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Mariya Fukuda

"We delight in the flight of the butterfly."

0 · 194 views · located in Periwinkle Institute

a character in “The Isekai Wonderland Project”, as played by Danaie



ImageFULL NAME: Mariya Fukuda
REFERENCES: (List 2, one must be a superior and the second another character)
xxxxReference 1 - Professor Fukuda
xxxxReference 2 - N/A
ADDITIONAL INFORMATION: (Disabilities? Illnesses? Allergies?)
xxxxThere aren't any disabilities, illnesses or allergies that she currently knows of in her medical history.

xxxxFor the adventure and experience. Earth is simply not enough for a bright-eyed dreamer like Mariya. She's greedy and desires for more than an ordinary mundane life on this uneventful planet that she calls home. Isekai related things like mangas and novels have fulfilled her otherworldly appetite for some time now but there was little they could do before their usefulness expired. After all, fiction is unlike the real thing.

Human Resources Department Use Only

xxxxMariya Fukuda was born on a particularly hot June night in the city of Fukuoka, Japan. She was born to two relatively well-known eccentric archaeologists, Alessio Fukuda and Hanami Fukuda. They met during an archaeological excavation in India and were drawn to each other almost instantly. Or at least, that's how they retell that story. Anyways, for the first few years of her childhood she lived in Japan before her parents made the decision to move to the States after Periwinkle Institute reached out and offered her mother the open archaeological professor position in their establishment. It came with great income and a steady schedule so it was particularly a no-brainer for them. Of course, this didn't mean either of her parents wouldn't be busy half of the time due to their jobs. While her father would be off all over the world digging up historic relics and the like, her mother would be giving lectures around the clock, giving valuable information to the next generation of aspiring archaeologists. An exceptional set up for resentment to build up, right? Wrong. Mariya was a rather mature child and understood why her parents weren't always home. Life came with responsibilities and duties. That was fine. After all, it wasn't like she was kept bored anyways. The Au pair that was hired for her kept her very busy with studies and other things. Mariya loved her Au pair like a sister. They spent a great deal of years together and she held sweet memories from that time. Perhaps that's why she would later go on to aspire to be an Au pair?

Applying to colleges was an easy task for Mariya. When you have a mother already working as a professor in one, would it really be that difficult? Her admission letter for Periwinkle Institute arrived early March and she was simply ecstatic, boisterously announcing her achievement on all her social media platforms. When it came time to move into the on campus dormitories she arrived like a storm. She was going to rule this place, from the shadows mind you, and if people were dissatisfied with that, then that sounded like their problem. No was not a word in her dictionary and she wouldn't take it for an answer.

However, things would change in her second year at Periwinkle. Positively, of course. One day after class her mother pulled her aside and told her of something almost too exciting for an escapist like her to put into words. The Yonder Wonder company was seeking volunteers for a project. A project called The Isekai Wonderland Project and she fit the bill for the type of people they were searching for. Though, she was immensely curious of how her mother knew of such a world shattering project, she kept her thoughts to herself. Who didn't curiosity was what killed the cat, even if satisfaction brought it back?

Evaluated and screened, Mariya Fukuda was ready to begin her exploration in different worlds.

Signature here:
Mariya Fukuda

So begins...

Mariya Fukuda's Story

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Kazuyuki Miyato Character Portrait: Mariya Fukuda Character Portrait: Character Portrait: Character Portrait: Character Portrait:
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#, as written by Danaie
A light breeze ran wildly through the air and caused goosebumps to appear on Mariya Fukuda's body as it danced upon her exposed skin. In regards to this, she pulled down the white sleeves of her blouse with a huff. The weather forecast had stated the weather would be relatively cool today and thus she had decided to forgo the usual getup of a sweater or jacket. A decision that was turning out to be quite a mistake. Perhaps she should have actually listened to her gut feeling that had been practically yelling at her to put on some extra layers? After all, one should take into account that New York City was situated on an island and surrounded by water on all sides.

Thus, logically the city's weather would be quite colder than other areas in the winter months, a fact which is supported by science. The dull warmth of the coffee in her hand did nothing to combat the chills that were rocking her body. Now she wasn't a heavy caffeine drinker nor did she even like it, it tasted way too funny for her picky taste buds. But hell did she need it at this time.

For her science lecture class, the professor tasked all the students in attendance with doing a report. On what? Well, anything they could come up with. Appropriate ideas of course. And once they had completed their reports they would need to turn them in and present them in front of the entire class. If that wasn't daunting enough the deadline for this report was two days with no exceptions. The professor explicitly stated that he wasn't going to extend the due date or give anybody extra time, even if your relative recently died.

Now, Maryia was a diligent student. She didn't slack in her work and her grades reflected that. How'd you think she got into such a prodigious university like Perwinkle in the first place? With her charming looks or nepotism? Obviously not, that'd just be simply ludicrous. Those weren't things she relied on.

Not when Maryia had other resources like her own brain at her disposal. Succeeding on pure talent and smarts alone was always a fulfilling feeling. For her at least.


Vibrations coming from her pocket caused her to give pause in the middle of the concrete pathway. Ah, was someone trying to reach her? Mariya skillfully adjusted her bag from obstructing her way and reached down with her unoccupied hand, smoothly pulling out a sleek black phone from her pocket. After pressing the singular button on the device's side, the home screen lit up with a brilliant flash, and there was one text message displayed on the screen. Immediately, with even just a quick glance she knew who it was. Only her mother, Hanami Fukuda had the audacity to text somebody with grammar that was just simply revolting to set one's eyes upon.

"Package wait for you, at dorm. ;)"

Yeah, as observed, technology totally wasn't her mother's forte. The winky face was a cute addition though.

