Inaba - Samegawa Flood Plain
Sometimes the quiet city isn't quiet enough. A long river runs through Inaba, and the flood plain is the path that goes right alongside it. There may not be much left in the way of undeveloped land surrounding this part of Japan, but the Samegawa Flood Plain shines brightly for those who want to truly get away from it all.
Aside from a long paved road, a couple of signs, and a gazebo, humanity's usual urban mark has not been imprinted too heavily. Many children walk along this path at one point or another to reach whatever school they may attend. Trees dot the roads and grass happily grows nearby, making the place scenic no matter what the season. The river bank has a small stone 'dock' in which to fish from. The river is teeming full of fish at all times of day.
It is said that when it rains, the mighty fish named the "Guardian of the Samegawa" awaits wary fishermen, larger than even those simply referred to as "huge fish." Nobody has ever caught it. Many are simply content with catching smaller, less scary fish for food, sport, or trade.
It's a cloudy evening on the flood plain, a few random students pass through making their way home or stopping to chat, and Fumiya Watanabe is tossing rocks in the water at the Samegawa Flood Plain.
It's an odd way to waste time, and he's not even fully sure why he's doing it. He's in the mood to stop and think, but he has no idea what about.
A bandage is still present on the side of his head, but there are no other visible marks from the accident from a few nights ago. His schoolbag sits on the ground a few feet behind him, and a walkman blares scratchy, poorly copied, pop music into his ears. Eventually he stops throwing rocks when a few students attempting to fish throw him dirty looks and he walks away defeated, unusually without incident from him.
He went and left his skateboard home today too, how else is he going to burn the hours away this evening?
Shinjiro typically does not stray far from the more 'urban' centers of Inaba. Having been raised in a city all his life, he is particularly out of his depth when dropped in the midst of the country. The things that work in the mazelike alleys and back ways of Port Island just don't work in Inaba; the people are, as a whole, generally too laid back to give much of a damn.
Nonetheless, old habits die hard. Shinjiro hasn't relaxed even despite the pastoral setting, his stance still wound taut as guitar strings, his demeanor still soaked in low-key aggression. Even if people don't really -care- about such things out here, they still do respond with the appropriate caution.
Standing by one of the solitary signposts dotting the dusty lane, Shinji watches the passerby impassively, hard grey eyes gauging each for potential ability to tell him what he wants to know. Most of the students passing are younger, though, too young to attend the same school as she does; and when they see Shinjiro watching them, they skirt him and walk by even more hastily.
Unfortunately-- for both Fumiya and Shinji-- the first person who looks likely to be a 'peer' of Thora is the unusually-dressed boy. Only momentarily deterred, Shinjiro waits until Fumiya's in range before he cracks the silence with a sudden question. "...Hey. You know Kobayashi?" Roughly spoken, with a certain tone that commands total compliance... perhaps no one would be surprised that -this- kind of boy would be looking for the delinquent girl.
Elsewhere, a fatigued-looking Thora emerges from the old shrine, having left the Metalworks ages ago due to simply being too /tired/ to work today. She's drained both physically and mentally, unable to do more than just stumble around town aimlessly.
People give her wide berth wherever she goes. Something about the large teenager was just bad news for everyone.
Gradually, Thora seeks solace down by the river. As she approaches, she catches a familiar scent on the wind and cringes. Hopefully she was wrong. Hopefully someone, somehow, brought a horse into town.
Fumiya notices the big threatening guy before he approaches him, though he tries to ignore him at first. Hopefully he's not looking for him, and Fumiya can just let him go on his way. He's not in the mood, nor really the physical condition, to dance with a punk this evening. Though he's had to fight people off with worse odds before.
However to his dismay the beanie-equipped walks right up to him. Fumiya tenses, kind of expecting this to lead into a fight. What's it about this time, his hair? His clothes? The music? The attitude?
