Tatsumi Port Island - or just Port Island, for short - is in reality a small part of a larger city. With the influence of several things on the man-made island, such as one of the best public high schools in the country, most people at this point refer to the whole city as Port Island even if they intend to go somewhere that actually isn't on the island proper. This generalization has stuck.
A large, densely-populated urban city facing the ocean, Port Island is a place that runs almost like clockwork through the day. Boasting one of the best public transportation systems in the prefecture, if not Japan itself, it is easy to get about where one needs to by monorail. Much of the city's prosperity is owed to the Kirijo Group, whose influence has had many positive respects throughout.
Though humanity has advanced so far in the name of convenience and expansion, there is an underlying level of unhappiness that can be found in many of the residents. Maybe they're in a rut, or things aren't going so smoothly as they seem to on the surface. Some have even gone into a state of unresponsiveness to the world at large, content to remain catatonic until death by malnutrition or the elements. This is dubbed "Apathy Syndrome," and has no known cause.
Surely, none of this is what people will want to let go unchecked?
Fumiya Watanabe has disappeared before, but usually he would not be gone for more than a day. As much as he likes to put up a tough guy front and act like he doesn't care, he almost never spends too much time out of touch with his family. So when he didn't come home over the weekend, and remained missing for all of today his grandparents got a bit concerned.
When they were visited by a rather tall and imposing girl looking for their grandson they weren't entirely sure what to do, but they eventually gave her the address of Fumiya's real home in Port Island. After all, he might have unexpectedly gone back there and just got delayed. It's only been a couple of days yet.
So somewhere in a tidy neighborhood in Port Island Thora Kobayashi would have been led to a plain-looking house surrounded by a large stone wall. There is a very small yard in front of the house, where a small boy plays in this limited space with a few toys, under the watch of a teenage girl wearing a Gekkoukan High uniform.
It'd been an especially awkward meeting too. Older people never really reacted very well to the Oni's presence, especially in Inaba where her reputation was pretty well known by now. She's all too happy that she finally got the information she needed.
Once in Port Island, she decided to call someone up for help if only to avoid another Slit-Mouth woman incident. Since Aigis was still undergoing maintenance, this eventually fell to Shiki. Shiki was friendly, after all, and far more personable than Thora.
She needed a better "public face" for this kind of investigation thing. She needed someone better at negotiation. This is where Shiki can come in and SAVE THE DAY. "So I don't know if you've met this guy while in Inaba at all but...well, he's hard to miss. Very neon."
And this is another case for GREAT DETECTIVE Shiki Ichimonji, who has been called upon to help investigate the disappearance of one Fumiya Watanabe! Or, more accurately, Thora dropped by the SEES dorm, and the goggled boy basically started following her without having needed much of a prompting at all. He's heard some rather... chilling news about a soda people close to him drink, and he'd rather take his mind off of it, so any little thing is good!
It's not something you'd be able to tell easily, though, from how chatty he is along the way! Or maybe, at this point, Thora would have noticed that he blabs a lot when he's nervous. "...and I still can't believe they wouldn't have better health regulations. This is terrible! ...oh yeah, Koromaru got sick the other day, but now he's feeling better, so three cheers for him, huh? ...wait, say, did I tell you I was dating Itsuka now?" You know, small talk like that.
"Oh yeah!" Shiki answers Thora, brightly. "I've bumped into Fumiya-san a couple of times before. He's kind of weird but nice!" Of course, 'kind of weird but nice' describes most people he knows. "I saw him here too this summer. He was in trouble with some delinquents, dunno why." Every little factoid can help Teddie! At least that seems to be how it works.
But soon, the house comes into view, with the two presumed inhabitants. Well then, Shiki's supposed to be the one handling PR, so here he goes! "Heeey there!" He strolls by cheerfully. "We're here to see our friend Fumiya-san! Have you seen him around?" This is more subtle than he usually is, on average.