But a package? From whom? However, Mariya didn't bother asking who sent it and merely sent a 'thank you' text back. After all, she'd find out later after heading back to the dormitory. Having dealt with her temporary interruption she decided to get a move on. She wanted to get this report done today. No tomorrow or anything. Today only. Yet, who would have expected that as soon as her legs started to extend forward that she'd collide into another person? A spike of pain shot up through her shoulder. What the hell? Did she run into a brick wall? Her phone and coffee were sent sailing undauntedly through the air. The only thing she could do was helplessly watch as they both performed extreme acrobatics and hit the hard ground with a disappointing finale.

Mariya's temper finally exploded. Between this stupid report, other annoying factors, and now this, it was too much.

"Are you blind? Like actually? How did you not notice a whole person in front of you?! Look at what you've done! Get your eyes checked, you sighted halfwit!" All she could see was red. Her mother always warned her that she had a tendency to explode at others due to the smallest of things. But that wasn't her fault. Not at all. She was surrounded by idiots. Day and night. She had yet to find someone that could actually match up and challenge her intellect.

"Perhaps you were raised without manners or class but when we bump into someone and knock over their things. We apologize! Got it?" Mariya's steam had cooled off after a few more reprimands, her rationality returning. Her eyes went wide after realizing just who exactly was in front of her.

She blinked and blinked without saying anything as fear paralyzed her, turning her blood to ice. Did she just ruin one of her few relationships once again?

"Oh my god.. Kazuyuki? I'm terribly sorry! I didn't know it was you. I-I've just been really stressed these past few days and.." Her words trailed off quite awkwardly as any form of an explanation or sincere apology failed to reach her. She wasn't good at this. Not at all. She never had to apologize to people. It was always the other way around.

She was Maryia Fukuda, the daughter of two well-respected researchers in the archeological field. She had to be perfect. There was no room for any flaw.

And if a little sanity and mental wellness had to be sacrificed for ultimate perfection, well..

Then so be it.

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Kazuyuki Miyato Character Portrait: Mariya Fukuda Character Portrait: Character Portrait: Character Portrait: Character Portrait:
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#, as written by viirune
kazuyuki miyato.
dialogue ; #a59bbd. – thought ; #a6b5f0.

With the way the day was going, he wasn't sure if things would get any better at this point, and it was only eight in the morning. A graveyard shift he'd covered last minute because why the hell not? He wouldn't sleep anyway, and he'd mostly caught up on all of his homework and papers. The lab wasn't until ten so he could grab something quick to eat if his stomach would allow it, maybe lay down for just a breath and give his poor back a break after leaning over counters and being stuck on the ground all day with pets that all needed far more urgent care than he could offer at the end of his shift, nearing that beyond exhausted state. It came every so often, when his body finally gave up and just tried to crash, but it never seemed to hit when he was near a bed or couch, or any sort of appropriate situation.

He supposes the perks of working at an emergency clinic meant that he was running on a constant adrenaline rush so it usually held it off for a bit, until he wasn't and now every step felt like trying to trudge through drying concrete, every word muddled into nonsense in his head, and he still had a morning bus to catch back to his little apartment, tucked away in the corner of a complex. It was all half packed up at this point, at least the things that were his and hadn't been provided to him by the student housing. Just some boxes, in the end.

Kazuyuki wouldn't lie and say he wasn't dreading moving again, even if it probably turned out to be a nicer place, maybe some new, friendly faces, a change of scenery, plus it seemed all provided for so long as he kept in that program his biochemistry professor had recommended him to. He barely had much to bring with himself anyway. Sure, a little more than when he'd left his grandparents', but a little more translated to maybe three or four boxes. What was there to complain about in the end?

That bad, long shift, overthinking moving and readjusting, and the dragging ride home next to office workers and others on their way to the start of their own shift was only the beginning, though. Rather, now he had a notification for a package that had delivered, and to his knowledge he hadn't ordered anything recently. Opening the message resolves any confusion, however, being faced with a picture of the package all neat and tied up, the fancy lettering no doubt belonging to the program he'd signed up for. What was it, more paperwork to fill out? A pamphlet to freshen up on, rules to memorize, courses to take before beginning?

Not that it would stay a mystery for long, given he'd already picked it up from the complex's front desk and made his way back up to his apartment. "Fragile," says the box, and he nearly throws it carelessly onto his desk as he makes way for his closet, anything to get out of the soiled scrubs he's still stuck in, a short shower to freshen up and get rid of that dog smell. It doesn't take long before he's in a lax pair of sweats, a hoodie to fight off the cold of winter and wet hair, and then he's picked up the mystery package and slumped himself onto his bed.

The box is opened easily enough, the inside cushioned and protected as he would expect from such an institution, though he soon finds himself facing what looks like a new phone and a pair of headphones. Was this just a free complimentary item they gave out to those who came in? How rich was the head of this program?

It's pulled out easily enough as he sinks a bit further into his mattress. The weight of the phone rests comfortably in his hand as his own is cast aside for now, perhaps forever if this one works well enough for him. Black, sleek, new and fancy tech that he usually had to wait to drop in price if he ever wanted to get his hands on it, and even then there would already be something fancier and better in the market. How lucky was this?

Another shift further into the bed, and he's pulled out the headphones next, familiar enough even if they look nicer than his own pair, and they're put into his ears to get a feel for them before he's turned on the phone, the screen growing a little too bright for his eyes in the moment. Still, it's faded away seconds later, and he finds himself face to face with the IWL logo, faintly hears the sound of a voice speaking through the headphones, and before he knows it-

"...yuki? Mister...Kazuyuki?"

