Disclaimer: I do not own Persona 4. The game belongs to Atlus and the anime adaptations were done by Anime International Company and A-1 Pictures. The English localization for the first anime adaptation was been done by Sentai Filmworks and the Golden version has been licensed by Aniplex
Author Notes: Thank you very much for checking out this story. 'Into the Fog' will be an alternate take of Persona 4 with a female protagonist rather than a male one. Some of you might recognize the title of this story. This was originally the title of EnchantedSlytherin's work. For those of you who may have been fans of the original story, I regret to inform you that he has decided to take his leave from writing for various reasons. However, EnchantedSlytherin has given me permission to reboot this story. EnchantedSlytherin has also not left this website entirely and will be acting as an advisor for this reboot.
For the past few weeks, we have been exchanging messages. I've told him some things that I plan on doing, and he has pitched a few ideas as well. Thanks to the messages we have exchanged, I have a number of future chapters, character interactions, and story alterations planned out. I hope things will continue to be this way.
I'm personally very excited to be working on this story. I've enjoyed playing Persona 4, and writing a female version of the protagonist seemed like an interesting idea since Persona 3 had given the option to choose a male or female protagonist which did cause a few notable changes. This story will utilize a mixture of the video game, anime adaptations, and original ideas. I plan on utilizing that along with a number of things EnchantedSlytherin and I discussed to create this story. If you read EnchantedSlytherin's original story, you can expect a few things to be similar, be altered, or expanded upon between this reboot and his original story as well.
Similar to EnchantedSlytherin's story, I plan on this being a Yuri story. This will be my first attempt at writing a story for this genre. Of course, there will be multiple other genres in this story since this is a fanfiction story set in the Persona 4 universe. Additionally, I do not plan on having the Yuri being something tacked on. It will be something that I plan on going into quite a bit of depth, but that will not happen until much later.
Unlike the English version of the game or the original story, I plan on using the Japanese order of naming, so it will be family name first followed by the personal name. For example, instead of Rise Kujikawa, it will be Kujikawa Rise. Additionally, similar to the anime, some of the characters will refer to each other by their family names at first since in Japanese society, people do not call each other by their personal names unless they are good friend, family member, or their senior.
Anyway, I hope you will enjoy reading the pilot chapter of this story and will leave a review. I would greatly appreciate written feedback. In addition to publishing this chapter, I've also published the tenth chapter of my other story, "The Kirita Chronicles," which is a Sword Art Online story. If anyone here is a fan of the franchise or is interested in it, I hope you will check it out.
Into The Fog
Story Arc One: Setting Things into Motion – Part One
Chapter One: Fated Childhoods
People all have pasts
Everyone has a childhood
For better or worse
Date: Fall 2002
Location: Tokyo – Elementary School
It was a quiet day. Days like this are generally characterized as 'peaceful' days of tranquility. However, these days were the types of days that no one would ever believe something 'unusual' would happen. On days like this, everyone would be expecting to operate on the current status quo and go about their daily lives. Most people would be comfortable with how their current lives are and would not try to change anything for better or worse. At least this was true for the students of this Japanese Elementary School.
In this Elementary School, the students would all go about their usual routines of attending class, hanging out with their friends, going to an afterschool activity, and heading home. A majority of the students were happy living like that because that routine and the status quo is what worked for them. Unfortunately for some students, the so called 'usual routine' did not work for them because the 'status quo' was to their disadvantage. The 'status quo' was not all inclusive meaning some students would be left to the wayside while others had all the attention.
One victim of being excluded by the status quo was a student named, Narukami Rei. She was a little girl who other students in her class generally avoided because of her unique feature. Rei was blessed and cursed with natural silver, gray hair since she was born. In Japan it was normal to see people with darker hair. It was not too unusual to see students with different hair colors either due to having a foreign parent or dyeing their hair. However, it was rare for someone to have naturally silver gray hair because it was a genetic improbability, especially with parents who both had dark hair. As a result of her abnormal hair, Rei was alienated by her peers. One of the names they gave her was, the 'Silver Haired Freak.' It was a name that would forever stick inside Rei's head.
In the scheme of things, it was a rather petty excuse to exclude someone from the group. Unfortunately, despite whether it was a petty excuse or nor, it was not unusual to make someone an outsider, even if she was a child. As a result, Rei was not successful at making any friends during the first eight years of her life. Her parents were not exactly helpful at helping her cope with this problem either.
Due to how she was treated because of her hair color, she had tried dyeing it even though she was only eight years old. Despite it working at first, it immediately changed back to being silver as if some kind of strange power did not want her hair color to be altered. She was amazed when she witnessed it happened. After dyeing her hair, it was back to being silver within a few hours as if it was magic. Since it appeared that dyeing her hair was not an answer, Rei always tried keeping her hair short, so she could hide it underneath a hat whenever she was not attending classes.
During the lunch break, Rei quietly watched all of her other classmates eating lunch together in groups. Only a handful of other students like herself were eating alone. In the past, she even tried eating with them, and even they rejected her. It was ironic that others who were rejected decided to reject her but that's what happened. As a result, she did not even bother anymore, and she just ate her lunch alone by the window.
As she watched other groups of kids happily eating their lunches together, she could not help but enviously stare at them. She thought, "Why can't they ever let me eat them with them? What's so special about them?" On reflex, Rei pulled on a piece of her hair and stared at the silver, gray hair she had in front of her eyes. While she pulled on her hair, Rei quietly thought to herself, "Is my hair really that big of a deal? It's not like I haven't tried changing the color of my hair. It always stays silver no matter what I do."
After Rei thought this, she heard the group of kids were laughing about something. It made Rei even more envious to be part of that group, so she could know what was so funny. Rei then averted her eyes and looked towards outside the window. She was not sure if she would start crying or not, but she knew that she did not want others to see her face. She sadly thought, "Things are normal for everyone else. Why can't they be normal for me too? I wish things could be normal for me, so I can be like them."
Date: Fall 2002
Location: Tokyo – Elementary School
While Rei was mulling over her exclusion and rejection by her classmates, there was another girl who was having similar problems. This girl was about a year younger than Rei. Her name was Kujikawa Rise and while she was not being excluded from others because of her hair color, she was another student who understood what it felt like to have difficulty making friends. Unlike Rei, rather than being excluded, Rise was considered an easy target for bullies. When she was bullied, no one would stand up for her. They did not want to take the chance of becoming the bullies' next target, so they left her alone.
Similar to Rei, Rise was eating her lunch alone. As she was eating, she overheard some of her classmates talking. One of them said, "Have you heard about the 'silver haired freak'?" The voice indicated the student was attempting to whisper this, but failed because anyone within ten feet of him could hear.
One of the other students asked in a curious tone, "What's that?"
The student who was attempting to whisper said, "It's not a 'what' it's a 'girl.' The 'silver haired freak' is a girl in our school and she has 'silver hair.'"
Another student in the group said in a skeptical tone, "Are you kidding? I've never heard of anyone like that.
The fourth member of the group said, "I think I saw someone like that last week."
"You have?" The skeptical student questioned. "I haven't seen anyone in our class who has hair like that."
The student who brought the rumor to their attention in the first place clarified, "From what I've heard, she's supposed to be our senpai, so she is one floor above us. She's probably eating lunch right now too."
One of the students asked, "Do you know what this 'silver haired freak' is like?"
"I don't know much. All I know is that she is older than us, has silver hair, and she had no friends. From what I hear, she 'scares' them away." It would have been more accurate if the rumor stated other students scare her away.
As Rise was listening, she could not help but think, "It sounds like I'm not the only one who is having trouble making friends in this school." Rise could not help but feel curious, "I wonder what she is really like."
Date: Fall 2002 – After School
Location: Tokyo – Elementary School
Due to her parents' busy work schedules, they would never be home by the time that Rei would finish school. As a result, Rei would stay afterschool to participate in the karate club they had. Since it was a karate club for Elementary School students, it was not intense, but they did teach a few moves. Additionally, it was a great place for Rei to relieve some of her pent up stress and rage. When they would have karate matches, it would be bad news if anyone ended up being her opponent. She would end up knocking them down on their back. She was extremely pleased by her victories in today's class, but her happiness was dampened after the class was over.
Rei frowned as she stared around the schoolyard. She was sitting on the stone wall, and she was absentmindedly tapping her foot against it. The wind nearly blew off her hat, so she quickly grabbed it to prevent it from flying away. She tucked any hair that came loose under her hat or behind her ear. The last thing she wanted was for more people besides her classmates to see her silver, gray hair.
As Rei sat on the stone wall, she was frowning at the sight of watching parents come and go for their children. She continued to see the students being picked up by their parents one by one. They would always be so happy to see their child. She would hear them ask their child how his or her day was, and then she would hear the parents tell their child how proud they are that things went well for them. After observing this for a while, she glanced at her watch to see that her parents were over a half hour late and counting. Rei would not feel as sad about this turn of events if this was not an everyday occurrence.
As she witnessed all the other children being picked up by their parents Rei sadly thought to herself, "I wish mom and dad would stop being so late to pick me up all the time. All the other kids parents come and pick them up, and they go do cool things after, like get ice cream or go out to the park. Why are they always so busy at work all the time? Why can't they do those things with me? Even when they're home they never have time for me either. They always tell me, 'It's work this' and 'Friends that.' I'm always told I'm too much of little girl to understand anything. They always ignore me. They always avoid me."
Rei was taken out of her world of self-pity when she heard a young boy ask in a mocking voice, "Hey clumsy, why are you crying?" Rei quickly looked towards the source of the voice and she could see that three older boys were standing over a young girl with red hair who wore her hair in pigtails.
The little girl was on knees sniffling and rubbing her eyes while three older boys who were in Rei's class were standing over the young girl. They were holding her 'Hello Kitty Backpack' above her head with a triumphant look in their eyes. From how they looked, you would assume they achieved something of importance. However, the only thing these three cowardly bullies achieved was picking on a little girl until they made her cry.
Witnessing this injustice caused a fire to flare up within Rei. She jumped off the stone wall and began quickly walking over to the incident. She clenched her hands and angrily shouted, "Hey stupid, leave her alone!"
That caught the boys' attention. They all turned towards Rei and glared at her. All three of them had typical delinquent looks. The tallest one appeared to be the leader, and he was the one holding the backpack. Even though he was between eight to ten years old, he had his brown hair shaved into a Mohawk and his school uniform was wrinkled and there were dirt stains on his knees. The other two had cut hair, and their school uniforms were unkempt too.
All three of them seemed to recognize Rei instantly. The leader of the group, who went by the name of Kenta said, "Hey guys look! It's the 'Silver Haired Freak'!" The other two laughed at Rei's expense as the leader looked at his 'subordinates' and said, "She actually has the nerve to tell us to stop doing something." Hearing that caused Rei to become even more irritated.
Kenta then looked towards Rei again and told her, "You want to stop us from having fun." He asked her in a mocking voice, "Well what are you going to do about it?" The three of them laughed with amusement as he continued to say, "You can't do anything. You're just a girl. Everyone knows girls are weaker than boys."
As he was boasting about men's superiority over women, the leader then took his eyes off Rei and said to his 'subordinates,' "That's what dad always tells my mom and I, and my dad's always right. Wouldn't you say …?" The leader never got to finish his sentence.
