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A Walk In The Park [RP Thread]

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Ishihara Azusa

”A bee hmm..?” Azusa said challenging as her eyes narrowed towards each other in an attempt to focus on the critter that had currently ever so insolently placed itself on her nose – right in front of her and blocking her view. Her face cringed into a wry smile as she slowly raised her hand, her middle finger tensed against the thumb slowly moving it in position while breathing ever so smoothly and gently biting her lip in concentration. There was no way a bee was going to sting her nose and she’d make damn well sure of it.

Azusa released the middle finger but in response to this a slight twitch went through her body causing only the pressure of the air to reach the bee as it had already taken flight from sensing the subtle movement. She followed it with her eyes for a moment although the small bee quickly became a speck blending in with the summer green grass and flowers in the park. Frowning a bit she released her breath and let her arms drop to the soft ground although a content smile quickly spread. This park was nice and even on a day like this there wasn’t that many people and besides the bee she was able to sit alone and work on her drawings.

Drawing wasn’t her strongest suit, she had to admit that, but that it was slowly coming together especially here in the summer months where school was off and she had all the time in the world for both drawing, acting and all the other things that seemed to suddenly strike her fancy and had to be tried out. Normally she would sit under this exact shade with various books she had to carve through and the artistic and organic changing of the nature helped her digest the flat numbers and unartistic technical literature much better.

But one thing was being in a different place – being in nature – to Azusa it wasn’t really enjoyed if you didn’t show the environment the respect it commanded by dressing in colors that suited the location. For today she had chosen a simple loose fitting green kimono with yellow flowers and a soft red hair band for her obsidian black hair and traditional Japanese geta footwear – the men’s type. This represented the breath of fresh air of the park and she felt as if one with it wearing this.

Gently locking her teeth on the end of the pencil she narrowed her eyes and looked around. The lack of people unfortunately also meant a lack of good subjects to draw besides bees and flowers.
“Not exactly the thing to spark a stroke of genius…” she admitted to herself her eyes still seeking out something – anything – that would put an interesting twist to her drawing.
 
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His meeting with the school principal had not gone especially well. His grade scores sent over from his previous school had had a good going over while Satoru stood waiting deferentially, and clearly their averageness wasn’t much to be impressed about. He had the distinct impression that the only reason that the principal had agreed to let him join at all was the fact that he could elevate the school’s chances of getting to the regional finals of the kyudo championships, or maybe even to a win. After answering a good few awkward questions, he was armed with a pile of textbooks to catch up on all the subjects that his classmates would already be way ahead of him in. At least he wouldn’t lack for something to do in the last couple of weeks before the term started.

On the way back to his apartment from the school he stopped by the Lawson’s, picking up a bunch of pre-made onigiri, cup ramen and other cheap snacks to keep him going for a couple of days. He couldn’t live on this forever but it would do for now. And there was beer. Any other 17 year old living away from home for the first time would take the opportunity to go on a drunken bender right now, wouldn’t they? He glanced at the store clerk, wondering if he could chance some underage booze purchasing. At the moment Satoru was dressed quite smartly since he had to meet the school principal, he had a button down shirt on and a tie. Thinking of his responsibilities and what his parents would say, he put a four pack of beer in the basket anyway. Then he selected the most decadent looking ice cream to eat on the way home as a reward for surviving his grilling by the principal. The store clerk didn’t even bat an eyelid, and Satoru was soon off walking through the park, with a rucksack full of books, a carrier bag of onigiri and booze, eating a double-chocolate Magnum.

This was the park, hm? It was a shortcut to and from the school, but he hadn’t walked through it before. He entered at an easy pace and began to look around. A large open space, with a few different entrances and exits, shielded by trees and not too many people around, it seemed like a good place to lure Hollows to fight them. The park seemed like it would be a nice place for people to come and enjoy the sunshine, but he frowned to himself as he realised that there was nobody around. Not entirely nobody though, there was a girl. The girl was a ghost.

