Against All Better Judgement
Okina City - Strip Mall
Okina City is famous not only for the train station, but also for the number of businesses that have set up shop through the strip malls that run around the station.
The strip malls run the gamut from the humble and affordable to the exquisite and expensive. There really is no end to what's available for purchase here. By all means any given place should be packed to its limit, but there always seems to be enough space for you or any friends to go about their business without the hassle of giant crowds.
Interestingly, the shopkeepers here won't call you out for skipping class. Maybe the margins here aren't as profitable as they were hoping when they first set up shop here.
While Okina Mall was not a mecca of shopping some of the other large cities, such as Sumaru, had become, it had still a much wider selection than the small town of Inaba. Much wider selection without having to go to /Junes/ at least but what can Junes do about the kind of clothing needed for, of all things, a fancy party. A very fancy party.
This way, at the very least, Yukiko would get an opportunity to see outside of Inaba. Bringing Yukiko along wasn't originally part of Thora's plan but Chie had insisted since they were best friends (and leaving town briefly was involved). At some point, Chie had presumbly been super distracted by biological needs and/or BlazBlue, leaving Thora in a very awkward situation, looking to Yukiko and Yukiko alone for advice.
Thus far, Thora's been pretty quiet and even a little sullen. Rather uncharacteristic given the few interactions Yukiko's had with her before. "I'm kind of worried." Thora confesses to her companion. "Finding things in my size has never been...easy."
When Yukiko got the call from Chie, she was ecstatic. Rarely did she get to leave Inaba, and what was better was that her parents said it was okay to travel all the way here to Okina mall. So long as she was back by a certain time. All on the train ride over, Chie had to put up with excited yapping from Yukiko, but now that they were actually here. Umm... well, Yukiko hadn't been paying the strictest to her friends whereabouts, and at one point in the trip? Well, Chie was elsewhere, and Yukiko was chatting to empty air.
Drawn into a sudden bout of thoughtfulness, Yukiko's eyes glance towards the various shops outlining the mall as they walk along. "Don't be worried, Kobayashi-san," Yukiko says, turning, and looking up towards Thora. Goodness, she had always been so big. It was always a little intimidating! "... it just means that we have to look a little harder to find something nice," she says. "So, uh... were we thinking about a dress? If it's a fancy party, we'll definitely need a dress..."
It is Friday evening. There is school tomorrow, yet Fumiya Watanabe has come out to Okina. He doesn't have an excuse to be here, he has no particular shopping. But he just wants to take in the sights of a less familiar place. Inaba is a drag, and Port Island has too many old memories (and a few newer ones) that he's just tired of. It may be a flimsy excuse, but you'd be surprised at how much Fumiya builds about himself on flimsy excuses.
Fate, or his shenanigans radar, would eventually lead him in the same direction as Thora and friends. Fumiya almost stops dead in his tracks when he sees Thora. It's been quite awhile since their last encounter in Daidara and to say that was tense would be an understatement. It's not like Fumiya has been avoiding her since, but he's been trying to make sure their paths didn't cross unnecessarily. So, avoiding. Yeah.
He ducks behind a vending machine so his neon won't give him away. It's so hard to be stealthy in his threads. Idly biting his thumb, Fumiya wonders if enough time has passed that he can act like nothing had happened. After all, Shirou was rescued and all was well.
At almost 6 feet, Thora was impressively tall. By Japanese standards, this was pretty unusual for women and only served to highlight that she wasn't full Japanese. Her girth didn't do her any favors either and always made finding clothing pretty difficult. Much of what Thora did have was, in fact, men's clothing. Giving up and settling for a suit to wear to her "event" was highly tempting.
"Y...yeah.." she says awkwardly, "It's one of those masquerade things. A real fancy party. So it has to be a dress." Shoving her hands in her pockets, she looks down at the ground as she walks. "I think it's been 'bout five years since I've tried to wear a dress." She easily recalled what happened the last time she tried too.
Thora winces as the phrase 'cow in a dress' come back to her.
"The party is tomorrow night so I uh...need something today. I wish he didn't give me such short notice." still looking away, she adds, "You can help, right? You have to dress up nice all the time."
"Well, what I wear are kimonos, mostly..." Yukiko says, pursing her lips some as she turns to truely consider Thora's form. "...but I have worn western-style dresses..." she adds. Yukiko never quite had problems finding stuff to wear, but now wasn't the most appropriate time to bring that up. "If we have short notice... maybe a little black dr..." Yukiko says, pausing midway through her sentence as she glances up the hallway of the mall.
