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Greetings, I'm Takaru. That is all.

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Kotori Shirohane - Sadaomi Beach | Saturday - Morning

Thankfully, it turned out that Kotori hadn't disturbed Ryan - at least not too much, seeing as he stated his gratitude rather than annoyance for noting the rather hasty passing of Kazuki to him. As she turned to follow Rui, she glanced back to also see Ryan lift himself out of the sand - and then looking about to make sure that no one else would find themselves missing everyone else. Samuru and Kanna were already heading in the same direction - which still left two pairs. Kotori spotted Mako and Sato a little ways off, the two having returned from a brief icecream-laden trip unbeknownst to her. She was a little torn between not wanting to interrupt anything and not wanting to leave anyone behind and thus gave a half-hearted wave which she hoped would yet simultaneously would not catch the attention of either of the two in order to direct toward the same place everyone else was already heading.

Once that was done, Kotori glanced about in search of the final two members of the group - and soon enough spotted both Shizuka and Matt; neither too far off. Still, even at a distance Kotori could feel the odd awkwardness that had been haunting them; unknowingly slowing her steps as a small frown appeared on her face. The wave she gave the two was even less spirited than the one that had been directed at the two boys - even as she tried to hide her unhappiness at seeing her two clubmates unhappy in turn with a smile that , at a distance, would hopefully not like quite as wry as it was.

With her own worries over anyone in the group losing sight of one another thus assuaged, Kotori turned her gaze forward once more. An inaudible sigh escaped her lips even as she adjusted her glasses that were resting just a little bit out of their most comfortable resting place from the constant looking about. She'd lost count how often she tried to tell herself not to worry too much about Shizuka and Matt since having asked Rui for advice on the topic - hypothetically, of course. Lifting her head slightly so that she could peek out from beneath the brim of her sunhat, she saw him a bit further ahead - as ever leading the whole group, even if, thankfully, it was merely to a particular spot on the beach rather than the unknown depth of the Mirror World. Either way, he never seemed to run out of confidence, Kotori mused.

Any further thoughts though were quickly interrupted when she noticed that Rui was greeting someone a little up ahead - who turned out to be Megumi, standing all alone in the shade of a few rocks. She seemed a little bit miffed as she stood there with her arms crossed, seemingly muttering to herself before noticing the new arrivals. Unfortunately, Kotori was just a bit too far away to catch Megumi's words before she had already turned to greet Rui and everyone else as they arrived after him. As Kotori drew closer, she gave a quick bow in greeting to Megumi, even though they'd only been separated for a few minutes, before turning to look about the immediate vicinity.

Indeed, it was quite a nice spot - the shade provided by the rocks alleviated her worries about getting too sunburnt even in spit of her various precautions. Meanwhile, they weren't too far off from the water which was lapping at the beach in lazy waves - the ocean looked rather inviting indeed. Of course, no part of the beach was particularly secluded in this weather - and as she looked around, Kotori could see multiple other people, whether alone or in groups, having set up as well. Some had simply spread out a towel whilst other had brought or rented sunchairs and beach umbrellas. Not too far off, she could even see a small group of teenagers engaging in a game of beach volleyball on a makeshift court.

Rui's voice drew Kotori out of her inspections as he reminded those present that they could get changed if they still needed to - a sentiment which prompted Kotori to look down at herself and the light summer jacket she was wearing over her swimsuit - and that they could decide on what to do once everyone was ready. For a moment she contemplated whether she really needed to wear the pale yellow jacket - but quickly decided to keep it on for the moment, seeing as she was going to be waiting here until everyone was ready; nodding to herself briefly as she convinced herself that she'd need the jacket just in case the wind suddenly picked up or the shade was unusually cool as she slid her beach bag off of her shoulder.

Seeing as there was still a little while to wait, Kotori reached into the bag to retrieve a simple white towel and spread it out in the shade provided by the rocks before - with at least a small measure of relief - taking a seat thereupon; glad to take a moment's rest after the short walk with the bag on her shoulder. "Ah", she said as she peeked back into the bag, "Uhm, if anyone needs a spare towel... o-or some sunblock..." Her voice grew ever more quiet as she produced the items in question from the bag - and in turn drew the attention of anyone who'd actually heard her. For a moment, she remained seated on her own towel, somewhat awkwardly holding the spares in hand - before quickly stashing them away.

