Watch Your Back

/===============================( - Inaba - )================================\ 
|                                                                              |
|  Historically, Inaba was formerly Yasoinaba, a coal mining town. Over time,  |
| it grew from the initial settlement of coal miners into what it is today.    |
| Nobody here mines for coal any longer.                                       |
|  A rural town out in the country, tourists praise the air as being clean     |
| and the sky cleaner than any of the big cities surrounding it, and the       |
| sunsets as absolutely breathtaking. The town goes at its own pace            |
| throughout the day. To the average person, there is not much to see out      |
| here, with a lack of interesting historical landmarks or, really, even much  |
| of anything. Inaba is about as close to being the middle of nowhere as one   |
| can get in this part of Japan. A new department store may be the herald of   |
| encroaching urbanization.                                                    |
|  Recently, the town has fallen on hard times. A major department store's     |
| recent opening is seeing smaller businesses fold left and right. A serial    |
| murder case grips the attention of the local media. Rumors circulate about   |
| how if one watches a turned off TV in one's room at midnight on a raining    |
| evening, one will see their soulmate. Bizarre meteorlogical patterns see     |
| great amounts of rain followed by thick, choking fog. Some say a local beef  |
| skewer stand isn't even using real beef.                                     |
|  Some seem a little too welcoming of the excitement and confusion. Is it     |
| just from a change of pace, or is there a sinister truth to all these        |
| events?                                                                      |
|===============================( - Players - )================================|
| Thora Kobayashi [KDA] <Garm>                                                 |
|===============================( - Objects - )================================|
| Knows Complex                                                                |
|================================( - Exits - )=================================|
| School <S>:              Inaba - Yasogami HS                                 |
| Junes <J>:               Inaba - Junes Dept. Store                           |
| Commercial District <CD>:Inaba - Central Commercial Dist.                    |
| River <R>:               Inaba - Samegawa Flood Plain                        |
| East <E>:                Inaba - Eastern Residential                         |
| Inn <I>:                 Inaba - Amagi Inn                                   |
| Police Department <PD>:  Inaba - Police Department                           |
| Yasoinaba Station <Okina>Okina City                                          |


You don't know what you've got until it's gone. At this point, Thora knows she's going to be taking a hit to her freedom soon so for now, she's going to use what she's got. It isn't every day that she lingers after school like this so clearly something's up. Usually she's the first one through the doors so she can flee to her job. Not today.

Thora darkens the doorway, looking for that flash of neon that usually marks the presence of Fumiya. As usual, everyone gives her wide berth, especially since Thora looks very sullen today.

Thora might be having a bad day, but Fumiya isn't doing so hot either. He just wrapped up a marathon exam session, the school allowing him to make up for the exams that he missed provided he did so 'immediately'. He wasn't the slightest bit ready and, grade-wise, only barely beat-out Thora.

His folks are looking the other way this time, and this time only, at least.

But despite that he drags himself out of the office where he handed in his last exam, looking about as weary as he did when he was dragged out of his dungeon. If Thora's looking for neon, though, she might not find it. Not as easily. Despite all of his old habits, he's actually wearing the Yasogami uniform properly today. A bright stripe of neon pink IS visible, where his jacket is open revealing the shirt underneath, but that's all.

Fumiya spots Thora first and nearly freezes up. The exams provided a convenient excuse to dodge everyone at school, but that's over now. Clenching the handle of his bag, he sighs inwardly. No point in putting it off any longer.

"Hey, uh, Thora-san."

The lack of neon does throw her off. Fortunately, for Thora there is another way she can find Fumiya now and that is the smell of his brand new persona. To Thora (and to Garm), the scent isn't subtle either, perhaps still betraying Fumiya's former flashy nature. She doesn't look up at him, though, even though she knows he's there. Not until he says something to her.

A heavy sigh lowers her shoulders and Thora turns tired eyes to him. It's a small consolation that he looks as worn out as she feels. After what he's been through, it was understandable too. Most people needed some time to recover after a trip in the television. "Hey Fumiya."

She doesn't seem angry, that's a good sign, right? But this is Thora, that could change in an instant. "I think we need to talk."

Fumiya just nods. "Yeah, I think we do." His voice is even. He's not flinching in fear, or being overly defensive. He just sounds like he's ready to accept just about anything now. "But let me go first." He says, suddenly. He looks about ready to speak, but says nothing. He was able to apologize to Shirou easily enough, but this is tougher. Part of him still wants to try and shrug off everything he was responsible for, act like it was all nothing.

