Ryuko - The Problem with Bullies[Toggle Names]
Description: Still nursing her injuries from the disastrous Rising Star match, Ryuko finds herself on the receiving end of an unpleasant reminder that Gedo has a reputation for a reason.
Life has a funny way of making you pay for the little mistakes while larger seemingly more obvious ones go unnoticed. This is the reflection that briefly rises to the forefront of Ryuko's mind moments before a particularly large fist impacts with her face, scattering such musings into a cloud of fragmented incoherent static.
The crash of her back against the cold concrete of the exterior wall of the main campus jolts the student's brain back into activity. She almost wishes it hadn't. A raw blinding agony washes over her as her already abused ribs screech in protest at the ungentle landing. The freshly busted nose seems like little more than a light bruise by comparison.
Clutching at her side, Ryuko responds to the ambush with all of the dignity and calm she can muster.
Her unknown assailants seem to take great amusement at that proving that even in difficult times she can still make people laugh. Unfortunately, she gets the feeling they are laughing at her rather than with her - mostly because she's too busy writhing in pain to join in.
"Felt that one, didn't you, bitch?"
An unpleasantly familiar voice manages to scythe through the haze of pain clouding her senses prompting her stomach to do a few nervous flips in response. Squinting, Ryuko manages to look up at her attacker and confirm her suspicions.
An absurdly massive teenager that could easily be mistaken for an escaped gorilla from a distance looms over her. His size isn't the only thing simian about him. Thick bushy brows hang over a pair of beady eyes that seem to be a little too close together. A flat nose and square jaw give him a naturally pugnacious look almost like someone smashed his face in with a shovel. Judging by the shit-eating grin on his face he's taking a lot of pleasure out of having gotten the drop on her.
A handful of smaller but no less thuggish cronies surround him in a semi-circle each of them offering her an equally nasty expression as her gaze drifts across them. Their dull gray Gedo uniforms seem almost identical, an unusual trait in a school known for its strong personalities and lack of conformity. But then there's always going to be the groupies who flock to the more powerful for protection. Strength in numbers never goes out of style.
"Good morning, Bull. Nice weather today, huh?"
Ryuko's expression twists into a broad bloody smile that immediately makes her wince as her cracked lip sends an strongly worded letter to her brain about such abuse. She doesn't try to stand up despite the danger of being caught in such a weak position. A nasty knock to the head like she just took could easily have left her disoriented and trying to move too quickly would just weaken her further. She needs to buy time.
Unfortunately, her attacker, while not particularly bright, proves smart enough to understand this. A large foot lifts, the thing easily the size of her entire torso, and slams into the girl like a sledgehammer. She manages to get her arms up and in the way in time to avoid having her face imprinted with a bunch of tread marks but the difference is hard to notice. The raw force of the kick all but crushes her into the stone leaving her vision swimming as white hot lances of pain stab into her chest and suck away the breath needed for any further witty banter.
"Don't bother trying to get sassy with me, girl," he rumbles in a low voice that sounds like hot gravel being stirred in a bucket. "You've had this coming for a long time."
Gritting her teeth, Ryuko mentally curses herself for her foolishness. Of course people would have seen her fight the other day. It wouldn't be hard to figure out that getting smashed with a fucking /telephone pole/ was going to leave some kind of lasting injury for her to deal with. She'd be weak, vulnerable; an easy target against which those with some long held grudges could take revenge. Her parents had tried to convince her to take some time off and avoid school for a week or two but she'd stubbornly refused to break her track record of having never missed a day of class.
Well, she was going to learn a lesson today, just not the one she expected to.
== MEANWHILE ==
"Hey, excuse me. Is Gedo High down this street?"
The question is presented to a woman in her early fourties minding her own business. On the way to some corner store to grab a lunchbox to take back to work with her. But now interrupted by a red-haired teenager in a white jacket with dark-grey highlights along the shoulders and sleeves. Though the boy might smile companiably enough while he stands there waiting for an answer - with a transparent bag hung from one hand holding obvious bento boxes inside - the woman doesn't seem all too amused while looking him over.
"Bit late to be starting a new school, isn't it, young man?"
"Eh? Oh, no, no-- I don't study there or anything, I'm just going to see someone."
The woman, in turn, frowns at this. "Are you... sure you want to? It's not really a good place to hang out in." While she doesn't say it, the woman does figure whoever the boy is going to see must not be worth the trouble if they are going to that school. The red-head, then, frowns subtly at her.
"Yeah. I'm sure."
"Well. Your trouble alone, I suppose. You don't want to go straight down, though. Take a right turn over there, and then take your second left-- it will be just a few blocks down."
With the directions given, and words of gratitude exchanged, the woman continues on her way. The boy smiles after her for a few seconds, but... then lets it fade away while he peers at her back. Letting loose a little wince he was holding back.
He could feel it. The disdain for teenagers-- and a certain sense of pity when she realized where he was headed. It's not the same as just guessing that someone felt like that just by looking at them, no; he could truly, undoubtedly, *feel* it for himself, as if it was some kind of radiowave sent off by her that an antenna inside of him picked up.
"... I'm never going to get used to that," Daisuke mumbles to himself. It's not the first time, but after that one day by the Seijyun gates, after his senses were assaulted for the first time and he realized he couldn't be selective about it, he'd kept to himself to avoid overwhelming himself.
