Junes - Food Court
Situated upon the roof of Junes, the Food Court is billed as a place to relax and have an affordable (read: absolutely disgusting) snack or two. A popular hangout place all the same, it's easy to find crowds sitting around tables or children playing in the small playground in the center at nearly all times of the day.
Innumerable food stalls are set around the perimeter, with ample space given in consideration to line sizes that are more wishful thinking than matching the actual demand for refreshments. Bad weather is only kept at bay by strategically placed umbrellas and awnings around the court. From large wooden benches you'd see in parks to smaller, classier round tables outside cafes, the seating is wildly varied as the food offered (the quality of said food, sadly, not varying any from being disgusting).
Due to speakers blaring the commercial jingle nonstop, it can be hard to eavesdrop on conversations without coming very cloe to a group. This makes it a great place for a secret headquarters between collaborators. In turn, it is a terrible place to study for upcoming exams or what have you.
Every time Shiori found herself at the Junes food court, Interesting Things happened.
Of course, she usually went there when she needed to get away from Port Island for a while. Too many things happening. Too much to think about. Too many questions.
Not enough answers.
Shiori didn't actually mind the food served at the food court, despite its rather... basic nature. It was filling, it was only slightly overpriced, and she didn't think too deeply on the taste, which was probably a good thing.
This time, like so many other times, she had gone for a simple salad and soda, neatly balancing out the nutritional value of the meal. The salad had been finished off with respectable speed; now she was simply lounging at her table, playing with the dregs of the ice cubes at the bottom of the soda cup.
Shiori is not the only one who has had interesting encounters at the Food Court. Though things have been lax here for Fumiya lately, it seems all of his really 'interesting' encounters happen outside of Inaba these days.
The teen sits at a table to himself, in front of a sketch book. He looks rather engrossed in it, though he leans back now and then to rub his eyes, trying to think back on something and mumbling to himself. "Wonder how many cans I'll need...." His face is neutral, he's not his usual upbeat self today. In fact it was a pretty bad weekend, so he almost doesn't even react when he sees Shiori sitting not too far from him.
But, looking back down at his sketchbook again, he glances back up at Shiori.
"Hey." He speaks up, though he doesn't stand from his seat yet. "Weren't you at Paulownia Mall two weeks ago?" He asks. There was the Beach Party too. He's not in the mood to use his usual macking routine.
Shiori blinked, looked up at the person who had addressed her, and then wished she hadn't.
"Um," she said, trying to look anywhere except his clothes. "Watanabe-san, wasn't it? I'm sorry, I, er, didn't notice you there." Which was, surprisingly, true. Shiori's worries had been /that engrossing/.
The last time she had seen him, he had been doing... something in the alternate dimension Paulownia Mall, while Shiori and others had been fighting the Grim Reaper. Something to do with zombies, perhaps. Not a good topic of conversation to start off with.
Shiori shifted her (near-empty) drink over to his table. "Um, I hope you don't mind, Watanabe-san. It's a little... um." She shrugged helplessly. "How have you been, since... since we met at Paulownia Mall?"
Once acknowledged Fumiya closes his sketchbook and stands, already inviting himself over to Shiori's table. Though this is just so they won't be talking about weird supernatural stuff via shouting at each other across a food court. "Sorry, gonna sit here." He says, taking a seat, and showing himself to be oddly polite today. Shiori might not know him that well to tell it was odd behavior, but something's nagging him.
Once seated he keeps his voice low. "I've had better days. Though the crap I've gotten is mostly from mundane stuff." Thora's pretty pissed at him, Fumiya's pretty pissed at her. It's great. "But I've been wanting to talk to someone else who was at Paulownia that night. You saw all of that stuff, right?"
Shiori hesitated, then nodded. "I did," she said quietly. She had gotten yelled at previously for talking about the weirdness happening in the Okina area in public, but as long as it wasn't at full volume, it was fine, right? "It was... um. I'm not sure what you saw, but what I... what we encountered, it was..."
Normal? Expected? Could you call fighting the Grim Reaper mundane?
"... it wasn't out of the realms of possibility," Shiori finished carefully. "From what we've seen before. Um. So whatever you saw back there, it was..." She waved her hands vaguely. "It was real. As much as it could be. I think."
Fumiya taps the cover his his sketchbook as he listens to Shiori. Maybe he was hoping to be told 'nah it was all a hallucination, just in your head'. "Didn't really figure zombies to be in the realms of possibility before then, despite the music videos." He says.
He continues tapping on his book. He's on edge, wound up. Part of him wants to shout from the rooftops about what he knows, but that would just send Thora and who knows who else after him for it.
"So what were we dealing with? Because I've never gotten a straight answer on the matter, besides some blanket supernatural explanation." Thora told him a bit about shadows back when she was still a little open to telling him about this stuff, but that was it. "I lived in Port Island a long time and never encountered stuff like that, not before moving here."
An edge crept into her voice.
"But I don't know how much more to tell you. Because every time I try to help, by telling people what to look out for, what to run away from... they never listen. They get into trouble. And I can't do /anything/ about it. Um. So... it's kind of hard for me too."
Shiori shook her head.
"I'm sorry. This isn't your fault. Um. You seem to have other people you can talk to about this, since you mentioned that you've asked. What did they say?" More to the point, who were they? The KDA?
Fumiya frowns. It almost sounds like Thora's excuses. 'Stay out of it', 'I got your best interests in mind', etc etc. He's /already/ involved, and no matter what the reasons he was digging into it before the monsters he's already encountered and the people that have already seen him means he'll remain in danger.