However, Kotori's empty hands only remained still for a few seconds before she found herself playing with the hem of her jacket whilst she glanced about from beneath the sunhat that still rested atop her head even in the shade. Knowing that she probably wouldn't be able to calm her fingers if she didn't find some sort of occupation, Kotori reached back into her beach bag - before withdrawing the book that she'd already started reading the train ride here. Looking up once more, she made sure that she wouldn't accidentally appear to be ignoring anyone approaching - before opening the book the page where she'e left off before; intent on continuing her reading - at least until everyone else had arrived and gotten themselves ready.
Kotori Shirohane - Sadaomi Beach | Saturday - Morning

As it turned out, the object of Samuru's and Kanna's little discussion - which Kotori had reluctantly stepped away from, giving politeness the edge over curiosity when it came to accidental eavesdropping - was not far away indeed. Glancing about, Kotori saw Rui stepping out from the changing room, the final one to join the others in his own beach-wear. With everyone thus accounted for, Kotori's attention turned back to the beach that stretched out before them as she peered out from beneath the rather low-held brim of her sunhat in search of the two Shoujin High students that had gone off to find a suitable spot to put down the bags. Shifting the strap slung over her shoulder, Kotori wasn't exactly opposed to no longer having to actually carry her around.

Incidentally, she soon spotted at least one of them - a sight which furrowed her brow in slight confusion when she realised that Kazuki was both going at a rather speedy pace and, judging by his breathing, had been doing so - or more - for quite a distance. As he drew closer, he only now seemed to actually spot the group strewn about the immediate vicinity of the changing rooms - and seemed a little preoccupied as he pointed to where he'd just come from, letting them know that Megumi and he had indeed found a good place before heading on with no break in his pace. The confusion on Kotori's face was not hard to read - at least, if one stood close enough to see beneath her hat - as her eyes followed Kazuki on his way onward for a few moments more. After that, she shook her head briefly and decided to simply take him by his word and assume that he was just hungry, rather than suspect some strange ongoings to have taken place.

Either way, the fact that there would be somewhere to keep their bags was not an unwelcome one - and Kotori turned to head in the direction that Kazuki had pointed; finding herself to not be the only one doing so when Rui too began walking. However, before she got more than a few steps, Kotori looked back when she realised that perhaps not everyone had actually heard the brief exchange or noticed Kazuki's return and subsequent departure. Samuru and Kanna had surely been right there, so Kotori's gaze turned to the others - but skipped over both Sato and Mako as well as Shizuka and Matt when she realised how awkward she'd feel if she walked up to them and perhaps interrupted either par's time on the beach. She still couldn't help an inaudible sigh escaping her lips when she realised that it was much the same reason that she hadn't been really been able to do anything to help the latter couple return to the more light-hearted mood that they'd been just a few weeks ago.

However, once she cleared that thought from her mind too, there was still one member of the group unaccounted for, Kotori realised. Sitting a little ways off, Ryan was evidently already enjoying the feel of the ocean lapping at his feet - but in doing so, Kotori wasn't sure if he'd heard that they were going to head on over to the spot that Megumi was occupying by herself now. Glancing back to Rui, who was going ahead already, Kotori stopped in her tracks - and then headed back, walking up to the younger boy. It was only once she got closer though that it occurred to her that she hadn't really spoken much to him before - or, as she noticed upon looking past her sunhat, seen him without anything covering the telltale discolorations of scars, faded though they may be.

Kotori's steps faltered at the sight as she brought a hand to her own chest - though she couldn't help her curiosity being piqued, the topic of scars and how one might have gotten them was not a topic she would want to be approached about. As such, she afforded him much the same courtesy - even if she felt some measure of sympathy, given that Ryan did not have the fortune of being able to hide his own scars.

