Description: Tiffany finds criminals. Natsu finds criminals. Tiffany finds punch. Punch finds Tiffany. Natsu finds Tiffany. Everything turns to /complete garbage/. (Winner: Tiffany)

Gorin High. It seems like only yesterday that Natsu Ayuhara was first stepping onto the campus with her parents, staring with amazement at the lush greenery distributed thoughtfully throughout the campus, the newly-renovated buildings, and the state-of-the-art athletic facilities. What a dream come true, that she might be allowed to go to school in such an awe-inspiring setting!

The past two weeks, she's seen it as a battleground, the stage for a macabre real-life equivalent to the tower defense games she occasionally plays on her phone. It's not -really- so frenetic and fast-paced, but with the events of the weeks prior -- combined with the criminal she's been playing cat and mouse with... the seemingly random intrusions of Gorin's perimeter are beginning to test Natsu's mettle!

With Gorin's honor at stake, though, and the prom just over twenty-four hours away, Natsu owes it to herself to put an end to this criminal. Natsu and three other first-year students had thought themselves the only the only occupants of the main hall building on this Saturday afternoon; all had been so focused on preparing treats and drinks that they hadn't been able to keep a vigilant eye on the numerous jugs of punch that had been prepared for freezing. And when all backs were turned, a strike team garbed in blue clothing had made their move -- and Natsu had only caught the tail end of the last fleeing criminal!

The chase had gone on for quite some time now -- there were four, and they each split up in different directions. Her classmates had each pursued one, but Natsu's quarry had led her on a wild goose chase all around the main school building, only to lead them right back to the cafeteria, via the outside door!

The heavy kitchen door is still swinging as Ayuhara storms into the cafeteria, a near bloody rage in her eyes. Panting heavily, she stalks towards the kitchen, eyeing the swinging door, and... notes that the heavy jug that had been lugged around... had just been left on the counter. Where it came from.

Grinding her teeth, Natsu takes a quick look around the cafeteria. Abandoned. Which means her quarry -has- to be in the kitchen. She stalks over to the kitchen door, pushing it open with her palm!

COMBATSYS: Natsu has started a fight here.

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Natsu            0/-------/-------|

It's not a fleeing criminal Natsu finds when she rolls into the kitchen; the circular path Ayuhara has taken has let that /particular/ person run away, and left her neatly turned around by the time she makes her way back around to the cafeteria.

Tiffany Lords, meanwhile, had snuck into Gorin following those same punks that Natsu had dispersed; when she saw them tampering with something in the kitchen, she'd gone in accordingly, and taken her time figuring out what, exactly, had been tampered with.

~*~ some time ago ~*~

"Hrrmmm... it's not the appetizers," Tiffany says, taking a big cup of punch and drinking from it as she attempts to assess the damage, allowing Gorin to take care of its own as far as the criminals themselves go. She can slip back out once she's figured everything out -- or once she hears someone outside. Right?

~*~ less time ago ~*~

"Oh wowwww... I think this is a prank! I feel like they didn't take 'r' mess with anything!" comes a proud declaration from the kitchen, moments before Natsu comes in from outside. "Ggnghrg... Goddamn... Gedo!!!!" she finishes, drowned out by the clatter of the exterior door. Taking a few steps toward the door, she pokes her head out -- and then slides it back in, leaving it swinging for Natsu to spot.

When the door opens, it very nearly bowls a blushing Ms. Lords over, clad in her Pacific High cheerleading uniform. "Hhhhey," she says, with a little wave and a thoughtful glance toward the punch. She does not explain her presence, nor the cup in her hand; she is sure in the kitchen and evidently has messed with the punch, though!

COMBATSYS: Tiffany has joined the fight here.

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Natsu            0/-------/-------|-------\-------\0          Tiffany

Once someone remembers to check the cafeteria's security camera footage, the spectacle of the Gorin students, the Gedo students, and Tiffany nearly missing each other by mere seconds is sure to rank pretty high amongst Southtown's Funniest Videos. But right now... Natsu only sees a blonde. Someone who had been asking all sorts of questions, and instead of trying to help her find out what Gedo's been up to... had instead been inquiring about /Taiyo/. And after a recent conversation with Haru Sakuraba of Justice High... well, suffice to say, Natsu doesn't even believe -Gedo's- the true criminals any more.

So it's easy to draw the exact -wrong- conclusion about seeing Tiffany in the kitchen with the cup full of punch. Even in the -best- of cases, Tiffany's still guilty of theft.

"You... are -unbelievable-. Did you really think you could get away with this?"

Natsu sees the redness in Tiffany's cheeks. And the only time she's seen her -own- cheeks red recently has been after running through the brisk autumn air.

Just as someone -guilty- would look.

"Why...won't you... just... stay in your /own school?!/" Without a second thought, Natsu... snaps, to put it lightly.

And charges straight for Tiffany, shoulder-first, with the reckless intensity of an uncaged buffalo, no longer able to restrain her anger after running clear around the building for five minutes straight. "RRRNGAH!"

COMBATSYS: Tiffany dodges Natsu's Strong Punch.