Since all three of them made the mistake to take their eyes off of Rei as they insulted her and other females with their generalizations, they failed to notice Rei moving towards them. It was not until it was too late they finally realized Rei was in front of them and ready to punch their lights out. Rei interrupted Kenta's little 'conversation' with his lackeys with a punch to the nose which sent him to the ground on his back and he dropped the backpack.
The other two were dumbstruck by their leader's fall that it did not occur to them that Rei was planning on doing the exact same thing to them. Despite only being eight years old, Rei knew enough basic karate to inflict some damage. She proceed to use a side kick with her left foot to hit the stomach of one of the subordinates. The opponent was unbalanced and Rei quickly followed up with a punch to his right cheek to send him to the ground as well.
While the first two went down easily, the last one would not be taken by surprise. He attempted to grab Rei. After she avoided his grabbing attempt, she proceeded to kick him in the groin. That was enough to cause him to fall to the ground as he crouched and fell over in pain. Rei felt quite a bit of satisfaction from hearing his groans.
It was Rei's time to boast, "Girls aren't weaker than boys, but boys are definitely stupider than girls. If you had any brains, you wouldn't have looked away from me and you wouldn't be on the ground right now."
Hearing this enraged the leader as he got up from the ground. Rei's punch from earlier caused his nose to bleed and blood was pouring out of his nose like a leaky faucet. He angrily stated, "We're not dumber or weaker than you."
Rei shot back, "Of course you are. You only pick on little girls who can't defend themselves because you are weak and cowardly."
Kenta was not pleased to listen to this as he shouted, "Why you Silver Haired Freak!" He attempted to punch her, but she managed to narrowly dodge it. She countered by punching him in the face. It did not cause him to fall to the ground again, but he did take a few steps back. Rei decided to take a few steps back herself because she was not sure if attacking him again would be a good idea since his guard was up.
She told Kenta, "You're dumber than me because you decided to pick a fight with me."
At first Kenta appeared to be pissed by Rei's statement, but he did not say anything. Instead, his face began to look rather smug for someone who was an Elementary School student. At first she was confused by this, but then she noticed that while the subordinate she kicked in the groin was still on the ground the other one was gone. She looked behind her and saw the other subordinate was behind her. He hit her on the back of the head before she could react which caused her hat to fall off and be carried away by the wind. Kenta followed up with his subordinate's attack by kicking Rei to the ground.
When Kenta tried to step on Rei's head with his foot, she rolled out of the way and managed to get back on her feet. Kenta gloated, "You're not so tough now."
Rei quickly glanced around and noticed there was a stick near where she was and quickly picked it up. Kenta seemed unimpressed as he said, "What's that going to do?"
He began running at Rei and Rei threw the stick at Kenta's direction hoping that it would hit his face. As luck would have it, it hit him which caused Kenta to cry out in pain, "Aw my face."
Rei took advantage of this and proceeded to kick Kenta in the groin like she did to his other subordinate. It was a technique that was anything but refined but it got the job done. Kenta feel to his knees as he put his hands to his groin and groaned, "You freak!"
Instead of being offended by what he said, she told him, "Don't be a sore loser." She then turned to Kenta's subordinate and asked, "Do you still want to fight?"
The subordinate clearly did not want anything more to do with this. He nervously shook his head to indicate he surrendered. Rei then asked, "Do you still think girls are weak?" Kenta did not give a response but his subordinate continued to nervously shake his head. Rei picked up the stick that she three threw at Kenta and pointed it at the subordinate. She threatened him and told him, "Take your buddies and leave this girl alone! Got it?"
Kenta answered for his subordinate as he struggled to get up, "Fine you can have her backpack." The other subordinate who Rei kicked in the groin were still clearly in pain, but he seemed to recover since he was standing more upright rather than how Kenta was still hunched over.
As Kenta's relatively unharmed subordinate decided to try to help support him, Rei quickly looked around. She saw that no one else had witnessed what happened. Most of the people, including the teachers, were gone, and this area was a place people were less likely to be in which was why Kenta and his subordinates were bullying the girl here.
Rei thought in relief, "Thank goodness none of our teachers were here to see this." She then looked at the stick she was holding in her hand and thought, "Since none of the teachers are watching, I don't think this will be a problem."
Before Kenta and his subordinates could make their getaway, Rei hit the head of the one who attacked her from behind. When she hit him in the back of the head, Rei briefly smiled for giving Kenta's subordinate his comeuppance for attacking her. This attack caused the boy to groan in pain as he let go of Kenta and rubbed his head. If he was older, he would have cursed. Instead he said, "What did you do that for?"
Rei nonchalantly told him, "For hitting me in the back of the head. You don't like how it feels do you?"
The boy was about to say, "I'm going to tell …"
Rei interrupted him, "You're going to tell on me? Are you going to tell them, you lost to a weak girl when it was three of you against me? Are you going to tell them, you were picking on a little girl with pigtails? Are you going to tell them, you ran away like cowards?" Even though Rei did not want to admit it, she was enjoying the power that she had over these bullies. The bullies could tell she was enjoying it too. It was different from the voice she used that sounded protective of the little girl. This was a voice of amusement.
The boy and Kenta said nothing but glare and scowl at Rei before continuing their retreat. Rei gleefully thought to herself, "I didn't think so."
After seeing her opponents run away like the cowards they were, Rei sighed heavily. She was relieved to see them retreat. Even though she was doing a good job holding her own, she was not sure if she would have been able to hold on forever if they kept getting up. However, despite the difficulty of the position, she did get a thrill out of doing this, and she enjoyed making them pay for what they did to the girl, for what they did to her, and what they said about girls.
As Rei sighed heavily and turned around, looking at the girl who was staring up at her in surprise. She was still crying a little bit, but it was greatly reduced from the near sobbing she had been doing before. When Rei saw the girl, she changed from feeling amused by her actions to feeling concerned about the girl.
Rei thought, "I hope she is okay." Rei looked to the side to see that the girl's backpack was still where Kenta dropped it. She walked over and picked it up before starting to walk over to the girl.
After the fight between Rei and the school bullies began, the little girl quickly ran from the immediate area until she was at a safe distance from the fighting. She watched in awe as the girl with silver hair stood up for her and beat the crap out of the bullies who had been tormenting her. The girl was amazed that anyone would stand up for her, let alone the 'Silver Haired Freak' her classmates spoke about. She did not seem to mind how the girl had hit one of the on the back of the head with a stick after the way they bullied her. She was actually more concerned about whether the girl was hurt.
As she was watching the fight, the first thoughts that came to Rise's mind were, "She is the girl with silver hair my classmates were talking about. They were wrong about. She's not a freak. She's nice, strong, and her hair is beautiful."
Even though tears were still pouring out of Rise's eyes, she was happy that someone was standing up to her. She thought, "I never thought anyone would stand up for me."
After the silver haired girl finished with the boys that were picking on her, the silver haired girl picked up Rise's red backpack and walked over to her. Rei kneeled on the ground so Rise and her were at eye level as she greeted Rise, "Um…Hi?"
Rise hesitantly returned the greeting, "Hello."
Rei assured the red haired girl, "You don't have to worry about those boys, I taught them a lesson."
The smaller girl cracked a smile, and replied, "Thank you for helping me. Are you okay?"
"It's not a problem." Rei instinctively touched the area where she was hit earlier and assured the girl, "Thanks for asking. I'm fine. He didn't really hurt me." Rei could see that despite Rise smiling that she still had a teary eyed look, so she asked, "Are you still upset?"
Even though Rise wanted to say no, she could not tell a lie. She answered truthfully, "A little."
Despite Rei's young age, she was quite empathetic towards Rise's feelings. She already understood why Rise would still be upset. After all, Rei had been excluded by a majority of her classmates, so she knew how it felt to not fit in. However, she could see that Rise's problem was greater due to the physical harm those bullies were inflicting upon her.
Rei assured the younger girl, "That's okay. I think I know something that might help you feel better." Rei placed both her own and the younger girl's backpacks on the ground beside them. She kneeled down on the ground as she rummaged through her red backpack. She dug around until she eventually found a piece of thick, blue paper. Rei said out loud, "This will do."
As Rei sat on the ground folding the paper, Rise looked at what Rei was doing with curiosity. She shyly asked, "What … What are you doing? What are you making?" The curiosity in the girl's voice indicated she was not crying anymore. Her blue eyes were still a little bloodshot from the crying, but they were beginning to get better thanks to her savior.
Rei bit her lip as she told the girl, "Give me a minute. I'll be done in just a minute."
Rise replied, "Okay," as she continued to watch Rei folding the paper.
Rei continued to focus on her. When she was almost done she thought, "I just need to fold it just right a few more times and that should do it."
As soon as Rei was finished, she said, "It's done." She then showed it to the young girl and her hands were holding a small blue origami crane.
Seeing this caused the younger girl to smile and say, "It's so pretty."
Rei handed the origami crane over to the girl and said, "This is for you."
Rise asked in an uncertain tone, "Really?"
Rei nodded as she assured the girl, "Yes. You can take it, but be gentle. It is made out of paper, so it can be wrinkled easily."
Rise slowly reached for the origami crane and held it in her hands with care. She did not want to ruin the present her savior had given her. She marveled at how wonderful it looked. Rise asked in a curious tone, "It looks so great. How did you make this?"
With pride, Rei answered, "With a lot of practice. If you practice, I'm sure that you can do it too." Rei also thought, "I had a lot of time to practice alone in my home. If I didn't do that, I probably would have gone crazy being by myself all the time."
"I see." Rise shyly asked, "Can … Can you teach me?"
The request she received, made Rei blush a little. No one had ever asked her for a favor before. It was kind of new for her. She said, "Okay, but isn't it getting a little late? Shouldn't you be getting home?"
Rise shook her head, "My parents told me they were going to be late today. What about you?"
Rei hesitantly answered, "My parents … My parents told me the same thing. Anyway, I'd be happy to teach you a little origami."
Due to her young age, Rise did not pick up on the hesitation in Rei's voice. She was just happy that Rei would teach her some origami. She replied, "Thank you. My name is Kujikawa Rise. What's your name?"
Once again, Rei was hesitant to answer Rise's question, but she told Rise, "My name is Narukami."
Rise happily said, "It's to meet you Narukami-san. I hope we get along."
The girl's happy demeanor caused Rei to blush a little because this was the first time she really interacted with someone else in her school like this outside of her karate club. This was pretty much a new experience for Rei, so she was not really sure what to say next. Her common sense told her to say, "I hope we get along as well."
For a few minutes, Rei showed Rise the specific ways on how to fold the paper to create cranes. Due to this being Rise's first time doing this, she made a few mistakes, but Rei assured her that she made a few of those mistakes when she started. As they were doing this, Rise could not help but look at Rei's silver hair. When the setting sunshine hit Rei's hair, it shined in a way that was different from how other people's hair would be affected if the sunshine hit it.
Rise decided to ask, "Hey Narukami, has anyone ever told you that your hair is pretty?"
After Rise said that to her, Rei's was visibly surprised and thought, "What?" This was the first person to tell Rei that her hair was pretty. She told Rise in an embarrassed tone, "No."
Rise told her, "Why not? Your hair is beautiful. I like how it looks and the way it shines. You should really think about growing it out. I think you would look wonderful with longer hair."
Rei slowly said, "Um … Thanks." Rei quickly decided to change the topic, "Anyway, can you make me a promise Kujikawa-san?"
Rise was taken aback by the sudden change in topics, but she did not complain. Instead she asked, "What would you like me to promise?"
