NFG Season One - The Drive Home

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Description: After the Battle of Frost Warehouse the rescue team have a nice, chill ride home with no problems whatsoever.

It was a long day. It was the best of times (right until Chevy showed up on Daybreak Beach) and it was the worst of times (like, pretty much everything that happened afterward). And it isn't over yet.

Chevelle Beaumont lists from one side to the other, a metallic grind accompanying each labored step forward. The loss of balance is partly due to the head injury she sustained at the very end of her ill-advised tussle with Daisuke Kubo. The other part is that the farm girl is carrying a probably-unconscious Ichika Kasumoto across her shoulders, and also dragging her pole and buckets along behind her. The sidewinding trail left by her buckets shows her lopsided path. And every so often, the bucket catches on a rock, causing a lurching misstep.

Five minutes previously, Chevy had woken up to find herself laid out on the floor with a pillow under her head. Drawing in her breath, she had sat up with a start -- and -that- was when she'd noticed the dull throbbing in her head. After taking a moment to cope with that, she'd looked around to find Ichika and Ayala similarly cared-for. And, breathing a sigh of relief, she had passed a glance up to the rooftop, hearing some sounds of motion up there.

So the nap wasn't a long one. And Daisuke kept to his word.

If Chevy were feeling better, the truck might not be such a long way off. As it is -- 500 feet feels like an eternity across the desert sands. At least, she reassures herself, Captain Morgan can enjoy the air conditioning, and whatever music happened to be playing on the radio of Buck's truck. She is, however, hoping that teams one and two fared better than theirs.

Ichika has had some brutally hard fights in the NFG. Heck, she's had a nasty fight outside of it with the soup kitchen debacle. None of them left her looking like this.

Blood dries on her face and down her clothes; bruises mottle her arms thoroughly beneath her jacket, an ugly swelling has begun on the side of her head, mottled thanks to the psionic energy. Her hair sits lank against her skull.

She's still breathing, at least, but she's not... getting up. And that breathing in shallow, laboured. She'd really pushed and given it her all; absolutely everything she had. If fighting is a game of managing her resources, as she had explained she had seen it several times before, she'd put every last piece she had into the attack - and then cut into her own flesh to go further.

Whatever it was about Daisuke that had provoked such a horrifically violent reaction, he'd really driven her to new ... heights?

Buck touches down in the alley besides the building, tossing the two antlers he carried into a nearby dumpster. Nope, best not to ask about those. He looks relatively in one piece though, a bruise on his face that's turning a wonderful shade of purple, but beyond that he seems relatively unscathed.

He looks around and catches sight of Chevy and Ichika, a sharp intake of breath hissing through his teeth as he takes stock of their injuries from where he stands. There's a look up to Hawksley and Coco, but then team loyalty takes over and he's rushing over to the pair, already offering his shoulder to take the weight of Ichika off of Chevy.

"Damn, I hope the other guys look worse." He says, perhaps trying to lighten the mood, though it even sounds a little hollow coming from him.

"We need to get you two to Ariastra, she'll have you patched up in no time." That he manages to instill with a little more of his usual bombastic optimism, if not completely.

Hawksley looks to be in worse shape than Buck. As well as sporting the beginnings of a vividly violet black eye, he's also got blood streaming from his nose and mouth, and the visible parts of his body look to have taken quite the battering.

"Anyone got a tissue?" he wonders, trying his best not to swallow the metallic tasting red liquid.

As he struggles to stem the flow, he takes the chance to turn towards Chevy and Ichika. Soon all concern for his own fate is forgotten.

"Jesus" he murmurs, making his way towards the teen twosome. "How many of them did they have in there?"

He can't seem to take his eyes off Ichika. "Buck is right. She needs healing fast. I don't like the look of her at all."

His own tone is decidedly less optimistic than Buck's.

"Guys, I can't tell you how grateful I am to you all for coming to get me," Coco calls down from above as she navigates the handholds and footholds left in the wall of the warehouse by the collapsed fire escape that's lying strewn about the outer yard, still dressed in only her revealing purple bikini. "I was so bloody /bored/ up there that you wouldn't believe it. I didn't even have a phone to check my Insta or anything."

At least she's expressing some sort of gratitude now, showing far less cheek (in some senses) than she was on the rooftop, but it's still perhaps a bit of a tonedeaf commentary. She drops the last several feet into what's initially a landing on both feet, but quickly topples with the impact to land on her posh and pampered backside. She scowls and makes a sound of disgust as she finds herself having to dust her butt off with one hand once she's pushed herself easily back upright.

Hers is certainly a heavy cross to bear.

She turns toward the approaching Chevy and unconscious Ichika.

"Oh, you lot look like you've had a battering," she says, failing to not sound more pleased with the result than is contextually acceptable. "Here, let me carry her," she says, skipping over to hold her arms out for the teenager. One might suspect that she only wants to offer the assist to the young woman who threatened her with tenfold suffering for the rib-kick Coco gave Chevy only yesterday afternoon.

One would be correct.

On the other hand, she's probably in the best shape of anyone involved to actually be offering such assistance, considering that she looks more or less entirely unharmed and scarcely traumatized after her ordeal.

"You lot didn't leave Morgie at the beach, did you? If he's in the car, you'd better have cracked a window."

She gets up after a moment. The body is not too happy with what happened and shows its disapproval with the pain of setting things correctly. She says quietly to herself. "Well, that was fun." At least she didn't have to kill herself to heal better. There that.

She looks around, Abigail seems to be gone. She might as well get back to the truck. As soon as she starts walking, she starts limping from the left leg. So apparently another thing to heal. Focusing on healing at the truck will do, and she can see if anyone is back too.

So she limps. She limps for a while until she sees everyone she came with. She moves closer when she can finally see the scene before her. "Oh my." Her own body is completely forgotten now. She stands tall, ignoring the pain she feels, to come to all of them.

"Wow, this looks horrible. The damage isn't worth the 'reward' What happened to Ichika?" She also sees Chevy's damages and isn't too happy either. She frowns. "I am going to do my best for each of you. Can all of you get to the truck? I can take Ichika if necessary. It will all be ok." She didn't like the scene but had to be optimistic.

Chevy is more than happy to offload Ichika to Buck's shoulder, standing up her pole so that she can use it for balance. Her weariness makes it clear that he'd need to do the work necessary for that. Her wounds are hidden: the bruise to her head, by her auburn locks; the seared skin from multiple Psycho Power injuries by her black AC/DC t-shirt. The shirt's still damp -- showing she did, at the very least, put up a fight.

She's quick to disclaim credit, with a weary smile. "... If they are, it's Ichika's work an' not mine, I can tell ya that."

Now able to move around a bit more, she digs into her pocket and pulls out a cloth hankerchief, which she offers to Hawksley. "Hey, you two seemed to make it out alright..." She shrugs faintly in response to the query: "Just two. Ayala and some kid Ichika recognized from Southtown." She doesn't dare to say the word 'Taiyo.' "You're gonna have to ask her about it, I was out cold..."

She turns hollow, weary eyes to Coco next. There's a moment where she... just stares, nostrils flaring.

And she blinks, as if she hadn't heard anything at all, for about 1.65 more seconds.

"You're welcome."

Another second-long pause.

