Description: The streets of Southtown can be rough, especially of late with so much of the city still recovering. A group of thugs finds themselves what seems like an easy target, only for a new challenger to step in and save the day.
With the recovery efforts in Southtown progressing, life in the city truly is starting to reach the point of normality once again. Stores are opened, damages have been repaired, and the streets are filling up with pedestrians who no longer jump at every shadow by an alley they come across.
Unfortunately, this does also mean that much more 'regular' hazards within the city are popping up too. Perhaps the fact that the city is still in a bit of a swing state after the Darkstalker Crisis and the upheaval in the Southside Syndicate is making color gangs much more prevalent again, too, with many making the effort to take advantage of the turbulent state.
And indeed, just a few blocks away from the beach where teenagers often congregrate after school hours, the evidence of this newly-emerging trend of street gangs is showing itself. Along a smaller side street, six young men wearing bandannas and vests of yellow have backed up two teenaged girls against a wall. It's a terribly stereotypical affair, with the thugs leaning in close right into the girls' personal space, surrounding them to close off easy avenues of escape while they harangue them with crude 'requests' for spending the coming evening with them, even in spite of the girls' pleads to simply let them keep going on their business. And of course, no passerby seems to even think to do much more than just walk by without so much as a second look.
"They don't seem interested, guys."
A voice calls that out to draw the thugs' attention to the young man standing just a few paces away. A red- and messily-spike-haired teenager in a black-and-light-grey jacket over a white shirt and blue jeans, giving a dubious look to the gentlemen in yellow colors, with a satchel obviously brought along from whatever school he just left slung by his hand over one shoulder.
"Most guys take a hint eventually, you know?"
The thugs stare at the boy with equal amounts irritation and confusion over the fact that he even thought to step up and say something like that with a straight face to them.
"Well look at that, we've got a joker here," one of them eventually scoffs out as he turns to face the boy, the only one who's wearing a yellow bandanna hanging loosely along his neck rather than wrapped around his head. "Why don't you run off and get some homework done, kiddo?" This one's probably the de facto leader of the little group, seeing as the five others immediately let out a low chorus of laughter.
The red-haired boy doesn't seem as amused, and he shrugs his shoulders at them. "Nah, that can wait. Seriously, guys, you shouldn't be this obtuse with girls. You look like idiots."
"Oi." All measure of joking-around leaves the "leader's" face upon hearing that, and he gives a prompt glare to the boy, stomping towards him. "What do you think you're doing, dwe-"
A blunt sound echoes through the street as the satchel previous left slung over the red-head's shoulder suddenly comes slamming down upon the top of the leader's head, ringing his skull from the weight of several heavy books inside enough that he's left jostling back and brought down low, clutching at his head in pain with both hands.
"HEY! YOU FUCKING PUNK!" A roar of another thug comes after -- and with the weight of the swung satchel still carrying the red-haired interloper, he doesn't quite manage to bring himself rebounding away from the violent swing before a fist slams square in the side of his head.
The blow sends him, too, stumbling to the side and dropping onto one knee while the satchel's left to falling onto the curb. The whole gang's attention is fully on him, now, to the point that they don't even seem to care that the girls they were initially focusing on take the chance to make a break for it.
"Guess we have a little hero here, huh?" The thug who just decked the boy growls while stepping up towards him. "Fine, you get to be our entertainment the-"
And just like that, the thug finds a head covered in the messy red hair driven right into his face from below with enough force to crush his nose when the boy forcefully springs himself back upright. That bought him at least a second or so before he'd face further reprisal, but...
The rest of the thugs are quick to descend upon him.
The result that unfolds within a few minutes may well be a foregone conclusion to most concerned. Though at the end of it all two thugs may have been brought down unconscious, and the others are left with numerous bruises, it's still the teenaged would-be-hero that took the losing end of this encounter. Pushed up against the wall by a thug each holding onto an arm now, his jacket's scuffed up with dirt gathered from the curb, blood's dripping from one of his nostrils and his face is bruised up to the point that one eye isn't able to keep itself fully open anymore.
Though he may still try to weakly writhe and struggle to get himself out of the hold-- there's nothing he can do to stop taking the further beating that the gangers are channeling their frustration into. Including the vicious spiking of a knee right into his middle section that forces him to double over as much as the tight holds on his arms allow, and nearly force gastric juices to spilling up his throat and past his lips.
A grunt fills the alleyway as the wicked knee strike slams into the teenager's unprotected midsection. Yet, the delivery is decidedly strange, sounding far too relaxed and coherent to have come from the victim, who is busy trying to not paint the concrete with his lunch. There's something off about the tone as well, the owner of the voice giving off a decidedly feminine vibe. Seeing as they didn't slam their unfortunate punching bag in the crotch it seems unlikely that he would be the source.
"That looks like it hurt."
Dispelling any suspicions that the owner of the voice is the young man being held up between them, a second comment comes from behind the small gaggle of thugs. Twisting about to peer back down the alley, the trio turns their angry glowers upon this mysterious new interloper to the their impromptu beatdown.
A girl of roughly similar age to the punks sits casually atop one of the handful of plastic waste bins lined up along the nearby wall. Her expression is one of amusement, a small grin pulling one corner of her mouth upwards at the corner to reveal a flash of teeth. A single eye the color of warm amber stared back at the goons meeting their confused and annoyed glares with no hint of fear, the other tucked away behind a long sweep of raven-black bangs that hangs down over her face in a stylish manner.
Even at a quick glance, it's easy to tell that the girl comes from money. Her clothes, while worn fashionably casual, are of obvious quality and nearly spotless. The crisp black blazer jacket alone looks like it costs more than most teenager's wardrobes. A blue and black checkered tie rests loosely around her collar, easily recognizable as one of the various name brands that tend to get floated around within privileged social circles. Even her shoes are of noticeably excellent make, the polished leather managing to shine even in the dim light. Her skirt is, well it's just a skirt, but judging by the rest of her attire it probably manages to cost a lot of money too.
Far more noticeable, however, are the twin metallic doodads resting on her head. In the shadows it's difficult to make out precisely what they're supposed to be. Perhaps some sort of fancy new headphones or hand's free phone device. Whatever it is, it has a lot of glowy lights and looks really expensive.
"Not much of a fair fight though, is it?"
The teen leans forward and rests her face on the surface of a palm propping her elbow up on her leg with a bored look. Her gaze drifts from the gangsters to the savaged student in a lazy sweep that seems designed to make it clear how incredibly unimpressed she is with the current scenario.
"Then again, he did take two of you out by himself."
The cyclopean eye shifts down to the unconscious leader of this little clown party and his fellow crony, nodding a couple times.
"Kind of embarrassing if you think about it. I mean you'd have to be a real bunch of losers to get mauled like that by some random kid."
The strange girl's head swivels back to the trio of street punks as the grin returns even wider than before. Despite being outnumbered herself she seems to have no issues blatantly antagonizing Daisuke's attackers. Her tone is playful and mocking, clearly trying to get a rise out of them with her jabs.
"Then again, maybe that's just what your face looks like all the time."
It takes a few seconds before the goons really fully realize that they have company, and where said company is observing them from. Their victim might be taking a bit longer than that, too, account of... Well. Pain.
When the gangers do fixate their glares on the new interloper, the frustration doesn't seem to fade away at all. Sure, one of the thugs might be ogling the girl sleazily, but as things stand? Their agitation was much too high to begin with already, and her behaviour is *not* helping matters in any way.
