Who Wants to Talk About RUMORS?
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.
Woe to all students, school has resumed! And on this first Sunday following the renewal of the school term it seems the world is as glum as most students with grey overcast skies. But there is one student who is never grey and glum, ever. It's hard to be when all of your clothes are blinding tints of neon.
Fumiya Watanabe skateboards down through the commercial district, as he is known to do. His cassette player isn't with him today because the darn thing has broken again. It's getting harder and harder to maintain this image of his. As he passes the various stores, he throws a sideways glance at the bookstore. He's heard the rumors, alright, but he hasn't paid much mind to them or looked into them. Not that he doesn't believe in the supernatural, he certainly does after the past month, but the matter didn't seem 'glamorous' enough for him.
He quickly turns his attention back to the street, to make sure he doesn't run into any traffic or wayward shoppers. Or students chasing ducks.
Yes, that /has/ happened here before.
"Indeed - I need to go to Tatsumi texiles yet..." Yukiko says as she steps out of Daidura metalworks. In her hand was a little box - presumeably something from the store within. "Do you mind coming along with me there, t..." Yukiko starts to say. Unfortunately for her, and, presumeably Fumiya, that little sideways glance that the lad took towards the bookstore kinda hid Yukiko's step outside of the store - right into Fumiya's path.
Turning towards him, the Amagi heir gasps, fingers clutching the box as she raises her arms protectively, and closes her eyes shut with a wince...!
Michiru Fukase has a package tucked under her arm, its exact contents unclear. It's been wrapped in relatively plain patterened paper - perhaps it's a gift! "Oh, the cloth shop, I haven't been there in... ever," she answers Yukiko, about a pace behind the other girl. "Sure... what's it l-"
Skateboard!! That familiar rattling noise, the whoosh, the face of the enemy! Michiru's eyes widen as she reaches out to try and pull Yukiko back by the shoulder, but the moment in time may have passed -- it may only make a bad situation worse?!
Meanwhile, atop the roof of the two story high Yomenaido Bookstore, Bara-san, the somewhat-friendly-okay-not-really neighborhood shadow monster, crouches on the flat roof as consciously as a... simple shadow can be aware of. He wasn't picked because he was smart, he was picked because he could kill a human real quick-like with his claws and teeth, damn it. Still, some of the humans have been peering up at the roof from time to time, as if... he was seen? ... God, his master'll box his shadow brain in if he gets found out. And really, he's just not sure what to do if he gets found. Eat them? It would be a delicious choice, but again, his master'd probably bash his head in. Not because eating people is bad, but because he got Enoha in trouble. Or might've gotten his master in trouble, somehow.
So yeah. So Bara-san watches from the rooftop as hidden as he can be without missing the action going on below- like his housetrained non-shadow pet version.... he likes to watch from up high. The persona-users below cause him to summon a low growl from deep in his throat, easily missed in the onsuing disaster. His charge, however, is more active, coming out to place some books in the table outside, underneath the window. "..?" She cranes her head over, then, alarmed, drops the books in a pile on the table and sprints over, though probably not in any position to truly stop the worst from happening.
Fumiya needs to learn to keep his eyes in front of him more often while skateboarding. Especially while skateboarding down an incline such as the one in the Inaba Commercial District. Anyone who knows Fumiya, though, knows he is a slow learner (though, perhaps 'stubborn' is more appropriate).
Fumiya spots Yukiko and Michiru just in time to adjust his path so that he whizzes right past them, missing Yukiko by only millimeters. His last-minute course adjustment, though, sends him skidding to the ground. Luckily he doesn't pull a Yosuke and wind up in trash bins, that would just be undignified.
"Wheeeeeeeew." He sighs. Standing up Fumiya dusts himself off, and grabs his skateboard. "Sorry about that babes." He says, turning around, and spends a few moments eyeing Michiru and Yukiko. Perhaps a few more than he really needed to spend. "I guess I was blinded by beauty for a second there."
