Arrival at Inaba
Inaba - Central Commercial Dist.
Years ago, this was a bustling center of commerce and communal activity, a bright spot in a small and happy town, with each store telling stories spanning generations of the highs and lows of Inaba. Many of these stories are now at an end, as family-owned stores have been closing down left and right since the Junes department store opened close by.
The long street where these stores reside still has a couple shops that are fighting to the bitter end. Daidara Metalworks and the Shiroku grocery store both stand strong before seemingly inevitable disaster, with Chinese Diner Aiya, Marukyu Tofu, and the Souzai Daigaku beef skewer stand continuing to attract hungry stomachs. Tatsumi Textiles largely survives on patronage from the Amagi Inn, and sometimes it seems only one young man's obsessive reading hobby is actually keeping Yomenaido Bookstore from falling apart. Konishi Liquors up at the northern end may be the next to go, following failing business and family tragedy. A small gas station does service for the few automobiles to come by here, more often servicing the buses that swing by the stop at the southern end.
The outlook is grim, the street populated largely by bitter elderly folks and teenage bullies looking for an easy mark. Even the local, once proud Tatsuhime Shrine is falling apart, already said to be taken over by wild animals. The whole district faces a losing battle against Junes for commerce, but this nostalgic district held dearly by previous generations will go down fighting.
Inaba. It's been a good seven years since Fumiya Watanabe was last here, visiting his Grandparents, but now he's relocated here for the foreseeable future. What a bummer. When he was here then he didn't have the freedom to walk around on his own, tethered to his family like a dog on a leash, but at least now he can check out the town at his own pace. It's pretty much the first thing he did once he got his junk moved into his new room, left his grandparents behind to do old people things while he set out to check out his new environment.
The basic structure of the town is somewhat familiar, but relying on a memory from when he was 9 isn't the best thing to do. In trying to set out to scope out his new high school he wound up wandering in the commercial district instead, partly because he got a bit lost and partly because this direction seemed more interesting.
One way or another he'll need to familiarize himself with the area, so what's the hurt? Fumiya keeps his hands in his pockets as he takes in the sights, walking down past the textile shop, and probably standing out quite a bit himself in the process. Inaba residents will just have to get used to the neon-clad teenager because he's not going anywhere, and he's sure as hell not going to keep a low profile.
Kenji Kurosawa is not someone who keeps a low profile. It is, in fact, fairly impossible to keep a low profile when one is walking about carrying a massive oar over one's shoulder like a greatsword; it is equally impossible to keep a low profile humming a song (something old, traditional, and thoroughly slow) as loud as one can. Kenji Kurosawa is doing both - making it doubly impossible. That's twice the impossible of usual impossible!
Kenji's clad in a Yasogami High uniform, but it's a bit customized, with the crest of the Kurosawa Samurai Family just over the breast and across the back. The only son of the generational Kurosawas, Kenji carries himself like a samurai as he walks down the street, greeting various people with personable, cheery, and personalized greetings - he seems to know just about everyone down the street. Impressive. Perhaps almost as impressive as the fact that, well, he is -carrying a giant oar over his shoulder like a greatsword-.
Kenji stops and peers at Fumiya from across the street. A brief beat passes, and his puzzled look shifts to a broad smile as he walks across the street and waves. "Hello there!" He remarks formally, "I don't believe I've met you!"
Fumiya stops mid-step as Kenji calls out to him, he was a bit surprised! He didn't expect someone to just interact with him so quickly in a way that wasn't pointing out his clothing or his attitude. And here he thought he would have to deal with a bunch of set-in-their-ways grumpy small townsfolk.
Fumiya backs up a few steps, actually moonwalking while doing this, before turning to face Kenji. He regards the oar-wielder silently for a moment before smirking. "Not likely slick, I just rode into town today." With a swift motion he tugs at the collar of his shirt, straightening it back upright, and then turns his attention to the most obvious thing about Kenji.
"Didn't think Inaba held that many rowing competitions." He starts tapping his foot lightly, as if listening to some song in his head. He seems to be thinking for a moment, as if he were seriously trying to remember if Inaba held anything like that. Some people are weird, after all. "My handle's Fumiya Watanabe. What's yours, Oar-man?"
"Kurosawa," Kenji replies peacefully, attempting to parse out what exactly Fumiya is talking about. "Kenji Kurosawa." The name 'Kurosawa' was probably recognizeable to anyone with family in Inaba - the oldest, and probably only still practicing, samurai family in Inaba, the Kurosawas had a reputation for dignity, honor, and strict adherence to the codes of Bushido.
"Oh, it doesn't have many rowing competition. This," he offers, swinging the oar down - calligraphy is painted in black across the oar, reading Aku-Kyouda Kidzuchi (evil-smiting wooden mallet), "Is my precious weapon. As odd as that sounds!" He laughs, shifting the weapon onto his shoulder. "It's nice to meet you, Watanabe-san. What are you up to this fine sunny day?"