"The hell is up with all these people lately, huh?" The thug holding onto the beaten-up boy's left arm mutters, sending a goblet of spit down to the curb with the words.
The goon responsible for delivering the knee to their current victim's gut turns fully to face the girl with the bizarre hair-clips(?)... though the impact of the glare from him may well be lessened further by the fact that one of his own eyes has been bruised closed as a result of the scrap that took place just moments earlier.
"Look, girly," he grunts, with a stomping step taken for her. "I ain't in the mood for more of this shit, alright?" Further in he stomps, still fuming. How terribly typical for grunts like these to not pick up at all on what they're about to step into. "So how about you's just toss some money out and fuck off, huh?"
Daisuke himself manages to lift his head up just enough that he can look to what's about to unfold, past the locks of red hair mussed further down over his forehead from the scuffle. Blurred as the vision in his green eyes might be, he still gets to see the thug reaching for the newly-arrived girl and grab at the lapel of her blazer so he might tug her off the bins she's using as a seat.
What a mistake that is.
Predictably, the riled up thugs don't take well to being mocked, particularly by some prissy looking girl. Pausing the vindictive beating long enough to turn and deal with this new annoyance, what is likely the second-in-command of this bunch of gremlins turns to make threatening noises in the strange girl's direction.
The teenager just grins, seemingly more amused than worried as the angry gangster starts stomping her way. The words that spill out of his mouth aren't of any particular import and she pays them little mind. She makes no move to run away, the threat of being roughed up and robbed obviously not enough to make her waver. There isn't even a change in her posture, no quick move to stand up or a shift into a defensive stance against the imminent threat of violence.
One would think with so many obvious warning sirens going off at least one would manage to penetrate the goon's thick skull.
Sadly, for him, that is not the case. Too angry and worked up, the young delinquent blunders right into his doom. He reaches out, raw bloodied fingers attempting to sink into the pristine cloth of the blazer, threatening to smear unsavory things all over her nice jacket if nothing else.
Two things happen very quickly in succession. A bright flash of light illuminates the alleyway for a brief moment, searing neon blue luminescence exploding into being between the girl and her attacker. The glow is sudden and strong enough to blind everyone looking in her direction for a few moments, obscuring the second and arguably more impressive feat.
The teen's foot snaps up so fast that it seems as if reality has skipped a couple of frames, her body transitioning from a relaxed posture to an aggressive upwards kick in that brief window of blindness. The heel of her fancy shoe catches the goon square in the chin with enough force to completely lift him off the ground. There isn't even enough time for the boy to register surprise on his face before the impact sends him careening on a ballistic arc back towards his pals, unconscious before his body even hits the floor.
The girl keeps her leg lifted up in the air until the thug skids to a stop, seemingly posing dramatically for effect, unconcerned that her posture might be compromising if anyone happens to glance in her direction. They're as black as the rest of her outfit, in case they do. Hopping casually off the trash can, the teen smoothes her clothes out, giving the lapels of her blazer a dismissive fluff for good measure.
"Hands off the jacket, creep."
The jovial grin she's sporting slowly morphs into something a little more predatory as the mysterious girl shifts her gaze to the two remaining goons. She eyes them like a hawk staring down from on high at a pair of mice who have foolishly wandered out into an open field. The tone of her voice drops to a low husky whisper, practically dripping with menace as she stares them down.
"Yep. A real bunch of losers."
It was already too late by the time the thug took the step that carried him into range. Not that he ever had the chance to even realize it. He may well not have even had the chance for his brain to even fully register that he was *hit*, before his world blacks out.
And by the time the blinding effect of the flash of light fades away from the leftover observers, the poor bastard is already on the way down in the air to slam onto the curb before their feet. The two leftover thugs and the red-haired highschooler between them all give a wide-eyed look at the result.
And possibly the very compromising sight left behind by the girl's pose, even if the beaten red-head at least tries to have the decency to look *away* after the initial realization.
Unfortunately for the two goons, the warning signals *still* don't seem to go through. Not even after seeing that, not even with the whisper of pure menace that comes from the girl.
"Fuck it--!" The other grunt groans out before letting go of the beaten boy's arm in favor of all but leaping at the girl in the expensive clothes. His remaining conscious friend follows suit quickly, leaving their previous victim slumping down weakly onto his knees while he makes to circle around the other side of the predator they've been pitted up against. A punch thrown from one side while the other goon makes to just grab on and hold her down for the attempted attack.
Ah, the simplicity of the thug brain. So small, so narrow. So predictable. It almost takes the fun out of it. Almost.
The girl's wicked grin remains plastered on her face as history sets itself up to repeat a lot faster than usual. Both goons come at her in a rush, attempting the standard mob tactic of trying to surround and conquer. It worked for them before, why not again? That's the benefit of having numbers, after all.
As before, their victim shows no signs of being concerned for her well-being despite the imminent danger. Her pose nonchalant, she stands unmoving as they come at her, both hands idly resting in the pockets of her skirt. The first mook launches himself at her from behind, attempting to grapple her about the waist so that the follow-up punch from the front can land home cleanly. Fully expecting this plan to work as intended, mook number two lunges forward with his fist drawn back for a powerful blow.
The alleyway lights up with another brief flash of searing neon light, temporarily blinding the girl's assailants mere moments before they strike her. As before, the teen's movements seem to defy reality during that brief instant of illumination, her form simply vanishing from view only to skip back into focus several feet further down the alley.
With their mutual target no longer present to act as a backstop the two thugs suddenly find themselves at cross purposes. The two delinquents collide at full speed, the attack they had each meant to unleash upon the girl instead somehow landing home in awkward ways upon each other. The wild swing comes crashing into the side of the rearward goon's skull even as his lowered shoulder slams into the midsection of his buddy. The impact earns grunts of surprise and pain from both as they tumble to the ground in a heap of tangled limbs.
"Hahaha, is this a mugging or a comedy show? Starting to feel like I should pay admission to watch you clowns."
Grinning down at the unfortunate gangsters, the girl saunters over to the collapsed duo and plants the heel of her shoe into their side as the pair struggle to unwind from each other and rise to their feet. Both of them go crashing unceremoniously into a large pile of stacked up trash bags heaped against one of the alley walls. The wild tumble sends both of them sprawling again as a miniature avalanche of foul bundles tumble down on top of them.
"Now sit in time out and think about what you've done."
As jostled and pained the redhead left on his knees after the punks elected to engage in their futile assault seems to realize what is coming, even they don't. And as such, the redhead quickly draws one arm up (while using his other hand to help brace his weakened body up) to shield his eyes just as the flash comes.
And once he lowers his arm again, he's treated to the sight of his remaining assaulters brought onto the curb, tangled up with each other and groaning in pain.
And his unexpected rescuer laughing over them before just kicking them down the street nonchalantly as if they were a bizarre humanoid football. Wether or not the impact is enough to knock them unconscious, they don't seem to to be too inclined to try to get up for a moment, regardless.
The redhead blinks once, twice, thrice, at the sight of this, and at the girl in black.
It's only inevitably, then, that she would hear a groan of pain from behind her shortly after, while the teenaged boy is leaning his weight back to let his rear settle on the curb, and his back lean against the wall he was held up against seconds earlier.
