customers in the store. Mana spoke plainly.

"I stopped a girl from killing herself yesterday," she replied in as composed a voice as humanly possible. Asahi's eyes looked stricken for the briefest second, but he kept up his unfettered demeanor like always.

"O-oh... Was she a friend?" he asked.

"No. I don't even know her name. I just saw her on top of a building and... I guess I had a hunch. Yanked her off just in time. She was fuckin' weird," Mana explained, turning around and leaning on the counter where the register sat. "I don't know what's wrong with her, I'm just... stunned."

Asahi smiled warmly at Mana.

"You're a good person to care enough to try," he said.

"Yea?" Mana hummed, unconvinced, "Wouldn't most anybody try?"

"You'd be surprised, I think, about how many would just say it's too late and shrug," Asahi said, mimicking the motion. "You know they say there's three types of people in a crisis situation." Asahi held up three fingers, "The first panics, and freezes up. They protect their brains by shutting down. The second kind remains firm and steady, but require leadership to act. They are prepared to act, but they subconsciously won't come to terms with their own ability to take charge. And the third-"

"Takes charge," Mana interrupted, grinning. Asahi lowered his hand and nodded. "I get it, I get it. I just wish the whole thing wasn't sticking to me like this. If I just knew why she decided to do that, I don't know... Maybe it'd be easier to process it and forget."

"Maybe you just need some more time. It's not a normal thing, being that close to something so alien. Just let me know if you need anything else to talk about, Mana, okay?" he asked tenderly. Mana nodded, pushing off of the counter. Another customer had walked in.

Ding dong.

"Welcome."
Mana retracted slightly, her overlong sleeves folding down as she lifted her hand to her chest. Her face was one of a confused cringing; was this girl actually in middle school? She lifted an eyebrow and spoke in a manner she thought echoed her ‘disreputable’ friends all too much.

“Ahn? The hell are you talking about? You lose your parents in a crash, or something?” she said, waving a hand in dismissal.

“Oh no,” the schoolgirl shook her head, “I’d be able to indulge in self-pity if that were the case. This...better that you don’t know.”

Mana crossed her arms, frowning. “Well now you have me curious. You’re really weirding me out. Are you on drugs? What did you take today? No need to be embarrassed. I’ve been there.” Mana’s expression softened somewhat. She really was convinced at that point that something was mentally up with the girl, self-induced or not.

Her eyebrows raised slightly, a sliver of surprise at Mana’s concern. But she shook her head again. “Didn’t take any. I don’t take any. Not anymore. But I…” The girl cut herself short. Restarted with a different sentence. “Miss, are you happy with your life?”

Mana dropped her hands to her sides, staring for a moment. Why were the tables being turned?

“Happy…? Well, I suppose I could be happier, yea. Not exactly easy being me, but then I guess you’d tell me you ain’t… well you’re worse off than me. What’s your point?” she asked, briefly looking up into the grey sky. She’d have preferred at this point to be inside, but she definitely wasn’t about to turn her back on the lunatic girl in front of her.

“A red pill, glowing like an ember in the center.” She closed her eyes, as if envisioning it in her mind. “Don’t take it, no matter how you feel. They might even label it as an anti-depressant. And tell your friends too.”

She opened her eyes again, wiping the rain from her face, shifting wet strands of hair behind her ears. “Like the apple in Eden. Take anything else, just not that.”

“You’re… really weirding me out, kid,” Mana said, shaking her head. She stepped aside, silently gesturing for the girl to back down the stairs before her. “I’m not leaving till you’re back on ground level.” Mana crossed her arms -she was quite adamant about the demand. She wasn’t going to follow her forever, but once the girl was out of her hands, she’d at least feel that her responsibility to her and the clean-ish streets was absolved.

That was the end of that, wasn’t it?

“Then I suppose I will comply.”

A quieter place then.

“Keep what I said in mind though, ok?”

With that, she picked up her shoes and walked down, bare feet leaving prints in the cement.