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Natsu            0/-------/-------|-------\-------\0          Tiffany

Tiffany decides that she really wants to be out of the way of that shoulder-tackle; the best way to be out of the way, of course, is to bonelessly fall to one side, half-staggering and half-just falling. She doesn't /quite/ hit her head on something, but it's a pretty total evasion. "What?" she asks, as she pulls herself back up and around, hanging onto one of the shelves in the kitchen. "I was chasin' some... uh... Anyway, wait a sec, just..." It takes her a second, and by the time she starts circling the answer, her feet are already carrying her back toward Natsu.

... though she doesn't get very /far/ toward Natsu. Her forward walk /also/ comes with a stumble... but when she starts to pitch forward in her motion toward the student, muscle memory takes over and carries her to what is, all truths told, a pretty impressive conclusion.

Her hands plant squarely on the ground, stopping her from falling; her feet, meanwhile, swing forward at high speed, one after the other, hopefully pressing Natsu back. It's a slow, irregular motion, and one that the combination of her current state and her earlier stagger diminishes beyond the usual for the cartwheel... but Tiffany's still dangerous.

COMBATSYS: Natsu fails to interrupt Groovy Wheel from Tiffany with Quick Throw.

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Natsu            0/-------/----===|>>-----\-------\0          Tiffany

Natsu's forward momentum is nearly enough to send her careening into the wall, but she manages to snake her palm out and stop without hurting herself. Wheeling back around to Tiffany, she glares: "Don't give me 'what!' The evidence is plain as day!"

And that's when Natsu sees Tiffany's feet flying around to kick her in the head. Her face contorts into a displeased frown as she steps backwards. "H-hey!" she exclaims, hand snapping up to her face in defense. Right as Tiffany's foot is scything down towards her, Natsu gets the bright idea to put her SLAMFEST training to good use, catch the foot, and pull sharply, lifting Tiffany off the floor and slamming her bodily into the wall!

buuuuut, that's not how it actually plays out, as Natsu's rampant imagination had meant that she came up with the idea about 0.5 seconds too late to do anything about it. Socked with a cheerleader boot to the head, she reels backwards, arms flailing ineffectually out to either side as her feet scrabble to maintain balance.

And that's when Natsu's feet find one of the cups that had fallen to the floor -- sending her flying backwards. And =then= Natsu bonks her head on the tiled kitchen wall. Owwwww...

Though she'd slid down it a good foot or so, Natsu, shoulders back against the wall, pushes herself back to her full height. Breaking away into a half-ready stance, one hand reaching to the back of her head, her forehead creased in pain, she cries out, "Wait? You want me to -wait- while you attack me some more?! Nnnrgh..."

Staggering off of her fellow teenager as her attack lands flush, Tiffany takes a second to breathe; her head is spinning -- or maybe that's the room that's doing that. Either way, she kind of hates it; while Natsu pushes against the wall, Tiffany contends with the ground, and the vague sensation that she's still spinning. It passes -- but not before too long. In a better situation, she might pause and try to get a sense of her surroundings, or of her opponent, but...

The flight or fight instinct has taken in and chosen fight, and that's really all Tiffany can manage to contend with in her current state. Accordingly, she keeps right on aggressing -- which is really just as well, given the negotiating posture that Natsu has taken on this one! She can't seriously consider her avenues to aggress -- she just sort of throws things out there, at this point, and hopes that things work out.

Weaving forward, Tiffany explains, "Well -- like... /yeah/, or else you're not gonna stop?" This all makes complete sense to her, of course, so she sticks with it as she rears back her arm. Muscle memory totally fails Tiffany this time; she had planned to come in low and swinging, insofar as she had a plan, but her brain promptly responds with, 'How do I do that?'

Accordingly, she ends up taking her basic punches for a spin -- or rather, for /not/ a spin. It's just a hook -- and one which, shockingly, she delivers without sending herself into a spin in the aftermath.

COMBATSYS: Natsu blocks Tiffany's Medium Punch.

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Natsu            0/-------/---====|>>-----\-------\0          Tiffany

Natsu had a bandanna wrapped around her hair to keep it out of the way while fixing up treats; with a harried tug, she's able to pull the bandanna off her head and sling it to the side. (She's also wearing a cute little apron with a duck on the front, but that stays in place... for now!)

The acting captain of the Gorin volleyball team had already taken a dim view of the events unfolding here, but in her quest to end this madness, Tiffany all but -stating- that she'd keep attacking until Natsu's presumably unconscious is just too much to bear. Sure, logic -could- prevail if Ayuhara would just calm down and think, but... there's no time for that!

Natsu may not be all that lucid after chasing the supposed criminal around the school, but she's now got the right presence of mind for a fight. "Alright, then..." Raising her forearm, she neatly deflects Tiffany's hook punch away from its intended target. As her bandanna flutters to the floor, she cries out, "... you leave me with no choice!"

And that would be when she tries another SLAMFEST honored tradition -- making a grab for Tiffany's face! "But first... get out of our kitchen!"

If she can manage that, she'd start rushing forward, leveraging her superior size and strength into pushing Tiffany back out of the kitchen, bumping her through the swinging door -- and then slamming her to the ground!

