Greetings to all!
Next chapters out for your viewing pleasure. Though, the chapter is a bit longer than I'd like it to be, but my quota and the amount of things this chapter needed to be put in didn't agree with each other. Turns out length ended up winning the arm-wrestling contest; thus the reason behind the longer chapter length. But, enough of that, onward with chapter eight of A Certain World of Darkness.
Frenda Seivelun wasn't by any means your average, humdrum girl who lived within the boundaries of Academy City's walls. To be honest, that deduction was obvious based on her natural blonde hair, her light blue eyes, and her unusual state of dress. Looking at her, anyone would automatically come to the conclusion that she wasn't a native to Japan and was a foreigner to these lands. Even when she spoke one would note that it was distinctly different than your average Japanese female; so the knowledge of her origins would not be difficult to deduce. Of course, if was to only view her at face value and not peer any deeper into the matter, those factors could easily be over-looked considering she was from overseas. It was just one of those things that aren't really commented on since a majority of the populous was largely unaware of the customs of other countries.
But, aside from the eccentric behavior that was often on display by this girl, there was the part of her which few knew about and even fewer would ever live to tell had they known. Frenda was a killer, plain and simple as that. If someone was to die at her hands, it just meant that the fate dictated that their lives were to end and she was simply carrying out the task herself. That was her belief, that was how she had decided to justify her actions long ago and it had remained as such to this very day. Did she enjoy killing? Who's to say except for her, but one thing that can be answered is that she most certainly didn't want to die during whatever task was assigned to them. That was a statement that went without saying, as nobody wished to die unless the circumstances were so unbearable that death was the only option left to escape suffering.
But by having that instinctual desire to survive whilst baring her own beliefs in regards to killing others, did that make her a narrow-minded?
She never pondered it, never chose to bother with that line of thinking, but in a way it may as well have made her just that.
If we were to follow that train of thought, it can be safe to assume that there were times where Frenda would say and do things which often went against what was expected of her. These things are not uncommon, as humanity as a whole is far from perfect; in spite of all Academy City has done in an attempt to achieve perfection. However, while acceptable in more common scenarios, Frenda had a rather bad habit of having these instances occur more often than not.
Usually, these said instances would surface during the tasks which ITEM was assigned to do; mainly in the form of her negligence in the heat of battle or simply overlook certain factors which may or may not create an issue for her companions on the job. It was a problem that typically resulted in a less than satisfactory 'chat' from Mugino once the job was over and her punishment would be received shortly after. It was meant to help her learn from her mistakes to avoid having them occur in the future; but it never stuck to the blonde and only resulted in a more severe reprimanding from the girl afterwards.
Still, the blonde girl wasn't a complete loss and would eventually become what she was today thanks to all those past mistakes; it was just a matter of experience.
With all that being said, when faced with a situation far too outside of the norm for her, it was to be expected for Frenda to make a mistake somewhere along the line.
"Basically, what's your relationship with Mugino?" That simple question, that straightforward inquiry which the girl had presented about the girl in question, was directed towards the foreign individual that was currently accompanying ITEM through the underground mall.
"Wh-what?" The aforementioned foreign individual, who was originally staring out into space as the girl's continued their little shopping spree, sputtered as he was address with a question which by all accounts shouldn't have been asked to him.
Seriously, where the hell did that question come from!?
"Basically, who are you to her and why are you with us."
Her face may have done its part to remain mostly neutral when she had addressed this simplistic inquiry, but the tone which Frenda's voice had chosen didn't quite match the expression she was wearing. It wasn't one that could be perceived as aggressive, it was more along the lines of someone who was just driven to ask that question purely on impulse while lacking any sort of subtly starting up the topic of discussion regardless of how outlandish it was.
Basically, it was a question asked so out of the blue, yet brought up in such casual manner that most would find themselves caught off-guard by it.
Touma was certainly caught off by it, as he couldn't help but stare back at the blonde; the look in his eyes displaying just how lost he apparently was by the abruptness of this particular subject. It was difficult to blame him really, having chosen to step outside the store and wait for the rest after browsing his share inside. He had intended to join Rikou who had walked out of the shop shortly before he did, but chose to go against that idea and sat by himself instead. He still doubted that whatever was bothering her would be amended by his presence, and imposing on her wasn't going to make her speak up in whatever it was that bothered her. So, he didn't put too much thought into it and just kept to himself. It would have remained that way had Frenda not chosen to join them outside and practically made a bee-line for his location; thus resulting in the situation he had currently found himself in.
