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@Jasper19 Football, then

@Aviaire Sounds good. Should I take out the part about them catching up then?
Gonna wait for a Dunk post before I continue with Pebs.
Added a section to my character's relationships in the CS section. If anyone has any problems, lemme know.

@Jasper19 How about Tony and Freddie know each other from a sport they used to play together? Would Freddie have played soccer or football? Or any other sport? (would give them a better/tighter history)

@Whirligig Ran off "handyman" in Bob's CS and figured he'd have fixed a few pipes in the past, thus making him known to Tony for that (his dad giving him an earful due to lost business). The section in the CS sound good to you?

@Aviaire Made Tony a semi-regular. What's the likelihood they were friends/acquaintances at the (probably small) high school they attended? And I guess this kinda includes @Zoey White too.

Merja “Mer” Aaltonen

Evergreen Library || Thursday Afternoon || @Letter Bee

Mikhail’s tone surprised Mer. It varied between suave and argumentative, almost challenging before he fell silent, his eyes communicating pain and determination. Then, meeting her eyes, he abruptly changed his mind, backpedalling to apologies as Mer sat there, again not quite sure what to say. Before her was a boy asking her to help him better the world, partake in a righteous cause, but she felt unworthy of the position. While she wanted to support Mikhail's cause, wanted to help alleviate some of his pain, she also knew factually that she would probably be leading him on instead of helping him if she agreed.

His assertion that Mer should help him if neither Alex nor Joey wanted to made her feel rather awkward, especially with the aggressive tone he said it in. In his words, she was to help him if she “failed” to recruit either Alex or Joey to his cause. While she sympathized with him and wanted to help him, Mer couldn’t help but feel a little annoyed that he was being so presumptuous and pushy. Couldn’t he just calm down and let her help him the best way she could?

When psychology was brought up, Mer was surprised: Did Mikhail know that she was struggling in that class? She’d rarely brought it up to anyone unless asked, and she didn’t think anyone she’d brought it up to would spread that about her. But, considering that Mikhail had likely guessed that she had enough help in her chemistry and biology classes by the way she’d thrown out Joey and Alex’s names, she figured she was probably overthinking it. Still, she knew she wasn’t going to accept his help whether or not she agreed to aid him in making the antidote. She was already taking up Roscoe’s time with that, and getting help from the source himself was much more efficient than getting help secondhand, however qualified Mikhail had shown himself to be. Besides, troubling another person with her struggles was insensitive, and Mikhail had enough on his mind.

At Mikhail’s mention of Joey and Alex being nearby, Mer straightened, eyes wide as she scanned the library around her before refocusing on Mikhail. Was she to ask them right now? In her head, she’d meant that she’d ask them the next time she saw them, but perhaps having Mikhail with her would work better if they had questions. After all, she hadn’t asked for any particulars on exactly what he was looking for.

As soon as he brought up his rather unfortunate nicknames for them, though, her gaze snapped back to him, and she wondered whether she was right to assume he was telling the truth. By default, Mer preferred to assume that others were honest people, but there were moments that made her wonder whether her trust had been misplaced. This was one such moment, but Mer reminded herself that the world hadn’t been kind to Mikhail, so she could understand why he might be angry.

“Mikhail, I really do think that you’d be better off with someone more qualified than me to help you,” Mer said, meeting the boy’s eyes again with the hope that she would get through, that he would understand why she said what she had. “I’ve never worked in a lab, never done any sort of research aside from what every one of our classmates has done in class. So, to ask me to help you design an antidote—well, if you don’t know where to start, I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t either.”

She paused, then lowered her voice a little. “Also, I, um, don’t think those nicknames are a good idea. You might hurt them if they overhear you talking about them like that.”
Eryn Montero

Wet Caverns || Day 3: Mid-morning

The new fork in the road took Eryn aback, and she has to take a moment of silent consideration this time, glancing between the two paths. Common sense told her to follow the river, but where was the adventure in trying to get out of the caverns so quickly. So okay, it might be smarter to err on the side of caution, but she could always lap back after. She wanted to see something, find something in these caverns, not get through scot-free and come out empty-handed. From the river route also came voices, which hinted at an exit, and Eryn figured she could always lap back and meet up with any trainers there.