"...Thanks," he murmurs, past the hand wiping off blood from the underside of his nose. Battered and bruised, he seems perfectly happy to just sit there for a few seconds longer.
The girl doesn't bother giving the pair of goons any more attention as the trash starts to bury them. She turns away from the scene, hands in her pockets as she starts to walk away from the fallen thugs like an action movie hero striding away from an explosion. Either she's certain they aren't going to be a problem any more or she's confident enough they utterly lack the ability to successfully launch a surprise attack.
Seeing that the gang's unfortunate victim is still capable of speaking coherently, she doesn't put a lot of hurry in her step as she moves over to stand in front of him. Kneeling down, she casually reaches out and places a hand on his forehead. The touch of soft supple leather presses into his skin, revealing the presence of a glove missing its index and middle fingers covering her hand down to the wrist.
His head is tilted back gently so that she can peer at his injuries, her eye moving to each cut and scrape one by one. As she looks, the strange widgets on her head seem to animate as well. Soft whirring noises fill the silence as they tilt forward of their own volition towards Daisuke, the neon purple light emanating from various LEDs across their surface blinking and flashing in erratic patterns.
"Doesn't look too bad," she says eventually. A warm smile slowly spreads across her face, her voice becoming soft and comforting. "You're gonna be sore for a few days but nothing that looks like it needs a doctor."
The teen lets out a long exasperated sigh and withdraws her hand, only to bring it back down in a fist atop Daisuke's skull. The blow is soft, more of a disapproving rebuke than any attempt to cause pain, though she does make sure it hits hard enough to smart.
"Idiot. The heck were you thinking?"
The red-head tilts and cranes his head back through her initial approach, to maintain his eyes on her face -- and down again when she kneels down right before him. The look in his eyes turns momentarily uncertain when her hand braces at his forehead, to maneuver him this way and that in order to study him. But even if he did object enough to try to stop it, it's not like he's in well enough state to push her off.
That close, it's hard for him to not notice the behaviour of the widges on her head. He may well have thought they were just some eccentric accessories clipped to her hair, but between the whirring sound and the twitching, the boy finds himself staring at them with open curiousity. Gives her the room to take proper count of him, at least, of the forming bruises, the cut formed along one cheek and his lower lip. Pupils don't seem dilated any more than would be normal, so he *probably* doesn't have a concussion, either.
"Oh, uh--" The smile that comes with her assurance, the change in her tone, all of it seems to have a faint effect on him, too, especially after the utterly menacing display she had lead with in dealing with the gangers. A faint hint of color flushes at his cheeks, and he starts, "That's--"
The introduction of the other teenager's fist to the top of his head might not be a painful one, but it does hit him with enough of a surprise to make him visibly recoil regardless, and his eyes widen at her, now, for a few seconds in the wake of the question.
"... I mean, I guess..." He says, after a moment, and his lips turn to smile that may be faint, but still holds much more cheer to it than should be warranted by the end result of his attempted heroics. "I guess I wasn't thinking at all, huh? ...Just... I couldn't just keep walking, you know?"
The girl stares at Daisuke as he fumbles for an answer, her gaze strangely intense despite the gentle expression. When he finally manages to sort out his thoughts she sighs again, her smile turning slightly rueful as she closes her eye. It's a typical answer but not a completely useless one.
"That's what I thought."
Withdrawing the hand from her other pocket, she produces a clean white handkerchief. A quick shake of her wrist spreads it open and she drops the cloth into his palm.
"Here. Clean yourself up, Mr. Hero. Wouldn't want to scare your two damsels in distress by looking like a corpse. You know, assuming they even come back."
She can't be sure that his motivation was guided primarily by teenage male impulses but it's a safe bet most of the time. Even the most stubborn kids don't throw themselves head-long into a five-versus-one fight on principle when they clearly lack the skills to cash that check. He'd have to be a real knucklehead to think this was going to turn out any differently. Which is entirely possible, she supposes, but poking holes in his ego is a good way to help him learn his lesson.
Bruises and black eyes fade quickly. A wounded pride is a much better teacher. - Big Sister Wisdom 101.
Turning away to leave Daisuke to tend to his wounds, both physical and spiritual, the girl moves to the closest of the fallen thugs and kneels down. A hand goes to his throat, feeling for a pulse, while the other tilts his head up so she can give him a quick look as well. Not that she suspects any of them are in mortal danger but it never hurts to be careful. Killing people just for being a bunch of jerks isn't her style. Everyone has a reason for winding up how they do and she's in no position to act as judge, jury, and executioner.
As she wanders off to do her checkups, a new detail presents itself to Daisuke. Until now, his mysterious rescuer had never presented her back to him. Now that she has he can clearly see the large symbol embroidered into the back of her stylish jacket. Surrounded by a wreath of crackling flames, a large stylized demon's head glowers back at him, its wicked maw parted into a fanged grin. Within the circle of fire and filling in the various gaps in the silhouette of the demonic face, a field of russet brown stands out starkly against the solid black of the rest of the logo. And there, nestled just above the demon's head, are two characters writ large in muted yellow.
At least he doesn't seem to be weak enough to not bring his hand up and catch the dropped handkerchief onto his palm. Even if he gives a vaguely dubious look at it before giving a subtly-grateful nod.
"Don't see why they would," is all the comment he has to offer on the matter of the 'damsels in distress' while using the cloth to wipe at his upper lip and the underside of his bloodied nose. Which might not sounds like much as an off-handed thing, but does carry a certain connotation to it. As if he might really expect he's not going to so much as see the two girls again, much less gain any kind of words of gratitude from them for the distraction that cleared their escape.
And yet he doesn't seem at all to be considering if this whole ordeal might not have been worth it.
The hankerchief's drawn further to the side to clean some grime from his cheek, and peering past it, he gets a good look at his saviour's back.
What? No, not down there. Higher up. At the embroidery on the back of her jacket!
Some measure of recognition does come along, even if he might not have personally encountered anyone from Gedo High. Even just in the first few days in the city and in the school he's transferred to, he's had the chance to hear some stories.
"That was pretty impressive, though... hnngh..." The compliment comes in the wake of the cloth provided by her getting shoved into his pocket for temporarily safekeeping before it can be tossed away without commiting to littering, and him bracing a hand to his knee, working his bruised-up body up from the curb, weight still partly leaned into the wall. "I don't think I've seen anyone move like that... Except on tv, but I mean personally."
With a heavy breath, he lets himself lean against the wall for a moment longer, since he's not in a terrible hurry to be getting anywhere else yet. At least not enough to feel the need to not take a couple seconds more to work his energy back.
"...Thank you for your help, again. ...I am Daisuke. Kubo Daisuke. I'm a bit new to town." There's a brief pause, just long enough for him to consider the logo he saw on her back, before he decides he should just put everything out in the open. It's not like she wouldn't find out later anyway. "And new to Taiyo."
The girl turns to peer back at Daisuke as he peels himself off the wall, quirking an eyebrow at his stubbornness. She'd tell him to sit down and take it easy for a few minutes but it'd probably be a waste of time. Anyone foolish enough to risk getting pummeled just to save a couple strangers from being harassed has got to be pretty stubborn. Add on top of that the teenage male ego and she'd all but be daring him to get up and start doing gymnastics just to prove he can.
She grins at his flattering compliments and stands up, hands returning to her pockets. The loser at her feet will live and he was easily the one who got it the worst. The rest of them should be fine.