He watched the small figure skip across the grass towards where the lone human in the park was sitting under a tree. A young woman dressed in a pretty summer yukata who was drawing away in a sketchbook, looking up from time to time as though for inspiration. The plus skipped right up to her, standing behind her and looking at her drawing over her shoulder. Satoru could see its soul chain hanging rather short, but not yet its face. He took several steps nearer. The plus looked up, and he saw where its eyes should be were merely black shadowy holes. It smiled. Then he saw it reach down and place ghostly hands around the neck of the young woman. Satoru dropped his bag and ran towards them, “Hey!” he called out. “Hey stop!” The plus, on his approach, let go of the woman just before he reached her, and startled, fled and disappeared. Satoru was left frowning, stepping back and forth scanning the tree line. Pluses weren’t normally dangerous… but she was acting very strange, and there had to be some reason this park was deserted. His thought was still on the plus and not yet on the young woman he just ran up to at random and yelled at.
 
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'Hmm..?' Azusa thought to herself seeing a sharply dressed boy walking through the park. This was odd, who was this well dressed in a park? The side of her lip curled upwards in curiosity as she tapped her pencil towards her cheek and put the point to the paper - 'He will do' Azusa thought forming her lips to match the words. A shiver suddenly ran through her body and her hand twitched putting a long unintended pencil scratch over the paper and she subconsciously pulled up her kimono to her throat believing it to be the cold wind - although it oddly didn't catch her hair or any of the papers and she was just about to look over her shoulder when she heard the voice of the boy crying out as he ran towards her.

The chill had stopped, perhaps from her focusing on something else and she released the tension in her shoulders looking at the boy drawing nearer her face contorting into a grinning frown of disbelief. What in the world was he doing? What was she supposed to stop doing? Azusa put her sketch book down on her lap.

"What, don't you like being drawn?" she asked cheekily. "I'm not so good that anyone would be able to recognize you, ya know?" she said letting out a soft chuckle that came out slightly more girlish than she had anticipated, a tone that betrayed the otherwise confident voice of the girl that normally had a somewhat more authoritative - and at times challenging - pitch than her peers.

Azusa drew her fingers through her hair and got to her feet in an effortless and quick move stretching out her hand for shake, her palm slightly inclined upwards and an intrigued expression to her face. Had it been anyone else from her class they had probably taken offense to how he acted, but Azusa was curious.

"I'm Ishihara Azusa, and you are? Well aside for one who prefers to make a public scene instead of introducing himself properly to a pretty girl." she said with a wry smile wanting to see how he acted under such a circumstance. I bit like testing out a new role for a play she wanted to push him just a little to see if he toppled over, pushed back or... simply stood his ground.
 

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The sharply dressed boy, despite having run up to attract her attention, now seemed to be ignoring her as he looked about the place pacing to and fro and peering behind the tree whose shade Azusa had been making use of. In fact, he didn’t seem to pay any attention to her at all until she was standing in front of him with her hand held out and introducing herself.

He took her hand to shake automatically, his eyes still focused somewhere else. Satoru blinked a couple of times before he seemed to fully register the very much alive person standing in front of him, whose hand he was shaking. “Ishihara Azusa?” She was indeed a pretty girl, although perhaps striking was a better word. There was no doll-like cuteness about her that fashion told the world was beautiful, but she seemed completely at ease in her unconventionality and that in itself was intriguing.

“Nanase. Nanase Satoru,” he introduced himself, trying to think of a good reason why he might have just run up to her yelling. “I thought I saw someone creeping about in the bushes there who was going to steal your… stuff,” he said, aware that the first person around his own age that he’d met in Sugiyama probably thought he was nuts.

Though the hand that was still holding onto Azusa’s was warm and dry, ice cream melt began dripping from the Magnum held in the other. He had forgotten all about it. “Damn!” he managed to juggle it upright before a large lump of melty ice cream fell out onto Azusa’s mainly bare feet, though it meant shoving it into his mouth to stop it and he let go of her handshake to attend to the chocolaty mess for a couple of seconds.