"W-well…" For Touma, this was a rather difficult situation which he wasn't really sure how to handle. Sure, he could tell the truth and say that he was acting as living target practice dummy since that had been his interpretation regarding how she viewed him. It wouldn't have been too inaccurate of a statement honestly, but Kamijou really wasn't one to ruin another person's image based on what little he actually knew about a person. Given that these girl's seem far better acquainted with her than he was, saying the wrong thing may very well lead to a more troublesome situation which he really didn't wish to find himself stuck in at the moment. It was bad enough that Mugino knew who he was; having three of her friends pissed off at him would only make things worse in the long run if he wasn't careful. "I-it's complicated…"
"How complicated?" Regarded the girl, folding her arms under her less-than-noteworthy chest while staring back at the boy who was becoming more trouble than he was worth. "Basically, it's a simple question; so stop stalling and answer already."
"A simple question to you maybe" Muttered the boy, sighing shortly afterwards as he gathered his thoughts to provide the girl a suitable answer. Though, Frenda must have heard him, because her eyes suddenly narrowed and the edges of her lips began to descend downwards. With little time to properly think of an answer that would appease her, he took to saying the first thing that came to mind and nothing short of that. "W-we're just acquaintances, that's all and I only tagged along because she asked me to."
"Just an acquaintance, huh?" Though he was already well aware of it, Frenda skepticism regarding Touma made it painfully difficult for anything he said to be believable. The fact that she head leaned forward a bit too close to his face to be comfortable with didn't help matters in lowering her suspicions towards him; his eyes refusing to meet with her own as she peered at him at their close proximity. "Basically, you're saying she's a friend of yours or something?"
"…calling us friends is stretching it a bit..."
"I thought as much, but it basically doesn't tell me why she would give you the time of day." As she made this statement, the beginnings of a less than appealing grin began to form on her lips as she stared haughty at the boy who was seated in front of her, her blue eyes seemingly brimming with an emotion Kamijou didn't particularly want to place. "Basically, you really stand out hanging around someone like Mugino."
"I'm aware of that more than you know." Grumbled the spiky haired youth, both his tone and his expression clearly displaying his feeling in regards to being reminded of that little fact. If anything, it bummed him out more so than being on the end of every single one of the girl's taunts or insults each time she regarded him. None the less, he was slowly getting used to it, but at the moment something else was in need of being addressed which was honestly making him self-conscious. "…also could you, um, back up a bit?"
"Because, people are starting to stare at us."
The instant those words left his lips, Frenda's whole demeanor shifted in a far different direction compared to the one he had been currently witnessing. It was as if someone had hit a panic button in her brain, as her eyes suddenly were filled with realization as her bottom lip was sucked into the confines of her mouth. Though her body remained in its previous position, her head had turned to address those who were supposedly staring at them. As it turned out, Touma's statement was valid, as there were in fact people looking at the two of them and whispering among themselves. One person in particular, however, stood out the most amidst the people looking at them; as the out-of-place individual was openly gaping at the two of them while her eyes seemed to sparkle for reasons that neither Touma nor Frenda could understand.
The situation only grew more uncomfortable when the girl who looked to be a track runner made a dismissive gesture with her hand, a small mischievous smile present on her lips before making a very compelling statement.
"Khehehe, we don't exist in your world; so ignore all of us and kiss already."
Kamijou didn't know what had happened; one minute he was fine the next a blinding pain shot from his head all the way down to his toes. From where he was currently seated, which was practically on the ground as there were no benches in the immediate area, there was nothing but a pure concrete wall directly behind his person. Having said that, we may all agree that having one's head slammed harshly onto that solid of a surface can indeed be painful on a person. Of course, Touma himself wouldn't have willingly performed such an action on himself as such a thing was not particularly beneficial to one's health. Frenda, on the other hand, had very little reason to care about someone else's health problems. Hence the reason why, upon hearing that on-looker's statement, she had quickly reached both of her hands out and took a firm grasp of Touma's head; using it as a means to straighten herself back to a normal standing position.
She had of course released him once the momentum of her initial push would straighten her posture, but that only made her actions that much harsher on the spiky haired teenager who was currently grasping the back of his head with tears threatening to spill from the corners of his eyes. Frenda, however, didn't much care about his obvious pain and was currently occupied with the task of glaring down at him whilst her bottom lip still remained tucked inside her mouth; her cheeks lightly flushed with a healthy shade of red as she did so. Had it not been for the throbbing ache in the back of his head, Touma may have found the girl's current expression pretty cute. But, that was not the case at the moment; busy as he was clutching the back of his cranium while sitting on the ground hunched over.