"Uhm... Chideta-san?" Kotori said, her voice as quiet as ever as she quickly glanced back to make sure she didn't lose sight of the others as they went on ahead. "S-sorry to bother you, but, uhm, M-Morinaka-san just came by, so..." she said, her voice trailing off with every word, whilst keeping her eyes firmly on the ground somewhere in front of her; only hesitantly looking up to see if Ryan had even heard her - and then making a vague gesture toward where Rui and the others were heading in order to finish her sentence. She remained standing somewhat awkwardly for a moment, glancing between them and Ryan as she waited for a response - before then turning to follow the others to wherever it was that Megumi was waiting, albeit at a slight distance.
Kotori Shirohane - Sadaomi Beach | Saturday - Morning

With Kazuki and Megumi off on their quest for the best spot on the beach, such as it might still be available with the number of fellow beachgoers, the remaining group was left to their own devices. Seeing as most had yet to don their swimsuits, this seemed to be the first port of call - including Kotori, who followed the others toward the changing rooms with her bag clutched in both hands and quickly shuffling into the girls' area before giving a small wave to Shizuka as they split up into separate changing rooms. As she got changed, Kotori couldn't help her thoughts straying back to her previous worries - but just as before, she shook them away and continued on.

A little while later, and just in time to miss a certain mishap involving tripping, Kotori stepped out of the changing room and back into the sun, feeling the ground change from concrete to sand beneath her sandals as she did. One hand rested on the sunhat still perched upon her head to keep it from accidentally blowing away in the gentle breeze that greeted her whilst the other rested on the strap of her bag that she'd slung over her shoulder. For a brief moment, she squinted behind her glasses when she left the shade provided by the changing area behind and looked around to see that the others had already finished changing and were discussing what they wanted to do first. Glancing between them, Kotori felt a slight warmth spreading across her face - a feeling she tried to fight. Of course, it was a losing proposition from the start and as such she quickly resigned herself to instead hide her face beneath the brim of her hat that she pulled further down.

In the brief moments, however, she did get a brief look at what everyone else was wearing - which bridged a wide gamut from sporty, such as Samuru, to the quite fashionable Shizuka. Still, Kotori did at least feel a small measure of relief when she caught a glimpse of the newest addition to the group - as it meant she wasn't the only one who was wearing something over her swimsuit. Kanna was wearing his jacket in order to protect himself from the sun - which was much the same reason for which Kotori had packed hers. At least, that's what she'd told herself - but in truth, she'd already known that she'd probably feel too embarrassed about the thought of herself being seen wearing so little. Even if her own swimsuit would hardly pass anyone's definition of daring, Kotori just couldn't quite bring up the self-confidence to join the others without covering herself with her thin summer jacket.

With her gaze still down-turned, Kotori adjusted her bag's strap to rest a little more comfortably against the pale yellow fabric of her jacket that was broken up by a floral pattern in various shades of red, blue and green - perhaps not something out of a fashion magazine, but Kotori still liked it nonetheless. But though she might not be looking at the others again just yet, Kotori could hear them talking - or rather whispering, as she found herself not too far from where Samuru was conspiring with Kanna. She didn't quite catch everything being said - but even despite feeling a little guilty at what she realised might constitute eavesdropping, she managed to gather that they, or at least one of them, were planning something with Rui.

It was only when they mentioned his name that Kotori realised that she hadn't actually seen him out on the beach - or Kazuki and Megumi, for that matter. Raising her hat ever so slightly, Kotori hesitantly peered out across the beach in a quick search for the two Shoujin students or Rui.
Kotori Shirohane - Warakuma Train Terminal | Saturday - Morning

As the time of departure drew closer, the last members of the group arrived one by one. As they did, Kotori made sure to greet them with a bow whilst counting off the number of companions in her head - even if it wouldn't do her much good without actually knowing how many people were supposed to be showing up in the first place. Still, it gave her at least a momentary lapse from glancing between her fellow Agriculture Club members. Not for the first time, she wished that she knew of some way to let them get along with each other as they had what now felt ages ago. A soundless sigh escaped her lips whilst everyone around her was already busying themselves with smalltalk between each other or gathering their things when the imminent arrival of their train was broadcast.

With her own bag in hand, Kotori boarded the train after most of the others had arrived - she couldn't help but count them off before coming to the satisfactory conclusion that everyone had gotten on - and moved to the first free spot among the seats that the rather large group had occupied. She ultimately found herself seated next to the window with her sunhat placed upon her lap - albeit only after multiple reassurances that it was alright and no one else wanted the seat. As the train pulled away, many of the conversations begun on the platform continued in some form or another - the inclusion of Kotori into which were mostly limited to only answer when directly addressed and otherwise simply listening instead. It wasn't too long though before her thoughts drifted to the book in her hand - which, a mere few minutes later, was instead in her hands with her bespectacled gaze firmly fixed on its pages.

