Description: The life of a cheerleader is so difficult -- especially when you become immensely famous in the school practically overnight. Sometimes one just needs to relax, and spend some time with an old friend.
The Big Game. Or rather, "a" big game, between the miscreants of Gedo High School and the privileged silver-spoon foreigners of Pacific High. The contest has been a close one, the score tied nearly throughout the game, but a Pacific field goal with a minute left on the clock has put Gedo against the ropes, so to speak.
The bleachers are packed, as expected; Gedo's school spirit has been riding high, ever since their glorious victory in the Inter High School Tournament, not to mention the violent expulsion of Atelier Medical Group from the grounds of each and every one of the member high schools. Aside from a few isolated incidents here and there, it's been mercifully quiet in Southtown -- a grand opportunity for educators, and an opportunity for normalcy to once again reign supreme in the bustling metropolis of Southtown.
On the Visitors side of the bleachers, most of the students have been surging with the waves of activity -- they're kind of working into a frenzy at the moment. But not all Gedo students are on the Visitors side.
As the final seconds of the clock tick down, it becomes notably clear that one Gedo student in particular is on the Home team's side. She's been called Miko Kobayashi, and her crystal blue eyes have been locked onto one Pacific cheerleader in particular, for the past... oh... two minutes or so.
When Pacific plays, Tiffany Lords is always there to cheer. Her cheers have gotten more punchy, more explosive, of late; it's clear at this point that she's physically head and shoulders above the rest of the cheer squad, and accordingly, forms the center of some comparatively daring, acrobatic cheers.
During the tail end of the game, though, Tiffany has the bench; in some respects, she's /too/ eye-catching to just have going through the motions outside of a specific halftime routine. She might actually distract from the game -- and indeed seems to be doing just that for one Gedo student.
After a minute or so of being studied, Tiffany gets that instinctive feeling of being watched -- and before too long, her eyes find their way to Miko Kobayashi's, locking right back.
Well, it would seem that Pacific doesn't really need the help -- demoralized and angry, the Gedo team doesn't seem to be able to keep rein on their emotions long enough to even up the score. Which is probably a good thing for the cheer squads of -both- teams.
Miko, though...? At the moment, she couldn't be less interested in the game. Her piercing gaze locks onto Tiffany's, and a faint smile crosses her lips.
"Hi. Long time no see." She's too far to be clearly heard -- not wanting to be seen in -too- close proximity to the cheer bench -- and yet, her words resound as clear as if she'd been standing mere centimeters away, though... well, how good -is- Tiffany at lip-reading anyway?
The simple thought is followed up with a slightly more complex one: "Whenever you have a moment?" The gakuran-coated Gedo student is clearly in no particular rush, herself.
Tiffany can lip-read okay in her native language -- she's very observant. Japanese... a little less so. She seems briefly confused at how well she can understand Miko here. ... surely she's just having an 'on' day, though. The adrenaline's pumping, her team is winning... yes, that must be it.
Turning to one of her friends, she drops to English. "Hey -- I know I'm only in the halftime shows these days, so... I'm gonna go check up on something, okay?" She exchanges a few more words, mostly practical concerns -- 'if everyone else leaves get my stuff and dump it in my room,' mostly.
With that squared away, she breaks into a light jog, retrieving her coat and making her way over to the visitors' side of the stadium, sitting down next to Miko. "HEY YOU," she says, brightly. "It's been a while! How have you BEEN?"
Tiffany Lords: A victim of her own success?! The Gedo upperclassman might misconstrue the situation that's led to Tiffany being benched, but whatever the reason, she's happy that the cheerleader is able to break away from the pack. It makes conversations like this one less... conspiratorial.
To make things a little easier on Tiffany, Miko steps away from the heart of activity, standing a bit apart and out of direct view of the ruckus in midfield. Maybe the team... won or something? Miko is less concerned with the outcome of the game, and more with the arrival of the wannabe detective. "Busy, busy... I am sure you know how it is." It's true that Miko could probably carry this conversation out in English, but electing to use easier Japanese diction and grammar comes a bit more naturally to her.