"You're paying for this." Growled out the blonde, her annoyance justified but her method of dealing with the issue being unjust. "Basically, this misunderstanding is your fault so you are taking responsibility for it."
"How is it my fault!?" Retorted Touma, still clutching his head as his head shot up to glare back at the blonde who was accusing him of something he had no control over. "You're the one who-"
"Basically, I don't want to hear excuses!"
"I'm not making excuses; I'm trying to state facts!"
"Ah, a lover's squabble; they must really be-"
"YOU BE QUIET!" This particular statement was not made only by one party alone. In fact, both had temporarily put aside the minor issue to address the much larger one with a synchronized act of pointing in the track-runner's direction and by shouting this statement simultaneously. It is here which proves that, when the situation calls for it, even the most unlikely of people can come together to tackle a larger threat as one. Even if the truce was temporary, it was still more effective to tackle the problem with help than to simply let it escalate further. The effectiveness of this action was further proven when, upon being addressed in such a overly direct manner, the girl chose to run off; though her lighthearted chuckles were still somehow able to be heard by both the blonde and the spiky haired teen that had addressed her.
With the initial threat now removed from the scene, Frenda was quick to return her attention back onto the person whom, she believed, was the true cause of the problem in the first place. Touma himself was also back to glaring at the girl who, he knew,was the cause behind the knot that had begun to rise from the back of his head. Neither party had chosen to verbally thrash at the other, one to prevent any other misunderstandings and the other out of not too inclined to care unless it was to defend themselves. That being said, both parties merely glared back at each other in silence, before finally broken from their heated glaring competition by someone who had chosen to finally enter the fray.
"Seem like you two are getting along." Both Frenda and Touma's head shot in the direction of the voice, finding Mugino standing by the entrance to the store with only her purse; indicating that she had bought nothing inside. As she spoke those words, her impassive gaze never lingered too long on either party whilst her posture further indicated that she wasn't at all interested in the eccentric behavior coming from either person she was looking at. "Even so, keep you damn voices down; I could hear you both from the back of the store."
"It's super like I said before; leaving him alone with any of us for long isn't the best idea." The additional comment was provided by Kinuhata, who chosen then to lean out from behind Mugino's form to peer at Touma from a distance. Despite the comment, the girl's eyes held a mischievous glint within them, something which all parties currently looking at her could identify through just a fleeting glance.
"What is that supposed to mean!" Snapped the boy behind Kinuhata's comment, choosing to forgo his original argument with Frenda for the time being and focus his attention on the girl who had spoken out. "And stop making me out to be some skirt-chaser!"
"I never said you were; so that's just you super admitting to being just that."
"Well, I'm not, and the only reason I said it is because I knew that's what you were implying!"
"Face the facts, all guys are super skirt-chasers. Don't think I haven't caught you stealing glances at us in the stores."
"I was doing that to see if you three were done or not!"
"Basically, you're a pervert." Muttered Frenda, choosing now to re-enter the conversation since the object of her irritation was getting what, in her opinion, he deserved. Though, instead of making this brief statement in Japanese, Frenda chose to make the statement in French, thus erecting a puzzled expression from Kamijou as he did not understand the language used.
"…what did you say?"
"Basically, you're a pervert." Though he received a translation, it wasn't the originator of the statement who had answered his question. Rather, it was Mugino who still appeared to be looking quite bored with this entire situation; her expression still impassive as it was before but with faint traces of humor dancing in her shaded brown eyes as she surveyed the boy who was looking back at her. "Personally, I'd prefer womanizer than anything else."
"Basically, you're a scum-bag."
"…I don't understand a word your saying, but I can tell it's hurtful."
Honestly, Touma wanted to nothing more than to just leave now after having so many of these women gang up on him with their taunts and false accusations towards his character. Really now, it was like they were intent on trying to demean him in every possible manner they could think of. They already showed him the different in terms of funds and class; now they were tearing him to pieces just because of his gender. Sure, he was a typical teenage young man and he had his moments in time where he would act like a typical male would. Everyone was like that, there was no escaping it and no denying it at all. But just because he had those impulses did not imply that he always acted on them whenever it surfaced. He was plenty capable of restraining himself from those urges, and that same amount of restraint could have been noted even now as he simply hung his head from his seated position on the ground.
He was a gentleman at heart, but it was hard for a lot of people to see that when you're constantly belittled based on how you look.