“Alright Dei, let’s go this way,” Eryn said, wading towards dry land and setting both Dei and her backpack down when she got there. Then, looking back, she leaned down and spread her hands, making random ‘come hither’ motions underwater until Tula got the message and surfaced in her hands.

“There you are, Tutu. Not hurt, are you?” she asked, looking the Magikarp over. Thankfully, her carapace looked and slick as ever.

“Alright, now, your turn in the ball, Tula. I’ll whip you out when there’s water again, my trusty little silent scout.”

Tula wriggled as she was returned, and Eri appeared a moment later, shaking his coat out.

“Right-o, Eri. I was thinking, as a dark-type, can you see in the dark?” Eryn asked, motioning into the dark tunnel.

Eri frowned, peering into the darkness, then moved his head from left to right and back again, slowly.


Eri repeated the motion, yipping.

“Alright, kinda, got it, but hey, go ahead and double me again, alright? Makes for better communication anyway,” Eryn said, shrugging. “May as well make it easier on ourselves.”

Eri nodded, closing his eyes. His form melded into the shadows, elongating to Eryn’s height before lightening to reveal Eryn’s mirror image.

“Amazing. Going to take some getting used to, but hey, lookin’ good,” Eryn said, grinning.

Her double grinned back, and Eryn suddenly wondered how long Eri had spent observing her before he was able to accurately replicate her mannerisms. She hadn’t been around the Infested Woods for too long—just a day or so, training, grinding, and exploring, and he’d gotten most all of her body language and usual ticks down, admittedly mostly by copying her one-for-one, but still. Would he learn other things just as quickly? And was he still watching her, taking note of what she was doing on a day-to-day basis?

On one part, Eryn didn’t mind this. Eri was free to watch and mimic if her if he wanted, and it’d be flattering if he did. On the other part, though, Eryn knew factually she wasn’t the best trainer yet—not even close. She still had a way to go, a whole journey’s worth of trials to face before she could call herself anything close to a role model, and for Eri to treat her as some sort of standard would be unfair to him, even if he didn’t realize it.

That said, the matter could be addressed later, or at least when they weren’t in the middle of the Wet Caverns. For now, Eryn would focus on the cave around her and all the possibilities in the darkness around her. The caverns offered a different sort of excitement compared to the Infested Forest, where the humid darkness of the woods obscured her vision. Here, she could see as far as the light could shine, but it was a vast, empty darkness, save for a slew of Zubats overhead that had by now somewhat thinned out, nesting in the overhead crags rather than fluttering wildly.

Eryn paused to consider bringing out Kylie as well before thinking better of it. Her two Pokemon would draw enough attention as it was, and the caverns were narrow enough as it was. Besides, having Kylie as her back-up was pretty sweet.

Eryn grinned, pointing ahead. “Onwards we go!”

Down the dry route they went, and soon enough Eryn found herself facing yet another split in the road, this one forking into three separate paths, two of which were wet. However, from the dry path came sounds, this time of hard objects clashing against each other. The smashing and crashing reminded Eryn of rocks hitting each other, and she grinned.

“This way,” she said, leading the way down the rocky path. “Let’s check out some rock- or ground-types. Get us a glimpse of the real cave Pokemon.”

As the sounds got louder and louder, Eryn peered into the darkness as Dei’s flame lit up the first round object rolling her way: a small boulder. Rolling towards her, it seemed to accelerate, prompting her to sidestep it with a surprised “oop” to allow it to crash into the cave wall behind her. Upon hitting the wall, the rock burst open, revealing… arms?

“Oh, a Geodude!”

Eryn’s identification, however, prompted the Pokemon to turn towards her, its eyes looking her and her double over critically. Then, withdrawing its arms, it threw itself in the direction of the louder smashes, rolling away.

Peering into the darkness, Eryn was able to make out other small, round shapes, and a much bigger rock rolling around in the makeshift rink of stone. Judging by the size, it couldn’t have been a Geodude, and she pulled out her Pokedex to confirm her suspicions: a Graveler.

