2014-02-03 - Ohtori Scholarship Students, Unite!
|Ohtori Scholarship Students, Unite!|
A moment's peace and quiet at the diner, between rushes of customers. A time for a customer and waitress to meet, talk, and find points of commonality.
Yamanote High City - Linden Baum Diner
| OOC - IC Date:|
02/03/2014 - 11/26/2013
Four thirty PM.
In most cultures, this was a 'dead' period for food service. While some people would inevitable trickle in, it was between the lunch rush, and the evening rush. Even the majority of the students from the Go Home Early club at Ohtori had already trickled in and left, with gaggles of their friends in tow.
Which left only the occasional lone individual. That's what Eri Shimanouchi was today. The diner was so empty right now, that she wasn't even greeted at the door, but vaguely told to grab a menu and have a seat wherever by one of the greeters in a plum and pink vest with a bow tie chatting idly with the wait staff.
Settling down at a booth, she took out some of her schoolbooks, setting them down in front of her, and turning to a particular page in her biology book. Then she brought out a notebook, and started making notations as she read throughout the notes. Despite being in an Ohtori uniform, she had a sort of shy demeanor about her, not rife with the same arrogance as was typical amongst the sea of the glamorous and wealthy.
Every so often however, she'd place her hand beneath the booth, and her ring would transmogrify into an egg shaped gem glowing dark green, complete with golden adornments. She would glance at it for a few seconds, before transforming it back. Those who were attuned to the supernatural world however, might feel a faint electrical tingle every time she did this.
Minor disasters are, of course, to be expected in food service - and Mai has just finished dealing with one. The after-school rush over, the evening rush not yet begun - enough of a lull in the diner for her to get some much-needed cleaning done. (The cause: a long story involving a love affair turned sour, an extra-large pineapple ice cream float, and a package of pop rocks.)
There's enough time for her to breathe a lungful of air not tainted by either cleaning fumes or the smell of pineapple - and then there's a jolt in the air that has some part of her looking for something to burn. Fortunately, she's not Mikoto, or she'd already be actively looking for an enemy instead of just a bit on edge.
Still, she takes a look around the diner, just in case there's an Orphan possessing the coffee machine or something. Nothing quite so overt strikes her - but she does spy one occupied booth that the waitstaff seem to be ignoring. The sad thing is that Midori was at least an extra set of eyes when she was working here.
Well, this is her job, and she should get it done. The girl seems to have a menu, so Mai simply has to take off her cleaning gloves, pull the notepad from her pocket, and head on over. "We're very sorry about the wait. Can I get you anything?"
...the strange feeling just got stronger. Hm.
Eri was a die hard romantic, but even she wouldn't have been able to stop giggling at a love-fueled disaster caused by that chain of events and assortment of items. It would be like something right out of her Otome dating sims. Fortunately in this case, she'd just missed it.
Looking up from her notes, she smiles in a slightly demure manner at the approaching waitress, "Oh there's no need to apologize. I'm in no hurry, and I wasn't waiting for long. I'll just have some water and tempura donburi."
Surreptitiously the gem changes back into a ring on her left hand under the table, as she places her left hand on top of the table, where it picks up the menu and hands it over. And then she appears to do a slight double take as she gets a closer look up at Mai, "Oh. Have we seen each other somewhere before? You look familiar..." Closing up her notes, she appears to be thinking on the subject, before her eyes light up with recognition, "Oh! I think I saw you at the auction with Sugiura-sensei. Do you go to Ohtori Academy?" Thankfully Recognition Inhibition is a thing, so she can't really associate Mai with anyone who took part in the battle.
Mai makes a quick note in shorthand - as long as she can recite it later to the cook, what she actually writes doesn't matter too much. She gives a brief curtsey acknowledging the request, and has a broad smile on her face. "Tempura donburi, and I'll have the water shortly...
...and then the girl mentions the auction, and Mai goes still for a moment. But there's no implication of flames and chaos, so maybe she got away with things. As soon as it came, the stiffness largely dissipates, and she nods after a moment. "I'm in the first year of high school there, yes. I'm sorry, I don't remember seeing too many people there - things got kind of crazy."