"Yeah, well, lets say I know a trick or two."
An understatement if there ever was one. Most people her own age barely have any interest in the martial arts. Ryuko, on the other hand, has been practicing almost her entire life. Strange feats of almost unnatural speed and skill seem to come to her naturally, a talent that is bolstered by her capacity for harnessing chi. When she gets into the flow of battle things just start to make a weird sort of sense to her, like she's moving to the tune of an old familiar dance.
His thanks causes her to show her teeth again in a wide smile and she rolls her shoulders at him in a nonchalant shrug.
"Yeah, well... not like I could just keep walking, right?"
A small white object is withdrawn from her pocket, easily recognizable as a package of cigarettes once it comes into clear view. She taps one of the smokes out and slips it into her mouth, producing a lighter a moment later to ignite the tip. Her eye flicks up from the task to peer at him as he mentions his school affiliation, the cool orange of the flame reflecting off her iris in a way that makes the amber seem to glow like a gemstone. When he doesn't immediately start calling her names or accusing her of being a lowlife she returns her attention to the smoke, inhaling softly.
"Yeah, I figured. Don't take this the wrong way but no one from around here would be dumb enough to pick a fight with a gang by themselves if they aren't up to the task. With the cops still short handed the low-lifes have been more bold lately. You'd have been lucky to just get off with a light beating."
Two fingers close around the cigarette, plucking it from her mouth with the practiced ease of a long time smoker. She exhales gently, tilting her lips to send the cloud of smoke puffing up into the air instead of straight into his face. The packet and lighter are offered out to him on an open palm.
"Tenjin Ryuko, Gedo. Though, I'm guessing from that look on your face you already figured that out."
The red-haired teenager may very well be pushing himself unnecessarily by forcing himself up to his feet that quickly. Definitely the type with much too thick of a skull, this one.
But apparently the faint irony in her throwing back the same answer he'd given her earlier isn't lost on him in spite of the aforementioned thickheadedness, considering the wry look on his face. "...Right. Of course."
Idly, one hand draws to his own side, slipping underneath the open jacket to rub along what must be bruised flesh through his shirt, all while emerald eyes track the motion of Ryuko's hand when the packet of cigarettes comes out. Though one crimson brow might arch upwards slightly, there doesn't seem to be any judgement in the way he looks to her while she's indulging in the smoke.
"...Well," he grunts, while holding out an open-palmed hand to wiggle it in a non-verbal declining of the offer for the cigarettes. "I guess I'm just that kind of dumb. It's really that bad here?" Surely, he must have heard of the events that took place in the city before he moved in, but perhaps he can be excused for not expecting the aftereffects of it to lead to such a volatile gang climate.
As for her school affiliation? "...Yeah, the jacket's kind of a dead giveaway, isn't it?" Not that he seems to hold it against her at all. Either that or he doesn't dare to let that show, for all anyone knows. It would be a terribly stupid move to try to rile her up just for being in the school all the upperclassmen had spoken of as some kind of nest of thugs.
...But even then, there is one thing that he can't help but let slip.
"You're much more pleasant than what folks at my school said people from Gedo would be like."
Probably some Taiyo students with who had gotten into more than a few scuffles with Gedo, and all too eager to try to build up the sense of rivalry into the new kid. But maybe that isn't taking.
Ryuko shrugs and stuffs the cigarettes back into her pocket. Almost everyone at Gedo either smokes or would take one when offered, if only to trade it to someone else for something later. It sometimes slips her mind how different the world outside of her daily school routine is. She'd only started smoking in the first place after moving to that den of misfits. Most parents would probably have been upset by such delinquent behavior but neither of hers seemed overly worried so long as she didn't start to show signs of slacking in her physical activities due to it.
His lack of awareness regarding the current social climate earns a frown from the girl.
"It is," she says, turning serious for a moment. "A lot of people died in the attack. Lots of people lost family, friends. Not everyone has taken it well."
Turning sideways to peer back down the alley, Ryuko stares at the unconscious thugs with a look that seems to waver between pity and anger.
"And then you have others who think now would be a great time to do whatever the hell they please. Take advantage of the chaos."
After a moment she sighs and shakes her head, turning her gaze back to Daisuke with an apologetic smile.
"Not that this place was ever a beacon of sunshine and rainbows. Always been home to all sorts of scum. Now they're just bold enough to come out during the day."
Ryuko flicks a healthy dose of ash from the tip of her smoke in the goon's direction. It isn't anywhere close enough to land on them but the symbolism of the gesture is obvious. She has no love for actual sleaze bags who would prey on the helpless in times such as these. Plenty of those sort to be found at Gedo, though not everyone relegated to that particular garbage bin is an irredeemable bastard. Which is why Daisuke's comment is so damn annoying.
Taking a deep drag from her cigarette, Ryuko turns her cyclopean gaze on the young student and gives him a long look. She regards him in silence for a few seconds, her obvious displeasure evident on her face. When she finally speaks again, her voice is a lot less friendly and comforting.
"I'm sure you meant that to be a compliment, Kubo, so I'll put this nicely. Don't pay much heed to idle gossip. Plenty of good kids at Gedo, just not all of them conform to... normal expectations."
What Ryuko says, on the hardships the city has faced recently and is still reeling from, it makes Daisuke's eyes take on a distant, nearly glazed look to them.
Lot of people lost their friends and families, she says. Just like on that one day, in a different city.
For just a split second, he could swear he feels an overwhelming but disturbingly familiar heat again, smells the odor of ash and charred wood, the sickening stench of burnt flesh--
"I understand." The two words are uttered in a quieter tone now, and his voice carries a certain underlying hint of sadness to it, brought on from the empathy over the tragedy that befell much too many people here.
Head tilting over to let his gaze follow the arc of the girl's cigarette flying through the air, he lets his eyes linger on the sight of the goon in yellow. The weight of everything Ryuko's said seems to sink in slowly while he stares at the slightly-older man.
Yet, there doesn't seem to be any visible hate in his eyes.
But when she levels that look on him, he seems to almost sense it, for his attention snaps quickly to her, and he immediately finds his posture straightening slightly under the weight of those golden orbs.
"Sorry, Tenjin," he offers, then. "I spoke out of place. ... I was sure there were biased opinions there, so I didn't want to assume, but still."
His head dips down slightly, to look at his own bruised self, and a thoughtful frown crosses his features while one hand absently finds it's way up to comb fingers through red locks of hair in an effort to straighten it out. ... It doesn't do much good beyond clearing it up a bit from his forehead -- otherwise it just seems destined to be eternally messy. "We all have our own circumstances, right?"
With a low grunt, he pushes himself further off the wall, then, and braves two steps, just to test the waters in how his body manages to keep itself upright. It's not entirely steady or smooth, but at least he avoids stumbling over.
"Either way. If that was going to end up as badly as you were saying... I owe you."
Ryuko stares at him intently for a few seconds then nods, mollified. The warm smile returns as she gives him a playful punch on the shoulder.
Puffing on her smoke, the girl exhales up into the air again before pulling it out of her mouth to flick more ash onto the concrete. She grins at his attempt to fix his mussed up hair but nods at the conclusion he comes to.
"Gedo gets a bad rap. It's where all the social undesirables end up, for justified reasons or not. Some of the people there are real pieces of work but most are like everyone else, just trying to find their way."