Rei told her, "You can use the origami crane I gave you to make a wish. If you make a wish on it, it's supposed to come true. You've gotta promise me that you will make a wish. Okay?"
This caused Rise to smile even more as she replied, "Okay. I'll be happy to make a wish. I'll …" Rise was not able to finish her sentence.
As Rise was about to say something else to Rei, a crisp, feminine voice called out, "Rise-chan?" The two girls looked towards the source of the voice. It was a tall woman, wearing a beige faux fur coat and black high heels. She was walking briskly as she was looking for Rise. Similar to Rise, the woman had red hair, but her hair was elegantly tied up. She also had perfect porcelain skin and chocolate brown eyes. It made Rei wonder if this is what the girl sitting next to her would look like down the line with the exception of having blue eyes.
Rise waved and called out to the woman, "I'm over here mom!"
The woman looked at the two girls and quickly walked in their direction. "There you are! I've been looking everywhere for you!" She then noticed her daughter had something in her hand and she asked, "What have you been up to while you've been waiting for me?"
Rise responded, "I've just been having fun with origami with my friend."
The woman noticed Rei sitting nearby and she smiled as she asked, "Who would this charming young lady be?"
Once again, Rei felt herself blush upon hearing someone complement her. At first she averted her eyes from the woman, but she realized it was rude. As she turned to answer the woman's question, Rise answered the question for her, "This is Narukami-san. She's my new friend." Rise picked up the origami crane that Rei had made for her and showed it to her mother while happily saying, "Look at this origami crane she made for me."
Rise's mother seemed impressed by what she saw as she commented, "Well that is creative." She looked directly at Rei as she told her, "You have talent. There's no doubt about that." She then held out her hand and said, "It is a pleasure to meet you Narukami-san. I'm Rise's mother."
When Rise called Rei her friend, it caused Rei to think, "Is making friends that easy?" After Rise's mother introduced herself, Rei got up from the ground and shook the woman's hand and replied, "It's nice to meet you too."
The woman thought, "She seems to be a polite child." After remembering that they were in a rush she said, "Thank you for keeping my daughter company, but we need to be going. Please excuse us."
While Rei was disappointed to see her new friend leaving so soon, but she replied, "Okay." She then looked at Rise and asked, "Will I see you again?"
Rise enthusiastically nodded as she said, "Of course." Rise then turned to her mother and asked, "Can Narukami-san come and play?"
The woman began to say, "She seems like a nice girl. I don't see why …" Before she could finish her sentence, she heard a loud irritated honking. She took her daughter's hand and said, "Come along Rise-chan. Your father is getting impatient as always and we have to get to that party later." She made sure that her daughter had everything, including that origami crane that Rei made and then then looked at Rei again. She told the young girl, "It was nice meeting you. Have a good day?"
Before getting dragged away by her mother, Rise said, "Bye Narukami-san."
Rei waved at Rise's retreating figure and replied, "Goodbye." Rei continued to watch the young girl until she saw her get ushered into the car and drive away out of sight. As she saw the car drive away, the thought that went through Rei's head was, "She didn't call me a freak. She said my hair was beautiful. She said I was her friend." Rei then looked at her hand and thought in a bittersweet voice, "This seems too good to be true." She then looked down the road even though the car was no longer in sight and said out loud, "I guess I'll see how real it is when I meet her again."
Afterwards, Rei knelt down on the ground to rummage through her backpack again. Instead of taking out more blue paper to create more origami, she took out a first aid kit. She quickly put a cold pack on the part of her head that had been hit. She also put spray on the areas that were scrapped when she feel on the ground.
Her common sense was telling her that she should go to the nurse's office, but she gritted her teeth as she told herself, "I can take care of myself. I don't need their help."
As Rei sat there taking care of herself, she had a feeling that it would still be a little while until her parents would finally get there. Unfortunately, her feelings were right. By the time they arrived, they were none the wiser that Rei had any kind of trouble. They did not even ask if she had any problems while she waited for them for over an hour after her karate club ended.
Time: Fall 2002
Location: Inaba – The Amagi Inn
Rei was far from the only girl who was having family problems at that time. A raven haired girl named Fukui-Amagi Yukiko, who resided in the town of Inaba,was listening to her parents argue. It was becoming something that was normal for her to hear. Yukiko had been told by some of the hotel staff that the marriage between her parents had always been rocky due to the fact it was an arranged marriage. Her mother apparently was in love with someone else, but she had to marry her father instead.
Her mother's family, the Amagi family, were the proud owners of an Inn that had been in their control for years. Their inn had a luxurious hot spring and prided itself on its excellent food and service. The members of the Amagi Inn staff were like family to Yukiko. Her father's family, the Fukui family, were also a family of entrepreneurs. However, their family had hit a few hard times following the 1991 crash that was partly the cause of the 'Lost Decade.' Yukiko did not know much about Japanese economic history yet, but the hotel staff told her that the circumstances made it necessary for the Fukui family to seek out an 'alliance' that could be sealed by marriage.
Apparently, her father fell in love with Nariko at first sight, but the feelings were far from mutual. The story goes that Nariko eventually accepted the match and helped move things along faster. Things were apparently okay between the two of them for a few years. Unfortunately, over a year ago, things had taking a turn for the worse. Whenever, Ren would look at Yukiko he would seem disgusted with looking at her. Despite Yukiko's attempts to be nice to her father, he would ignore them. His actions would trigger some of the arguments that Ren and Nariko would have over these past few months.
These arguments were so normal that they seemed to be almost a common site. Yukiko would overhear a few of their fights. While she did not understand what exactly they were arguing about, she would hear her name muttered several times which caused her to believe she was somehow at fault. The arguments between the two had also become a normal occurrence for the hotel staff of the Amagi Inn to hear. It seemed as if the only time there was no fighting was when Ren would be out of town for business which was thankfully quite often. However, the fight they were having today was different.
A woman's voice could be heard, asking in a tone mixed with anger and shock, "What on earth are you saying?!" The woman's voice belonged to Yukiko's mother Amagi Nariko who looked like an older version of her daughter with her long beautiful black hair. However, while her daughter's eyes were brown, Nariko's eyes were blue.
In response to the woman's voice, a man replied in an angry tone of his own, "That child isn't my daughter, and I know you've been lying to me for these past six years about it! She doesn't even looklike me!" This voice belonged to Yukiko's father, Fukio Ren. He was a relatively big man who stood several inches taller than his wife, he had light brown hair, and green eyes.
With an irritated voice, Nariko defended her daughter, "Just because Yukiko doesn't look like you doesn't mean she isn't your daughter." She glared at the man and to prevent herself from assaulting him, she kept her hands on the kitchen counter and grabbed the edges. Her hands were stiff with rage.
At first it seemed as if the man had calmed down when he said, "Nariko …" He pushed away his sweaty, light brown hair and sighed angrily as he told her, "I want you to stop lying to me."
In an exasperated tone, Nariko replied, "I'm not!" Nariko sighed heavily as she put her hands on her face. "Ren, you need to listen to me okay? Why on earth would I cheat on you?" Her voice was becoming desperate to put an end to this fight.
The rage Ren was barely managing to conceal began reemerging as he told Nariko, "…You … You may not have cheated on me after we got married, but before that happened you made love to that son of a bitch and bored him a child."
Hearing Ren say that shocked Nariko. All she could say was, "What?" It was the only word she could say to deny his accusations which was far from effective.
Ren was not interested in listening to anything else his wife had to say, so he rudely told her, "Don't you say anything more! At first you seemed indifferent to the wedding arrangements and then suddenly you decided to rush the wedding plans. I think you were already pregnant with that child before we were actually married." When he said the word 'child,' it had a little extra venom. "This was your version of a Shotgun Wedding, but it was with the man who did not father your child."
Nariko did not try to deny what he was saying. He took her silence as a sign that he was hitting the nail on the head. "I don't need you to tell me that I'm right. I can tell I'm right just by looking at her eyes. When I see that child's eyes, I see his eyes. Those eyes don't belong to you nor me. They belong to him!"
After she heard him say that, Nariko bit her lip as she felt sicker with grief from each passing moment. She responded, "Her eye color is not proof that she isn't yours."
Ren found that comment to be easy to ignore as he fired back, "Maybe not, but there are plenty of other ways to prove she isn't my child. Not to mention all your behavior after that girl was born."
Nariko was getting tired of Ren not referring to her daughter by name as she stated in an irritated voice, "Her name is Yukiko."
Ren shrugged that comment off as well, "Her name doesn't matter to me. After that child was born, you knew she was his child. You told me having one child was enough for you, but you just didn't want to have any of my children."
"Oh god!" Nariko replied in a deadpan voice, "If you ever go through childbirth, I'm sure you will understand."
Ren slammed one of his large, calloused hands down on the counter which caused Nariko to back away in fright. He loudly stated, "Because of you, I've been stuck with nothing but a bastard child that my family name rather than any of my own children for the past six years! Do you know what this will do to my reputation? She's nothing but a disgrace!"
That was the last straw for Nariko as she loudly shot back at her husband filled with her own rage that she had been attempting to keep under control, "Screw your reputation! If that is what you believe then you can just get out!"
Ren growled out, his voice loud and boisterous. "What did you say to me?"
"Get out." Nariko repeated lowly, shaking her head. "No one wants you around! Not the hotel staff and definitely not me! Yukiko is the only one who wants you around, but you can believe me she will eventually be happy not to have you around!"
Ren began to say, "Now wait you …"
Nariko loudly interrupted him because she was not going to stand for him insulting her daughter again. Shut up! Even if Yukiko wasn't your daughter, you've treated her horribly. She's done nothing but try to be a good daughter to you and you've treated her like garbage! I should have had you arrested for how you've treated her." She continued to glare at him as she nearly shouted, "If you think she and I are disgraces you should look in a mirror because I see a poor excuse of a human being standing in front of me!" She took a deep, shuddering breath and took a step towards him. "Pack your things right now, and GET OUT OF MY HOUSE!"
Ren stared at her, mouth slightly agape and breathing heavily. His green eyes briefly stared into her blue eyes. After seeing that she was firm in what she was saying, he angrily turned away and marched upstairs. There was a loud slam of the bedroom door, and the sound of drawers being opened.
Nariko sank down to the floor. She didn't know if she should be feeling sick or relieved after what happened. It was true that she did not love Ren, and a part of her felt that her life as well as her family would be better off without him. However, she was not sure how her daughter would react. After all, she always wanted Ren to care for her, but that was not going to be possible.
As Nariko was sitting there, a small gentle hand placed itself on the warm skin of her neck, above her silk kimono. She turned around to see the hand belonged to none other than her daughter Yukiko. When she saw her daughter, Nariko's eyes widened as she thought, "Oh my God! Did Yukiko hear everything that happened?"
Yukiko asked in a worried, meek voice, "Mother are you okay?"
Nariko quickly hugged her daughter and told her, "I'll be fine."
Yukiko then asked, "Where's father going?"
Nariko did the best she could to answer her daughter's question, "He's leaving."
Yukiko asked in a guilty tone, "Was it because of me?"
In a horrified tone, Nariko asked her daughter, "How could you think that?"
Yukiko looked down as she sadly said, "I heard him call me something. I don't know what it was, but it sounded bad."
There was no denying that he called Yukiko an awful name, but there was no need to explain what it meant, so Nariko told her daughter as Nariko brushed Yukiko's hair with her hand, "Yes. He did call you something horrible. He's leaving now because I told him to leave. It's not your fault. The fault belongs to both your father and me, but everything is going to be better now."