What's the point of that, though? He's seen what his actions have brought him, there's no point in pretending it all didn't happen. He takes a quick breath through clenched teeth and finally says. "I'm sorry." Immediately his body tenses as he tries to figure out what to follow that up with.

"Not just for not listening to you, but for not trusting you. Part of me knew you meant well, but I didn't want to listen. Worst thing is, I can't even explain why, not without sounding like a total jerk. I got no excuse. So if you want to slug me one, go right ahead."

That always came out better when he practiced in front of a mirror. Darnit.

She's half-expecting fearlessness. He never feared /her/, and now that he has a persona of his own he definitely had no reason to be afraid of her. Even if she did have her own and even if it was completely nasty-looking. "W...what?" An apology? Her eyes widen. 'I'm sorry, you were right.' is not something Thora hears very often, even out of Shirou after he was rescued.

But at least he confirms that he did it all for all the wrong reasons. Thora doesn't hold back and promptly lets a right cross fly at Fumiya's face. She hits hard, it's true, but the strike isn't as hard as it could have been, not carrying the same lust for violence she displays whenever she fights for real.

Straightening afterwards, she crosses her arms. "You've made your bed, you better be ready to sleep in it. It just gets harder from here and you better learn how to watch your ass and your mouth."

Despite literally asking for it, part of Fumiya honestly didn't expect Thora to go through with it. But his sunglasses mask his brief shock, and at least he doesn't get knocked on his ass, though his balance is nearly lost. He rubs his sore cheek with his free hand as he considers what Thora has to say afterward.

"Well..." He finally says through a pained jaw, "I may have done some pretty stupid things, but I ain't the kind of guy who runs away from his own mess. Even before I really saw what I was getting into I was ready to take it as far as I had to."

He had a similar conversation with Shirou already, minus the punching.

He waits a few moments, considering what he should say next. Finally, he decides to just ask what he's really been waiting to know since they hauled his ass out of there. "But.... are we good?"

Sometimes Thora just has to hit something. Even in spite of the beating bestowed upon Shadow Fumiya, it still felt satisfying. A brief glare at those around her quickly dispells anyone that's sticking around to watch after that strike. Turning to the side, Thora motions for Fumiya to follow him down the halls.

"Good, I'd have to hit you again if you were. I have to give you credit, at least you've got the balls to back up all the crap." It's a bit of a relief now since unlike Shinjiro, she really didn't want to end up babysitting people. Sure, she'd show him the ropes to get him off the ground if she ever got the time. "And in my book, that makes you good."

She shoves her hands in the pockets of her blue longcoat. "Fumiya-san, I've got a question. You kept callin' me 'Thora-babe' even when I told you to stop a while ago. Was it...just for attention or were you tryin' to cheer me up too?"

Fumiya feels relieved at Thora's response. Though it doesn't quite directly answer his question, it seems to mesh with how Thora has always behaved. He wasn't quite expecting a heartwarming, touching reply at least.

He just smirks at anyone who decides to gawk a little too long, and follows Thora away from the crowd. He still seems tired, though a little less tense. His relaxation only makes his surprise at Thora's latest question all the more obvious.

He falls silent, and scratches the side of his head. "...did you meet Kisa?" Of course, that's not an answer, and he was just using that to stall. He wasn't even sure how he should answer that, it was just one of those things he always did without thinking. "I wanna say it was because of the latter, and I think that's how I always justified it. Lots of babes, especially in a big city like Port Island, feel insecure about themselves. Their peers can be cruel, ya know? But, I can't really deny loving the attention either." He sighs. "Can't it be some of both?"

Anyone looking for heartwarming and touching would have to look away from Thora. She was still working on that particular 'skill' and was still severely lacking in anything resembling empathy. It was pretty pathetic but fortunately, there were other members of the KDA that could deal with the touchy-feely thing. Nor does she like being gawked at very much.

"Yeah, I met her. After you disappeared, I went to talk to her to find out a little more about you. Oh yeah, that reminds me." She digs around in her pocket and pulls out the Micheal Jackson keychain, handing it back to Fumiya without looking at him.

Her shoulders slump a little. "...I'm gonna pretend it was for the attention. I mean...look at me, Fumiya-san. People don't say that kind of thing to me unless they're mocking." It probably isn't all that surprising that Thora's insecure about her looks given her appearance. It is, however, unusual to have her even come close to admitting it. "So it's kinda a touchy subject, y'know?"

Briskly, she changes subjects. ", all of us will have to get you caught up on things. Maybe you can help us figure stuff out now."

Fumiya accepts the return of his keychain with an 'Oh sweet', and places it in his bag. Despite deciding to phase out a lot of what he forced into his identity, there's still a few things he picked up from his blanket of 1980s culture that he geniunely liked.