Once the danger had passed, he turned his attention back to Azusa. One thing was clear, although he had no idea what the ghostly child even was, or what it had hoped to do to Azusa, he couldn’t just walk off and leave her alone in the park to become a victim to it, no matter that he had made himself look like the person who applied for and got the post of new village idiot. “Are you, er, an art student?” he asked.
 
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As the boy presented Azusa with an indifferent shake she raised a brow and gave an indulgent grin although she also felt challenged - and overlooked. Her head traced his trying to get into contact with him but it was not until he seemed to take interest in her by his own accord she could make proper contact with him.

"So there you are!" she said. "Nanase Satoru." Azusa added as he spoke his name content to have gotten his attention although it was not at the immediacy she had expected.

"In the bushes?" Azusa commented and frowned her smile lingering as she turned her head to look behind her before looking at Satoru again shrugging her shoulders. Who was this odd guy anyway? Taking another look this guy was having obvious problems with eating his ice properly and nearly spilled down on her feet, although her reflexes from kendo training subtly slid the foot out of harms way. Did he have some sort of... disorder? She wondered and rubbed her chin. Peering more closely at him she however came to the - perhaps temporary - he was just a particular awkward specimen of the opposite gender. However he seemed good-natured and... 'different' from the guys she usually met that seemed almost spooked by her confident outward behavior.

"An art student..?" Azusa responded with a slight giggle looking down on the sketches she was holding. "No not quite, but I'm telling myself it will get better at some point." she said and frowned not quite sure if she was actually selling herself an obvious lie. "I normally do whatever that strikes my fancy. But what is all this questioning when you have an ice cream and I don't in this heat?" she said and smirked hoping he would get the idea.
 

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The foot she slid out of harm's way was wearing a man's shoe, he noticed as he prevented the ice cream fallout. His sister Yuri often complained that women's shoes never came up big enough for her feet in Japan because she had the giant feet of an Alpine milkmaid. Maybe the same problem applied to Azusa or, it was just as she said, she just did whatever struck her fancy... including wearing men's sandals. Another thing that struck her fancy was apparently hanging around in a haunted park when no one else was around, which definitely led to Satoru getting the impression that she too was somewhat out of the ordinary.

Satoru cast an eye over the sketches. To him they looked pretty good, but he was no judge of artistic merit so he just accepted her explanation. “Do you … want an ice cream?” he asked, eyes narrowed slightly at this odd request. “Alright then,” he stood up a bit straighter and seemed at once full of purpose. “Lets go and get you one.” It was a good excuse to extract the girl from the park. She would no longer be in any danger then. Satoru walked away from her and picked up his convenience store carrier bag that he had dropped on the path earlier. He looked back towards Azusa, squinting a little in the sunshine. “Are you coming?”
 
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Azusa’s innocent smirk broadened seeing him comply with her request that easily. Had she found a date, dog or friend though? Right now she didn’t know, but she seemingly had found a procurer of free ice cream which was worth at least as much on a hot day as today.

“Oooh you’re offering me one? Why sure I do!” Azusa answered with a voice of equal jokingly sarcasm and genuine wanting for ice cream. “They have ones with strawberry and cream right? Wait, maybe I’d like the one called ‘Infinity Chocolate even more!” she mused picking up her stuff and following Satoru almost on a whim like most thing she set out to do. “I’m right behind you!” she said enthusiastically.

Azusa inclined her head looking at the backpack.

“How come you’re dressed so neatly and still carrying a back pack? What do you have in there, your normal clothes?” she asked curiously and almost with a hint of seriousness to her voice. She wondered if Satoru lived here or was just paying someone a visit in the vacation. She would surely have noticed such a distinct character in school had he crossed her path before and as such she was quite certain he hadn’t. He also had a hint of being foreign – a certain accent perhaps? She couldn’t tell if it was his facial features having her lively mind conjure up some western accent to suit it, but he was somewhat different, that much was certain to Azusa.

A few long strides and she was up on Satoru’s side with her hands gripping each other casually on the back observing Satoru quite relentlessly but with a kindness behind the intent.