He quirks an eyebrow at Michiru. "Say, haven't we met before? I never forget a babe's face." This is a bit of a white lie, as with most teenage boys it's not the face he's most preoccupied with. "Michiru-babe, right? Sorry, didn't mean to nearly run you and your friend over....?" He looks in Yukiko's direction as he finishes his sentence, as if he expects to be introduced. Though Yukiko certainly looks familiar to him. Maybe she just has one of those faces.
Shadows? This could be problematic, because an anti shadow weapon is approaching!! Of course, since she's wearing a Gekkoukan School Uniform she probably is just someone who really likes manga, not a weapon at all, right? right? Secret Agent Aigis.
Nevertheless, she is heading for the Metalworks which means that when Fumiya falls over, the law of the 80s means that the biggest possible crowd is present to see him be lame--and so Aigis steps around the corner just in time to see Fumiya hit the ground.
Well, she thinks, at least it wasn't like with Yosuke--
"You should be more careful, Fumiya-San." She says.
Calling out as she is yanked backwards by the hand of her friend, Yukiko's eyes snap open and widen in on Fumiya even as she is tugged backwards. Clutching the box to her chest, Yukiko takes a deep breath of relief as disaster not only skids by her - but finds itself rolling on the ground nearby. Hmmn. Of course, Yukiko's first thought - once the terror of the surprise finishes - was, "Oh my god! Are you hurt?" she says, automatically, turning around towards where Fumiya had fallen.
The concern in her voice and features, however, fades as Fumiya stands up again, the girl giving him a once over - just to make sure he wasn't bleeding horrifically, or something awful. Blinking a few moments, the whole 'blinded by beauty' line, along with his strange use of the word 'babe' did not seem to register with Yukiko. "Ummm," Yukiko pauses, thinking. Slipping back to tried-and-true politeness, she bows forward some, before rising again, "I am sorry - I was not paying attention to the sidewalk when I stepped out. I really do hope you are not hurt..." she says, when robo-chan comes stepping out.
Yukiko's eyes turn that way, and the girl purses her lips. So familiar...
Yeah - it's him. Michiru's eyebrow ticks slightly at the sight of the neon-splashed memory of her freaking /parents'/ teenage years, lips struggling not to pull back into a teeth-baring threat display of terror. Her voice is flat when she answers Fumiya. "Are you asking something?" she says, arms folding rather tightly even as she looks at -- other people. There's always a crowd, she thinks.
Of course Yukiko is sort of indirectly reminding her of /manners/, and she does not quite register Aigis's identity as she comes up, instead letting herself relax slightly. Her head turns back towards -- oh, it's Aigis! "Yeah... that skateboard seems really dangerous," she says, eyes cutting towards Fumiya afterwards. "You should just... walk, it's not going to be any slower. Or get a bicycle, they're easier to steer... and people can see you coming..." And, she leaves unstated, you aren't on the sidewalk!!
"Are you all alright?!" That's Enoha speaking, no Bara-san. No, the shadow lion's going to stay riiigghhtt here. There's something in the air that he, as a shadow, doesn't like. Maybe it's Aigis. Maybe it's the simple fact that all these persona-users are grouped together in this little spot. The air is just thick with them all, and Enoha's presence, while familiar and in the category of 'Not Eat', just adds onto the whole 'musk' of it all. If you could call it that.
Enoha, meanwhile, is moving towards the one who most obviously might've been hit the most, seeing as he averted his path in the nick of time. He's also... quite hard NOT to look at. All that neon... it's like... "You alright, sir? Nothing broken or anything, right?" The 80's, if it had a solid incarnation of the wilder types of fashion during that period. Granted, she was too little during most of it to fully appreciate it, but... "Is everyone else okay as well?" Her eyes look around before sighting two familiar faces: one of Aigis, and one of Yukiko. "Aigis-san. Amagi-san."