“Well, guess this is the end of the line for us here, or is it?” she asked, eyes catching on a path in the back. While there was a brawl of sorts going on around the ramp in the room, Eryn was too caught up in the possibilities of what could lay down the path behind the Geodudes. Why had they chosen to gather here instead of somewhere else? Were there, perhaps, rarer Pokemon, or even gemstones in the back?

“Eri, keep up, okay?” Eryn said, flashing a grin that her double mirrored. Then, making sure the Graveler was starting to roll away from the right of the room, Eryn sprinted down the right edge of the room, making for the path in the back.


Merja “Mer” Aaltonen

Psychology Classroom || Tuesday Afternoon || @Letter Bee || Briefly Noted: @Savo @KenjuGuy

After the incident in the courtyard resolved itself with the fedora-wearing boy touching ground and the group dispersing for class soon after he walked off, singing to himself, Mer had gone about her school day much like any other. Each of her classes brought a host of new concepts to be learned by time for the exams, and the pages of notes she’d accumulated by the end of the day weren’t comforting, especially considering that new readings were assigned for the next class. With the biology exam closing in, Mer had made a note to broach the topic of increasing the number of study sessions for the next week or so with Alex and Joey. Such plans depended on everyone’s schedules, and she could only hope that the others felt the meetings were as helpful as she did.

Aside from fencing practice, which happened every afternoon aside from Sunday, Tuesday afternoons were dedicated to psychology, and after her last class Mer dropped by her locker before making her way to her psychology classroom. Mr. Roscoe, her psychology teacher for a few years now, had noticed her struggling in his class and offered to let her come in after school for extra help. Of course, she’d jumped on the offer, and the meetings had indeed been helping her grade. She came in once a week on Tuesday to review the five lessons with him, ask any questions or request any clarifications. Usually, they’d just run through the concepts covered from the previous week and go over homework, but yesterday her essay grade had come out, and while she had improved, her improvement was so minimal she wondered if it could really be called improvement.

Her lack of improvement was, in part, why she felt so apprehensive about the meeting. Still, after taking a moment outside the door to try and relax, she forced herself to knock on the door and open it. Though Roscoe always left the door unlocked, Mer always found herself thinking the door might be locked, but again it opened to reveal the starkly-lit interior. On the walls were small banners with quotes from various famous psychologists and philosophers, and at the head of the room was Roscoe, standing before the whiteboard he was writing on. He was the kind of teacher who liked to keep written schedules on his boards for his students to reference, should anyone want to get a grasp of what the homework for the day might be, and he was meticulous enough to never forget to change it. It was something that Mer admired about him since it communicated a routine thoughtfulness and responsibility that she wished she could wield with the same ease.

Hearing the door open, Roscoe capped his marker and turned around. With salt and pepper hair and a pair of wire-rimmed glasses to go with his ties and sweaters, the psychology teacher appeared to be in his middle ages. His courteous manners and comfortable authority helped him appear younger in spirit, as did his penchant for humor that so amused his students.

“Good afternoon, Merja. Did biology go well?” he asked, gesturing to his desk.

“Yes,” Mer said, walking over as Roscoe pulled out her chair for her. Standing beside him always made her conscious of his height, since he stood a head taller than her despite her above-average height. After a growth spurt or two a few years ago, she’d become accustomed to being at least eye-level with most of her teachers, but being around Roscoe often made her feel like a child again, bumbling their way through life.

“Good, good,” Roscoe said, lingering behind her as she sat. Then, after helping her push her chair in, he took a seat at his own chair across from her, clasping his hands together on the desk in front of him as Mer finished retrieving her papers.

“The essay,” Mer started when she found her papers, sliding the document she’d gotten back earlier forward.

“Ah, yes, the essay.”

Pulling the paper towards him, Roscoe gave it another cursory glance, then met Mer’s eyes. “You’ve improved. Congratulations.”

Mer was speechless for a moment, suddenly distracted from her goal. “Thanks,” she said when she regathered her wits. “For everything, Mr. Roscoe. But, my improvement… It’s only three points.”