Shockingly, it turns out to be none of those, and Fumiya is both surprised and a little disappointed to hear that this isn't even about him at all. It even takes a second for the name to process. "Thora-babe?" He finally responds, getting back up to speed. Despite the command in Shinjiro's voice, Fumiya isn't going to play along. He never was one for following authority.
"What do you want with her, bro? You don't look like you're from Inaba." Fumiya slowly begins to circle Shinjiro, and something in the back of his head starts screaming at him. As if Fumiya should know this guy for some reason. Whatever it is, Fumiya is hesitant to tell anyone about Thora. What happened the previous Sunday may still be fuzzy in his memory, but he has a bad feeling about telling anyone anything.
Most normal people would crack some kind of expression-- amusement, surprise, or possibly disgust-- at hearing that nickname. Shinjiro, in contrast, doesn't even flick a lash. He's waiting for his answer.
When it doesn't come, Shinjiro's eyes narrow perceptibly.
He supposes he should have expected this. It wasn't hard to notice that, instead of quailing, Fumiya geared up for a fight. The boy is obviously used to having to defend himself, given that outlandish wardrobe. Shinjiro doesn't have a -problem- with either that, OR the wardrobe, but at the same time he isn't really in the mood for any dancing around.
Shinjiro continues to fail to move, even when Fumiya starts circling: except for the way his half-lidded eyes follow Fumiya, cold with the sort of timeless, falling-snow patience that expects to get what it wants in the end. "Do you know her or not...?" he finally sighs, irritation serrating an edge onto his voice, his tall frame finally shifting -just- enough to cut Fumiya off, in case the other boy is thinking about trying to scoot around. "I want to know where she is."
A long pause, before Shinjiro finally deigns to clarify, "Ain't gonna fuck with her, if that's what you're thinkin." Not unless she deserves it.
Alone she heads for her favorite spot by the river-the pylons where people fished off of. More than a few times she'd chased other people away from them. She doesn't make it there today, though, as she takes notice of the pair several feet down the riverbank.
Thora freezes, staring. What was Shinjiro doing here? Did he find out about last night? (Unsurprising if he did, which worried her a little because she was going to drag Shinjiro along with her.) More importantly, though, she notices Fumiya circling around him like a boxer assessing a larger and slower foe.
Not good, not good at all, especially since she knows what the kid had to deal with this weekend. Not only that but it was...something she was responsible for. Unaware of what the two are talking about, Thora quickly jogs over to meet them.
She already looks slightly riled. Rather than say hello to Shinjiro, her first words are: "Watanabe, are you doing alright?"
This guy was something else. Fumiya didn't like how he simply didn't react at all to him. Not the responses, not the circling, nothing. He was too damn calm and composed. He remains silent as Shinjiro presses the question, and stays that way even after he insists it's nothing to worry about. Fumiya's just not sure what he should do. Thora seems like she can take care of herself, but on Sunday there was that woman that Thora insisted was 'dangerous'... and then the motorcycle accident. ...it was an accident, right?
"..." Assessing Shinjiro one last time, Fumiya ponders if this is a fight he could win if it came to that, or if he would have to get away. No skateboard means no quick wheels. He's a pretty good sprinter, but who knows if this guy is any better. Whatever the outcome, Fumiya is just too stubborn to simply hand over information if he feels the slightest bit wrong doing so. "Why don't you try jumping in the river, I hear she likes to fish." He responds. It may not be the best response he could've made, but he gets his point across.
He seems about ready to start fighting at any moment when Thora finally arrives. Completely confused about this situation and not at all sure what to expect, Thora surprises Fumiya entirely by first asking how he's doing. Blink. "Y-yeah, I'm fine. Healthy as a horse, don't worry about it."
Oh, if Fumiya wanted a reaction, he was about to get one. Shinjiro is generally patient enough, and his total calmness is in fact calculated: being easily riled is fatal among the gangs roaming Port Island, as emotionality suggests weakness. However, the -other- thing that has been ground into him from his time wandering around the streets is that outright sass can't be tolerated. Blatant challenges require decisive responses.