"Now Coco, I got some choice words for you right now, but Momma'd tan my hide if I's to say 'em. Besides that..." Chevy looks towards the truck, with some amount of effort. "Captain Morgan's in the truck." A/C is running, because it's Sunshine City in the summer, and not the frozen North.

Weary though she may be, Chevy makes an effort to stand up straight once she hears Ariastra's voice. She accomplishes that by leaning heavily on her staff. "She got hurt in a fight, sensei. Ayala and a fighter from Taiyo." She glances over at Ichika, peering over to see if her friend is awake yet. "I think we bit off more'n we could chew."

Thoughts delivered, she nods to Ariastra... and starts shuffling her way towards the truck.

Buck takes Ichika on his shoulder, then realizing she's probably not even able to take those few steps towards the truck, scoops her up in his arms and carries her. He doesn't care if she might complain or not at the display, he's more worried about getting her into the truck and under Ariastra's care.

"Well, I know you put up a fight, no need to ask about that." He says evenly, his grin quivering slightly. The cheery mood is forced, but he feels it's needed at the moment so that smile stays where he put it as he starts towards the truck. No limp or awkward walk from him.

"Can someone open the truck door so I can get Ichika comfortable?"

There's no way he's doing it with both hands occupied holding his teammate. And the question comes with a pointed look in Coco's direction, as he mostly expects her to do it as she's the least injured of the whole group.

But he's not holding his breath.

As Coco comes down behind him, Hawksley feels his fists involuntarily clench. Surely she wasn't always this selfish? Perhaps he was just blinded by the purple hair and eyecatching curves.

He manages to avoid any more angry outbursts though. He doesn't really trust his own words right now and besides there's bigger things to think about.

The arrival of Ariastra, albeit in less than perfect condition herself is a relief to him. The sooner that Ichika can get some healing the happier he will feel.

"Thanks" he says to Chevy, managing a faint smile before putting the cloth to his face. It immediately stains scarlet as it soaks up the blood.

"I won't be giving you this back now" he apologises to her. "I'll be getting you a new one instead."

"I'll have no bother getting to the truck" he tells the Team Thunder sensai, starting to head in that direction. It seems his legs are in good working order at least. Because of this or perhaps because he doesn't trust Coco to help, he tells Buck "No bother, fella. I'll get it open for you. Have you got the keys on you?"

Coco ends up empty-handed after her offer of assistance. This seems to bother her for all of about half a second as her arms slump down to her sides in a relaxed posture. She doesn't appear to have much of a sense of urgency about her in the situation that the group find themselves in.

"I don't suppose anyone brought my handbag with my phone in it? If not, I'm sure some thief's earned themselves a nice Corona Row vacation by now."

It's a bit of slang that Coco's picked up in the local area - a reference to the hard drugs that dealers on the Row are known to purvey.

Chevy's words cause her to huff. "Biting off more than you can chew seems to be your running theme lately, Chevelle. Why not go for the hat trick and speak your mind? Because I'm quite certain that as far as legitimate grievances go, I could absolutely bury you."

She puts on a polite smile.

"Present rescuing excepted, of course."

Full of energy after an afternoon of grape sodas, she rushes on ahead of Hawksley to try and get the door open, not so much so that she can help Buck get Ichika situated as to make sure that her bearcat is okay. She'll even give the handle a good yank to check if it's already unlocked. If it's not, she'll give it another yank. She doesn't generally have to deal with car doors; that's what drivers are for.

"Morgie! Mummy's okay! I'm here for you, sweetheart! I'm sorry; you've probably been so scared!"

Mostly, it seems, Morgie has been sleepy, though the nocturnal creature does rouse, rejuvenated as the evening draws in. He props up on his hind legs to claw at the window.

Buck give Chevy an exasperated and commiserating look as Coco fires off in her direction. mouthing a soft, "We could have left her." Without giving it any volume. Though he looks momentarily ashamed for even thinking it.

"In the ignition, needed to leave the A/C on for Morgan." Buck says to Hawksley at the question. More to the point, the door opens up at Coco's tugging, and he just shakes his head as it was obviously not to help him out. It may have been stupid to leave a car open and running in this part of town, but it wasn't at the top of his list of concerns at the time.

With Coco blocking the way to the backseat, Buck stands by the passenger side door waiting for Hawksley to open it so he can set Ichika on the best seat in the car. Better for Ariastra to check up on her anyway.

"Good thing I think cleaning is included in the rental agreement." He jokes lightly, watching Morgie pawing at the windows.

Not to mention the inevitable blood stains from this group, but he's not bringing that up.

"She watches the scene unfold. She also gives a quick check on Ichika's pulse and such while Buck holds her, so she can see what she has to deal with. "I see."

She's also tired right now, and Coco does nothing to help the situation. "So we came here to rescue Coco, which we did. She can go back home on her own now. No need to take her with us in the truck. I mean, it looks like she is aggravating people that got hurt. While she is pretty much scratch free. You will all need rest, not aggravation." She shrugs. Someone had to say it. She also takes the time to check Chevy out/ See how much damage she got without being invasive about it. She will be ready, however once Ichika is safe in the car.

She rubs her chest some, almost absentmindedly. She didn't matter right now. Her students did Buck and Hawksley too. She decides to check them as well, to see the extent of the damage. Observing can tell many things.

When Hawksley reaches the truck he can't help but find the image of Captain Morgan clawing at the window heartwarming. There's no time for cuddles and sentimentality though, besides Coco's got the cooing covered.

He opens the front passenger door for Buck to place Ichika on the seat, joining in the joking. "Let's hope theft is included too. I've left a brand new Mustang in the parking lot at the beach and I'm in no fit state to fetch it. I'll have to pick it up tomorrow if it's still there."

His dark eyes fall on Ariastra when she suggests leaving Coco to make her own way home and he shakes his head at her. "She may be an ungrateful eejit but we can't leave her here. For all we know Frost could try and grab her again."

As the immortal woman checks him over, she's likely to find that there's nothing broken at least. He's certainly battered and bruised though. The blood flowing from his face seems to have stopped for now as the clotting does it's job.

Chevy is quick to answer Hawksley's politeness with a smile. "Heh, no worries. Thanks for that."
But then Coco's right up in her grill -- it would seem the hayseed was the cure for the posh Brit's boredom. And... Chevy seems to weather the criticism with a half-smile, and a weak shrug. Maybe Coco's right on those charges -- and it's pretty clear that Chevelle wouldn't even be able to stand for a challenge against Coco in, well, -any- arena.

So for now, she's content with staying quiet, and giving Coco her victory lap. Especially as the Brit's short attention span moves onto lavishing love upon the adorable binturong.

Mind... while Coco's back is turned, Chevy takes the opportunity to peel out of her t-shirt. Less for the benefit of any of the NFG challengers, more so that Ariastra can see the bruising along her back, and the multicolored gradations scorched into the skin above her breastbone.

Balling up her t-shirt and gripping her staff for support, the Southerner snorts lightly as Hawksley answers Buck and Ariastra. "There's only five seats inside the truck though. And as I ain't got a mind to share cabin space with you..." She thumps the bed of the truck with her thumb. "I'll volunteer to be the one ridin' out back."

Setting Ichika down in the passenger seat, he steps away so Ariastra can have full access to the teen.

