Group 1 - In Front of the Mysterious Cinema - After School
Although Masato calmly followed along as well as he'd indulged Hinake's tastes at the ice-cream parlor, strolling along at her pace led them off course. Mildly embarrassed, he did his best to prod her and the others into following the actual map. When the others were looking away, he could only wipe his brow and sigh. The hot sun and Shiori's blazing stares lent themselves to his body's temperature, leaving him all the more uncomfortable and willing to move along.
Eventually, they reached a shady area (in perhaps both definitions of the word) of the mall not commonly traveled. There stood a decrepit sign and a desk with an attendant present. Looking at the sign, and at her, Masato initially couldn't stave off his disbelief. His relief at being in the shade was good enough for him, and fortunately, he wasn't too quick to judge by appearances, but the state of the sign and the apparently teenaged girl close to their age sitting there made the sight oddly pitiful.
The girl whose name tag read Satsuki was an interesting specimen, to say the least. She looked incredibly out of place, with her trendy clothes and lazy manner. The piercings she wore, Masato observed, were the kind he expected to see on a fashion-oriented girl, so she had to have some money, though it was easier to get knockoffs those days than some might have thought. She was slow to pay attention to them, barely recognizing their presence as she laughed at her small hand held. The sounds under the table lured his naive gaze to someplace he shouldn't have been looking. Her sitting posture drew his eyes naturally to her folded legs. Was she even wearing a skirt? Was her hoodie both a hoodie and a skirt? Masato wiped his brow again. He didn't outright ogle her, but he visibly tensed up once he saw her. The other girls wouldn't have likely noticed.
As he was about to walk up to her and speak to the girl, Ryuji appeared. Or more accurately, ambushed Masato with his voice, since he actually heard Ryuji nearby before he actually noticed the guy had suddenly pulled ahead of them out of the blue. "Ack?! What are you, some kind of ninja!?" Masato recoiled at the sight of the unnerving fellow stealthing his way up to the girl and talking to her. He stood off to the left of the others, subtly moving away from Ryuji.
The glasses-wearing ninja's ridiculous comments snatched his attention away from Satsuki.
"No, this useless hero thinks that it couldn't be something so exotic, though getting light out of a shady alley like this is a cool talent..." He waved his hand dismissively, slouching and sighing as he looked questioningly at the strange new ally. More importantly, Ryuji was standing in the way, and he couldn't see under Satsuki's desk anymore. He hoped the girl hadn't noticed his inappropriate glance, even if he'd originally just wanted to see what she was watching. Masato loved manzai, after all.
His mind was starting to wander again just as Shiori yanked him out of whatever pleasant thoughts he might have been having at the time with a quick, rude "You." Visibly startled, he jolted to attention, although he fumed a little inside at being addressed so rudely by a mere acquaintance.
"Ah! Oh, yeah, well... Ahah, we heard from a friend that there was a theater around here. I mean, obviously there's a theater; everyone knows about *that* one. I-I mean, not like I'm saying the big one is better than the one here, but errh... there was a rumor from school that there was also another cinema and..." This was bad. He was waving his hands like a fool, and seemed easily rattled. Not a very flattering first impression. "Sorry. What I'm saying is..."
The powerful nostalgia hit him mid-sentence. The sensation, as if he was barely conscious, caressed his mind and evoked the dream theater that he remembered so vividly. With that memory came an intense clarity. His voice became calm and composed, more like he had been earlier that morning.
"This is the theater I've heard about before. It's not the kind of place you hear about normally. But I needed to be here. Can't we all go inside?"
Masato smirked. "Well, we can at least come inside to get cooled off, can't we?"
He looked at the others. Did they too feel the same way? Or was he merely going mad? Either way, it made no difference. He wanted to go inside the strange doors. He only hoped he could enter without the ticket.