Mai's about to say more, but then seems to remember what she's doing. "Just one moment while I get your drink - I'll be right back, there's not much else going on today." It's a moment's work to put in the tempura order and collect a glass of water, but it's a moment to catch a breath. Okay, new girl, friendlier than that councilwoman, doesn't seem to know about fire and swords...she returns to the table in high spirits.
Eri definitely had memories of fire and chaos, but none she could connect to anyone there. Recognition Inhibition was funny like that. Waiting until Mai comes back and sets the water down in front of her, Eri kind of demures a little again, "Oh well I wouldn't expect you to remember me. I never feel like I fit in at formal affairs like that, I rarely ever get invited to them..." ...she technically wasn't invited to that one either, but she wasn't lying either by saying what she did, "...so I was just kind of standing in the back for most of it, until it got crazy that is. My name is Eri Shimanouchi by the way, second year middle school. May I have the pleasure of your acquaintance senpai?"
Tilting her head curiously, she looks around the restaurant, "It looks like I came in at an odd hour. Would you like to sit down? I imagine this kind of work is hard on your feet, and I think I'm the only one you're serving right now."
Again her hand slides beneath the table, and that faint tingle of magic returns. It wasn't perhaps the wisest move to keep doing that, but Eri regarded it as her job to keep monitoring for witch and familiar activity, and would feel remiss if she didn't at least make an attempt.
Mai glances to the manager, questioning - but he seems to be busy doing some books, and waving absently. The restaurant's other on-duty waitress, Akane or something, is chatting with the cook...things seem calm enough that she could sit for a few minutes. Still, no sense in being completely out of commission - she pulls a chair over to the booth so she can get back to work in a hurry.
"I'm Mai Tokiha - a pleasure to meet you. And I'll take you up on that offer, I've been kept busy cleaning up after the last few customers." She takes her seat with a sigh of relief. "I just dropped in, myself - I was in the area and it was open to the public. Sugiura-sensei caught me within a minute of entering, though."
Mai manages to avoid visibly facepalming at the thought of her teacher...who she's been avoiding for the last couple of days for the sake of dodging an awkward question. Still, the awkwardness is visible on her face. "I honestly feel rather out of place at Ohtori - I transferred in, long story."
Mai's arm is tingling each time there's that sense of magic. Something's going on...but it's not necessarily an Orphan. Not her duty yet, and she's got a shift to finish. Plus, leaving a conversation without cause is rude, right?
"It's very nice to meet you Tokiha-senpai." There's a palapable pause as she regards her with a searching look, "Oh, did they make a mess? That was very thoughtless of them. I always try to clean up if I make one, it shouldn't be the wait staff's job if it was my mistake."
There's a slight sweatdrop on her forehead as Mai describes Midori's tendency to 'catch' people. She's had that happen to her before. "Yeah.." A nervous chuckle, as she puts one hand to the back of her neck, "Sugiura-sensei is.. kind of good at doing that..." ...and totally 'in' on Eri's secret as well, to the point where Eri had turned in the history of another world to her as an extra credit assignment.
However that nervousness fades away as Mai relates her troubles at Ohtori, Eri takes a sip of water, swallowing it, before smiling her way again, "I understand. It's.. well.. it's not a very kind place to people like us. The people there can be very cruel. My family isn't rich, so we wouldn't even be able to afford me going there if I weren't on scholarship. I transferred in from Juuban three years ago after I earned it and well.. a lot of people take the oppurtunity to make me feel like I'm not welcome."
Eri takes a glance at her lap, to see that her soul gem isn't blinking, then puts it away yet again, her hand taking it's place on the table again. "I hope people are tipping well today."
"In this case, I can kind of understand why they didn't stay to clean it up." Mai rubs the back of her head - but happily turns the topic of conversation away from the other customers. A waitress's pride, after all, will not let her ruin even troublesome customers' privacy lightly!
...given a good excuse, she might keep talking, but...
Mai has to chuckle nervously at the topic of Sugiura-sensei, and that's also a topic to be dodged. The nervousness turns to sympathy at Eri's own troubles, and she winces, frowning. "I only transferred in this year - Juuban as well, as it happens - and I've seen that. I met a member of the student council the other day who seemed to regard scholarship students as something to be scraped off of shoes."
