Coming Back Down to Earth
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.
Yukiko, in the midst of the dress shopping with Thora, seemed a little troubled. The whole fight between Thora-san and Watanabe-san, well... she was kinda confused about, and while Thora hadn't made good on her promise to 'tell her later' yet, Yukiko was glad not to breach the subject with her. It... didn't seem like the best of options. Regardless, Yukiko needed to take a brief break, and the facilities of the mall were, of course, a fair bit away from the clothing store that Thora and her were shopping at. /And/ it was a good excuse to slowly walk by some of the stores - chain retail stores and otherwise that they would never get in a sleepy town like Inaba. If only Chie were here to.. um... share the experience with her or something.
It was in front of an electronics store that Yukiko lingers now, her eyes drawn to the flashing lights and sounds of the joys promised inside. Unless she saw someone in there she may recognize, Yukiko would only spend a minute or two before it, before moving on to stare into the next store.
A small Takoyaki stand is positioned not too far from the electronics store. Sitting at one of the tiny tables in front of it is the infamous 80s kid, eating the last piece of his snack with such an aggression you would think it just insulted his mother. Both parties must've been left in a foul mood after the encounter, but Fumiya is less likely to act out violently and more likely to sulk and take out his anger on inanimate things.
Yeah, take /that/ food. That'll teach you.
Fumiya leans back in his chair, a frown spread on his face that could only be forced. Something must clearly be on his mind, and there's little mystery as to what that might be. Turning his head he finally spots Yukiko over by the electronics store, and then quickly turns away again as if that would be enough to keep her from spotting him. Quickly dusting his hands off, he ponders just leaving the mall.
It was... impossible for Yukiko to miss Fumiya, all told. The sense of... um... style that her fellow teen displayed kinda helped him to stand out. Quite a bit. It was during that transition from the electronics store to the bookstore that was beside it, that Yukiko's attention glances towards that takoyaki stand, and once she spots that flash of neon, she pauses. He looked a little angry too, what with the way that he was spearing his food. And Yukiko was becoming quite intimately acquainted with reading the emotion of 'grumpy' within others, so... she um... knew what she was talking about.
Biting her lower lip, she glances up the path, and then again towards Fumiya. She... didn't like seeing conflict and strife so much. If there was anything she could do to kinda help that out any... well... Mind made up, Yukiko turns towards the takoyaki stand, unconciously slipping into awesome innkeeper mode on the way. While the upset customer was rare at the Amagi Inn, Yukiko nonetheless had experience with trying to turn their frowns upside down. Which only worked occasionally.
As opposed to walking normally, Yukiko kinda flowed into a graceful float, (that would stop her from tripping in the restrictive kimono she normally wore at the inn,) as she psyches herself up for the encounter, folding her hands before herself. Upon reaching a metre or two away from Fumiya's position, Yukiko, (who believed she was sneaking up on him,) lifts her voice to say, "Watanabe-san? If I may inquire, do you... umm... have a moment?" she says, her voice filled with the same serene grace that she tried to use at the Inn.
Fumiya doesn't jump when Yukiko speaks up, but he does tense a little. He was surprised she snuck up on him like that. Under normal circumstances Fumiya would be, what you might call, excessively inviting to any girls that expressed interest in speaking to him. At the very least Yukiko could've expected an immediately reply. But Fumiya remains silent for a moment, trying to collect his thoughts.
Like a child that broke an expensive ornament in the house, he doesn't want to face what just happened so soon afterward and yet there can be nothing else Yukiko is interested in talking about. Those thoughts wrestle with some guilt he feels over it all, as well as the desire to keep poking into the supernatural despite Thora's warnings.
Finally he makes up his mind and turns to face her. "Yeah, I have plenty of moments Amagi. What is it?" He replies. He drops his usualy impolite habit of first name + babe that he so often uses since he's just not in the mood. Just using someone's last name even without -san is as polite as Fumiya can muster.
Yukiko knew very little about Fumiya - she, of course, knew his usual habit of referring to her as 'babe', whatever the heck that meant - it sounded similar to baby, but she wasn't a child, and she didn't /think/ that Fumiya was going to consider her that. At least, Thora, that. Unless he was trying to tick her off on purpose. But whatever the case may be! Yukiko noticed that being dropped from his usual habit, and she can't quite help the subtle little smile that touches her lips as he responds in kind. "Ummm... I do not know what is happening between you and Thora, but..." Yukiko says, pausing. She couldn't just... talk about the TV world in front of everyone. Chie made her promise not to do that. "Umm..." Yukiko says, having to change what she was rehearsing in her mind on the fly.
