Any Port In A Storm
Tatsumi Port Island - or just Port Island, for short - is in reality a small part of a larger city. With the influence of several things on the man-made island, such as one of the best public high schools in the country, most people at this point refer to the whole city as Port Island even if they intend to go somewhere that actually isn't on the island proper. This generalization has stuck.
A large, densely-populated urban city facing the ocean, Port Island is a place that runs almost like clockwork through the day. Boasting one of the best public transportation systems in the prefecture, if not Japan itself, it is easy to get about where one needs to by monorail. Much of the city's prosperity is owed to the Kirijo Group, whose influence has had many positive respects throughout.
Though humanity has advanced so far in the name of convenience and expansion, there is an underlying level of unhappiness that can be found in many of the residents. Maybe they're in a rut, or things aren't going so smoothly as they seem to on the surface. Some have even gone into a state of unresponsiveness to the world at large, content to remain catatonic until death by malnutrition or the elements. This is dubbed "Apathy Syndrome," and has no known cause.
Surely, none of this is what people will want to let go unchecked?
It's starting to get a bit late here on Port Island on Saturday, July 10th. People are looking forward to summer break a lot more than they are the imminent exams. The streets should be silent enough, with kids patiently studying for their upcoming exams that would help them determine the future.
Yoshiro Yoshino does not appear to be one of those dutiful kids at the moment, bicycling along at a frantic pace through the streets after making the final delivery in a somewhat out-of-the-way part of town. Dammit, he thinks, stupid traffic jam trying to slow him down, this day's almost done! It's questionable as to whether or not he'd even have any energy left as soon as he made it back to the dorm.
Either way, it's like a freaking race all up in here.
Exams are probably the last thing Fumiya wants to think about. He didn't do very well on the first exams of the school year. He did well enough, but he certainly didn't impress anyone. As far as he's concerned it's just a huge hassle, but he's not going to get anywhere if he ignores them outright. He sure is anticipating the end of next week though.
On this Saturday he has decided to return to Port Island under the excuse that he can study better in the familiar setting of his old home, despite the long commute back and forth to Inaba. Naturally he doesn't intend on doing any more studying than he otherwise would have, and just wanted to get back into the city for awhile. Strolling down the street with a travel bag slung over his shoulder, Fumiya marvels at the traffic jam, as if it's the first one he's ever seen. It's certainly been awhile, Inaba doesn't get traffic that bad. It's almost comforting in a loud, obnoxious, irritating way.
Turning to look into the bicycle lane he spots someone that looks oddly familiar. Something tickles his memory, something with feathers. A wide grin spreads on his face as Fumiya has found his first excuse to waste some time. "Hey duck-boy!" He calls out to Yoshiro. "How's Howard?"
Aigis is studying. Is she learning? That's a more complicated question. Right now she's cheating a little herself by studying math. Studying math is kind of like cheating because she already knows math like the back of her hand. For Aigis, maths is easy.
She is walking, not racing, because she can't ride a bicycle anyway, she sometimes has trouble even just sitting on one. Nevertheless, she is not just studying math either. Every so often she looks up and stares at Fumiya Watanabe--the unusual man with the unusual hair whom Thora wants to beat up an unusual amount. How long has Aigis been following Fumiya? It's a mystery, but she looks up and over from her 'work' when Yoshiro's name is called. She closes her math book up and says nothing.
But she does look at him. And look. And look.
Yoshiro finds himself stopping at a corner just to survey the general surroundings and figure out his next plan of (reckless, dangerous) action while he catches his breath best he's able before he takes off again. Maybe between that van and the blue car, there's a good enough gap between them that if he times it juuuust right...
A familiar voice calls out to him. Yoshiro's broken out of the Violating Traffic Laws zone to turn his head and see that colorful gangster guy or something.
"Eh? You, you're from--" and as he turns his head, there's the creepy blonde-haired girl in the red headphones staring at him too. "Oh, uh, hi Aigis. What're you doing out here?"
C'mon, he thinks to himself, there's got to be a faster way through all this, somehow.
Gangster? Fumiya is no gangster! Though if you asked, he IS a smooth criminal. 'Or something' might be the closest thing that applies to him, even in Port Island there are one or two people that stop for a moment to glance at the offensive neon-garbed youth.
