What's Tory up to? Not gonna be revealed this issue. There will be a new surprise next issue though... Oh, and let's play, "Spot the Star Wars reference!" 10 points to the winner!
Outside Southport HS after the close loss by the Foresters...
Nina: So there's this new ice cream shop down the street, and a gallery showing some modern art a few blocks away, are we interested in that?
Taro: *nods thoughtfully* Ice cream and art? It's worth a shot...
Kari: *looks at Nina like she was crazy* Ice cream in the middle of winter a week after the worst snowstorm in PM history?
Dan-O: Well, I gotta pass on the extracurriculars. 'Rents wanna hang out this afternoon, and I'll meet 'Ris for dinner tonight. See you guys later, and real nice hanging with you, Tory.
Tory: Nice hanging out with you too, Dan-O.
Dan-O: *waves and walks back towards the SHS Monorail Station*
Marv: *sly smile* Let's get to the ice cream shop, I'm freezing.
Nina: *wraps arms around Marv's arm, places head against his shoulder, smiling* Hahaha, that's gotta be the first time anyone's ever said that!
Tory: You mind if I tag along?
Kari: *nervous look*
Tory: Why does everyone keep lookin' at me like I'm a criminal?
Nina: *hesitantly* Uh, sure. Come on...
The five of them walked a block to the ice cream shop only to find it closed.
Nina: *in exasperation* Who the heck closes an ice cream shop on like, a Saturday afternoon?
She placed her hands on her hips and glared at the shop window defiantly, as if by using mind powers she'd force it open.
Tory: *just before Marv could say something* Yeah, especially in the middle of winter! *points across the street* How about that tea cafe over there?
Taro: I'm fine with that. Tea's a lot warmer than ice cream.
Kari: *clutching coat around her tightly* I agree with Taro.
Nina looked at Marv before answering. His face was flat, with no commitment either way, so she took the initiative in answering.
Nina: *with slight reluctance* Alright, let's go.
They walked across the street and entered the building, immediately feeling warmer and at peace with the world.
Nina: Do you like this place, Tory?
Tory: Well, I'm not a huge tea drinker. But, sometimes I come down here.
They walked up to the counter and ordered. The cute server girl smiled warmly at Tory, and leaned on the counter in an effort to show off her assets with her collar unbuttoned two buttons. He gave her his winning smile and tipped her an extra dollar. The rest of the group bought their tea with much less show, and therefore, much less tip. They chose a table at the outside corner to give them the opportunity to watch the people walk by. Nina and Marv walked up first, followed by Tory who strategically took the seat next to Nina opposite of Marv, and barely resisted giving him a smug smile. He must have sensed something though, and Marv gave Tory a slightly dirty look. Nina was working on getting her jacket hung over the back of the chair and didn't notice. Taro and Kari situated themselves at the other side of the round table and thus missed it also.
Tory: You guys always go to modern art galleries?
Kari: Nah, Nina found one she thought might be interesting and we're here for appearances.
Tory: *toothy grin* Haha, so I won't be the only one there with no idea what's going on.
Kari: *laughs* Yeah, we're like, Philistines or something according to Brainiac over there.
Nina: *innocently* But Brainiac's a bad guy...
Tory: *cuts off Marv* And you're clearly not a guy!
Nina: Hehe. Yes, clearly.
Tory: *attempting to look interested* So tell us about this art thing.
Nina: Well, it's actually a lot of design stuff for advertising, comic book characters, and other commercial things. Apparently there are some pretty famous artists debuting new work there, and giving a lot of amateurs and younger artists their first big shot. Some of it's gonna be for sale for like, prices I can't imagine.
Tory: Well, I'm glad I brought my credit card.
Kari: You do not have a credit card! Don't lie!
Tory: *pulls out wallet, shows off platinum card* Oh, I do. S'all mine.
Taro: Does it have a limit? Or is it a debit card like mine?
Tory: Oh, it's a real card. The 'rents got it for me so I won't bother 'em for stupid [expletive] anymore.
Marv had long since gotten upset. Here he was with his friends, and this Tory kid comes out of nowhere and muscles his way in. Marv was now completely ignoring the conversation, having it been made clear that he wouldn't be able to get a word in edgewise anyways. Every time he had something clever to say, Tory butted in and said something (although half the time it wasn't very clever, it just seemed like he was talking just to talk). His friends seemed smitten with him, and he turned the charm up to 11 all day long. And now here at this table, Nina was leaning towards him as he talked about whatever (to Marv was) stupid crap.
Their laughter once again snapped him back to life and he tried to get his bearings around the table. Taro and Kari were clutching each other (like normal) and laughing at something Tory had just said. Nina had one hand on Marv's knee, but was leaning towards Tory who had set his hand on the back of Nina's chair. Marv wasn't sure what he should do, and was feeling pretty miserable.
