Katsuro - Between a magazine rack and a hard place

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Description: Tsinghua minds his own business in a convenience store, only to be ambushed by an eccentric investigator from NOL with many questions of varying uncomfortability!

A convinence store is not a place this boy frequented. Yet, even he needs to still his hunger every once in a while. Forgetting to bring his own lunch, he had just returned from a morning meeting with a local businessman. It was standard fair. Words were shared, pleasantries were exchanged, and a deal was struck. More specifically, the businessman wanted to invest in agriculturual ventures- Something that the Góng Estate is well-experienced and equipped for. As such, the Estate would be overseeing the initial operations.

Really, quite boring stuff. But Rather this boring stuff, then some of the life-threatheningly exciting stuff he had been involved in as of late.

The messenger, Tsinghua Tao, was browsing through the fresh foods isle- carefully checking the back of the packaging to find the most healthy and nutritious deal. He is looking at the salads, in particular. He eventually picks one out- A seaweed salad with sesame seeds and advocado. He is not much paying attention to his surroundings.

He is simply nice and relaxed, for once!

Everything aroudn Tsinghua seems perfectly normal. And why wouldn't it? It's just a regular 7-11 convenience store. These things are suprisingly popular around Japan, even if there are just as many small privately-owned convenience stores that might get a little more traffic just out of the local's preference for supporting the local business and all. But still!

...However. The instant Tsinghua picks out a pre-packaged meal from a shelf--

...WEll, first of all, it turns out the shelf has been emptied completely from behind that particular package, to the point that the other side of the aisle can be seen.

And secondly, this results in a sharply-angular face of a somewhat-scruffy man with a wild mane of hair getting revealed from behind it.

And he's immediately flashing a toothy smirk to his way, and the one amber eye that isn't concealed by his thick, unruly hair flickers brightly with mischievousness.


"U-Waaaah!" He yelps out, a high-pitched noise that draws the attention of the cashier- and a angry-looking lady of middle age. Tsinghua, the messenger, stumbles back and loses his balance- involuntarily falling into a wall-mounted rack of magazines that subsequently rain down upon him.

All sorts of magazines! Sports, Manga.. moderately lewd modelling ones..

His face gets red out of the embarassment, all the while he rubs the back of his head: The place at which he bumped it.


It takes no time at all for the... well, the *jumpscare* to follow after Tsinghua. But not necessarily by usual means.

For a figure comes jumping atop that shelf that previously seperated the two! A flash of sky-blue and white, and suddenly there's a man perched atop that shelf. A formal jacket of blue color, with white outlines, albeit left unbuttoned to expose the white dress shirt and black suit vest underneath clinging tightly to the man... and leather pants??? The jacket itself is clearly NOL issue, just judging from the markings, but the gamrents underneath it, probably less so. Still, it's certainly enough to justify the katana slung to his hip by the wide red shash slung diagonally along his waist.

"Tao-san, right?" The wild-haired man coos out from atop his perch there, watching over Tsinghua down there with a wide grin for a few seconds before he hops down, and comes padding with an airy sort of step towards him.

"Oooh, ooh, look at this..."

His hand shoots out, suddenly, almost seeming to go for the boy! But... It slips to snatch one of those scandalous magazines taht fell atop him instead, holding it up in front of himself.

"From what I heard, I wouldn't had thought you were the type to get these, though. Not that it seems like bad stuff though mind, buuuut..."

With just one hand, he flicks through the magazine quickly, before turning it over so that a fold-out spread comes falling out with a particularly tantalizing image of a scantily-clad model, prompting the man in the casually-worn NOL-uniform to let out a whistle.

"Naughty booooy."

The boy is still breathing heavy at the scare, and he freezes up when the strange man starts to adress him- He recognizes the NOL uniform, and there and then decides to follow being polite and respectful-

Relations need to be kept good, after all!

Yet, as the wild NOL agent begins accusing him of peeping at dirty mags, he flushes- stumbling over his words as he begins to explain himself! "That- That is not accurate, good sir!" He darts to his feet, a few remaining magazines falling off of him as he enters into a deep bow. "I- I simply stumbled, and they fell on me! I have no mind to look at such depraved imagery, I assure you, mister."

He stands up straight- But the difference in height between them is rather hilarious! He turns his back to Katsuro, diligently picking up the Magazines and returning them to the rack. "I am- I am Tsinghua Tao, messenger of the Góng Estate- Yet you seem to be aware.." Tsinghua admits to that fact.