So absorbed in her reading was she that Kotori would have missed the beautiful sight the revealed itself upon clearing the long tunnel, were it not for the many sounds of wonder coming from all around. A slight confusion was unmistakable upon her face as Kotori looked up - only for it to soon match the pleased expressions surrounding her when she followed their eyes out to the wide blue sea. The small smile would remain even for a while longer once her attention was returned to the book some time later.

---

Kotori Shirohane - Sadaomi Beach | Saturday - Morning

Stepping onto the platform, Kotori quickly made room to allow the others behind her to exit the train. With everyone accounted for, Kazuki would be the one to lead the way. As he did so, he off-handedly mentioned that the beach and indeed the whole surrounding area was only recently built or renovated. Preoccupied with looking around to confirm his words, Kotori missed the slight disapproval in Kazuki's voice. Thankfully, the beach itself was only a small walk from the station - and upon seeing it, Megumi's enthusiasm from before bubbled up once again as she dragged Kazuki off without even heeding a single word of protest, announcing that she'd make sure to grab a good spot while she did so. Kotori could do naught but blink at the rapidly departing figures - and evidently wasn't the only one, judging by the brief moment of silence that followed.

The first to break it was Rui - who, ever taking things in stride, noted that there was little point in standing around. A murmur of general agreement sounded at his words with Sato speaking up a moment later, asking what would be the exact course of action - before noticing that not everyone had already come wearing their swimwear, quite in opposition to himself. "Ah..." It was only then that Kotori remembered that, after all, swimming was indeed the main reason for going to the beach - and that doing so would require appropriate garments. Now that the time was at hand, she couldn't help but feel no small measure of embarassment at the thought of actually wearing her swimsuit, gingerly placing a hand to her chest - before reassuring herself, and not for the first time, that she had after all made sure that it would cover her scars. That was one thing that Kotori was still very much hesitant about.

Shaking her head as if to clear her mind, Kotori quickly glanced between the others from beneath the wide brim of her hat, looking to see where everyone else was headed and, ever the proactive one, simply following along. After all, this was supposed to be a fun trip and as such did not call for gloominess - though such was no easy task, she did her best to give a small smile which did turn out a lot less wry than most of the time when she took in the sight and sounds of the ocean from so close.
Kotori Shirohane - Warakuma Train Terminal | Saturday - Morning

Kotori was plenty busy with keeping her eyes glued to the ground - enough so to not notice another figure approaching but staying at a distance for now. As Sato finished up with the sunblock and thanked her for it, Kotori glanced back up, peering throug her glasses just past the brim of her sunhat. "Uhm, y-you're welcome," she said, more quietly than before - only to then look on in slight confusion when Sato seemed perturbed about something else. "Eh?" Unsure if he was directing those muttered words at her or himself, Kotori was unsure how to react - but luckily, this decision was taken out of her hands when another familiar voice spoke up.

Kotori was not unpleased that Shizuka unwittingly acted as a distraction. Turning around, she saw her fellow Agriculture Club member waving as she approached and gave a bow in return. "Ah, good morning, Otonashi-san," Kotori said as Shizuka apologised for her belated arrival. Thankfully though it would be of little matter, given that Rui had scheduled the meeting time well in advance of the train's departure. As she explained her reason though, Kotori blinked in slight confusion - before coming to the conclusion that Shizuka's mother was just looking out for her daughter and thus wouldn't want her attracting unwanted attention at the beach. After all, that would be rather embarassing.

As Shizuka went on to present the basket in her hands as full of snacks for the trip, Kotori gave a small smile - she had in fact wondered if she should perhaps prepare something to bring along, but ultimately decided against it. After all, she didn't really know the others' tastes and wouldn't want them having to eat something they didn't like - or worse, pretend to like it. But seeing as Shizuka was evidently more confident in such matters, Kotori was glad to see that no one would have to go hungry. A slight confusion came over Kotori's face when Shizuka turned aside and addressed someone - only now, as she followed the younger girl's gaze, did she too notice the boy by the trashbin.