The actual movement is not dramatic, but the shift in posture is an unmistakable marker of total loss of patience. Shinjiro /leans/ forward incrementally, stance widening by degrees; slight as the transformation in the character of his carriage is, the message is nonetheless difficult to miss. He is definitely irritated by the fact Fumiya can't seem to just say 'no' and walk away without first emitting a whole bunch of bullshit.
"It's a simple fuckin question," Shinjiro says, his voice darkening. "What, do you WANT a fight..."
Shinjiro stops instantly when his actual objective shows up. He pulls back into a more neutral stance, eyeing the girl, unable to really talk freely about the topics he came to discuss while Fumiya is present. "You pick friends as annoying as you are, Kobayashi," he says instead, very charmingly, though there isn't any real heat or bite to the statement.
Yes Fumiya. Nothing but a simple accident. Please keep thinking that for your own good.
As she gets within earshot, she hears Fumiya's words and sees Shinjiro's sudden shift in posture. With her experience she knows immediately that this means some kind of fight is impending. Inwardly, she roars with amusement-Fumiya and Shinjiro fighting? Yes please! Especially with all that tough talk he kept spouting while he was around Azusa. No pushover, right? Experience with fighting bullies? Please provide.
On the other hand, she can't help but feel oddly touched when he flat out refuses to give the 'stranger' the time of day.
Shoving her hands into her pockets, she grins weakly and slows in her approach. "Good to hear. Guess you're pretty good at taking hits to the head."
Thora rolls her head to the side a little so she can angle her gaze upon Shinjiro. Her beady eyes narrow just slightly as she neatly steps between them. "Fumiya's more like an...acquaintance." she intones neutrally before pressing onward. "Why are you out here?"
With that last question she actually sounds a little worried. Lately she'd finally realized that she'd gotten herself in way over her head.
Fumiya really isn't a pushover. It's just that the only person he's had the misfortune of trying to fight since coming to Inaba had a magical mind monster and he doesn't even remember it anyway. Someday he'll get his moment to shine and be a knight in neon armor.
Shinjiro's threatening stance causes Fumiya to flinch a little, and that little voice screaming in the back of his mind returns. It's more or less telling him 'do not fight this guy what is wrong with you'. Thankfully Thora's arrival diffuses the potential fight. One that Fumiya totally could've won maybe if he weren't on the mend.
"You wound me, Thora-babe." Fumiya says in response to her acquaitance remark, and totally pushing his limits intentionally. He relaxes a bit since it seems Thora does know this guy, but Fumiya still isn't inclined to go anywhere. Between this guy and that strange chick from Sunday Fumiya can tell Thora's in the middle of something. And Fumiya wants to know /all/ about it.
"So who is this guy anyway?" He finally asks the obvious question.
For once, Thora's arrival is a peace-bringing blessing: though perhaps unnecessary, as Shinjiro was probably fairly close to walking away in utter disdain. He didn't actually really want to fight either, though less due to uncertainty as to whether he could win (it's debatable whether he is capable of those kinds of doubts), and more just because fighting is a big fucking hassle and he doesn't want to have to exert the effort for a little thing like this.
He doesn't miss the note of concern in Thora's voice when she asks why he's here. He glances instinctively at Fumiya, sidelong, perhaps giving away even more -conclusively- to the other boy the fact that something fishy is going on, before he answers briefly, "Yesterday." Reading her expression quietly, sensing that unease, Shinjiro finally adds, "Heard it went kinda rough."
He glances again at Fumiya, perhaps hoping for some indication whether acquaintance means 'normal guy' or 'enlightened acquaintance.' Of course, Fumiya has some input of his own in the form of a question. Shinjiro's grey eyes narrow, perhaps contemplating any number of snide variations on 'none of your damn business' he could give, before he ultimately just sighs and decides to brush it off with some actual honesty: the reasoning being it's harder to sass a flat answer, and Shinjiro just isn't in the mood for that banter. "Aragaki. Like I said. I know her."