"I apologize, I was not able to get back in touch with you after the tournament." The gakuran-coated student bows faintly, at that. The shorter student looks up to the American, with her hands tucked comfortably within their pockets. "Are you happy with how things turned out in the end?"
Tiffany moves with Miko easily, giving a small, respectable bow back. She's missed the other student, even if she doesn't quite say as much in so many words; she's eager to talk to her.
"Mostly," Tiffany replies, taking a deep breath in. Her Japanese is a little better than it used to be, though not much; it's still clearly her second language. She's been trying, though, and it shows. "I would've liked to have won, but... I met some nice PEOPLE, and everything turned out A-OK, so it's fine! I haven't thought about it too hard."
She smiles at Miko, continuing to stick to Japanese. "What about you? Do you think there's ANYTHING missing?" Her brow furrows a little, as she goes over the events of the tournament in her head again.
Met some nice people, Miko muses to herself; that should balance out the truly despicable characters the cheerleader had come across. Sparing a glance at the crowd as they surge onto the field, she nonetheless grants the lion's share of her attention to the blonde American. "It sounds like you had a good time," summarizes Miko as she offers a friendly smile in return.
As to whether there's anything... missing... Miko shuffles her feet, toeing into the soft grass for a moment as she considers her words. "Our school's representative ran across his own leads, though he declined to really share what he'd found." There were at least three Gedo students involved in the tournament, though in typical Japanese delicacy she's opting not to identify the obvious party, Daigo Kazama, by name. "Suffice to say... it became rather glaringly obvious that Atelier was the primary culprit. One loose thread -does- remain, though, and it's finding out exactly what this... NESTS, Atelier, or whatever they want to call themselves... had wanted." The Gedo student shifts uncomfortably, looking up at Tiffany intently. "So they have our blood samples. What... can they really do with that, that they can't get through normal channels?"
Miko has a decent idea of the realm of possibilities. But the question isn't asked for her own benefit, but for Tiffany's.
Tiffany likewise looks to the crowd for a moment. She feels like she should be there -- but this conversation is more important, isn't it? She cants her head a little, and then turns her attention to Miko again. "Blood samples -- that's right. And mo... moni... fight-watching stuff." That's a little worrying, she thinks -- someone keeping an eye on things like that is doing so for a reason.
She shifts her weight back and forth a little, trying to jog her mind into coming up with something by moving her body. "Well... if they've got medical stuff like that, maybe it's to see if there's ANYTHING in our bodies that makes us such good fighters?" It's the only thing she can think of -- there's a reason they wanted to attract strong fighters and monitor them, right?
Absently playing with one of her forelocks, she continues, "Or maybe they're trying to clone us. SPOOKY." She doesn't seem to actually be entertaining that idea.
"Yes... I have given that some thought," agrees Miko, seemingly less worried as Tiffany seems to be guiding them both over the shoals of anxiety. "But the notion of anything -particular- being in our blood is a little..."
At that moment, Tiffany reaches up to swat at her forelock. Miko's shoulders tense up, her eyes narrow, and the atmosphere seems to grow heavy...
Just for a moment, though, as Miko realizes that the gesture was just that. And she reaches her hand up to take a kittenlike swing at Tiffany's forelock as well, sticking out the tip of her tongue by way of explanation. Yes, she noticed -- perhaps more than Tiffany herself did.
Bearing a residual smile upon her face, she laughs casually: "Spooky? It's... if it's true, that's pretty crazy... Do you think that's even -possible- in this day and age? They've cloned cattle, but a real -person?-" She, too, seems to be joking about this fanciful idea, even though she truly is giving it a bit more thought. "I haven't really heard anything -else- about this organization, sadly..."
When Miko bats at her forelock, Tiffany twitches away a little on reflex... but only that littlest bit. She starts laughing a little once the atmosphere lightens again; she seems amused, more than anything else. "Oh -- I was just being REALLY silly," Tiffany replies, with a wave of her hand. "I don't think they would actually CLONE anyone."