"Enough chit-chat, let's get going." Was the statement which put an end to the escapade which had come from Mugino as she swiftly walked passed the distraught young man, flanked by both Frenda and Kinuhata as she moved towards their next destination. When Touma had failed to move from his previous position, the girl who had made the statement had forced herself to stop for a brief moment to shift her attention back towards him, her expression clearly marking her annoyance. "Ka…mi…jou…"
"Yeah, yeah, Ojou-sama; I'm coming." Responded the boy, letting out a louder than necessary sigh as he rose back to his feet once the girl's warning was had reached his ears. At this point, all he could do now was simply do what he was tasked to do and do his absolute best to blend into the background; less any one of these girls try to find something else to use as ammo for their taunting. As he began to adjust the bags on his arms, a familiar tug on his clothes indicated that a certain someone was seeking his attention. With his gaze shifting over towards the person in question, curious blue eyes met with unfocused brown as the individual in question stared back at him. "Takitsubo-san?"
"Don't worry, Kamijou-san." Assured the girl, her gaze remaining unfocused as her hand reached out and took a number of the bags dangling off the boy's arms and slid them off; her left hand now carrying several of the shopping bags in her clinched fist as she completed her statement. "I'll support you…"
It was said somewhere in time that every cloud has a silver lining to it. For every bad situation that occurred there was always at least some good aspect to that situation that can be viewed in a positive light. While it could sometimes be hard to notice those aspects, and sometimes it may very well be impossible to see, there was always a positive factor which would act as a means to counteract all the negatives that came before or after it. Though that optimist viewpoint was sometimes considered to be imprudent, one could not deny that it was a much better way to deal with the hardships of life than to view every negative occurrence without paying attention at all to the good things that came with it.
With the way Touma's life was littered with misfortune, one would think it would be difficult to remain optimistic; but that couldn't have been any further from the truth. In fact, in spite of all his complaining, Kamijou was usually thankful for his misfortune as it meant that no one else would suffer the same ill fate that he did. This way of thinking wasn't limited to just his misfortune, but for every bad situation that occurred, as he was always able to find something good amidst it all. When it came to this particular situation, Kamijou could do nothing but give the quiet girt a lopsided smile in response to her statement, having found the one piece of good that had presented itself to him. While it may have already been said somewhere, may have been a fact he was already aware of, but his current thoughts in regards to this girl remained relatively the same since they had first met.
Takitsubo Rikou, despite what she told herself, was indeed a good person at heart.
"Even if you are a womanizer."
Then again, maybe this was just one of those really, really, bad days.
"Stop saying that!"
The underground shopping center in District 7 was, in more ways than one, a rather large hassle to deal with on certain occasions. For one thing, the place was typically bustling with students who took to going there once classes were over and their schedules permitted them to do so. The reason for its popularity was mainly for how convenient it was to enter since many entrances to the underground streets of this district were scattered about everywhere. Not only that but, due to the long stretch of restaurants, arcades, karaoke bars, and many other noteworthy establishments, coming to this place ideal rather than the crowded sidewalks above ground. It was just more enticing to simply head down a flight of stairs and instantly find something that worth investing your time with than to be above and run the risk of someone dragging you into an alley to mug you. Though most people weren't thinking along those lines as they entered the shopping center; being either too ignorant of the very real dangers in life or too delusional to believe it could ever happen to them.
Either way, the fact still stands that the underground mall was crowded as hell after school sessions were over. It didn't help that today was only half-a-day's worth of lessons before classes ended.
Another fact about this shopping center was that, unless you knew exactly where you were going or looked at the shopping center map, the place was a damn maze. One moment you may find yourself near the school dorms and half an hour later you'll resurface to find out you're near the center of the district. It was maddening if you didn't know where you were going, having to take into account precisely where you are in both the mall and within the district. Believe it or not, the task was not as easy as one would think given how vast the place was, along with how easy it was to become sidetracked by all the establishments that would easily make one lose track of their location.
But for some, the task was considerably easy when there was very little to distract them from being aware of their exact location.
Such was the case for a certain young man who could be found in a frequently visited music store. The store itself was vast, rows upon rows of music from the latest releases to the most outdated works of the time. Various genres of music were sold here; from the most popular mainstream works to the classics that typically went un-purchased due to lack of interest by the youth. Though, the establishment didn't only sell albums, as a section to the side of the store held head-phones, ear-pieces, and other devises for customers to buy. Factoring in that several areas between the rows of albums stood headphones to use for previewing the album you were interested in and you pretty much have the ideal image for a typical music store.