Yukiko asked in an innocent voice, "Everything will be better because father is leaving?"
"Yes. Yes they will. I promise." As Nariko was saying this, she was thinking, "I can give you the childhood that you truly deserve Yukiko."
Despite how Ren had treated her for the past few months, Yukiko still had the following to say, "I … I don't want him to leave."
"I know you don't. But believe me. When you're older, you will understand why it is better this way." She then broke the hug and put her harms on Yukiko's shoulders so she could look her daughter in the eye as she asked, "Do you believe me Yukiko?"
Yukiko hesitantly replied, "Yes."
Shortly after Yukiko said that, the two of them heard Ren's footsteps rushing down the stairs and he slammed the door. That would mark the end of his role in either of Nariko or Yukiko's lives. As soon as they heard that door slam, Nariko felt a calmness in the atmosphere as if a storm had finally passed. She thought, "She will understand when she's older. If I tell her everything now, it will ruin her childhood."
While Nariko felt calmer after hearing Ren's departure, it caused Yukiko to become teary eyed. She started to say, "I'm sorry. I'm sorry for …"
Before Yukiko could finish that sentence, Nariko hugged her daughter again and said, "This wasn't your fault. None of it was. Starting tomorrow, we will be starting our lives over without him. You will be known as Amagi Yukiko from now on, and the two of us will be proud of the new lives we will have."
Yukiko sadly replied with tears still in her eyes, "Okay."
Nariko told her daughter, "Be proud of who you are and who you will become Amagi Yukiko. You are a great daughter, and I know you will become a great person when you become older. Don't let anyone ever try to tell you otherwise. Because they won't know what they are talking about."
Yukiko did not respond to what her mother said. Instead she held onto her mother tighter and buried her face into Nariko's shoulder. They remained like this for a long time.
Date: Fall 2002
Location: Tatsumi Residence
The Tatsumi Textile Shop was another family run business within Inaba. This was one of the many family run businesses that could be found located in the shopping district. Almost all of the buildings located there were family businesses that not only contained where they conducted their operations but also where they lived. The Tatsumi family conducted business at the front of the home. The backrooms on the first floor was their living room, and their bedrooms were on the second floor. It was a modest two floor home, but there was plenty of space for this family of three.
Unfortunately, in recent years, this area was starting to become a regular hangout for motorbike racers. Being able to get a good night's sleep was becoming a reoccurring problem. While they were occasionally scared off by complaints and police coming to the area, they would eventually come back for some reason. Apparently, they either considered this a prime location or they got a kick out of waking people up. The motorbike racers never gave an actual reason for their actions, but it would be doubtful they had a good one.
The Tatsumi's young son, Tasumi Kanji, wanted to fight against the motorbike gang, but his parents stopped him from trying. Even though he was big for his age, it did not change the fact he was only seven years old. The motorbike gang did not strike them as the type of people that would take it easy on a kid, and they were not willing to take the chance. They decided to simply put up with it for the time being.
During one of the quiet nights, Kanji was being taught the trade of sewing by his father. He had been acting as his father's apprentice for the past few months. The six tatami mat room was littered with pieces of cloth in various sizes along with a large basin filled with sewing supplies. To top it off, there was a pink, electric sewing machine on a low, worn bamboo table where a single, shaded lamp provided light. Kanji's mother was the one who purchased the sewing machine and she choose one with a pink color much to her husband's chagrin. There was also a first aid kit on the table in case anyone hurt themselves sewing.
Kanji was sitting in the middle of the room with his father as he was attempting to complete work on his first teddy bear. While the young Tatsumi was getting good at sewing, he was still prone to making quite a few mistakes. As he was attempting to sew the teddy bear, he poked his index finger with a needle. This marked the fifth time he had poked himself in the past half hour and the bear was still a long way from being completed.
Kanji quickly put the bear on the table to check to his finger to see that it was not bleeding. After he saw that his finger was fine, he then sighed in frustration as he thought, "Making this teddy bear is much harder than I thought." Kanji's lips were up as he gritted his teeth. His stern gaze was focused solely on the half-finished bear that rested on the table. He picked up the bear again as he thought, "Let's try again."
Within a few minutes Kanji's could feel the needle piercing his skin again. This caused him to react with a loud, "Ouch," as he dropped the bear to the floor this time. Kanji saw that this time he did make his finger bleed. Kanji thought in a frustrated tone, "Why do I keep messing up? I thought I was doing everything right."
Kanji's father, Arashi Tatsumi, noticed that his son was having difficulty. He quickly picked up the first aid kit and treated his son's finger. Arashi told his son, "It appears you are having some difficulty Kanji-kun."
Hearing his father say that caused Kanji to look down in shame as he replied, "I'm sorry dad. I'm doing a pretty bad job. I'm not sure if I can finish this teddy bear." While he was saying this, Kanji thought, "Maybe I'm better off. I heard some kids in my school make fun of people who sew."
Arashi assured his son, "You don't have to worry about that. You're young and you are bound to make mistakes. It is all part of the learning process." This caused Kanji's head to look up to his father with a more hopeful expression. Arashi glanced at the half finished bear and picked it up. He gently took the bear from his son and examined the stiches carefully. He told Kanji, "This is something I believe you should see."
Kanji leaned in to examine the bear a little more closely as his father began to point out what seemed right and where the flaws were. He told his son, "The cross stich is good, but you keep going farther away each time." Arashi pointed to the specific areas he was referencing so Kanji could see it better.
It did not take Kanji long to understand what his father was telling him. "Oh." Kanji stated simply, he glanced up at his father as he sheepishly said, "I guess I see where I'm messing up."
Arashi told his son in an encouraging tone, "For your first attempt, you've done rather well. If you keep trying, I believe you will be able to finish this."
Kanji asked in a hopeful tone, "Do you really think so?"
Arashi told him, "As long as you don't give up, I know you will. You are more talented that you give yourself credit for. When you get older, I'm certain that you will surpass me in this, and you will be running this store yourself."
At first Kanji seemed excited when his father told him this, but suddenly Kanji's face became saddened for some reason. This was not lost on Arashi as he asked Kanji with a concerned tone, "Are you okay Kanji? Did I say something that upset you?"
Kanji replied, "No. I'm okay, but is sewing something a boy should do?"
Arashi was taken aback by his son's question as he asked one of his own, "What do you mean by that?"
Kanji looked at his father as he answered, "There is someone else in my school who is good at sewing, and I heard some of the other boys saying that sewing is a girl's talent and boys should be doing other stuff."
Arashi calmly told his son, "You shouldn't listen to those kind of people Kanji." He carefully handed the bear back to his son.
Kanji took the bear back as he asked an exasperated tone, "But what happens if they call me a sissy for knowing how to sew? What if they all make fun of me for being a 'girly boy'?"
While Arashi was not completely surprised that his son would eventually bring up this concern, he did not expect it to happen so soon. He let out a long sigh and shut his eyes for a moment. When he opened them, he told his son in a calm, reassuring voice, "Kanji. You should do what makes you feel happy and be yourself." He touched his son's shoulder as he continued his point, "Nothing those boys say now is going to matter by the time you're an adult as long as you are happy doing what you do."
Kanji remained silent for a few moments to take in what his father had told him. After taking time to process, he told his father, "I'll try."
Arashi smiled as he told his son, "That's a step in the right direction." He then playfully brushed his son's hair and the two of them exchanged a laugh.
Kanji unexpectantly moved and hugged his father while telling him, "I love you dad."
Arashi returned the hug. "I know. I love you too." He then noticed what time it was and had to break off the hug as he told his son, "It looks like it's almost time for dinner. We shouldn't keep your mom waiting."
Kanji nodded as he followed his father out of the room. The half-finished teddy bear remained on the table awaiting Kanji's return. If the teddy bear could talk, it would say it would be waiting patiently for Kanji to finish his work.
Date: Fall 2002
Location: Satonaka Residence
Unlike the Amagi or Tatsumi residences, the Satonaka residence was a normal Japanese home located in the residential district of Inaba. There was nothing special about this home that set it apart from other homes. It was a normal two story home, with a standard number of rooms, and it had a backyard. Even though it would normally be enough room for most people, it would not be the case with this family of three and one dog. What was unique about this home, was not the home itself, but it was one of the occupants.
Despite not having a family business or some kind of outstanding reputation within the community of Inaba, the Satonaka family was becoming rather famous or notorious throughout the town. They were becoming famous for a rather unique reason. The source of their fame and infamy was their daughter Satonaka Chie. While their daughter Chie was not some delinquent, she was a rather 'overly energetic' daughter. She was obsessed with karate and fighting. Her parents had been hoping that she would calm down a little after bringing a dog home, but it soon became apparent that nothing was capable of quelling her overabundance of energy even though she had a dog to play with. Without meaning to, she occasionally caused some property damage as a result whether it be in the Satonaka residence or someone else's.
Chie's mother, Satonaka Kyoko, was a petite woman with brown hair that reached her shoulders and could be described as being uptight but for good reason. She wanted her daughter to act more lady-like. However, even though her daughter was not even eight years old yet, Kyoko's instincts told her that it that was an unlikely objective to achieve. This was especially true since her husband did not seem too interested in having a daughter who was too 'ladylike.'
When Kyoko walked into the spacious living room, she found her husband sitting on the couch with a can of Asahi beer in one hand and the remote in the other. He was lazily flipping through the channels without really paying attention to what was on them. Her husband, Satonaka Taichi, was a muscular man who was far more relaxed than her. While he would take major problems seriously, he was willing to be more lenient about the smaller ones. In fact, he seemed to be more encouraging of his daughter's tomboy antics. He personally liked the idea of having strong daughter. While he was aware and concerned about the damage his daughter caused, his reactions were much calmer than his wife's.
Kyoko asked her husband in a concerned voice, "Taichi-kun, have you seen Chie?"
While he continued flipping through the channels he answered, "Sorry, I haven't seen her."
As soon as he said that, he could hear his wife groan and he looked up to see the worried look on her face. It amused him whenever she had that expression. He reluctantly decided to ask her, "What did Chie break this time?"
Kyoko sighed at her husband's indifference as she ran a hand through her messy blond locks. "I believe it is more of a question about what she hasn't broken already."
His wife's statement caught Taichi's attention as he raised one of his eyebrows and asked in a skeptical tone, "Are you talking about that dog she brought home? As far as I can tell, that dog has been …"
Kyoko interrupted her husband, "No it isn't that. The dog has actually been a better addition to the family than I thought it would."
Taichi responded, "Then what's the problem? We haven't received any new complaints recently."
"No, but I think it is only a matter of time before she breaks something else." She smoothed out her apron as she sat next to him. She held one of Taichi's large, muscular hands in her petite hands as she told him, "I'm just worried about her. I think we need to find her a place to burn off more of her energy, so she can calm down."
Taichi nodded as he gave his wife a sheepish look, "Just like me huh?" He laughed as used his other hand to scratch the back of his black haired head.
Her husband's question amused her. Kyoko's brown eyes sparkled as she jokingly said, "If she turns out to be exactly like you, I'll have to tell her teachers and everyone in this neighborhood to run for the hills." She then topped it off by gently poking him on the nose.
After his wife was done having her fun, he told her, "Believe it or not, I've actually been giving some thought into what we can do about her excess energy as well."
Kyoko asked in a playfully skeptical tone, "Really? You're not generally the type to take the initiative."