The first to speak up at Shizuka's question was Rui rather than the boy himself. Rui explained that Kanna was the latest member to join the team, courtesy of being the subject of yet another Mirror World rescue. As her thoughts wandered to that place, Kotori's mood visibly dimmed - but only for a moment before she shook her head and almost succeeded at putting said thoughts aside for the moment. Kanna, having taken the opportunity to approach the group, confirmed Ruis words with his own introduction - albeit a little hesitantly, seeming a little ill at ease. Kotori couldn't blame him - she doubted that she'd be holding up half as well if she had to meet with such a large group of what were essentially strangers if she were in his shoes. As such, she tried her best to be welcoming as she gave a bow: "Good morning," she said, though the accompanying attempt at a smile did not exactly end up quite as encouraging as she may have imagined in her head.

As Rui asked whether everyone was present and accounted for, Kotori looked around the group and counted them off. Without knowing who was expected to still show up, however, this number did her little good. Almost as if in response to Kanna's question, the sound of someone approaching at running speed could be heard - the source of which, as it turned out, was yet another familiar face in the form of Matthew. Seeing both of her fellow club members gathered, even as one apologised for his arrival time between barely caught breaths, brought a small smile to Kotori's face - the strange distance between the two had been a source of worry for quite some time now. "Good morning, Harvester-senpai," she said, giving a bow as she did.

Unfortunately, the hint of a smile slowly died down and turned into a far more familiar worried frown when she noticed that both Matthew and Shizuka seemed oddly preoccupied with anything that was not each other.
Kotori Shirohane - Warakuma Train Terminal | Saturday - Morning

Following Rui's returned greetings, the only ones to speak up were Megumi and Kazuki. Kotori, standing aside from them, glanced between the two as Megumi tried to get her fellow Shujin student to perk up at the prospect of a summery beach visit - whilst Kazuki's lack of enthusiasm was only good for a roll of his eyes and a dismissal of her words. As she'd only really seen either of them when everyone had been called upon for a foray into the Mirror World, Kotori wasn't too sure of whether such small-scale bickering was usual for them or if perhaps the mood may turn sour all too soon should they continue - but luckily, she wouldn't have to confirm her fears when an interruption arrived just moments later in the form of Sato.

The third-year gave a brief greeting to which Kotori gave a bow in return. Just moments later, Ryan too approached the group, lifting a bottle of water to his lips - either the morning sun was already getting to him or he was simply more conscious of the dangers of the midsummer heat than others, Kotori surmised as she greeted the first-year student with a polite bow. Ryan too was the first to break the silence as he asked how everyone was doing. "Ah, uhm..." Kotori started, though catching herself from yawning at the last moment and instead just going with a brief nod - hopefully she'd shake off the lack of sleep as the day carried on.

Seeing as the group was slowly growing in numbers, Rui spoke up to announce that there was still half an hour before their train went - whilst that did mean that they'd have some waiting to do, Kotori did breathe a little easier knowing that there was most likely not going to be any panic about last minute arrivals and possibly missing the train because of it. It was then that Samuru, the latest member to join them, arrived as well, setting off another round of reciprocated greetings - though he did seem a little subdued where it came to both Ryan and Sato for some reason. Yet just as she thought that it was a good thing that everything was well prepared, Sato spoke in her direction about his own lack thereof. "Eh?" It took a moment for Kotori to realise that he was, in fact, addressing her; leaving her to blink in surprise before quickly turning to look at her senpai as he asked her for some sunscreen. At his words, Kotori couldn't quite help the faintest of proud smiles crossing her face as she kneeled down to rifle through her bag, quietly murmuring "One moment..." as she did.

Indeed it was only a brief moment before she produced a full bottle of sunblock from therein as she was in equal measures happy for it to have not been in vain and also to be of help. "Please feel free to use as much as you need, senpai," Kotori said as she held it out toward Sato. Between the wide-brimmed sun hat and the high protection factor written upon the bottle, it was not hard to guess that she was evidently one of the unfortunate people who were rather susceptible to the sun. "Uhm, if... you need anything else... ah, p-please let me know," Kotori added - even as she noticed half-way through that she could be taken to be asserting the others to be forgetful or even negligent. Between that and the realisation that her words had likely just gotten her the attention of everyone gathered around, however briefly, was sure to leave her gaze to remain fixed on the ground between her sandals for the next few moments - though she was thankful for the fact that while doing so her hat would at least keep some of her embarassment hidden.
Kotori Shirohane - Shirohane Residence | Saturday, August 1 2015 - Morning

