File 144537422086.png - (159.56KB, 500x700, 41c5565388cabf7ea00427b0a3e069ad.png) [iqdb]
[X]Before anything else, you need to remember...
--[X]What do you know Sekibanki from?
First of all, you need to do something about your existential dilemma brought about by excess of rice liquor, starting by clearing up your relationship with this girl. After all, how are you supposed to respond appropriately to her "services" if you don't know who you're dealing with? It's obvious by now this is not the first time
you've met Sekibanki, but for the love of all gods you can't quite recall if she is just a one-night stand with attachment issues, or if you've really known her for longer.
Ignoring the horny youkai lusting for your body for a moment, you close your eyes and focus. In the fuzzy, labyrinthine pit of your mind, you find the projectionist of memory passed out in a corner of your brain. You kick him awake in the shin, shake him up and tell him to put on reel one. Under his grudging grumbling, recollection begins to flicker:
To understand the story between Sekibanki and you, you have to go back a couple of years, when you were just a young lass working as a bartender at one of the many stands in the village. You remember you were stuck with night shift that day, but luckily, your bar wasn't that popular to begin with, so the most you usually had to deal with were one or two sleepy drunkards at a time.
It was five in the morning, a time when drinkers are trying either to forget who they are or to remember where they live. Not at your place though; business had been slow the whole day, and the last customer had already left a time ago. You had half a mind to close shop early and go home. There were many better things to do with your time than attending an empty stand. After all, noone else was going to come at those hours, right?
Sure enough, the moment you thought that, another customer walked in, ruining your plans. The woman had red hair and eyes, which wasn't that unusual in and of itself in a town populated with weirdos. Her clothes, however, were an entirely different matter: she was wearing a blue bow with red trimmings and a red and blue capelet that covered part of her face -- and her grumpy expression made it quite clear she would've rather kept it hidden. She also wore a black and a red long sleeved shirt, combined with a dark red skirt and red and black boots.
Her crimson eyes slowly browsed along your stand, examining the whole place thoroughly. After she seemingly considered the premises acceptable, she focused her stare at you, one calculated to last a few seconds more than what was comfortable for the poor girl on the receiving end. Part of you wanted to hide under the security of the counter just to break away from that glare.
"One skewer of dango and a plate of sake."
Her voice was hoarse and commanding, her words direct, and her modals non-existent. Between all that and your accumulated chafe, you were tempted to give her the boot right there and then. But something in those ruthless, overbearing red eyes of hers was giving you the creeps. You've dealt with many a belligerent customer before, but none of them were as cold and lucid as that woman was at that moment. Your guts told you that messing with her was most likely a very bad idea, and so was not giving her what she asked, no, ordered.
But it's not that you were scared, mind you! It's just that your sense of professionalism didn't allow you to deny a potential customer, that's all. At least that's what you told yourself when, unable to hold her gaze, you nodded weakly and turned to your kitchen appliances, if only to get as much distance between you and her as physically possible.
The woman's piercing eyes were glued to your back while you were preparing the meal, silently urging you to hurry up. This only made you even more nervous than before, and you had to make a conscious effort on normally menial tasks you could otherwise do with your eyes closed. In fact, it was a miracle you didn't drop anything or injured yourself in the process.
"... Here," You said meekly as you put her order on the counter.
The redhead remained quiet the whole time, not even sparing a single 'thank you'. She simply took the dishes, sat on the furthermost stool of your stand and began eating the food, without noticing your disapproving stare -- or perhaps she deliberately ignored it? She took her sweet time (ha ha) munching the dumplings, savoring them as if to memorize the flavor, and occasionally downing a particularly big chunk with some sake.
Since you didn't have anything better to do, you settled on watching her discreetly as you cleaned the crockery; an universal technique practiced by all bartenders in the world. The more you looked, the more strange things you noticed about that woman. For starters, her clothing, or to be more precise, the cape with the absurdly high collar. You saw no-one else in the village pulling that kind of style off, and you knew quite a lot of people from your line of work. Then there was her choice of meal: dango and sake. Both made from rice, but one was sweet flour, and the other bitter alcohol. Normally one would drink tea to go along with dango, but sake? A weird combination, even for the booze-loving tradition of Gensokyo.
And above all else, those unnaturally crimson eyes. You had never seen such a deep red color in anyone's irises. It is often said that the eyes are the windows of the soul, and hers seemed to hide a cold, calculating mind under an aura of disinterest and aloofness. But there was something else, something more mysterious, frightening, fascinating...
"Thanks for the food."
In the middle of your scrutiny, the woman had already finished eating, and reached for a pocket inside her cape. If she had noticed how intensely you were staring at her, she didn't say anything about it. She took out a bunch of coins, left them in the counter, and walked out of your stand without another word. You were so flabbergasted by her fast exit, you didn't even register the fact that she had left the exact change until much later, even though you hadn't given her the tab.
"Come back... again?" You said to the air. "Man, what's her deal?"