"I'll pretend I didn't hear that." Taichi began to tell his wife, "The place I was thinking about taking her was …"
Before Taichi could finish his statement, the couple heard a loud 'Crash' from outside that startled them. Neither one of them needed to guess who caused that sound. In their heads, the both of them were thinking, "Speak of the Devil."
Even though they did not need confirmation, they soon heard a small feminine voice say, "Uh-oh …" That seemed to be their daughter's standard response to whenever she broke something.
This time their daughter had put her foot through the rice paper door that separated their backyard from their living room. They could see the silhouette of their little girl. As they could see, their daughter was stuck and she was having trouble getting her foot out of the door.
Both of her parents stood up abruptly as they rushed outside to help their daughter. After they were outside, Kyoko said out loud in a frightened voice, "Chie! What on earth were you thinking? What made you think kicking a door was a good idea?" She did not really expect to hear any responses to those questions.
Taichi stood behind his daughter to make sure she remained balanced while Kyoko worked on trying to free her daughter's foot. As Kyoko and Taichi were helping Chie get her foot unstuck from the door, Kyoko thought in relief, "She's luck that this was a rice paper door and it wasn't made out of glass. I don't even want to think about how badly she could've hurt herself."
After they managed to finally free their daughter, they were relieved to see that she was not injured. At first it did not appear to dawn on the girl how wrong her actions were until she looked up to see her father's disapproving look. This caused the girl to sit on the wooden platform, duck her head, and be flushed with embarrassment. She sheepishly said, "I'm sorry mom. I'm sorry dad. It was an accident."
Both Kyoko and her husband sat down on the wooden platform, so they could be at eye leve with their daughter. Kyoko asked in an exasperated tone, "How does an accident like that happen?"
Chie hesitantly admitted as she was shifting one of her bare feet against the cold, hard wooden floor, "I was …. I was just trying to train."
After hearing her daughter's answer she quickly glanced at her husband before asking, "Train for what? You're a six year old girl, why would you need to train?"
Taichi chimed in with a question of his own, "Why would you feel like you need to train in the first place?"
When she was asked these questions, the first thought that came to Chie's mind was, "I'm training because Yukiko-san looked so sad the other day when I walked her home. Her father looked really mean." However, Chie had a feeling she could not give that answer. She had trouble coming up with a passable answer at first, "Well I … uh. … Um, well there was this really cool movie on the other day." As she was telling her parents this answer, she bit the inside of her lip. "I thought that I'd try out some of the moves the characters did." Chie pointed to the hole in the door and said in a triumphant tone, "I was trying out the 'Rounded House Kick.'"
Taichi corrected his daughter, "I think you mean the 'Round House Kick.'"
As he was correcting his daughter, he ignored a look he received from his wife. The look he was receiving was basically saying, "That's what you're focusing on?"
Chie scratched the back of her head as she sheepishly responded, "Oh. That's what it's called."
Taichi then told her, "You didn't really answer our questions Chie-chan." He calmly said to her, "Please tell us the truth."
When Chie saw that her attempt to avoid directly answering her parents question failed, she decided to be upfront with her real reasons. She told them, "I want to be strong enough to protect Yukiko-san."
While Kyoko was surprised by her answer, Taichi did not seem too shocked. Kyoko questioned, "Yukiko-san is your new friend right?"
After Chie nodded, Kyoko further inquired, "Why would she need protecting Chie-chan? She has parents."
Chie admitted, "Her dad's mean. He yelled at her when I brought her home, and he didn't even thank me. All she did was try to be nice to him, and he still yelled at her."
Before Kyoko could say anything, Taichi stated, "That doesn't sound too surprising. I've heard quite a bit about her father. From my understanding, he is not the friendliest person." Kyoko remained silent because she could not think of anything else to say but take her husband's word for it. She also heard a few rumors about there being marital problems with the Amagi and Fukio, but she did not hear much more than that. Taichi put his hand on Chie's shoulder as he told her, "Well, do you know what this means?"
When her husband asked that question, Kyoko immediately jumped to conclusions as she asked in a concerned voice, "Taichi-kun! You're not going to head over to the Amagi Inn …"
Before she could finish her sentence, Taichi shook his head and told her, "No. I'm was going to say that it is time for our daughter to begin taking some karate classes."
Both Chie and Kyoko were confused by that statement as they simultaneously asked, "Karate classes?"
Taichi explained, "I've been setting some money aside for the past few weeks, so you can take karate classes Chie-chan. They will help you burn off your excess energy while also making you a capable fighter who can protect her friend. If you take these karate classes, you should become strong enough to protect your friend Yukiko-san from anyone who tries to harm her."
Chie's widened as she asked in an uncertain tone, "Do you mean it?"
Taichi happily responded, "Of course. When I was about your age, I was an energetic kid who wanted to help people. I began taking karate classes myself, and they helped make me the person I became. I believe they will be able to do the same for you."
As soon as he told her that, Chie hugged him around his neck and told him in an adorable voice, "You're the coolest dad ever! Thank you so much! I love you! I really love you!"
Taichi placed a hand on Chie's head as he continued to smile. He told her, "I know. I love you too. However, there is one thing that I want you to keep in mind before you take these karate classes."
Chie let go of her father and asked, "What's that?"
In a serious voice he told her, "These lessons you will be taking will be meant for protecting both yourself and others. They will make you into someone who is strong, but people with strength might not always use their strength to help others."
Chie asked, "Do you mean they might use it to bully others like Yukiko's dad bullies her?"
While that was not the most ideal example he would have used, Taichi decided to go along with that. He replied, "Exactly. He uses his strength for the wrong reasons. You need to avoid becoming someone like that. Do you understand?"
Chie nodded, "Yes. I promise to be good." The look in Chie's eyes showcased her desire to utilize what she learns to help others.
Seeing his daughter's determined look satisfied Taichi and it caused him to smile as he said, "I'm glad to hear that." Taichi then remembered something and told his daughter, "Oh and one more thing."
Chie asked in a curious voice, "What is it?"
In a playful voice Taichi told her, "Be sure to eat plenty of steak."
"Steak?" Chie was clearly surprised by what her father said.
Enthusiasm must have been a family trait passed down in the Satonakafamily because Taichi explained to his daughter in an enthusiastic voice, "Of course. Steak not only tastes great, but it is good for you. It has plenty of protein, iron and other nutrients that will make you strong." In case that was not enough to convince his daughter, Taichi added, "When you grow up, you will be both skilled and strong enough to protect anyone you want." While Taichi was explaining this, his wife stood to the side with an amused look on her face.
While picturing herself becoming a great warrior, Chie enthusiastically responded with an innocent smile, "That sounds great. I look forward to eating lots of steak."
"That's my girl." He patted and rubbed his daughter's head before telling her, "Now go and wash up. Dinner is going to be ready soon."
Chie happily replied, "Okay." She let go of her father and ran upstairs to clean up.
As soon as Chie was gone, Taichi looked over to his wife who had another amused expression on her face. Taichi could not help but ask, "What?"
Kyoko replied in a deadpan tone, "I really hope her teachers are ready to run marathons."
Date: Fall 2002
Location: Outskirts of Inaba – Shirogane Estate
The Shirogane Estate was a rather large mansion that had about two dozen room, including a room in the basement that acted as a shooting range. It was located on the countryside near a town called Inaba. The Estate had a rather large courtyard both in the front and the back. It had tall hedges that appeared to act as fences around the estate. In actuality, there were medal fences hidden underneath them. There was a towering gate to the driveway that could only be activated by someone who knew the code. They would generally have no problem opening the gate for guests and/or delivery men.
All of the windows in the Shirogane Estate were made of bulletproof glass in case of whether any potential enemies that the Shirogane had made over the years ever attempted to take revenge. Certain windows were capable of being opened from the inside to allow a breeze through, but they could not be opened to widely otherwise it would completely defeat the purpose of having bulletproof windows. There were also security systems that would alert the residents if someone was attempting to force his or her way in. While the property seemed like a secure place, it was not completely intruder-proof. Many thieves had attempted to sneak into the house and while most of them had been caught, there had been had least one or two successful break-ins in the past.
Since the Shirogane Estate was isolated from other places, it was a tranquil and quiet place to live. The location also made it an ideal place for being able to train in peace. The profession that most members of the Shirogane Estate would train for would be to be a detective. It has been the profession that has been passed down for generations, and the family managed to acquire quite a bit of wealth. Some of that wealth could also be contributed to the fact some of the members of the family wrote detective books based on their experiences following their retirement.
The current head of the Shirogane Estate and the family business was a middle aged man name Shirogane Kenshin. He was approximately fifty-five years of age, but he seemed to be in great shape due to how often he worked out. It was possible for some people to mistaken him for someone in his forties rather than fifties. The man was a relatively tall man with dark hair that was slowly graying. He had to wear glasses over his dark eyes due to his failing vision. He also had a rather large nose, and a firm chin. Kenshin had maintained his family's business for over thirty years, and he was responsible for solving dozens upon dozens of cases. Based on current circumstances, it seemed like he would be remaining the head of the Estate and family business for the foreseeable future.
Originally, Kenshin's son was the one who was set to become the next head of the family and inherit the family business. His son was proving to be a good detective in his own right and capable of succeeding him one day. Unfortunately, it was not meant to be. Kenshin's son and daughter-in-law had died in a horrific car accident. At first Kenshin believed that the car accident was caused by foul play, but as much as he tried to investigate the accident, he could never find evidence that what happened was nothing more than an accident. It took him sometime to finally accept the fact that it was an accident that claimed his son and his daughter-in-law's lives.
As saddened as Kenshin was by his son's death, he did the best he could not let it cripple him. He knew he still had his own life to live, and he still had family that he needed to care for. When his son died, the only legacy he left behind was his daughter, Shirogane Naoto who was only three at the time. Without hesitation, Kenshin took custody of his granddaughter. He would do everything he could to take care of her. He would not be alone in raising her, he would receive some assistance in that regard.
Several years later, his granddaughter was already showing certain signs of being like her father. Despite her young age, she was already proving to be quite intelligent and curious about many things in the world. He even caught her sneaking into his office and reading some of his books. He was never angry at his granddaughter for doing that. Instead, he was pleased by how much she reminded him of his late son among other things. A part of Kenshin was tempted to consider training his granddaughter to become a detective. However, he was not sure if it was the right thing to do.
Whenever Kenshin would think about it, the general thoughts that would come into his head would be, "My granddaughter is still very young. I shouldn't think about rushing something like that. She should make her own decisions. Besides, being a detective is not exactly a risk free occupation, and she is the only grandchild I have. I should not take that for granted."
Despite being a master detective who was capable of solving numerous mysteries, there was one mystery that Kenshin was plagued with on a regular basis. The mystery was the whereabouts of his granddaughter. She had a habit of disappearing on a somewhat regular basis. While Kenshin would not go as far as panicking, he did tend to not be as capable of using his rational mind whenever she disappeared since she was the only child of his son. Sometimes he would find her in his office, other times he would find her in various other places on the Estate checking out where she could learn more about the profession of being a detective.
One day during one of Naoto's disappearances, Kenshin asked the man he approached in a concerned voice, "Yakushiji have you seen Naoto anywhere?"
The man identified as Yakushiji was a well-dressed man with gray hair who always wore sunglasses. He was the Secretary of the Shirogane Estate, and he has been a loyal worker to Kenshin as well as the Shirogane family for years. Yakushiji and Kenshin's families have worked with each other for generations and the two of them had been friends since before Kenshin took up the mantle of his family. After being friends for decades, it was not unusual for someone to mistaken them for being brothers.