"Would you give me your name as well, kind sir? I- I am just going to clean these up.. I'm sorry for the rudeness of turning my back!"

The boy seems extremely tense, apologizing and boot-licking at every turn.

"It's fine, it's fiiiiine, who am I to judge, kiddo?" The man assures the boy, with a kansai accent growing all the more obvious the mor he speaks out. He sidles up clooooser to Tsinghu with that, too, and even drapes his free arm over his shoulders while still hodling the lewd magazine up.

"It's fine if you wanna look at girls, you know? They wouldn't sell stuff like this if it wasn't! Besides, you're at that sorta age too, right?"

The hand holding onto the magazine deftly flips through a couple more pages just with his thumb, and... a faint frown goes over his features. "Mmmm. Though I would really like a girl with a bit more meat on her bones, you know? All these chicks in magazines like this are aaaaaalll just skin and tendon and noooothin' else. Though the super-slender' thing..."

He withdraws with that, but not without giving a quick ruffle to Tsinghua's hair. Sheesh, this one has no concept of personal space, does he?

"Not a bad look on a boy like you~."

The magazine gets closed with that, and slipped to the magazine rack, before the man assumes a more rigid, official sort of stance, complete with a salute! (Nevermind that it's mostly put on with a sort of mocking air)

"Private First Class Kirikawa, of Novus Orvis Librarium's Magic Formula Troops! Though I guess this assignment diiiid come from the Intel department? Hmmm... I should ask the base commander about that, I guess... Oh, well!"

Grinning wide, he leeeeaaaans forward, closer, closer, until his face is hovering just half a foot away from Tsinghua's own while he's cleaning up the disturbed magazine rack.

"I have some questions about your recent five minutes of fame. You got on telly and everythin'!"

He looks away as Katsuro closes in, and shoves the dirty mag in his face. Still blushing, he keeps denying the fact. "It's.. not like that." He is not lying! But that doesn't make it not fun to unsettle the boy like this. His hair gets ruffled, making him wince back some. He breathes out a subtle sigh as Kirikawa's salute greatens the distance between the two a bit. The messenger mutters a quick "Thank you, mr. Kirikawa." At his.. compliment? Tsinghua is honestly unsure.

I would not last long though! Because the NOL private invades his personal space yet again. Tsinghua's back is to the wall, giving him little opportunity to make things more comfortable for himself!

"A-Ah? Are you speaking of my reason endavours in the organized fighting scene, or.. or.." He looks sad all of a sudden, eyes facing the ground- trembling again.

"My encounter with that dangerous darkstalker..."

"Yes, yesss, exactly that!" Katsuro chirps eagerly over Tsinghua's latter guess, finally leaning back a bit further away from his as he does. It comes with a happy snap of the fingers on one hand!

"Now, why won't you tell me, Tao-chan~," he urges -- somehow managing to soudn at the same time entirely informal *and* authorative. It might have something to do with the utterly *predatory* bearing that his toothy grin carries even in spite of the playful words that leave his mouth.

"In your own words, what exactly happened, mmm?"

"Foo." He exhales, breathing room!

His saddened, fearful posture continues as he explains. "It was the early evening, I was walking back from an appointment with a Gong Estate contact.." He begins, his small hand grabbing gold at the clothing on his chest tightly, his breathing quickening as he recalls the somewhat traumatic event. "This- This young, petite girl approached me- suddenly appeared behind me with a gust of wind. I tried being friendly, mr. Kirikawa. But shortly after.."

"She- She attacked me!"

"She said she was hungry, and then her arm grew- grew into this large blade! I was forced to fight, we fought and fought, and it hurt. I don't like fighting." He shrinks down even further, as he enters the climax of his story. "We fought, and I lost. As to what happened next, I was unconcious. But she /sucked/ the very energy out of me. I shrank, I looked like some- some sort of mummy."

"Some- Someone saved me after that.. I barely survived."

"You shrank, did you..." Murmurs Katsuro, leaning in towards Tsinghua again, and--

His nostrils flare. Wait. Did he just smell the boy?!

"You don't seem like you would have gotten smaller than natural," he observes, with a shrug of his shoulders. "Mmm, well. I suppose it's of no consequence now. Do you have any memory or idea otherwise of who might have saved you?"

Leaning back again, with a quick spin on the heel of one foot, he graces the boy with some personal space once more.

