"Oh, Nagi, this is Suki. Suki this is my parter Nagi." Rikio introduced the two of them, relieved that he didnt have to fail at running after Nagi after all. He knew it was only a matter of time before he figured out what Rikio's entry fee, but he wanted to put off that moment for as long as possible.
"Sticking together seems like an easier way to make it though. We'll have a better chance of surviving. As for the little girl, those things won't attack her unless she attacks first. Hopefully she can stay out of trouble. As soon as someone finishes we will all be in the clear, her included" Secretly she hoped it meant the the two of them would be the ones to risk fighting those monsters, while she could stay behind and pretend to be useful. This is just the opportunity she needed, if she played her cards right she could get a free ride, at least this round.
"Cool! All right!" Mitsuko was excited about this prospect. "So yeah, do you guys like know where we are going? I have no idea. I was kind of busy, and so yeah, if you guys know, that would be awesome!"
Koji flicked open his phone again and looked at the message. Mute Udagawa, it said, as before. "Udagawa," he told Mitsuko, who seemed to be high on something. "That's a ways in that direction." He pointed at Spain Hill, forgetting (or perhaps not caring) that Kimiko couldn't tell which way he was pointing.
Kimiko thought this Mitsuko girl seemed a little too... Excited. Which would probably come as a welcome change of pace from Koji's negativity once she got used to it. For the time being, it seemed she would just have to hope Suki would be alright and follow the group to Udagawa. "Oh, you must not be from around here. Udagawa is a back street of sorts, behind Shibu-Q Heads. There's some really cool looking CAT artwork back there." Kimiko explained, before sighing and continuing quietly. "I wish I could see it again..."
Mitsuko was a bit confused at first by Kimiko's statement. "Wish you could..." Then she put two and two together. Koji leading her around...Wishing she could see...Oh shit, she's blind! "Oh fuck, I'm sorry! I didn't even realize you were blind! That sucks! Well, no worries Kimiko! We will be your eyes, right? Anyway, yeah we should get going! Kick some Noise ass and all that, right?"
"Good Afternoon, Nagi-sama!" Suki bowed at the waist, then nudged the cat with her foot. Tuxedo did something resembling a bow, or maybe it was a stretch, before returning to cleaning itself. Clearly the cat had no interest in either of the boys. "And this is Tuxedo-san, my partner! Isn't that right, Tuxedo?" She squat down and pet the cat.
"Are you two partners?" It was always her first question. If they weren't partnered up by now, she would have killed them. "Are you going to Udagawa? You got the message right? The way there is blocked, and I don't know how to get through though... maybe you'll have better luck~" she smiled.
"O-oh, you don't have to apologize! I probably should have mentioned that earlier. And I don't need any extra help. Really. Just treat me like you would anyone else!" Kimiko quickly replied. It was bad enough that she had spent yesterday being led around by the hand by Koji. The last thing she wanted was two more people guiding her around.
I hope I don't have to go around explaining this to more people... I mean when do I bring something like that up? 'Hi, I'm Kimiko and I'm blind!'? No, that just sounds wrong...
Koji pointed out Kimiko's black pin and told the others that it was something to do with that. "Earlier, she used it to locate something else around here. I'm not sure exactly how it works, but..." He tossed it up in the air and caught it again. "Probably runs on the same principle as locating those red symbols. Still, time's a-wasting. We'd better go." At that, he started walking towards Spain Hill, and by proxy Udagawa.
Mitsuko wasn't really worried about her faux pas, in contrast to her previous life where she would have been fretting it over and apologizing profusely. Still, Kimiko's words put her more at ease with the situation, plus she wouldn't have to do anything extra, which was nice.
Koji had started off down the street, so Mitsuko followed in line behind him, since he seemed to know where the place they needed to go was.
Nagi had made his return to the scene of the crime, his partner was was washed in a hue of content at the knowledge that he needn't race to catch up. Standing by his side, elated at the introduction was a small lady, the one he had collided with during his race to the finish line, dressed in the tones of one of those wild African horses.
Suki... the name rolled around the playground of his mind, testing the waters of his memory for a sense of familiarity but ultimately coming up empty. As this mental escapade went on the little girl seemed to nudge something with her heel, a small ball of fluff painted in the same patterns of its master that imitated the tiny bow of it's owner.