A lazily waving hand found the alarm beeping away into the morning, letting silence fall over the room again. It was a good few seconds before the owner of said hand stirred in bed, slowly sitting up and blinking at the sunlit covers. Stretching her arms out to try and rid herself of her drowsiness, Kotori couldn't quite stifle a yawn as she reached for her glasses placed on the small nighstand beside her - though the clatter of a noteboke striking the ground did wonders for rousing her in surprise. It took her a moment before she realised that she'd accidentally knocked down her packing list for today - and the one she'd spent the past few days revising before making sure she had everything she needed for the day's trip. Incidentally, it was also the reason for her sleepiness.

Given how rarely she went out with other people - excepting perhaps the excursions into the Mirror World, though she could hardly count those as a leisurely activity - she'd been both nervous and excited at the prospect ever since she'd gotten the message and agreed to go along too. And even though she'd made sure to double-check her list - cross-referenced with advice from her mother and anything she might find in travel guides - and triple-checked that she'd packed everything the day before, she'd still kept herself awake half the night, tossing and turning in bed and generally unable to sleep. Still, the prospect of going to the beach - even with the continued mixed feelings - did make some inroads to casting off the lethargy as she rubbed her eyes before going about her morning routine.

---

"I'm off," Kotori called, to which her mother gave a smile as she waved her goodbye. "Have fun and a safe trip," she said, watching her daughter walk off before turning back inside, humming an old tune to herself all the while. Kotori meanwhile was heading toward the proposed meeting point that was the train station. A quick glance to her watch confirmed that she was still well on time - even if she slowed to peek into the bag slung over her shoulder for a last check to see that she hadn't forgotten anything that may have slipped past her notice the last seven time she'd looked. Her mind was placated when she found exactly what she expected within, crossing everything off her mental list that she'd come to know by heart after going over it often enough. The new book, A full bottle of sunblock, even though she'd already applied it at home, her newly-acquired swimwear, a towel and a spare just in case someone forgot theirs, a bottle of water should there be nowhere to get something to drink in the heat - all told, Kotori was more than prepared.

Kotori Shirohane - Warakuma Train Terminal | Saturday - Morning

As she drew closer to the train station, Kotori peered up from beneath the brim of her sun hat. The distinctive silhouette of the building really did stand out from the parts of town she'd just walked through - but at least that meant that it was hard to miss if someone happened to get lost around here. As she approached, Kotori took a moment to check her phone - just to be sure that the time and place of meeting hadn't mysteriously changed from five minutes ago. As it turned out, such was not the case and with her mind at ease - for now - she headed for the platform mentioned in the message.

The train station itself was rarely truly empty. Warakuma was large enough to have people boarding and exiting trains from morning light to the middle of the night even during the summer break - and as such, it came as little surprise when she passed the occasional familiar face; mostly being customers that she'd made deliveries to from her family's flower shop. She even saw a classmate with his family, carrying suitcases and evidently looking forward to spending some time away. However, it wasn't until she stepped onto the platform itself that Kotori caught sight of other members of the group she was a part of - though she was a little on the early side, it seemed that others were even more diligent.

Stepping forth a little more quickly, Kotori headed over to where Megumi was scolding Kazuki for his lack of enthusiasm in contrast to her own - and probably not for the first time this morning, either. "Uhm... good morning, everyone," she greeted hesitantly, giving a bow as she did after waiting for an opportune moment to interject between the two Shoujin students. Seeing as she hadn't really talked very much with either of them, Kotori did find some comfort in the fact that Rui was here too. Slipping her bag off her shoulder, she glanced around the platform to see who else was going to join them.
Kotori Shirohane - Shirohane Flowershop | Wednesday, July 29 2015

"Thank you very much," Kotori said as she gave a bow to the departing customer. As usual around this time of the year, the old man from down the street had come to pick up a bouquet of his wife's favourite flowers - a gesture that put a small smile on Kotori's face every year. Such events always did help make up for her ever-present dislike of standing at the counter of her family's flowershop - no matter how often she helped her mother out, her nervousness never could quite be abated. For that reason, she much preferred to be in the back room, watering the flowers, setting up new arrangements or getting the deliveries ready - but her mother had a knack of leaving her out front with the oddest smile as she busied herself otherwise. Kotori did occasionally wonder if her mother enjoyed seeing her fretting about whenever a stranger walked in - or, worse yet, a familiar face such as a fellow student.