She regards them all. "Getting in on a little bit of free time before Monday hits? School is always hard to adjust to in those first few weeks, isn't it?" Offer a little bit of sympathy, try to connect. Big sis mode is fully engaged. Bara-san, on the rooftop, just rolls its pupilless eyes.
Fumiya just grins at Michiru. It's a grin that says he doesn't really care about what she thinks of his endangering the public, but he still thinks she's hot. Yukiko being extra polite, though, is a nice change of pace. "Hey don't apologize, babe, you were just doing your thing. I should've been looking out more." He pauses again, briefly, trying to remember if he's seen her before. She definetely goes to Yasogami, but as far as a name goes he can't quite place it even though it feels like its on the tip of his tongue. Is she popular? "I don't think we've met, by the way. The name's Fumiya Watanabe..."
As Aigis walks in he straightens up a bit, and raises his hand in a wave. "Yo, Aigis-babe! Don't worry about me, I'm sturdy." He pats his shoulder with his fist to emphasize. He wonders, is she in town for something else, or did she want to talk to him? With so many people around, that particular discussion probably won't happen.
Speaking of so many people, Fumiya spins around at Enoha's voice. "Oh yeah, sorry to startle you. I'm fine, don't worry." He says, being oddly polite for him. Perhaps its an effect of Big Sis mode?
The click robot bobss her head to Yukiko, though she doesn't dive in to help Fumiya. Poor Fumiya. Maybe she thinks he is used to crashing and is probably okay. "Hello there." She doesn't say everyone's name, but she seems to be speaking to everyone--Enoha included, though she's a bit more surprised to see Enoha than the others because she doesn't run into Enoha that often.
"Ah." She says, slowly, and then is called babe again. Sigh. She really doesn't think that's an actual suffix. Should she start calling him Fumiya-babe? Or Fumiya-dude? Hmm. Well, he's using it improperly, so Fumiya-babe is probably more accurate for him.
"That is true." She agrees carefully.
Yukiko is careful to affect a bow when Enoha mentions her, her eyes nonetheless going towards her now. It was actually what Enoha says that jogs Yukiko's memory, her eyes snapping back towards Aigis. How could she forget an unusual name like Aigis, anyways? "Aigis-san! You are still in Inaba - or... ummm... it is good of you to visit again." Beat. Fumiya was talking to her.
Turning back towards him, Yukiko dips forward in another bow towards Fumiya, "Amagi Yukiko - it is very pleasant to meet you," she says, straightening up again. Drawing a hand up as conversation and people start to mingle all about her, Yukiko remains quiet and calm, her eyes turning towards Michiru. "Do you both know each other?" she asks.
Michiru raises a hand at Enoha, bowing slightly mostly with her shoulders. "Hello," she says, before smiling (faintly) at the comment. "I don't know... It's nice to get the break though."
At Yukiko's prompting, and after a slight smile to Aigis, she answers Yukiko while looking at the other woman. "No - I think I've seen her at Yomenaido though...." She turns once again back towards Enoha, bowing again with somewhat more depth. "Fukase Michiru. It's a pleasure to meet you!"
Fumiya is also not given the pleasure of being looked at again :|
Enoha's involvement in SEES-related things is small, especially out of consideration to Adachi. Granted, it's never stopped her when she's felt that she's truly needed- one of these days, the robot and the bookstore clerk will probably meet again. .... Especially when Aigis decides to go all the way to Inaba to get another book. "Aigis-san, are you doing well in school? Adjusting okay?" She wonders what it's like, being a robot in school. Wouldn't she get bored in math and purely logical subjects? Do robots get bored?
She wonders why she's able to wonder such a thing. Her computer probably doesn't have an iota of the processing power this girl has. But still. Aigis is a nice, helpful, smart teenager, and a customer. ENOHA NEVER FORGETS A CUSTOMER'S FACE. Just like Fumiya never forgets a girl's... face. It's relieving that Fumiya doesn't refer to her in the same way as he does others, though it is a little amusing to observe the change in tone. He has manners.