Yukiko lets the pause to her voice linger, the girl narrowing her eyes in the direction of the vending machines. "Hmm... did you see that? I thought I saw someone I know duck behind those machines there..." she says, picking up a hand to point in the direction of them. It was... hard to miss the neon, and it didn't hurt that Yukiko had met Fumiya at one point.
Fumiya realizes he has much less time to make up his mind than he thought. He was expecting Thora to be the one to spot him, though, if he was to be spotted at all. Yukiko's quicker than he originally thought. Drumming his fingers on the wall behind him, he sighs. No point in trying to run or hide further. But that doesn't mean he isn't going to try something stupid anyway.
Pulling a coin out of his pocket he quickly kneels, making it look obvious to the girls that he IS kneeling, and stands back up again and walks out from behind the vending machines holding the 500 yen piece on between his fingers. "There's my cash!" He says in such a poorly-acted manner it's enough to make even passers-by cringe.
Fumiya pockets the coin again and turns in an exggerated motion, pretending to just notice the girls. "Oh! Thora-babe! Yukiko-babe! I didn't see you there!"
Today it almost seems like Fumiya's going to get a by since this particular subject weighs heavily on Thora's mind. Very...very heavily, perhaps even unusually so which is a little odd given Thora's appearance. Something else might be bugging her at this time too, as was the case when she would tend to appear on a foul mood during Television missions.
"I might just have to settle for something that fits." Thora confesses, pausing before what looks (to her at least) to be a women's clothing store. Before going in, however, Yukiko brings up an unusual sighting. "...wait what?" she asks, sharply looking around and easily spotting Fumiya the Neon.
Her eyes immediately narrow, mouth pulling into an unamused frown as Fumiya refers to her (and Yukiko) by that terrible suffix. "Fumiya. I didn't expect to see you here. ....c'mon Yukiko, we ought to go." Before Thora is overwhelmed by the urge to do something rash such as punch Fumiya in the face.
Yukiko, having never quite accompanied Thora on many television missions, only had her wits and perceptions to fall back on, and every fibre of her being was telling her one thing: Thora was grumpy. The back of her mind was nagging to ask Thora about it, but the front of her mind brought up the gentle reminder: what if she doesn't want to talk about it? Violently doesn't want to talk about it? Ahem-hem. So, beyond a distinctly concerned look occasionally shot towards the giant of a woman, Yukiko doesn't broach the subject.
For now, though, the eyes of the Amagi heir were on Fumiya. "Ba-bay?" Yukiko repeats, looking desperately confused. It didn't /sound/ like English, but her English wasn't one hundred percent awesome just yet. "...what is that...?" she begins to ask, when she glances towards Thora at her kinda-command. "Umm..." Yukiko says, glancing back towards Fumiya for a moment. "But... um... okay," she agrees, slightly meekly, her eyes tracing towards the women's store that Thora was indicating. "Oh, what a nice choice! I wonder what kind of things they have in there!" Yukiko says, excitement springing into her tone once again.
Fumiya is probably convinced at this point that Thora's default mood is 'grumpy'. Thinking back to all the time's he's interacted with her the only time she seemed in a mood on the lighter side of grumpy was that one time he crashed into a bunch of trash cans. He blamed the duck for that. Got a laugh out of Thora though.
So Fumiya isn't all that surprised that Thora tries to brush him off, but it sure beats a more violent reaction. He makes a note not to bring up supernatural stuff right now, might not be a good idea. But he does quickly walk after them, like a moth to a flame he can't help but stick his nose into what might be trouble.
"Hey hang on." He says, catching up to the two but staying just far enough behind to be out of Thora's immediate reach. "What are you guys up to out here tonight?" He's already gotten the gist of it, but asking them about it anyway starts a conversation!
'Things Fumiya Knows about Babes 101'. It's an incomplete course.
Placed in her situation, normal girls would probably be pretty chipper! Yet here Thora was, grumpy and reluctant. It's definitely a good idea to not press the subject, especially not in public. Yukiko can practically feel her understanding increase from that particular decision.
Yukiko's reaction to Thora's urgent urging does help her relax just a little bit. At least she's enthusiastic, right? But it seemed like Fumiya wanted to be a hanger-on in this little event.
Striding into the store, she twitches, and doesn't look back at him. "W..we're shopping, what does it look like?!" she barks back in an overly defensive tone. A little bit quieter, she asides to Amagi. "You'll have to help me out here..."
"Of course!" Yukiko just about chirps, before adding in a slightly more solemn tone, "You have helped us out so many times - it's only natural to try to return the favour..." she says, striding into the store proper herself. The... woman's store, with several mannequins and otherwise set up in the windows, modeling various clothes.