Still, it had been a mostly quiet morning - unsurprisingly, given the propensity of families to go on trips, visit relatives or otherwise find themselves preoccupied elsewhere. There had only been a few visitors and a couple more passers-by who had taken a look at the vibrant display in the shop windows - a notion that made Kotori at least a little bit happy, seeing as she'd helped set them out. Coupled with the summery temperatures, she'd found her mind wandering more than a few times whilst she busied herself with tending to the flowers about the shop between visitors - mostly towards the novel that she'd picked up the day before from the library, but also what little that had been learned from the occasional foray into the Mirror World over the past few days.

Kotori was umming and ahhing over whether to turn a pot of chrysanthemums just that little bit more to the left or the right to put them in the best view when a sudden noise almost made her jump - even though she'd heard it quite a few times in recent weeks, she still was rather unused to the ringing of her own phone whenever she received a message. Looking up to make sure that she wouldn't be bothering any customer if she quickly checked her phone - and immediately regretting it when she saw the smiling face of the next door neighbour walking by outside, undoubtedly having seen her little display just now. With more than a little embarassment, Kotori quickly checked to see what exactly the message was about.

Her embarrasment almost immediately turned to worry when she saw from whom it was. A message from Rui usually meant another visit to the Mirror World was soon in order - whether to explore and understand that strange place or, worse yet, because someone had been kidnapped and forced into it. Almost hesitantly, Kotori checked the message - and found her worry turning into relief just a moment later when she realised that, for once, it was not a roundup call for an upcoming exploration of the Mirror World. This relief, however, was in turn quickly replaced by a slight confusion as she read on. As it turned out, it was a call for meeting indeed - but at quite a different place instead.

Kotori blinked in surprise, her brow furrowed above her glasses at the mention of a trip to the beach, courtesy of Tadao. Apparently, he wanted everyone to take a day off together as a sort of reward of rest for the continued endeavours in the Mirror World - and leaving Kotori feeling a little guilty as she wondered if she could just accept such a gift when she hadn't been part of the team for as long as some of the others or even been on every trip since then.

"Something interesting happen?" her mother's voice suddenly asked from behind her, leading Kotori to jump in fright for a second time in as many minutes and spin around to see her mother's wide smile - evidently, she was more than pleased with the reaction she'd just elicited. "Ah, just a few of my... friends are going to, well, the beach this weekend," Kotori said, glancing between the phone that she'd pressed close to her chest in her sudden surprise and her mother as she spoke. As she did, she could practically see her face light up in delight. "Oh, that's wonderful! When are you going? Does your swimsuit still fit you? Ah, that reminds me..."

---

Kotori blinked stupendously when she found herself standing outside the shop less than five minutes later, relieved of the green apron she wore whenever she helped out and instead clasping a shopping bag, some money and an absolute order to not return until she had everything she might need for a trip to the beach. Turning to look back, her mother gave her a beaming smile as she enthusiastically waved her off - leaving Kotori with no choice but to head off toward Ferrero Mall.
Kotori Shirohane - Abandoned Warehouse | Thursday

Following Rui's question whether she would join them, Fubuki's immediate reaction was one of confusion. Given that the only time she'd been present at a talk about joining the group was when it had been her own turn, Kotori was a little unsure whether this was a good or bad thing. Still, seeing as she was neither running away nor calling them crazy - not quite surprising, given that she'd already seen the Mirror World first hand - Fubuki did seem at least inclined to listen; asking Rui to sit down and explain it all in detail - and leading Kotori to blink in surprise at the sudden boldness of declaring him the boy of her dreams. Said surprise only lasted for a moment, however, before she realised that she was talking about the meeting in the Velvet Room earlier - if there was such a thing as 'earlier' in that place.