COMBATSYS: Tiffany dodges Natsu's Combo Grapple.

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Natsu            0/-------/---====|>>-----\-------\0          Tiffany

Indeed, Tiffany does not generally provide her opponents much time to think; the apron-clad Natsu makes sure of that with her consistent offense. She at least accomplishes her real goal, though, of getting Tiffany out of the kitchen; when she sees that grab coming for her face, Tiffany throws herself into a forceful backward stumble toward the door. Once again, it ends with her on the floor -- but at the very least she does indeed get out!

Now in the broader cafeteria, Tiffany scrambles up onto one of the serving counters; she wants /no/ part of Natsu at this point, and the taller girl has a substantial height advantage over her under normal circumstances! Unfortunately, she forgets, midway through her scramble, what her plan actually was. A different one occurs to her within a few moments, though -- one that gives her a big smile on her face.

Leaping back /off/ the serving counter and toward Natsu, Ms. Lords uses her height advantage to the greatest possible extent, half-throwing, half-tackling Natsu to the ground and giving her a ferocious chest-bump to the face that she will almost certainly regret within a few moments.

COMBATSYS: Natsu just-defends Tiffany's Chest Thrusting!

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Natsu            0/-------/---====|>------\-------\0          Tiffany

Well, Ayuhara =did= want her out of the kitchen so that all the treats wouldn't be disturbed, but scrambling up on the counter like a crazed animal... Natsu has no idea what Tiffany's plan would be -there-.

But... Natsu's been trying to keep the cafeteria orderly and clean. Prom is TOMORROW, people, and this place has to look in -pristine- condition. So while Tiffany had leapt on the counter, it had the unfortunate side effect of warping the metal of the counter, popping some of the serving trays loose. Even if Natsu weren't in a fight, her first impulse would have been to reach over and place her hands on the trays to keep them from flying off the counter.

And she does so.... right as Tiffany shifts direction and comes flying towards her.

Natsu's first reaction is to do as one normally would when someone comes flying towards them -- raise her arms in front of her.

But in her sudden panic, she hadn't really let go of the top tray yet. The tray absorbs the initial impact, distributing the force to her palms and allowing her the brief instant she needs to step backwards, incredulous at what she'd just done without thinking. It's enough to give the rookie fighter a slight rush as she works off the embarassment of having been stuffed into a wall by a half-drunken cartwheel.

"Maybe it's different in Pacific, but here..." It's now that Natsu puts her height to good use. Tiffany just happens to have placed her at the perfect height an incoming volleyball would be at -- with a light crouch, Natsu suddenly surges forward, shoving the tray forward into Miss Lords -- and if she manages that, she'd follow up by leaping after the young Pacific student and slamming her wrist and palm down for a spike! "We don't stand on the counter!"

COMBATSYS: Tiffany dodges Natsu's Set and Spike.

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Natsu            0/-------/-----==|>>-----\-------\0          Tiffany

The tray does indeed land indelicately on Ms. Lords's face, though once againn, her statistically significant inebriation saves her; she slides bonelessly off of it and do the ground before she can get spiked down. She furrows her brow slightly as she just barely slides out of the path of the secondary strike, saying, "Eeehh?" with a small squint as she pulls herself back up, looking at Natsu with a dull expression on her face.

Then her smile brightens, and she says, "Y'don't? But how's... how's anyone see over you?" With that particular thoughtless comment out of the way, Tiffany finally feels like she has the mental wherewithal to continue her assault. She looks from side to side, trying to get a little further into the cafeteria proper -- this corner seems like it's so... claustrophobic.

Unfortunately, she can't do both things she wants to do at once, so she settles for quickly dashing around /behind/ Natsu and putting her hands neatly on the floor. At first, it looks like another cartwheel attempt... at least, until she pushes off with a forceful kick, drilling up toward Natsu and hopefully getting them both onto the cafeteria floor proper.

COMBATSYS: Natsu just-defends Tiffany's Beautiful Spin!

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Natsu            0/-------/-----==|>------\-------\0          Tiffany

How does anyone see over Natsu? What kind of question is that? "... That's -ridiculous!-" contests the v-ball captain, glaring back at Tiffany as she tries to figure out the cause of her odd behavior!

But she doesn't have time to reach any true conclusions, as Tiffany's leaing forward into another cartwheel. Natsu swivels to the side in the start of a turn, but that's when the athlete's tall frame proves inconvenient: her elbow brushes another serving tray off the stack, sending it clattering to the floor. "Nnf..." she grimaces -- already this place is starting to look like a mess!

The aproned student then takes a wary step backwards, taking hold of the tray again -- she knows just how much that cartwheel could hurt, and the tray proved useful -last- time! When Miss Lords leaps into a drilling kick, Natsu's able to slap the tray in her path, keeping the traction of Tiffany's rotating shoe treads from grinding a swirly pattern into her face! It looks like a perfect defense, until the sheer force of Tiffany's =forward= momentum kicks in...

So Natsu takes one, two, three steps backward...

And steps right onto the tray. "Uh--uwaaa?!" But... miraculously, she's able to keep from falling over -- in fact, the drilling kick actually propels the pair backwards, skating them along on the freshly-buffed cafeteria floor as effortlessly as if they were on a skateboard...