But he couldn't keep himself locked up in the house and missing classes forever. He'd have to try to get himself used to this little development. And seeing the Rising Star fight that took place by the arcade on the other side of town gave him with a decent excuse to go out during the hours where the streets are less busy, at least.
And with the help of these new directions given, he continues on his way... and upon rounding a corner, promptly is greeted by sight of the Gedo student he was on his way to see getting assaulted by a human-gorilla hybrid and his gang. Oh *great*.
The first instinct he gets is to run out to charge in and... well. That's about all his brain is able to come up with before forcing him to back up with the realization that he would get turned into red paste on the curb pretty quickly. As much as he'd like to help Ryuko by burning parts of his body to launch several bolts at the cronies, but he didn't exactly bring his usual disguise with him. He'll just have to play smart.
The bag with the gifts of food are hidden in the alley before he slips out to the street, crossing over while Ryuko's getting pinned against the wall. Around the corner of Gedo's wall itself before he vaults up to climbing atop it. The one thing he's learned is that very few people look *up*, especially when they have other things to keep their attention on. And it's this planned advantage in mind that he goes running along the top of the wall with, at full sprint towards where Ryuko has been cornered.
There's no way he has enough physical strength to knock down someone as chunky as that. Just no way. But maybe-- maybe he can disturb the center of his equilibrium enough to clear the way for Ryuko.
And so when the time comes to leap off of the narrow path of the wall, straight towards "Bull", it's with his foot kicking out with the aim of slamming it right at the young man's ear.
While most students at Gedo should likely have an automatic response ingrained into the fabric of their soul in regards to random warcries being shouted in their general direction, Bull's reflexes prove to be lacking. Turning towards the noise, he fails to realize that his target is above him until the flying kick smashes into the side of his head. The impact doesn't seem to hurt him so much as catch the hulking thug off guard. He staggers sideways with a grunt, his bulk smashing into the wall awkwardly.
"Who the-? Oh you're dead, punk!"
Shaking off the ambush within moments, Bull heaves himself upright and squares off with the interloper, his eyes full of fury. Upon seeing Daisuke his brows furrow together into one massive caveman-esque ledge as his thoughts start to congeal with roughly the same speed of syrup running uphill.
"Don't remember seeing you before," he rumbles after a few seconds, beady eyes narrowing. "Which means no one's gonna come looking when I bury you!"
With a bellow, the hulking student thunders forward his attention fully devoted to this new source of agitation. The problem of getting his attention away from Ryuko has been a wild success. Now Daisuke needs to figure out stage two of this daring rescue - survival.
To her credit, Ryuko seems to pick up on his intentions quickly. The moment that Bull's attention is elsewhere she heaves herself to her feet. A wave of nausea sweeps over her as she stands, threatening to knock her right back down to the ground. Swallowing hard, the teen focuses her attention into the cybernetics, leaning on their more reliable senses to guide her path forward.
Ryuko stumbles fast as she can without passing out from the pain, one hand on the wall to keep her steady. It's not an impressive gait but it's all she's got. Fortunately, all of the eyes that were on her seem to be focused on her intrepid rescuer now. Hopefully he won't find himself taking her place instead. Not much she can do to help with that. Right now all she can focus on is slipping away unnoticed so his efforts don't go to waste.
Well, the flying kick might not have had *exactly* the effect that he'd intended, Daisuke does still find, after landing onto the ground again, that even so, Step One of his brave battle plan is successful! Now to... uh...
What was step two, again?
Nervous sweat starts flowing in uncontrolled quantities down the redhead's face while he straightens up from his landing while he stares up... and up... at the hulking figure towering in upon him. "Uh, well... you see, here's the thing..." He mumbles akwardly, trying to come up with something, *anything* that will get him out of this bind while still keeping the attention on him enough for the injured girl to get herself to Anywhere But Here Lane. It's getting increasingly clear that his chances of completing his secondary objective are dropping with every passing second while he backs away slowly from Bull and his looming advance.
His skin crawls with the enmity that the giant and his friends are radiating off. But he is able to feel something else in there, beyond it -- or rather, read a bit into what's there.
And so while he can't see them, he can *feel* the two cronies that followed Bull here closing in behind him. Where their feet are landing, where their arms and heads are hovering--
"Whoop--" A sudden turn around brings Daisuke's whole body whirling around, and consequently his arm goes swinging with the momntum too. Seemingly an entirely blind, unaimed flail of an arm coming as the unintended side effect of the boy simply wanting to get the hell out of there as fast as he can, his fist still ends up swinging right into the side of the face of one of the cronies in a backhanded strike that, while it does jolt pain through his *own* hand, still shoves the unfortunate thug away, too.
The suddennes of his turn and the backhand both are taken immediate advantage of, and the redhead ducks his form low when he pounces forward, slipping underneath another reaching arm so he can get himself out of the center of the gang and continue his escape.
But here's the thing. Ryuko was moving slow. If they lose their interest on him, they'll just get after her next.
And the decision is made. His escape his slowed long enough that he can turn over to face his soon-to-be-pursuers. "The thing is, they sent me here from the zoo!" He calls out while letting himself bounce backwards. "Apparently the lost offspring from the ape closure ended up here and was mistaken for a student! That's you, ain't it?"
And just to make it absolutely clear what he's talking about, he even points a finger right at the hulking teenager.
