Description: Miko's back, back again. Kobayashi-sempai just has to see how her pet aikidoka is doing, and find out just what led him to challenge Mimiru for the PFW Eastern Pro Belt.
Miko Kobayashi has been on an extended absence for a few weeks. Family reasons, she's said. Before her absence, the Inter High-School Tournament was in full swing. After... the tournament was over, and the Principal has been revealed as a fraud, ousted by the student Daigo Kazama.
One hell of a time to be out. And on top of that, rumors show that one of her favored companions seems to have taken an unexpected turn.
Right now, it's Friday on Miko's first week to school. She'd been avoiding some of her friends aside from her 'three stooges,' Saya, Touji, and Kazuhito... but now, she feels, is a good time to approach her chi-sensitive friend Kazuki. The sound of dubstep violin can be heard from her earbuds as she slips through the crowd, curiously unattended by her stooges, until she catches sight of her quarry -- casually planting her hand on the locker beside Kazuki's, with one book in her hands.
"Oi, Kirigana. Long time no see." She offers a friendly smile in greeting, wondering just exactly what's on the young aikidoka's mind.
It's really hard to sneak up on Kazuki Kirigana. When every person carries their own tune, it's much like a professional wrestler with entrance music. He grins faintly nodding his head as Miko leans against the locker. Other than the bandages on Kazuki in a couple of places, the only... well... apparent difference about the young man would be the headphones. The once black, almost studio clean, audio equipment now sported a complex design of purple, blue, white and cyan made in what could only be fingernail polish.
"Good afternoon, Kobayashi-sempai," Kazuki says brightly. He, well, missed Miko. "Are things well with your family?"
Miko looks Kazuki up and down, appraisingly. It was hard for her to get a true sense of how injured he was with all the other students around, after all. Distractedly, she nods quietly: "They're... better. I'll have to keep a close eye on them for a bit, though, it's been a tense few weeks." She counts on most people to have the social graces to avoid prying too deeply into personal matters -- keeps her from having to invent new details. "Thanks for asking, Kazuki-kun."
Another way to keep from elaborating: the third-year impulsively invades Kazuki's personal space by reaching up and stroking a finger along his headphones, ascertaining exactly -how- they'd been decorated. "Saya's a pretty talented artist, it would seem." Fingernail polish... an unusual medium, but a rather enduring one, as long as he keeps it away from polish remover. "She wasn't sure if it'd tick you off or what," she notes with a bemused smirk.
She also notes that her hand isn't immediately knocked away -- a compelling sign that she appears to be leaving her mark upon the boy.
She curls her hand back to cradle her chin, her smirk turning into a more placid smile. "Caught up with the battle on the internet. You held your own pretty well against Kasagi, she's pretty tough. Why'd you decide to challenge her all of a sudden like that?" She's not intending it to be a mean question, considering her honest smile. She's... proud of him, actually.
"I..." Kazuki was somewhat surprised by the movement, actually. He may have a gift for the mayhem that is martial arts, but he's still a fifteen year-old boy with few friends, let alone any female friends. He blinks once, a faint blush showing, either in reaction to the movement or perhaps to the mention of the artwork. "She did a really good job with it," he finally says softly. "I... it meant a lot to me."
"It was a good fight," Kazuki admits. "I don't really know why I did it," he also admits. "I just..." Kazuki frowns, having a hard time putting a finger on what exactly drove him to do that.
Miko's certainly not unaware of the effect she has upon Kirigana. She's not above exploiting it as needed, either. But all in due time...
"She's kind of obsessive about things, I've noticed. I'm... rather pleased she's been taking an interest in fighting. All three of them, really. I hope they haven't been causing too much trouble for you, actually... it's rare that they'd seen anyone who fights quite like you." She pauses a beat. "I did kind of recommend they study your approach, so I guess their lessons are being taken to heart," she notes, brushing a few loose hairs past her ear.
"... You just... what? Kazuki-kun, you can tell me, go ahead."
A handful of other students had been starting to gawk at Miko -- her absence had been a bit more conspicious than she would have preferred -- but a faint quirk of en eyebrow is the only visible sign of the psychic's subtly injected request for privacy.