Momentarily caught between what she felt was a rock and a hard place, between the choices of - ignore Fumiya and maybe help keep Thora happy, or be polite to everyone, Yukiko ends up... well... choosing the latter. Kinda. Glancing over her shoulder towards Fumiya as she is pulled along by Thora, Yukiko says, "Hello... Watanabe-san, correct? As Kobayashi-san says, we're shopping," Yukiko says, pausing a moment. Maybe there was a way to make both sides happy! Most men, in her experience, equated clothes shopping with mindrending horror. But perhaps that was just a stereotype. "...for women's things," she adds carefully, glancing again to observe Fumiya's reaction.
Of course Fumiya can see they're shopping, give him some credit. But 'shopping' can mean so many things depending on what you're looking for, how hard you're looking for it, and whether or not you're willing to buy what you find. At least Yukiko eventually answers the first part, even though that doesn't fill Fumiya with much desire to stick around. Yet he does anyway!
Still, clothes shopping. Ehhh. Maybe he should bring up the /supernatural stuff/, just to see what would happen.
"I see..." He finally responds, still wondering if he should take off or not. He makes up his mind in short order, though, deciding it might be best to try and offer an olive branch to Thora. Maybe he can help out! "Well, I see you have Thora-babe giving you a hand, but maybe I can help too! I'm good at, er, carrying stuff." That's pretty much all he can help with in this activity. He COULD offer fashion tips, but he's learned not everyone appreciates his advice there.
"Yeah well...Souji-san and the others came for me." Thora says a bit more quietly. "They could have left me behind. To.." Die. But no, they came for her, and thus Thora did feel obligated. At least that was the more altruistic reason for her to do what she does. There are other reasons too but those she shares with nobody.
Thora immediately tenses as Yukiko reveals what they're shopping for. Not that walking into a women's clothing store was going to reveal that in the first place. But, she thinks with a tiny bit of hope, guys hate having to put up with girl shopping, right? Of course, Thora's understanding of this entire dynamic is based solely on television commercials because her social interaction in this particular arena is virtually 0.
She pays special attention to Fumiya's reaction, seeking to confirm her suspicions. Myth: BUSTED. "You don't want to come along." Thora says abruptly, sounding agitated (something that Fumiya will be familiar with!) "It'll be boring."
Hey, Yukiko felt that Thora was good at carrying stuff as well! That was something common that Fumiya and Thora could use to mend their differences. Serenely leaving her gaze upon Fumiya, Yukiko's face pinches a bit as she notes the myth - and her devilish plan - busted. A slight pause, "Well, Kobayashi-san... maybe he could... um... help us out," Yukiko begins, before glancing back towards Fumiya, "You know anything about... um... colours and stuff?" she asks, a tone of earnest curiousity underscoring her voice.
A long pause, then, "No... we actually aren't shopping for me," Yukiko says, a bit naively. "Thora-san is going to a party, and we're trying to find a lovely dress that really flatters her," she adds, sounding a bit hopeful. "So we're likely going to visit every single store in here, trying to find the right one!"
Don't think Fumiya didn't notice those quieted words, Thora. Up until now Fumiya didn't know that Yukiko was yet another student in on this whole supernatural thing (and by now he's beginning to suspect that he might be the only one at Yasogami still out of the loop), and while Thora didn't specifcally mention anything supernatural, it just seemed to similar with what Fumiya DOES know about the Midnight Channel. 'Came for her, could have left her behind', true they could mean several things, but Fumiya wants to be sure. So he decides to do something stupid.
"Are you talking about... the TV?" He asks, already starting to fear the consequences of bring this up.
But, really, it beats the alternative. When Yukiko said they were trying to find a dress for /Thora/ his face contorted into a sort of constipated look that made it obvious he was trying to hold back some kind of strong emotional response. Whether it was humor or shock, or anything in between, is anyone's guess. At the very least he didn't laugh outright at the idea, but he really has no clue how to respond to it. Even being asked if he knows anything about colors (which he DOES, provided they fall within the neon spectrum) doesn't snap him out of it.
Just... Thora... dress... party.... /dress/....
Thora is excellent at carrying stuff! Hilariously, she doesn't really mind being used as a beast of burden since she was /good/ at it. It felt great to be able to lift and carry things that most kids couldn't. She felt...powerful. When Yukiko suggests that Fumiya /help/, Thora stares at her owlishly and with a look of horror.
Images of her walking into a fancy party dressed in BRIGHT PINK NEON swirl through her head and she shudders. Her horror only grows as Yukiko happily explains that they're shopping for /her/. Abruptly, she departs, ready to disappear deep into the store with a mad dash to complete her objective.
Then Fumiya speaks. It's a combination of his poorly-restrained reaction and the breaching of a taboo subject that she has expressly told Fumiya was taboo that prompts Thora to action. The motion is swift and reflexive: Thora's fist flies at Fumiya's face.