The more pressing question, but the one that Shinjiro refuses to ask aloud, is 'why the hell is he calling her Thora-babe?'
"An acquaintance from Port Island." Again with the acquaintances. Thora really didn't like admitting that people were /friends/ apparently. There was always that lurking fear that if her friend was identified then they would be taken from her. Especially now since she knows that snake bitch would definitely take such steps to get at her.
"Fumiya, I thought I told you not to call me that." She says tiredly. Strange, normally she'd be jumping into a frenzy here over that slip. Maybe Shinjiro's presence is holding her back? Or more likely, maybe it's because she just looks so /fatigued/, as if there wasn't any fight in her.
Shinjiro can probably divine why. "...it went very rough." she mutters, looking at him. "But I got that package back to you guys." Phaeton. At least the robot came back in one piece. The shadow inside of it was nowhere to be seen.
She steps away from the two of them, heading for the riverbank. "I think I've bitten off more than I can chew, senpai. I need to lay low for a while."
Another acquaitance huh? Well at least this guy didn't seem to be held in higher regard than Fumiya was. At least, he doesn't have any reason to think that yet. Fumiya can't help but smirk when Thora doesn't react as strongly as she normally does to the whole 'babe' thing. Maybe she's tired, or maybe she's getting used to it?
His smirk drops, almost comically, when Shinjiro decides to share his last name. 'Aragaki'. The gears start turning in Fumiya's head, and a note is passed from monkey to monkey, all of whom are dressed like Bubbles, until it is finally delivered into Fumiya's mental inbox. He's /that/ Aragaki.
Fumiya's reaction could only be described as exaggerated, something taken straight out of an animated comedy. As if Shinjiro were carrying a world-ending plague, Fumiya /jumps/ back, balancing on foot with his arms in the air for a moment. "...Aragaki? From Port Island?" The beanie, the coat, the overall attitude. It matches everything Fumiya has heard. He feels the blood drain from his face as he realizes just how close he came to a fight with this guy. A reputation might be overblown, but there are some people you don't want to mess with.
Lucky for Thora, Fumiya's so taken aback by seeing Shinjiro in person that everything she said about the previous night and laying low doesn't register immediately.
Shinjiro's irritation starts to evaporate the more he notices that Thora really... isn't herself. A more neutral look replaces the hard lines of annoyance; though anyone who knew Shinji well would know that 'neutrality' is about the closest he gets to expressing 'actual concern.' He isn't quite -so- egotistical as to think it's his presence that's keeping her subdued-- and yesterday -did- seem to be something of a clusterfuck. Little wonder she's tired.
"...I know. We appreciated the help. Can't have shit like that loose." Shinjiro's voice never quite gets -kind-, no, but there's a sort of gruff quality to it that connotes it; especially when Thora addresses him as 'senpai.' Her other words, however, coupled with her defeated look, concern him; his eyes narrow as he glances after her, and he asks, "...what do you mean?"
What he's really asking is 'what did you get yourself into this time? Did you do something bad again?'
He's handily distracted for a few moments, however, when Fumiya finally finishes processing that particular surname and makes his... somewhat exaggerated reaction. While Shinjiro isn't unused to people hurriedly backing down or outright cringing from him, a -leap- away is a little new; with the instinct of a versed fighter, Shinjiro's eye is immediately attracted to the sudden movement. His gaze reroutes with hawklike intensity, suspicious and wary in case Fumiya has decided to jump him after all.
One glance shows him this is... not the case. Especially considering how white Fumiya has gone. Fortunately, Shinjiro is not the sort given to excessive bullying or rubbing things in; he just surveys Fumiya directly, before he comments, "...Yeah? What, you know me?" Shinjiro is a little bemused that even this boy from Inaba would react in a way that suggests he's heard the rumors.