"They haven't been any trouble at all," Kazuki responds truthfully. "But... how I fight isn't anything special," he demures. "With everything that's happened recently, I just..." Kazuki frowns.
"I couldn't stay still," he says barely above a whisper.
Miko shakes her head. "It's not about how special it is or isn't. It's that you put yourself completely into the moment. And do what needs to be done." Scratching her cheek, she adds, "It ... could be considered a bit brutal? But she's a professional fighter, she knows the risks." She takes a deep breath, sighing -- she doesn't want Kazuki to get the impression that she thinks he should be -more- brutal.
Even though she kinda does want him to.
"... What's on your mind, Kazuki?" It's not the same question as 'what's wrong,' or 'what's been going on here.' Miko knows what's been occuring on campus. She wants to know what her junior is -bothered- by.
Kazuki frowns at this, and goes back into his locker, digging for something. Miko can likely see a mess of newspaper articles relating to the tournament, and the Butcher killings, and some of the other insanity that is starting to come out of the woodwork in Southtown.
"There are..." The frown deepens for a moment. "There are a lot of things going on. Bad things," he says. "I mean, I do not plan to go out and fight these things, but..." Kazuki looks away from the locker, away from Miko. "I do not think that I can protect myself, or anyone else, as I am now."
Miko happens to catch sight of the newspaper articles regarding the Butcher. And she frowns, at that one in particular -- not bothering to hide her emotion at all here. If Kazuki makes the connection between her and the 'Honoka Kawamoto', there... could be trouble.
Unfortunately, she hasn't figured out a way to draw his attention away from the Butcher without piquing even more interest, so she lets that be.
No. She simply looks back at Kazuki. ... The back of his head, anyway.
... This won't do, she considers, and places a gentle touch on his shoulder. Not unlike the way Daigo Kazama does.
"There's a saying I'd heard somewhere, Kazuki: Change what you can, and don't fret about what you can't." She can be heard taking a deep breath. "You want to get stronger -- this is a good thing. We should all strive to improve ourselves. And... challenging Mimiru was definitely a step in the right direction."
Miko squeezes Kazuki's shoulder lightly. "But don't worry. There are plenty of people who are stronger than us, Kazuki. Plenty of protectors who can take care of this. No one expects us to be strong." She chuckles, darkly. "... Until we rise up, as one unified voice, and set our collective foot down."
Kazuki glances at the hand on his shoulder, considering. "I disagree with you," he says quietly. "You cannot depend on someone else to save you. There will always be times when you have to save yourself." He gestures at the collected articles.
Miko's touch was a sign that she'd agreed with him, wanted to comfort him. But maintaining physical contact with someone you disagree with makes for a tense situation.
As such, she releases him, folding her arms before her. "Then, tell me, Kazuki." She walks away from the locker, seemingly oblivious to the throngs of students filing through the halls as she weaves through them effortlessly. "How much training would it have required to be 'safe' against these monstrous attacks?" she asks, as she steps past a third-year, turning back to face Kazuki. "How much would you consider to be 'enough' in these circumstances?"
Another student walks between the two, and Miko steps even closer, close enough that only the level of whisper she uses would take the edge off her non-offensive invasion into his personal space. "It's a rhetorical question, Kirigana. No man is an island. And no matter how much you train... there will be someone stronger: a bigger fish to feed upon you."
Polite though he may be, Kazuki doesn't flinch from the question. Nor, it should be noted, at the invasion of his personal space. He turns his head just enough to sideglance Miko without accidently headbutting her. The frown is still there, betraying the tumult of uncertainty and dissatisfaction with himself just as easily as the emotions themselves do to Miko's own senses.
"I am aware of that," Kazuki says. "Which is part of what bothers me."
Miko is fairly confident that she knows more about the Butcher than anyone else Kazuki has had the pleasure of speaking to. And yet, she's restrained herself from even mentioning the Butcher, due to the peculiar circumstances of her even -being- in Gedo High. Her face is a stern mask of concern, betraying no emotion that Kazuki might find and latch onto as a sign of her thought processes, her body language and poise tense, her aura static, solidified.