Rather than waiting to see just how the brute reacts, he spins around again and puts himself into a full sprint down the street.
"Shit, shit, shit shit shitshitshitshit!"
It's right around the time that Daisuke is starting to find himself getting surrounded that the plan goes awry. As the goons slowly move in to encircle their new victim, one of them inevitably positions himself in such a way as to cast his gaze down the towards the slowly shuffling Ryuko. The lanky student's eyes go wide as he realizes what's happening. He bounces up and down excitedly, pointing an accusatory finger towards the fleeing girl.
"Boss! It's a sucker play! Tenjin is getting-gah?!"
Luckily, whatever strange new powers the fiery haired teen has acquired seem to choose precisely the right moment to intervene. His wild spin catches the shouting thug right across the cheek, jawing him hard enough to send the boy spiraling to the ground in a heap of limbs. The rest of the bullies take the offense as the promise of violence suddenly manifests in his sudden strike, rushing in from several directions to pummel him.
Fortune once more seems to be on Daisuke's side - that or these goons are just really stupid. Bull steps forward and unleashes a wild sweeping strike just as the teen drops low. The force of the punch is enough to rustle his clothes despite missing by several inches. Well, it misses /him/. The trio of goons who had rushed in, eager to get a piece of the action, find themselves on the receiving end of that double-decker knuckle sandwich. The fist cleaves through all three of them with ease sending half of Daisuke's assailants flying in various directions.
"Ugh! Get out of my way, you losers!"
Once more, Bull seems merely inconvenienced by something that should have broken every bone in his hand.
"But... but, Bull! The girl! She's making a run for it!"
The slender boy that Daisuke had so graciously decked and spared a far worse fate once more tries to draw the hulking student's attention back towards Ryuko's ponderous escape attempt. Narrowing his eyes, Bull starts to turn in the direction he's pointing, only for his attention to be drawn back to Daisuke as he once more tries to play matador.
"Grah! I hate it when people call me a monkey!"
Bull glowers at the mouthy outsider, his knuckles cracking of their own accord as he flexes one meaty fist. Chase is given almost immediately as the huge brute shoves his way past the rest of his gang. The ground starts to thunder with the fury of his passage, the hulk's slow jog quickly ramping up into a loping gallop that eventually turns into a rampaging charge.
"You're dead meat, shrimp!"
Watching this all unfold over her shoulder, Ryuko can't help but grin to herself. The dopey little bastard is going to get himself twisted into a pretzel. Of course, she'd done much the same thing upon first meeting Bull by breaking one of her bokkens over his thick skull. After that came running - lots of running.
Back then she'd lost the brute by taking advantage of the thick foliage surrounding the school's yard to slip away unnoticed. And while Daisuke has done an admirable job of drawing off the ring leader, his goons haven't forgotten her existence completely, much to her chagrin.
"Don't let that bitch get away or the boss will have our hides!"
Pushing to his feet, Lanky takes off at a run on a beeline straight at her. On any other day, she could have taken the clown apart but right now even one of Gedo's lower echelons of punk are a little too much for her to deal with. Another of the bullies that was left unscathed by Bull's wanton destruction quickly falls in behind him further cementing the odds against her. Time to get creative.
Glancing around, it quickly becomes obvious that her old vanishing act isn't going to work. To her left, the tall exterior wall of the school looms about ten feet overhead while to her right the cold brick of the main building stands solid and impenetrable. Not much choice to be had then - she goes up.
"Fuuuuck, this is gonna suck..."
Taking a deep breath to steel herself against what is bound to be a horrendous idea, Ryuko narrows her eye and focuses intently. Around her the world seems to grow slow and distorted as her battle focus ramps up her senses to absurd levels. She takes a running leap, slamming her foot down into the ground just as she releases the time bubble. The snap of different time flows whipping back together suddenly slingshots her up into the air at an incredible speed - a lot faster than she wanted to go, actually. Her eyes widen in panic as she realizes that she's not only going to clear the wall but keep on going right past the entire street and into the wall of the building on the other side.
Despite her loss of calm, the voice of instinct in the back of her head manages to snap her back into focus. Time distorts yet again as she creates a bubble around herself slowing her wild catapult into a more manageable impact. Twisting around, Ryuko plants her feet on the wall and absorbs the impact as if landing from a high fall. It hurts like hell but it's a lot less brutal than slamming face first into solid brick. The bubble fades after only a brief moment and she drops yet again, crumpling into a heap of limbs and agony on the pavement with a gasp.
Ten feet of wall was clearable from the other side -- but not quickly. Daisuke would be able to kick himself up along the wall high enough to grab onto the upper edge and haul himself up further from there, sure, but with a gorilla-shaped student chasing after him? That would be a quick death sentence. He'd just get grabbed right off of the barrier before he had the time to pull himself up the rest of the way.
He could focus blasts of energy at his feet to rocket himself up though, right? Well, yes, but actually no. Not while he's in view of so many people.
There's a slightly riskier method he can use, though, that might draw less suspicion. A sharp turn directs the boy right for the wall, closing in on it while needles stab into his brain. Not real needles, of course, no. But the sensation isn't too different when he focuses whatever power is inside of him. Underneath his jeans, the muscles of his legs twist subtly, and elaborate lines of blue-green form along the skin. Good thing it's not the kind of weather that would require shorts.