"I can drive you down to get it in the morning." He replies with a look to Hawksley. "I'm sure it'll be fine down at the beach, police probably patrol there all night to keep people from having fun with bonfires or something." He breaks into a grin as if he suddenly got an idea, but he doesn't broach it as he casts another look around.

He shakes his head at the suggestion of Coco walking, then more so at Chevy. "No, I'm the least bruised." Other than Coco, but he doesn't say that. "I can ride in the bed, it'll make me feel like I'm home, Hawks, you up for driving? If not, I'm sure Ariastra can." He says with a look to his mentor. He figures she's not just going to zap them home. Alas.

When the door gives open to Coco's tugging, Morgie immediately hops out and climbs onto the purple-haired girl's shoulder.

"There's a good boy," Coco coos as she leans into the backseat before Ichika can be slid in, checking the floorboards and scooping out her handbag once she finds it. Pulling it out and extracting herself, she fishes the smartphone out of the purse and enters her key.

"Well, fortunately, I have half charge and three bars," she says, waggling the phone indicatively as she turns the screen to the rest of the group. "So if we're all still hellbent on categorizing me as an ungrateful eejit, even though I already said thanks to everybody and I'm clearly by far the most wronged party in this situation, having been dragged off by a maniac driver with a death wish and forced to wee in a bloody bucket all afternoon without so much as a tee-shirt on offer, I can quite happily wait here with Morgie until an Uber arrives. In fact, I'm sure I got the queue-arr code for a limousine service from the car dealer; I might just treat myself. Besides, as experienced as I'm sure Chevy is at riding tailgate or whatever it's called, she shouldn't have to. She's got a rib injury."

She starts dialing a number into the touchscreen of her smartphone with a careless ease.

She has a lot to say, but now the door is opened and Ichika is in, and she needs healing the most. From her quick check, she would live even if there was no extra healing involved, but it would take days maybe a week, to be fine. That wouldn't do.

She moves inside the cabin and puts her hands on Ichika's temples this time, and she sends healing energy to that battered body. Her body whines right now, but she won't listen to it. She grinds her teeth a bit, and gives a lot of energy to Ichika, so she can wake up and also be in walking order. There is a cracking sound from Ariastra at one point. She makes a bit of a face and doesn't react otherwise. "Ok, Ichika should be able to wake up any moment now. She will be fine." She takes a deep breath.

She comes back out fully. "Ok, who's next? Hawksley, you're healing well. But if you need anything let me know." She looks at Chevy. "I think you're the second most urgent right now. So come here, and let me do my things."

Ichika flinches when the healing starts. The perfect darkness of her unconsciousness begins to retreat. Oh, how she loves that state. Time when she doesn't need to think or feel and can just float in a state of nonexistence. Then pain enters her mind again. And a moment later, she jerks. Coughs. And begins to breathe a little bit more easily.

When she opens her eyes, she's disappointed to find it is in a vehicle, with people, rather than a soft bed. But through the intense weight of her bone-tired state, she does at least manage to turn her head. Blearily take in the people around her.

"... good." She mumbles, "Everyone is here."

Her hand moves to her saya, and finding that her katana is indeed in there, she relaxes completely. Her eyes close again. She sighs.

"Coalbridge-san is safe." She murmurs, "Which means, I can still keep my promise."

And that thought genuinely seems to bring a smile to the girl's bloodied lips, even as she drifts in and out of consciousness.

"I can maybe drive by now" Hawksley agrees amicably, not mentioning the drinks he had a few hours ago back at the hotel. Surely they'll have burnt off by now? He's certainly feeling pretty sober.

He gives Buck a grateful smile at the offer of a lift. "Thanks, fella. I haven't forgotten I owe you a burger and some beers."

He gets into the driver's seat, taking a moment to familiarise himself with the controls of the truck. If he was offended by Chevy not wanting to ride in the cabin with him it doesn't show. Although he doubts she's any less likely to want to be around Coco if Buck is riding in the back.

Despite this dilemma, the Irishman has to intervene. "I'd rather you stick with us, Coco" he says calmly. "I know it's not exactly ideal but I don't like the idea of you going off on your own right now. Captain Morgan not included."

He seeks out eye contact with her in the mirror as she makes the quip about Chevy's rib with the intention of giving her a glare.

"I'm grand for healing, Ariastra. Just focus on the lasses."

No sooner has he said this than Ichika starts to stir. She's obviously not fully back with them yet, but she certainly seems in her right mind enough to recognise them all and remember her threat to Coco. Hawksley suddenly feels a lot more hopeful.

Buck smiles as Ichika at least stirs, though he backs away just letting the more experienced hands handle her. "Whatever, but now that I said I'm ridin' in the back I'm doin' it." He says with a glance to Coco's phone.

He places a hand on the side of the truck bed, then using the tire as a step ladder he hoists himself up and over. Sure, him landing in the bed makes the truck bounce a little, but soon enough he's sitting down with his back against the rear cabin window.

"Nice night for it, too." He says, most of his cheer back now that his teammates have been at least looked over by Ariastra. He plucks his hat off his head and sets it next to him so it doesn't blow off as the truck starts moving, but otherwise, he just seems content to hang out back there in the meantime.

"Hopefully no one like Abigail will give chase on a monster truck or something." He's not discountin the chance completely.

Chevy had been looking to Hawksley for his approval -- but in her fatigued state, she hadn't realized that she hadn't broken away from him before sassing at Coco. Which is turned into even -more- of a faux pas when Buck insists on out-Southerning her by claiming the truck bed for his own. His truck, his hospitality, his rules.

"Dang it." She sticks the tip of her tongue out at Buck, knowing she's been beaten.

Chevy steps back for a moment, as seemingly everyone seems to be pointing to her being next on the healing agenda. She flashes a toothy grin at Ariastra, gently indicating where she might need the most attention. "Thanks for this. I.. erm. We've been bickerin' so much, I ain't even gotten around to askin' -- how... how did things go at the front gate?"

Not long after she asks, she hears Coco running her mouth. Still.

"Hey, Miss Coalbridge? Could I ask a -huge- favor of you?"

As the healing energies tingle through her skin, she starts to unfold her shirt from the pole.

"Could you maybe change it up a bit? Y'know, maybe talk smack about people on your Insta feed, instead of the people who risked their lives savin' you?"

And if no one else objects, she'd be happy to plop her butt down in the shotgun seat next to Hawksley.

Coco catches Ichika's half-conscious comment and quirks her lips to one side. She quickly weighs up her options.

Hawksley wants her to stay with them. Ichika wants to do her harm. Chevy's taking the spot next to Hawksley.

And she can't think of any reasons why she /should/ stay in the truck.

Especially now that she's feeling more... alert, after her encounter with Juri. In tune to the way that people around her are feeling. All that suffering and anger is fine for a few minutes, but stuck in a box full of it for who knows how long?

"You know what? I think I'll join Buck. I've never had a chance to ride in the back of one of these before, and the inside smells like blood. Not to mention, he's not been particularly offensive to me thus far."

She pushes herself up on the side of the pickup's bed with her hands, kicking her legs as she realizes she can't really vault over with the way she's used her hands, then finally falls face-first into the bed beside Buck.