Fumiya seems entirely satisfied as Yoshiro seems on the verge of remembering him. There's nothing Fumiya likes better than leaving an impression. Then he visibly frowns when he calls him Aigis. At least, he thinks he calls him Aigis, Fumiya's unaware he's being followed. Luckily it only takes a moment for the gears to turn in his head and he realizes Yoshiro is talking to someone behind hom. So much for his big impression! Disappointment.
Disappointment quickly melts away as the name Aigis rings a bell, and he spins around to find the babe herself standing right there. Sorry Yoshiro, you don't exist anymore. "Well, it's a small world after all. Aigis-babe, right? What are you doing out in Port Island?"
"Hello Yoshiro-San." Aigis says, "In honor of your wishes, I have not followed you." This is, in fact, just a coincidence for Yoshiro. It's Fumiya whom she is following now. She turns her head and looks back to Watanabe. That hair, she thinks, what is with that hair. It looks more artificial than her own but he does not seem to be a machine or a cyborg. And he seems to call all women '____-babe'.
"I presently reside within Port Island. I live in the SEES Dorm." Aigis explains, looking back over to Yoshiro, "Yoshiro-San is a classmate of mine. However, he is a first year student and I am a second year student." She looks back to Fumiya and adds helpfully, "Though in truth this is my first year in schooling so it can be rather difficult." She means this quite literally but it may get taken the wrong way. Or worse: The right way.
What /is/ with that '-babe' suffix? It's probably some hick dialect, Yoshiro reasons, since as far as he knows Fumiya's actually from there and not here in this city facing the sea. But, he, too, fades from any real care or mental acknowledgement of the latest Aigis encounter - once again by complete chance more than anything.
"Your first year in schooling?" Yoshiro asks the obvious, as if trying to parse it in his head. "But you're a second-year, er... I'm not that bad in math!!" He busts out suddenly.
Hick dialect? Naw. It's just a result of watching to much 80s American media, and just a personal habit of Fumiya's. Certainly not his only odd habit, either.
Aigis's revelation that she's in her second year causes Fumiya to blink, though his sunglasses mask this. Second year? Damn, that means she's his senpai. Or would be, if he still were going to Gekkoukan this year like he should have been. Realizing this Fumiya is rather surprised that Aigis has yet to take issue with his 'babe'ification of her name.
Then the second part of what she says hits him. "First year of schooling? What?" Now he's just puzzled. "Were you homeschooled or something?" Or maybe she was raised in another country. Come to think of it, the way she speaks sounds excessivly formal. It's possible that she was raised elsewhere, it might explain a lot. Suddenly Aigis is a lot more interesting.
Aigis doesn't really comprehend Aigis-babe. It doesn't seem to mean anything. Aigis uses San at the end of a lot of names and she can't entirely be sure that this isn't some sort of malfunction. She looks to Fumiya for a few moments, perplexed by his perplexion but eventually what he's getting at becomes clear to her. "Ah, yes. You could call it homeschooled." She thinks that's a good way of putting it. She was schooled in the labs, and the labs were her home. There. Sure, it wasn't really schooling but it's close enough. "But I requested to go to Gekkoukan."
She looks to Yoshiro and shrugs her shoulders a little as if to say 'I don't get the babe thing either!'. Which is true, she does not get the babe thing. Perhaps, she thinks, she should just ask Fumiya-San about the babe thing.
Aigis is kind of weird, she says she's a native here despite her appearance but yet she has that stilted tone that's hard to ignore. Maybe she's lying? Eh, who knows or cares at this point...
Yoshiro mentally shrugs about the whole thing too. "Anyway, the duck's okay, but, I sure got yelled at for the whole thing." A sigh. A nice, long, drawn-out sigh. "It's like the world doesn't understand when you're in a hurry, and, um, speaking of..."
He leans forward in his seat and stares down the arrangement of traffic, maybe he could squeeze through those lines of... nope. He relaxes his tension and sighs again.
"Ahh! Hurry it up already!" He yells at the traffic.
Ah, just homeschooled eh? That's almost disappointing. Here Fumiya was thinking she raised in California or something awesome like that. Still, that's pretty unusual. "Can't imagine why you'd want to go to Gekkoukan, but whatever you wanna do..."