After some adjustment to keep from falling over, Natsu seems to be getting the hang of it! "... Well, that was unexpected..."

But... the ride ends nearly as quickly as it began. Natsu leaps backwards, to put her momentum to good use. Even as Tiffany recovers from her attack, Natsu hits the ground once more, redirecting that momentum into kinetic force, leaping into a low dive. When she snaps out of her tumbling dive, though, she'll be aiming to slap Tiffany's legs right out from under her, hoping to put a temporary restraining order on the cheerleader's cartwheeling antics!

COMBATSYS: Tiffany blocks Natsu's Sliding Receive.

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Natsu            0/-------/----===|>>>----\-------\0          Tiffany

It's not luck -- not exactly -- that saves Tiffany here, at least not in the conventional sense. Under most circumstances, the sorts of things that keep happening to her would be considered /bad/ luck -- but in this niche circumstance, everything works out to her advantage. ... a little, anyway. When Natsu whirls around into a dive, Tiffany lands hard from their little skateboarding adventure -- and /because/ she lands hard, she ends up with her arms in front of her legs. This'd be a somewhat wobbly perch, except she ends up pushing back against the sliding dive and slap... which means she finds her balance once again.

Drawing up to her full height, Tiffany regards the apron-clad girl coolly -- or perhaps just blankly, it's increasingly hard to tell at this point /what's/ happening here. She brings a hand up to her head, trying to find some stability and generally failing to do so; she's /also/ having a hard time finding words to say to Natsu.

So, naturally, she resorts to the old American standby when dialogue fails: violence! Her hands come up for a quick, one-two-three set of punches, starting with two jabs and finishing with a cross. By the time she finishes her combo, her face -- /regardless/ of the results -- has turned back up into that same, easy grin.

COMBATSYS: Natsu just-defends Tiffany's Medium Punch!

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Natsu            0/-------/----===|>>>----\-------\0          Tiffany

When faced with adversity, some people just throw in the towel and give up. But Natsu Ayuhara... she just wants to bring someone -- anyone -- to the school administration as an example of just how much Gorin needs additional funding -- or -something- -- to make it so that she isn't the only who has to fight off campus invaders!

And as Natsu rolls back to her feet, squaring her stance once more towards her Pacific counterpart, she brushes the back of her hand across her cheek. In most fights, she'd be at least a little winded by now, but there's something about Tiffany's tenacity that seems to be oddly infectious: Natsu just... doesn't feel as winded as usual. So when Tiffany slams in a one-two-three punch -- and any -one- of the solid punches could have knocked her back into the kitchen -- the v-ball captain finds herself in a zen-like groove, not unlike the calm, rational focus she displays in her volleyball matches. That higher focus allows her to neatly catch each punishing strike in an open, slightly cupped palm, stepping backwards with each of Tiffany's advances, like some oddly rhythmic dance step -- her body moving practically on its own accord.

But that higher existentialist grace thing does not extend to her verbal responses. "Gah!" Natsu is -totally- wigged out by the smile. TOTALLY. "Stop it with that creeptastic smile!!" She raises her arms in front of her head and backpedals to the spot where she'd left her gym bag -- something she -always- carries around in school. One sharp kick frees a ball from her gym bag's confines; a second toe kick sends it flying into the air. "I -- AM -- TRYING --"

Though, maybe the 'creeptastic' smile actually -increases- her focus? Hard to tell! But what is known as fact is that a volleyball has been slammed out, the round ball stretched into an ellipsoid from the sheer velocity with which Natsu serves it towards Tiffany. "-- TO -- HIT -- YOU!"

COMBATSYS: Tiffany dodges Natsu's Jikkon Serve.

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Natsu            0/-------/----===|>>>----\-------\0          Tiffany

The incoming volleyball gets Tiffany's attention -- but she's so used to dodging sports balls that the reaction is totally natural; she hurls herself straight down to the ground, letting the ball fly over her head and bounce off of one of the cafeteria walls. Breathing a momentary sigh of relief, Tiffany decides to stay down for a few moments this time; kipping up doesn't seem worth it, and on top of that --

-- is she crying?

Snapping from easygoing to weeping in moments, Tiffany stammers out, "I -- I was just gonna -- I... Uwaaahh!" as she finally draws herself off the floor, tears streaming down her face. Her eyes screw shut as she wobbles toward Natsu, trying to figure out what, exactly, she wants to respond to that volleyball with. She still hasn't managed to explain to Natsu Ayuhara /exactly/ why she's here... but every time she starts to get up the nerve, something really bad happens!

If she can get this to /end/, she can probably explain herself... or at least finish out a nice, good cry. Either way, she stumbles in toward Natsu, aiming a big, looping kick for the volleyballer's leg in the hopes of sweeping her off her feet quite literally. If she can get her off her feet, she follows up with a series of smaller kicks while she's on the ground; all the while, she continues emitting high-pitched whining noise as tears roll down her cheek.

COMBATSYS: Natsu endures Tiffany's Heavy Kick.