"Koromaru got sick?" Thora actually sounds a little concerned! It isn't that much of a secret that Thora had a small soft spot for the dog though judging by their respective personas, maybe it was just a hellhound thing. Nothing like Shinjiro who secretly had a weakness for BABY ANIMALS. No, not at all.
'In trouble with some delinquents.' Thora smirks and stuffs her hands in her pockets, silently watching the younger kid in the yard. "Fumiya's a bit of a troublemaker. Apparently got into more than a few fights when he's lived here in Port Island. Like me, stuff just happens around him." Well, unlike him, Thora usually starts said stuff.
PR is go! Thank you very much Shiki. "I'm a...n acquaintance of his from Inaba." The girl gets an appraising eye. Was this the neighbor he mentioned. "I haven't seen much of him. You know him well?" Very short, very low when she speaks, maybe so she doesn't startle the kid. Thora knows very well that little children and her don't mix very well.
It usually involves a kid running away crying to his or her parents.
"Hmmm... I guess I kinda figured." Shiki adds to Thora as they approach the house. Fumiya's been nice enough (for a relative measure of 'nice') but he's definitely seemed like the type to attract trouble. And not just the run-of-the-mill kind, from what he's heard!
Gekkoukan's a big school, so Shiki doesn't really recognize the girl, but he gets that a lot. He does really, really stand out, after all. Urgh. Well, that's not good. "I... see..."
He nods to Thora as she introduces herself, then looks back to the girl. "Yeah, and I'm a friend of his! Any idea what kind of crazy thing he could be up to?" What? He's the kind to do crazy things, right?
The girl's eyes dart between Shiki and Thora a few times, before she turns back to check on the boy one more time. Then she looks back towards the two and stops fiddling with her hair, and instead just keeping her hands behind her back. She seems to get fidgety when she's worried. "Yes.. well, pretty well. We were neighbors growing up, but lately..." She trails off and shakes her head. "Well he's been away for a few months."
She sighs at Shiki's question. "Not really. I mean, I heard of him pulling some stupid stunt while he was away. If you know him then you probably have an idea. He loves getting people to pay attention to him." The girl seems to wrestle with her thoughts for a moment, as if she's not sure how she should continue. "What, um... what about you two? Do you know anything about where he might be?"
She blinks in surprise, as if she just remembered something obvious. "Oh, sorry! I forgot to introduce myself. I'm Kisa Inoue." A little flustered, she bows in greeting. "I usually keep Fumiya's little brother company while his parents are working."
"If you have the time to come with, by the way." She adds in a low voice to Shiki, "Just give me a heads-up. Lately boss likes having to know who's showing up beforehand." Rather than people just dropping by wily-nilly. Moving large groups of people through the electronics department did attract a lot of unecessary attention.
As the neighbor, or Kisa as she introduces herself, explains what she knows about Fumiya, Thora's silent. Eventually she does provide: "He painted a rather interesting mural on one of the newer buildings in town and made the news. As for where he might be...we're not sure, we don't know him that well. Got any ideas?"
'Aw yeah, that was /smooth/, way to go.' Thora thinks conceitedly to herself.
When she introduces herself, Thora hesitates. "...Kobayashi." is all she offers, forgoing her first name out of fear of being recognized. Kobayashi was a damn common last name.
Thora gets a small nod. "All right!" Certainly, he'd love to help, and he's been rapidly becoming a pro at the TV world thing, except... gah, better not to dwell on it, especially not now.
Shiki, like probably everyone else on Earth, has noticed that Fumiya loves getting people's attention. Perhaps especially because the two of them employ similar tactics trying to do so. In Shiki's case, though, they're obnoxious in different but no less exciting ways. ...he made the news, though? Shiki hadn't heard that! He kind of wishes /he/ made the news.
"Hey there, Inoue-san!" Shiki grins widely at Fumiya's former neighbor once she introduces herself, helping fulfill his role as the friendly face of the investigation duo. "I'm Shiki Ichimonji! And don't worry, we're the good guys. Wherever he is, we'll find him and make sure he's safe!"