The running leap that comes a few paces away from the wall brings him up high into the air. Not high enough to actually clear the wall outright, but enough that when his feet kick once, twice at a low angle at the wall to carry him a foot or so higher, his stomach is brought slumping onto the top of the wall. The realization that he could still be caught drives him moving still even from there, with arms catching down onto the other side of the wall to pull his body to a roll over it -- and to falling down on the other side.
At least the momentum brings him flipping around fully before he reaches the ground, so he comes down feet first, landing into a roll to make sure nothing gets broken... or at least not beyond the pain left over into his legs from the unnatural strain they just got put through to make that hail mary of a leap.
Well, safe enough that he could probably disappear into hiding if he kept running now. But just a quick look to the right reveals a sight that keeps him from doing exactly that. Oh goddamnit.
He does break into a run, mind. But not directly away. Instead, it's over to the fallen form of Ryuko that he dashes to. For all he knows, that monster of a student won't take too long to get to this street after going through the gate -- or heaven forbid, leap over the wall himself or just straight up *break through it*.
"Hey, Tenjin, we gotta go!" He calls out upon his approach, sliding down to a crouch besides her and bringing one arm around her without any hesitation, trying to maneuver one of her own to around his shoulders so he can provide adequate support for getting her up and moving. "We gotta stop meeting like this, or something!"
The response that Ryuko offers in reply is much the same as she gave Bull when he unceremoniously subjected her to crippling pain out of the blue.
Fireworks of all sorts start going off in her brain in response to the manhandling but she manages to scramble to her feet, leaning heavily on Daisuke for support. In such close proximity, her thoughts and emotions are easy enough to pick up on, largely because they echo the same sentiments of displeasure and pain vehemently. It's a good thing she's all but incapacitated because she'd probably have socked him in the jaw for his lack of delicacy.
But, pain or no, she's fully aware of the danger of lingering out in the open. Working her legs mechanically, Ryuko does her best to propel herself ahead. There aren't really any places nearby that they have to worry about. None of the gangs that were stupid enough to set up shop near the school have been around for a long time which means everyone likely to give them a hard time is back at Gedo. So long as they get out of sight they should be fine enough to rest and recover for a while.
After a short bit of stumbling awkwardly it becomes obvious that she isn't going to be able to go much further. Pointing weakly off to their right, Ryuko indicates a small set of stairs nestled against the side of a building. Likely the access way to a storage room or basement of some kind. More importantly, it will get them out of immediate sight range.
"Down there," she gasps, her voice sharp and ragged. "Can't... can't walk much further."
Behind them the booming voice of an angry Bull barks out furious insults as he stomps his way towards the front gate. Too much work to climb over and too many consequences for busting through. Daigo would have his head on a plate for such pointless destruction over some personal petty grudge and not even that meathead is dumb enough to risk pissing off the big boss himself. A small mercy but only if they move quickly.
"Hhh-- I'm sorry, I'm sorry!" The apology probably would come even if her pain didn't get reflected right into Daisuke's psychic senses . But right now, he's just going to have to accept that she's going to be going through some hurt for the sake of avoiding... well, even more hurt, as it were.
"We just gotta get out of here, okay?"
The instinctive desire to not get the girl hurt does carry over some, at least, in that he doesn't lug her along quite as quickly as he probably could. Keep to her pace, as it were.
At least she is able to provide the advantage of actually knowing these streets pretty well. And that understanding comes quickly to Daisuke, too, so he's quick to follow the directions she provides. To the short length of stairs.
"I know, just..." He mumbles in response to her gasped words, slowing down their gait for the sake of moving carefully down the stairs. "Just a little further..."
At the bottom of the stairs, there's just a small corner offering further coverage, so of course Daisuke's other hand goes for the handle almost immediately. ...But to no avail. It doesn't give. Of *course* it would be locked, wouldn't it?
But hearing the obscenities up above from Bull, surely followed along by his croonies, the weight of their situation continues to press down on him. Even if Ryuko had the strength to keep going, they definitely would get spotted immediately if they went up the stairs.
"Here...!" The only option left is the one chosen. The redhead turns to press his back against the wall, bringing himself as flat as he can against it with his side to the narrow corner, while both his arms wrap around the black-haired teenager with him. Effectively holding her body right to his to both ensure that their silhouette is as small as possible to make use of what little concealment they have, and to provide support for her to stay on her feet. No time to worry too much about how scandalous it might look. The focus of his eyes is just to what he can still see of the stairs, while his nerves make themselves apparent in the sweat dripping along his forehead. "Quiet, quiet..."
Descending the stairs is pure torture. Ryuko hisses and gasps in wordless pain with every step as if each is covered in rusty nails and bits of broken glass. By the time they've reached the bottom, she's all but spent, practically hanging off Daisuke's shoulders like a lodestone.
She tries to tell him not to bother with the door - no one around here leaves anything unlocked - but simply breathing is enough to set her lungs on fire which quickly puts the kibosh on that idea. He finds out soon enough himself anyways.
Ryuko starts to slump down against the wall, happy to just sit down here and wait. She doubts Bull has the sense of awareness to even think of looking in a place like this, assuming he even bothers to give chase. Now that they're outside of the school and not immediately visible it's far more likely he'll just stand around shouting for a while before cutting his losses and looking for someone else to bother.