Fumiya considers the name for a moment. He does recall hearing his grandparents mention that name once or twice. Not that he paid much attention, but just the fact that it struck a familiar chord at all is enough to get him to take him a little more seriously. If he heard the name before coming to live in the city then he must have a reputation here. If he has a reputation then he must be at least a bit popular, and popularity can be siphoned if handled right.
The explanation of the oar catches him a bit off-guard though. He walks around with that thing calling it his weapon? Seriously? And here Fumiya was worried about being busted for the studs on his gloves. Tilting his head while looking over the oar a slight chuckle escapes his mouth. "Fancy." He finally says.
"Well," Kenji offers after a moment, leaning against the huge wooden oar and keeping his eyes focused on Fumiya, "Maybe I can help show you around, then! What year will you be in? Do you know your homeroom teacher yet?" Kenji slows his bombardment of questions for a moment to purse his lips. "Besides, everybody can use a friend for their first day of school. If it helps, I just transferred into Yasogami after a really long homeschooling career." He nods. That explains quite a bit of his unusual personal skills, at least.
Kenji shifts again. "There aren't a lot of sights, though. Really, the best way to find something to do is just to take a walk around town and see what comes up - there's always something!" Kenji chuckles.
"First year." Fumiya replies. "I had just enough time to get used to Gekkoukan High before my parents decided on the move." Fumiya shrugs. Reaching into his pocket he takes out a neon-colored handle, almost resembling a switchblade knife designed by nerf. Instead of a blade popping out, though, it's a comb. He uses it to flick his hair a bit, as he started to feel it droop a little. Twirling the handle in his hand he slips it back in his pocket.
"Afraid I won't know anything about homeroom until I arrive tomorrow. Any teach I need to look out for?" Kenji's offer to show him around is met with a thin smile. Fumiya honestly didn't expect to meet someone so straightforward on his first day in Inaba.
"Well bro, why not? I know Inaba doesn't have the style of Port City, but that's cool with me. I know how to make the most of things, know what I'm saying?"
"Ah, well then, welcome to Inaba!" Kenji stares at the comb for a moment, his eyebrow -silently- raising -just a bit-, an imperceptible curiousity - not a mocking one, or one marvelling at the weirdness, just the honest, open look of someone who has no idea what the hell that thing that was just pulled out is. "Morooka-sensei is often considered to be an unpleasant teacher, but he is a second year homeroom teacher. I have also had no serious problems with him, but then, I have a great deal of respect for educators."
Kenji gestures for Fumiya to follow him. "Watanabe-san, a lot of people will tell you that this town is boring, but don't believe them! If you look for something interesting, you'll find it."
Fumiya scratches his chin, despite a stark lack of any facial hair to irritate him. Morooka... huh. Maybe he's just imagining things, there's no way the name of a second level teacher from the sticks could be infamous enough to reach Port City, right? There's something about the name, though...
Waving a hand, motioning for Kenji to start, Fumiya begins walking a few paces behind him allowing the experienced resident to lead him around. At the very least a guided tour beats wandering aimlessly. "I don't make a habit of listening to 'people', Kurosawa. Any square that thinks he has something to say that's better than my own judgement is probably full of hot air. Your zone is what you make of it, even Port City can be a drag if /you're/ a drag y'know. I'm not dull enough to let any place bore me."
"That's probably a good habit to be in," Kenji agrees dutifully, rubbing the back of his head as they walk. Kenji points out a couple of the sights - the Deidara Metalworks, the noodle/meatshop place, that sort of thing, explaining a little about who lives there and what can be done there. "Watanabe-san, I hate to ask this, but...erm..."
"What is a square?"
Fumiya nods. He makes a mental note to check out Aiya sometime later, it seems like it could be a nice hangout. Daidara causes him to do a small double-take. "Metalworks? Like swords and junk?" Wow, he wasn't quite sure he'd see a place like that here. He idly wonders if they get a lot of samurai otaku from the city wanting custom swords made.
As the trip continues, Fumiya softens a little. Kenji seems like an agreeable sort, that's not too shabby. He seems a bit too honest for his own good, though, which causes a smirk to return to his face when the square asks what a square is. "A square, a pain, a teacher's pet, someone who's dutiful to the point of being stubborn, can't see the forest for the trees, letting life pass em by. A square." Fumiya's own definition of 'square' might run slightly contrary to the commonly accepted one, but that's just how he rolls.
"I am dutiful to the point of being stubborn," Kenji points out cheerily, "It's a samurai virtue. Does that make me a square, Watanabe-san?" Maybe he's sharper than he seems; the look in his eyes that lingers for just a moment is so sharp it could cut a tree down with a single slice. It's not threatening or anything - merely a steel blade hiding under the coat of country paint.
"Ah, yes. Though I understand that is an uncommon occurence, the owner has a great fondness for blades and other such weapons." Kenji taps his lips curiously. "I cannot say I have commissioned such a weapon, however - to do so would be dishonor my father's blades and thus my family. But it has occured to me once in a while," he adds merrily, another little gleam in his eye.