Mana watched her go back down, and so as not to make it awkward, stayed up on the roof for a minute longer, listening to her trek down the stairs. A red pill, glowing in the center? She’d never heard of a drug like that circulating around. Perhaps it was just some fancy rave ecstasy. But…

How’d they get the glow to be inside? Mana shrugged off the thought, and headed back to work.
She desperately wanted another smoke there and then, and Mana's hand naturally slid into the jacket pocket where she kept them. One of the two boxes felt empty already. Mana refrained from whipping out a cig, expression drooping into a wholly unenthused look. Was this girl suffering from schizophrenia? Her peculiar heterochromia took a backseat to the unexpected slight smile that pulled at her lips. One moment teetering on the edge of sudden death -the next, trying to play it cool.

Mana's hair had begun to sink and become heavy in the rain, sticking to her skin and obscuring the already dappled vision her right eye managed through her bangs. She desperately wanted to call her 'kid' again.

"Are you screwing with me? You were about to kill yourself. Though in your fucked up mind right now you probably are thinking it's right or normal or whatever," Mana said throwing her free hand around. "Look. I don't want your life story, but tell me at least what's going through your head... I wanna know you're not gonna get back up on that ledge when I'm gone. Do I have to call the police?" Mana threatened.

"...Stop smiling at me too."
What a loaded question. Why? Why not? Mana wanted to let out an exasperated sigh at the girl, but with her lungs constantly begging for refreshed air, she could barely even eke out several words at a time, let alone waste the breath to express disappointment. She swallowed, throat feeling strained with windburn. Standing up, she almost reluctantly let go of the girl's collar, and closed her eyes to recapture her composure.

"Why? Really?!" Mana groaned, still breathing heavily, "'Bout to dive off an office building and coat the pavement in blood on a rainy day... You're lucky I saw you from all the way over!" Mana said, lazily throwing a hand up to gesture in the general direction of where she'd just sprinted from. She should've done track and field in high school, Mana thought. She bent back, trying to expand her lungs, eyes scrunching in exhaustion.

"I wasn't about to just let you fall when I could run like hill to save a life. Doesn't matter if I don't even know you, kid," she said, despite probably only being a few years older than her. "What the hell is wrong with you?"
Mana looked it up on the internet once. What it was the construction company was doing up here in the Northern District. She'd passed by one day, noting the dilapidated an unused structure that was being swarmed with hardhats over the weeks. It was deemed too old to renovate, and thus was going to be put to the sword. A large crowd of people were privy to the same information, and gathered as close as the smiling security would allow. It wasn't often buildings were demolished with explosives, and the event would surely be one to video.

Mana herself... She wasn't there in the crowd. She was fine with watching afar from the safety of a rooftop food court. It was tall enough that she'd be able to see the building fall. Mana didn't have the time to walk all the way over to the demolition sight, with her work being over in the Northwestern District, so this distance had to do. On her lunch break, she went to a nearby food court, situated atop a several-story office building, and right in between two taller offices. It was mostly outdoors, and despite the rain, bothered Mana little. She'd already scarfed down her meal underneath an umbrella, and was now just waiting for the fireworks.

Leaning over the cement railing separating her from fifty feet of screaming and death, a peculiar object caught her eye. Across the way, a body was moving. The office building the person was standing on was far taller than hers, and without any significant barrier to keep people from falling over it. Her heart beat. Was this what a gut feeling was? Mana shifted, standing up taller though her folded arms still rested on the rail. She narrowed her eyes, scrutinizing the figure.

Something wasn't right about this.

It was a girl, who couldn't have been older than herself. She wore a uniform, surely a schoolgirl.

...And she wasn't herself interested in the demolition.

Mana's hands drew aside and gripped the rough cement guard rail. If she was wrong about this... would she miss the demolition? Would she make a fool of herself? Did it matter...?

Mana's body turned in place, almost too quick to even catch her footing. She rushed for what she hoped and simultaneously didn't hope was about to happen. Her breath burst to life as her hurried pace, and she felt like an Olympic sprinter, with everyone else so slow around her. She paid no mind to the strange glances, and gave little warning to those who didn't see her coming. Some jumped as her apron-wearing frame shot past them from out of nowhere. She made it the street level, and rushed across the street. Adrenaline kept the burning in her throat at bay.

She briefly feared, approaching the other office building, that she would not be able to make it to the top... but surely if the schoolgirl could, so could she, right? Mana wasted no time testing every door to every stariwell, throwing them open and rushing upwards on an enrgy reserve that should have been voided a minute before. She thanked God that the smoking hadn't caught up to her yet. She got closer to the top... closer...