Daisuke, on the other hand, seems to have different ideas. Ryuko blinks as she's drawn in close to the boy's chest, caught off guard by the protective maneuver. As awkward as this might be, she remains silent for a long while, allowing the distant voice of their pursuer to bellow impotently at nothing for a couple minutes before he predictably gets bored and storms off, swearing future vengeance upon her.
Ryuko promptly melts into a boneless piece of spaghetti, groaning loudly in pain as she tries to flop down onto the floor. She's almost certain she can feel the ragged bits of rib puncturing fresh new air passages into her lungs. It's even less pleasant of a sensation than it sounds.
"Pretty sure I told you... if you ever came here, someone would get their ass kicked."
Ryuko grins weakly up at him, forcing a jovial voice despite the pain.
"Wasn't supposed to be mine, though."
Daisuke holds very, very still. Under different circumstances his face might be turning bright red and the rest of him reduced into an akwardly bumbling mess, but right now, the only thing that matters is making sure that he and his friend are kept safe, so all related akward thoughts are pushed aside.
Once the voice have faded away after the more certain signs of the chase being forfeited, he finally lets out a breath he was holding... right as Ryuko groans out in pain.
Instinctively, he moves with her, Arms still holding on to try and steady her as much as possible, while lowering himself to try and provide as comfortable a trip down to the ground as possible. Which... still isn't going to be exactly comfortable, all things considered, but he *tries*, at least, while getting the both of them sitting down and against the wall.
"Yeah, well... I guess I had to return the favor one day," he murmurs with a sheepish smile sent down to meet her grin. "Though I'm pretty sure you looked way cooler when it was the other way around than I did now."
His smile slips away while he consider her, though. Some red does finally flush on his cheeks with the realization of their current proximity, but even that is still tried to hold at bay, in favor of the more concerned frown that takes over his features.
"...We should probably get you to a hospital, though," he suggests. Afterall, her pain is still echoing into him. He might not strictly *hurt* himself, but he can feel the presence of the pain in her. "Or at least... I don't know, call your mom. I mean, don't take this the wrong way, but like... you look like shit."
"You know precisely what to tell a girl to make her feel special."
Ryuko barks out a laugh that she almost immediately regrets, her mirth breaking down into wheezing coughs that do nothing to improve the amount of pain she's in.
"Ow," she says, once her breathing is back under control.
"Can't call... mom. She'd kick my ass... even harder."
Another bout of painful wheezing chuckles later she sighs softly, closing her eye and slowly folding her arms around her chest protectively. The desire to simply pass out right here and now is almost overwhelming but she's pretty sure that wouldn't be a very nice thing to do to Daisuke. He probably didn't come here expecting to have to bail her out of trouble of that nature. Forcing him to carry her to medical attention seems a little bit ungrateful. Speaking of which, why /did/ he come here anyways?
"The hell are you doing here," she mutters, cracking her eye open slightly to peer up at him. She speaks slowly and quietly, doing her best to move as little as possible while doing so. "Told you it was a bad idea."
"...L-look, I'll practice the flattery on you when you're not about to fall into pieces, okay?"
Daisuke's eyes momentarily avert themselves from her with that -- but the instant she's coughing in pain, he's looking to her with visible concern all over again. One hand even draws up, as if reaching for her shoulder-- only to stop out of hesitation, and then fall back down again. What would that even do to help? He feels so useless like this. Why couldn't he have woken up that one day with the superpower to heal people, instead of the weird burning energy that seems to wreck him just as much as everything around him? Or even in place of the thing in his brain that's making him sense way more about people around him than he wants to?
Fate or whatever can go to hell.
"We can't just leave you like this though. Come on, it's either the ambulance or your mom, so which will it be?"
His lips purse while he watches her, waits for her decision on that. But of course she has to actually ask *that*. He wasn't particularly looking forward to having to answer that specific question, and for a moment he'd hoped everything that transpired would have put it off for longer than this.
"I-- I saw your fight on tv, it was... you know," he mumbles, and now he turns his head off to the side entirely, both for the sake of breaking eye contact and for hiding the blush spreading more prominently over his features.
"Somehow I figured you'd be here so I wanted to... come see how you were doing. ... I was bringing some katsudon, too, but I kinda had to dump it when I realized all... that, was going on."
And everything circles back around to that damned fight.
Ryuko chuckles again, wincing as her rib shift uncomfortably. She doesn't blush this time as the memory of that entire debacle is brought to the fore. There's been enough time to come to terms with what happened there and Daisuke's own embarrassment strangely seems to bolster her confidence making the entire thing seem amusing in retrospect. That or the endorphins are starting to kick in.
"Got yourself a good look, did you?"
She grins, trying to make light of the situation in order to keep Daisuke from feeling too bad. Not his fault that some crazy foreigner with no sense of modesty gave the world a free eye full. If anything, they probably remember his own disrobing a lot more than her brief panty flash. What a crazy way to end a fight.
The mention of food brings a sudden rumble to Ryuko's stomach. She'd been on her way to her lockers to pick up her own lunch when Bull decided to launch his ambush. Yet another bit of discomfort to endure thanks to that overgrown mutant. Most of the other punks at school who would normally have been giving her a hard time were respectful enough to lay off while she's injured. She'd just assumed that everyone would be of the same mind and lowered her guard. A foolish bit of innocent naivety on her part and something her parents would no doubt rake her over the coals for once she explained the situation to them.