She finished with her eyes on her the desk before her, and she slid her gaze up to meet Roscoe’s eyes, which twinkled a bit under the light.

“Three points is a whole letter grade for some, Merja,” Roscoe said, a faint smile on his lips. “You ought to be prouder of yourself.”

“It’s only a B,” she mumbled, her eyes again on the desk as she struggled to find words to recover from the praise. She’d wanted to use the afternoon to find out how to improve more quickly as she’d soon have more on her plate. The semester was already half over, and finals and test prep would soon take over her time. Out of her three A-levels, psychology was the least intensive when it came to exams since biology and chemistry were both fairly demanding in that aspect, and it didn’t help that winter was also prime time for fencing competitions. Originally, she’d wanted to secure enough improvement in psychology to begin focusing on her two ‘harder’ subjects, but at the rate she was improving that course felt pretty unlikely.

“Many people would be happy with a B,” Roscoe commented again, his voice kind.

Mer floundered for a reply. While she didn’t want to seem ungrateful or pushy, she also wanted to communicate that she wanted—needed—a better grade. Getting A’s in chemistry and biology was a daunting task, and she’d wanted to mitigate her stress by guaranteeing an A in psychology. It was why she’d chosen to stick with psychology over philosophy since her practice exams had shown her scoring slightly better in psychology, but with her current grades she was regretting her choice. Though she had no way of knowing whether she’d actually have performed better in philosophy, she also knew that she’d never felt so confused, so confounded about the subject, and her heart skipped a beat when Roscoe sighed.

“Wanting to improve is an admirable trait, Merja,” he said. “You can ask. I don’t bite.”

Mer opened her mouth, then closed it. “Okay,” she said at last, her voice small.

She felt Roscoe’s eyes linger on her, the silence stretching out for a few seconds before he turned the paper around and slid it back towards her

“Right, then. Let’s see,” he said, picking up a pen. “What do you want me to go over?”

Evergreen Library || Thursday Afternoon

With the end of the school day came Mer’s biggest chunk of free time, seeing as fencing practice generally took place late in the afternoon. Because of this, she often spent a decent amount of time in the school library after school, filling up her hours. At first she’d tried doing work in the courtyard, but there people were constantly coming and going, chatting all the way along, and she couldn’t resist looking up whenever someone passed. In the library, however, though conversations were allowed, had a more suitable crowd: many a student came to study, read, or otherwise work between the many shelves of Evergreen, and Mer fit right in.

This particular afternoon, Mer was in the middle of going over her biology readings when a familiar blonde boy approached her. It took a moment to place him as Mikhail, a classmate in her chemistry and biology classes who she’d never actually interacted properly.

“No, of course not,” she said, quickly pulling her stuff towards her to clear up the seat across from her.

As Mikhail seated himself, Mer briefly pondered why the boy would want to talk to her. She wasn’t so presumptuous as to think he would want to study with her, given that she had no desirable academic reputation. When he requested her name—which she quickly gave—she felt embarrassed, wondering whether her accent was still as apparent as she’d feared. Driven by both teasing remarks and not, she’d done her best to tame her Finnish tics, but she knew as well as anyone that they still came out here and there. She’d thought, though, that it was rare enough to avoid drawing attention by no, but clearly she’d thought wrong.

The next moment, though, she found herself wrapped up into a scene right out of a mystery novel. Having no immediate recollection of the event Mikhail was describing, Mer saw herself wondering more than once whether she should suggest Mikhail get into contact with someone more qualified than her to help him. Her hesitance, though, must have shown because Mikhail quickly produced a collection of newspaper clippings that showed images of his young self under headlines no child should have to feature in.

As she looked through the clippings, she felt worse and worse for the boy before her, both because she couldn’t imagine what his early life must have been like and because she couldn’t think of anything good to say. “Sorry for your loss” came off as shallow and ill-timed, and “Why me” was too direct for the occasion. Both, however, held sentiments she wished to convey and she settled on something both in between and softer in tone.