Marv: I wanted to go see this art exhibit with Nina, this was going to be our time together! Kari and Taro weren't supposed to be here either! *stands suddenly* I gotta go.
Nina: *leans towards Marv* Marv, are you alright?
Marv: Yeah, it's just I forgot I had some school stuff to get done and it's more than I planned on earlier this week. You guys have fun, talk to you later. *disappears out the door and into the crowd*
Nina: *in a rush* Uh... See you guys later...
Nina quickly grabbed her coat and purse and ran towards the exit to chase after him, but by the time she made it out the door he had disappeared into the passing crowds. She took a step to move into the crowd to try and make her way to the monorail station when she felt a hand on her shoulder.
Tory: Nina, are you alright? What was that about?
Nina: *turning away, voice wavering* Now is not the best time to be putting the moves on, Tory.
Tory: *turns Nina back towards him* Neens, I'm not putting the moves on. I'm just a concerned friend, is all.
Nina: *steps away from him* Well, you can be concerned via text, I need some time to myself. I'll talk to you later.
Inside the shop, Kari and Taro watched the situation unfold with an air of unreality. They assumed that Nina would return with Marv and things would be back to normal. When Tory returned for his coat and a short explanation, they knew something had gone really wrong and made to leave as well.
Tory: It was fun hangin' out with you and your new friends, Kari. *hugs Kari, turns to Taro* Nice to meet you today, you guys enjoy the rest of your day. I'm sure they're gonna be fine.
Taro: *outwardly friendly* Thanks Tory, we'll talk to you later. Marv's my friend, you popped-collared douchebag. You did something to make this happen.
Taro and Kari decided to do a little shopping with their afternoon, and would spend most of the evening getting caught up with Marv and Nina.
Marv shuffled through the crowds with his head down. He made his escape from the torture at the cafe quickly and ran out of steam a block away. Now he was making his way slowly towards the monorail station where he'd either hop the first monorail for home or sit on a bench and watch people get on and off, see the faces change. He was thoroughly unhappy with how the day went, and just felt the need to be alone for a while. So he had mixed feelings when she caught up to him from behind, grabbing his shoulders to stop him and pulling him against a building out from the swirling mass of humanity passing around them.
Nina: *out of breath* Marv, what's wrong?
Marv: *curtly* Nothing, I'm fine.
Nina: Marv, c'mon-!
Marv: It's nothing.
She gazed up at him with genuine hurt in her eyes. She balled up her hands into fists and thumped them lightly against his chest.
Nina: Darnit Marv, I ran all the way from the cafe to try to catch you before you got on the train (I wasn't even sure what you'd take, the monorail or the train, thank GOD I guessed right), because, because... Because... *stops to catch breath, notices Marv relax* What happened?
Marv: You really wanna know? What happened is Tory. Ever since he apologized you guys have been awfully buddy-buddy. He wants you back, I just KNOW it. On top of that, he's strong and good looking and has money-
Nina: And if that was everything that mattered I'd still be with him, I'd be willing to put up with being treated like a, well, a helpless, slutty girl. I don't care about that!
Marv: Look Nina, I'm sorry. I shoulda, I don't know, done something different. It just looked like, well, not just you but everyone. Like everyone was enjoying him so much and there I was sitting silent and couldn't even say anything. Every time I opened my mouth, he was already talking.
Nina: He's a little bit hasty, I guess... *replays the afternoon over in her head again* I guess he does have a point...
Tory: Guys, you alright? I was just walking back to the station, I figured I'd better check on you. If I didn't, I'd regret it later.
Marv: *hatefully* I'll make you regret it...
Nina: *not looking back at Tory* No, we're fine. You can go on ahead.
Tory: *looks Marv straight in the eye (first time all* You better be careful with her. My work here is done. *walks away*
Marv felt all that anger well back up in him. He wished dearly he could beat the stuffing out of that smug jock, but knew he couldn't. Not only was he not a fighter, he just wasn't in Tory's class physically. He relaxed again when he felt Nina touching his arms.
Nina: *trying her best (and succeeding) not to cry* Marv, you have to trust me. I know you don't trust him, heck, I don't trust him either. But you if you want to have a relationship with me, if you want me to be yours, you have to trust me.
Marv: *looks into her eyes, feels heart soften immensely, hugs her wordlessly*
Nina: I'm sorry...
Marv: No, I'm sorry.
Nina: *insistently* Really, I'm sorry.
Marv: *deep voice* Apology accepted.
Marv: I was kinda looking forward to your art exhibit. Can we still go?
Nina: Can we? We came all the way down here, we have to!
Marv: Okay, dinner too?
Nina: *pulls bottom on his Defenders hockey jersey* It'll have to be casual, look at your clothes!
Marv: *pokes Nina's side* We can't all be so fashionable, Miss Gap Cover Model.
Nina: *sticks tongue out at him* Hey, this is Uniqlo!
They walked off into the Southport crowds arm in arm to enjoy the rest of their Saturday evening.