The grogginess of sleep he hadn't even realized he'd fallen into hits him first, that heavy feeling of sleep that was so very much needed, yet leaves him feeling like a dead horse. Everything heavy, exhausted, weak, until he manages to open his eyes and lets out that effortful groan to try and push himself onto his side, maybe up.

"Good morning, sir."

Blinking once, he sits up in an instant then, that sudden confusion and little jolt of fear settling in far too swiftly for the still asleep limbs, the growing headache. An unfamiliar voice, coming from where? There was no one else in here with him, until-

"Sorry, did I startle you? I'm down here."

As if commanded he's looking down, and it's finally then that his gaze lands on the screen of the new phone, its surface bright with power. But rather than the screen having stayed lit up for who knew how long, Kazuyuki's attention is very much on what floats around in the center. A boy, it looks like, with his head tilted ever so slightly to the side, almost like he was curious. He shifts around in his spot with ease, the yellow scarf and white outfit billowing slightly with the movement and settling back when he stops.

"You seem confused, is that why you won't say anything?" Comes the innocent questions from the boy again, as if being talked to by a being in a new phone screen wasn't obviously confusing enough. "You fell asleep partway through the introduction prepared for you, and missed my initial startup." A pause, and when he still seems at a loss for words, the blonde continues, "didn't they tell you about this? Or maybe you missed it? I'm your gatekeeper. I'll be accompanying you when you perform dives."

"...ah..." Is his overly disappointing response, sleep wearing off but still leaving him slow to process what is happening in front of him. Having a full conversation with data? Was that even possible? "The...the AI, I think they mentioned that. Yeah, um..."

"I did my best to finish out the setup for myself without your input and I hope it's okay. I left the name for you, though. I don't think I'd do a very good job of picking one out myself." A heartbeat later, and the boy seems to press up against the screen, hands resting on the backside of it. "If you don't mind, I think it'd be nice have one."

A name? He had to name the AI now? How could he choose just one? Take his appearance into consideration, no doubt, but even then, what would he-

And thus he finds himself on

The name hunting doesn't take overly long, a small list he puts together with a little input from the AI, of which he's grateful for. Star themed is what they go with in the end, given the backdrop he floats around in looks something like the night sky, and his own appearance reminds Kazuyuki of astrology somehow. Slowly it's cut down, narrowed to just a handful, until one or two is left, and then, "Astrophel?" and it wins a pleased sound from the phone's speaker, "mhm, that one's nice. Can I keep that one?"

The oddity of the situation fades as comfort grows, quiet conversation between himself and a phone. Just imagine him as a kid brother calling to check in, he tells himself, and it makes things a little easier to process and settle with. Something his mind can handle, when everything else going on inside his head reels back and insists that what's happening, the very conversation he's enjoying can't even be happening.

That time carries on for longer than he expects, the minutes, perhaps hours ticking by before his new companion speaks up through the settled silence again, a small, "you should probably see about getting lunch soon, don't you think?" The word "lunch" leaves his heart stopping suddenly, and in a sudden twist around to grab his old phone and turn on the display, he finds himself faced with the time of one-thirty. His lab, at ten, was far gone, very much over, entirely missed.

His stomach twists slightly at the realization, panic crawling up and forcing him off the bed and over to where the pair of shoes rests near the door, a quiet, "shit, shit, shit," leaving him as he struggles through the laces, tries to get himself ready enough to grab the bag and run out the door. Still, the innocently inquisitive Astrophel calls out through the speaker once more, "are you that excited to eat something?"

"Astrophel, didn't an alarm go off? Around nine? Nine-thirty? I swear to god I set one but I-"

"One did," comes the response, "but you didn't wake up for it, and you seemed so tired, I thought it would be best to silence the interruption so you could finish your rest. You looked like you were having a nightmare before I woke you, though. I'm sorry for ruining your sleep in the end."

He nearly chokes on air, hand moving to run up through his hair as he lets the rise of emotions seethe for a bit, then run off of him, and he's standing up again, snatching up his backpack and his phone- his new phone with Astrophel, an earbud that finds its way into his ear no later, Astrophel's voice following. "I needed to wake up with that alarm, kiddo- I missed- I missed an important class."

The half jog to the campus grounds doesn't take terribly long, but in the end he finds it a waste, confronted with a locked and closed lab door to where his professor should have been, the woman he was supposed to talk to and apologize for his absence. God, I'm such an idiot. Is the first that comes to mind. Why hadn't he thought to just email her, first of all, and why hadn't he set multiple alarms to make sure he was up? Though, with Astrophel having silenced the first, he wonders if that would have done anything to help the situation.

Deflated is how he feels, leaving that building and returning back out to the grounds. Would she let his absence go? He hadn't missed a day yet, surely she'd be considerate over this single mistake? If not, he wasn't sure what-

A sudden thud, nearly losing his balance but managing to catch himself at the last minute, though it doesn't get rid of the lingering, dull pain that sits in his chest, from...a collision? A person? Oh god, who had he run into while drowning through his own catastrophizing?

"Aghk-" is all he manages to get out, a soft, "are you okay, Mister Kazuyuki?" before his ears are suddenly assaulted with the sound of rather livid words. Ones that he could let roll off his shoulder, even if the color in his face grew redder with the berating thrown at him. He hadn't meant to, truly, he usually had enough spatial awareness to avoid people but he-

A glance up has his eyes widening, though, before the situation turns from humiliating to, while a bit awkward, rather comical. Mariya is the one standing in front of him, still letting out the barrage of angry words, but with a familiar face and an apology on his lips, he's not so overwhelmed anymore. More so when she seems to suddenly realize who she's talking to, and her stammered apology makes its way out. Odd, to hear her say sorry, but he wouldn't turn it away.