He stays silent as Thora tries to convince him not to keep doing that in a much more open fashion than before. He /wants/ to say that he doesn't care about appearances and that they were never important, but he is as horny a teenager as any and that would be a bit of a lie. But, he doesn't like the idea of Thora being this down on herself over her looks either.

There's probably /something/ Fumiya should say here. But there's not a single thing he can think of that wouldn't make the situation worse. Sure, he could say stuff like 'have faith in yourself' or 'your looks don't matter', but he gets the feeling she's been told it all before and if she hasn't put any faith in it yet it won't make any difference coming from him.

So when she abruptly changes the subject, he sighs and nods. Still, he won't forget that she admitted it to him. "Yeah." He replies. "I met Shirou and that Seta guy when I returned to Inaba. Though I haven't filled them in on anything yet. I wanted as many of you guys as possible, it's good for bouncing ideas around ya know?"

He thinks back to the night he was taken. There must be something useful to them in that jumble of memories, but what?

People really haven't said anything about that particular subject, save for Shirou hinting at it just a little. It'd be hard to convince her otherwise at this point anyway.

"Seta-san and Shirogane-san run the group. I call them both Boss." Thora clarifies, further distancing herself from touchy subjects. "Hopefully he'll call a meeting soon 'cause we've got a lot of catching up to do." A hand escapes her pocket and rubs the back of her neck. Thora just looks all around tired and still very sullen. "Everything just keeps piling up and getting worse. You'll quickly find out, I bet."

The large teenager straightens a little and looks back at the door. A tired sigh escapes her lips. "You got anything else you wanna say to me, Fumiya-san? 'cause if not I gotta get going. I need to pack my stuff." She looks to the ground. "Morita's making me join KNOWS."

A bummer, it sounds like, but it's much worse than that as Fumiya will come to understand soon enough.

Fumiya blinks. The first question that escapes him is "...Who's Morita?" But then the far more important subject hits him and he shakes his head in disbelief. "Wait, that thing that Kandori guy runs? Shirou can't shut up about him. Says it's bad news."

Of course, Fumiya is the one that tagged it a few weeks ago. But, honestly, it was before he had any idea of who this Mr. Kandori was. In fact, it was /right/ before as Shirou filled him in just as he was finishing up. Funny that.

"I dunno, I haven't had a run-in with that guy and even I think that place seems fishy. You gonna be alright there? Or do you plan on checking it out from the inside?"

He's still new to this. There's still quite a bit he needs to learn about what's threatening the public, beyond mere shadows.

"Morita's my guardian." Thora explains through gritted teeth, rage boiling in the back of her mind at the mention of his name. "Stepped in to take care of me after my mother died." Or was murdered rather. Thora's status as a FORSAKEN CHILD is pretty famous in town now.

Her shoulders slump further. "Yeah, that thing. I should be fine." she thumps her knuckles to her chest. "I'm a tough girl after all. I can handle anything they throw at me." Which is a lie, she's sure, but there's nothing wrong with having a little confidence. "There's someone I know there anyway and I wanna keep an eye out on him."

So that was her guardian. Fumiya knew about Thora's 'status', through rumors, of course, he just didn't know the guy's name. From the abrupt shift in her attitude, Fumiya guesses she doesn't get along with him.

"I see..." He says, as she insists she'll be fine. "Well, I know you can handle yourself. But keep us in the know." He doesn't pause to think about what a horrible pun he just made. "Shirou seems determined to do /something/ with that place, and chances are I'll get carried along in whatever scheme he comes up with." Fumiya doesn't exactly sound like he regrets it. "If the place really is bad news, we'll just have to try and expose it. Somehow." Fumiya sighs. He'll be able to think of stuff much easier once he's totally caught up. Even if it takes until the next exam period to learn it all.

Exams. Ugh.

Being reminded of his current fatigue, Fumiya glances to the school exit. "Well, I don't wanna make you late for your appointment with the corporation from hell. Watch your back, alright?" He cautions, already trying to fit into the role of 'experienced battle partner', if a bit too prematurely.

Thora's really hating on Morita right now. She never realized her greatest obstacle would come in the form of a stupid regular man.

"Shirou would...he's had some bad experiences..." Which she'll leave to Shirou to tell Fumiya all about. "..really bad." She looks up, a slightly distant look in her eyes. "He's going to need all the help he can get, so you help him alright?"

She manages a weak smile and reaches out, squeezing one of Fumiya's shoulders with a large hand. "Hah, I'll do that. You watch yours."