Nagi's expression swiftly changed from that of confusion to amusement, Where he grew up there were plenty of stray cats and most seemed to be rather pleasant, well at least to him.
Wait... were they, or weren't they? I don't know if I remember this exactly. Yes! They must have been...Must they?
Nagi noticing the lengthy silence withdrew his thoughts from the clouds of his mind and willed himself to make eye contact with the young lady standing before him.
That was it! that's what those horses are called... or were they?
Kimiko was slightly surprised that Koji didn't know how she had found the phone booth. Since he didn't seem too impressed, she figured he had figured her out. "Heh. Maybe if you behave well and remember to address me properly I'll let you in on the secret." She said with a mischievous grin as she followed the sound of his voice and almost walked straight into Mitsuko without realizing it.
Hopefully she could keep him talking until they reached Udagawa since following his footsteps wasn't feasible on the crowded streets.
"Or maybe I'll work it out for myself," Koji shot back. "I know it's to do with the pin..." And if I have to give you an honourific, I'll use 'hey, you' as much as possible instead.
Junko watched silently at as Koji an Kimiko continued to bicker back and forth. It made her relieved that she had a cooperative partner, especially revived Kimiko wasn't her partner. Having someone who doesn't know where they are going is one thing, have someone can't even see where they are going would be an unbearable hassle.
"You guys don't suppose we will ran into one of those walls again do you? I would think they would be using them to give us more mini challenges like before but they haven't stopped us yet."
"Well, don't think too hard and hurt your brain or something." Kimiko said with a cocky smirk as she followed along. Junko's voice adding to the mix confused her temporarily since she was getting into the habit of following whoever was talking. As such, she had to stop herself from unconsciously drifting towards Junko. Even just walking took a lot more concentration without her sight.
"Uh... Maybe there's one up ahead. We still have a ways to go after all. And if we do run into one, I think I'll be just fine as long as I have this." She said, gripping the paintbrush that was still tied to her wrist by Suki's ribbon. Knowing that it was always by her side now was a huge relief.
"Zebra?" Suki cocked her head, trying to decipher what he meant. "Do I look like a zebra? That's not very nice..." she pouted. "Oh! I read something interesting about zebras before. They take a whole year before they give birth! Isn't that weird? Imagine being a baby zebra. Actually, baby zebras probably look so cute... want to have a race to the barrier? I want to see if I can run fast like a zebra too! Ready, set, go!" Suki ran off giggling, with Tuxedo following shortly behind her.
Mitsuko turned around as Kimiko indicating she said she had something or other. Looking for what she could have been referring to, she spotted the paintbrush held in her hand. "Oh wow! You paint!" she cried out. "That's so cool! I read about this painter, Esref Armagan, he had no eyes and yet he was able to paint these really sweet looking paintings! He had this unique style and it was great! So that's awesome that you can do that too! I should get you to paint me!"
Before her entrance into the game, most of what Mitsuko said would be put through the filter that had been finely tuned over the years by first her parents, and then herself. With that system no longer operational, everything was just rushing out, in a torrent of words. She couldn't even catch herself until it was all out.
Kimiko was glad to see that at least someone around here appreciated her talents. On top of that, Mitsuko really knew her stuff. Kimiko had been forced to study all sorts of artists and their styles and all that, so she had heard of Esref Armagan but didn't really remember much about him. She much preferred painting to learning about other people who painted. Why is she comparing me to him though? Yeah, I'm blind now but.... Oh. She doesn't know it's my entrance fee and thinks I've always been blind. My bad.
"Well, I wasn't always blind, that was my fee for this game. So I'm not quite as impressive as Esref Armagan." Kimiko told Mitsuko. It wasn't like her to talk herself down like that, but she didn't want Mitsuko to expect her to be able to paint while blind. That would take years of practice. "But yeah, once we get through this and I can see again, I'll totally paint you! I'm not famous yet but I have had my work displayed at art gallery's before so I'm sure I could do a great portrait of you!"
Koji looked over at Kimiko, then Mistuko and told his partner, "You'd certainly be starting on the right track for a great portrait." Suddenly smelling something, he looked over to the right. That Mexican restaurant was just nearby, and he suddenly heard a small rumble. "Hey, is anyone else hungry all of a sudden?" he asked. He looked down at his timer. 2:12.08 2:12.07 2:12.06 "Don't worry, there's time for food."