It's a light laugh that leaves him then, sympathetic, understanding. Clearly stressed she was, and he could relate, though they likely held different origins for it. Besides, even with the uncomfortable "greeting," it's nice to see someone familiar after back to back shifts and non-stop school and homework. He hadn't seen any friends for a week or two now, had he?

A warm - though tired - smile finally makes its way out then, and he shakes his head lightly, "it's alright Mariya, I get it. Don't worry about it, you apologized, we're all good now." His hands shift back, moving to cross in front of himself as his head tilts, "is it classes? Friends? Work? If you need help with something, I'm more than happy to provide, you know." A short pause, slight concern in his voice now, but he does his best to keep it contained, "or, if you're just looking for someone to listen, we can find somewhere to sit, too."

If anything, he wasn't about to make her day worse than it already was, even if his was taking twists and turns like no other. Why not give that offer, and see if he can take a little bit of the weight off her shoulders? It seemed like something he was good at, or so past friends had told him. He'd take it as a compliment, and do his best to continue offering it.

Even when he was far too tired, and even when he could use a little bit of a listening space, himself.

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Gabriel Eadsforth Character Portrait: Kazuyuki Miyato Character Portrait: Mariya Fukuda Character Portrait: Character Portrait: Character Portrait:
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The Periwinkle campus's coffee house, Mug Shot was large but homely like the inside of a log cabin with a modern electric fireplace. It was furnished with accents of earthy browns and pops of yellow. The wooden chairs and tables were arranged to the right, bookshelves, couches, and beanbags to the left along with a small stage for open mic nights. Of course, there was the cafe counter too, the first thing one would see stepping in. The place where Gabriel spent most of his time. He might as well have called it a second home.

Gabriel didn't look the part of a typical barista. He'd regularly show up looking like he had just got out of bed. Bed hair, droopy eyes, and clothes full of creases that hadn't been properly ironed out. He was obviously not a morning person but he always made it on time. The truth? Nobody else wanted those shifts. So, he took them. Mornings were the busiest time of the day for the campus cafe.
He also wasn't the most friendly-looking with a smile rare to grace his features. Although, the corners of his lips would tug upwards a bit when he had the time to add some latte art into the mix. But what got him hired according to Nash, the manager, was...
"Can I get the usual?" "Righto."
"The usual, please!" "Coming right up."
"Do you have soy milk?" "Plenty."
"The usual but 2 shots, no, 3 shots! I need an extra today because-""-because today's your job interview. All the best with that, Miss."
Well, memory. You could depend on him for, 'the usual.'

After the morning rush, their customers, students, would fan out and it'd be quiet as a grave with classes in session. But the scent of ground coffee beans lingered long after, as did Gabriel. The only sound present was the ding-ding-ding of Gabriel's mobile phone popping off with notifications as he killed time. His fingers glided across the screen, tapping here and there with rehearsed precision to collect a game's daily mission rewards of gold, renown, and gear. Playing phone games when the morning had calmed was, you know, his usual. Only this time, he had a backseat gamer.

"Equip the Bow of Dusk, it's much cuter! And it'd go so well with your boots!" Gabriel leaned back slightly away from the screen. The stats were awful, but the AI was right. "You have an eye for fashion." Small eyes but eyes nonetheless. "Wait till I get a body! A human body." Lexa said excitedly, attached to his hair. She was contained or perhaps disguised as a dragonfly. Apparently, she was to have another, truer form once the IWL project was underway.

"Gabe, you can clock out early. I don't think anyone's coming." The gravelly voice of the manager called out from the staff room before disappearing again. Skin indents from leaning over the counter for too long trailed between the elbows and wrists. "Sure? Thanks." he responded, picking up his canvas satchel bag off the floor by the register and slinging the enamel pin-covered strap over his shoulder; the only colorful piece of his usual ensemble. Freeing his bangs, Lexa joined the rainbow clipped on and Gabriel walked out, the door closing behind him with the chime of a bell.

Feeling peckish, he pulled out a snack from his things to eat as he walked. He didn't get very far though, the path blocked by a bickering couple? "or, if you're just looking for someone to listen, we can find somewhere to sit, too." Sounded heartfelt as a third party. Crunch! The bite ended up louder than he anticipated. Assuming he'd interrupted a 'moment', he muttered a soft "Sorry," Standing behind the female student, the muesli bar held between his teeth.

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Gabriel Eadsforth Character Portrait: Kazuyuki Miyato Character Portrait: Mariya Fukuda Character Portrait: Character Portrait: Character Portrait:
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#, as written by Danaie
Truthfully, Mariya had been prepared for anything but cognizance and compassion coming from the man she had just harshly insulted for reasons that weren't his fault. After all, it's not like the words she had spat out were the most kind. She would have understood if there was any verbal retaliation from Kazuyuki or anybody else standing in his place in this moment and taken all of it with a hardened heart. Would it be quite hurtful to listen to? Yeah, but all things considered it could be worse. It's not like it would be the most painful thing she's ever experienced. But when taking into account what kind of person the man who stood before her was, she should have expected this. From the information that she had gathered through observation and study, she'd safely say she knew what the key details of his personality were.

Sure, it could be said that such behavior would be labeled stalking but that's not what really matters, right? When getting close to someone Maryia had to understand them and it couldn't be just a surface level of understanding. People had layers. They might show you one side of them and completely flip 180 once you leave their presence, a true menace in disguise. The world was cruel and held no pity for those ignorant. Innocence would only get you so far. She knew she could be cynical at times and wouldn't deny it. Lying held no value in the face of the iron-cold truth. In comparison, the latter was Mount Tai and easily squashed indefensible lies.