Suddenly: Duck. "Duck? What..." Oh right, how this all started. This other guy is still here. In a hurry as well. "Well bro, the trick to that is to just not be in a hurry yourself. If life's moving slow, you move slow, if it moves fast then you better keep up. It's the way it is. Me? I walk most of the time so I get to go at my own pace, dig me?" Fumiya's Philosophy.
"Besides, growing up in Port Island I had to get used to the traffic here. Inaba moves at a snail's pace compared to here, so don't get too bent out of shape over a traffic jam."
Aigis tries not to lie. She may tell the truth creatively, but she isn't prone to lying. Homeschooling is a little more accurate than 'abroad'. Nevertheless, Aigis bites at her lip when talk about Howard the Duck comes out. "Gekkoukan is one of the best schools in the area." Aigis says and she doesn't say it like she cares one way or the other--she just says it as if it were an incontrovertible fact. She focuses on Fumiya s'more and stares at him for several, several long moments. "Dig you?" Aigis asks.
She gives Yoshiro a worried look. "What does he mean?" She asks of him.
Yoshiro sighs yet again, all but rolling eyes at Fumiya's attempts at providing a good motto for life. "Well, you sure sound like you get to take things easy, but... you're from here, really?" Yoshiro sounds a bit more surprised. "You talk like some kind of weird hick."
It does sort of make him wonder if maybe the two actually met at some point when they were a whole lot younger. Undoubtedly they would have been completely different people then, but... he turns his head up to traffic again. Okay, maybe no-- no, still too packed. Hmm.
A police officer about a street down glances in the direction of the three. He suddenly seems a little nervous about this picture.
Meanwhile, Yoshiro just shakes his head at Aigis' query. He's beat there too.
"Hick?" Fumiya's eyes widen to the point where the change is visible from behind his sunglasses. "Not cool, man. I'm talking vintage, understand? Pure pop culture 80s, in its finest." Now he's probably making even less sense. Fumiya can stand people poking fun at his peculiar way of behaving, but at least get it right!
It certainly is possible they met, once before. Especially since Fumiya's current habits are a relatively new thing in his life.
Turning back to Aigis, Fumiya decides to elaborate a bit. "Dig, you know, do you get me?" He pauses, is that enough? "Do we have an understanding?" He adds, about as formal as he can think to make it, for Aigis's sake. "It's just cool slang, Aigis-babe, it's different everywhere." And, apparently, everywhen.
"Anyway, yeah, I'm from here. My folks shipped me off to Inaba to live with my Grandparents this year, they thought I was getting in too much trouble or whatever. Suits me fine either way." At least, going into it, Fumiya's thought process led him to believe that the smaller town would allow him to gain quite a reputation. It hasn't worked out yet, there's odder stuff going on in Inaba than he first thought.
Aigis tilts her head, you can practically see the question mark floating above her head. Slang? slang. She will have to look up slang. She bobs her head after a moment and adds, "I will check alternate dictionaries, Fumiya-San." She says, "Thank you for informing me of its category. I will endeavour to educate myself so that communication between the two of us is more reliable. I had thought it some manner of code." Folks, she thinks, grandparents. So he certainly is not a machine.
Aigis lowers her head slightly. Frown. It might've been nice, she thinks, but--it's for the best that Fumiya-San is not a machine, even if it would have been nice. At least she now knows that his dialogue is 1980s slang. That should make matters far easier.
Aigis waves a friendly arm at the police officer. "Do Not Worry Officer!" She says stiltedly, "We Are Not Communicating About Suspicious Things!" She looks back to Yoshiro and adds, "It is important to be friendly with local law enforcement."
Yoshiro Yoshino, being a child of the nineties like virtually all his peers, pretty much just doesn't 'get it.' Something that would, perhaps, be a detriment to the understanding and acceptance of the things that came of that old decade.
"Really? They sent you out to the middle of nowhere?" Yoshiro asks of the Fresh Prince of Inaba. He does have family out there. It makes him start to fear what'd happen if they decided sending /him/ out there was a good idea. He shrinks a little in his seat. Living in a place like that would drive him crazy in no time flat! It does beg the question if a lot of the Inaba residents actually talk that way, but, this is the first time he's heard it.