"Correct me if I'm wrong, then? Aikido is about remaining fluid in the face of an unyielding opponent. Aikido is not about having the strength to defeat your enemies, but about having the compassion to change them for the better. To show them the correct path... without compromising your own."
Her mask cracks, as she again offers the faint, elusive smile she's more widely known for. "Learn from the experience. Change what you can. When the blade comes, though, you will find yourself either too fast for it, or too slow for it. That is the way of things."
It is here that Kazuki does something else... unusual. He smiles, a bit bitterly, as he glances away from Miko, staring down the hallway that is starting to empty out.
"I did not choose to learn Aikido," he finally says, in a slightly sour tone of voice. "That was not my decision at all." Despite the skill he shows for it. "It was something my parents wanted."
Ah... parents. Miko, too, learned much from her parents that, at the time, she'd rather not have learned. But over time, she's come to realize how much her parents had taught without being obvious about it. She's learned to appreciate her childhood lessons as a gift -- the time of looking sourly upon the experiences has passed with eight years of not experiencing more of them.
"You did not choose to speak in keigo, either. You can remain bitter about your past, remain bitter about the present... or bitter about the future you imagine for yourself. What you do about it..."
She smiles broadly, despite herself. She can tell that her conversational choices are not adding up in her favor. So she changes the rhythm: the violin accelerates, the strings wrest control of the song away from the plodding, rhythmic beat. "Listen to me and my boring-assed philosophy, haha. I'm trying to tell you that you made the right choice in challenging Mimiru for the belt. I'm trying to tell you that you -are- changing. Looking at the cards in front of you, and saying, 'screw that! I'm better than that!' And going out to prove it." She offers a good-natured shrug. "Far better use of your time than just sitting here moaning about other people who have it worse off than you."
At this, the bitterness leaves the smile. "Actually, I think it is impossible to speak keigo without choosing to," he says honestly, "I simply prefer to do so. There's... a certain art to it, I think." He considers for a moment.
"But I understand the point you are trying to make, Kobayashi-sempai," he finally says with a nod. "Thank you, for the compliment and for putting up with me for the moment."
Miko had presumed that Kazuki's use of honorifics paralleled his learning of aikido: something his parents wanted and not himself. But by defying that one term, Miko learns something -entirely- different about the young man.
Keigo is usually something that comes -with- an upbringing, so for him to deny that suggests that he actually prefers the state of emotional detachment. Fascinating insight to be gained from a simple flawed assertion on Miko's part.
Which is, of course, the reason she states her assertions to begin with.
"To call it 'putting up with you' implies I don't enjoy hanging around you, Kazuki-kun," she notes with a smile, hooking her thumbs into the pockets of her gakuran coat.
"And... I do have one piece of advice to give you. Have you happened to stumble across any mention of a 'community center' in Southtown Village?" She takes one step to the side, pivoting towards the exit of the school halls. "It might be worth looking into... it seems you're not the one hoping to become stronger in the face of these troubling recent events."
Kazuki's brows go up in interest sometime between Miko's mention of implications and mention of the community center. "I had," the young man admits. "It might be a good place to also learn of other styles," he says musingly, thinking of Mimiru's merging of jujitsu and whatever it was that her other style was.
"Perhaps I'll look into it after school today," he says, bowing slightly in thanks.
Miko flashes a friendly smile. And bows, in return. "Excellent, then. Let me know how that turns out, would you?" Tucking her hands more completely into her pockets, she takes one first step down the hall. "Take care, Kazuki-kun... and don't forget. You never have to face your problems alone, here. That's what makes Gedo stronger than -any- other school... help is all around you, if you know where to look."
She continues smiling, for just long enough for her to be out of sight of the young man. Forcing herself to be that outgoing is unusually taxing for the young performer... part of why she hadn't been making as many appearances lately. All the more reason for her to marshal the forces she needs, to take back what's rightfully hers before it's too late.
Log created on 20:56:18 02/21/2015 by Honoka, and last modified on 23:54:30 02/21/2015.