As Fubuki was introducing herself in turn, Kotori saw some movement out of the corner of her eye - which turned out to be Akane who was just entering the warehouse as well. "Ah, good day, Hanazawa-san," Kotori said with a quick bow as her classmate moved past the small assembly of people in order to take nearby seat. Following Fubuki's words, Akane's usual straight-forward ways made themselves known once more as she questioned Fubuki's reason for even showing up if she didn't know exactly what was going on. Fearing that her classmate's blunt honesty might come off as a little off-putting, Kotori tried to assuage any ire - at least, she would have if she'd known what to say. Instead, she glanced between Fubuki and Akane for a moment, her mouth opening as if to say something but finding no words before Rui spoke up instead.

Whilst the other three boys busied themselves with setting up another piece of furniture in the back of the warehouse, Rui led Fubuki over to a table surrounded by slightly worn chairs with Kotori following a small ways behind - and only now noticing the strange fact that there was a table where thin air had been just minutes prior. Or at least that's what it had felt like, given how easily she got lost in books and thus failed to notice how time passed. Standing a few steps away, she finally looked about - and realised that all the while she'd been engrossed in the story of the book she was still holding in her hands, the boys had already carried and set up a whole host of furniture.

With a nigh-inaudibly mumbled "S-sorry..." Kotori quickly moved over to one of the empty seats when she in turn realised that this also meant that she hadn't done the slightest thing to help them all throughout; her guilty conscience immediately making itself known as she sat down and overpowering any slight joy at having come up with much the same idea earlier, given that she hadn't gone and actually turned thought into action unlike them. Rui meanwhile had already begun explaining the situation to Fubuki, about how the Mirror World was indeed real - for a given measure of the word - and that with the awakening of her persona, she might be able to help others like they'd done for her.

As he finished, Kotori lifted her down-turned eyes to glance between the two from behind her glasses - and at Akane, who'd made herself comfortable in another chair as well. She wanted to say something to help Fubuki make up her mind - but seeing as she knew nothing more about both the Mirror World and the phenomenon of Personas, there was little more she could do but give an encouraging smile.

At least, that's what she tried - the result was more of a wry half-smile with an apologetic streak when her gaze was met with the sight of Kaminari, Tadao and Kazuki debating over the exact kind of screw that was supposed to be used on the piece they were working on.
Kotori Shirohane - Abandoned Warehouse | Thursday

If one had watched Kotori's facial expressions, one could have easily followed along with the book she was reading - the small shifts gave away what parts she reached. The smile widened ever so slightly when the the story's main character met with her destined one, a small frown revealed the exact moment that the inevitable rival appeared whilst a slight arcing of the eyebrow indicated a slight plot hole - though one she was willing to overlook if it meant that the story could come together in a happy ending.

However, before she could confirm her overwhelmingly likely suspicion a voice managed to break her intent focus on the book in her hands. Though it took her more than a second to tear herself away from the pages after the unfamiliar sound occurred, Kotori did finally look up and peered through her glasses at the source of it. Her eyes widened in surprise when she traced it back to a certain blue-haired girl who had just entered the warehouse - though as it seemed, she wasn't the only one. Her words hadn't been addressed at Kotori but rather at Rui, who turned to greet her in turn - and whose appearance had somehow completely slipped her attention.

Not only that, but so too did Kaminari and even Tadao and Kazuki as well. A surprised-sounding "Ah" was quick to escape Kotori's lips as she hastily closed her book and scrambled to her feet; more than a little flustered at somehow having gotten so engrossed into a silly story that she hadn't even noticed other people arriving. As Rui was asking the newly-arrived girl - who was the same that they'd rescued from Seto just yesterday and who'd been present at the Velvet Room along with all the others - if she was willing to join their by now no longer small group, Kotori slowed her pace so as to not just barge into the conversation; giving a small bow in greeting to the others as she passed by them with a wryly apologetic look for not having done so sooner.

Standing slightly aside and still clutching the book in her hands, Kotori waited for the girl to first answer Rui's question before she would step forward and greet the two with another bow. "Uhm, good day," she said, glancing between the two - and only belatedly realising that it would be rather rude to speak to someone without introducing herself first. "Ah, I-I'm Kotori Shirohane," she quickly said with another small bow before remembering that there was the matter of the warehouse's interior decoration to bring up - though that topic certainly could wait until the blue-haired girl was brought up to speed on the exact nature of this undertaking.

Even whilst Kotori idly wondered about the particular shade that the other girl's hair held, she had yet to actually notice that the unspoken matter had, in fact, already been mostly resolved all the while she'd been focused on her reading.
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