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Natsu            0/-------/-======|>>>>---\-------\0          Tiffany

As Natsu's ball squashes up against the wall, rebounding off the cafeteria tables with successively softer taps, she finds herself looking around the room once again. "What the..." What is that sound?! Did she leave the door open, did a cat walk inside?

But as the Pacific cheerleader starts stumbling towards Natsu, she realizes -- nope. That's just crying. "Wh--?!" Too stunned by the sudden shift of moods, Natsu finds her legs flying out from under her.

She recovers in mid-air... well, sorta. The volleyballer twists so that she lands on her palms first. "Wa-wait! Tiffany-san... are you /crying?/"

Her thought is interrupted by the kicks which follow, though -- kicks which Natsu willingly endures, with a set jaw and eyes screwed shut. Her body shudders with each strike: Natsu's tough enough that she'll probably have soreness in her thighs for a few days, as she's not -invincible- after all. But she's beginning to think that maybe she was suckered.

"Okay, that's just -low-. /Crying?/ You -almost- had me there..." She opts -against- standing up, instead just making a grab for Tiffany's feet, pulling them close to her chest. She'd be trying to trap Tiffany's head between her feet, applying liberal pressure as she aims to leverage her height to good effect: stretching Tiffany out and stopping her attacks -that- way. "What! What, Tiffany, what were you 'gonna' do?"

COMBATSYS: Tiffany interrupts Medium Throw from Natsu with Groovy Knuckle.

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Natsu            1/-------/=======|>>>>>--\-------\0          Tiffany

When Tiffany sees Natsu coming in toward her, the cheerleader drops low, committing to her plan; she spins around once, making it rather difficult to grab for her feet -- while Natsu /does/ get hands on her, she squirms out of it. Losing her balance, she starts tumbling toward the ground mid-spin -- but having already committed to her spin, she ends up bringing a glowing fist down on Natsu in a high-speed fist-drop by the time she tumbles over to the side.

She takes most of the fall on the shoulder, wincing but not defeated; she lies on the ground for a little while, either insensate or just enjoying her void. She's not crying as much as she was -- there's still some quiet weepy noises, but she's at the very least not at the 'practically screaming' stage of it anymore.

"I -- there were these guys... 'n' they were... and I was..." she mumbles, trying to find the words; she rolls over slowly to one side, trying to pop herself back up out of her current position on the ground without too much success just yet.

Ayuhara's grip had faltered as Tiffany slipped away -- what? no hugs?! -- but as she'd already been low to the ground, she decides to log-roll off to the side. And a split-second later, Tiffany -nails- her in the back with that sudden fist drop, causing Natsu's arch backward in pain. "Ow! Geez!"

The volleyball captain opts to stay on the freshly-waxed floor for just a moment longer, rubbing the tender sore spot on her back with a hand as she looks over at Tiffany. As the possibility of Tiffany's retribution crosses the athlete's mind, Natsu suddenly curls up, springing back to her feet in a mild panic -- but she's able to see that the Pacific cheerleader is actually making an attempt to communicate amidst her sniffling.

"... Guys? Uh-huh...?" encourages Natsu -- but, being overly paranoid over the -last- few attempts at talking, she pads backwards to a safer distance, keeping a watchful eye on the (scheming?!) cheerleader. She curls and uncurls her hands in anticipation, adrenaline still coursing vigorously throughout her body, she resembles a wrestler more than a volleyball player at this point. "Go on... I'm listening..."

COMBATSYS: Natsu focuses on her next action.

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Natsu            1/-------/=======|>>>>>--\-------\0          Tiffany

Taking a few moments to just breathe, Tiffany starts to calm down. "They... they came into the kitchen... 'n' I came into the kitchen," she explains; she isn't /entirely/ sure that's the order of operations anymore, but at this point she's committed to at least /trying/ to explain herself and the situation. "... I 'nno if they actually did anything, though..." Mystifyingly, it's easier for her to talk while drunk in some respects; she slurs her words, but her cadence feels a /lot/ more natural.

Her gaze rests calmly on Natsu, and she says, "Anyway, I had some punch... 'n' I tried to figure out what they messed with..." It is at this point that Tiffany decides to finally move forward and continue her assault; it's sort of on autopilot at this point. She has half-forgotten the reason they're fighting, despite the fact that she's literally describing it... or perhaps more accurately she's forgotten that /that is/ the reason why they're fighting.

Accordingly, she ends up throwing a punch before she finishes her point; this one's a big, mean hook, one that practically has /Tiffany/ spinning by the end of it. Her breathing has leveled off -- or at least, gotten back to the stage of 'combat breathing,' so she's not heaving with sobs as she throws the punch.

COMBATSYS: Tiffany successfully hits Natsu with Medium Punch.

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Natsu            1/----===/=======|>>>>>>-\-------\0          Tiffany

"Right, right... those guys you were with..." Natsu's still got to cross-reference what Tiffany's saying with what she actually saw. "... Well, we were in the kitchen the whole time till guys ran in and -stole- the punch..." Ayuhara keeps a wary eye on her Pacific counterpart, gradually relaxing her stance as Tiffany seems to be talking more fluidly and naturally. Straightening her stance for one moment, she tilts her head to the side, eager to hear the rest: "So, what did--"

Apparently Tiffany's apparent lucidity seems to have lulled Ayuhara into a false sense of ease, her combat readiness failing at a critical moment: even though she starts to raise her arms at the very last instant, Tiffany's mighty hook is just that much faster, connecting solidly with Natsu's shoulder and spinning her around like a top!