"And do you remember... anything else of odd? About the suspect or.. anything else?"

Katsuro just dips in and out of his space, like an expert out-boxer.

Tsinghua looks downright disturbed as he gets sniffed. The boy would have a gentle, herbal smell.. Lotus and rosemary, to be exact! And fear. Oooh is there a good bit of fear. In addition to that, there is just a /hint/ of magic, coming from not one, but two places. The golden necklace around his neck, and something else- something stronger, coming from his chest pocket. "Who saved me? It- It was a.. acquaintance."

There is a sense he is trying to avoid talking about this induvidual." He takes the opportunity to take the subject, moving back to the 'subject'.

"She said she wanted to regain her power, by feeding upon people with a lot of energy- like me. More then that, she mentioned something about a 'That man' that would capture her again..." He explains, nervously. The trembling yet continues! "I'm afraid that is all of interest I can remember, mr. Kirikawa."


And baaaaaack towards Tsinghua the NOL operative comes leaning, thanks to the little circling around of the individual who saved him.

"And who exactly is this acquintance of yours, mmm? You wouldn't want me to have to come back to you just because you ended up leaving something *extremely important* out, would you?"

Inching closer towards him still, his face twists into a frown, with the downward tug of the corners of his lips seeming almost deliberately pronounced.

"Finding something like that would make me *so sad*."

He starts leaning back again-- but then, suddenly, his hand snaps up, and the chinese boy will find a fore- and middle finger looped into his necklace. Probably uncomfortably close to his throat!

"What is this, Tao-chan?"


More fear, more trembling, more shrinkage. His lip trembles, even- as tears start to push their way out. No crying yet! But the boy is rather close.. "I- I am terribly sorry, mr. Kirikawa. I just did not think it would be of such importance. "The person who S-saved me W-was Velvet B-Blue.. He is another darkstalker."

"B-But a friendly one! He had nothing to do with it otherwise! He is- He is a good person.." He does his best to protect the flamboyent owner of the gold Lounge. His head is turned away from Katsuro, and his eyes are closed shut as he comes so, -so- close to Tsinghua. When his necklace is snatched, he gasps out. Slight pressure being inflicted on his neck.

"It- It is a necklace. It was a gift by an honored contact of the Gong Estate."

"Is that riiiiiiight."

Katsuro's head tilts to one side in an outright canine manner, and then to the other while he considers the necklace. He tugs on it juuuust a little bit more...

"This contact of yours a practicioner of magic, mmm? Did they tell you what this thing does?"

He doesn't let go. But thankfully, he does not lean any further towards the boy either!

"And what about that thingy in your pocket? Would you mind taking it out for me?"

"They- They did, mr. Kirikawa. It, uhm.. Transmits what is happening around me and.. sends that information back to that person." He pouts, seemingly unhappy about ownership of this artifact. His discomfort grows as the necklace's chain pushes against the back of his neck "I do not know if they use magic, t-thruthfully, mr. Kirikawa." The boy is not lying, he really didn't know.

"Oh- Uhm, certainly.." He digs into his robes, the one of the chest pocket- before pulling out a marker-sized stick made from wood. It is engraved with carvings that read. "Trust in your own strength."

If the NOL private would touch it, he might feel that the energy it expels feels similair: if not identical to that of Tsinghua. But stronger, significantly so. As if it holds some of his own Chi. And finally, tears start to fall- having to recall and explain /yet another/ traumatic event. There's a theme here, huh? "H-Have you heard of the springtide R-Rosalia? I- I was invited to that. *sniff* I had a horrid experience. I was forced to fight in a hellish landscape, against a hellish demon- A cursed Samurai. He tore me to shreds, carved a gash into my- my side. Eventually, I surrendered. And thankfully, I was sent away. I was saved."

"But I was granted this to be reminded of my struggles. *sniff* It was awful, truly. A torturous experience."

"Mmmm..." While Katsuro's eyes do turn to the stick brought out, he still doesn't let go of the necklace. He leans in, closer, to peer at it.

"And is that a tracker too? No... No, I suppose it isn't, no? That's a... a part of *you*, is it?"

His brows shoot upwards, and he shakes his head.

"What a poor little thing..."

"His eyes quickly snap right back to the necklace, however, and... he *frowns*. Glares, at the thing, even!