Turning herself over, she slumps against the wall of the bed, stretching her legs out and gathering Morgie in her lap to stroke him.

"Don't worry," she assures the American as she brushes her purple bangs away from her silver eyes, "Social leprosy is only mildly contagious."

Ariastria heals Chevy where she needs it, and when she wishes to be in front, she picks up Ichika and gets her in the back seat with her, making sure both Ichika and her are secure. "Ok Chevy, Hawksley, don't bother me unless it's really en emergency.

After that, she takes a few deep breaths, closes her eyes, and if anyone pays attention, she stops breathing. She still has an arm around Ichika to protect her a bit more, but besides that, nothing is going on in the backseat except self-healing.

Now that the healing is underway, Ichika isn't allowed to drift back into that comfortable space of unconsciousness. She really had pushed herself too far; her body is going to be making her pay for her folly for quite some time. Nevertheless, despite how awful she feels, she's surprised to find that for once there is no self-recrimination. She had known what she was doing when she made those choices. It was surrender, or push as far and as hard as she could go. Nothing else had even a slim possibility of victory. She would make the same choice again, if she had to.

The girl leans into Ariastra's support and opens her eyes. Her breathing has steadied at least; each one still hurts, but now that she can conceptualise this as the price she had paid to take her shot, even if that shot hadn't paid off... she could accept the pain, let it flow through her.

"I'm, glad, we managed to get everyone out." She says at last, "When I saw what Kubo-kun was capable of, I thought..." She trails off, falters, restarts. "What, happened?"

"I dunno. I've always fancied being in a car chase" Hawksley teases when Buck mentions Mister VROOM possibly giving chase.

He looks at Ariastra with interest when Chevy asks the question. He'd been so caught up in everything he hadn't thought about how the sponsor had handled the big guy. I mean she looks like she's doing alright for the most part but it would have been polite to check for sure. Either way he's willing to respect the immortal's request for silence. It's important she focus on Ichika and her own injuries.

The Irishman doesn't intervene in the verbals between Chevy and Coco but he does give the former a smile when he finds her sitting beside him. "Buckle up" he warns. "I've never driven a truck before."

Coco's choice to head into the bed shocks Hawksley. He would have thought she'd be too fancy to sit back there and for some reason he finds it amusing. Perhaps because of her less than graceful landing. He shakes his head with a chuckle and then sets about starting the engine.

Chevy just looks back at Hawksley with wild-eyed alarm and an awed smile -- he wasn't the only one to be shocked by her decision. Relieved, she sinks back into the relative luxury of the truck's front seat, mindful to keep her smile to a reasonable level. Internally, she's pleased. But she doesn't want to -broadcast- it.

Though, she does feel a bit sorry for Buck now, as the person who's been rather muted about his distrust of the posh princess. She settles her buckets for travel, making a mental note to help Buck clean out his truck once this is all said and done.

"Understood, sensei. I'll just focus on helping Hawksley drive on the right side of the road an' all." She offers a wink in his direction, as she manages to get her buckets to sit comfortably on the floorboards, alongside her pole. It's... nice to be in a decently-sized truck. (Even if it is a Ford.)

As Ichika wakes up, Chevy turns to look to the back seat. "Oh... well, we got patched up. He pretty much left us alone and went upstairs to talk with Miss Juri, so far's I can reckon." She offers a hopeful smile. "Seems like he kept to his promise of everyone gettin' home safe and sound, yeah?"

Chevy buckles up, on the prompting. Safety first! "... Are you kiddin' or serious?" She laughs -- but there's a glint of concern in her pale blue eyes. "I don't mind takin' the wheel if you'd rather not, Hawksley! My daily driver back home's a truck this size."

Chevy's annoyance with him grabbing up the seat in the bed is only met with one of his usual easy and friendly smiles. He's doing the victory dance on the inside. One does not publicly celebrate winning a hospitality battle, it's bad hospitality and instant disqualification.

Still, he can't keep a little bit of shock from his face as Coco declares she'll be riding in the bed with him. "Are you sure? It's a bumpy ride back here with no paddin'. Worse than ridin' a horse bareback." Maybe Coco is posh enough to have experience horseriding.

He covers his mouth with a hand, trying not to smirk just at Coco's ungraceful entrance to the truck. Nope, he's not laughing, and he's looking in another direction for reasons.

Finally, he decides to slide open the back window so he can keep up with the conversation inside the vehicle. "All settled back here. 'Sides, Hawks needs to be able to drive a truck if we're gonna be friends." What that has to do with anything, the Oklahoman isn't explaining. It's simply stated as a factual condition of his friendship.

Morgie hops off of Coco's lap to head over to Buck, apparently curious about the relative stranger, having had little opportunity to investigate while Buck had been driving. Perhaps he's just sensitive to the kindred animal spirit in the fighter.

"I'm sure my bottom has been through worse," Coco remarks to her bed companion as she lifts it up onto the raised hump over the back wheel on her side of the truck and stretches her arms across the side, grimacing only for a moment at the hot metal before relaxing somewhat. "And besides, a lady brings her own padding."

Remembering the sunglasses that have been hanging from the side strap of her bikini bottoms, she unfolds them and puts them onto her face.

"My face is fine, by the way, so please feel free to laugh as openly as you like next time."

She raises her voice to call through the window that Buck's opened.

"Yes, we've all got our affairs in order and life insurance sorted back here, so Lucky can start driving anytime he likes."

She turns her head at an angle to be ready for the expected wind resistance, her hidden gaze falling on the warehouse as she waits for the vehicle to move.

"Miss Han." Ichika correct Chevy, reflexively. "I mean... we're all agreed that's definitely her, right?"

Indeed, though Juri had made some vague effort at plausible deniability in the early stages of the competition, that has more or less been abandoned completely at this point. The bodysuit and helmet are something of a giveaway. #DefinitelyThatJuri has been trending ever since the footage got out there. There's probably not going to be any consequences.

The girl slumps against the side of the vehicle as Ariastra turns her efforts on herself; she doesn't want to be a distraction after all. But there's a sigh from her nevertheless.

"Anyway. Letting us go hardly excuses his behaviour. If he lived up to his words, he wouldn't have gotten in our way at all."

Her voice is raspy and hoarse after all the shouting, her body is a mass of pain, self-inflicted and not, and she feels like she could sleep for a week. But she's still not prepared to let it go.

"I managed to get you back to the hotel on the right side of the road didn't I?" Hawksley teases Chevy, before realising that whilst Coco is now in the bed, she may not be totally out of earshot since Buck has opened the window. She isn't in his good books right now but he doesn't want to be unnecessarily cruel.

"I'm serious about never having handled a truck before. I'll give it a go like most things in life though, especially now my friendship with Buck is on the line" he grins.

Prior to the Mustang, the only car he's driven is his Volkswagen Golf back in Ireland, which he sold to pay for his plane ticket to Southtown.

At Coco's cheeky comment, he starts the truck up, mangaging to get it going on his second attempt. He then turns on the radio, triggering the sound of Dream On by Aerosmith.

"The size takes some getting used to." Buck says, still twisted a little to the side to get a look inside the cabin. "Only problem is rememberin' the back of the truck is a lot longer than a car trunk."

"Wish it were a manual, though. They only had automatics in stock." That gomes with probably the most derisive snort Buck has ever produced in pleasant company.