Natsu wouldn't call that a hook though. She'd call it a sucker punch, and she fell for it! AGAIN! As Natsu whirls about once, and then a second time, she gets clipped by the edge of a cafeteria table, bending her over like a jacknife.

Seething at having been caught despite -every- effort to actually -listen- to Tiffany like the calm and rational person her parents always knew she could be, Natsu... is pretty mad. Actually, she's gone -beyond- mad and all the way into full bore enrage.

She grabs a chair by the back, hefting it over one shoulder -- not unlike a -certain- member of the baseball team who Natsu happens to stop by to watch after volleyball practice. Glaring daggers at Tiffany, she lectures: "Okay, look here! I've given you your chance to explain, and then you went off and whacked me anyway! How am I supposed to take you seriously like that?!"

And that's when the mad, -really- mad Natsu advances on Tiffany, swinging the chair like a baseball bat! Maybe =now= she can catch the nimble cheerleader and knock some sense into her! "HRAAAAA!"

COMBATSYS: Tiffany blocks Natsu's Random Weapon.

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Natsu            1/----===/=======|>>>>>>>\-------\1          Tiffany

"I -- look, it's --" Tiffany starts stammering out an apology, but doesn't get around to it before that chair comes in for her face; she scrunches up into a ball, arms over her head as she defends herself against the chair. Once again, she takes the blow to the arms -- and while they're aching at this point, she's at least in better shape than if she'd taken all of those hits totally flush.

Starting to look more steady but still pretty thoroughly drunk, the Lords heiress wobbles back to her feet, fists clenched tight as she looks around the room. Her gaze unfocused but generally in the area surrounding Natsu, Tiffany proves herself... rather less lucid than she thinks. She's starting to escape the throes of drunkenness, between the adrenaline and the hits, but...

... for the moment, she's still pretty out of it. Despite the fact that she feels like she could go for something big and close this out, she doesn't have the sense of /urgency/ required for that; accordingly, she just rushes forward and tries to slam Natsu to the ground. "I -- it's -- just -- just... okay?" she manages to spit out as she goes for a rather unceremonious grab-and-toss. She /really/ can't construct this line of thought far enough out to have a reasonable discussion.

COMBATSYS: Natsu interrupts Medium Throw from Tiffany with Random Weapon.

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Natsu            1/----===/=======|=======\====---\1          Tiffany

Natsu's given -plenty- of opportunities for Tiffany to apologize, but still the Pacific cheerleader keeps coming back for more! But it's all just some big misunderstanding, right? Natsu's -got- to calm down and listen to reason, right?

Maybe. But she tried that! And insanity is the product of expecting different results from doing the same thing over and over again!

By this point, Natsu's -way- past the point of reason. And even though she's already been here at Gorin a short time, her teammates know that well.

"Who do you think that is?" "Oh, I've seen her around, she goes to Pacific..." "What do you think she's doing here?! She can't beat up Natsu-sempai, but--" "Shhh, they'll hear!" -- Yep. The three other girls hadn't -quite- managed to catch the thieves they were chasing, and they're clustered in the hallway, watching the fight unfold before their very eyes...

Ayuhara pulls the chair back away from Tiffany, wincing just a bit at the very -thought- of her using a chair to beat someone her own age! But really... she just... needed the reach? "L-Listen, I'm--" she stammers, face softening somewhat as Tiffany starts to try and apologize. But, of course, they both start at the -exact- same moment, causing one to wait, and then there's silence, and then -- "I-- I mean, the chair--"

There's only so many aborted attempts at conversation one can take before the pressure just gets to you. Especially when the person you're utterly -failing- to have conversation with... keeps wanting to maim you or something?! "NNngh, STOP that! I'm trying to LISTEN to you!"

Natsu's temper is legendarily hot! And when Tiffany tries to throw herself at Natsu, the tall athlete just imposes the chair in the way, the crossbar keeping the four chair legs stable catching Tiffany squarely in the midsection. But Tiffany's force still pushes Natsu backwards, pinning her back, once again, against the cafeteria table!

"Rrrgh!" is Natsu's perfectly cogent counterargument, punctuated by a hearty shove -back- at Tiffany, strong enough to send her backpedaling and possibly even to the floor!

"Nngh, why are we even -doing- this... are you..."

Ayuhara's nose wriggles a bit, from having been so close to Tiffany all this time. "Is... is that what I think it is...?"

The chair does a good job of getting Tiffany to stay off; she crashes into it and bounces right back off, dizzied by the sheer force of the weapon. Natsu's forceful riposte with it is enough to get Tiffany to back off... or more accurately, to stop her aggression and slump into it a little bit, giving Natsu plenty of time to pick up that smell on the teenager's breath.