Though Shiori is right to suspect that Fumiya has no intentions of running from it.
He sighs, and then shrugs. "Mostly students from around here. Thora-b.... Kobayashi, the Amagi girl, Hanamura, Sekigawa, none of them have been able to give me straight answers. Then there's a few people from Port Island. Aigis seemed open to the idea of filling me in, but I haven't gotten to talk with her outside of public spaces. Ichimonji told me a little, he even gave me a card..." Reaching into his pocket he pulls out a stiff piece of paper with the address of the SEES dorm on it. "...'just in case' I ever get into trouble in Port Island. Never been there yet." Fumiya doesn't know much about the specific organizations, just that they're all students.
"Other than that, I've just had my life endangered a few times and I still can't learn much about it. So it's just a bit frustrating."
If Aigis was willing to talk about it, then Shiori probably had some sort of indirect permission to do so as well, right?
"Watanabe-san, I, um. I'll be willing to tell you what's going on, /but/." She held up a finger. "On the condition that you understand, completely and utterly, that this is /dangerous/. The reason I was reluctant is because every time I explained what was going on to someone who asked, they got into trouble /because/ of it. Quite soon afterwards, most of the time." Mae, Osamu, Azusa, Tom. "So if you promise not to try to dig deeper into it, and come to see us if you have any questions, and /don't go off on your own/... then I can maybe tell you more."
She blinked at the card Fumiya brought out. "Hey, I live there-" She clapped her hands over her mouth, in a reflexive gesture of oops-didn't-mean-to-say-that.
Information with restrictions, huh? Well it's better than an absolute 'no way'. Fumiya will agree with just about anything at this point, he can always blame coincidence or extenuating circumstances later on if he has to. He doesn't immediately jump to agree, just to make sure Shiori sees that he's thinking it over. Less suspicious that way. "Alright." He finally says.
Who knows, he might /actually/ listen in the end. Depending on what he hears anyway.
He blinks as Shiori comes clean on her living arrangements. "Oh, is that right?" He states, before glancing at the card again. Wait, Ichimonji lives there too... so it's a co-ed dorm? Co-ed huh....
Shaking his head he pockets the card again, though can't help but feel a little more like his old self. "So, what, should I drop by sometime? Or do you want to meet somewhere a bit more private to fill me in?"
"Um. I don't know if the others will help you, but, er, if Aigis-senpai says it's all right, then you can drop by the dorm to ask. If you don't mind, at least." Where else? "The only other place I can think of which is more, er, private... there's a church near Paulownia Mall. The pastor there is, um, In The Know, so he probably wouldn't mind us using his place to talk about stuff like this." Shiori carefully did not mention how infuriating Lucas could be at times; no point in scaring Fumiya off.
"Please, Watanabe-san, don't do anything on your own. Don't do anything rash. It'll cause trouble for everyone, especially yourself. Just... be patient. Please." And then, because some small part of her wanted any kind of victory, no matter how vindictive: "Or you'll end up like Mae-chan, or Tsurugi-san. They're still my friends, despite everything, but..."
Fumiya nods. Perhaps he'll make a trip to that dorm the next time he goes to Port Island. He doesn't really want to put Shiori in a bad spot, though, so he'll just blame it on Ichimonji at first if anyone raises a fuss about it. He can't remember seeing that church before today, but chances are he just glossed over it while going back and forth from the Mall due to it being, well, a church.
"Yeah, yeah..." He says, repeating his earlier promise to be careful. Truthfully he was getting a bit tired of being told to be careful, he could take care of himself if just given a chance to.
He gives Shiori a funny look, though, when she mentions Mae and Tsurugi. "What about them?" He asks. True he hasn't seen them around school lately, but this is just another thing that he's out of the loop with.
Again with the hands over the mouth. Looked like this was one of Shiori's common habits.
She forced herself to calm down. "About Mae-chan and Tsurugi-san, um, it's one of those things that is... not something to discuss in the open." Like some sort of illicit gossip.
Shiori gave Fumiya a helpless look. So much she wanted to warn him about, but she /knew/ that, like everyone else before him, he would not listen...
"Watanabe-san, please, /please/, if you encounter anything, um, out of the ordinary... just run away. Don't think you can handle it on your own." Like Tom did. "Don't try to ask people you don't trust for information." Like Azusa did. "And don't think of it as something you /have/ to know, for whatever reason." Like Mae did.
She hesitated. "The people, um, at the address you were told... at the dorm. We're trustworthy. Probably." A slight, humourless smile. "A little frustrating, and a little hard to get along with at times, but trustworthy. So are, um, Kobayashi-san, and Hanamura-san, from what you mentioned just now. Amagi-san too, probably."
She stood, clutching her empty drink cup. "If there's nothing else, Watanabe-san... um. Please be safe. And be careful."
Fumiya listens to Shiori's warnings, he can almost sympathize with her situation. He can tell she actually wants to fill him in, which is itself a refreshing change of pace, but that she really can't say much due to being in public.
Another reason Fumiya thinks all of this crap should just be exposed and be done with it.
Still, despite the gusto with which he sought out this information in the past, he's /not/ stupid enough to try and fight a monster if he's alone. Sure he tried to look tough and stand up to snakeladies and giants made of fire before, but Thora was around then. If he doesn't have any babes to try and impress he'd just bolt.
He fidgits abit recalling Thora, and again when Shiori mentions her. He doesn't even know where to start to try and patch things up with her yet. So he just nods. "I'll watch my back, don't worry. Thanks for the help."
His gaze turns back down to his sketchbook, though he keeps it closed. It's going to take a lot of spraycans...