"Appreciate it," she says, closing her eye again. "But, as you can see... never a boring day at Gedo. As for the ambulance..."
Ryuko taps one of the flat antennae protruding from her head, drawing attention to it. The normally subtle glow of neon purple light behind the LEDs pulses with a steady pattern of flashes as the twin panel quietly shift and adjust their position towards the sky.
"Don't bother. These things are constantly... monitoring my health. If the lab hasn't already called my parents... they will soon. Damn thing's been... screaming bloody murder at me for the last five minutes."
Daisuke snaps his eyes right back to Ryuko for all of two seconds, widened to the size of dinner plates, before he turns to look away all over again, the red on his face growing all the more bright for it.
"Th-thats not what I meant!" He protests. "I meant how beat up you got in it!" Though judging from his reaction, he *definitely* did get a good look. The cameramen were pretty on top of their game with that. Must have been celebrity paparazzi earlier in their careers.
He does calm down quick enough, at least, to properly listen to her speaking. And enough to take a peek at the indicated antenna. Though the further explanation does cause him to fall into thoughtful silence for a few seconds, with pursed lips.
"...Lab, huh," he breathes out eventually, and slowly draws one knee up, draping his arm over it. Apparently he's not at all in any hurry to get anywhere else now that he knows that arrangements for her safety are likely going to be taken care of.
"... I did want to ask about those things, but I wasn't sure if it was too personal."
With the blush of embarrassment having completely faded awya from his features, he lets the side of his head bump against the wall behind him while looking to her, studying the antenna first, and then Ryuko's face.
"I'm getting the feeling you got them by necessity. ... I mean, if you don't want to talk about it, I won't press or anything, but..."
The shift in tone is hard to miss. Ryuko cracks her eye open slightly to peer at her companion as he settles in, quietly watching his body language. While she doesn't have any sort of psychic abilities that lets her know the thoughts of those around her, she is pretty good at picking up on people's moods. Empathy might not be a super power but it's helped her navigate the stormy waters of teenage life thus far.
Ryuko meets his questioning gaze in silence as the boy fumbles over how to approach the topic. His awkwardness prompts another grin and she shakes her head slowly from side to side.
"Nah, don't worry about it. They sort of stand out, you know? Gotten used to people wondering."
A hand fishes around in her blazer for a moment retrieving a small handkerchief from one of the pockets. She takes a moment to wipe away at the dried blood smeared across her face, tentatively poking and prodding around the more sensitive flesh of her split lip and busted nose.
"Ow, fuck! Ugh, that's definitely getting stitches."
Once she's satisfied she looks slightly less ghastly, Ryuko stuffs the cloth back into her pocket. Her gaze shifts lazily over to Daisuke, her expression thoughtful for a few moments before continuing.
"Right, so the implants. Tell you what I know - or, what I was told, more accurately. Got hit by a car about two years ago. Wreck was... real bad. No one thought I would survive."
Despite the gravity of the situation she describes, Ryuko's voice lacks the somber tone of someone reliving a horrid experience. If anything, it sounds like she's recounting a story someone told her about a completely different person. Suddenly amused by a thought, she smirks and brings a hand to her head. The long curtain of bangs that typically hangs over the left side of her face is pulled aside giving him a good look at the stylish eye patch beneath.
In many ways, the covering seems quiet similar to her cybernetics. The dark black metal rimmed by a more natural steel frame sports a pair of diagonal metal strips running crosswise from corner to corner, mimicking the pattern of neon LEDs present on her antennae. While the patch is large enough to completely conceal what is presumably a missing or horribly mangled eye, the edges of a viscous scar can be seen protruding from the top, cleaving a pair of long jagged lines through her eyebrow.
"That's where I got this beauty," she says, sounding almost proud. "Car accident isn't quite as cool as 'I lost it in a duel' or 'I fought off a lion with my bare hands' but I may or may not have embellished a few tales here and there."
Daisuke instinctively winces at Ryuko's reaction over dabbing at her own wounded lip. The thought of running up to some corner store to get water and bandaids for her does cross his mind, but... leaving her alone doesn't seem like a very good idea right now either.
It's the story behind the implants that keep him there pretty firmly, too, short as it might be. He doesn't mean to really *stare* when she expose the patched over eye, but it's inevitable too, even if he did get a brief peek at it the first time around they met.
"I did wonder if that was related," he admits quietly. "And I mean, sure, it's not as exciting of a story maybe, but... it's no joke either. I don't think I could survive getting run over." She doesn't seem too bothered by it all though, so he's not too inclined to try to put on the airs of concern or apologetic words, either. She's living life as best as she can, and that's what matters.
That being said, though, there is something a bit strange about it all.
"The way you're talking about that... Do you not remember it happening?"
Ryuko's hand drops away letting her bangs fall back into their natural place once more. Though she doesn't seem particularly sensitive about the subject the fact that she's styled her hair to conceal the injury must mean on some level she's concerned about what people will think. Maybe she just doesn't want people to worry about it, to treat her like she's a fragile piece of glass that might break at any moment.
Ryuko shrugs nonchalantly and shakes her head again as he directs the conversation towards her recollection of the incident.
"Nah. In fact, I can't remember much of anything from before the accident. Some vague flashes of childhood stuff but nothing concrete."