/She/ doesn't know it's there, though... she's never really had much alcohol before, and she assumes the aftertaste is just how Japanese punch is made. Accordingly, when she's forced to back off with that shove, she just stares up a little distantly, genuinely confused by the sudden comments from Natsu with her burning temper.

Groaning as she slowly gets her feet underneath her, Tiffany looks at Natsu with an expression that's really still confused but at least /more/ comprehending than she was before that forceful chair shot. "Huh? I, uh... I had a couple cups of the punch while I was figurin' everything out," she half-states, half-groans through the ringing in her ears. Looking Natsu over as she asks why they're doing this, she says, "But I couldn't find anythin' wrong 'r' nothin'... they just..."

She gestures vaguely with her hands, finishing lamely, "... dicked around with the kitchen," out of words but still taking the opportunity to get herself apprised of the situation again. ... why are they fighting, again?

COMBATSYS: Tiffany focuses on her next action.

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Natsu            1/----===/=======|=======\====---\1          Tiffany

Natsu blinks soberly back at Tiffany. She... seems to be talking now, that's... that's good, right?

"Oh." Realization dawns on the volleyballer, though, as she realizes she's been whaling away on a tipsy teenager. With a chair. "... Oh. So you didn't... steal anything. Other than the few cups' worth."

Like a scolded puppy, a red-cheeked Natsu meekly sets the chair legs back down onto the floor -- their proper position, in the proper orientation -- and scoots it back under the table with a faint sliding sound.

"The, uh... punch seems to have been, uh... /tampered with/, Tiffany." She looks downcast for a moment, rubbing the nape of her neck. "And, I... I guess I'm sorry for... uh... overreacting."

Still, as serious as Natsu is trying to be, she spends the next few seconds recounting all the things Tiffany had said and done just now. Things that made no sense coming out of the mouth of a sober person, but now that she knows the context...

Natsu can't be serious any more. The whole premise is just too much for her: laughter is the -only- medicine she can resort to right now. "Haha! You should've seen your face when you were on the counter, that was hilarious!"

"Natsu-sempai!" Natsu's teammates finally deem laughter to be a good sign to enter the room. And they're carrying the five-gallon coolers over their heads. I mean, they -have- to be empty, they'd be forty pounds, easily, but these friends of Natsu are carrying them overhead like an oversized gorilla carries oil barrels -- any rational person would think, haha, those jugs are empty.

Any rational -sober- person wouldn't be particularly scared by three complete strangers entering the room with three five-gallon coolers over their heads, especially when one chirps up, "Haha, looks like you caught a thiiiief... she's gonna need to be punnnnnished~!"

And Natsu just joins in the laughter. Isn't it -funny-, Tiffany? C'mon, laugh with the happy Gorin people!

COMBATSYS: Natsu takes no action.

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Natsu            1/----===/=======|=======\====---\1          Tiffany

When the realization hits Natsu, Tiffany decides to keep her stance firm; she's not /quite/ sober enough to process Natsu's shame and worry, which means she's mostly totally caught off guard when the laughs start. What seems hilarious to Natsu is still pretty upsetting to Tiffany; she feels like she's being made fun of for trying to help these Gorin brats, and that's really the worst, isn't it?

Her gaze tracks over to the strangers entering the room -- and they join in with the teasing, and it's at about that point that Tiffany finds herself with the urge to cry again. It's one thing for Natsu, who's been giving her a hell of a fight, to make fun of her -- but the whole Gorin campus seems to be getting in on it!! /Rude/.

Squinting at the volleyballer, Ms. Lords takes a few big stomping steps forward toward her, building up to a shout of "There's -- that's -- I -- UGGHHHH!!!" as words once again fail her. This isn't entirely because she's drunk, though; a big part of it is that she's /angry/ now, and in her current state, the best solution to that anger is -- you guessed it -- more violence!

As such, when she's mere inches from Natsu, she rears back and then whirls around to hopefully drill clean through her dropped guard with a big slap in the face. There will be a time when this is hilarious to her, but that time isn't just yet... for the moment, her blood is just too up to relax and laugh with the Gorin kids.

(She /also/ can't evaluate whether that comment about being punished is serious; for all she knows, this is going to make her the next casualty of Japanese School Weirdness!)

COMBATSYS: Natsu blocks Tiffany's Quick Punch.

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Natsu            1/---====/=======|=======\====---\1          Tiffany

"Ahaha--aheh-- wha?!" Natsu curls her arms over her head as Tiffany decides she wants to -keep- fighting after all! The slap meets her shoulder and arms -- enough to sting quite a bit, and get Natsu's blood pumping -yet again!-

"Alright, ALRIGHT! I've just about had enough of you!" Ayuhara steps back for a moment, collecting her wits -- if there's one thing the hot-tempered volleyball player =isn't= good with, it's keeping calm when someone is beating on her!

"AHHH! Natsu-sempai!" The other three from the volleyball team drop their coolers in fright, the rather loud and conspicuously empty coolers making a terribly deafening noise, especially for someone with the misfortune to be practically right underneath it! And then the three hide under a table, not really considering the fact that the tables could -easily- be upended if the two brawling athletes get super-rowdy again.