Thora did bring along a friendly face, but not really a brains-of-the-operation type.
Kisa is, if it isn't obvious at this point, a somewhat awkward and shy girl; at least around new people. But as the two finally introduce themselves (or mostly do, in the case of Thora) she calms down a little. At least Shiki confirms who she thinks he is, he really seems like the sort of guy that would get along well with Fumiya.
"Um, well..." She stammers, a bit startled at Thora's abrupt question. "No, I'm afraid not. It's really not like him to disappear for too long. He's pulled stunts before to get his parents' attention, but he never went this far. In fact I'm pretty sure he wouldn't just vanish for a couple of days because it's just not like him to hide himself away."
Shiki's words make her a little nervous again. "So you /do/ think something happened to him? Did he get on someone's bad side? It wouldn't be the first time. He's not in any /real/ trouble, is he?"
A sigh escapes her mouth, and she shakes her head again. "Honestly, it's like one day he decides he has to get in everyone's face. Ever since his little brother was born..."
'We're the good guys!' Thora almost wants to facepalm of that but her recently upgraded willpower prevents this show of rudeness. She can't really blame Shiki's attitude though. He's got secret powers. Of course some kids are going to fill like superheroes with those things.
"Hrm." she puts her thumb to her chin, looking contemplative. "I'd have t'agree with that hiding away thing." Far too flashy, far too attention seeking. Of course, Thora knows exactly where Fumiya is right now but, well, the last time she explained this to a friend, they had to take her along and the team that went put up with a /second/ shadow coming out of a normal person. And let's not forget the disaster Kenji's dungeon consisted of.
"It's what I'm afraid of. I just want to keep an eye out in case he turns up. Guess I'm kind of worried." More lies, really. Well, okay, she does feel a tiny bit worried. But for the most part she isn't. "...little brother?"
Now she looks at the little brother in question. Huh. Was he jealous of his sibling?
"O-oh, no, no! Nothing like that! Don't worry!" Oh, nice job, Shiki, you made the girl all concerned, now! "Besides..." He scratches his nose. "I'm sure he can take care of himself, wherever he's off to." He's trying to smile in a way that's as reassuring as possible, but his words might not really be helping so much. Hey, now! A little bit of TV isn't gonna get /him/ down, right?
The last part, however, about one day getting in everyone's face, causes Shiki's eyes to widen abruptly. ...of course. "...let me guess. That's when he started dressing and acting like that, right? ...He hasn't always been like this, right?" Friendly little Shiki suddenly gets a lot more serious. What's gotten into him, now?
Kisa nods and turns back to look at the boy, still busy with his toys and oblivious to the conversation. "Yes, Wataru. I think he was just born at an unfortuate time..." She purses her lips, feeling a bit conflicted. After all, it's not really her place to talk about these things, it's their family's concern.
Though she is quite obviously surprised when Shiki effectively hits the nail on the head. "Huh? Yes, that's right. How did you know?" She fidgits nervously one last time, trying to come to a decision. It couldn't hurt to tell them a bit, right?
"Well, you see, Fumiya's parents spoiled him a lot when he was a child. They took it a bit too far. I think his mother was the youngest of a large family, and just wanted him to have everything. From what I remember, I think they realized he was becoming a brat and decided to be stricter pretty much around the same time Wataru was born... But..." Wataru gets another sideways glance. "I guess, they didn't realize that Fumiya would blame all that on him. He started to act out, a lot, and just got desperate for attention. Eventually, I think he just got absorbed in it."
She stares at Thora for a few moments. "I think... he mentioned you once the last time he was out here. Let me guess.... he calls you 'babe' too?"
Thora looks shocked for a second at hearing that name. Pausing, she looks to the little kid again and smirks just slightly. Well, at least this Wataru is much more better adjusted? Might even talk sometime too and probably bites less. The smirk gradually disappears as Kisa explains a family dynamic she's only really experienced through fiction.