The thought circles back around to monitoring and bloodwork again. "Maybe they want to make medicine that makes people fight better," Tiffany says; if she were speaking English, she'd probably find 'combat stimulants' much easier to find, but she has to work her way around it. "Anyway... keep an EYE out, I guess?"
She takes a breath in through her nose, gently exhaling. "We should get a little further out. Gedo might get ROWDY soon..."
So Tiffany hasn't pursued the cloning angle -- or if she has, she's keeping said research to herself. It doesn't matter: it's a conversational dead-end as far as Miko is concerned. And matter for further investigation by her extensive leads, naturally.
She seems more entertained by the effect of playing with the cheerleader's hair, to be honest. The fact that she'd invaded the cheerleader's privacy so flagrantly, and yet, it was just brushed off? That's a good sign, the puppetmaster tells herself. "Medicine, that's a good idea. It would work well with the pharmaceutical angle, and it might explain why they were so fiercely protective..."
But it wouldn't, Miko considers, explain why they needed to use -armed- guards to manhandle people into compliance, nor go to such obviously illegal and predatory measures to obtain said samples. Word getting out would tend to -sink- an ordinary company, of course; instead, the media gave very little attention to the shadowy organization after the obvious fallout was taken care of.
"Yes, I will keep an eye out," resolves Miko, observing the minute changes in Tiffany's expression with interest. "Good plan, yes," agrees Miko, moving along in response to Tiffany's suggestion. No one ought to know the layout of Pacific High better than one of its own students, after all.
"How is... the teacher recovering, anyway?"
Tiffany leads Miko away from the athletic fields; there's a nice clearing that's on the 'pleasant' side of the November coolness, rather than the 'bracing' side. Tiffany elects to lie on it, because her routine has become fairly intense and after it she loves to lie on the ground and feel incredible.
"She's doing OKAY, I think. We haven't talked much," Tiffany admits, after a few moments of going through her mental rolodex to figure out who Miko is talking about. 'The teacher' isn't what she thinks of Kyoko as most of the time. "I wish I could go see her AGAIN. She had me thinking about transferring to Justice, even."
She looks over to Miko again, asking, "... hey, are we friends outside of LOOKING INTO stuff, or is this just business?" The question has been bouncing around in her mind for a little bit -- since the mutual forelock-batting. It's hard to read Miko, sometimes.
Tiffany sure does want to spend a lot of time with this... teacher. Nurse. Whatever. Miko doesn't know the relationship, but the notion that Tiffany might want to leave a life of relative comfort and privilege to enter the elite Justice academy on the lowest rung of all... It's not an insignificant statement.
Though the follow-up presented to Miko does raise even more questions -- with their answers hopefully forthcoming. "... I can be as much of a friend as you might like me to be...?" She smiles hopefully, as she kneels down beside Tiffany. She doesn't really feel comfortable lying on the grass .. not right away, at least. "I can keep secrets, if that is what you are asking. And today..." Her shoulders shrug lightly. "My schedule is free for the time being." Open invitation... to whatever Tiffany is suggesting.
"GREAT! We should go do stuff together. Hit the ARCADES, go shopping, get FOOD... I don't really know what's good out here, so I need some HELP with that. I'll try anything!" She seems to be steadily brightening at the thought of spending time with a friend she made out here -- if only because it might help Roy get over himself.
She rolls over onto her side, looking up at Miko. "You're so mature -- all, 'I can keep secrets,'" she notes, with a giggle. "I like it! You're KINDA weird, but..." She attempts to tilt her head a little -- then winces. "Oof -- I /knew/ I threw something WEIRD, during the show," she says, suddenly. "Ugghhh... my neck hurts when I move it funny." Again -- something she'd have an easier time communicating in English. But she'll stick to Japanese.
Kurata-san was one of the players on the Gedo team. And his relationship was starting to take a turn for the worst. The most terrible thing though was a rumor he had heard just before the game: that his girlfriend was found sleeping with a member of the Pacific football team.