Of course, she's being something of a hypocrite at the moment. The entire reason she had enrolled in Gedo /voluntarily/ was because of its horrible reputation. A school full of delinquents, gangsters, and thugs doesn't sound like somewhere a young woman from a reputable and well-off family would find anything of value. Yet it is precisely for its rough-and-tumble population that she appreciates it. What better place to hone her craft than the daily struggle for status and respect that is life at Gedo High?
"That being said," she adds with a faint smirk, "You might not want to go wandering around Gedo alone. Quite a few of the students have a rather large chip on their shoulder regarding the other schools. They'd probably consider it a matter of pride and honor to give you a hard time."
Daisuke's brave attempt to grapple with the task of walking without falling over earns him an amused look. While she didn't bother telling him to stay put it's still foolish for him to be walking around so quickly. Beatings like that aren't something most people just walk off, even if she did manage to intervene before he could suffer any real damage. A black eye and a few scrapes that'll heal in a few days is a much smaller price to pay than what could have been taken.
"Consider this one a freebie, new kid," she says with a smirk. " Next time, I start charging for heroic rescues."
The punch, playful as it might be, may still jostle Daisuke subtly under normal circumstances, but now it comes with a little yelp of "Ow, ow, bruise, bruise..." and a quick rub given there by his own hand. We'll just call that part of the price for the forgiving.
"I've been kind of told as much," he admits upon letting his hand fall away from his shoulder. "Except in a less neutral way... Lot of folks in Taiyo seem to have a chip on their shoulder, too, when it comes to your school, too. But I'll keep it in mind either way. Especially since I'm sure I'd be much less likely to see you swooping in to my rescue there."
He gets the feeling that she may end up being the one to whack him in that event too, just for not listening to perfectly good advice.
"Duly noted," he declares with a firm nod, then, and the faintest hint of a smile of his own. It's not... as energetic as it could be, perhaps, for the amusement he might otherwise feel, but it might just be because of the beating he just got. Maybe. "You take payment in cash or meals? I can make a pretty decent bentou, anyway."
Another subtle shift in an effort to get himself movement, only for a much more obvious wince to halt the attempt immediately, punctuated to visibility further by a hand instinctively reaching to clutch his side.
"... Probably just order delivery today though..."
Ryuko's smirk grows wider as he suggests bribing her with food.
"Nah, I'm not that greedy. You'd go broke long before you satisfied my appetite. Besides, you'd have to be a pretty damn good cook to compete with my mom."
Merely thinking about her mother's succulent cooking almost makes her mouth start to water like a Pavlovian dog. Though she never got the chance to meet her grandmother, Ryuko has given many a thanks to her grave for whatever witchcraft she passed on to her child. Attempts have been made to share that give with Ryuko but she's still learning and no where near on the same level.
Despite noting his earlier reaction to being socked, the girl reaches out and gives him another firm pat on the shoulder. A little pain is fine, builds character. A very macho approach but one she's adopted since her dad tends to be her primary sparring partner.
"Guess that means you'll have to impress me."
The sudden wince earns him a brief look of sympathy. Ryuko gives him a long look, her grip tightening on his shirt in case he suddenly decides to topple over.
"You sure you're alright there? Be kinda rude to go and pass out after I went through all the trouble of saving your butt."
She looks thoughtful for a few moments, pondering something. The panels on her head whir softly as they shift backwards slightly as if the gears in her head are literally spinning. For all he knows, they might be.
"If you want, I can give you a lift to the hospital or something. My mom's over at the shopping center right around the corner. I'm sure she wouldn't mind."
"Is that right?"
Daisuke doesn't seem at all put off by the implication that he wouldn't be able to match up Ryuko's mom's cooking, no matter how much pride he might take in his own skill there. If anything, the appreciation for home cooking tugs the corner of his lips further out... nevermind that the pat to his shoulder does draw a quiet grunt from him.
"Just something I'll have to work towards, right?" Apparently he doesn't mind a challenge when it comes to this kind of thing.
His eyes sweep off to the side, sheepishly, and he's quick to try to brush it off with a low chuckle and, "I wouldn't want to insult your efforts."
The offer is something he needs to actually consider though, perhaps. Lips purse in thought, before another attempt at motion draws another little sting of pain on his side that does a phenomenally good job of easing his decision along. "I'll... probably be okay. I don't think anything's broken, but, uh... Walking all the way home does sound really unappealing right now."
Ryuko's smirk and the tone of her voice indicates that she is not convinced by his show of bravado. Her own bio-scans showed that he probably don't have anything broken but the human body can be both amazingly durable and surprisingly fragile. It only takes a small hit in just the wrong spot for all sorts of unpleasant things to break. Pain, while unpleasant, is the body's way of telling you that you dun goofed and should probably take it easy.
"Comon," she sighs. "I'll get you a lift to the train station at least."
Flicking the burned out husk of her cigarette butt into a nearby trash pile, Ryuko's hands return to nesting in her pockets and she turns to wander back out towards the street. Emerging out into the sunlight, the two of them get some sideways looks by people passing by. Both her unusual set of head gear and his currently pulverized face are definitely eye-catching to say the least. She's used to getting stares, both for being an attractive young woman and for having something that looks like it tumbled out of the open window of an anime convention and latched onto her head.
Ryuko moves slowly, adjusting her gait to whatever seems comfortable for the injured boy. Despite it being a Friday, the foot traffic is relatively light at the moment which makes their passage easier. The trip is short, as promised, taking them only a couple of blocks deeper into the city.
As they start to approach their destination, the girl suddenly looks over at Daisuke with a strange expression on her face. It seems unusually bashful considering how straight forward and tomboyish she's been thus far.
"So, uh... before anything takes you by surprise, I just want to let you know that my mom is sort of... weird."
A hand goes to the back of her neck and she rubs awkwardly, staring pointedly at the wall of the building next to them.
"She's just... a little overbearing, yeah? So long as you don't get her worked up everything should be..."
"GET BACK HERE, YOU SCOUNDREL!"
As they round the corner and step out into the open space of a large parking lot, two bizarre sights immediately assault their unsuspecting eyes.
The first is that of an older woman, perhaps somewhere in her late thirties. Though referring to her as merely a woman might not be quite adequate - human tank seems more appropriate given her appearance. Towering over the small crowd that has gathered, six feet of rippling angry muscle creates the framework for this amazon - muscle that is very clearly on display for some reason. The woman appears to be dressed in nothing more than some sporty red underwear which does little to hide the ample nature of her curves. A long mane of wild wavy hair hangs down about halfway down to her waist standing out even more than her pale skin by virtue of its stark white hue.
The other half of this bizarre puzzle comes in the form of a plain looking young man dressed in what appears to be a store uniform. Judging by the look of sheer terror and panic on his face, being man-handled by an angry giant was not something he had planned on today. He almost certainly would be running away as fast as possible were it not for the fact that he is currently being held in the air by said angry giant who has taken hold of the back of his shirt and is holding him aloft with one hand.
Ryuko's face turns three shades of red in the span of as many seconds, her hand slowly reaching up to cover her face as if she might hide behind it like a child. Though some part of her must realize the futility of that pipe dream because her fingers quickly part so she can take a second look at the debacle between them. Why today of all days?
She whimpers the word softly, her voice filled with the sort of emotional suffering that only a teenager being thoroughly embarrassed by their parent in front of their peers can understand. Whatever pain Daisuke might have endured today, it is a pale shadow of the agony being inflicted on his rescuer. No good deed goes unpunished, it seems.