Not because it's improbable, mind, in fact it sounds like a pretty reasonable thing to have happen given the circumstances. Thora's just never been exposed to much...functional family life. A quick glance is given in Shiki's direction, the barest hint of admiration for his perception about this issue. But just like that, it's gone. She had to keep up the whole Senpai thing, after all!
The thoughtful look turns into a bit of a wince. "Mentioned me? ...yeah. He calls every girl he runs into babe. He'll hit on anyone in his age range for the attention." At that point she finally realizes that he'd do it to her since she'd give him a pretty loud reaction.
It makes her feel a little angry.
Shiki laughs nervously when Kisa asks him how he knew. Nah, he doesn't know Fumiya that much, but. "...Well, huh... I guess I'm kind of like that. I didn't use to be that way. At all." He adjusts his goggles, probably indicating the sort of thing he's talking about. Shiki misses Thora's look of admiration, but just a second later, she gets a quick, vaguely panicked 'senpai don't tell a soul please not even koromaru!!' look. Image is important!
He listens to the rest of the story intently. Well, at least that part sounds different from him, but certainly understandable enough. Shiki can't quite relate since he's an only child, but deep down, he figures he might do the same in such a situation. "...harsh. I guess I kind of get him..." He looks down at his suddenly fascinating shoes.
Then, the 'Thora-babe' bit is mentioned. Wait, Shiki knew about the weird nickname, but he actually /hit on her/? All right, he's definitely got a death wish. Shiki finds himself looking at Thora for maybe a second too much. As much as he respects the girl as a honorary senpai... how does one exactly go about hitting on her?!
Kisa feels a little bad saying all of this, but Fumiya is a strange one. She knows he wouldn't like her telling them everything, but maybe that's why she's doing it.
"Well, there's a little more to it. All of that weird... American Eighties stuff he's into, it all came from his parents too I think. They're into it themselves, and I think he latched onto that early on, to try and get their attention. But I'm not positive, I just know they all listen to the same music." She rubs her temples, just thinking about it made her head hurt.
She then gasps in surprise at Thora. "Oh no, no... well, yes, but..." She trips over her own words, but collects herself quickly. "Yes, he tends to call every girl that, but um, well... you see, when this all started there was this, um, girl in our grade. She was really self-conscious, and she was the first one Fumiya ever called babe. She got really mad and they had a fight, since she thought he was making fun of her. So he started calling every girl that, but... I think he was just trying to cheer her up. Usually, the more a girl hates it the more he'll keep doing it."
Then, she shrugs. "Of course, you're right. He IS a flirt too."
Thora lifts an eyebrow at Shiki but says nothing. Curious. She knows he's an only child too since, well, he's never brought up the matter of siblings or anything ridiculous like 'testing a sibling for a persona', an idea easy to pick up in SEES thanks to the Itoh infestation.
How do you hit on Thora? Stay...generic. She didn't exactly have the looks to latch onto as far as the standard pickup lines went. Painfully aware of this, Thora usually brushed off attempts such as Fumiya's as dumb jokes. Only Fumiya was insistant, prompting rage from the large teenager.
"Yeah, like that Micheal Jackson guy. Looked him up, apparently he died a few months ago or something?" Her eyes track to the house they stand in front of and immediately she realizes that they won't see the parents here. Kisa did say that she comes to babysit when the parents aren't around. "...probably for the best that they aren't here right now. When I show up I don't exactly inspire...confidence in the older crowd."
There are, of course, some exceptions.
At Kisa's continued explanation, Thora goes dead silent and stares at her owlishly. "...guess that's why..." she rumbles, suddenly looking rather uncomfortable. Gradually, she turns away, giving Shiki a quick 'you continue this' glance.
Shiki continues to listen to the secret origins of an 80s Kid. Yup... the pieces are falling into place, now. What a guy... And his parents, huh? If Shiki had tried to impress his parents like that, he'd probably have wound up as the most boring guy in the world.
"Or Mr. T!" Shiki brings up, brightly. It was thanks to Fumiya, after all, that Shiki had the bizarre idea to introduce, in his manga, a character based on the man who pities the fool. ...and Shinjiro, too. It's a perfectly natural mix!