At that moment, the significant rooster crowed in the distance, brought about by the break of dawn, and with it the start of a new day... and the end of yours. And that, you thought, was that. If your previous experiences were of any indication, that would probably be the first and the last time you'd see that woman, and there was no use worrying about it any longer. So you cleaned up and closed the stand, went back home and promptly forgot about the mysterious redhead.
Needless to say, that was far from that. The woman showed up the next day at the same time, as if her express purpose was to annoy you, and asked for the same thing again:
"One skewer of dango and a plate of sake."
And again you swallowed your words, intimidated by her presence:
"... Right up."
Again you felt her intense stare glued to your back while you prepared her order. Again she secluded herself in the corner and ate in silence. Again she payed for her food with the exact price. And again she left like she came, withdrawn as ever, just in time before your shift ended.
This went on day after day for weeks, until you eventually grew accustomed to the redhead's late visits. You'd often find yourself eagerly awaiting her, if only because it was always time to close when she finished eating. However, your interactions with her never escalated from exchanging those same three sentences. You were too frightened to start idle chat or even ask her name, and she certainly didn't look like the conversational kind of customer. And all was fine and dandy in your little stand.
But that changed the day the redhead showed up in a hurry, all upset and restless. She tried her hardest to look calm and dreary as always, but you weren't fooled -- even though you barely spoke to her, by then you knew her enough to tell her current mood by the small signs. The slightly ragged breathing under her collar; the faint blush in her cheeks; her red eyes on edge, glancing over her shoulder every other time... and mysticism be damned, you could actually feel some sort of tense aura emanating from her, as if the air had suddenly become heavier around her. When she spoke, her voice was as quiet as a whisper, barely containing her anxiety:
"... The usual."
It was clear to you that something really bad had happened to her, and that she came here to get away from whatever was gnawing at her, like plenty of your other customers. But this was no ordinary customer you were dealing with. As much as you wanted to, you just couldn't muster enough confidence to ask her what's wrong. So you treated her the only way you knew:
And it just so happened that you, in your infinite wisdom, had predicted what she'd ask and already had the dango and the bottle of sake ready to serve. In retrospect, that was probably for the best; the way she looked at you was completely unlike that disinterested gaze she bore through your back to hurry you up -- rather, it was needier, hungrier, you could even say feral. It was terrifying as hell to say the least, and you even began fearing for your life.
It took a great deal of self-control to stop your hands from shaking when you gave the woman her food, and the hastiness with which she snatched them away didn't help your nerves at all. Before you knew it, she was devouring--and there really was no better word for it--the dumplings in two huge bites, and she drank the sake in three long, audible gulps as if it were water. Quite a shocking change from her usual slow and composed table manners, that was for sure.
"More," she grunted.
And it came as even more of a surprise when she thrust the sake plate back at you, asking for seconds, and stared at you with a ravenous gleam in her crimson eyes. Your first instinct was to reach for the sake bottle immediately, but you managed to stop midway. The woman was showing the clear intention to spend the whole night binge drinking. You had seen plenty of times what it does to a man down in his luck. First they took a drink, then the drink took a drink, then the drink took them. You didn't even want to imagine what it'd do to someone like her...
"What's the holdup?" The redhead said, waving the plate under your nose. "Pour me some more, now!"
Then again, you also didn't want to see what would happen if you didn't give her what she asked so vehemently of you. On the other hand, you'd feel bad with yourself if you let her drown herself in a sea of booze, even if you'd never want to admit it in public. Besides, it was almost closing time, and tending to a passed out drunk would certainly be a huge hassle.
You did as she said and poured her more sake.
--And you did so immediately, so as to not to incur her wrath. The client is always on the right, and she's responsible to what she did to her own body.
--But not before demanding her to pay up front. Many a binge drinker had neglected to pay their tab before, and you wouldn't repeat the same mistake with her.
--At the behest of your gnawing conscience, you made her promise to moderate herself before that. And if she needed someone to talk to, you were there for her.
You refused to pour her more alcohol.
--You argued that the bar was about to close, and that you were not allowed to serve more than one drink per customer after four in the morning.
--Steeling yourself, you straight-up told her that was she was about to do was detrimental for her health, and that she'd certainly regret it later.
--In fact, you also kicked her out of your stand. Frankly, you were not in the mood to deal with a potentially aggresive drunkard that late in the day.
Holy shit what is this, I'm reviving the story I left scrapped a whole six months back. And I don't even have the courtesy of making an actual smut piece. The hell is wrong with me?
So yeah, I never actually forgot about this story in the meantime, but life decided to shit on me, got a fuckload of work, lost my drive to write, etc., etc., you know how it goes. But here I am again, still trying to pull this off, even if I'm scraping the little free time I have to write a single paragraph per day. In fact, I wrote this mostly to see if I can get the ball rolling, but don't expect me to keep a regular schedule on this, specially with the first exams coming around the corner. My apologies for that.
That said, the next update will definitely have some real action, so please bear with me. My intention is to build character interactions along with the actual porn, because I believe it will improve the quality of the whole work in the long run if it goes well.
Also, I completely forgot the trip I was using for this story. Sue me.