Yakushiji could understand his friend's concern for his granddaughter, but he believed there was nothing to fear. He told his friend, "I'm sure there is no need to worry. Despite her young age, Naoto-sama has always been curious about what you do Kenshin. She looks up to you, and I'm sure she just wants to imitate you."
Kenshin replied, "I had a feeling you would say something like that." He rushed past his friend towards where he believed his granddaughter might be. As he was moving towards his office he thought, "She is probably in my office again." He was walking rather fast to the point of almost running over to where his office was located hoping that he was right.
When he arrived at the door, he seemed strangely uneasy about opening the door, even though this was the door to his own office. He was hoping that his granddaughter would be behind that door, but he was a little worried that she would not be. After telling himself, it was stupid to be hesitant in this situation, he reached for the handle and slowly opened the door. As soon as he opened the door, he was relieved to see his granddaughter sitting on the floor reading a Sherlock Holmes book with several books piled up next to her. Kenshin could not help but breathe a sigh of relief when he saw her safe and sound.
Kenshin's office was a rather extravagant area. There was an old oak desk placed near a large window that was made of bulletproof glass. On both sides to the desk there were large bookcases stacked high with various reading material. The contents of the bookcase ranged from old cases the Shirogane family had previously solved to books that were useful in training a detective, as well as volumes of detective novels, such as Sherlock Holmes.
When Kenshin entered the room, his granddaughter did not seem to notice his presence. Instead, she seemed to be rather entranced by what she was reading. It was almost as if she was in another world, and she was unable to hear anything else that was happening but her own thoughts. Despite how advanced the reading material was, she was reading it with ease. Her eyes were quickly reading through the lines one by one and turning the page.
As she was reading the book, Naoto excitedly thought, "I knew it! I knew it! I knew that guy had to be the culprit! It seemed so obvious!"
Seeing his granddaughter reading the books with such enthusiasm caused Kenshin to smile rather than be upset. He thought, "She truly does take after her father. I'm sure he would be proud to see his daughter is already off to a good start in securing a promising future."
After looking at her read for a few moments, he decided to get her attention. He loudly cleared his throat, "Ahem," and then called out to her, "Naoto."
The little girl was finally brought out of her little world when she heard the, "Ahem." Her eyes widened at the thought of whose voice that belonged to because she had heard that before. Her face continued to remain down until she heard the voice say, "Naoto."
She nervously looked up to see that her grandfather was standing at the doorway. He did not seem angry or annoyed, but she was still nervous nevertheless that he caught her again. Naoto silently gulped at what was the come. She had a feeling that she was probably going to receive a scolding or something. However, she did not mind the idea of being scolded. As far as she could tell, it would have been worth it because she did enjoy reading his books, and she knew the risks of coming into his office.
The office was silent for a few moments. The only sound that could be heard was the warm spring breeze that flowed through the window that Naoto had opened. Naoto finally decided to break the silence by nervously saying, "Grandfather."
At this point, Kenshin was not sure what amused him more. The fact his granddaughter snuck into his office again to read Sherlock Holmes or that she was so nervous by him catching her. He walked over to his granddaughter and kneeled down beside her as he playfully told her, "The next time you try sneaking into my office, you might want to consider taking the books you want and sneaking them into your room, so I won't catch you red handed next time."
Naoto responded, "The books are too heavy for me to carry, and I'd be caught by you or Yakushiji-san anyway. At least if I try reading here, I can at least put the books back."
Kenshin was a little surprised by his granddaughter's rather logical point. She was definitely wise beyond her years even if it did technically involve 'breaking and entering' into someone's office. "Good point." Kenshin decided to change his mood to being more serious as he told her with a stern look, "All jokes aside, what have I told you about entering another person's room without their permission."
Naoto could see that her grandfather was serious as she recited what he had told her, "You've told me that, 'It is rude to enter other people's rooms without their permission because I would be invading their privacy and trespassing on their property.'"
Kenshin nodded as he told, "I see that you remember what I've told you, but you are not the best at following what I say."
Naoto shamefully said, "I'm sorry Grandfather."
With a stern voice, Kenshin lectured his granddaughter, "Sorry might be fine this time, but it might not be fine at other times. There are some mistakes that you might make down the line that could end up getting you in trouble which you can barely imagine. I've made numerous mistakes in my youth that I could have easily prevented if I had listened to my own father's advice. I wish I had, but I didn't, and I've paid a price for it."
Naoto looked at her grandfather nervously, and she was not sure what she could say. She wanted to say something, but she could not bring herself to say anything.
Kenshin could see that he was making her granddaughter really nervous and he seemed to be getting his point across. He sighed as he told his granddaughter in a calm, caring voice, "You have to understand Naoto that I promised your parents that I would take care of you if anything happened to them. I swore on my honor that I would look out for their daughter, and I've done the best I can."
Naoto sadly said, "I understand grandfather."
Kenshin then told her, "When you get older, you will understand that maybe there will be times when things may not be so simple. However, I will want you to follow the rules and heed the advice others give you." He could see that his granddaughter was listening to his every word as he said, "On top of that, you also need to be honest with others because if you are not honest, no one will believe you and you will not be able to build trust between anyone. If you don't have anyone's trust, it will be difficult for you to accomplish anything in the real world. Do you understand?"
Even though Naoto was intelligent and mature for a girl her age, she was still a child. There were still plenty of things that she could not completely grasp about the real world. She hesitantly replied, "…I think so." The unease in her voice was noticeable.
After hearing his granddaughter's response he rubbed his eyes for a moment as he thought, "Sometimes I forget that I'm speaking to a child. It has been a long time since my son grew up. I need to get used to that again." He adjusted his glasses and gave her a soft smile as he decided to change the subject. He asked in a curious manner, "So what books did you decide to read from my shelf this time?"
Naoto was not sure if she should really answer that. She knew her grandfather was a kind man, but he was stern. She was not sure if his lecture was over or if this was meant to be some kind of continuation of what he was saying.
When it became clear his granddaughter was a little too nervous to reply, he assured her, "It's okay Naoto. I've said what I needed to say. Now I'm just curious about what you were reading."
Naoto could tell that her grandfather was being truthful which caused her face to brighten up. She enthusiastically told him, "I'm reading Sherlock Holmes. He just figured out the mystery of who committed the murder."
Her grandfather asked, "Did you figure it out before Sherlock did?"
Naoto nodded her head as she proudly replied, "Yep! I figured it out over a chapter ago. All I had to do was pay attention to the clues."
Kenshin seemed pleased with what his granddaughter said as he said with pride, "That's my girl. If you keep this up, you might have what it takes to become a detective."
Naoto's eyes widened as she asked, "Really?"
Kenshin playfully replied, "Of course. If you want to, I can start training you next week after I've created a few exercises for you."
Naoto was becoming more excited by the second as she asked, "Do you really mean that grandfather?"
Kenshin told her, "I'm an honest, honorable man who keeps his word. You can expect to start your training next week after school on Monday."
Naoto quickly got up and hugged her grandfather's neck as she said, "Thank you grandfather! Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!"
Her enthusiasm towards this subject reminded Kenshin of how her father reacted when Kenshin told his son that he could begin his own training. He patted his daughter's back as he thought, "She is definitely my son's daughter!" A small tear came down his eye that he quickly wiped away before Naoto was finished hugging him.
Kenshin and Naoto both stood up and he told her, "As I've told you Naoto, I'm being honest with you, and I will keep my word. I expect you to do the same for me."
Naoto replied, "I will."
Kenshin told her in a serious tone, "Before we get started, you need to promise to promise me Naoto that you will listen to what I say and heed my advice."
Her grandfather's tone did not cause Naoto to become nervous this time. She was too happy to mind that. Naoto cheerfully told her grandfather without hesitation, "I promise."
Hearing his granddaughter quickly make that promise was satisfying. It caused Kenshin to put a smile on his face as he said, "Okay then. In that case, there is a saying that our family has passed down for generations. It is a saying that I want you to repeat."
Naoto asked curiously, "What is it?"
"The saying goes like this." Kenshin took a deep breath and looked his granddaughter in the eyes before he began reciting the saying of the Shirogane family, "'When things become dire, always look for the light at the end of the tunnel because there is always a way to solve and overcome what we are facing.'" He looked down at Naoto as he asked, "Can you repeat that?"
Naoto attempted to repeat what she heard, "When things become dire, always look for … always look for the light at end of the tunnel because … because," her voice trailed off before looking towards her grandfather with a defeated look.
Kenshin smiled as he thought, "It is amazing that she can figure out the case from a Sherlock novel, but she is having trouble reciting the family mantra. However, I know she is not the only member of the house that had trouble with memorizing that." He comforted his granddaughter by telling her, "I forgot what the saying was the first time I tried saying it too. Your father had trouble as well. You will get it eventually."
Naoto looked at her grandfather with a determined look as she said, "I will."
The look of determination that Naoto would give her grandfather was something that gave her grandfather assurance that his granddaughter would see her training to the end. He saw his son give him that same look when he began his training. It was as if he was seeing his son again through his granddaughter.
Kenshin continued smiling as he told her, "I have no doubt."
Date: Fall 2002
A young elementary school student with short brown hair and brown eyes by the name of Hanamura Yosuke was walking home from school. It was just a normal day for him. He went to school, attended his afterschool activities, and he was just taking his usual route home. However, Yosuke would see something rather unusual on his way home.
Before he reached his apartment complex, he saw a rather unusual sight. As he was walking, he saw two people kissing each other passionately in an alleyway. Yosuke had seen two people kiss like that before, but this time was different. It was not a man and woman who he saw kissing each other but two men.
As soon as he saw that, Yosuke thought, "What's going on?" He was curious to get a better look, so he quickly hid behind a garbage can, so he would avoid getting caught.
When he hid behind the garbage can, he accidentally hit the can which made a noticeable sound. The sounds of the two men kissing each other suddenly stopped. Yosuke quickly kept his head down to prevent anyone from seeing him because he figured someone might have head it.
No sooner had Yosuke hid himself behind the garage can, he heard one of the men ask, "Did you hear something?"
The other man nonchalantly said, "It was probably just an animal hitting the garbage cans over there. There's nothing to worry about."
Despite his lover's words, the alert man said, "I don't know. I think we should …"
He was interrupted by his lover who said, "Don't be like that. We don't get to see each other that often. Let's not ruin the moment."
The suspicious man reluctantly said, "…Okay."
Afterwards the two men resumed making out. Unbeknownst to the men, the young Yosuke veered his head from the garbage can to continue observing the phenomenon that he had stumbled upon. The two men were completely unaware they were being watched, and Yosuke eventually walked away from the area without them noticing.
As Yosuke walked home, he innocently thought to himself, "Is something like that supposed to happen? I should probably ask my father about this when I get home."
Date: Fall 2002
Location: Hanamura Residence
The Hanamura Residence was a relatively small apartment in the big city. However, Yosuke's father told him they would be moving into a bigger home soon enough. Earlier this week, his parents had told him that in less than a year he would be a big brother, and he would have either a younger brother or sister. They would need more room for the additional member of the family. While Yosuke was excited about this news it did make him nervous about how exactly it was possible for him to have a little brother or sister.