Mariya couldn't help returning Kazuyuki's smile. It held incredible warmth yet undeniable fatigue. Something she'd easily predict to come from her friend who showed signs of suffering from insomnia. A terrible disorder that was. Sleep was absolutely essential to humans. It was their way of recharging. Without it, you were as good as dead. However, even with the dark bags under his eyes and the air of a literal walking corpse, which probably wouldn't be too far off, Kazuyuki had a certain level of attractiveness that made her unable to stop staring at his face. She rated his face a 10/10. Yes, Mariya Fukuda was a full on face-con.

Beautiful men and women have always caught her attention since she was young. As embarrassing as it is, they could even be said to be her weakness. But who told God to make these people walk the earth? "Mostly classes. I don't know if the world is out to get me or something but left and right my professors have been suddenly giving large amounts of assignments for no reason." And though Mariya fancied herself a capable person, there was no guarantee she wouldn't collapse under the strain from pushing herself too hard. A human was a human at the end of the day.

"Kazuyuki... I couldn't do that to you. You're not just some tool to dump my frustrations on. You aren't some substitute for a therapist. Plus you look like crap. Good-looking crap but crap nonetheless." A sigh escaped her lips as she mulled over his selfless words. She'd never put somebody in a position where they'd have to sit and silently listen as she unloaded her problems, regardless of how they might feel. Especially if it were Kazuyuki. She knew he had his own things to worry about. Things that were much more important than her silly issues. He didn't need to be stressing over a girl totally unrelated to him.

Her eyes flittered over to her items still on the ground. Hopefully, her phone wasn't broken. The coffee couldn't be salvaged, having spilled over all the ground upon impact but oh well. She wasn't sure she was even going to drink it anyways. Mariya leaned down, picked up her phone, and inspected the device carefully. Aside from a slight crack, its screen appeared to be fine. "Though.. I do think finding a seat somewhere is a nice idea. I-" Crunch! followed by a familiar voice apologizing from behind had her spinning around. It seemed she was in luck today. Another 10/10 appeared! Bed hair, droopy eyes, and creased clothes did not decrease points in the slightest. A beautiful face was still a beautiful face no matter the state it was in.

"Gabriel? Oh please, you don't have to apologize. It's completely fine. We were just.. hm.." An awkward temporary silence occurred for a few moments, at least she thought it was, before Mariya thought of what to say. "Gabriel, this is Kazuyuki. I'm not sure if you've two met before. Have you?" Her head swiveled between the two as she awaited an answer.

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Gabriel Eadsforth Character Portrait: Kazuyuki Miyato Character Portrait: Mariya Fukuda Character Portrait: Character Portrait: Character Portrait:
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#, as written by viirune
kazuyuki miyato.
dialogue ; #a59bbd. – thought ; #a6b5f0.

Agitation and hard feelings melt away swiftly it seems, as the accident and heated words fall into the shadow of the past with ease. He's grateful for that at least, that things seem to be let go alright, that he won't have to worry about losing a friend through a little bit of an awkward discomfort that only lasted a minute or so. Apologies and understanding go a long way, he supposes, in situations like this. And with Mariya calmed down as such, he's happy to see the smile she returns back to him a few moments later, a small pleased sensation over winning at least a small one out of her despite the uncomfortable greeting.

"Is she a friend?" Is a quiet question in the headphone still stuck in his ear, Astrophel's curiosity clear enough with every conversation and situation he's ended up in since being joined by the surprise companion. Still, he's not sure if he wants to answer him out loud at this point; rather, wouldn't like to appear entirely nonsensical or insane in front of Mariya at the very beginning of their conversation. So instead, he offers a small nod that could be shrugged away or left unnoticed he hopes, and Astrophel seems to understand, a small hum in response from him, and then a second question, "do you have many friends?"

It's innocent enough, though Kazuyuki wants to laugh a bit over it. The AI meant no harm by it, even if that sort of phrase would usually come off as mocking or pity. Just a few, quietly slips into his mind, and were they still back at his middle-of-moving apartment he'd speak it out loud, but it's more than enough for me.

Still, his distraction with Astrophel is placed aside for a bit once Mariya is talking again, mentions of classes, something he could certainly relate to. Who couldn't, honestly? It was college, for one, and secondly, it was the Periwinkle Institute, university, whatever one wanted to call it. The school probably couldn't match up to Harvard or Yale, but it still ran itself in the more prestigious realm as far as he knew. With that sort of reputation usually came the difficulty of heavier assignments, harsher grades, and drowning under the effort and work that came with that. Still, just because of the environment and atmosphere this place carried didn't mean that strain and stress didn't effect its student body just as much as it would any other. If even Mariya - who he knew to always be on top of things and perfect at them all the while - was struggling against the stress of it all, there was no doubt in his mind that she was being overloaded beyond compare.

"You'd think they know their students have other classes and work to attend to, but I suppose they don't think beyond their own schedules and workloads." It was a common issue he'd run into since attending the university, and it seemed to be one that was far from unique or rare in others. Why professors wouldn't consider their students' other responsibilities, he would never know, but learning to live with an onslaught of assignments and endless deadlines was apparently key to success in college. Lucky him, he supposed, given he had more hours in a day than the average. Writing papers at 3am was no big deal for him after all. For others with a healthier schedule, however...

Slight surprise hits him soon after though, as conversation of classes ends abruptly and she turns down his offer. A little grateful for the decline? He wouldn't lie and say it wasn't a relief, but he wouldn't say it out loud either. He could still feel that sense of crashing, anyway, and wondered if he could make it back to his bed in time to fall asleep again, maybe catch an hour or two more. Would that total up to four hours at that point? It'd be a relief for him, no doubt. A little bit of a recharge that he desperately needed...all the time. Every time. Every day. Yet always out of reach.