The girl's hand keeps disappearing - is she checking for text messages on her phone? "Today...not that great. It's been pretty quiet overall, and that last couple barely remembered to pay, let alone tip." She shrugs one shoulder, not showing any frustration. "It happens. I hope I'm not imposing - are you waiting for a message from a friend or something?"
Another sip of water, Eri certainly looks curious, but she doesn't press her on the subject. People were entitled to privacy in her opinion. She certainly had a private life that she didn't spread everywhere.
However the Student Council comment puts her on edge, as her gaze take on a slightly sharp look, "Which one? Please tell me noone did anything improper. I know several members of the Student Council. Not all of them are... nice people.."
While one of the most telling habits of a teenage girl was to spend an egregious amount of time on her cell phone, texting, this certainly wasn't the case. "Oh um! No you're not imposing at all. And no I'm not waiting on anyone at all. I just need to keep checking on something for a side job, that's all." She sounds a little nervous herself at that point. So instead she turns it back to the tips, "Well I'm very sorry to hear that. I'll try to leave what I can." Which wasn't all that much, given that she lived on a food allowance, but she made a mental note to give a little extra and just to suffer elsewhere for a while. "So are you into any clubs, or sports over at Ohtori Academy, Tokiha-senpai? Do you live in the dorms?"
A dark look crosses Mai's face - the Council does what, now? "Aside from not quite insulting me - no, Itazura-sempai didn't do anything." A pause. "I think I'll continue avoiding the entire Council at this rate." It sounds like Sei might be among the best of them...and that alone is terrifying.
Oh, Takumi, never go into politics...
Mai, to Eri's possible relief, just nods. "A side job? I fully understand. Keep me in mind if they have an opening and pay well, though." There's at least one evening free per week, still. A bit more work, a bit sooner to getting that goal accomplished. Right?
"Don't worry about it. The pay here is decent enough, and I'd feel guilty taking extra from someone in a similar boat." Mai gives her kouhai a smile. "I'm a bit busy for any of the clubs - and I'm in the dorms, yes. My roommate has a bad habit of leaving through the window, so if you've ever spotted her acting like a cat you'll know where I am."
Eri once witnessed something that one of the Council members did in the past, but she doesn't bring it up unless sorely pressed. Noone believes the girl with no wealth or status, and all it does is bring trouble. And she knew a few council members who weren't so terrible. In fact at least two were quite pleasant. Eri's expression takes on a bland look, "I see, Itazura-senpai is like that. She once asked me to come work for the Student Council, but I don't think I'll be taking her up on that offer. Unfortunately you're in high school, so you're probably past dealing with the middle school student council or the Guardians, they're far more pleasant." Adjusting her glasses by putting a hand on the bridge. She breathes out a sigh, then takes another sip of water.
Eri blinks at Mai's offer, and while she could easily ward it off, she's nothing if not honest, and states bluntly, "....It doesn't pay well. All of the pay is sort of.. up front. I don't think its the kind of job you'd want, Tokiha-senpai. Its sort of more.. my duty, I suppose."
There's another sort of mental sweatdrop however at the final statements, as Eri just sort of leans forward and whispers surreptitiously, "Is it the same girl who carries around the two-handed sword?" ...she didn't pay attention to gossip, but it was hard /not/ to hear all about that. A student carrying a weapon on campus that wasn't in the Kendo or Fencing clubs. But before Mai could answer, she continues, "She sounds like a handful, but the two of you must be really good friends. It's always good to have someone like that at your back."
Mai can only nod emphatically at the discussion of the Council. "I suppose I should just be thankful they're not worse. At least my brother will be better off - Takumi, he's in the first year of middle school." Mai's keeping an eye on Eri's glass, and also on the kitchen - doesn't look like the food's done just yet. What's-his-name, the student working in the kitchen, seems to have been caught up in conversation. Hopefully nothing's burning.
Mai listens to the description of the job. Disappointment at the description of the pay - and then Eri describes it as her duty, and Mai gives the younger girl a long look. Staring for a bit, even, before simply nodding as the conversation moves on.
"...that would be her, yes. We met...the night before I came to Ohtori, actually." Mai has a bit of a sweatdrop on her own brow, and she rubs the back of her head. "I apologize in advance for whatever trouble she might cause, I'm trying to get her to not attack people out of the blue." A smile is on her face, despite whatever frustration is in her voice. "She's like a stray cat, but she's a good friend."