He looks down as Morgie finally takes notice of him, and a grin forms on his face. He's something of an animal lover afterall, so with the ease of someon who spends most of their life around various beasties, he sticks out his hand for Morgie to take a sniff of as he makes some soft clicking noises with his tongue.

Once he's sure the binturong has had a good sniff, he reaches out to give him some scritches between the ears. "Sorry, bud, ain't got any treats on me."

Chevy may not have liked the kidnapping itself -- but she can't argue with the way it's brought the fighters together. For the moment -- she doesn't even mind her words being heard by Coco, however separated by the distance -- and eventually wind noise -- that might be. Coco's remarks... draw a bit more of a smirk from the farm girl, but as she had already received a rather potent lesson in talking back, she decides to give the momentary ceasefire a chance at success.

She nods along as Buck stakes friendship on Hawksley's driving ability. Truck driving -is- a pretty important skill on this side of the pond. "Fair enough, yeah..." she answers with raised hands, to both Hawksley's rejoinder. "I ain't got no complaints about that." She -could- have said something more, but... ceasefire!

She leans back to get a brief look at Ariastra, before turning to Ichika and, in some measure, the back window. ""I ain't never heard of 'Miss Han.' She supposed to be some kinda big deal?" She chuckles, faintly, adding with a look towards the window, "I jus' hope y'all popped her but good. We all need to be in good shape for Round Four..."

She frowns, thinking back. If Coco's biggest complaint was the lack of her phone, and she's not showing signs of injury, she wonders aloud, "... So what all did she even want, anyway?"

She quirks an eyebrow at Buck's addendum. "... Oh. Did he eat through all the grapes I got 'im too?"

Perhaps wisely, Buck doesn't comment on Coco's commentary, allowing peace to reign in the back of the pickup for a little longer. Morgie remains friendly and interested until it becomes clear that Buck a) is not a threat and b) doesn't have any food, at which point the bearcat starts foraging around in the truck bed for any other sources of snacks. Coco's handbag has already been thoroughly looted by the binturong, and Chevy's provisions have also been consumed, so it's not a particularly fruitful effort (no pun intended), and Captain Morgan eventually decides to conserve energy and flop on his back before rolling over and latching his claws into the bed when the truck starts to move.

The remark about getting Chevy back to the hotel does reach Coco's ears, and anyone looking at her face would probably notice her expression drawing a bit tighter in the setting sunlight.

She'd probably continue to brood/bask silently if it weren't for Chevy's interjection.

"Honestly, apparently, she was just bored or something and wanted to see what would happen. I guess she chose me because no one was looking out for me and she thought I'd have the boys coming running. Which, not wrong." There's a bit of a deadpan mix of smugness and haughtiness in her tone. "Even if you lot probably stopped for a McDonald's or something before you got there."


Ichika, perpetual fight nerd that she is, finds herself faced with the unenviable task of trying to sum up the legacy of one Juri Han. She makes a bit of a face just thinking about it. Obviously, the 'disguise' had been paper thin, but it had been nice to imagine that it might not be that particular monster in charge of one of the teams.

"... there's a lot of rumours." She says, lamely. "They say she's some sort of murderer for hire. I'd say 'assassin' but that, implies a level of professionalism." She coughs faintly and then groans, letting her face press into the cool glass of the window. That's nice. For a few seconds at least.

"... honestly, I'm surprised you were able to get away so lightly. You must be even stronger than I thought, Moore-san, Buck."

Hawksley seems to be doing a decent enough job of driving. As the strange septet travel through the rundown streets of Outer Sunshine it's a relatively smooth ride, bar a few bumps in the road and potholes, but this just goes with the territory of being in a run down area of the city.

"I'm used to a manual myself" he chatters. "Though the automatic feels a bit like easy mode."

"I didn't have a Big Mac but I might have had a couple of beers" the Irish brawler fires back to the smug sounding Coco. "Strictly medicinal of course."

He listens as Ichika relays the information about Juri. He'd known nothing of her history but he was very aware of her presence at the draft and even more so since he and Buck had faced off with her.

"We did alright" he admits. "Having Buck beside me helped a lot and I'm pretty sure she let us go at the end there. She probably could have finished us off if she'd had a mind to."

He doesn't verbalise the fear he'd felt as he looked into her face or the fact he could still feel where her foot had been right now. "I'm just glad we got Coco back. I honestly thought she might kill her."

"We needed some time to rest up, since two of us had just beaten each other bloody." Buck says as Coco mentions stopping for a burger. "Though we didn't get those post fight burgers." Which has Buck sounded immediately dejected. It's become a tradition for him afterall.

A soft snort that's likely carried away in the noise of the wind whipping by the truck comes from Buck. "He's being modest. He took most of the punishment in that fight, I was just a distraction."

He frowns and turns to look at the warehouse fading out of sight behind them. "Seems odd she just let us go though. Make me wonder what she's up to."

"There's some water bottles in the console, probably hot from being in the car, but they're there if anyone's thirsty."

Even in the truck bed, he's offering hospitality. Take that.

"Now, I ain't gonna split hairs on manual versus automatic. Y'all should know that when it comes to cars I only got the heart for one big decision." Chevy bears a self-aware grin at that.

As for the information Coco and Ichika provide, she seems to give the matter a fair bit of thought. But, as is her wont, she starts to talk herself through the process. "... So she's a murderer, mm-hmm... she was -real- interested in Genie, who can't fight...." She counts off one finger, then a second, "And she'd even brought in Daisuke, who also can't fight..."

Just as she counts off a third finger, she looks out the back window to Coco -- but before she can finish her thought, Hawksley mentions how glad he is that Coco's back. And Chevy's expression melts into a warm smile. "Yeah. Woulda been a shame if we didn't get us a proper rematch."

On Buck's mention of drinks, Chevy straightens up so that she's not blocking the console. "... Heh, did you break out the dragon on her? She was probably waitin' for that!"

"Like I already said," Coco says, having to shout to be heard over the combination of classic rock and the wind whipping past, "She wasn't planning on killing anyone. I think it was just a bit of fun, really. You know, for someone who's a bit bonkers."

There had been that one moment that had given Coco cause to call out, but she'd rather forget about that for now.

"I think if anything, it was her driving that came closest to doing me in." As the truck hits a pothole, the impact channels straight up from the wheel and into her backside, bumping her rump off the hump. Wincing and pulling a face as she lands again, she shouts up to the front, "Which was only slightly more lethal than yours, Lucky. Sure you should be driving after those medicinal beers? Or maybe you're a bit punch drunk."

Her tummy rumbles at the further discussion of burgers.

"I could murder a burger right now," she mutters loudly as she tries to steady herself against the next bump in the road, visibly less relaxed. "A vegan one, mind. Not actual murder."

If she's being honest, she wouldn't turn down a well-done beef burger either, if no one were watching, but with a truckful of company present, she has a rep to maintain.

"If you're implying there's a pattern there, by the way, I'm sure I can certainly fight."

Ariastra suddenly "awakes" with a jolt. "She should have, we should have, and manual all the way." She says out of the blue, answering a few things or others." Then she stretches, being mindful of Ichika in the back with her.

"I am hungry now. We need some victory food. My treat for anyone hungry right now."