Nodding to Michiru, she bows, angling slightly in her position to involve the rest. "I'm Enoha Koinose. I work at the Yomenaido Bookstore. Please, feel free to stop by anytime. If we don't carry what you need, we can order it in." The usual spiel, but it's true. It's something they can hold over Junes's book section. Anddddd guess where that order comes in! That's right, Port Island. Guess who got stuck in the Dark Hour due to it! Right, Enoha. Who, against all reason, decides to keep volunteering for the job if the ship runs late? Enoha.
Being an adult doesn't always mean you abide by common sense. "Amagi-san, is everything going well at school? I sort of miss seeing all the teenagers milling about- they were good business in terms of manga and short novels." She ponders. "Though, I do have a general question to ask, but not of you specifically, if you're in a hurry to get someplace else."
Fumiya is snubbed by Michiru, but he doesn't seem to mind. She probably forgot that just because she isn't looking at him doesn't mean he can't see her. So he'll enjoy the sights just fine regardless. But at least he's careful enough not to make it obvious. Sunglasses work wonders to hide where a dude's eyes are lingering.
When Yukiko introduces herself Fumiya pauses, frowning. Amagi, Amagi... "Ohhhh. Your folks own the Inn here don't they?" He says, nodding as if something very obvious just dawned on him. That's why he knew she looked familiar. She's a popular one at the school, it's amazing it's taken them this long to meet. Fumiya usually seeks out persons of notable popularity.
Fumiya takes in his surroundings. Completely surrounded by babes, days like this don't come very often. True one is a touch older than he'd prefer, and another seems fine with treating him about the same way one would treat the mud on the botton of their shoe, but that's fine! Yukiko and Aigis seem agreeable at least. It just leaves the question: what to do? As much as Fumiya hates to admit it, he has to face the fact that most girls don't like it when a guy hits on every girl present. Why couldn't he stagger his babe-quota throughout the day, instead of meeting them all at once?
So he decides to drop an icebreaker: "Hey, what do you all know about these recent rumors about this bookstore? I was in Port Island for the last part of the vacation and I'm behind on my gossip."
Or someone who came to save your butt, and later paid a visit to your inn, and--Maybe Aigis is just forgettable! SOB. She doesn't tend to try to attract attention to herself, though, so it's not unreasonable to have trouble remembering her so long as you're not wondering why she's such a freakazoid.
She smooths out her uniform, not really adding much immediately. "I come by from time to time, usually to meet with Thora-Chan and Teddie-Chan." They have earned their...
But Fumiya seems intent to TALK ABOUT MURDERS which makes Aigis wonder--is it Enoha's bookstore he's talking about here? She doesn't really read the Darkside board because, well, it's 4chan.
She doesn't have anything to say about it, so she quiets down and looks towards Enoha.
"So far, yes," Yukiko says, looking towards Enoha as she is questioned. A pause as Enoha speaks further, "Oh... by all means, ask your question. I have the rest of the afternoon to finish my errands, and I am mostly done," Yukiko says. And that was actually true! A little visit to Tatsumi textiles for a few more of the lovely bedrolls that they use at the inn, and she should be set. Shuffling the little box that she carries from one hand to the next, Yukiko looks towards the bookstore, glancing towards whatever advertisements may be in the window.
But Fumiya speaks up again, Yukiko looking towards him, and looking, for an instant, as if he had spoken in Moon language. A pause, and her face gentles, "Yes - the Amagi family has maintained the Inaba Inn for generations..." she says, her voice trailing off as if there was something that was going unsaid. "...but it is one of the last traditional inns in Japan, and quite the tourist attraction."
"Rumours?" Yukiko says, perking up, "There's rumours about this bookstore?" Yukiko asks, looking in bewilderment towards Enoha.
Michiru may be slightly more flattering than Yukiko, but that may be more because Yukiko lives on fried tofu.