Eri nods just as emphatically, then quirks an eyebrow, "Oh? I'll keep an eye out for him, just in case. I bet he's glad to have his older sister going to school with him. Though sometimes siblings are stubborn not to admit that. I used to go to Juuban with my Onee-san.. and well... we didn't get along well, but it was always nice to know she was there." Thankfully, Eri's sips were small, so the glass was barely only reaching the half-empty state. She seemed oblivious to the short order cook's socializing at work. Fortunately it was hard to ruin fried food!
The long stare is met with a blank one from Eri, but Eri doesn't read into the silence, simply moving on as Mai does. "Oh don't worry, you don't have to apologize for someone else. If she attacked me well.. I can take care of myself. But I do think I'd like to meet her.. I don't tend to make judgements about people based on unusual behavior. Most people think I'm pretty eccentric myself. And if she's like a stray cat, then maybe all she needs to know is that there are people looking at for her."
Mai smiles. "Thanks. It would be nice to watch out for him more, but our schedules are...mismatched these days." It couldn't be that Takumi's avoiding an overbearing sister, right? Another glance to the kitchen - well, no clouds of smoke, so there's that. Just slow getting started, and seriously that kid's paying more attention to the other waitress than to his job. Grumble.
Eri doesn't want to discuss her duty, and Mai will drop it. She won't offer to help, because she herself wouldn't take it - so she'll just be friendly however else she can. With that said... "Well, I'm responsible for her, so I kind of do have to. Still, if you want to meet - like I mentioned, we're in the dorms and it can't be too hard to find where I am. Drop by some evening, I'll make supper." She's cheerful at the prospect - food brings the world together!
"In all honesty, I'm not sure how well either of us are doing at making friends - so it's nice to meet you, Shimanouchi-san." Mai smiles brightly, and looks at the kitchen - ah, the plate's up. She stands to attend to her duty. "One moment, I'll get you your food." You paged Eri Shimanouchi and Midori Sugiura with 'There is no hope, no salvation. Plan omega, burn everything. KAGUTSUCHI!'
"I know how that is. I hardly see my family anymore with how busy I am." Between school, club activities and... Puella Magi stuff. But it was the burden she took upon to save the person that was most important to her, so she doesn't begrudge it at all. "...I'll see what I can do. Is he in any clubs himself? I don't suppose he likes gardening?"
Eri definitely looks surprised, but smiles at Mai, "I think I'd like that. Let's exchange numbers, I'll let you know when I can make it so I don't take you by surprise." Fishing out her cell phone, she puts it up on the table. "Taking responsibility for other people... very thoughtful of you. But she's not family, it sounds like. You two must be /really/ close." There's no insinuation in that other than really close friends though, nothing coy in her tone.
Tapping through her phone, she says, "Well, neither was I... I was kind of well.. like the designated wallflower of Ohtori. I didn't really have any friends, nor did I relate to people very well.. I still don't. A couple months ago I guess I just decided that life was too short, you know? That I really ought to get out there and meet people, because you never know what could happen at any time." Mai goes to get her food, and she nods her way, "Oh alright! Thank you very much Tokiha-senpai."
It's not even a minute before Mai returns with Eri's stir-fry - fresh off the grill, still steaming hot. Still, it's enough time for Eri to take out her phone - and with Mai's back turned, she didn't see the younger girl fishing for it. No clue that Eri wasn't checking it earlier. "Sure, one moment."
Mai digs out her own phone once the plate has been set down before Eri, and chopsticks helpfully provided. She talks as she thumbs to the contacts section, sparse as it is...she should get Mikoto a phone, shouldn't she? Though it's a tight pinch as it is... "Takumi? I've barely had a chance to catch up with him - though I know he's popular with some students." Including some in her grade. Grr.
"Not family, no - it's kind of a bizarre story. But...we're close, yes." Mai's hand twitches, but it doesn't reach to her lips because CPR does not count as a first kiss, dangit. "Aside from her, though...I haven't had the time to get to know too many other people. I started chatting with Sugiura-sensei when she was walking here, and I've had some conversations with students in my class, but..."
There's a short awkward silence.
Mai clears her throat. "So, it falls to us to team up, right? Former Juuban students on scholarships with part-time jobs and all that - plenty in common." She grins, and gives her number.