And the 'babe' part is explained, too! Thora gives him the reins on that one, which he doesn't mind accepting. Now, the story is... kind of sad, but oddly... "That's kind of cool." Huh? He crosses his arms, nodding. "If he's going through all that trouble just to get one girl to cheer up, then I guess it's okay." Never mind all the other girls he annoys along the way! And the fact that she's also confirmed that he really was a flirt.
A bit of silence follows, which he attempts to pick up. "So... huh... anything else we might want to know? I know it sounds totally weird, but things like what you said might really, really come in handy finding him." A pause. "Like where did he get his weird glasses? They're kinda cool." Shiki is partial to /goggles/, obviously, but.
Luckily Kisa doesn't pick up on Thora's discomfort at the revelation, if only because Shiki catches her totally off guard by suddenly dropping the name of Mr. T, which is simply met with a "...huh?" Apparently, despite living next door to the Watanabe family for so many years Kisa simply wasn't into that odd culture like they were. In fact, the expression on her face rather clearly says 'oh great, another one'.
Realizing that she's said a /lot/ more than she really should have, she begins to fidgit again. As much as Fumiya might annoy her, like anyone else, she doesn't think she ought to keep gossiping about everything she observed being his neighbor.
Though Shiki blindsides her with another abrupt query and scrambles her resolve to clam up. "The... glasses? Um, I think he just picked them up during one trip they took. Though you have a point, I don't think I've ever seen him take them off since." Those glasses are as synonymous as pink shirts are, it's hard to imagine him not wearing them.
At this point she turns back to look at the little boy, to make sure he's still engrossed in his toys. She didn't want him to overhear. "Look, I don't think there's much more I can tell you. Anything else I say would just be me trying to draw my own conclusions on his behavior. Like I said, his little brother doesn't even know anything happened yet. He really looks up to him, despite how coldly Fumiya might treat him sometimes."
"It's fine." Thora interrupts before Kisa can fluster herself further about saying too much. "This has been some help. I'll bet he'll turn up soon enough." Sounds awfully confident there, it's true, but she's sure in her resolve to go after Fumiya and drag him back after he's had his experience.
Shiki gets another confused look at the Mr. T outburst. That one she didn't recognize at /all/, being far too young and far too Japanese to get the reference. 'Guess it's okay' huh. Thora turns away fully now, wondering why the hell he'd bother trying to cheer /her/ up. Maybe she just reminded him of that other girl. Thora doubts she was as hideous as she herself is though.
Calmly, she stuffs her hands in her pockets. "Thanks for your time, Kisa-san."
Hey, everybody knows Mr. T, right? ...of course, Shiki didn't until Fumiya brought him up, but that's besides the point. He's looked him up on the internet, and apparently the guy's toughness is only matched by how much he loves to eat meatballs!
"Yeah, what she said! What you told us was enough, I'm sure he'll be glad you did." He points up at the sky, posing dramatically. "And when he returns, it will be as a changed man!" The intent is more 'Gurren-Lagann' than 'Saturday Night Fever', but he's one who considers himself a friend of Fumiya's. So who knows, right?
He cheerfully waves to her as he prepares to leave. Yeah, they'll definitely bring Fumiya back. Shiki can't afford to screw up like they did with Hideo. And before they even leave the front of the house, Thora begins to get an animated little primer on who Mr. T is, how helluva tough he is, and all the truths, half-truths and outright lies he's heard about the man.
Thora gets a polite bow when she excuses herself. Shiki gets an odd stare. Kisa finds herself kind of glad that Fumiya transferred when he did, she's not sure if she could take the idea of him and Shiki both being at Gekkoukan at once.
"I hope I was able to, um, help." Though truthfully she isn't sure how any of that could help. They certainly didn't seem to be with the police, yet they had a certainty about their claims that led her to believe that they at least thought they knew what they were talking about.
She turns to return her attention to the smaller boy, blissfully unaware what's going on.