A laugh is won out of him a breath later though, the word "crap" bouncing around inside his head like the icon of a screen in standby. She was no doubt right about that observation. Even if he hadn't really looked at himself in the mirror since his shower (and he'd slept after that), he knew he looked like hell at this point. Nothing pleasant to look at, or so he'd think if Mariya's seeming compliment hadn't made it in the air. A short blink before he shrugs, another quiet laugh, "thanks, I guess I'll take that as a compliment? Or, sort of, anyway." It was far better than nothing, and he had been expecting nothing. "Glad I still look decent, even while enough running off a handful of sleep." Even a handful would be an overstatement, but no need to get into the specifics of his sleep schedule here.

Mariya is reaching down to the ground soon enough though, and he finds himself with a twinge of embarrassment, realizing he hadn't even offered to grab the things he'd knocked out of her hands himself, left them on the floor in a heap of spilled coffee and hopefully a not-so-broken screen. It leaves a pinch of heat in his face. Slow reaction or missing details, that happened a lot with the fatigue that clung to him throughout the daylight hours of the week. He can't help but tug awkwardly at the corner of his shirt, gaze averting for a moment before an apologetic smile crosses his lips, "I- sorry, Mariya. I can buy you another coffee if you'd like? And...a screen replacement, if you need it-"

Interruption, the crunch of a bite of food, and he's pausing over the oddity of it. Chewing that loudly? Or were they just close enough that you couldn't miss the sound?

"Gabriel," comes the name, and for a moment Kazuyuki brightens up a bit more. What a surprise, running into two of the people he would consider himself friends with at this point, even if he mostly knew Gabriel from constant coffee runs to try and keep his energy going through scheduled labs and weekly classes. It's the slightest lean to the side to look around Mariya at him, smile in place as their gazes meet for a brief moment, though the white haired girl gives them an unnecessary, but kind introduction. He only nods along to the final question, giving a slight wave in the barista's direction shortly after.

"Mhm, I stop by place a lot. Mug...Shot? I think?" As if he hadn't stopped there a hundred times over, "so we've met more than enough to be familiar with each other." A tilt of his head, "just get off work?”

"He's a friend then, too? You have so many, Mister Kazuyuki." He's not sure any other person would consider two friends "so many," but he supposes that a brand new AI might, without any other prior experience to the world beyond what Kazuyuki had exposed him to at this point, and whatever his system might have been preloaded with. If he thought two friends was a lot, then that was just fine with him.

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Mariya Fukuda Character Portrait: Jorji M. Alderman Character Portrait: Character Portrait: Character Portrait: Character Portrait:
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Let’s see, baking aisle, baking aisle, where would I be if I was a baking aisle?” Jorji mumbled to himself, scanning the aisle signs. He had been to this store once before for furniture a few days ago, however he didn’t do much food shopping at the time. He had gotten basic college essentials like Pop Tarts and ramen, but neglected to plan ahead for anything more complicated than a bowl of cereal. When Mariya had suggested that they make their new roommates a welcoming gift, Jorji volunteered to go shopping and get everything they needed. They tossed around some ideas for what to make, but remembering the sweet, buttery taste of Jorji’s mom’s banana bread, they decided they’d have a crack at it themselves. Even now, he was starting to drool at the thought of it.

Do you really not remember where it is? You walked through it twice last time you were here.” Azavon’s voice like molasses spoke into Jorji’s ear, bringing him out of his daydreams and back to reality. “Honestly, the fact that someone with such a poor memory like yours could make it into the volunteer pool is nothing short of a miracle.

Zip your digital lips, smartass. I need flour, not the peanut gallery.” Jorji appreciated Azavon’s help most of the time, but unfortunately the AI’s learning algorithm seemed to have picked up on his witty banter. Spotting the baking aisle, he wheeled the cart over and started going down his shopping list. “See? I knew where it was, I just needed a refresher. Not all of us have a bajillion gigabytes of photographic memory, Mr. Miracle.

That is true, I am superior to you in many ways.” His voice oozed mock pride, something he definitely picked up from Jorji.

Riiiiiiight. Well, if you’re so superior, then I guess you can just hop out of the screen and make the banana bread for me, can’t you?” Hearing no witty reply from Azavon, Jorji smirked. “That’s what I thought. Don’t be down on yourself, I’m sure one day you’ll have a body as stunning as mine!” He said, striking a pose similar to a Greek statue he saw once.

If the Yonder Wonder company ever did that, then I could outclass you physically AND mentally. Be careful what you wish for…

Jorji gave a hearty laugh and resumed shopping, thinking about what he and Mariya would need for the banana bread. Thinking back on the last time the two of them had made food together made him smile. Senior year had been rough for the both of them, but especially so for Mariya. Her mom always wanted the best from Mariya, but that usually resulted in Mariya not having a ton of time for friend hangouts, especially with college applications being submitted. Mariya, having near perfect grades, had no trouble getting into the Periwinkle Institute. Jorji on the other hand barely scraped in by the skin of his teeth, and that was only thanks to Mariya pushing him so hard. It was a pain, but in the end he was glad she did, because now he was living in a college dorm with his best friend.

Mariya was the only one who welcomed him when he first moved to New York, and to a nervous young boy, a friend was the best thing he could ask for. She never judged him for anything, even his more embarrassing secrets like his stuffed animal collection, and because of that they had grown to rely on each other and support each other. It was really nice, getting a chance to hang out with her again, especially to bake something delicious. And now that he had the last of the ingredients they needed, he was ready to check out and rush back to the dorm…but not before getting them a pair of squishmallows to celebrate the occasion.