Either way she smiles slightly at Enoha. "Yeah - I usually went shopping out of town, but I'll be sure to drop by sometime!" At least it wasn't in BOOKS JUNES. Her attention goes back towards Aigis, eyebrows lifting in clear recognition. Perhaps she's about to say hello - ask Aigis how she's doing - invite her to a human social event - but then!
"Huh? I haven't heard anything," she asks, breaking her embargo on 'acknowledging Fumiya's existence.'
Enoha's face slightly cringes at the mention of a rumor; it takes all she has to muster up an awkward smile. She knows at least one present has a persona, and it's the one most likely to possibly investigate. Maybe. This could get ugly. Bara-san, meanwhile, flicks an ear and opens a blank eye, unmovingly regarding the scene below.
"Oh, those rumors? It's just a piece of black tarp moving in the wind. It's nothing." A piece of tarp that growls lowly occasionally and stalks her everywhere. Yep, everything's okay here! "I've heard some pretty interesting stories, myself. I'll probably get around to nailing it down at some point." Above, Bara-san snorts. "The building's getting old, I'm afraid."
Hopefully that was done smoothly enough to make up for the fact that Enoha can be a horrible liar. She's learning, though, whether she's conscious of it or not. Learning from one of the best liars in all of Inaba. "There's been rumors about ghosts," she explains to the inquiring looks, "Things like it being built onm a gravesite and other things. There's no ghost, though- if you see a light at night, it's probably just me shuffling inventory." She clears her throat softly.
TOPIC CHANGE. "Have any of you noticed something with the river? A young boy- you may know him, Aigis- has been doing research. He thinks he's captured something he thinks to be the source of the guardian rumors, but is afraid if the river has changed any." Mention his name? If someone asks, she might as well. Wataru could use some prompting.
Fumiya shrugs at Michiru and Yukiko. "I just heard a few of my classmates talking about it during lunch last week. Just something about a 'bookstore phantom'. I didn't know of any other bookstores in Inaba, so I figured they were talking about this place." Despite being indoctrined in the ways of the supernatural lately, Fumiya still habitually dismisses most rumors of that nature. Force of habit, mostly. It's hard to break down a lifetime of skepticism and cynicism. Perhaps someday Fumiya will be of the mind to immediately believe the supernatural rumors he hears, but he's not there yet.
When Enoha explains it all, Fumiya frowns. "Huh, that's all it is? Man..." Scratching the back of his head, he sighs. So much for that topic of conversation. Then again, it probably makes sense the staff of said bookstore would want to put down any negative rumors about the place. Normally Fumiya might push it anyway if it suited his interests, but Enoha's been so damn nice he just doesn't have the heart. Is Fumiya weak vs Big Sis-ness?
"Ah, Wataru-San. He managed to catch The Guardian? I heard it was quite difficult." She looks to Michiru and adds to her, "How was your summer break?"
Rumors. Aigis looks towards the bookstore, perhaps searching for the aforementioned tarp, or maybe she is looking for BARA-SAN. Or perhaps even more likely, she's just looking at it and isn't looking for anything in particular. She believes Enoha, and she isn't exactly paranoid, but it's minimal effort for her to examine an area and search for d-d-danger (look behind you), there may be a stranger there out to find her after all.
"Ghosts! There seem to be a lot of rumours about ghosts, here in Inaba," Yukiko says. The girl found herself in a bit of a pickle. There was a particular problem with a single room in her Inn, and now there were problems with ghosts in town. If she suggested interest in ~this~ ghost story, it may draw attention to the embarrassment at her family's Inn. "I do not think they are true at all. There is no ghost at our Inn, or at this bookstore," Yukiko says, hoping to share a sly, sideways look with Enoha. Lying wasn't precisely Yukiko's best skill, either.
A long pause, "Wataru? He came to the Inn a few times - very rude boy," Yukiko says, with a little frown. "He... found the guardian?" she asks, blinking twice more, "Ah... isn't that just a legend?" she asks.