Thora's bout of moping is quickly waylaid as Fumiya has a...pretty funny reaction to the mention of Shinjiro's name. She turns from the river to watch him, thoroughly amused as he leaps away like a ballet dancer. "Oh?" Thora says conversationally, "So you've heard of him, eh?"
A terrible idea settles into Thora's mind: grab Shinjiro by the arm and claim he's your boyfriend. That'd shut Fumiya down permanently, wouldn't it? But...Shinjiro would kick her ass later and rumors would spread and much like the Revenge Request she made for Naoya...
...it'd blow up in her face. Yes, let's not do that.
'Appreciated the help' reaches her ears and she grins just slightly. As Fumiya freaks out, Thora moves closer to Shinjiro to murmur to him quietly.
"There are a good three, maybe more, people /out to kill me/ now." she whispers through gritted teeth. "I nearly /died/ last night."
Fumiya recovers quickly, or tries to at least. He forces himself to take a more relaxed pose, though it takes a few more moments for him to swallow his surprise. In retrospect he shouldn't have been too surprised to learn Thora would know someone like him, but it was more the shock of seeing the guy in person that got to him. Especially here in Inaba, so far from his turf.
"Y-yeah, well..." He starts to say, and coughs once to clear his throat. "I spent a lot of time hanging around the alleys in Port Island, I've heard the name a few times." Fumiya is trying to brush aside his earlier reaction by playing down Shinjiro's reputation, and it's really not working. Silently, he hopes there weren't that many students still around to see that. Normally Fumiya loves attention, regardless of how stupid his stunt is. But he'd rather not everyone know he jumped out of his skin over a name.
While he doesn't hear Thora's most recent comment to Shinjiro, the things they mentioned before finally start to sink in. "Is, uh, everything alright? What are you laying low from?" Fumiya's interest partly comes from genuine concern, but also from a desire to stick his nose into everything.
It's lucky, really, Thora decides not to try that ploy. Any claims Thora tried to make in that regard would be met with the most withering stare imaginable. Or possibly just an impromptu demonstration for Fumiya as to WHY Shinjiro has the vicious reputation he does.
None the wiser about Thora's momentary thought, Shinjiro just tilts his head slowly at Fumiya as the other boy tries to brush everything over, impassive to the point of being completely imposing. Though in actuality he's somewhat amused at the entire situation, little of that shows in his expression-- at least, up until Fumiya says where it is he heard Shinjiro's name. The barest hint of a smirk flickers at the corner of his mouth, then. That would explain it.
"Inaba kid like you..." Shinjiro's eyes drift up and down Fumiya, implying 'dressed like that, /acting/ like that,' "...why'd you be there? Rough place to want to 'hang out.' ...You from Port Island originally?"
Thora moves closer. Shinjiro tenses instinctively, less because he distrusts her and more simply due to being tetchy about closeness, but what she tells him doesn't dispel that tension; if anything, it worsens it. Shinjiro turns a sharp grey eye on Thora, the cast of it slightly troubled. He's almost tempted to say that when one is blase about killing, others tend to become blase about returning the favor-- pushing the thought aside as too cruel at this particular moment, he says instead, "...You want to tell me about it?" It's possible, after all, she doesn't -really- want to.
Hey, if it were only one person out to destroy her, Thora would be okay. Lately, however, she seems awful good at making enemies with everyone, though. It's also tempting to jump in and explain to Shinjiro that Fumiya was originally from Port Island but...well, she lets him speak for himself.
At Fumiya's question directed at her, Thora huffs. "Just the run of the mill delinquent stuff. Nothin you gotta concern yourself with." Which actually wasn't true. Maybe Azusa would strike at Fumiya again based on some kind of perceived closeness. Hell, Thora thought Fumiya might even deserve it from being so stubbornly nosy. At least Shirou ran when she told him to run.
She watches Shinjiro's gaze after she speaks to him and immediately in that second regrets saying anything. This was the guy she admitted to finding killing an acceptable solution to various problems. Did she actually just try to fish for sympathy from /him/?