“That’s terrible, Mikhail. I’m sorry that happened to you, but… I don’t think I’m the person you’re looking for,” she said, fidgeting with her hands under the table. “I’m, um, not the best at either subject. Way worse than best, actually. You’d probably be much better off asking someone smarter. Like Alex, or Joey. I can ask them for you if you’d like.”

She looked at him imploringly, hoping he agreed. Personally, she felt too underqualified to help someone with either of those subjects, much less create an antidote. Though she wanted to do all she could to ease the burden on the boy’s mind, she also knew that agreeing to help him would probably hurt him more than help him in the process, and she wanted to make that clear.

Natsuko Rinha

Morning || Land of Lightning: Daimyo’s Residence

The morning was nigh unbearable after Hachiro’s sob fest. Reality was finally sinking in: Team Six was about to be free of Hachiro, possibly forever. While Natsuko knew she should be thrilled that she would soon be free of the cheeky boy calling her new names every day, she also knew that nothing about this morning felt happy, and when the boy greeted Kazuhiko with the same wail and tune, she almost wanted a hug herself. However, on account of her pride and Koharu crying silently, she kept it to herself, even as they were making to leave.

“Bubye Sensei, Koharu, Kazuhiko, Ugly,” Hachiro blubbered from behind, earning him a soft gasp from his mother and some chiding from his father.

His words, however, brought forth Natsuko’s first grin that morning, and she whirled around to wave back at him. “Minoru’s my sensei, not yours, kid! Find your own!”

“If he were my sensei, I’d be a better genin than you!” Hachiro shot back.

Natsuko opened her mouth to shout something ruder back, but Minoru was quick on the uptake, spinning her around and pushing her along. So, closing her mouth, she exhaled, then followed her teammates along, trailing a bit behind them as she stared down at her feet silently.

A few minutes later, though, when she realized that the quiet had been stretching on for a bit, she brought back her grin full force. Running up and hooking an arm around Kazuhiko, she peered up at his face as he tried unsuccessfully to dodge away from her, spluttering.

“Hey hey hey, looks like you’re not the only one crying, Haru!”

“Wh—Natsu—I am not crying,” Kazuhiko asserted, stopping in his tracks to glare Natsuko down with a frown.

“Really? Not even a little? I thought I caught a bit of a glimmer in your eye there,” Natsuko said, grinning.

Shaking his head, Kazuhiko sighed, then turned away from her to start off ahead at a faster pace than before.

“Hey, woah, are you upset? Don’t be upset! Kazuhiko! Kazu-kun! Please? Ka-zu-hi-ko-kun. Ka-zu-cha-a-an. Hey, I like that! Kazu-chan! Wait for me!”

Kazuhiko Taketori

Afternoon || Land of Fire: Konohagakure — Main Gates

When Team Six arrived back in Konoha, Kazuhiko was surprised to hear Azumi’s voice call out to them, and he was even more surprised when he saw that his parents were waiting with Azumi. Standing next to each other, the height difference between the two was accentuated, and their expressions were fairly placid compared to those of the two beside them.

Misami Asukai, Kazuhiko’s mother who was over a head shorter than his father, stood stoutly, waving at him with the polite smile he’d come to associate with her. From the look of the tidy bun atop her head and the simple, lavender dress she had on, Kazuhiko guessed that she’d come straight from the daycare. She’d picked up the job soon after he became a genin, and from what he heard, she loved it.

Natsuru Rinha, Kazuhiko’s father, stood tall and lanky beside his wife, his hair brushed back to hide his thinning locks. Though he smiled as well, his was almost indectable compared to Misami’s, all but flat yet able to communicate a semblance of happiness anyway. Predictably, Natsuru was standing on the other side of Misami, putting distance between himself and Azumi, and seeing this made Kazuhiko’s heart drop a pitch. While it was no secret that his sensei’s wife was a Hyuuga, knowing and seeing were two very different things. It was easy for his father to dodge the topic at the dinner table, but now that he came face to face with reality with the knowledge that Kazuhiko was spending a decent amount of time at Minoru’s house, Kazuhiko wasn’t sure what to expect. Natsuru knew that Kazuhiko knew of their feud with the Hyuuga, knew that he knew he bore the weight of earning the title of clan head and making their branch of the family the main branch once again. And, since Kazuhiko had known all this from early in his childhood, it’d been a long time since Natsuru had had to speak seriously with his son, and Kazuhiko wasn’t too keen on listening to anything about the Hyuuga at the moment.