Tragic, how rumors can affect one's performance on the game field. Even more tragic when that fear of inadequacy can turn into words one might regret... and that those words can lead to violence.
Yep, that's the sound of brawling on the playing field...!
Arcades? Miko can't honestly say that would be -high- on her list of places to go, but spending time with an impressionable member of a rival school... that could perhaps make the experience palatable. "I know quite a few good places to get food. And to... shop." She takes a moment to look down at her choice of fashion, smiling weakly as she adds, "Though it might not look like it, admittedly."
She does flash a puzzled expression in response to being called 'kinda weird', but decides to smile as if it were a compliment... right up until the time that the cheerleader winces from the sudden change of position.
"Lie down on your front," suggests Miko calmly, "And let me see what I can do." She doesn't wait for Tiffany to comply, either -- almost as soon as the cheerleader mentions it, her 'friend' from Gedo is already reaching for the back of her neck, hoping to tender aid to where it's needed most. She certainly has practice helping her alter-ego's fellow cast members when -they- need it, after all...
"Huh?" Tiffany seems momentarily confused by the request to lie down on her front, but doesn't seem to mind doing so. She continues her roll, now all the way down on her front. She has no idea what to expect here -- she gathers that Miko has at least a little knowledge of massage (and it would make her her second friend to have such), but...
She hears the sound of a brawl ensuing, but it doesn't seem /dreadfully/ urgent right now. This is just the kind of thing that happens when you have Gedo and Pacific in the same place, right? Usually she'd be right there in the middle of it, either getting involved or trying to stop it (which really amount to the same thing), but...
... nah. She's sore, and she wants to talk to her friend instead. "We have to try the PHOTO print machines though," Tiffany says, at the pointed lack of mention of the arcades. "Still -- yeah! I'd LOVE to get food -- I've been trying everything around here!"
This would certainly not be the first time that Miko has delivered a back massage. On the contrary: within moments, her careful and practiced touch is able to pinpoint the offending muscles. Her hands may be a bit chilly at first, but with firm application of pressure, it won't be long before the muscles are loosened and relaxed, and moreover, quite warm. "Just relax..." she suggests quietly, passing a gaze over to the brawling students. "You've worked hard today."
Miko listens carefully, alternating as the situation demands between her knuckles and fingertips. She wasn't crazy about the arcades, and she's -really- not crazy about being caught on camera, but she also considers that there are several -million- people in this country: some are bound to look alike. "Photo print machines -- the locals tend to call them 'purikura.' I think I know a place... but I am curious, though." She pauses, listening as she kneads a particularly dense knot of muscles to make sure she's not hurting Tiffany. But once that situation is resolved: "Have you tried eel before?"
Letting herself take slow, deep, regular breaths, Tiffany allows Miko to go to work on her back and neck. She lets out a contented sigh at one point, moving her shoulders just slightly. Her arms fold in front of her, and she allows herself to just drift a little. She's still talking, of course -- but it's nice to feel taken care of, for sure.
"I haven't! I've tried some kinda weird Chinese stuff, some local places... but I haven't had eel," Tiffany admits. Now that she's relaxed, her inflection sounds a little more natural; she clearly overthinks her speech when she lets herself. "Why do you ask? Do you know a good place?"
She's already thinking about it, of course. The blonde /loves/ to try new foods when she gets the opportunity. "Purikura," she murmurs while waiting for an answer, already trying to pick that one apart. 'puri' -- from print... but kura? That one's a mystery to her.
The young woman dressed in all black can sense a whole rainbow of emotional states present. She remains quiet for most, but it seems the most troubling ponderance is the simplest to resolve. "It's short for 'Purinto Kurabu,' or 'Print Club.'" Her English pronunciation is perfect, the second time: the phonemes for L and R are matched perfectly, in a rare sign that she might actually know Tiffany's native tongue. "I suppose that was what they called the first machines, and it just kind of stuck." It's unclear whether she intended 'stuck' as a reference to the photo stickers, though.