The Hanamura family would be able to easily afford the new home thanks to the job of Yosuke's father, Hanamura Shouta. He had a position within the megastore known as Junes that has been praised by its wide variety of products, cheap prices, and appealing/catchy commercials but criticized for driving family businesses into the ground, causing numerous people in competing businesses to lose their jobs, and possibly causing more harm than good to the economy. Hanamura Shouta had been climbing the corporate ladder slowly but surely. His hard work was already showing signs of paying off, and he was certain that one day he would be awarded with a management position.
As soon as Yosuke arrived home he called out, "I'm home."
The only other person that was home was his father who was reading a newspaper while sitting on the couch. Yosuke's mother, Hanamura Mei, was out shopping at the time, so it was only the men. He looked up from his newspaper and commented, "You're home a little later than usual. Did something happen?"
When his father asked him, Yosuke's thoughts immediately went towards what he witnessed back at the alleyway. Yosuke hesitantly answered, "Something kind of happened."
His father put down his newspaper and asked his son, "What happened?"
While Yosuke was curious about asking his father a question about where babies come from, his curiosity of that topic was overpowered by the scene he had just witnessed. He asked, "Can I ask you something dad?"
Shouta asked his son in a concerned voice, "What's wrong son? Did something happen to you?" He motioned for Yosuke to sit next to him on the couch.
After Yosuke sat on the couch, he shook his head as he said, "No. It was something I saw."
Shouta questioned, "What did you see Yosuke?"
Yosuke was not really sure how to phrase the question. "Well I saw …. It was kind of like …" He tried to tell his father what he saw but he was not sure what he should say.
After seeing the struggle that Yosuke was having to find the right words, he assured his son, "Take your time Yosuke. However, if you are having trouble coming up with the right thing to say, just say the first thing that comes to your mind."
Yosuke decided to take his father's advice and asked him the first question he thought of. "Dad, can two men kiss each other?"
"…. What?" A shocked Shouta was not sure if he heard his son correctly. "Did you just ask me if two men can kiss each other?"
"Hm." Yosuke nodded and explained, "I saw two men kissing in an alleyway, and I was wondering if …"
Before he could finish that sentence, his father told him in a voice filled with anger, "Absolutely not! That is completely unacceptable behavior!"
Yosuke was both surprised and fearful of his father's reaction. He was not sure when the last time he had seen his father this angry. The thought that came through Yosuke's head were, "Did I do something to make my dad angry at me? What did I do?"
Seeing that he was frightening his son, Shouta lightened up his tone as he tried telling his son, "I'm sorry Yosuke. I'm not angry at you. It's just that people like that make me so furious. It sometimes causes me to overreact."
Yosuke's eased up a little after hearing his father's reassurance as he asked, "You're really not angry at me?"
Shouta assured his son, "No. No I'm not."
Yosuke decided to ask his father, "Why is it wrong for two men to kiss each other?"
"It's not just when it is two men. It is wrong for two women to kiss also." Shouta was a little hesitant to explain this to his son, but he did the best he could, "What they do it is … it is just not normal. What you have to remember is that men and women belong together not a man and a man or a woman and a woman."
While Yosuke could understand that this whole thing bothered his father, he was still not exactly sure why it was 'wrong.' He asked in an innocent tone, "Why is it not normal?"
His father let out a sigh as he told his son, "You will understand when you are older."
"Oh." Yosuke replied in a disappointed tone.
Shouta tried to remain calm as he said to his son, "Yosuke, I never want to see you doing anything like that. You have to promise me that you will never be like those men. You are my only son, and I would not want you to become like them. Do you promise me that you won't become one of them?"
After hearing his father tell him that, Yosuke made a resolution to himself that, "I'll have to make sure that I'm never like those men. I think that would make dad really angry at me."
Yosuke told his father, "Okay dad. I promise."
His father was relieved to hear his son make that promise without any hesitation. The only thing he could say in response was, "Good." However, he knew there was always a possibility that his son might break that promise later on. As his son looked at him innocently, he was thinking, "If I ever find out you've become one of … one of them. I'll kick you out of this house faster than you can say Junes."
After hearing his father's explanation on why men kissing other men and women kissing other women was bad, Yosuke was curious about something else that was on his mind. Yosuke believed that since his father answered one of his questions, he was hoping that his father might be willing to answer another.
Following a few moments of silence, Yosuke asked, "Can I ask you something else?"
His father reluctantly replied, "What do you want to know?" While he was saying that, his mind was thinking, "I wonder what it is this time. I hope it won't be as unpleasant as the other question he asked me."
Yosuke innocently said, "You and mom said that I would be having a new baby brother or sister before next year. I was wondering where do babies come from?"
As soon as Yosuke asked that question, Shouta thought, "I just had to think about that topic. I need to dodge this bullet." Instead of answering Yosuke's question he decided to pass the buck when he told his son, "Uh…ask your mother."
Date: Fall 2002
Location: Tokyo – Kujikawa Household
For the past few weeks, whenever Rise would return home, she would usually feel down in the dumps because of how she was treated by bullies and be constantly reminded of how she had no friends. However, today was different. A girl named Narukami stood up for her in the face of all that bullying and sent them running. Rise remembered how brave and strong Narukami was. Rise was in awe of her. Even though Rise barely knew this girl, she was Rise's hero.
This was the first time in a while, Rise was in high spirits. As soon as she entered the car she told her parents all about what happened. She boasted in a proud voice how Narukami was her friend now. While Rise's parents seemed a little taken aback by Narukami's actions, they did seem to appreciate the fact someone helped their daughter.
After they got home, Rise was so happy that she needed to tell someone else about Narukami other than her parents. It did not take Rise long for someone else to come to her mind. Rise happily thought to herself, "I know who I should tell this too. Grandma would definitely love to hear about this."
Shortly after arriving home, Rise asked her mom, "Hey mom! Can I call grandma? I want to tell her about Narukami-san."
Her mother answered, "I don't see why not."
Rise immediately moved towards the nearest phone and began dialing the numbers. She hoped that her grandmother would answer.
Date: Fall 2002
Location: Inaba – Marukyu Tofu
Rise's paternal grandmother, Kujikawa Sakoto, lived in Inaba and was the proud owner of a Tofu shop, Marukyu Tofu, which operated in the Shopping District. Her shop was located down the street from the Tatsumi Textile Shop, and the family were regular customers in her shop. Similar to a number of other stores in the area, it was a family owned business that had been passed down for generations through her side of the family.
The name of the store, Marukyu Tofu, was based on Sakoto's maiden name. Unfortunately, unlike the Amagi Inn or the Tatsumi Textile Shop, Sakoto feared the Tofu shop might end with her. It was unknown whether or not Sakoto would pass it down to her son or if he was even interested. However, Sakoto knew that Rise was a possibility, but she would not try to pressure her granddaughter.
Sakoto and Rise shared a close relationship with each other. Rise loved visiting her grandmother during the summer vacation and Rise loved eating her grandmother's tofu. Rise believed that her grandmother was the 'Tofu Master' because no one else was as good at making tofu as Sakoto. Besides her grandmother's shop, Rise really liked the town of Inaba and how peaceful it was. There were times when Rise would dream about possibly living there someday. It would be a dream come true for her.
Throughout the year, Rise and Sakoto would regularly call each other several times a month. They would always tell each other the details of what was happening in their lives since the last time they spoke. This time Rise would have a lot to speak to her grandmother about.
Sakoto was getting ready to close up shop when she heard the phone ring. She thought, "Could it be an order?"
As soon as Sakoto picked up the phone, she heard the cheerful voice of her granddaughter, "Hey Grandma! It's me Rise!"
Hearing her granddaughter's voice put a smile on Sakoto's face as she replied, "Hello Rise. You sound great today." Sakoto thought, "I'm glad she seems happy again. Things weren't going to well for her last time we talked."
Rise excitedly told her grandmother, "You will never believe what happened to me today."
Sakoto asked, "What happened Rise-chan?"
Rise happily said, "I made a new friend."
With that remark, Sakoto could just envision Rise's smile as she replied, "Really? That's wonderful. How did you meet her?"
Rise gave her the short version, "She saved me from some bullies and she gave me an origami crane."
Sakoto eyes widened in surprise for a moment before smiling again. While Sakoto was concerned about the 'bully' issue since her granddaughter had told her about it a few times before, she decided to focus more on the good news she received. However, she wanted to hear more details. She told her, "I'm glad to hear that, but can you tell me more about her?"
Rise happily went into the details of how she was being bullied and how a girl named Narukami helped her. After hearing the more detailed version Sakoto happily told her granddaughter, "This Narukami-san sounds like a wonderful person. I'm so happy that you met someone who helped you."
Sakoto could hear Rise giggling on the other side of the phone as she said, "Narukami-san also told me about how if I make a wish to the origami crane, it would make my wish come true."
This caused Sakoto to laugh a little as well when she commented, "Your friend is pretty knowledgeable about origami. That is what origami cranes are supposed to be capable of. Do you know what you want to wish for?"
Sakoto's question caused Rise to pause and think about it for a moment. "Hmm. I haven't really thought about it."
That reply did not surprise Sakoto as she mused, "I guess you were too excited to think about making wishes."
Rise sheepishly replied, "I guess so."
Sakoto decided that it would be important to ask her granddaughter, "After you make your wish Rise-chan, do you plan on throwing away the origami crane?"
"No. Of course not." The response Rise made it clear that she would never dream of throwing away the origami crane that her new friend gave her.
Sakoto replied, "Good. You should cherish that origami swan. Keep it as a memento of your first meeting with your friend. I still have many mementos of friends I made in my youth, and I've always treasured them. They are great reminders of how I became friends with them. It would be good if you do the same."
Rise said in an enthusiastic tone, "That sounds like a good idea. I need to make sure to give something Narukami-san would like too."
Sakoto continued to smile at her granddaughter's words as she told her, "I was hoping you would say that. I'm sure your friend will appreciate it."
Before they could continue their conversation, Rise heard her mother call her over, and Rise had to tell her grandmother, "Sorry Grandma, but mom is calling me. I'll call you again soon."
Sakoto replied, "I'll be looking forward to it."
After saying goodbye to her grandmother, Rise hung up the phone. She heard her mother call for her again and she said, "I'll be there in a minute mom."
Rise then eyed the origami crane that Narukami had given her. She thought about what her grandmother said and had an idea. Rise walked over to the origami crane and picked it up. As she held it close to her she thought, "I want to become someone who can have more friends like Narukami-san."
As soon as Rise made that wish, something felt strange about her body. After the feeling passed, she believed it was some kind of sensation caused by her wish. She thought, "I wonder if that means my wish will come true."
Rise carefully placed the origami crane back on the table. She would decide how she would preserve the origami crane later that night. The last thing she wanted was to let the first gift that her new friend had given her be damaged or lost.
Date: Fall 2002 – A few days after Rei and Rise's meeting
Location: Tokyo – Narukami Household
Shortly after Rei's parents finally picked her up, she was told that they would be moving. Her father was promoted in the company, and they would be moving to Kyoto. Her mother would be transferring from the job she was currently working for, so the transition would be seamless. Apparently, they had been planning this move for over a month, and they only told Rei about this now. They told her to start packing her things.
If Rei would have been told this a week or two earlier, she would have been more interested in moving. However, her thoughts went back to the red haired girl that she sort of befriended. That girl was the first one to compliment Rei on her hair and call Rei a friend. Rei wanted to be able to see if the two of them really could become friends. However, that was not going to be a possibility now.
Rei was in the living room with her parents as she complained, "Why do we have to move? I'm finally starting to make friends here."