This youth, however, wasn't here with the intent to purchase something; in fact he was here for an entirely different reason. Said youth was currently sifting through albums with his fingers, occasionally appearing to be interested in one before putting it aside for the time being and continuing on down the row. Though, if one were to look into his eyes, they would find that they seemed fairly unfocused; clearly indicating that nothing which was here was of any significance to him at all. So what was his purpose here then if he wasn't interested in anything he was looking at? That question would have been raised had someone taken notice to it, but that was thankfully not the case here.
That changed when the deadpan look in his gaze suddenly vanished; though his expression changed very little. A few moments after this sudden change had occurred, the young man calmly made his way over towards the set of ear-covering headphones and slipped them over his head. After selecting his choice of music he wished to preview, the boy's hand rose to adjust the audio settings down so low that the he may as well have muted the volume altogether.
(You know, your tardiness is becoming a real hassle lately Chouka.)
To the common-place individual, it would appear as though the teen in question was simply listening to music. The image was further proven as his lips didn't so much as twitch as he stood in place whilst his fingers shifted the CD cases around his person; his eyes once more shifting back into the lifeless pools of caramel brown. Though, even if he couldn't see the person in question, he could somehow imagine her appearing sheepish at the non-verbal statement he had made.
(Khehehe, sorry about that Kurou-kun.)
Several stores away, a certain girl who looked to be a track runner was indeed looking sheepish; something which would have disturbed some who would have been looking directly at her person. Her location was, fittingly enough, in a sports oriented store that primarily focused in footwear. The products were focused in nearly any sport-related activity that came to mind; thus the reason she was currently crouched down 'analyzing' a rather nice looking set of spike shoes on the bottom shelf.
(Oh, sure, apologize to him and not everyone else you've kept waiting.)
This particular person, attest to the aforementioned parties, was actually located above ground in a small lounge with a laptop in front of his person and a plastic cup of hot-coffee in his hand. Similar to Chouka, he too was rather expressive with his thoughts if the displeased scowl wasn't a large enough indicator.
(Be nice Sakurai.)
This particular person was far calmer and less mature sounding than the previously mentioned individuals. Said person wasn't alone either, as their identical twin was seated next to them happily snacking on a smoothie; the speaker in question also indulging on a frozen treat of their own on a park bench next to a random vender. Their position was diagonally across from the lounge which Sakurai was located, though their backs were purposely facing away from that establishment. Neither twin looked to have a care in the world, and rightfully so considering how they didn't necessarily need to do anything.
Upon being addressed by the twins, Sakurai merely clicked his tongue as he continued to examine the text on the screen of his laptop. In all seriousness, it should have been expected for Chouka to be the last person to check in amongst the five of them. He personally found it a very annoying habit of hers that ORDER could do without; but everyone was entitled to their own little quirks. That being said, it was a tolerable habit so long as it didn't hinder too heavily on their objectives during a job.
(...I said I was sorry…)
Apparently, a few additional thoughts had slipped through the mental link.
(OI! SAKURAI, STOP MAKING CHOU-CHAN FEEL BAD!)
The well-dressed male couldn't help but recoil slightly at the mental back-lash that was directed at his person. Thankfully, he had placed his coffee back on the table; otherwise a less than favorable situation may have occurred because of it. Fortunately, he wasn't the only one who felt it, as Chouka and Kurou also felt it as well, the former nearly jumping up from her crouched position out of surprise and the latter appearing quite uncomfortable as he gripped the side of his head in obvious pain.
Letting out a sigh, Kurou raised his hand to switch to a different album preview on the limited selection provided. As he did this, the lifelessness in his eyes settled into a more composed one as he decided to get down to business.
(Is the information useful Sakurai?)
As subtle as it was, all participants who were current 'connected' bore a noticeable change opposed to how they were prior to this inquiry. They didn't need to look at each other to know that the situation was now a serious one with little time for idol conversation or petty squabbles. Now it was all business, no jokes, no riff-raff, and very little time to waste. Even the twins who appeared quite satisfied with themselves appeared to have lost a bit of the radiance that came with the innocence they portrayed. No matter the perspective, it was clear as day that something had been aroused from its slumber within each of these five individuals. From this point onward, they weren't students or innocent bystanders anymore; they were professionals who worked in the gritty underworld that made up this city of lights.
At this very moment, ORDER was officially clocked in as workers within the dark.