She waits to see who's in. Hunger is not a fun feeling.

"Yes. Genie and Daisuke. Both of whom are impossible for me to read and wield strange, terrible power."

"Yes. Bouvier-san and Kubo-kun. Both of whom are impossible for me to read and wield strange, terrible power."



She's pulled from her considerations but the sudden jolt next to her and smacks her forehead into the window in her startled state. "G-gah... Sensei..." She whines, rubbing at her head. "I don't, think I should eat right now. I'm very nauseous." A moment's consideration and then, "Maybe some water? My throat is... very sore. I, should have kept my voice down, at least."

Yes. The shouting was definitely the main point of learning there.

Ichika says, "Note to self, change names above."

"Tomorrow" Hawksley assures Buck. "After we've picked up my car we can go to that place by the beach, The Daybreak Diner."
He says no more on the part each of the men played in the battle against Juri. Even if he was the one who took the brunt of the battering, he still felt safer having someone there to support him. As much emotionally as physically

"Or we can head there now if people are hungry. I can collect the Mustang afterwards and you can drive your truck back to the hotel" he suggests to Buck.

"I'm alright for the water though, fella. It might be hard to sup while I've got my hands on the wheel, unless someone fancies holding a straw for me." He's not actually serious about this suggestion but the thought amuses him.

Outer Sunshine starts to merge into Inner, the scenery somewhat more pleasant in this part of the city. Aerosmith switches to Springsteen, as the New Jersey rockstar sings about being 'Born To Run'.

"I reckon Genie can fight" he challenges Chevy. "Enough to beat Kenzo and Ichika and neither of them are pushovers. Daisuke I don't know about. Is he the lad you just went up against in the warehouse?"

Coco's review of his chauffeur skills has Hawksley puffing out his cheeks and giving her a sunny smile, though she may have to strain from where she's seated to see it. "I can handle my beers just fine, darling. Unlike you, who can't even handle your mocktails."

"Warned ya'." Buck says to Coco as they bounce over the pothole. For his part he somehow rides right through it without it even seeming to bother him. That happens when half your entertainment as a teen was the mechanical bull at the local eatery.

"Nah, the dragon hasn't been as useful as usual lately." He says, eyes darting towards Hawksley. "I did go Bambi's revenge on her though." He says, mood brightening with a mild chuckle.

"I'm good for food whenever. Tonight. Tomorrow. Both. Both." He repeats with a nod.

He does cacth Hawksley's comment to Coco, visibly wincing as that reaches his ears. That was his first introduction to Coco afterall, so the incident in the Southtown hotel is seared permanently into his brain. In fact his gaze slides towards Coco, almost curious to see how she's going to react to that taunt.

"You better believe there's a pattern. Ain't gettin' away from me that easy." Chevy grins back to the outer window as if a burden's been released from her.

... Though, while Chevy wasn't -especially- hungry before, once Ariastra wakes from her temporary torpor and weighs in on the topic, she starts to realize how hungry she could actually be. "... I could go for dang near anythin', to be honest."

She's still thinking about that when Hawksley brings up her snippy dismissal of Genie and Daisuke. "Hey, it ain't so much that they cain't tussle in the arena. It's just... I mean, I don't think I'm -wrong- to feel a bit offended 'bout gettin' laid out by what ain't much more than temper tantrums dressed up with a ton of glitter."

Chevy opens up the console and pulls out bottles of water for those who need them. She hands one to Ichika, and then unscrews the cap of a second for Hawksley. Much as she'd -love- the idea of holding a straw for him, she... well, can't find one. So she just holds the bottle where he can reach it.

"Well, I sure wouldn't mind goin'. But maybe you could just drop me and Ichika off at the hotel, if she ain't feelin' up to a face-full of fast food smells, yeah?"

Hawksley's remark about Coco not being able to handle her mocktails has the frosty female blushing ever-so-slightly back at him, an annoyed expression rising up behind her eyes as she takes off her shades in the dying light. After her encounter with Juri, she's started to think that there might be more to the mind-over-matter mocktail mystery; after all, she's sure she was at least psychologically inebriated all of those times that she apparently couldn't have been physically inebriated.

She summarizes her thoughts for Hawksley by making sure he can see her extended middle finger in the rear view mirror.

"If we're going to cast aspersions, you were the one buying every time I got plastered. Maybe young ladies shouldn't be accepting drinks off you, Lucky."

She's sure she was careful enough not to let Hawksley slip her anything, and would certainly have serious reason not to think that he'd try to take advantage in that way, but she's not above a low blow.

"Anyways, I vote for food now. Everybody's hungry, aren't we?"

Ariastra ponders. "I mean, we could all eat there at the hotel, in the restaurant." She doesn't care what food. She's polyvalent. She's just hungry. "But making sure Ichika is safe in this case is important." She would teleport with Ichika to the hotel, but she knows it wouldn't help her nausea one bit so she doesn't offer that.

Why also does she not offer to give even more healing? She has her reasons, and it was not requested either. So she keeps that quiet. If someone wants to ask, sure, she will answer then. For now, she's just happy everyone is conscious, at least. Or maybe five on six. That's still good going a good percentage.

She rubs her head at the teenage Drama but does not intervene. At least not yet.

"It's not that they can't fight, Moore-san." Ichika says, after taking the water and carefully taking a few sips. The warm liquid doesn't do much for her voice but, it does let her wash some of the blood out of her mouth. That's, good? "It's that they don't know how to. It's, different, for them. In some ways, similar to me, but, also... not..."

She's not making much sense. These are difficult concepts she's struggling to get her head around. She feels she's on the right lines; but there's also something far more important than musing on the inner mysteries of the fighting universe right now. Namely, her best friend's love life is at jeopardy because she got herself hurt.

"I'll be, fine." She says, hurriedly. "Maybe I even should eat something." She twists her head around a bit so she can shoot Coco her own dirty look through the back window of the truck. 'Everybody's hungry', eh? Hmph.

"Besides. After everything you two have been through, I'd feel terrible getting in the way of your first proper date. We SHOULD celebrate that, if nothing else."

Buck is nodding eagerly at the suggestion of the hotel. Not because they have good food, though they certainly do. He's just not eager to be alone in a fast food restraunt between Coco and Hawksley with only Ariastra to referee. He wants his teammates near by.

In fact, when Ichika changes her tune, there's a grateful look from Buck that doesn't need words.

He may be a little oblivious to some things, but he knows when a storm is brewing. And speaking of, his look from Ichika goes from one of beatific grace to a quick flash of horror.

Maybe she didn't hear that.

Slowly his gaze slides over to Coco. Maybe he can distract her with. "So where did you get Morgie?" Maybe. He hopes.

"It felt pretty useful when you were breathing your fire on me" Hawksley reminds Buck, recalling the heat of the flames on his face.

Chevy's response has him laughing loudly. "Well I'll be looking forward to the glitter when I get to fight them, so I will. I'll be even more like a Lucky Charm."

He dips his dark head down to drink from the open bottle as best he can. Until the water hit the inside of his mouth, he hadn't realised just how much of a thirst he'd built up. "Thanks, Chevy. That's grand." He goes back in for a second gulp but decides against a third when he feels the truck swerve slightly.