"Huh," Michiru says, possibly smelling bullshit. However, she does blink at the comment about the guardian: "Wasn't it just a boss fish in the river?" She is not a fisher, perhaps, but you hear stories around. She looks back at Aigis finally, and even /speaks/: "Eh... my family was kind of arguing, so..."
Message: 'not really'
"... yes." Enoha looks over at Yukiko, almost ready to ask her about the rumor about her own Inn, if in a sort of light-hearted way, but something about the teen's face stops her. Then, Yukiko absolves it with a strong statement of her own, drawing a slight bit of admiration from Enoha. "People see ghosts everywhere," Enoha says, smiling. "Doesn't mean they're there. It just helps mask our own fears."
Enoha, glad to shift the topic to something "Well, I can't call it the guardian- I've never seen it, and there's probably a lot of sources that led to the legend. That's how those things tend to go, after all." Enoha adjusts her glasses. "It could have been a large fish. He gave me a very disturbing picture of what it looked like, so I don't know what to think of it." She's treading as close to the truth as she can manage. It's a mixed group, and even if Aigis seems to know most or all of them, that doesn't mean they have personas. Or that they'd know what a Shadow was. Better to simply be careful, instead of tell the entire truth.
Besides, someone doesn't need to know about shadows to notice a river that they've been walking along most of their lives. At Yukiko's words, Enoha chuckles and nods. "Yes. He can certainly be that way. I think he has a hard time relating to other people. I'm a little hard on him, I suppose, but I can be that way with a lot of teenagers." Not that this gives him an excuse, but Enoha's all about accounting for your actions, both good and bad. Even if you're young. And especially if you have a persona. It's the reason she dislikes the fact that so many get their persona in their teens- a persona disallows you from making an innocent mistake. It can be a gift, but it's also a loaded gun. She's seen teenagers that have dealt with it better than she has with her own, however, so she may have to rethink her position in the future. After all, it was a group of teenagers who managed to smoothly deal with the threat of Kuchisake-onna; she merely contributed. When a murderous shadow came after her and Shinjiro, it was Shinjiro who used his body -as a shield- to protect her. He also helped her deal with controlling her own persona, as well as with the tower.
Still, she'd love to see what lives they could have had, if personas didn't allow them to enter these dark worlds. Shinjiro always seemed to be hiding something dark, Tatsuya seemed to mistrust and push away everyone, and... well. Didn't her persona grant her passage into dark worlds unknown to her before? "I'm assuming Aigis doesn't, but do you all attend Yasogami High?"
"Yeah, that's right." Fumiya nods to Enoha. It was like he was answering for the other girls because, well, he knew they went to Yasogami. So he just answered /for/ them! It was a gentlemanly thing to do (honest). Though talking about Yasogami results in a frown spreading on his face.
With the hours winding down and the day drawing to a close, Fumiya sighs a sigh of someone who knows he has to go do something he doesn't particularly look forward to. "I'd love to stick around here, really I would." /Reeeaaaaally/ he would. "But I have a few assignments to complete." Complete is too generous a word, 'make up for' is probably more appropriate. His folks will blow a gasket if he keeps up his current performance at school. Normally Fumiya would just brush that off, but on his last trip home they were more insistant than usual, what a pain.
Dropping his skateboard back to the ground, Fumiya plants one foot on it ready to take off. "I'll have to catch up with you babes later. And keep in touch, Aigis-babe." They'll still need to speak later, of course.
Fumiya skateboards off, wishing he didn't have to bother with school for another few weeks.
All of Wataru's pictures are disturbing. Aigis is focusing on that bookstore right now. Has she caught sight of the LIE-on?! But Fumiya starts skating off and looks after him, "Goodbye, Fumiya-babe." She says, realizing that she forgot to takl to Fumiya AGAIN about that thing he wanted to talk about. Oh well. Maybe next time. She turns back to the bookstore again--and then back to Michiru.
"Sorry," She says simply, and then lowers her head. Arguing, huh. ... ... "Maybe the school year..."