As for food... "I know many good places. Eel is available at -any- sushi restaurant, though... I have a few in mind I'd love to introduce you to."
But, for the moment, her thumbs are taking over, applying deep pressure to the affected areas of Tiffany's upper back. "Am I pressing too hard...? Just let me know..."
Miko knows just what she's thinking before Tiffany herself does -- and she kind of likes that. The comment about it getting stuck causes her to burst out laughing, though -- which makes the pressure from those thumbs, briefly, almost painful. ... only almost, though. Tiffany stays where she is, thinking about what Miko's saying.
"Sounds great," she says. "I'll try anything!" She moves a little under Miko's hands, and when she asks, says, "It's -- it feels kinda WEIRD, but... it's not bad," after taking some time to think on it. "It's not familiar, but... I like it. How'd you get so good at this...?"
Her guard is totally down, at this point. The idea of doing anything but having this casual chat feels almost silly.
It may be hard for Tiffany to see Miko's face from her current position, but she should be able to hear the slight puff of air from her nostrils -- a sure sign that she smiled at Tiffany's sudden burst of laughter.
"Eel and octopus are two of those things you just need to not-think about eating. But once you do..."
How did she get so good at this? Her response is simple, if brief: "My family. The hospital... well, there's a lot the doctors can't really do for them."
In a way, she's not wrong.
The puppetmaster can definitely sense the positive impact she's having upon the teen who once attacked her for simply looking suspicious. But she is careful not to push the envelope too far -- Miko is nothing if not patient.
And then a thought occurs to her. In Japanese, she begins: "I'm sorry, I've got to ask..." And then she switches to slightly-accented English, as some words just... don't carry over in Japanese: "Are you allergic to shellfish?"
She remains quiet for the reply.
"Huh? No, not at all," Tiffany replies, still languid and relaxed. "I always feel so bad for people who are, like... shrimp is /delicious/," she says, moving back to English. She very carefully says nothing about the family side of things, because if she engages that topic she's likely to get depressed, from the sound of it.
"As far as I know, I don't have any other allergies, either... I think there might be one class of antibiotics?" Wobbling a hand, she says, "Nothing big, anyway." Her arms unfold at this point, and she's just sprawled across the ground like a cat.
"I wish anyone at Pacific wanted to get out and do stuff. Almost no one bothers -- it's weird," she says, staying in English for now. "They're so... not /lazy/, but..." She's having a hard time finding the word for this one in /English/, even.
Perhaps moving to English was a bad move -- Miko can -speak- English, but actually interpreting Valley Girlese is... challenging. Accordingly, her responses are substantially slower than before. Considering the nature of the conversation, that's not a terrible thing. And speaking of which, Miko moves her pressure down to the arm closest to her, kneading a bit more gently, quite cognizant of the effect it's having on Tiffany's defenses.
"I would love to go out with you, Tiffany." She blinks, brow furrowing. Something about that phrasing troubles her.
A beat too late, she realizes how that came out. "G-go out and do stuff with you," she clarifies with a light cough. "Like purikura and food. Are you free to go now...? Or, you know, after this."
The arm isn't something that even hurts, particularly -- but Tiffany doesn't mind as the pressure moves there. She blushes a little at the comment about going out with her -- and then laughs a little once Miko realizes what it is she said. "That sounds great! Yeah, nothing else for the day -- I mean, I COULD go back and do some homework, but NO WAY." She shifts back to Japanese and stays there, now; she can tell Miko's is a little shaky.
"Just... finish up what you're doing, okay? It FEELS great..." She arches her back a bit, then turns her head to look up at Miko as best she can. "Thanks for getting my attention out at the game. I was kinda... it's /boring/ spending most of the performances on the bench." She laughs a little, saying, "Then again -- everyone else should get a chance to do stuff, too!"
Log created on 20:57:10 11/28/2015 by Natsu, and last modified on 11:06:55 12/06/2015.