"Now why would this friend of yours put something like this on you, though? Mmm? You don't seem like the kinda kid who's into that sort of thing. Is it... transmitting right now? Is that person listening right now? Hellooooooo..."

Tap tap tap tap goes his thumb against the necklace. "Moshi-moooooosh? Are you listening? You are aware this is a serious breach of privacy without proper consent forms, yessss?"

His fingers finally unhook from the necklace -- and with how much he had been tugging at it already, the release might actually feel sudden to the envoy of the Gong Family!

"Now who would have done such a thing to you, Tao-chan?"

Little did both Tsinghua and Katsuro know, that the interference of a certain Thunder God would have actually turned the amulet into a transmitter to /Raiden/. Nontheless, it serves as a beacon. His back is pushed harder against the wall and finally, the breach of personal space gets too much. While it is contained, talking about all this stuff does still have the boy teary-eyed. "P-Please, sir. Kirikawa. Would you perhaps move a b-bit further away?" No matter what the man decides to do, he does answer the rest of his questions and remarks.

"I- I am not comfortable with it, no. Her name is Sybil Katherine- She, she started out a little scary.." But Sybil's manipulation has set in, and he is slowly seeing the woman more and more as a mother-figure. "B-But she is much nicer now! She took care of me after the Springtide Rosalia.. I am fine with it now.." He says, with a lot of hesitation masking his voice as he's released. He takes the newfound freedome to wipe his face of the tears.

"It- It was simply a part of my duties.." Tsinghua is making excuses, obviously. It was not- In thruth, not even the Gong Estate knew of this arrangment. He was in actuality blackmailed into serving as her unwilling spy. Even if that unwillingness is slowly fading away, as his attachment to the woman would grow.

"Now why do you want me to do that, Tao-chan?" As it happens, Katsuro does the exact opposite of what Tsinghua desires. He gets closer, again! And he even reaches his hand over, to set two fingers against the boy's chest-- and then slowly trail them in little steps upwards along the breadth of it.

"Do you not like me?"

The fingers trail up, up, and up-- but just short of reaching the boy's, he presses his palm against his chest. Not to push, just to hold the hand flat there.

"You are fine with it now? Are you now, Tao-chan? Are you sure? Because that sounds like this tiiiiny little thing I read in a textbook once. I wonder if you've heard about it?"

And then, the NOL operative leans in again. Bringing his face closer and closer and closer to Tsinghua's still, almost seeming like he's about to breach the last vestiges of his private space, even lidding his eyes slightly...!

...Only to suddenly dip to the side and then right past Tsinghua's head, to bring his lips to the boy's ear to whisper: "Stockholm Syndrome."

And then, finally, he withdraws fully, even taking one, two, three steps back away from him.

"YOu know if you think you are in danger, there *are* authorities you can reach, right?" He says then, tone suddenly much more serious. His hand dips into an inner pocket of his uniform jacket, rifling through it for a few seconds before coming out again and flicking a NOL-imprinted business card towards the boy.

"Just a thought. Do what you will with it. Of course I couldn't *possibly* do anything for you without your consent..."

His hands wrap together behind his back, and he spins like a ballerina on the tippytoes of one foot, turning away from the boy.

"For now... Thank you for your eyewitness account, Tao-chan~."

"Eep! I-I'm very sorry.. I do like you!" He did not have anywhere to escape to, as Katsuro got /even/ closer, and lays that hand on his chest- And he gets downright disturbingly close to doing something even weirder. He thankfully dips to the side, instead whispering those words into his ear.

True distance is finally created. "I-I am not... I am certain!" No you're not, Tsinghua. "Stockholm.. Syndrome?" He will have to look that up later, as the boy is unfamiliar with (western) psychology. "But I- I understand r. Kirikawa. That is most kind of you, to worry for my safety." He bows again, deeply. "I will- I will call If I ever feel the need."

"It was- It was no trouble at all, mr. Kirikawa." Not entirely true there, Tsinghua. His bow is upheld. "I wish you the best of days, kind sir. And the best of luck tracking down that menace."

"And the very very very veeeery same to you, Tao-chan," Katsuro shoots back over his shoulder before his turn away finishes, and he begins the steps towards the door out of the convenience store, flicking a tw-fingered wave back to the chinese boy's way. "Would be a shame if something cute like that got ruined by aaaawful people."

Log created on 13:20:39 06/19/2021 by Katsuro, and last modified on 18:53:00 06/19/2021.