"...uh... but I am sorry that you two are having problems," she finally settles on. "If there is anything that I could do to help out, I would be quite happy to do so."
Fumiya is less interested in keeping the supernatural talk private, he's not as subtle as the others. Perhaps that's why Thora is especially concerned about keeping him out of it. But despite the lengths he has gone to in order to find out about the Midnight Channel, he doesn't feel like bringing it up and putting Yukiko in a spot either, at least not when she's talking to him with so much patience and understanding.
The 'patient big sister' treatment! Fumiya is weak to it.
But, he really doesn't want to talk about Thora either. Fumiya stays silent for a few minutes, keeping his head partially turned away as if pouting, before finally shrugging. "Probably not. Thora's just never been able to take a joke is all." He says, trying to dismiss her concerns. "She also thinks she knows better than everyone since she was, you know, involved in 'that stuff' for so long." The weight he puts on the word 'everyone' more than implies he's really only concerned about himself.
Yukiko straightens, listening to Fumiya with a practiced interested look. Furrowing her brow with thought, however, she nods along at the appropriate points in his telling to her, Yukiko waiting just a few beats after he is finished before speaking herself. "You... kinda resent the way that... um... Thora is trying to keep you out of the loop?" Yukiko asks, tentatively. Another few beats, before she carries on, "If she is doing that, she only has your best interests in mind - there's an awful lot going on over there that is just... ummm..." Yukiko begins, pausing once more as the promise to Chie comes to the forefront of her thoughts. But she couldn't just leave Fumiya hanging now! "...it's just bad," she finally settles on. "I'm terribly fond of Thora-san myself, and she has always been so kind," so long as one ignores the violent streak the girl has, which Yukiko got her first sight of only tonight, "... so it pains me to see the both of you so... well... against each other."
Fumiya fidgets uncomfortably as Yukiko's efforts to try smooth things out make him start to question his own actions. He doesn't like questioning what he does, he just does what he feels like and he decided awhile ago that he wasn't going to dwell on things.
"Yeah, I kinda do." He says, drumming his fingers on the table. Then he shakes his head. "I'm not interested in the 'for your own good' arguement, I'm so past it. There's still a lot I don't know, and yet I know some of those 'things' already know I'm involved. Hell, two weeks ago at the Paulownia Mall I.." He pauses. He can tell Yukiko doesn't want to come out and talk about these things, and he feels reluctant to do so now given how she's been treating him. "Well, there was an incident there and I nearly became a victim myself." He finally says, keeping his voice as low as possible. "So I'm just trying to learn what I can to save my skin more than anything else." Of course he has other motives, he always had, but it's become a lot more real to him lately.
"Thora's great, I don't really have a problem with her." He finally admits, he can't forget that she saved his life once already. "But I just wish she'd lighten up a bit and trust me."
Yukiko listens further to what Fumiya was telling her, allowing that interested expression to fade some. She was interested, but it was kinda a forced expression anyways - she had learned early on that when she was just naturally listening to people, she looked kinda... out of it. And that is what Yukiko slips into now - her shoulders relaxing some, and expression slipping back to a serene neutral, she seemed to be looking through Fumiya more than at him, her head canting just a little bit to the side at mention of the incident. Drawing a breath as if to respond to that, she pauses again, and just releases that breath, allowing him to finish.
"I have a friend... Shirou Sekigawa... who has had problems with malls, too, recently. Perhaps you should... um... try to catch him at school? He might, uh... offer tips," she says, the content of what she was saying was technically not breaking her promise to Chie. She thinks. Shirou had been a little... crazy ever since coming back from that place. And she was mentally linking Fumiya and Shirou up in her mind, now - maybe they could talk about it, and Shirou would become... um... less crazy? "If you don't mind, I could talk to Thora-san about it?" Which was a thought that kinda scared her, all told. "...maybe try to present your side of things, too. But speaking of, she's probably wondering where I am right now."
Fumiya blinks. "Yeah, I know Shirou, I know he's involved too." Truth be told he didn't seem interested in filling Fumiya in, but perhaps it was just too soon after his own trip into the TV. "Maybe I'll see what he has to say..."
Abruptly he stands up, rubbing the back of his head. "Well, do what you want, Amagi. But I'd wait until she's in a better mood." Fumiya knows that much at least, despite all evidence to the contrary. "Look, I gotta go. I'll see you around school I guess." He says before finally running off.