(I'll give our benefactor some credit; he wasn't as dumb as I pegged him to be. It'll take a little while, but most of the information will be accessible in less than an hour.) Responded the young man, sipping on his coffee as the screen in front of him began to decrypt the information being processed. (Shame this was on such short notice; I could have gotten a professional hacker to do this for me instead.)
(Can you get it done any faster?) This inquiry was made by Chouka, who had altered her position towards a different row that was facing away from the entrance to the shop.
(I'm no miracle worker, but I'll see what I can do.)
(How did things on your end go then Kurou?)
(I have the general layout for the exterior; interior wise I'm clueless.) Responded the teen, having removed the headphones and returned to sifting through CDs prior to the girl's appearance. (We need to handle this delicately, otherwise this whole operation will end up blowing up in our faces, you know?)
(Are we splitting up then?) The concern in Noboro's voice was not missed by anyone who was listening. Clearly the thought itself wasn't all that appealing to him, something which anyone with half a brain could deduce based on the way he sounded.
(That seems like our best option.) Concluded Sakurai, his fingers dancing across the keyboard while his eyes never once left his monitor. (Dividing the work would make this whole thing easier if we do it right.)
(You know they aren't going to take this whole thing lying down.) Interjected Chouka, her expression darkening after hearing Kurou's previous statement. (Some outside party's gonna get involved no matter how careful we are.)
(You know, that's precisely the reason why we need to do this quickly.) Responded Kurou, his expression remaining unchanged as he moved away from the rows of CDs and instead making a bee-line for the headphones hanging on the walls along the front of the store. (I take it you'll be going on your own Sakurai?)
(That would be ideal.) Confirmed the well-groomed lad, taking another sip of his coffee before sparing a glance at the sky above. (The sun will start setting soon; if we're going to do this then we need to get moving. Keep your phone's on and I'll send the information over to you all when everything's done.)
(Then it's settled; until Sakurai's done we'll proceed with the final preparations. The minute he's done, we'll begin.)
With that final statement made, the connection between the five members of ORDER was severed. With the mental conference completed, Kurou's hand quickly took a hold of the plastic package of a rather expensive set of headphones that were on the display. They were a bit pricy for his tastes, but he was improvising at this point given the circumstances. With the amount of delicacy this whole situation, he couldn't really afford to be picky in regards of selection. After paying for the headphones, the lad dressed in casual-wear simply exited the store and disappeared into the surrounding crowd.
Throughout this, his left hand remained within the confines of his pocket; clutching the hard plastic of his cell-phone as if it was his only lifeline in the world.
Mugino Shizuri was accustomed to a lot of things most people generally weren't meant to grow used to. Death was as common as breathing in her world, as was the smell of burnt flesh and the feel of blood on her hands. In many ways, she could be considered unflappable, immune to many sick and twisted things that went on behind the veil of light which Academy City did its best to maintain. She understood the reasoning behind it, as it was difficult not to considering what she knew. Had the rest of the occupants of this city become aware of the happenings behind their perfect little worlds, she would surely bear witness to so much anger and chaos aimed in no particular direction. Such a catastrophe would no doubt leave the massive city in ruins along with its reputation for all the twisted experiments that go on within its walls. That being said, of the many jobs she and the other members of ITEM had been tasked with, it could be assumed that it took a lot to really phase any of these girl's when it came to the terrible happenings that occur here.
But that little bit of information only portrayed to the less ordinary events that occur in the underground. When out and about, there were some things which Mugino may or may not be used to dealing with.
"I basically think we should just ditch that guy and move on." Frenda's complaints were admittedly something she was used to dealing with. Well, Mugino didn't particularly do anything to settle whatever the blonde's problem was and elected instead to simply ignore her.
As it stood, both her, Kinuhata, and Frenda were currently seated at a table in a within the center of a long chain of fast-food restaurants, though none of the girl's present appeared to have ordered anything. The table was vacant aside from the multiple shopping bags which Touma had been carrying until this point. The total number of bags was minor to say the least, though that was mainly because they had started to store several of their purchases within other bags to limit the number which had to be carried at one time.
That action was not done out of kindness towards Touma, mind you. The reason for this action was because of Rikou deciding to assist their little carrier with his task. THe boy was, of course, ridiculed for having her helping him; but that was put to an end when the girl had spoken up on his behalf. It didn't silence them all completely, though mainly it was Frenda and Kinuhata who spoke out against the lad, but it at least reduced the amount of taunts being directed at him. Kamijou himself didn't really say much in terms of thanking her, but that was possibly due to the fact that he didn't want to provoke anymore comments from either of the aforementioned girls.