Natsu, for her part -- aims to settle this. Quickly. Wasting no time, she rushes forward and attempts to get a firm grip on the front of Tiffany's cheer uniform. The Pacific cheerleader may have gotten drunk off the punch, but Natsu is pretty punch drunk herself, at this point: even with the light breather, rational thought just isn't a naturally occurring compound this late in the game. If she manages to catch hold of Tiffany, she'll return Tiffany's slap fourfold -- one slap, a backhand slap, then another forward slap, and then a final backhand, at which point Natsu would let go to allow momentum finish the job. If reason (and TOTALLY good-natured laughter, GOSH!) won't get through to the cheerleader, then perhaps more violence is the answer!

COMBATSYS: Tiffany interrupts Knock It Off! from Natsu with Wonderful Kick EX.

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Natsu            1/-======/=======|====---\-------\0          Tiffany

After the first slap to the face, Tiffany reaches that state where she actually /is/ angry enough to come in swinging with everything she's got; while before she was too drunk to really aggress, she's now in that perfect space between 'furious' and 'buzzed.' Accordingly, while the volleyballer rears back for that vicious backhand slap, Tiffany's already using the momentum her face and body got from the first one to the greatest possible extent.

When Natsu comes in for that second slap, Tiffany's got her whole body moving in a forceful forward flip; her foot comes up to meet the hand, her cheek still smarting from the rather thorough beating it took not too long ago. Sometimes, Tiffany realizes, the best way to defuse a situation is to just keep going until something breaks. That's how we do it -- that's how /America/ does it -- and it's worked out pretty well so far.

Her body naturally slides -- almost without warning -- into a /second/ upward flip, matching the first; instead of being at hand-level, she's now at eye-level, swinging a second foot up to meet Natsu's face. It's about here that her momentum stops... and were she less experienced, this might end in a rather unceremonious crash. As things stand, though, she lands on her hands neatly, and pushes up off of them to hit Natsu in the face with her feet /again/ -- just as she'd tried earlier near the serving counters.

"Y -- you guys are so /mean/!!" she declares, at the apex of the jumping kick. "Stop -- stop laughing at me 'cuz I tried to help you!!" She's not crying again, at least -- but she does sound... upset.

Natsu could have expected any number of reactions from Tiffany, but a -flip kick- was not among them. Natsu had been fully committed towards slapping Tiffany at -least- three more times when she'd gotten a foot in the face for her trouble, and that... ugh! The volleyball captain gets blasted backwards by the sheer outpouring of speed of Tiffany's attack. The second kick lands clean, the imprint of Tiffany's laces momentarily etched in memoriam upon Ayuhara's cheek. They should market temporary tattoos for those, it's the latest craze.

But for that moment, Natsu is still standing -- and that's why she gets absolutely =nailed= by the followup kick, which doesn't just make the amazonesque athlete stagger -- it sends her flying headfirst over a cafeteria table, upon which her momentum would send the aproned fighter sliding right off it in sequence.

Doubled over on the floor, Natsu just roars irritably. "UGHH! We weren't laughing -at- you, we were just... UGH!"

The remaining volleyball players do NOT come out from under the table. Nope. Nopenopenope.

The cafeteria door does open once more, though. As a teacher walks in -- the cooking teacher.

Who, upon seeing the mess, promptly faints right where she stands.

Natsu pulls herself back up -- part way. One arm flat against the table, her shoulders droop, her eyes being the only part of her face visible. Half-lidded eyes glare back at Tiffany, as Natsu presents like the least offensive posture ever shown in this here cafeteria.

"Nnngh. Tiffany... geez. You could've just -said- something..."

COMBATSYS: Natsu takes no action.

[              \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  <
Tiffany          0/-------/---====|

COMBATSYS: Natsu can no longer fight.

[              \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  <
Tiffany          0/-------/---====|

It is at about this point that Tiffany realizes what, exactly, she has done -- specifically when she hears Natsu say she could have just said something. She turns beet-red, embarrassed both for herself and for the situation as a whole; it's rare that something makes her feel self-conscious, but this has done just that. /She/ -- at least at the moment -- is the problem, and that fact is not lost on her.

Unfortunately, rather than try to patch things over immediately, her response is to mumble out a weak-sounding, "Sorry -- sorry -- sorryyyy..." and start half-running, half-staggering for the exterior door of the cafeteria. Maybe she can patch this up tomorrow. Or the next day. Or in 2027. But right now, she just wants to be alone.

... at least they figured out the punch was spiked...?

That'll be some degree of comfort /eventually/... but not yet -- mostly because despite hearing all those words, she hasn't quite processed that that's the /problem/.

COMBATSYS: Tiffany has ended the fight here.

Seeing Tiffany run off, Natsu slowly lets herself slide off the table. Flattening her back against the floor, she crosses her arms behind her head as a pillow, seething quietly as she looks up at the ceiling tiles.

Her friends look around, and after a moment... finally get up. And start picking up the mess, because whats-her-name is bound to wake up any moment now... they hope.

tl;dr: The prom can get someone else to make their damn punch.

Log created on 22:50:22 12/04/2014 by Tiffany, and last modified on 01:10:05 12/06/2014.