In the deep quietness of the night, the sound of slight shuffling could be heard about in the dark. What could such a sound possibly be? Though, even more importantly, who was making it? There were many imaginable culprits. The monster that hid beneath your bed and grabbed at your hanging exposed feet? Or perhaps it was your annoying younger sibling trying to get a good scare out of you? The hair-rising atmosphere was abruptly broken by the sudden cut on of bright lights from overhead that immediately illuminated every possible inch of the room they could reach. A figure was revealed and based on the standards of different people, the result of the mystery sound may be considered disappointing or relieving. It was just Mariya Fukuda, an ordinary college student. No monster nor troublesome sibling. Blue eyes curiously surveyed the scene in front of her. A clean and orderly kitchen with state of the art modern appliances. There was even one of the newest smart fridges on the market in here! Goodness, it seems they were really going all out for this project. But it wasn’t surprising to her in the slightest that they were.

After all, the technology at the Yonder Wonder company was simply revolutionary. There were no other words to describe it. Forget traveling to space when you could take a trip to a whole other world! Mariya got chills up her spine just thinking about it. ”Mistress, your heart rate is speeding up rapidly. Would you
like me to call for assistance?”
A dreamy yet eloquent voice startled her back into reality. Christ, she’d have to get used to that fast or else she would die from fright every time Genesis popped up into existence from nowhere. Yes, Genesis, her personal gatekeeper assigned to her for the project. ”No thank you, Gene. That won’t be needed. I was just a little excited that’s all.” Thankfully there wasn’t another soul besides herself situated in the kitchen at the present moment or else she’d be thought a madwoman. A melodic hum from her digital companion let her know that her answer was acknowledged. Genesis was relatively young and had the mindset of a developing child. There was still much for the A.I to learn but eventually they’d reach that pinnacle together.

Mariya headed towards the cabinets and began rifling through them. Aside from a few random things that were most likely misplaced, there was practically nothing else in them. A frown morphed on her face. Was this the same case for the fridge? At this thought she drifted over to it and repeated her previous actions. Exactly as she thought, it was bare empty. Why hadn’t the company equipped them with proper necessities? Or perhaps this was a message that they needed to go out and get food themselves? But that wouldn’t make much sense, now would it? Mariya leaned back against the cold marble of the kitchen counter as she tried to give an answer of reason to this situation, eventually losing herself and any awareness in the deep pitfalls of her over analyzing mind.

”Mistress! There’s danger!” The sudden shout of alert from Genesis made Mariya jump but it was already too late by then. Helplessly a pair of A.I and human could only watch as a large stuffed animal soared through the air and hit its target square in the head. Said target being Mariya, of course.

With a soft thunk, the stuffed animal bounced off of Mariya’s head. “Headshot! I got you!” Jorji came out from around the corner, bags of groceries in tow, lifting one arm up to show them. “Ahh, the look on your face was priceless. I have everything we need to get started.” Jorji set the groceries on the counter and started unbagging everything. “Do you have the bowls and stuff?

Staring at the fallen stuffed- no, squishmallow on the floor and gave it a hefty kick before deciding not to pursue the matter right now. Mariya would definitely see this injustice paid back. After all, revenge is a dish best served cold. ”Hm, do you want the good news or the bad?” She stated with a sullen look. Yonder Wonder was able to develop technology that would allow the user to travel to other worlds but they couldn’t purchase basic fundamental things for a kitchen dormitory. Please, what a fat joke!

Let me guess, all this fancy tech and no mixing bowls? Seems like a massive oversight on their part.” Jorji could practically read the look on her face, and knew she was just as disappointed in them as he was. Luckily, Jorji had most of the basic utensils that his family had given him. They would just have to improvise with a few things. “I have some stuff of my own, looks like we’ll have to break it out. I’ll grab them and be right back.” He nodded towards the stairs back up to their rooms and started walking over.

Well, when Mariya thought about it from their point of view, maybe they didn’t think the kitchen would be actually used for things like cooking or baking. That probably wouldn’t be too far off considering most people can easily order out to eat on apps like DoorDash. Yet still even with that as a possible explanation, the kitchen resembling a desert couldn’t be excused. ”Lets praise your foresight in bringing your own stuff then!” She was being quite truthful with these words and happily waved Jorji off on his little journey.

After grabbing the dishes they would need, he went back down to the kitchen and started setting everything out. It had been a while since he had used them to bake anything, so they had gathered a bit more than just metaphorical dust. Thinking back on the last time they had baked together made him smile. “Hey, remember the last time we baked something? It was my 17th birthday sleepover, if I remember correctly.

Laughter spilled out of her at the reminder, the memory of that night coming back at full force. ”I will never forget it. Who told you to let us fall asleep like that? No wonder we were scolded so hard by your mother.” An intense sense of nostalgia steamrolled over her and she couldn’t help but smile widely. It had been years since then but it only felt like yesterday to her. “Hey.. how’s she doing? I haven’t been able to visit her in a while because of school and everything.” She hoped Mrs. Alderman was fairing well these days. That woman was like a second mother to her at this point.

Hey, for your information, that was right after midterms, so neither of us were exactly of sound mind that night. As far as mom goes, she’s doing pretty well. Of course, when I moved out and came to live here, she was all teary-eyed, even after I reminded her I would only be an hour away. I mean come on, is that such a far distance?” He chuckled, remembering back on it. He had finished washing and drying the last of the dishes and was now ready to get started. Grabbing the nearby trash can, he started peeling the bananas.