No sooner had Takitsubo decided to aid the boy did Mugino decide to finally stop and purchase a replacement phone. The task itself didn't take long, nor did it appease Kamijou in the slightest to know that he was basically being carted around when he claimed to have seen the same store a number of times in passing. His annoyance, however, largely went unheard as did everything else he had said during their time here; having opted instead to tinker with her new mobile device whilst they walked.
Interesting enough, despite all his complaints, when the food court came into vision he suggested making the stop to provide some drinks for everyone. While almost all of them remained skeptical, his proposal was supported by the person who had chosen to help him carry their things. This had proven to be the decisive factor in stopping here in the first place; though the tea-haired girl wouldn't have been surprised if the boy had taken off to avoid carrying around their things anymore. Reason for this line of thought was mainly due to how he had conveniently stepped away from the scene a number of days ago after claiming she had won their little scuffle. To be honest, she wouldn't be too surprised if he did just that; but that was only based on one past experience.
"I don't know; I super like the idea of having someone else carry my things; though it would be better if it wasn't that guy." Responded Kinuhata, stating her own personal opinion on the matter though her expression appearing quite displeased at the thought of someone she didn't trust handle her valuables. "I just get this super weird feeling around him."
"He basically looks clueless; not the ideal person who you wanna have around all the time." Continued Frenda, further adding on to Saiai's previous comment. "I still don't know why he's even here with us."
Upon that statement, both girl's shifted their gaze over towards the esteemed leader of ITEM, who was still tinkering with her new phone to see how many applications were provided and deleting whichever ones that considered worthless. Because of this, it was safe to assume that she had been paying no mind to the subject of the two's conversation; having immersed herself in her own task to pay much mind to anything else. But both knew better than to just write off Mugino like that; they knew she was listening yet was only choosing to not comment on the matter at hand. While neither of the two was willing to ask it aloud, the girl undoubtedly knew the real question which was currently swimming through their minds at the moment.
The question was a simple one really: Why had Mugino invited that guy?
Unfortunately, it was also an inquiry that was to be asked at a different time and place; for it seemed as though their bit of free-time was drawing to a close. This was indicated by the fact that Mugino's phone suddenly lit up as she received a text from their sponsor, something which the girl was currently reading. Having informed the individual who had sent the message that her mobile device was reestablished and was capable of receiving the information necessary without having to use a second-hand source to acquire it.
Once she the message was finished, she forwarded it to the rest of her group; signified by the synchronized buzzing of each person present's phones vibrating after receiving the text. Both of girl's were quick to scan its contents before closing their mobile devices, Kinuhata pocketing her's while Frenda chose instead to place it on the table which they were sitting at. They knew discussing out in the open was not the best option with the amount of people who could possibly over-hear them, thus their relative silence. All that was left was for Takitsubo to return and they would be on their way towards their next job.
That was the plan anyway; but it seemed that a certain someone was taking their sweet-ass time coming back.
"For god's sake, how long does it take for-"
In previous observations, Mugino had already deduced that the additional body among their little group would have been easy to lose sight of in a crowd. It wasn't an outlandish assessment considering how he had managed to escape from her during their first meeting using the crowd as a means to escape from her. Apparently, his normality had its benefits since she had been caught completely off-guard as he approached the table with several of the promised beverages being carried on his person. Apparently he had chosen against going to one of the chain-restaurants around them; as most of which was being carried were canned or bottled drinks. Following up behind him was the familiar track-suit wearing young girl, who was carrying nothing on her person aside from her cell phone along with a another one of a similar design to her's that was black in color.
"As I was saying: How long does it take for you to buy drinks?" Repeated the young woman, her irritation clear now that the object of her ire was present.
"Sorry, sorry, I had to stop at an ATM." Responded the teen dismissively, carefully setting down the beverages on the table whilst Rikou took to placing his phone down on the table as next to Frenda's matching black mobile device. As he was doing this, one would note that he looked relatively sheepish as most of the girl's present realized a common factor between the bottled drinks he had brought back. "I didn't know what you all wanted, so I hope you don't mind tea."
"Really, is that all you can afford?"
"I super hate tea."
"Basically, unless it's sweet, tea is disgusting."