"Huh?" Yoshiro turns his head as Aigis waves to the police officer. "Oh... I know him, um." He decides not to complete the sentence. The officer waves back to Aigis but otherwise does not appear less on edge. As though there are... certain expectations of events that might be about to transpire.
Yoshiro starts looking out at traffic again.
Well whether she was schooled abroad or not, there's something odd about the way Aigis talked. Fumiya tries to ignore it for two reasons: 1) She was a babe that actually didn't seem to mind Fumiya's eccentric nature, and that's something he always wants to encourage, and 2) He's aware enough of said eccentric nature not to criticize other people for speaking oddly. Pot, Kettle, Black, that sort of thing.
Though he does cringe when she /calls out to the officer and insists everything is totally fine honest/. Who DOES that? Fumiya's enthusiasm over Aigis drops a notch when he realizes that she's kind of a square.
Still, square or no square, she's unique. Fumiya smiles nervously as Yoshiro insists he 'knows' the officer. "Is that so? Well..." He says in that awkward way that suggests he'd rather be somewhere else entirely. Getting tangled up with a cop on his first day back in Port Island, while it would certainly get people talking, would get his folks all kinds of pissed. "Not that this hasn't been a blast, but I figure I should head on my way. Don't forget about next week's exams bro..." Fumiya teases. "If you do badly maybe you'll get sent out to the sticks too."
Aigis does that. This isn't even the first time. She worries about policemen being on edge, a certainly odd quality to have. She also worries about other things. A lot of things, really, but she seems cheered up by the policeman returning her wave. She buys weapons from police officers in Port Island, she doesn't think she has anything to FEAR from them--and certainly imagines that her wonderful record with the police she buys weapons from somehow translates to helping her with police she doesn't buy weapons from.
Well that and Kirijo has a pretty tight grip on Port Island.
"The sticks ... Would be Inaba?" Aigis asks. "I see." Perhaps Yosuke-San is also an 80s guy. She bobs her head pleasantly, "Thank you for educating me, Fumiya-San." She looks to Yoshiro, 'My apologies for taking your time." She glances to the traffic.
"Wh-what?! No way, I'll do fine, I'll ace them this time!" Yoshiro stammers. This is the kid who placed the absolute lowest for his entire grade in Gekkoukan. He's been insisting throughout that he'll totally do better this time, really, honestly, truly! For reals, he's the man, he'll do it.
"I, eh... well, um, I guess I'll," he looks out to the traffic, "hurry back to my dorm."
Except traffic is still pretty bad and that police officer, oh, Yoshiro knows exactly what's going on here. He passes something of a guilty look and just starts to walk the bike along the sidewalk instead.
The officer feels some sense of relief at this apparent adherence to orderly behavior and accordance of traffic laws. Incident-free. Peaceful! All could be well tonight.
...For another ten seconds.
"Yeah, it's Inaba all right." Fumiya comments, feeling a little bitter. How he'd rather be in the city, going to Gekkoukan, hanging out at Paulownia Mall. Instead Inaba has Junes. Fan-freaking-tastic. Fumiya lightly shakes his head to stop himself from dwelling on those thoughts. He already decided he'd do whatever he had to in order to make the best out of living in Inaba. It just seems like he'll have to try a little harder.
He then blinks in surprise when Aigis thanks him. Educating? "Ok, sure. Any time, Aigis-babe." If she ever wants to learn more, then that would awesome.
As Yoshiro starts to get antsy about leaving, Fumiya shakes his head and chuckles. "Walking, man. Go at your own pace." He reminds him. "Or, alternatively, skateboard and break the rules whenever possible." He didn't bring his board with him today, though.
"Anyway, I'll catch you both on the flipside. Later."
"I hope you do well." Aigis says, perhaps he'll be second worst this time. She can dream. She can dream. "And certainly, I seem to run into you--so it will not be difficult to find you." If nothing else she can say 'where is the weirdo?' and she'll find SOMEONE she wants to talk to. Hopefully they won't point to Aigis. She even forgets to ask Fumiya what the 'babe' thing is. Curses! Maybe next time.
When those ten seconds pass, there is suddenly a loud chorus of car honks and a total stop in traffic for a couple seconds. This means probably exactly what one would think it means.