Ah, what was that? Oh nothing? Just an annoying fly. Mariya pointedly ignored what came out from her best friend’s mouth, mentally acknowledging them, and went about helping with the baking, snatching the peeled bananas from his hands after he was done with them. Next she dropped them into a bowl and turned in the hand mixer, keeping it relatively steady as it mashed up the fruit pieces. After that was done, adding sugar, eggs and vegetable oil were the following steps. Then lastly to mix. ”Da-da!” Mariya presented the bowl to Jorji and pushed it in his face. ”What do you think? Does it look okay?” She hadn’t touched anything related to baking in years.

Putting down the dry ingredients he had been mixing, he looked at the bowl being presented to him. It looked nearly identical to the way his mom had taught him it should look. He was surprised that with the long break from baking they had had, she had still managed to get it pretty much perfect on her first try. “Damn, that’s perfect! Good job!” Jorji wiped his hands dry and gave Mariya a pat on the head. “I’ve got the dry ingredients ready, and I started preheating the oven.” He took the bowl from her, pouring it into the dry ingredients and mixing it vigorously, then pouring it into the pans before putting them into the oven and setting the timer.

With the timer set for around 50-55 minutes Mariya had decided it was a good chance to take a break. Thus, now here they were, doing their respective things while making casual conversation as they waited for the timer to go off and the banana bread to finally be done. The oven failed to jail the tantalizing fragrance that wafted off of the cooking delicacy.

Mid conversation, the two of them heard the front door open, followed by footsteps coming down the hall. Jorji quickly hid his squishmallow, not wanting to let anyone know about it but Mariya, and looked in the direction of the approaching noise. A bob of red hair poked around the door frame, curious blue eyes taking in the scene before a woman dressed in what looked like a faintly anachronistic suit stepped into the doorway proper, a suitcase held over one shoulder.

”Hello…” she began, one hand gripping the strap of her tote. Her eyes drifted slowly over to the oven, then jerked back to the two of them as if catching herself. ”This is the dorm for the ise… whatever project right?”

Jorji looked the newcomer up and down, coming to the assumption that this was one of their new roommates. “Yes, you’re in the right spot. I’m Jorji, and this is Mariya.” He said, gesturing to her. “I didn’t catch your name, what is it?

”Aaauuuuh. Meg.” She shifted her feet, seemingly unsure of what to do with herself. ”A pleasure.”

Noticing her apparent nervousness and earlier glance at the oven, Jorji decided to let Meg be the first of their roommates to partake in their welcome gift. “It isn’t done yet, but when we take it out, we can let you take the first slice? It’s a welcoming gift for everyone moving in, and that includes you.

Meg waffled for a bit, shifting from one foot to the other with such frequency that she was nearly bouncing in place. “Oh! Um. Really? I mean- Thank you, I guess? I don’t want to- Ah.” She squared her feet, tucking a loose lock of her hair back behind her ear. ”Ok! Thanks?”

He let out a slight chuckle and smiled. “Alright, we’ll come and get you when it’s ready.

Throughout the entire exchange Mariya had merely only nodded and smiled during the appropriate moments. She wasn’t that good at interacting with people she didn’t know that well and left that up to those more qualified. But as she noticed Meg and Jorji’s interaction coming to a close she decided to slip in one last word for courtesy. ”Don’t feel pressured to take it or anything if you don’t want too. She had noticed that the other girl seemed a bit... uncomfortable?

”Oh no, it’s fine, I appreciate it!” Meg insisted, backpedaling on her apparent apprehension. ”No, yeah, I’ll definitely have some! I appre-” She cleared her throat, realizing she was just repeating herself on a loop now. ”...appreciate it.”

Her hands wrung the strap of her suitcase, gaze cast to the floor as she fell into an awkward silence. After a moment she rallied, taking a step back as she prepared to make her escape and leave them to it. ”So I’ll just head up to my room then!” she declared, perhaps a bit too loudly. ”It was nice meeting you both! I look forward to um. Working with… you. I guess. Bye!” And then she left, offering up a quick wave of her hand before Jorji and Mariya were alone again.

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Gabriel Eadsforth Character Portrait: Kazuyuki Miyato Character Portrait: Mariya Fukuda Character Portrait: Character Portrait: Character Portrait:
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Gabriel nodded, agreeing with Kazuyuki's statement as a regular customer and that he'd just gotten off work. This may have been their first encounter outside of Mug Shot.
"Iced Mocha, extra choc syrup, and whipped cream." He recited Kazuyuki's usual order as soon as their eyes met, then took another bite out of his muesli bar that finished it off. Maintaining that eye contact, he licked off the crumbs on the corner of his mouth.
He didn't recall serving Kazuyuki this morning, and the veterinary student was on the verge of collapsing from lack of sleep, or so it appeared. The barista thought coffee was not a substitute for a good night's rest, but who was he to tell people how to live their life? Especially the regular customers. It'd discourage business. His manager Nash wouldn't like that.

"We were just.. hm?" Gabriel turned his attention to Mariya, his dark orbs settling on her as he waited for her to finish the sentence he quoted back. But the unmistakable smell of coffee drew the barista's sights down to the ground at the crime scene.
Gabriel wasn't eavesdropping, more or less minding his own business, but he had caught enough to put two and two together."If he's paying, I can brew that coffee for you. Business is slow during this time of day anyway." He offered, bending down to pick up the coffee cup and read the rival cafe's name before disposing of it and the wrapper of his muesli bar in the nearest bin. That was the best he could do, leaving the rest up to the school cleaners.

Gabriel started walking off, heading Mug Shot's way. It didn't bother him to return to work; he had clocked off early anyway. He'd usually be working at this time, or well, gaming until work presented itself. "Unless you two got somewhere else to be?" He asked, looking over his shoulder and giving them time to mull it over.
His black bangs swept across his face as the wind carried it, his right eye winking in self-defense. "Mariya, what’s your usual?"