Checking the mirror for any vehicles behind them, he's just in time to see Coco's raised middle finger, saluting him as he's done to her on at least a couple of occasions. The words she uses to wield as a weapon to follow earn her a disbelieving look.

"You seriously think I spiked you, Coco Pops?" he scoffs. "To what purpose? Do I need to remind you that I turned down your advances because I thought you were drunk?"

The Irishman is interested in what Ichika has to say. He's not really following what she means however, so he furrows his brow slightly as he tries to figure it out. Maybe his mind would have stayed on this matter if the schoolgirl hadn't started to discuss something else.

At her words, his brown eyes shift to Chevy, trying to judge her expression. If he could he'd lift them both out of the truck and speak to her in private before he makes any response. Life rarely awards these luxuries however, so he's just got to react as best he can in the moment, whilst keeping control of a moving truck.

"What kind of a date would that be with you bunch of eejits with us?" he jests, keeping his tone jovial.

Sure, Chevy may have gotten knocked out by Daisuke -- and her body had even gotten slung around a bit while Ichika was trying to punch holes through him. But between the short nap, Ariastra's healing, and the cessation of barbed words from Coco, she was feeling pretty well, considering!

But... then Coco starts to talk over Ichika as if she didn't exist.
And Ariastra suggests another round of hotel food, which Chevy is kind of tired of.
And then Ichika bristles at Coco's remark -- but kind of defuses it!
And then Ichika makes a perfectly innocuous comment.
That reminds Chevy that she didn't get time to tell the -whole- truth of the matter.

Chevy would tug at her collar. But she'd never exactly remembered to put her shirt back on. Her shoulders are still sunburned from the day before -- but they've got nothing on the redness in her cheeks as she looks back -- first to Hawksley, then to Ichika.

"Y-yeah!" She smiles -- then realizes that the Irish brogue may come across a little harsh to someone more used to... proper decorum. She makes a point of keeping her blue eyes fixated on Ichika, and not straying -even an inch- towards that rear window.

"... I mean, dates are usually a special time for just *two* people, Ichika."

And she quietly, -quietly- raises her two index fingers in an 'X' pattern.

"I'm all for celebrating winning Coco's freedom, though!"

She smiles. Very tensely. And with -very- red cheeks.

Despite Buck's quick thinking, distraction usually only works while the offending event is ongoing. Coco certainly heard Ichika's 'first proper date' comment, which only serves to awaken the resident bee in Coco's bikini bottoms. She barely notices Buck's interjection as her eyes move toward the cabin and narrow before she turns back to glare at the retreating road behind the truck so that the passengers in front can't catch the naked fury in her features.

"No, obviously, I don't, Lucky, but there's clearly no way that I would have made any advances for you to reject while in my right mind," she shouts over the din of driving, only partially turning her head so that there's a chance her words will reach the cabin. She pointedly ignores any other conversation going on up front. Except for the part where Hawksley isn't denying what Ichika said. She's caught that part.

"I reckon Morgie's more interested in speaking his mind on the matter than I am at the moment," Coco says frostily to Buck without making eye contact.

Then, to the front again, she calls, "Pull over at the next bus stop, Lucky. I can make my way home from there."

Ariastra feels like this might be becoming Sunshine City 90210 with all the potential early adult/teen drama trying to become adults. Buck is trying to diffuse the situation, but there is no wrath like heartache teens. It's just messy.

So she waits for the explosion that she expects to come. But whatever Coco is feeling she's mostly keeping it inside for now. Though she could expect Hawksley to not want to drop her at the bus and then everything could explode again. She also wants food. Perhaps now everyone else in the car doesn't care anymore about what might happen. But she need that. But she stays quiet. She needs to be ready if the situation does explode. "It might be best to do as Coco requests." She simply says. Maybe an explosion didn't have to happen in the truck.

"... eeeee geets?"

Ichika repeats, and butchers, the word quite badly as she tries to make sense of it. That, it seems, is the thing that she latches on to more than anything else as she swishes more water around her mouth and swallows. Then she produces a handkerchief and, slowly, with effort, begins to clean the dried blood off her face. That does help her feel better physically at least.

"... oh, right. Sorry. I suppose, that makes sense." She says, as she tries to puzzle out what Chevy is doing with her hands. None of this makes an awful lot of sense to her right now, but she does understand dates ARE normally just for the couple, or pair of couples. That is something she can get her head around.

She opens her mouth to continue, then coughs, and Ariastra speaks up in the interim. She hesitates. It seems very odd to her that Coco would go from insisting on food to demanding an immediate exit. But she doesn't want to gainsay her Sensei.

"Someone should go with you." She says, hesitantly. "I think we must be careful doing anything alone any more. I'd offer, but..." Does she really need to say it? Right now she's useless. She'll be lucky if she's fighting fit for the next round, let alone fending off any kidnappers who want to try for a round two.

"Yeah. Surely we can all celebrate Coco's freedom" Hawksley says drolly.

There's a brief glance to the blushing Chevy before he's focusing his attention, if not his eyes, back on the Brit. "Whatever you say, cailin" he responds calmly, his tone suddenly sounding tired.

"I won't be pulling over anywhere by the way. We're not rescuing you from that godforsaken Frost building just to have someone bother you at a bus stop instead. Not to mention you're dressed in a fecking bikini. We're going for burgers and then you're coming back to the dojo with me" the Irishman insists.

Chevy smiles peacefully at Ichika. She resolves to explain 'eejit' some other time. ... And to Ariastra, she... offers a brief smile. And would -love- to leave Coco somewhere -- but knows that ultimately, it doesn't _feel_ right. Thank goodness Buck seems to be good with just about anything.

But... hearing Coco drop another tentative ultimatum causes her grip on the backrest of the seat to tighten. Only for it to relax, once she hears how Hawksley deftly defuses the situation.

She turns to face the back window. And in a clear voice, she pleads.

"Please come with us, Coco."

She draws in her breath, the color fading from her cheeks.

"We've had our differences. If you wanna spit fire at me, you feel free to keep on doin' you -- I done earned it. But if you ain't gonna come because I'm askin,' come because Hawksley is. I won't get in your way tonight. I promise."

Chevy looks down at the back of the seat for a moment, before lifting her eyes up. She coughs out a little laugh. "Besides, this little spat's doin' huge numbers on socials. So can you accept my thanks for -that-, at least?"

The residents of the inner cabin seem to be perfectly split with regards to Coco's renewed resolve to make her own way onward. Ariastra and Ichika seem to be willing to accept her request, while Hawksley, as the driver, is aiming to veto her request, and Chevy, perhaps surprisingly, is actually pleading with her to stay.

Buck will be able to see the expression on Coco's face tightening angrily at Hawksley's remarks. Evidently, she doesn't appreciate Hawksley's version of events to come. Perhaps she doesn't like being told what she's going to do.

But Chevy's words have an unusual effect on Coco's features. Her face goes almost expressionless, the anger fading to a blank stare toward the horizon behind. There's a lot more that hasn't been said about the situation than has, and that leaves Coco to consider what isn't being said before coming to a conclusion.

The purple-haired girl's skin is growing pale and covered in goosebumps for having been exposed to the elements for so long by now, even in Sunshine City. She finally turns her eyes ahead, not to meet the eyes of any of the cabin's occupants, but beyond them.