With the issue of her bloody mug dealt with, the girl's idle hands find something else to fiddle with soon enough. The package of cigarettes is produced and she lights up a fresh smoke, taking care to hold it in the corner of her mouth away from the split in her lip.
"Back to the implants," she continues, puffing out a small cloud. "My head took a nasty hit in the crash. Crushed skull and brain damage. Took em days to get me stabilized. Was supposed to be a vegetable for the rest of my life... assuming I survived."
Focusing her intent into the implants, Ryuko interrupts their signal broadcasting to activate one of their more basic functions. She directs them to scan ahead of her and then behind, repeating the command a few times in succession. The result is a 'wiggling' motion that makes them look like mechanical ears. She's already shown him this trick but it never really gets old.
"Enter Logi-Core. Some private research firm specializing in medical cybernetics. Cutting edge sci-fi shit. Very experimental."
She flicks a wad of cinders onto a discarded piece of cardboard next to her, using it as a makeshift ashtray.
"And very expensive. My parents are pretty well off but... this shit is way beyond their means. Fortunately, turns out I was a perfect candidate to test out one of their new gadgets. Memory enhancement and brain functionality repair."
She smirks, releasing her control over the antennae and they immediately return to their flashing pattern while wiggling at the sky above. No doubt it will be only a few minutes before someone shows up to investigate. This isn't the first time she's suffered sudden catastrophic injuries and been in need of a rescue. Their response time tended to be pretty on point.
"I get to potentially live and have a relatively normal life and they get a guinea pig. Win-win."
Getting his suspicions not only confirmed, but the extent of that truth being elaborated brings Daisuke's expression falling briefly. He doesn't speak up, though, not while she still has more to say.
The implanted antennae seem to be a bit of a point of fascination for him, too, at that. He looks to them wiggling with a little smile while she shows off their functionality, and he even reaches one hand up, slowly... only to think better of it pretty quickly, and bringing it resting on his other knee instead.
"And that's the lab you mentioned," he observes, with a slow nod. At least she seems to trust them enough, though, so even if he is a bit wary on the matter of 'private research institutes', he elects not to comment on it too much, or even ask much about Logi-Core itself.
"I know how that feels like, in a way," he claims then, after a few seconds more of silence, and his eyes turn over away from Ryuko, to peer at the wall ahead.
"I don't... remember much of anything from before I was eight. What my life was like, what my real parents looked or sounded like... or even the name I was given first."
His other knee draws up now, too, parallel to the one raised earlier, and the red-haired boy leans himself slightly forward, arms crossed over the surface provided by the shifted posture of his legs.
"... I get little memories though, I guess, but they're... fuzzy. Little flashes and crumbs. It's like... Shadows cast to the wall of a cave you're trapped in but can't see the entrance of, you know? You can sort of make out vague shapes and silhouettes, and you can tell something is *there*, but you can't actually... see *them*."
He shakes his head after that, and turns an akward smile over to her.
%"Sorry... I don't mean to get all broody and waxing poetic while we're basically waiting for a med-evac for you."
Ryuko quirks a brow up at the boy as he brings up his own memory troubles. She doesn't say anything while he speaks, nursing her cigarette quietly, allowing him to get his thoughts out. He seems to be a lot more distraught about not having access to those memories than she is, though in fairness she was something of an emotional mess right after the accident. It took a lot of love and reassurance from her parents to help her get past the trauma.
One piece of advice in particular always came up whenever she lamented not having any recollection of her past. Perhaps sharing it with the boy will help him out too. But not before she gives him some shit about his choice of words because, holy shit, that was the most emo thing she's heard in years.
Ryuko rolls her eye at Daisuke giving him an amused look of incredulity.
"Did you seriously just use the term 'waxing poetic'? Makes me wish I had my make up kit on hand because you are in dire need of some eye liner and black lipstick after that line."
Grinning at him, the girl reaches out and taps her knuckles lightly on the side of his head. It's not the most effective bonk she's ever delivered but considering the amount of pain she's in it'll have to do. Big Sisters have their limits too, sadly.
"There's something my dad told me all the time after the crash. I was feeling pretty shitty, struggling to come to terms with having a computer in my head. It was partly due to all the brain damage... but I got super emotional any time someone mentioned children because I couldn't remember ever being one. Felt like part of me had been stolen away, you know? Like I couldn't relate to anyone because so much of my life was a big question mark."
She closes her eye again, casting her mind back to those troubled times. Ironically, her memory now is sharper than ever thanks to the digital assistance of her cybernetics. She can recall each and every moment as crystal clear as if it had happened only a few minutes ago, every heart-wrenching pang of misery and every comforting word spoken to ease her pain.
"Who you were is not as important as you who are. One of those things you have control over, so why not focus on that instead."
She smiles at that, feeling a surge of pleasant warmth spread through her chest at the memory. She focuses on her father's face, on the faint smile that he reserved only for her and her mom. She calls to mind the words, repeating them verbatim in the same calm and reassuring tone of voice that he used.
"Everyone has things they regret, things that weigh them down. But you have a chance to start fresh, to see the world with a fresh perspective, to make decisions untainted by prejudice or bias. Such things will no doubt come in time; you're only human, after all. But until then, look at each day for what it is - a chance to experience something new and make memories that you will treasure all the more for your loss of what came before."