"Oh that was your fee? That's horrible!" Mitsuko said as they were walking. "But yeah! Totally after this is over, we'll totally have to meet up for it, that would be awesome!" She had a fee? What was my fee, it wasn't money, I still had my card........I don't really feel any different, if that's what it was. I'm talking more... I don't think that could be it though. Not like going blind, that's extreme.
Koji started talking about food, which Mitsuko's stomach agreed was a good idea. "Yeah! I could eat! Let's do it!" She missed Koji's disguised compliment, the price to pay for an alert stomach and a mind operating without restraints, but there would be plenty of time for more conversation over tacos.
"Alright, it's a deal then!" She said with smile and giving a thumbs up in Mitsuko's general direction. Being able to paint again was What Kimiko was looking forward to most after finishing this game. She couldn't see what Koji had meant by his comment obviously, but if it were true then painting Mistuko would be a great way to celebrate her return to life.
The smell of food drifting her way interrupted her thoughts, making her realize that she hadn't eaten at all yesterday. Mexican wouldn't have been her first choice, but it would do for now. As she turned and made her way towards the smell, she realized she had forgotten something important. "Oh! Uh, guys... People can't see us, remember?" She said turning back towards where she thought the group was. Couldn't exactly buy food from people who can't see you after all.
Koji stopped short and turned around. "I dunno...I thought I saw Mitsuko coming out of Molco earlier, so she might have been visible in there. Maybe it's a thing with shops, or perhaps just that one...Worth a try, though, isn't it?"
"Yeah," Mitsuko confirmed. "I went in there and the girl saw me and everything. It was just like, well normal, I guess. I got all these clothes and everything." She knew the people on the street were passing by them like they weren't there, but still, it was weird that she was able to go into the store like that if that was the case. "Still, I'm willing to go in there. My stomach's seconding the move so yeah, I'd say let's go!"
"Sounds like a plan. With all the time given it seems silly to rush." she considered talking back to Kimiko's insult, but it wasn't worth it and the moment had passed. She was starting not to like her, but Mitsuko seemed to. Of course Mitsuko seems to like everyone. In any case see looked forward to a relaxing meal, which was odd she had yet to do anything yet.
People could see them in shops? That made absolutely no sense. Then again not much did these days. With a shrug, Kimiko made her way back towards the smell of food and felt around for the door. She opened it and stepped inside, but didn't feel any different than she did before. She slowly made her way forward to where she assumed the counter to be, accidentally bumping into a few chairs and tables along the way. Eventually her outstretched hand touched what felt like the counter and she sighed in relief. She had made it and she didn't need anybody's help to do it. "Um.... Welcome to Mexican Dog... Can I take your order?" She heard a confused voice coming from a bit further to the right. Ok, so maybe she was a little off target but it was close enough.
Kimiko was about to order when she realized she had no idea what was on the menu. She had never come here before. Hmmm. What am I going to do? I can't ask her to tell me the whole menu... "Um... Miss are you ok?" The employee's voice seemed to have some concern mixed in there with the confusion this time.
"Y-yeah, I'm fine! I'm just waiting on some other people before I order." Kimiko told her with a nervous smile.
Rikio watched Suki run off, then turned back to his partner. "I guess we should keep moving too" He started walking towards Tipsy Tose Hall. "By the way, 'zebras'?"
Nagi, still swimming in the recesses of his disjointed mind, had begun moving with his partner towards the mission objective at, what some might call, a more 'acceptable' pace. He noticed his partner mumble something during their less than rapid pursuit of this Suki woman, but failed to fully encompass it; the only word he deciphered being that of the striped African equine, he had mentioned earlier.
"A plains wandering animal that wears a coat of black and white." Nagi chirped in, the brief description said with such pronunciation and alacrity that it almost sounded rehearsed.
"Although, I hardly see what Zebras have to do with the mission?" Confusion crept along Rikio's features, the subtle double blink followed swiftly with a, not as subtle, half breathed 'what' being the primary indicators. Nagi followed his partners, slow and steady strides with a quizzical look plastered onto his features, genuinely confused as to what he had said that could have made the description seem like some form of fallacy.
