Historically, Inaba was formerly Yasoinaba, a coal mining town. Over time, it grew from the initial settlement of coal miners into what it is today. Nobody here mines for coal any longer.
A rural town out in the country, tourists praise the air as being clean and the sky cleaner than any of the big cities surrounding it, and the sunsets as absolutely breathtaking. The town goes at its own pace throughout the day. To the average person, there is not much to see out here, with a lack of interesting historical landmarks or, really, even much of anything. Inaba is about as close to being the middle of nowhere as one can get in this part of Japan. A new department store may be the herald of encroaching urbanization.
Recently, the town has fallen on hard times. A major department store's recent opening is seeing smaller businesses fold left and right. A serial murder case grips the attention of the local media. Rumors circulate about how if one watches a turned off TV in one's room at midnight on a raining evening, one will see their soulmate. Bizarre meteorlogical patterns see great amounts of rain followed by thick, choking fog. Some say a local beef skewer stand isn't even using real beef.
Some seem a little too welcoming of the excitement and confusion. Is it just from a change of pace, or is there a sinister truth to all these events?
It's roughly dinner time in Inaba, the sun setting in the sky though it is obscured by the clouds. Not much seems to be happening and the streets are pretty empty. Koichi, looking as dead on his feet as always, is wandering through Inaba proper on his way home from Junes. It was a particularly slow day in the department store, and the kid took off early. Not with permission, mind, but most people won't even notice he's gone anyway... His apron is slong haphazardly over his shoulder and he's wandering down the sidewalk with his hands in his pockets and gaze cast on the ground, almost oblivious to his surroundings as per usual.
And who else is out on the mean streets of Inaba? It's Shirou Sekigawa again, but not in his usual civvies or his school uniform. He's ruffed up and rather disgruntled looking, wearing a white gi and carrying a blue duffle bag under his arm. He rubs his nose just a bit, right at the bridge. Seems like he's had a long day as well...
Out of the trio of youths who coincidentally all meet up at the same spot in Inaba, at least one of them has to be upbeat, right? Statistically, you'd think so. Especially if one of those youths is Fumiya Watanabe, then the odds are even higher.
In fact, he IS in an upbeat mood, or he appears to be at least. He may not be skateboarding, dancing to some unheard tune, or otherwise making a nuisence of himself, but he walks down the street with a strut that suggests he's in a real good mood. One that seems to brighten when he sees Shirou, and he smirks like someone who just found a way to kill some time for the rest of the evening.
"Hey preppy! How's your vacation?"
Koichi is never in an upbeat mood. And he doesn't wear pink. Or sunglasses. Or any other number of the clashing colors that even jars even Koichi back to reality... His expression shifts from one of a fierce internal dialogue to that of dumbfoundedness. It's the 1980s threw up on Inaba. Koichi can do little but stop and stare for a few minutes, slowly trying to regain his composure. That's a lot to take in... What's more remarkable is that the two seem to share a school, yet he's never noticed Fumiya before. Perhaps Koichi really is half-asleep all the time.
Once he finally stops being rude and can avert his gaze, Koichi realizes there's a third kid hanging around too. Oh, it's Shirou again. He clears his throat, and tries to be amiable. "Oh, Sekigawa-san... Nice to see you aga..." He trails off. Jeeze, Shirou looks more beat than he does. "Um, you okay...?" Koichi asks, rather concerned. He gets too distracted to properly greet Fumiya. Don't take it personally!
...oh for the sake of the gods it had to be Fumiya. Shirou pinches harder at the bridge of his nose, his eyes screwing up just a bit as they're ASSAULTED WITH PINK. Once they adjust behind the eyelids, he opens them up. "Don't call me Preppy..." he says breathlessly, sighing as he tilts his head, studying his... friend, yeah. "It goes... just got into a training-"
About this time Koichi walks up and joins them, and he gives him a nod of the head. "Err, yeah, Nakano-san. Was just about to tell Michael J. Fuaxpas here that I was training most of the day with Kaede-sensei. IT was... hell, yeah."