It may not be a particularly rough bonk, but it's enough to get the message across. Daisukes eyes squint shut, and afterwards he flashes a sheepish smile back over to her. "...That bad, huh? No, come on, that would be a *horrible* look on me, I won't let something like that slip again."
The relation of her memories after the accident does turn that smile to something warmer, at least. It's... a familiar feeling, too, the kind of emotion she conveys to him.
"...Yeah. My dad used to say something to that effect all the time, too. ...Well..."
An idle scratch from one finger at the very tip of his chin, while his eyes peek down at his own knees.
"I say 'dad', but... you know. Though even if he did just adopt, he might as well have been my dad with how... eh, nevermind..."
Strange that he talks in the past tense there, too.
"Still, it's just... Sometimes I wonder, you know? What kind of person that guy before the fire would have been like, what... the family I forgot might have been like... Aheh, even kinda what my name would be if it wasn't for that one nurse in the hospital who just up and started calling me Daisuke just so she could say something besides 'hey you!' and all."
He straightens himself up after all that, to settle his back more fully against the wall again while his neck cranes to direct one eye to Ryuko, flashing teeth briefly in a wry kind of smile.
"We're both doing pretty okay in spite of it all though, huh? ... Well, I mean, besides the... most immediate circumstances and all."
Ryuko nods along with him as he muses on the what-ifs of a different timeline. Such questions have crossed her mind many times. She's spent more than few hours staring at old photographs, trying to find something recognizable in the face of the young girl staring back at her. But, ultimately, even if she can recognize familiar features in that person, they aren't her any more. In a way, the girl that she used to be had died in the crash, leaving behind an empty shell for this new person to inhabit.
Damn, now she's starting to do it too.
Snorting a puff of smoke out of her nose, the girl rolls her shoulders gently, shifting her posture to keep her back from going numb. No need to dwell on such morbid thoughts when she has plenty of pain to deal with in the present, as she is quickly reminded via a sharp pang from her side.
"Haven't thrown myself off a bridge yet," she confirms, smirking to hide her wince. "Though it certainly feels like I tried to play chicken with traffic again."
A sudden distant shout cuts through the air as a familiar voice calls out. Ryuko flinches instinctively, slumping a little further down against the wall.
"Crap. It's my mom."
Sighing, she takes one last puff on the cigarette before stamping it out on the concrete and tucking it into her pocket. The people who live here might be content to wallow in trash but her parents taught her to be better than that. Besides, her mother has never really approved of her habit and being caught with a smoke while her health monitor is going off would almost definitely result in a lecture of some kind.
Shooting a glance at Daisuke, she considers the issue of his presence as well. This would be the second time the two of them have would up alone in a dark alley. Not setting a great precedent for their relationship.
"Maybe you should head out before she finds us. My mother tends to jump to conclusions..."
She doesn't bother to remind him of his first encounter with the Amazonian woman out loud. That memory is probably burned into his brain for life. She isn't in any shape to be intervening on his behalf should a second such misunderstanding occur.
"You better not either, yeah? You got a whole life ahead of you and everything, and I'd be mighty gross with you."
His head perks up when that telltale call of a familiar voice reaches his ear. He doesn't really share the initial sentiment of 'oh crap' with Ryuko, not until after she makes the reasonable recommendation of getting the hell out of here for him.
Which... well. After giving a quick look-over of their exact current situation, he does understand the reasoning behind it, too. The memory of the barbarian woman towering over him with all the menacing airs of a kaiju pops up pretty quickly into his mind.
"...Yeah, probably not a bad idea."
He starts drawing himself up from the ground with that, but he pauses after propping himself to one knee, to look aside to Ryuko.
"...Hey. Take care of yourself, okay?"
The words come with him settling his hand on her shoulder, with the gentlest little squeeze he can manage, under the understanding that she *is* still hurt.
"Give me a call or something when you've recovered. I'll make sure you actually get the bento next time around, yeah?"
Apparently he's already decided without taking her opinion into account that he will, in fact, bring her some of his own cooking one day.
That all being said and done, he stands up the rest of the way, and offers to Ryuko a one last "See ya," before he gets to moving up the stairs.
...Though he does pause at the very top to give a quick scan of his surroundings, in case he might end up spotting Momma Tenjin somewhere in the vicinity and decide he needs to make like a ninja and sneak through the first few blocks to avoid being spotted by her. ... Assuming she hasn't already seen *him* by now, anyway.
Ryuko offers up a smile in response to the touch but snorts dismissively at the notion that she'd somehow manage to avoid getting into trouble in the future. The entire reason she chose to come here was to get /into/ trouble. People like Bull offer just the sort of challenge she needs to hone her skills against and considering how she fared in her first real fight on the world stage, she's got a lot more training to do.
"Survived this long at Gedo. I'll manage."
The offer to contact him in the future is met with a nod. She doesn't have his phone number but knowing what school he goes to is good enough. Assuming she can manage to walk across campus without getting mobbed by half the students, that is. Even the kids who aren't big on school rivalry tend to have a dim view of Gedo.
"Sounds good. Now get out of here before my Mom flattens you into a pancake, nerd."
Good advice. Fortunately for Daisuke, the voice proves to be distant enough that he isn't immediately spotted upon emerging into the open. It is getting closer, however, and in a hurry. Ryuko will be in good hands soon. Time to leave.
Log created on 04:42:06 04/15/2021 by Ryuko, and last modified on 07:04:41 04/16/2021.