And when she sees a traffic light ahead shifting colours and feels the truck slowing beneath her, she makes a clicking sound with her tongue, prompting Morgie to stop what he's doing and hop up on her shoulder.

She makes eye contact with Buck and says in a low voice, "Don't stop me."

Then, taking her handbag and slinging it over her shoulder as the truck pulls to a stop, she swings her hips around and takes hold of the side wall of the bed, lifting up a leg as she prepares to simply jump out of the vehicle, a flash of her fair backside the last to be seen of her unless Buck - or someone else in a position to do so - decides to intervene.

So most people want her to stay. Ichika just doesn't want her alone. Ariastra takes the time to think about it. She will have to intervene somewhat, before it takes bigger proportions.

Then the truck slows down at a light. She can't blame Hawksley for respecting the driving laws. But as she looks back, she sees Coco trying to leave that way. She expected that. She sighs. Time to do some adulting. So she undoes the seatbelt and gets out to talk to Coco

She looks at Coco. "Stay for the food. Or leave now, but then I will have to come with you. You won't have food. I won't have food. Besides you won't enjoy my company. It just would be a mess all around.

After a pause. "We all have something in common though. We don't want Juri to kidnap you again. I mean, you don't want that either yeah? If nothing else, if you leave all alone and you get taken again, Mister Morgan gets all alone in the city. So what will it be? You stay with us, or I am going with you?

Buck is a middle child. Meaning he's perfectly used to conflict between young adults and teens. And he decides to ride out the storm in his usual way. Avoidance.

Picking up his hat from where it lays in the bed next to him, he plops it on his head and then slowly pulls the brim down until it hides most of his face, except the slight frown on his features that only Coco would be able to see.

Nothing to see here. He just lets the back and forth wash over him. Though all the mention of food has his stomach grumbling. He's always starving after a fight.

When Coco addresses him he sticks a finger under the brim of the hat and pushes it up just enough to fix brown eyes on Coco. "I ain't about to stop someone who has her mind fixed. But how about I just offer to close this window," He says with a jerk of his thumb to the open back window, "And you and me ride in quiet?"

He does turn his head enough to fix one eye on Ariastra, then nods at Coco as if to say, 'She'll do it, too.'

Ichika is very confused.

She didn't understand why Chevy was making strange motions with her fingers. She doesn't understand why she's backtracking and cedeing so much ground to Coco. She's far from an expert in romance, but she could apply the basic lessons of fighting to this; Chevy had the momentum behind her to keep the pressure on and finish things. Why relent now?


Her head hits the window again. "I think... I just need, to close my eyes for a moment." She decides, "Sensei, if you go with her, try to keep all her blood, on the inside?"

Chevy's appeal for Coco to stay catches the Cork City man by surprise. He's impressed with the way she's trying to coax his teammate to cooperate. The mention of the drama that's been caused by the craziness of late, resulting in much online chatter about the conflict has him chuckling too. There's no denying that.

It seems that Coco is not in the mood to be persuaded however. As she makes her bid for freedom, along with her trusty ally Captain Morgan, Hawksley is in no position to stop her. It seems as if it's going to be down to Ariastra if anyone does.

"Catch you later then Coco" he calls into the Sunshine City evening. "Don't expect me to come to rescue you again."

There's only so much battling the brawler can take for one day.

For a moment there, Chevy held out hope that the blank expression on Coco's face was, in fact, acceptance. Maybe cold chills were responsible for the goosebumps, but... acceptance that Hawksley's suggestion was a good one, and that Team Thunder would in fact love to treat her to dinner of some sort. Wasn't everyone hungry now, at least in a nominal let's-play-along sense? Wasn't everyone ready to move on from these stressful 36 hours, and just... chow down on a burger and/or vegan equivalent?

But then, a look beyond, a move taken; exit the posh princess.

Chevy shuts her eyes, drawing in her breath. She can hear Buck talking -- and she can hear the door open up for Ariastra to add in her two cents. She smiles -- however faintly -- at Ichika's optimistic plea for mercy.

But with Hawksley's words, Chevy just pulls away from the back seat. She rests her head lightly against the passenger-side window, unfocused eyes staring off into the distance.

And she lets out a sigh, as quietly as she can.

"I tried," she whispers, her voice raspy with exhaustion. "I really did."

Landing on her feet, Coco gives a wave-off to Ariastra as the ageless warrior insists that she's going to accompany her. She casts a sidelong look over her shoulder as she's walking.

"You're good at healing, right? Who's the only one here who has absolutely no need for a healer? I'm not going to get caught off-guard again, and I'm bloody certain Juri is not interested in another round of kidnapping me. We did it once. It was really boring for both of us. I will be seeing you lot whenever Blaze and Thunder get another go at each other. Now, please, piss off and let me be about my business, before you start to look pathetic."

Her eyes find Buck, and her eyes soften as she gives him a little shrug of her shoulder in acknowledgement.

"And I don't intend to require rescuing anytime soon, Lucky, so you can go on and enjoy your date."

She's already located the number that she's looking for and dialed it in.

"Hello, taxi? Hi! I need a pick-up from Coleman and DeLisle."

Ariastra sighs. *I warned you, babe. Buck warned you. Ichika sort of warned you... And I am hungry. Don't let an immortal go hungry." She started jogging as she talks.

Ariastra gets to Coco as she does her call, and grabs her arm. "I told you, you're not going at all." Then they are gone from the street. God knows where, and no eyewitnesses to see what is going to happen.

Ichika keeps her eyes closed as things continue to spiral around her. Her hair has perked up at some point in all this at least; ahoge back in full swing even if everything else in her is still roiling between nausea and pain. Ngh. She really doesn't want to do this; the very thought of even looking at one of those grease-soaked monstrosities right now makes her stomach lurch. But. She has to push through.

"I'm sorry things have become so troublesome." Is what she settles on, still not sure she really gets why. Or what her friend's plan is. Or much of anything about this, but she can at least identify that they are 'troublesome'.

"We should, try to focus on the good. We didn't, hesitate, in a crisis. Everyone came out, in one piece. Everything else, can be addressed, later."

She can feel the tantalising prospect of sleep at the edge of her mind. It's not as good as unconsciousness... but the siren call is still so hard to resist when staying awake hurts so much.

Despite his defiant words, Hawksley is sorry to see Coco go. Ever since before his fight with Buck at the beach he's been wanting to speak to her alone and now his chance has slipped away. He can't decide if he's furious at her or feels sorry for her. Probably both.

"It isn't a date" he finally manages to say, but it's likely it's too late for her to catch the man she calls Lucky's words.

He takes one last look at where she was standing on the street, only to see that Ariastra has somehow slipped out of the car and is with Coco. Within a split second the two women have vanished into thin air, just as the lights turn green.

"That actually happened didn't it?" he checks, as the song on the radio changes to Hotel California by The Eagles. "Either Coco and Ariastra vanished or I'm starting to hallucinate from hunger."

With Ichika's words of wisdom ringing in his ears, he drives onwards to The Daybreak Diner, in search of food for the party of survivors and perhaps, if they are fortunate, finally some much needed rest before whatever they have to face next.

Log created on 13:45:30 07/26/2023 by Ichika, and last modified on 20:00:49 07/29/2023.