"I should have known…"
In retrospect, with the way these girl's seemed to carelessly blow money the way they did, it should have been expected that anything he bought was bound to be insufficient in comparison. He didn't even know why he was being generous to these girls. With the exception of Takitsubo, all of them had been treating him little to no respect in any way at all. Why be generous to people like that; why try to be courteous to them when all that he would get in return was scorn? One thing was for certain, he could at least indulge in his own personal purchase; having already popped the lid to his own beverage in an attempt to down himself in his own sorrows. What made it sadder was that he was using coffee to do this opposed to alcohol. That just showed how badly he wanted this day to end and how little he cared so long as something good came out of this terrible day.
"Seriously, this is so petty it's distasteful." Continued the Mugino after plucking up one of the bottles and examining it, her expression looking further displeased when she realized it that it was a rather cheap looking brand as well. The look of disapproval that followed this knowledge served its purpose well in adding further insult to injury regarding Touma's less-than favorable money issues. She didn't even drink it, didn't even open it, she simply stared at it for a few moments before putting it back onto the table and letting out a sigh before addressing the boy once more. "I don't even know why I bothered asking you to tag along. Just go home already; you've just been a bore the entire time anyway."
You would think that being subjected to such a blunt statement such as that would have left a person dejected. That was what one would typically expect since nobody would take kindly to being considered dull or at least defend against the accusation. But, oddly enough, Kamijou hardly seemed phased by the statement; though it could be argued that the reason behind his lack of a negative reaction was due to the fact that he was finally able to leave the group and finally return home for the day. It was, after all, something he had been wishing to do once he realized he had been tricked into carting around all the expensive junk these girl's had bought for the past hour or so. With his door of opportunity to leave now open to him, Kamijou merely took another sip of his coffee in his attempt to cover the satisfaction from appearing on his face whilst mindlessly grabbing for his phone on the edge of the closest to him.
"Can't be helped I guess." Retorted the lad, having gathered all his items and looking a bit too eager to leave the company of these young women. So eager in fact that he nearly backed into someone who was passing behind him, but thankfully nothing ill came about from that. "Well, um, I'll just be on my way then…..nice seein' you again Takitsubo-san."
Having said what he felt he needed to say, he gave the remainder of the group a court wave before stepping back in the mass of fellow students until all that could be seen was the back of his spiky black haired head. Even that distinctive trait of his was soon swallowed up in the crowd as he vanished from the group's line of sight as he went well on his way to his dorm. Although, only one set of eyes followed after his retreating back as he departed. Once it was clear Kamijou was no longer within their visage, Mugino's shaded brown eyes shifted themselves over towards Rikou, who's eyes had once more lost their focus as she drifted off into space. Though, there was something different about it this time around which she couldn't particularly place at the time, nor did she care to at that moment. ITEM had work to do, and that meant all personal related issues were to put aside for the time being until after the job was done and over with.
"Seems like you made a new friend Takitsubo." That, however, didn't imply that Mugino couldn't comment on the matter.
"Basically a one-sided friendship if you ask me."
"I super don't look forward to carrying all this though."
Nor did it mean that Frenda or Kinuhata were denied their right to throw in their own two-cents as well. At the very least, the latter had chosen to address a different issue attest to the individual whom they were referring to whom had just now departed. The former was obviously still displeased with the teen from the events that had transpired between them earlier, but those comments were ignored for the most part by Rikou. For she was still too busy registering Mugino's comment; having found herself swimming in a sea of thoughts that were gradually flooding her mind with each passing moment. But, despite being addressed, Rikou chose not to utter a single word in response while doing her best to put aside her current thoughts for the sake of the task which ITEM was assigned to.
But, in the subconscious part of her mind, she couldn't deny that there was indeed some truth in Mugino's off-handed statement.
Hello, hello; welcome to the bottom!
As you can see, I kept my word and put in a little bit of interaction between our favorite unfortunate protagonist and our blonde older ball of sunshine Fren da. Of course, a little bit of interaction with Kinuhata as well, but I think Frenda made an easier target to focus my attention on due to her quirks. Add those said quirks in with Touma's misfortune and your bound to get a humorous disaster as a result.
Also, I'd like to say that I'm still trying my best to tone done on the internal mono-logs as much as I can. It's not easy for me since that's the way I've always chosen to write, but just know that I am listening to you guys when you ask me to tone things down and I hope that this chapter isn't as bad in terms of walls of text. If it is, then I'm officially blaming Microsoft Word since it doesn't appear as much on there as it does when I post it here. =_=
As usual, if there are any inquiries, thoughts, or concerns that arise in your mind, feel free to address them to me and I'll do what I can to answer them. Otherwise, I hope you enjoyed my little piece of work.
Goodbye for now.