'Disgraceful' she tells herself, you made your bed, now sleep in it and kill those people before they kill you. "I probably shouldn't." Part of it is unwillingness but part of it is also because Fumiya's /right there/ and would give her funny looks if she said 'SEBEC probably wants me dead now'.
"No no, I'm from Port Island." Fumiya quickly adds, almost too quickly. As if he still doesn't want people to think he's actually /from/ here. His feelings on Inaba are still mixed, so he doesn't hesitate to set people straight. He likes being thought of as a city kid out here, it gives him a more unique identity. Despite the fact that there are several other city kids currently studying in this town.
"Just gang trouble?" Fumiya echoes Thora's answer, he's not quite sure he believes it. He has first-hand experience with the sort of trouble gangs can bring so it's not like it's impossible, but something about it still doesn't feel right to him. He still draws a blank when trying to remember everything that happened on Sunday, so with an internal shrug he decides not to press it. It'll only make him more confused and frustrated.
Satisfied that Shinjiro isn't out to cause trouble for Thora, and not really wanting to wear out his welcome around someone with his reputation, Fumiya re-shoulders his bag and begins to head off. "I'd better head home..." He says, trying as hard as possible to say it in a way that doesn't suggest he's leaving out of nervousness. "Watch your back I guess, Thora-babe. Some gang punks can be more trouble than they're worth." As he leaves he tries to meet eye contact with Shinjiro one more time. Very briefly. At least he can say he came that close to him and left with his bones intact.
In fact, Fumiya starts to consider if Thora's apparent friendship with Shinjiro, if it can be called that, is something he can make use of if he ever decides to pull a stunt back home in Port Island. It's a dangerous line of thinking that'll probably end painfully for him, but that's never stopped him before.
Indeed, the fact that Thora has repeatedly stated in the past that she's quite fine with killing to solve her problems is somewhat inhibiting Shinjiro's already very limited ability to sympathize. That, and his own very blase attitude to death is somewhat hamstringing his reaction. He tries, however, if only because he has the feeling that pointing this out would do more harm than it would good.
Shinjiro shrugs it off for now, glancing to Fumiya as the boy explains he's from Port Island. Guess the kid's family just moved out here recently. He makes no move to stop Fumiya as the boy decides to head home, though his eyes do crease in a thoughtful sort of way as Fumiya professes concern for Thora. Seems like a decent kid, if he'll stick up for her like that. Thora could use more of those around.
Shinjiro notices the way Fumiya tries to meet his eyes. He acknowledges the gaze briefly, recognizing what Fumiya is trying to prove and willing enough to cater, his own grey eyes expressing little more than a mature and brooding sort of calm. Some of the rumors about him were clearly true-- but then, some of the other ones-- the ones that painted him as unremittingly vicious, willing to trash people at the drop of a hat-- don't seem to be.
He looks back to Thora when Fumiya is out of earshot. "That kid gives a shit about you." The statement is flat enough it could be taken any number of ways, but probably 'so don't be so reckless,' is the intended meaning.
"Somethin' like that. You've seen the ones hanging out around by the Metalworks, I'm sure." They'd been there for a while now, menacing but not starting fights with people. Thora hated them because she knew their presence was due to her.
Watch your back? Argh, that damn nickname again. "I thought I told you not to call me that." she repeats tersely as he leaves, glaring daggers into his back. Perhaps she'd have to go educate him again at a later date about using that terrible little suffix.
The first words out of Shinjiro's mouth once Fumiya has left surprise her. "...what?" she turns to look at him, "Maybe a little but only 'cause I react to him. Other girls don't give him the time of day which I guess is worse than gettin' yelled at to him." Which kind of pissed Thora off even more. She hated being someone's entertainment. "...that idiot pokes his nose into too much stuff. He's gonna get himself hurt."
Especially if Fumiya kept poking around her. Maybe the whole 'motorcycle accident' wasn't much of a deterrant. Thora looks away from Shinjiro, staring down into the water of the river. "..."