"M-ma'am, please! I didn't...let me explain!"
The she-hulk frowns deeply at the frightened man and gives him a good shake causing his limbs to flap around wildly.
"Oh no you don't! Save your excuses for your employer, young man! Why I've a good mind to-"
The amazon's gaze shifts sideways as she seems to pick up on the arrival of the two students. Parental radar seems to work the best when you least want to be found. Her dark expression turns into a brief smile as her eyes alight upon Ryuko and she waves her free hand in the air enthusiastically in her direction.
"Oh, Ryuko! There you are! I was wondering where you got off to!"
Ryuko's mother, for that is who this appears to be, hoists the hapless man up into the air and shakes him again, this time in the teenager's direction.
"Can you believe it, dear? I caught this little rascal trying to peep on me! PEEP! In this day and age! Honestly, men have no class any more!"
The man swallows hard, realizing that everyone is staring at him now with dirty looks - at least when they can manage to pry their gazes away from the half naked barbarian in their midst. He tries to speak again, stammering out an explanation for this supposed horrible conduct.
"I tried to t-tell you, ma'am! I wasn't p-peeping! I just wanted to see if you-"
"Aha, you see!"
Ryuko's shoulders slump as she seems to deflate visibly. Why can't she just melt into the ground right here? Just dig a hole straight to into the crust and set up camp where no one will ever find her again. She'd live with the mole people and learn their ways.
Daisuke is a bit more self-conscious about the stares the two of them are getting. He might end up in his fair of trouble in the past, but he isn't quite used to drawing look from this many people, even if most of them come as proxy from walking along with Ryuko. Or maybe that's exactly the reason he feels akward about this now.
Being as stubborn as he is, he makes the expected effort of trying to match his normal pace as much as possible. It's mostly out of some inset desire to not inconvenience his temporary companion, but it could just as well come across as unnecessary displays of machismo instead.
The change in Ryuko's demeanour is... a rather significant, even having only known the girl for such a short amount of time. The look he gives her as a result is initially a vaguely concerned one on his part, but... when she starts talking about her mother, the reason becomes clear enough for him. He even smiles with some subtle amusement over it. He probably assumes this is just the usual case of teenagers being embarrassed of their parents; it's not exactly the first time someone'd thought their mother or father to be overbearing, afterall.
Bet you he didn't expect the sight that would greet him seconds later, huh?
The connection between Ryuko and the half-naked amazon might not immediately set in, but even before that, his eyes are widenening at the pure absurdity of the situation. And by the time that realization hits in, his face has already started gathering a color similiar in hue to his hair despite his attempts at not letting his eyes wander. And moreover, the barbarian's attention has settled firmly on them now!
"U-uh..." What could he possibly even say in this situation? He manages to send a sympathetic look to Ryuko, at least, but somehow he gets the feeling that drawing attention to himself right now might not be in either of their best interests. Nevermind that he's standing close enough to the girl that it would be obvious enough to her mother that the obviously-roughed-up boy accompanied her here.
In the end, he does focus on the poor storeworker caught in the woman's grip, and... no, he can't help himself. He has to ask.
"U-uhm... did he actually come... looking in...? Or come knocking and calling at the door?" Because that'd be the important distinction between him actually being a peeping tom and... just doing his job.
At this point the possibility of escaping notice is pretty much gone. The onlookers have already started shifting their gaze between Ryuko and her mother, likely trying to figure out which of them looks the more bizarre. Most sets of eyes eventually return to the older Tenjin, if only by virtue of her being mostly naked and wearing it well.
Unfortunately for Daisuke, what little concealment he may have been able to preserve by being mistaken for yet another bystander in this strange confrontation is wasted when he chooses to address the woman. Ryuko's mother shifts her gaze to the boy, her parental stare boring holes into him as she takes in his appearance. Judging by her expression, she isn't terribly impressed.
"Of course he did! I saw his beady little eyes through the crack in the door. Why, one look at his face and you could tell he was getting an eyeful!"
The poor store clerk is shaken again, his teeth rattling together audibly even from where they stand. He gives Ryuko a desperate look, hoping that she might be able to save him from whatever terrible fate her mother has in store for him, but she's too busy trying to become one with her own shadow to notice.
"Not that it's any business of yours, young man!"
Turning her glower onto Ryuko, she puts her free hand on her hip adopting the dreaded interrogation pose for children who are suspected of being up to no good.
"Ryuko. Who might this be? You didn't slip off and find a boyfriend behind my back did you? You know how your father feels about getting into relationships at this age!"
Staggering backwards as if punched in the chest, Ryuko's face turns an even brighter shade of red, her expression twisting in embarrassed horror.
"Wha-no! He's just some guy I met in an alleyway!"
The words are hardly out of her mouth before she realizes how that sounds. Her mother is no less quick to pick up on the context of that statement, her eyes going wide in surprise. She stares in open mouthed shock for several seconds, so caught off guard that the captive store clerk slips from her fingers and lands with a grunt on the pavement. Scrambling like a wild animal, he scampers off as quickly as possible towards the store and potential safety.
"RYUKO! I raised you better than that, young lady! How dare you embarrass me in front of all these people like that!"
The irony of that statement is almost physically painful. Yet, despite the absurdity of it all, everyone in the crowd starts to look at her again as if /she's/ the one causing a scene here. Ryuko takes a step forward, starting to get angry now. Clenching a fist, she shakes it at her mother, her voice raising to a half-shout.
"It's not like that! I just saw him having some trouble, so I had to help him beat off a bunch of guys and-!"
A mortified shriek erupts from the elder Tenjin as the teenager just keeps digging her own grave. Momma Tenjin doesn't wait for her daughter to say anything further. Her precious girl would never do such horrible things! Obviously, she's been corrupted by some vile outside influence! Putting on a ferocious expression, her glare locks in on Daisuke like a bear that's sensed danger to its cub.
With a roar of accusation that makes everyone in hearing range cringe from the sheer force of the shout, the Amazonian woman launches herself into a dead run with the teenage boy in her sight. Ryuko's face turns pale and she turns to give her unfortunate new acquaintance a wide-eyed stare of dreadful realization.
She doesn't wait to see if he has the brains to follow her directions. Either he'll leg it as fast as he can hobble in the other direction or Darwin will claim another victim. For her part, Ryuko does her best to slow the raging beast down. She tackles her mother with a grunt, wrapping her arms as far around her midsection as possible. The heels of her expensive shoes scrape and groan as she digs into the asphalt, putting all of her strength into obstructing her progress.
Unsurprisingly, her efforts amount to little more than annoyance to the human tank. Ryuko's mother continues to barrel forward, one hand coming down to rest on her girl's shoulder in an effort to push her aside.
"Out of the way, sweetie! Momma's gonna teach that hooligan a lesson!"
The prompt rebuking of Daisuke over his questioning hits hard. Out of some instinct, Daisuke finds himself straightening his posture to an as formal measure as he can possibly manage, and nodding rapidly at the amazonian. "Y-yes ma'am. No, of course not, ma'am, I'm sorry ma'am!"
But of course things just have to get worse from there. The dreaded accusation from Ryuko's mom hits Daisuke just as sharply, and he instinctively even takes a single step back, and the color spreading through his face matches Ryuko's own flush of embarrassment disturbingly well. "Boy--?!"