Kenji's astute comeback nearly startles Fumiya, but he recovers quickly. "Nah." He replies. "You're not a pain about it." Which is true from what he can tell so far, he's not just trying to dig himself out of a hole. Though he makes a note to qualify the word 'square' with a negative whenever Kenji is around, if he's talking about someone else.
Finally, back on the subject of Daidara, Fumiya nods. "That's pretty rad." He comments, both on the description of the owner of the store and Kenji's loyalty to his family. "It reminds me, there's this teacher in Gekkoukan. Heck if I can remember his name, he doesn't teach my level, but I've heard he's obsessed with the Feudal period. He wears a helmet to his classes and everything." Fumiya was sort of looking forward to having him next year, before he was moved, he would've been a hoot.
"He sounds like someone Father would appreciate," Kenji nods seriously, his smile resuming immediately as if the look in his eyes had never appeared. "It is a dutiful and honorable man who can hold the teachings of the past even as he innovates the road of the future, after all." He taps the oar on his shoulder - he's been carrying it this whole time without any visible weighing-down - and points out another site - the old temple. "They say a fox lives in this temple," he observes peacefully, "But I've never seen it, and it's never interfered with any prayers I know of. Do you have anything you'd like to ask the spirits for, Watanabe-san?"
At this point Fumiya isn't surprised that Kenji seems interested in that Gekkoukan teacher, albiet for different reasons than him. He's certainly met an odd one on his first day here, even though he is quite odd himself. "Yeah well, I have heard mostly good things about him from students. I can appreciate doing your own thing when there's pressure to be like everyone else. Any teachers like that in Yasogmai?"
They come to the temple, and Fumiya looks up at it from the street. 'Old' certainly seems to be the key term here. Looks like this place has seen better days. He would've thought a smaller town would take better care of stuff like this. "A Fox? You pulling my chain, Kurosawa? No one's come to take it away?" Maybe it's a local guardian or something.
The question on whether or not he'd like to ask for something actually causes him to stutter a bit. "W-well..." He clears his throat and quickly tries to regain his composure. "Just something silly and selfish, don't worry about it."
"Everyone has selfish wishes. It's nothing to be ashamed of," Kenji replies thoughtfully, "But no, I am not pulling your chain. It is basically harmless, and if the shrine is its home, why uproot it?"
The young Samurai shifts his weight against the oar, staring at the shrine. "I have had some strange wishes, Watanabe-san. I am sure yours are no more shameful than mine."
Fumiya folds his arms, thinking as Kenji explains about the Fox. It makes sense, the way he says it, but it's just not how things would happen in Port City. "I guess the fox is lucky that Inaba is still a pretty small city surrounded this awesome countryside. If a fox made its home in a shrine in Port City it would be relocated in no time flat, seriously. It could never survive in a city without being a pest to people, or worse."
At Kenji's prodding about his wish, Fumiya shuffles his weight between his legs. It's not that he's really embarrassed, but most people just don't 'get it'. Finally, he just sighs and brings a wide smirk back to his face. "I wanna go see the King of Pop's big concert next month." He says. "It's a huge comeback he has planned, and I just know it's going to be the most radical thing ever." Fumiya trails off, and shakes his head. "But the big bash is being held in London, and there's no way I can actually get there during break, let alone get tickets. They're probably already sold out." Crestfallen, Fumiya scratches the back of his head, sheepishly. "I'll just have to settle for an album, maybe some merch if I can wrangle it for a good price."
"Some dreams don't come true," Kenji agrees, nodding at Watanabe seriously with a look of absolute patience in his eyes. "It's not the end of the world, but...I understand your dream. I have, myself, always wanted to fight with Miyamoto Musashi, the greatest samurai of all time." Kenji sighs. "I know he would defeat me, but that moment when our swords are crossed and we are as one on the battlefield would be worth even my death, I think."
"Yeah, you're right." Fumiya says, it seems he's already come to terms with not getting to see it in person. Still, he can't deny wishing that it were touring the world instead of staying in a place he can't reach. If it came to Japan he would go to any lengths to get to it.
"No way, really?" He asks when Kenji reveals his own dream. "Never heard of a student making a wish like that before. You certainly are an original, Kurosawa, I can dig that." Turning away from the shrine, Fumiya walks a few steps further up the hill. "Might as well shoot for the stars, if you're gonna aim for anything."
Taking that moment to stretch a bit, Fumiya looks back up at the sky. "Shoot, it's later than I thought. They'll be on my case if I don't get back, I don't want em ticked at me this soon." With a sigh, he turns back around to face Kenji. "I'll have to take off here, but it was good to meet you Kurosawa. You're pretty rad. I'll see you around Yasogami."
"It was very nice meeting you as well, Watanabe-san," Kenji agrees, "Thank you for the kind words. It was my pleasure to show you around, and I'm certain we'll encounter each other again." With that, he smiles and shoulders his oar, heading away from Inaba once he's bowed low to Fumiya and moving towards an old-looking house outside town.