When he was young, his parents’ word had been his gospel. He had no figures to look to, no other perspective to think from, so he’d internalized his father’s beliefs and prejudices. On one hand, they’d helped: He’d learned to work hard from a young age to earn a place at the top and make his parents proud. On another, though, he learned to doubt his parents; unlike what his father liked to suggest, the Hyuuga seemed as honorable as the Taketori, if not more so. From what Kazuhiko had seen of Azumi and the Hyuuga heiress, Mariko, the Hyuuga were not as fixated on ranks and debts, on notions of symbolic honor and owed favors.

In a way, the Hyuuga were almost happier, despite their family system. Their successor was chosen, and they hardly gave the Taketori a second thought. While Kazuhiko had tried to tell himself that they could easily have been hiding their internal struggles from him, he knew Azumi and Mariko, and both struck him as honest people. Honorable people. Believing that they were lying to his face, that all their interactions with him had been duplicitous, would be a low move—a dishonorable one—and so went the struggle between heeding his parents as he’d always done and skirting the truth around them. After all, letting his father know that he went to Minoru’s house precisely because Azumi was there was virtually unthinkable, and this thought gave him a strong pang of longing for the comforting atmosphere of Minoru’s house.

“Father, Mother.” Kazuhiko bowed respectfully, then straightened. “What brings you both here?”

“We’re here to celebrate your first mission, of course! Good job, Hiko-chan! Mom’s so proud of you!” Misami said, enveloping Kazuhiko in a hug that he relaxed into after a beat.

From beside her, Natsuru nodded but otherwise didn’t move.

“Thank you for coming, Mother, Father.’”

Kazuhiko bowed again, then glanced at Minoru and Azumi, who beamed at him from where they stood. Their smiles seemed a bit wider than usual, and Kazuhiko took this as indication that Azumi had come for a reason.

“Can I meet you after? I’d like to debrief the mission with my sensei,” Kazuhiko said, looking to his father just as his mother did.

Natsuru met his eyes with a hard, flat gaze. “I would have thought you debriefed on your way back,” he said, but when Minoru added on, Natsuru relented.

“Okay, dinner will be waiting,” he said.

With that, his parents headed away, bidding goodbye to Koharu’s uncle and thanking Minoru, Natsuru averting his eyes from Azumi entirely. Thankfully, they were succinct people, and their farewells took little time.

A glance to his right saw Natsuko idling beside Minoru and Azumi, tracing shapes in the dust with her feet. From what Kazuhiko knew of her family—and there was quite a bit to know, given her various siblings and their paths—her parents had a lot on their plate. Knowing what other Konohagakure ninja were doing was a perk of being in his family, he supposed, given his father’s penchant for dwelling on other peoples’ lives, but there were benefits too. In this case, Kazuhiko knew Natsuko had a sister getting promoted up in the Konoha police this week, so perhaps that was where her parents had decided to focus their attention.

While he wanted to communicate that he didn’t mind and neither should she, he figured she probably didn’t want anyone to bring it up. Natsuko was the kind of person who would rather swim for the end of the earth than try and talk about a hard topic, and Kazuhiko knew that she’d probably crack a joke the minute Osamu left.

Her sadness—or lack thereof—brought to mind his own conflicted feelings about Hachiro. While he was sad, factually speaking, the mission had started and ended pretty much exactly how its instructions had detailed, and Kazuhiko felt that formulated sadness couldn’t top any scale. On the other hand, though, he also couldn’t say he didn’t feel a twinge of something deeper when Hachiro had hugged him, his face so covered with snot and tears that he ended up leaving a partial print on Kazuhiko’s shirt. Kazuhiko had both wanted and not wanted to share in the group’s sadness, and that lack of decision had resulted in some mixture of sadness and resolution that bored on artificial itself. While being sad would have made sense, the facts didn’t line up for it since they’d chosen the mission. So Hachiro himself was a surprise, but from day one they’d known that they were to be separated.