"Don't you think we should move faster? Can you move faster?" Nagi quickly queried, whether in the attempts to dissolve the awkward situation or merely out of an overwhelming curiosity; not even he was sure.
Suki waited at the barrier, making sure she was standing on the right side before turning and facing the way she knew they had to come. They don't look very tough to me. Zebra? Really? "I don't look like a zebra do I?" she asked Tuxedo. The cat just tilted its head, staring back at her. "I'll show them. Neovison vison!" Suki twirled around, pointing in the air. A noise symbol appeared, floating, waiting for the players to arrive. They should be able to handle this. Let's see what they're made of~ "Attack the players who come this way, okay?"
Two pairs of Mink Noise lay in wait for the players who were slowly coming into view, ready to attack.
"Y-Yeah, I can move faster." Not surprisingly, the brisk walking pace they were moving at wasn't fast enough for Nagi. Hesitantly, Rikio broke into a slow jog. Okay, left foot, right foot, left, right, left, right... Okay, so far so good. No doubt Nagi was wondering why his partner was staring at his own feet so intently, but as far as Rikio was concerned, it was progress. Now I just have to not bump into anything. The two of them were now in Tipsy Tose Hall. Suki was somewhere off to the right, but straight ahead in the distance was a blocked off road.
Junko looks up and down the menu. The special dog would probably be over doing it. Supposedly she doesn't need to eat, but can if she want's. Still it just feels to odd getting a full meal with out any appetite at all. "I'll just take a regular hot dog and a cola please". She steps out of the way allowing the others to order. She turns around leaning on the counter taking a look around the restaurant. She takes notice that a few people are staring at her, glancing away as she meets eye contact. Something she was entirely used to, knowing full well she dresses for attention. What seemed more awkward was that she realized how different it was not to have people looking at her when she was out side the store, this was the first time she had been visible to the general public since this whole thing started. Having a little piece of reality back gave her a reference level to what not existing anymore is like, or would be like anyway. She didn't like it.
Koji looked at the menu as well, realising that he didn't have a yen on him. He figured he might be able to give them one of those pins as collateral - but, no, he thought, nobody would be that crazy. Particularly now that I've lost my charm, he thought. Lazily tossing the beige pin he'd found the other day into the air, it suddenly slipped out of his hand and fell under an empty table.
Diving down to find it, he couldn't see the pin - but what he did see was some coins. Counting them up, he saw they came out to exactly 500 yen. Then he realised - that pin had had a "500" on it. So numbered pins are worth cash, huh...Interesting. Wonder if I'd be able to sell them, like a normal person, instead of using them to "find" money. "I'll have a hot dog, thanks. Nothing to drink," he told the others, tossing them the coins he'd found.
Mitsuko eagerly scooped up the coins that Koji tossed. Free lunch was a free lunch. Heading up to the counter, she barely gave the board a glance before deciding. "I'll have a Chili Dog and an OJ, please!" The girl moved off to the side, with the rest of the group. "It sure smells good. I can't remember food smelling this good! Especially not hot dogs!"
Kimiko let out a quiet sigh of relief as she heard the voices of the others placing their orders. It was starting to get awkward waiting for them and, presumably, having people stare at her. Ok, so I know they have chili dogs and hot dogs, and OJ and cola to drink. Not much of a choice but it's better than nothing I guess. Finally, she stepped back to where she assumed the register to be and placed her order.
"Uh, just a hot dog and cola for me please." She said, digging through her purse until she found her card and held out in front of her. She didn't need Koji to pay for her food. After a brief moment, she felt the card taken from her and the uncomfortable sounding employee spoke again. "Would a copy of your receipt?"
"No." Kimiko's reply was almost immediate. She had no use for a receipt now that she was blind, but she pretty much never took them anyway. Having ordered, she stepped over to where she could hear the others and waited with them.
Junko collects a relish packet and turns to the group. "I'll meet you over at that table by the window alright" She took her food with her and placed it on one of the inside chairs. She ignores her food for a moment to look out the window, she's been wondering if the people outside could see her too while she was inside. She taps on the glass only to get odd glares from those in the restaurant, the people outside must not be able to hear her. So much for that plan. She can't even tell if its just because of the city noise or the they can't even perceive her at all out there.