As her BFF was well aware, sometimes, Yukiko didn't know when to keep her mouth shut. Staring with the faintest of frowns at the blank look that finds itself upon Fumiya's face, Yukiko's brow furrows in deep thought, the girl leaning forward as if trying to read his mind through his expression alo-... Thora was retreating?
Attention flickering that way, Yukiko gets more of a puzzled frown, moving to try to scurry after the towering woman - until she whirls around with the fist flying out. Yukiko's reactions were fast - she brings both her hands up to her lips, and releases a quick gasp of shock and otherwise, her widening eyes tracing the arc of the Oni's flying fist...
It's a funny sensation, when you're about to do something you KNOW is a bad idea and you do it anyway. Fumiya is well used to it by now but every now and then he does something which brings the sensation on again in a new way. Despite the amount of time that has passed since he talked to Thora, she is still wound up on the subject.
Perhaps it was this bit of self-awareness that told him something bad was about to happen which caused him to tense up. Whatever it was it allowed him to move quickly enough to jump to the side and narrowly avoid Thora's fist. There are guys Fumiya would rather take a punch from than Thora, and his face nearly goes white in that brief moment before he recovers. Though once he regains his footing and steps back a few feet, he can't help but feel a bit irritated. After all, he could have been just asking for clarification! She knows he knows about the supernatural stuff, he doesn't feel this counts as 'sticking his nose into it'. Granted he was more interested to find out whether or not Yukiko was in on it, but that's besides the point! Thora just took a step beyond the whimsical 'stay out of this for your own good or else' attitude he thought of her as having up till now.
The expression on his face for a few moments betrays his desire to say something ELSE entirely stupid, but Fumiya gets a hold of himself forcing himself to recall Thora's already increased agitation at doing what she's doing at the mall today. "What the hell, Thora." He finally says, which is the nicest way he could put it.
"I thought I told you to not bring that shit up in public." Thora suddenly hisses in a harsh voice, taking another aggressive step towards Fumiya. She lets that statement hang there for a moment, chosing to just stare him down from her superior vantage point. Her amber eyes are narrowed, seeking to pin Fumiya to the spot. Her expression full of irritation.
And something else a little less discernable. Hurt maybe? After a near solid minute of staring him down, Thora turns away. "...let's go get this over with, Yukiko-san." She mutters, sounding a little dejected now. That look on his face, of barely-contained laughter (or worse maybe) kept coming back to her.
Yukiko, for her part? Well, she just looked a bit frightened. Perhaps concerned. Ever since starting the whole TV land thing, she's seen and faced down, some seriously scary stuff. But that didn't hold a candle to the strife between Thora and Fumiya that she was seeing now. Neither of them were shadows! They shouldn't be swinging at each other - and, well... seeing Thora trying to be intimidating was uncomfortable, even if she wasn't the target of the intimidation.
Silent as a lamb, Yukiko looks from Thora towards Fumiya, and back again - biting upon her lower lip softly. Sensing the... lowered tone of her friend's mood, Yukiko casts one last glance towards Fumiya, before moving to step up towards Thora's side. Yukiko, however, assumed that the tone was repressed anger, as opposed to any sort of depression. "Wh... what did he do?" Yukiko whispers towards Thora, unable to really contain all questions about what just happened - her mind was telling her that speaking up was a bad idea, but she just had to ask, or implode from worry.
Fumiya meets Thora's stare, though it might not be obvious with his persistence in wearing sunglasses indoors. "Shouldn't that go for you too?" He retorts. After all, 'is this about the TV' means as much to someone not in the know as how someone came to one's rescue. Somewhere in the back of Fumiya's mind he knows he's had this coming, but he's annoyed at the double-standard.
Plus the fact that Fumiya was nearly killed a week ago at Paulownia Mall without even LOOKING for shadows has gotten him on edge, and has made learning about this supernatural stuff more of a necessity than a curiousity. Perhaps his biggest mistake was thinking that just because he was finally ready to take this more seriously that Thora would immediately know it. A lack of communication damns everyone involved.
Fumiya does nothing to help remedy this, unfortunately. As Thora turns to head into the store Fumiya hesitates for just a moment before spinning around and storming off in the opposite direction. "Dammit..." He mutters to himself. He certainly didn't come away from this feeling very good.
For his boldness, Fumiya risks spurring another violent reaction from the large teenager. Fortunately, all he earns is a soft growl while Thora's back is turned.
Once he has departed, Thora sighs quietly, "I'll explain later." She seems slightly relieved, if only because now Fumiya won't be around to make comments as she tries things on.