Mana threw wide the door to the rooftops, uncaring of if it would startle the girl. There she was... barefoot. A whimper of fear escaped Mana's lips against her will, and she burst forward with the greatest speed she'd probably ever express in her life. Her hand extended, reaching out to catch... her collar!
MeruMeru Konbini is located in the Northwestern District
Shiomi Hill Park is located in the Western District
Niimura Street is located in the Eastern District

Mana has sometimes hit up the karaoke bar with her friend Kento, who is the more karaoke-inclined individual of the two. It's entirely possible Mana has encountered Miyane at one such establishment; at the very least, Mana would be able to recognize her, perhaps have even asked for an autograph? Despite her looks, she's not above being starstruck by an idol, especially one such as Miyane. @banjoanjo







Identity:
Enshiro Mana is a ghost, perhaps most in the way that few would care to approach her. A delinquent appearance of unkempt hair and sullen eyes speaks true of a wandering soul in need of help that any common pedestrian wouldn't give a passing glance. At an average and unassuming 5'3", she nevertheless strikes a certain nervousness in those around her; baggy, dirty clothing could always hide a knife, right? She either doesn't take particularly good care of her health, or some drugs are involved, but regardless, she maintains a pale appearance, and certainly not the sort gained by nobles who never worked in the fields. For all her downtrodden looks, Mana still stands tall and walks with a purpose and confidence. Familiarity and wisdom with her life situation keeps her head high, even if her poor chances at happiness should really keep her head down.

Psyche:
As a poor and unskilled young girl living in the city, Mana lives a life paycheck to paycheck, fortunately held slightly away from rock bottom with the inheritance of her mother's death. Despite the monotonous nature of it, she has given up on something better. A turbulent childhood and poor life choices have rooted her in a mental landscape of hopelessness Capable of taking breaks from her part-time but never-ending job, she loiters to stave off the loneliness of living with few genuine friends, and fewer opportunities to enjoy life to its fullest. For Mana, simply surviving is about as much as she can do, and taking the small victories here and there drive her to at least maintain a certain level of energy and activity. A nicely-sized paycheck after a hard week of work means feeling the squeeze slightly less. Even with an inheritance to use, Mana is reluctant to do so; a certain guilt and depression keeps her back.

Background:
Her father left quite early in her life. His involvement and importance meant so little to her, she's forgotten how old she even was, or if she was even old to remember for that matter. Left with her mother, a well-working middle-class woman who cared very much for her, Mana's path to adulthood had seemed as normal as could be. When she had turned fifteen, Mana's mother began to suffer from an early-onset dementia. Too often, making sure her mother was alright took precedence over her schooling. Behind and exhausted, Mana's focus on graduating with decent grades slipped through her hands, instead replaced with a desire to find peace from the nightmares of her home. She fell in with a delinquent crowd, whose disdain for the unmerciful education system meant Mana could fit right in. Their antics, aloofness, and general misbehavior only served to dig a deeper hole in hr life.

When graduation came around, Mana saw no future for herself, and quickly relegated herself to part-time work, a life she considered the only future for someone like her. No longer bound by school, but wary of the growing dangerousness emerging in her friend circle, she abandoned them in favor of simply trying to get by. Her mother soon died, but had the sense to write a will for her daughter before her mind had drifted too far gone.

Since then, Mana has been a nobody.

Quirks:
Smokes often. Horror movie enthusiast, but nevertheless quite afraid of supposedly haunted locations.
@AsurasMotherfuckers with their missing dads and their dead moms. Did she ever do any hard drugs, by the way? Or did she distance herself from her group before things got too wild and edgy? Anyways, her life's inoffensive enough that I'm basically fine with it. Can't go without a convenience store in town, after all. When's she gonna see the light and start vaping?


She's done a couple, but she can count on one hand how many times. The experience was too upsetting for her to stick with them. Her group during high school had only one or two individuals who were really invested in hard drugs, so the peer pressure to try them were minimal, if nonexistent. She tried them out of curiosity only. She would probably try them again, if the conditions were right.

Mana definitely sees smoking as a mature thing. Vaping would take away the magic to her.
My CS is complete! See just above. :D
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