"Thank you very much, Tokiha-senpai." Folding her hands together, she bows her head, "Itadakimasu!" And then she starts eating idly with the click and clatter of chopsticks, never talking with her mouth full as she works at the vegetarian meal, but still making good conversation. She thumbs in Mai's number in the address book, before showing her hers.
"Popular?" Eri gives her an inquisitive look, "Is he already dating?" There's no judgement in her tone, but some part of her feels a little twinge of jealousy, that she buries just as deeply the moment she feels it. She'd never been out on a date, but she didn't like the feeling of jealousy. She preferred to think well of people who managed to find happiness in their lives, "...well if he's ever interested in the swim team or gardening club I can get him started."
No that definitely didn't count. Eri didn't count her first kiss either because well... it was unexpected and unwelcome. "Well I'm glad you have a friend like that. I'm actually kind of jealous. I don't really have that sort of closeneess with anyone outside of my family. And yeah.. I know how it is. I'm busy /all/ the time, and don't have too many friends from my class either. Most of them don't even attend Ohtori! I'll see if I can't introduce you to a few of my friends that are about your age. I think you'll get along famously with them." Then laughing awkwardly she states, "Ah yeah, Sugiura-sensei is a character. She's sort of... as fickle and chaotic as the wind sometimes. You never know which way she'll blow!"
Grinning at her, she holds up one piece of Tempura with her chopsticks, "You bet! You can count on me Tokiha-senpai. People like us have to stick together to survive in a place like Ohtori Academy."
Okay, that's a scary thought. Takumi, dating? Mai thumbs in Eri's number while considering her reply. "As far as I know, he's not dating...but all that really means is he's not telling his big sister about any girlfriends." She shrugs. "Though I think - " Hope, really. " - that he has other priorities at the moment. I'll ask him about the gardening club, though - thanks."
Mai can only nod sadly at Eri's woes. "I've had to skip far too many get-togethers, all things considered...thanks, though. If you ever drop by I'll introduce you to Mikoto as a friend."
As for Midori... "Sugiura-sensei certainly is a character. She was fun to work with when here, but could be overbearing - hopefully the rest of the class doesn't just see her as a battle-ax." Probably shouldn't have let that slip out, but it's not like anyone would guess at things from that, right? Mai just grins back before glancing to the clock. Later than she thought, the chef really was slacking. "I'll look forward to it. ...with that said, I should probably make sure all the tables are clean before the supper rush hits."
"Ah. I'm the youngest in my family, so I'd kind of be in his boat if I ever started. My older brother is in the university, and my Father is JSDF.. they'd be kind of super overprotective about that sort of thing." Putting her phone away once she has Mai's in the address book, "...but you know, as annoying as that can be sometimes, it's always good to know someone cares." She manages a wide smile as she looks Mai's way, "...so no matter what he does or hides from you, I bet he still appreciates you."
"Small get-togethers with friends are usually the best anyhow." Eri waves it off, grinning, "I mean you saw that auction. I don't know how people at Ohtori stand those attending those affairs. I'd far prefer eating dinner with you and any friends of yours than some hoity-toity party. Just.. I'll let you know in advance, I'm a vegetarian. It's not a big deal though, since I'm also a gardener. I can always bring my own ingredients.."
She stuffs another piece of Tempura in her mouth with a grin. "....Well Sugiura-sensei is kind of a..." Eri blinks, as Mai refers to her as a Battle Axe. Does she know!? But then Eri decides that it doesn't mean that, it could mean something else, as she rushes to her sensei's defense, "Hey, she's only what, mid twenties? That's not old at all, Tokiha-senpai." Eri still takes it all in stride. "...and she's not that bossy. She was nice enough to give me some extra credit recently. And accept some of my late assignments."
Eri puts a hand back under the table too, and checks her soul gem, suddenly there's a faint flash of light, and Eri winces suddenly, before putting it away, "Yeah, I should probably head out myself... duty calls..." Taking a few more quick bites, she fishes out more than the meal was worth, and adds a tip besides, not even waiting for the check, as she puts away her things. "It was very nice meeting you, Tokiha-senpai."
Before long, she was out the door, and on track for leaving this reality to battle a psychic horror on the fringes of a surreal labyrinthine dimension.