As he looked between Koharu, who was apologizing for her Uncle, and Natsuko, who looked on with a uncharacteristically stoic expression, Kazuhiko found himself wishing it were tomorrow, when he could seek out Azumi’s listening ear in private. For some reason, talking to her about things like this helped him better reason things out and lessen mental burden he sometimes thought he was imagining.

Natsuko Rinha

Afternoon || Land of Fire: Konohagakure — Main Gates

Natsuko’s parents hadn’t come, but she hadn’t told them to. Azumi probably did, or at least left a note they promptly ignored. After all, they were busy with her sister’s promotion. Mie had finally finished her probationary time in the police force and was finally earning her badge to become a full-fledged Konoha officer. It was a formal ceremony—one that called for flowers and pictures and hugs—and Natsuko suspected her parents had gotten too wrapped up in spreading the news to remember her return. A D-rank mission was hardly comparable anyway, so no, Natsuko was neither mad nor surprised. Her parents had other children, and it wasn’t like she never got attention. Getting attention for checklist Genin stuff wasn’t in the books was all.

Forcing herself to perk up when Koharu finally freed herself of her uncle, a big man who seemed so utterly different from the small girl that Koharu wouldn’t have pegged them for relatives in a million years, Natsuko hesitantly closed the distance she’d put between herself and Azumi. She knew from experience that Azumi could match her one for one in antics, so pulling tricks around her wasn’t the best idea. Thankfully, Koharu distracted her with a poke, turning her and Kazuhiko around to ask whether they could hang out.

“Maybe? Of course! You heard me, Kazuhiko, free up that weird schedule of yours. We’re going on an adventure!” Natsuko said, jabbing at the taller genin, who glanced between her hand and face with a confused frown.

“Yeah, I have time tomorrow,” he said, glancing in Minoru and Azumi’s direction. “Should we clear it with Minoru though?”

“Don’t be a party pooper,” Natsuko asserted, then focused on Minoru and Azumi as they finished up their conversation and turned towards the genin. Natsuko frowned a little at the strangely happy smiles on their faces, but that and Azumi’s odd hand placement were explained in a single sentence. Her jaw dropped, and she stared at Azumi’s stomach, then glanced between Minoru and Azumi to check that they weren’t pulling some sort of prank, only because the statement was so left field.

“A baby?” She glanced at her teammates, who looked equally surprised, then grinned. “Oh my god! That’s so cool! I’m going to be an aunt! A team aunt. A genin aunt. Whatever, an aunt!”

Pumping her hands, Natsuko dove at Koharu, hugging the girl as Kazuhiko looked on, mouth still open as he glanced slowly between them all.

“Dibs on helping with naming! And babysitting! Oh, have I got things to teach her. Or him,” she said, shrugging, then held up her palms. “Good things! Good things of course. I’m a bundle of manners, just ask Minoru!”

Natsuko looked to her sensei pleadingly, eyes wide.

@Aviaire Anna and Tony are only one year older than @Zoey White's Jenny, so maybe they knew her through high school too. I'm thinking Tony probably played a sport or two during high school (probably soccer, but football works too)
@Alamantus Shoot, I just realized I never replied to your comment on Discord. Yes, I think it'd be better to keep in touch with, especially with some small stuff. Since the group's small, just posting on the thread works too, but it just feels so... inefficient. So yeah, I'd prefer we switch to a Discord if possible.

As for the post, pretty standard stuff. Took the liberty of assuming there's no signal (because uh. well. hello police) but lemme know if I should change that. Otherwise, I guess Pebs is just looking into the drain at this point. So, so relieved this isn't becoming a slasher film. Clearly I've been watching too many of those, but hey, Pebs can be paranoid for me!

Also, it's pretty hard to pick up any flat object that's lying down, so picking up a key with a hook seems pretty undoable... Maybe if it weren't lying down, sure, but flat on its side there wouldn't really be anything for the hook to hook onto, right? (basically just pointing this out in case this is actually what the characters are meant to do. If there a spoilers, feel free to keep your secrets and stay mum).
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