Sorry Shirou, you'll have to try harder than that to get Fumiya to drop an annoying nickname. Thora pretty much roared in Fumiya's face and he STILL calls her 'babe'.
"Training?" He asks, tilting his head. "Training for what? You mean you aren't kicking back and relaxing? Come on man, the vacation will be over before you know it. Train later." After a quick, and forced, sigh he finally notices Koichi. "Oh hey, never seen you around before. You a pal of Shirou-bro?"
Oh god. Koichi silently prays he doesn't get pegged with an annoying nickname... He slowly nods to Shirou, and was about to ask similar questions before the kid in pink beat him to the punch. He can only offer his condolences, "I see.. Well, um... Good luck with that.." He sort of mumbles the last sentence, not wanting it to come across as sarcastic as it sounds.
Koichi shifts his attention back over toward Fumiya when the other kid speaks to him. The clashing of colors, though less intense as his first dose, still makes him squint a little. "Er.. Yeah." He says, answering theq question, "Well, I mean.. We're in the same class." Pal might be a strong word. The two have probably had one conversation together. At least that Koichi remembers... "Um, I'm Koichi Nakano... And you're... Michael-san, was it?" Yeah, that joke went right over Koichi's head.
Shirou snerks a little bit. "No no, that... that was a joke man. Michael J. Fox? He was an actor in the US in the '80's..." Shirou knows his movies well. He yawns a bit, dropping the bag for now, the contents sounding /really/ heavy. "Fumiya Watanabe. And dude, if I could quit, I /would/. This ain't for school... my prick of a father's making me do this..."
Being called Michael causes Fumiya to pause for moment, though for an entirely different reason than Michael J. Fox. Once the moment passes his smile returns he nods as Shirou introduces him. "Nice to meetcha, Nakano."
Fumiya's eyes widen behind his sunglasses when Shirou reveals his reasons for his training. Here he thought he was just being an overachiever. "Ouch, that's harsh man." He's sympathetic, he hates being pushed to do crap he hates also. Who doesn't? "What's his problem? If you're against it, I mean. Or is he just one of those really stubborn old fogies?"
Koichi offers a quick smile and a bow to Fumiya, his cheeks flushed with embarassment. "O-oh.. Watanabe-san. S-sorry." He apologizes, "Yes, nice to meet you." Well, how was he supposed to know who this Michael J. Fox is? Or was, as the case may be. Kocihi doesn't know his movies well.. Nor is he up-to-date on American 80s fads. Or America in general. In fact, the only American film he's ever seen was Ghostbusters. A Bill Murray reference he might have understood but...
Koichi falters a minute at the mention of Shirou's father. Being forced into something by a controlling dad is something he's all-too familiar with, so he can't help but give the kid a sympathetic look. "O-oh. I'm sorry, Sekigawa-san.." He says quietly, trailing off again. He wants to say something more supportive, but can tell this is a touchy subject, so he keeps quiet.
"Old foggey? The oldest and err, foggiest I guess. He's the, now retired, priest at the Shinto Shrine just outta town. Not the one in town, mind ya..." He trails off and waves a hand a bit. "It's... eh, not all that damned bad. It's actually kinda cool..." He kneels down, opening up the bag and showing... well, it's hard to see in the dieing light.
But he pulls out a short spear, the tip capped off with a bit of rubber. "Father 'suggested' that I should learn 'something befitting a shrine guardian'... like there's been a need for /that/ in hundreds of years..." He scoffs a bit, but ends up twirling the spear a bit in his arm, even if it looks like his scrawny arms wouldn't have enough power to give anything a deadly blow with it.
Fumiya quirks an eyebrow at Koichi. So he's one of those easily-flustered overly formal types. "Relax man, call me whatever." Fumiya never really cared whether or not people slapped a suffix on his name. If they insist, well fine, but just don't feel like you're obliged to, y'know?