%And the poor red-haired boy isn't even left with much room to explain himself. The only thing he can do is look on in horror while Ryuko digs both of them deeper into their own graves, color draining away from his face with every single misunderstood statement that follows.
And *of course* it has to be him that gets the most direct channeling of Mother Bear Tenjin's fury. His body visibly jolts from the roar from the half-naked woman, and at first, all he can do is just send another wide-eyed stare at her.
Every single fight or flight synapsis fires off in his brain when the beast of a woman makes the first forward leap and Ryuko yells the warning direction to him, and he's quick to spin himself around and snap into a panicked run.
...Of course, as Ryuko herself might have seen coming, it takes only a few steps before he stumbles with an audible groan of pain. To his credit, he makes a phenomenally quick recovery to return to sprinting across the parking lot as quickly as he reasonably could, but... let's be honest, even if he were uninjured, his chances at outrunning this furious amazon of a woman would be dubious at best.
"T-t-tenjin-san, please!" He manages to call back over his shoulder, in between little grunts of pain brought on by exertion forced into his demolished body, even as she no doubt continues to gain on him. To try to make up for the difference in speed, the red-head makes an effort in darting suddenly to the side before he would otherwise smack head-first into a parked car and dashes around it, perhaps putting some hope into the chance that placing some kind of obstacle in between himself and her would buy him at least a bit more time before he gets bulldozed.
"Your daughter just got done saving my life! I am eternally indebted to her!!"
He might be overselling the particulars of the actual events of their meeting, but trying to paint Ryuko as having done some phenomenally heroic deed instead of... whatever horrid imagery the series of misunderstandings left in her mother's mind is the last chance he really even has left in preventing himself from getting turned into a Daisuke-shaped splatter on the curb.
"Mom! Mom, st....op! It's not what it... sounds lik-ah?!"
Ryuko grunts and hangs on as best she can, struggling to resist the mammoth strength of the arm trying to brush her aside. She manages to keep her grip for a precious few seconds, giving Daisuke time to get a head start but it's a doomed endeavor. With nothing to hold on to but smooth skin, the girl's hands eventually slide away and she flops onto her back leaving her furious mother to thunder after her unfortunate target.
"Get back here, you miscreant!"
Daisuke's plea for mercy and understanding bounce off the angry woman without any effect. She dashes across the parking lot at a full sprint moving terrifyingly fast for someone her size. She obviously didn't skip leg day. The gap between the two of them closes rapidly as the wounded boy struggles to maintain his lead.
Through quick thinking he just barely manages to avoid being caught at the last moment. Darting around the parked car, he puts the barricade between himself and the rabid beast looking to tear him apart. A second attempt to make her see reason seems as if it might have better effect. Rather than just barrel after him, Ryuko's mother pauses and takes a couple of steps back, her expression wary. However, any hopes that he might make her see reason are quickly proven false as the woman lets out a sharp grunt of effort and runs forward again.
With a single Olympic level bound, she clears the car completely and crashes down behind Daisuke in a crouch. Slowly, she rises to her full height once more and turns around to face the student, looming ominously over him by nearly half a foot. There is nothing in her expression but contempt and fury as she glowers down at him, her face seeming half shrouded in a dark cloud of doom. The Amazon's massive hands come together, one fist punching into the other before she cracks her knuckles with an audible series of disturbing pops.
Up close, Ryuko's mother seems even more imposing. Each muscle is clearly defined and solid like chiseled stone. Her abs are a topographical map of raw definition, a road map where every path leads to yet more muscle. The tree trunks that are her limbs flex look like they could easily crush him like a beer can, regardless of which one she chose to use for task.
"Any last words?"
Daisuke's feet continue to beat along the ground on the other side of the car, sure-- but even that little delaying obstacle turns out to not be worth much.
The barbarian woman lands right in front of him with asphalt-cracking force and he's forced to slam the brakes down. It leaves him skidding towards Momma Tenjin by a few inches still, and that in turn forces him to kick his weight back to ensure he at least has *some* breathing room... which ultimately results in him stumbling all the way back to where his backside slumps into the curb and his back hits the car she just leapt over.
Color drained away entirely from his face, nervous sweat flowing copiously over his forehead, Daisuke's green eyes move up, up, and further up what must in the moment seem like a kaiju-sized figure, and he swallows audibly while pushing himself back upwards, arms braced into the hood of the car for support. Who'd have thought he'd run into the Last Boss of his school life in Southtown so quickly?
Once sufficiently upright, he cranes his head back to let him peer over his shoulder and past the car, back to where Ryuko was left knocked down after the failed efforts at stopping her mother from chasing after him, and a small, sad smile briefly flashes over his features. "...Sorry, Ryuko," he murmurs, though with the distance and the softer tone, it may well be that the girl's mother is actually the only one who hears him speak. "I guess I won't get a chance to impress you afterall."
The call for last words comes, and Daisuke slowly turns his head back over to level his gaze on the monster of a woman looming menacingly over him. With a deep breath, he pushes himself off the car, wobbling momentarily before he steadies fully on his feet. Though the sweat gathered at his brow might lessen the effect of it, his expression does steady and firm while his eyes level on the woman's face with determination. Do not be misled, however. Daisuke has no illusions about this being the kind of opponent he would have any chance of overcoming right now. This is not a man preparing to make his final stand. This is a man facing the firing line.
"Very well, Tenjin-san," he declares thus. "If this is the price to pay for being with your daughter, then I will pay it."
...Of course, what Daisuke meant was walking here with Ryuko in the first place rather than anything else, but he doesn't exactly have the time to clarify himself right now, does he?
The woman's face tightens with anger causing one eyebrow to twitch a couple of times at that. The bold retort earns the doomed boy a grim nod in return, his courage acknowledged by the executioner. It won't do anything to stay his fate but at least he will be remembered as a man who faced death with honor.
The muscles on Ryuko's mother's arm tighten as she clenches her fist into a meaty hammer. The deadly bludgeon is drawn back slowly evoking imagery of a guillotine blade being hoisted to the top of its guiding rails. A punch of this caliber won't be something he walks off. At least his end will be swift.
With a snarl of fury, the towering giant unleashes a bellowing roar. The massive knuckle sandwich starts to move, seeming to drift in slow motion towards him like a cannon ball fired from an old black and white movie. He has the time to contemplate his brief life, to recall all of the good times and the bad, to beseech the gods for answers as to the apparent injustice of his fate, to come to terms with its inevitability.
As the concluding moment of his life draws closer there is a sudden glow that fills his eyes. Is this the tunnel of light that everyone talks about in all those near-death experiences? Is this some supernatural power reaching out to usher his soul off to the great beyond?
An incredible noise fills the air as two objects collide at terrible speeds. His vision is completely engulfed in the flash of brilliant color for several moments overloading his senses. He doesn't even feel the impact, nor the pain of his body shattering into a thousand tiny pieces. Well, as deaths go, it was at least a peaceful one. Now all he has to do is prepare himself to face whatever final judgement awaits.
And yet, something unexpected happens. The glow starts to fade away, receding from the corners of his eyes like a shrinking star. As vision starts to return, he finds himself standing on the street once again, unbroken and still breathing. The reason why makes itself apparent only a moment later.