Both her parents were sitting on the couch with her mother rubbing her head and her father on his laptop. Instead of giving her an answer, Rei's father glared at her as she scolded Rei, "Be quiet Rei. You're mother has a headache after the day she had and I'm a little too busy with the preparations."
Rei frowned as she looked down and thought, "I just asked a question. Why can't they just give me an answer without getting angry?"
Her mother stated in a stern voice, "You're father has a wonderful opportunity because of this promotion. Instead of being selfish, you should be happy for him."
Rei refused to look in her parents' direction as she solemnly stated, "Yes mother." Neither one of her parents seemed to notice that Rei was averting her gaze from them.
After replying to her mother, Rei ran back to her room and neither one of her parents seemed too concerned about how their daughter felt, and they just continued with their business. As far as they were concerned, this was their normal interaction with their daughter, and they did not see any problem with it.
While Rei was starting to pack her things, her true thoughts were, "It's always about them. They never ask me about what I want, and they never spend time with me. They don't even seem to like having me around. Do they even care about be?" Her inner thoughts became angrier and angrier as she continued, "They expect me to be quiet and obey like a good little girl. That's what I'm always supposed to do. I wish I lived with Kujikawa's family. She seemed happy to see her mom pick her up. I can't remember when I was happy to see my parents."
All these thoughts were building some pent-up rage within Rei's body and mind. Both her hands slowly formed into fists and her finger nails dug so deeply into her skin almost threatened to cause them to begin bleeding. Similar to when she hit the boy in the back of the head with a stick, Rei suddenly had a violent urge to break something. Unlike that situation, Rei knew that she could not get away with doing something like that here, so she had to repress the anger as best as she could. She continued holding her hands into fists until she started to cool off a little.
Within a week, Rei and her parents had left Tokyo behind. Her parents were able to take care of the school transfer from Tokyo to Kyoto without any problems. Even though it was unusual for students to transfer in the middle of a semester, it was not unheard of. After Rei left Tokyo, it did not take long before rumors of the 'Silver Haired Freak's' departure began spreading throughout her old Elementary School.
Date: Fall 2002 – Two weeks after Rise and Rei's first meeting
Location: Tokyo – Elementary School
After Rei beat up Kenta and his two subordinates, they did not try to bully Rise again. She was grateful that was one less problem she had to worry about. However, even though her time at school was becoming more peaceful, it still did not feel whole to her. Rise had this feeling in her stomach that something was missing and she knew exactly what it was. She wanted to spend more time with the person who helped her, but that person was nowhere to be seen.
News of Rei's departure did not come to Rise's attention right away. For over a week, Rise had been trying to find her new friend, but she did not have much success waiting around for her after school. She did ask a teacher or two if they knew a student named Narukami, but they did not have an answer. Eventually, Rise remembered one of her classmates mentioning that the 'Silver Haired Freak' was supposed to be a year older than them. As a result, Rise decided to pay the next floor a visit during lunch.
While she was checking out the classrooms, one of the doors were open, so she let herself in. She saw that there were lots of students gathered together eating lunch together. It felt intimidating to Rise to even approach them. This caused Rise to involuntarily make a gulping sound when she attempted to calm herself down.
Rise told herself, "I'm here to find out where Narukami-san. I need to ask someone."
It took a few more moments, but she finally gathered enough courage to walk up to one of the groups. When they saw her approach, one of the kids rudely asked, "What do you want?"
Rise nervously asked, "Well I'm … I'm looking for someone."
One of the more polite students of the group asked, "Who are you looking for?"
Rise felt slightly more at ease when she asked, "I'm looking for someone named Narukami."
The students at first did not seem to realize who Rise was talking about until one of them asked, "Isn't that the name of the girl with silver hair?"
Rise excitedly replied, "Yes that's her. Have you seen her?"
The students looked at each other before telling Rise, "She was transferred out of this school the other day."
As soon as she heard that, the hopeful look that Rise had slowly altered to one of disbelief. She had trouble comprehending what she just heard. She asked, "What?"
One of the students replied, "She moved. She won't be coming back to this school again."
Rise's voice changed from being the sound of disbelief to becoming somewhat desperate as she asked, "Why did she move? Where did she move?"
One of the students replied, "It had something to do with her family and that's it. Were you her friend?"
"Yes. Yes I was." She then turned around and began walking away.
As she was walking away, she heard one of the students say, "I never would have thought the silver haired freak had any friends." That student must have thought Rise could not hear what they were saying, but she heard that.
Hearing this caused the blood in her body to begin boiling. It caused Rise to turn around and told them, "She wasn't a freak! She was a good person, so shut up!" She then ran out of the classroom and down the stairs.
It did not take long for Rise to find out what those students told her was true because someone else told her the same thing. However, they did not tell her where Narukami was transferred to, so there was no way that Rise would be able to contact her.
When Rise was alone outside after school, she sadly thought, "Narukami-san is gone? Why did this have to happen?" She was becoming more depressed as she thought, "I know we only just met, but she seemed like someone I really could have become friends with. I would have wanted to know more about her." Rise thought, "I guess this is just my luck."
The only thing Rise could do was cry a little over the friend she barely knew but still helped her so much despite being strangers. All she could do was contemplate how things could have been if she met Narukami much earlier. The thoughts of the two of them playing with each other at the park or on the beach crossed Rise's head. Rise also figured if they had known each other longer, Rise would have known Narukami's contact information and that she was moving. The she probably would have found out how to contact Narukami after she moved. All these thoughts raced through Rise's head. She knew that as much as she would have wanted to change things, she could not.
Rise looked up into the sky as she sadly said out loud to herself, "I hope you are okay Narukami-san. I wish I knew more about you. Goodbye."
As if a response to what she said, the wind began to blow again. Suddenly, Rise saw something come loose from a nearby tree. When she saw it fall to the ground, Rise recognized it as the hat that Narukami was wearing. She remembered that when Rei was fighting, it fell off her head and blew away. It must have gotten stuck in that tree.
Rise smiled as she ran over to retrieve the hat. For some reason, looking at this hat gave Rise a new found sense of hope when she said, "I guess I have a new reason to see you again Narukami-san. I need to return what belongs to you. I'll hold onto it until then." Even though in her heart, Rise knew that the chances of seeing her mysterious friend were low, she took the hat as a sign that maybe their paths would cross again someday. Only time would tell if Rise would be right.
Rei: Hello and welcome everyone to Knowledgeseeker66's new story, "Into the Fog." This is our post chapter content segment.
Rise: During this segment, we will break the fourth wall along with making comments and/or lampshade things that happen in this chapter.
Rei: Let's start with something that seems to be bothering Rise. You told me earlier you were troubled by something.
Rise: I'm a little bothered by something. I was wondering do you think some of our characters are a little 'advanced' for seven or eight year olds.
Rei: What do you mean?
Rise: I mean do you think they might seem older than children under ten.
Rei: You do raise a good question, but I do not think that is too much of an issue. After all, there are plenty of fictional works that depict children characters as being smart and strong in their own way beyond the years you would expect them to be. Sometimes it is justified because the environment of the game's setting forces them to grow up in.
Rise: Could you give an example?
Rei: There are two pretty good examples. Look at Nanako from the canon Persona 4 game or Clementine in the Walking Dead Video game. They are both beloved child characters because they are smart and strong for little kids while also acting in ways you would expect children to act because they do make a few mistakes a child would make or they show some believable naïveté.
Rise: That's a good point. The author did give our child counterparts a few lines and actions that did make it clear we were still not mature yet.
Rei: Not to mention, the author has seen quite a few kids act differently than you would expect the usual child under ten would act. So it was kind of based on a mixture of fictional and real world examples.
Rise: I guess when you put it like that it seems okay. Child scenes help set up future plotlines and character developments for the main characters of this story.
Rei: Exactly. That is exactly what the author is trying to do. It is good to establish at least a few things early so we can avoid story problems later on. (Turns to the audience) Anyway, thank you for reading the first chapter. We hope you enjoyed it and will leave us some feedback.
Rise: We would really appreciate it, and we hope you will check out future chapters as well.
Rei and Rise: See you later.
Author Notes: I hope you all enjoyed the pilot chapter to the "Into the Fog" reboot. Similar to my other stories, the trademark omakes make their return. Sometimes they are meant to be funny while other times they are meant to be somewhat more serious when pointing things out. I know some of you like them and others might not, but I personally enjoy writing them most of the time. It is nice being able to break the fourth wall and lampshade things that would not be possible to do in the actual story.
On another note, I would like to thank EnchantedSlytherin for giving me permission to write this reboot and providing support. While I am the primary planner and writer of this story, his input and messages have been helpful. I look forward to continuing our collaboration for future chapters. I'm sure things will turn out great.
Regarding the Yaoi scene that appeared in this chapter, that is the only Yaoi scene I plan on having in this story. In both the game and the anime adaptations, Yosuke is extremely homophobic. I decided to give an explanation for some of Yosuke's behavior because I plan on maintaining that trait for "Into the Fog." I hope you did not mind that scene.
Besides Rei and Rise's scenes, I enjoyed writing Naoto's scenes the most in this chapter. In both the video game and anime adaptations, you never meet Naoto's grandfather, but you do encounter Yakushiji during her social link. You can expect to see quite a bit of Naoto's relationship with her grandfather in this story. It is one of the many things I plan on changing and expanding in this story. Kenshin is a fun character to write scenes for, and I liked writing Naoto's interactions with her grandfather. Not to mention, EnchantedSlytherin enjoyed reading these scenes.
In this story, both Rei and Chie both have taken karate classes, so they have the capacity to fight, but there is a big difference between the two of them. The karate classes Rei took were a free after school club activity. Similar to the karate classes I had Kirita take in "The Kirita Chronicles," this was a club that simply had matches between fellow members and did not compete with other schools. Chie's classes were not only paid for, but she would be taught by more instructors, would learn more moves than Rei, and she would fight with more opponents. As a result, Chie would definitely outclass Rei in terms of fighting ability.
In regards to Rei taking a karate class, I like the idea of having my female lead characters be strong from the start and karate seems like a good source of strength. While I did not actually include any karate class scenes in this chapter, I think you can expect there to be some flashbacks to those moments in the future. Similar to my other story, "The Kirita Chronicles," I plan on making flashbacks an integral part of "Into the Fog." The first chapters that take place prior to the start of the main story will give you a taste of what a number of the characters' lives were like prior to the primary plot and subsequent flashbacks will expand upon what you learned from these chapters.
On another note, I'm sure some of you might have an issue regarding Rei hitting one of the bullies in the back of the head with a stick even though they were retreating. It was more or less meant to represent one of Rei's character flaws that resulted due to her childhood. You sort of say that Rei's frustrations with her life can sometimes reach a boiling point which can cause her to become somewhat violent against someone she thinks are an 'acceptable targets' when she thinks she will not suffer any consequences. She saw that there were no teachers around to witness her actions and she followed through.
While Rei is a frustrated individual, she would not take her frustrations out on someone like Rise or Nanako because they did not deserve it. You probably noticed at least one or two other character flaws besides that one during Rei's childhood scenes. It is definitely important to have main characters to have notable flaws for not only making it more fun to write the story but to allow the readers to enjoy reading it. Similar to Kirita, I'm looking forward to developing Rei's character throughout the story. This is going to be a lot of fun.
Thank you again for reading this story. I hope you will leave a review along with favoriting/following the story, so you can be apprised to future updates. Receiving feedback for my work is greatly appreciated.