As Shirou explains his situation, Fumiya nods, as if he understands perfectly. Or is pretending that he does. His old man is just plain toast salary man. A shinto priest actually sounds kind of interesting. Still, the training sounds like a pain and a half. "Well it's not like there's much you'll need to fight with a spear around here...." He jokes, though he trails off at the very end. As he's learned recently, apparently there IS.
Koichi is quite easily flustered, yes. Overly-formal? Well, maybe. He just doesn't want to be rude... "Oh, um. Sorry..." Fumiya just left out that he also apologizes too much. But he'll learn that soon enough. Before he can say anything else about it though, Shirou pulls a weapon on him! Well, not really. But he does produce a nifty-looking spear from his pack. Koichi amuses himself briefly while watching him twirl it, before speaking again. "Oh, a priest..." He's not too sure what to make of that, not being the overly-religious type. He didn't even know there was another shrine outside town. He simply nods in agreement to Fumiya's observation, before chiming in. "I don't know... With the murderer still on the lose.." Ugh, why'd he bring that up. "Can't help to know how to protect yourself, right...?"
Shirou fehs a bit as he puts the spear back into the bag. "I bet the killer's long gone by know... you know, one of those joy-killer types... hit a town and then drives on out." Shirou has an... unique look on life in many ways. "But, yeah, whatever. It doesn't matter, it's just a day every two weeks or so."
SHirou shrugs, rubbing his shoulder a bit. "So, um... how are you two tonight?"
Fumiya blinks. 'The murderer'? Gears turn in his head. Click, grind, ding! He'll have to berate himself for not making the obvious connection before, but those creeps that he saw the other day, they must have something to do with the murders that have been going on!
He eyes Shirou cautiously. He knows he's tight with Thora, and he knows she's stuck her nose in all this. Has she told Shirou anything? Even on a good day Fumiya's not very tactful, so he puts all of his brainpower to work in thinking of a way to bring this up with Shirou.
"Aah..." He opens his mouth to say something, but nothing comes out. He has no idea, not without tipping Koichi off that there are people throwing victims into televisions. Still, he has to find /something/ out.
"Talked to Thora much lately?"
Koichi ruins all the fun. It seems like everyone he's met recently knows what's really going on around him, but no one will come out and say it. Of course, he's not observent enought to pick up on this... And really, if he were, he's too nervous to pry into other people's secrets. He eyes Fumiya again as the oddly-dressed one seems to be thinking quite hard. Does he smell smoke? He then looks back to Shirou. "Ah.. Uh..." The other kid did have an interesting way of thinking about it, "I hope you're right about that..." Boy, does he hope Shirou is right. As for the kid's question, Koichi simply shrugs. "Same as always..." He says quietly, "Surviving."
Oh geeze, Fumiya /did/ have to bring her up. He grunts, eyes closing up again as he sighs. "Man, yea, I mean... what do you /mean/ by that." He grunts a bit... he knows he calls her 'Thora-babe' all the damn time... maybe he has a thing for her too?
Not likely, but... hey. It could happen. He glares just a bit more at him. "Err... we just hang out a bit, nothing seroius or anything..."
Hang out now and then? That's it, huh? Fumiya /wants/ to just come out and say it, but Thora's threat to not tell anyone 'or else' is still kinda fresh in his mind. Either Shirou was given a similar threat and doesn't know Fumiya's in the know, or Shirou's not in the know at all.
All this super-secret mystical junk is too damn confusing. Just tell the world and be done with it.
Fumiya, reluctantly, decides it's best to leave well enough alone for now, until he can find someone he's /sure/ is in on it. "Just curious man." He finally responds. "She's seemed a bit on edge lately is all." Certainly hasn't had anything to do with /him/. "Anyway, good luck with your 'training', Preppy. Try and have some fun before school kicks us in the butt again, eh? Later, Nakano." He says, before walking off with small wave.