Above him, the blazing glow finally fades from a blinding sun to a fade bluish-white haze of light. Cocooned within the aura of strange power, Ryuko seems to hover in the air, her body paused in an acrobatic leap as if frozen in time. A long wooden blade is held in her hands, the weapon's fat blunt blade crashing down squarely into the forehead of the girl's mother. The blow seems to have stopped her momentum cold, the sledgehammer fist mere inches away from ensuring Daisuke never eats solid food again.
Bizarrely, though neither he nor the giant seem to be able to move in that brief moment, Ryuko continues to act without restraint. She lets out a grunt of effort, pushing down as hard as she can into the back of the sword to drive it even harder into her rampaging parent's skull.
And then everything starts to move again as time snaps back to normal motion. Ryuko's wild overhead swing suddenly plows downwards like a wrecking ball, not only stopping her but driving her back several steps. The teen lands in a light crouch, sweeping the blade out to her side as she completes the swing.
Clearly shocked at this turn of events, Ryuko's mother reaches a hand up rub the spot on her head where she just got clobbered, seeming to find the injury no more bothersome than as if she'd bumped her head on a low door frame. She stares at her daughter in silence for a couple of tense seconds, no one seeming to know what to say. And then her expression lights up like a Christmas tree, a broad smile flashing across her face.
"Sweetie! That was the best attack you've done yet! You actually stopped Moma!"
Darting forward, Moma Tenjin gathers up her little girl in a massive bear hug, sweeping the teen off her feet before she can react. Ryuko's face turns bright red, a mixture of anger and embarrassment warring for dominance over her expression.
"M-mom! Please! You're giving everyone a free show! Put some clothes on, damnit!"
Making a confused noise, the woman holds Ryuko out at arm's length and peers down at herself. A flash of red explodes into her cheeks as she just now seems to realize that she stormed out of the shop in pursuit of her Peeping Tom without actually dressing first. She lets go of the girl suddenly, leaving Ryuko to drop onto her ass with a thud.
"O-oh! Oh my."
She twists back and forth, giving her current attire a once over.
"Well, I suppose it's basically the same as a swim suit. But, Moma will go get dressed, sweetie. Then you can introduce me to your new friend!"
Smiling cheerfully, the woman turns and strides back off towards the shopping center. By now the size of the crowd has swelled to the point of obstructing foot traffic which in turns just makes other people want to come and see what the commotion is. Seemingly unconcerned at the number of smart phones being pointed her way as she heads back to her abandoned clothing, Ryuko's mother casually plows through the throng and eventually vanishes from sight.
Still sitting on her duff, Ryuko takes long and slow breaths, her shoulders rising and falling in a steady pattern. Eventually, she pushes to her feet, holding the practice bokken at her hip as if it were as deadly as any sharpened blade. Turning to face Daisuke, the teen's expression has largely returned to normal though there is a hint of weary acceptance in her eye. She lets out a long-suffering sigh, slumping forward and allowing her arms to dangle loosely in defeat.
"So. That's my mom."
She tilts her head to peer up at him from the corner of her good eye, offering a weak smile.
"Still want that ride?"
As bold as he might be in facing his impending doom otherwise, in the fraction of an instant before the massive fist reaches him, Daisuke does find himself snapping his eyes shut instinctively. But even with his eyelids squeezed shut, light seems to fill his vision.
Why does that seem so familiar?
%And yet, he still has feeling in his body. The pain of all the bruises gathered earlier is still present. What kind of shitty afterlife maintains continuity on injuri-...
Wait, no, he's not dead.
His eyes crack open just in time to see his saviour suspended in air at the tail end of the powerful swing of the wooden sword, but otherwise he finds himself perfectly frozen in place. He doesn't even manage to move at all once Ryuko has landed on her feet. Not even when her mother lunges in again and--
Oh. There's parental hugging. Incredibly overbearing and embarrassing hugging, but parental hugging nonethless! Still frozen in place, Daisuke can do little more than just stare while the mother-teenager-routine play out, all the way until the mother is barreling back into the mall.
"... What... just happened...?"
His eyes eventually draws back to Ryuko, with his eyes still widened at her, as if though silently beseeching her for a return to some kind of logical world again.
"Uh... To be perfectly honest, part of me is kind of reconsidering," he admits, with a weak smile of his own ultimately flashed back down to her. "... But I guess I need it even more after all that. As long as she doesn't try to toss me out the window while we're on the highway or something..."
A careful unsteady step brings him up closer to to Ryuko - and in spite of his momentary display of courage, his knees *are* shaking visibly with just that motion alone - and he guides a light pat to her shoulder while she's still slumped over.
"That makes twice you've saved my butt. Guess I should be paying you now?"
Ryuko barks out a laugh and stands up straight, wiping at her eye with the back of her glove. A genuine smile returns as she gaze out towards the crowd which has already started to disperse now that the fun seems to be over. Turning her back to the car, she slumps against and runs a hand through her hair with a long exhale. For a brief moment, her long bangs are brushed aside by her fingers revealing yet another oddity to the teenager. Rather than a second eye hiding behind a stylishly obstructive hairdo, Ryuko sports a large black metallic patch over the left side of her face. The faint hints of some wild scar can briefly been seen peeking out from underneath the edges at the top and bottom, bearing a strong resemblance to claw marks.
"To be honest, I didn't think I'd actually stop her. My mom is.... kind of crazy strong. She's a professional MMA fighter. Well, used to be. Now she mostly trains other people."
Ryuko gives him a wry smile, allowing that to sink in.
"I'd put a thousand yen down that I didn't actually stop her. She pulled that punch when I stepped in. Probably was just testing to see how you'd react. Moma's... got a weird idea of how to say hello to people."
Of course, not all of it was a stage show. There's no way her mother could have anticipated she'd stumble across some random bozo in an alleyway and end up dragging him back with her. What she has in strength and enthusiasm she lacks in common sense sometimes. It doesn't actually surprise her at all that the woman could run out into public in her skivvies and not notice, she tends to have a one track mind. That doesn't make her antics any less embarrassing though. As much as she loves her mother, Ryuko tries to avoid going out in public with her for just these sorts of reasons.
"Anyway, sorry about all that. Normally, she's pretty tolerable but every so often something like this happens. I rolled the dice and came up snake eyes, so I guess it's my fault. We'll call it even, yeah?"
Ryuko gives him another playful punch in the shoulder as she pushes to her feet.
"Comon. Let's get you home."
The patch over her missing eye is noticed, alright. And while Daisuke chooses to not say anything on it, he isn't particularly good at maintaining a poker face, so she may well notice him staring and the look of concern on him.
The implications on her mom's strength aren't lost on him either. He already figured Ryuko to be strong as all hell after seeing her earlier display, but now she's saying she couldn't actually stop her mom?
"...That was her pulling a punch...?" Why does he feel like he would have been hospitalized for a week or two if it had hit him regardless?
And completely ignoring the fact that he is in significantly worse physical state, and that she is more than well capable enough in getting herself back up from her slump again, he *does* still offer one hand over to her for support when she makes to rise, wether she takes it or not. At least he doesn't jostle from her shoulder-punch this time, wincing from getting the bruising underneath his clothes getting poked nonwithstanding.
"Even enough... Would have been pretty ironic to die right after making my first friend in here."
Some people might consider that statement incredibly significant on it's own, but he says it so off-handedly.
"Yeah... Whenever your mom's ready, I guess. I feel like I need to sleep for an eternity after today."
Log created on 08:25:44 03/18/2021 by Ryuko, and last modified on 11:01:24 03/20/2021.