“Are you from Europe, Satoru-kun?” she asked biting her lip slightly hoping the answer would be a ‘yes’. “Because then I should call you Samuel-kun perhaps?” she added hoping that her limited knowledge and skill compared to a real European wouldn’t fall too flat and the name proven to be of some very different origin.
 

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He set off walking back towards the convenience store, taking the occasional bite from his half melted magnum as he went. When Azusa began questioning him, Satoru gave her a sideways look without turning. “Would you follow any strange man who offered you an ice cream?” he asked in return, “Or just Europeans?” As it happened, he did have an Austrian name on his birth certificate as well as Satoru but he wasn't about to tell her what it was. Still, Samuel wasn't a bad guess.

After they had walked on a while, he decided to answer at least some of her questions. It was better than keeping an awkward silence. “Textbooks for school, I'm transferring to Sugiyama High School this year so the principal gave me some reading to do,” he said, in a voice that suggested he wasn't particularly eager to make a start on his catch-up homework.

“Well, here's the store,” he stood across the street to it. It looked exactly the same as any other Lawson's. He couldn't swear to it that they would have any of the exotic flavours that Azusa requested. And besides, once she had an ice cream, where would they go then? “Unless you know somewhere better around here to get ice cream?” he asked, finally turning to her.
 
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Azusa thought for a moment before realizing that Satoru was just diverting the subject without really giving the answer away.
"Oi, oi! You didn't answer my question, just posted another one instead!" she challenged him although it was but a mild one that she invested little in. "But... as a matter of fact 'yes', I'd likely follow most people offering me an ice cream on a hot summer day. But you didn't really offer it did you? You owe me one." she smirked.

"Oh did you transfer to Sugiyama High School? At what year?" she answered even more intrigued by the maybe-european guy. It was about to trip over her lips but she pressed together not revealing it was the same school she was going to. He didn't sound particularly enthusiastic when mentioning his text books but it would probably be wrong to label him 'slow' or anything the likes. "Transfer students are often proved to be more intelligent than regular ones because their brains needs to be able to catch up on the curriculum while adapting socially. Would you agree?" she asked him her smirk creeping further up but the prospect of seeing if he was able to put positive words in association with himself - and to what extend.

"Yes, that's a Lawson's. I want an ice cream similar to yours - only different - if you know what you mean. So I'll just be waiting right here while you pick a good one." Azusa said and smiled sincerely.
 

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“How do you figure I owe you anything?” Satoru asked, stopping just as they were leaving the park as she somehow twisted reality to fit her own way of looking at the world. As he regarded her, sucking the last bit of ice cream from the stick of his Magnum, his eyes narrowed in suspicion. “If you think I owe you something… I’ll give you a tip and we’ll be even. Following strange men around is probably not a great idea especially if they offer you sweets,” he told her. His voice, quietly inflected, didn’t seem to hold any trace of malice or annoyance yet it didn’t exactly seem like he was joking either. Hadn’t everyone seen a video at some time in kiddy school where a dubious man would offer a child some candy and then ask them back to his place to see some kittens? Granted she was an adult, or near enough, but some sense of self-preservation had to be a good thing. Before she answered he kept on walking, tossing the stick into a nearby litter bin.

With her next set of questions, a dry chuckle finally escaped his lips. “That would depend on how successful they are,” he responded wryly, wistfully thinking back at past transfers. He’d muddled through alright in the past but hadn’t exactly proven her hypothesis correct. This girl was … certainly interesting, he’d give her that, and she seemed willing to talk to him, which made him the first person in town that he’d met that he’d actually had a conversation with, if you didn’t count the school Principal. It made him feel like perhaps he owed her another answer that wasn’t an evasion. “I’m starting the second year.” She hadn’t said that she was a student there, but she did seem strangely interested in that particular school when he mentioned it. Was she a student there? How old was she anyway? It was really hard to tell and he couldn’t exactly ask.

“Yes, that is definitely a Lawson’s,” he agreed. “But unless you come in with me, you’re not getting one.” He had some strange feeling that he might buy the ice cream, come back out and find she had gone, which would completely scupper his fledgling idea that she could be his guide around the town.
 
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