Good news, everyone! I had interviews, a family reunion, and reconnecting with old friends all last week. Things are looking up (except today's incident with my sister losing her ability to drive and unable to defeat a tree with her car), and combined with the great feedback, it kept me awake till the sunrise of today to write this up and post it. Please excuse me if it seems a little lacking, as a little quality was likely sacrificed.
Is it possible that you’re thinking from a different time zone? Yeah, that seems most likely; probably some place exactly twelve hours ahead of this place. But you wonder, where could be twelve hours ahead? It is a question you cannot answer, and though it frustrates you to not know, it’s a familiar frustration. And what about that—
“Huh?” an intelligent sound comes from your mouth as you turn to look at Reisen.
Oh crap. She’s been staring at you this whole time.
“Uhm… it’s nothing,” you say quickly, much to the rabbit girl’s suspicion. Shit. Say something else. “Maybe I’m just feeling tired. I keep zoning out.”
“Oh,” she blinks, seemingly accepting your words. “Do you want to rest a bit, then?”
“No, it’s alright. I’ll survive the walk back,” you smile at her reassuringly. “You done?”
“Yep! I’m all done shopping!” she holds up the bags of groceries in triumph. A tuft of greens and something orange sticks out of a bag.
Shifting your leg, you feel the shape of the gift box in the back pocket. Good. You managed to slip it away before she noticed. And since Reisen seems ready to go, you nod your consent.
“Alright. Let’s move out, Trooper.”
She was already in mid-step when she suddenly freezes, her entire body coming to a complete halt before completely turning around. Slowly, Reisen turns back around to look at you with dazed eyes. “What… did you say?”
“Hmm?” You blink and repeat, “I said let’s move out.”
“No, after that!”
“Huh?” That intelligent sound again, combined with a look of utter confusion. You don’t remember saying anything after that.
The rabbit girl just stares back at you, her eyes piercing right through you. It scares you, seeing those deep red eyes peering into your soul.
“You called me ‘Trooper.’ Why did you call me that?”
“I did?” You honestly have no recollection of it. Reisen just stares at you; the silence is absolutely nerve-wracking—
—Good God your head hurts, as if someone set off a grenade right inside your brain case and then dug right in with a pneumatic drill. What the hell just happened?! First you were talking with Reisen, and now all of a sudden you’re on your back, head about to explode and implode simultaneously, and your perception of the world might as well be inverted. Through your dancing vision, you manage to make out a blurry shape.
Heeyy… it’s the bunny~!
“—in! Ein?! Ein, can you hear me?!” she’s speaking to you, though it sounds distant, with a dull roar in the background drowning her out.
What response you give her comes out garbled and nonsensical, though you did honestly try to tell her “Yes, I can hear you.” A hand comes up, your own, to cover your eyes in an attempt to dispel the disorientation, though relief comes slowly. A smaller, cooler hand gently places itself on your forehead. It is soothing, and you feel the stupefaction fade.
“Ein…?” her voice is soft, almost whispering.
“I’m okay, Reisen,” you answer, your voice a croak. “What… what happened to me?”
“I… don’t know,” her reply comes evenly, though it is easy to pick up on the worry carefully hidden away. “We were about to leave and you just… Dammit, you scared the hell out of me!”
You cough out a laugh, “Believe me, if I could prevent this, I would. Did I have some sort of episode?”
“Maybe. We’ll have to talk to Master about it. Do you think you can stand? Or walk?”
You don’t feel dizzy anymore, so, “Yeah, yeah, I think I can.”
Moving to stand, Reisen moves to help you with her small but strong hands. The groceries are on the ground, haphazardly dropped with a carrot almost spilling out. Once you’re back on your feet, Reisen is already picking up the half-filled box of medicines. Almost automatically, you go for and pick up the bags of foodstuffs, despite Reisen’s protests.
“Hey! I can carry that, you know! You just collapsed and—”
You interrupt, “I’m an amnesiac, not a cripple. Whatever caused me to blackout didn’t make me weak, nor do I feel dizzy. I’m fine, really. Let me help you, please.”
The last words seem to work, though she still looks apprehensive. “Fine, but you walk ahead of me, in case something else happens.”
“Fair enough. Let’s head back.”
The walk home is awkward. What good feelings you had about the day had been suddenly and very abruptly disrupted due to the incident, and now there’s absolutely no conversation going on as the two of you head back under the late afternoon sun. You can feel Reisen’s eyes on your back, attentive and watchful. You almost hesitate to look back, lest you worry the girl any more. Really now, you are just a mess…
“Hey, Ein? What’s that in your back pocket?”
Eh? What back pock—oh. Oh!
“Oh, heh. I almost forgot about it,” you find it difficult to not smile as the thought of the gift resurfaces. Putting down the groceries, you turn around and face the curious bunny, pulling out the box as you do so.
At first she seems wholly on guard, but seeing that it’s just a small box, she relaxes.
“What is it?” she asks.
“It’s… my appreciation. I’m thankful for Doctor Yagokoro, the lady Kaguya, and sure, even Tewi. However, I am most grateful for you, Reisen,” you say, looking her right in the eyes. They are bright, clear, and wide with surprise.
“E-eh? I-I-erm…” She stutters, looking away as a small blush forms. “It’s nothing, really. I just want you to get better, so I have to keep a close eye on you.”
“Regardless, you’ve been wonderful to me. Ever since I woke up here, I firmly believe I’ve managed to keep my sanity thanks to you, and I doubt I would not be where I am if it not been for you. So, thank you, Reisen. Really,” you give her your best smile and hand her the box.
Carefully, daintily, the bunny girl opens the box. Only when she takes notice of the moonstone necklace does she gasp in surprise, a hand snapping up to her mouth as she gazes at the jewelry. Silently, she stares at it, her eyes shimmering with hidden emotion. Reisen is stunned, a reaction that you wanted. The fact that she looks utterly adorable in that state makes it all the better. Slowly, she looks up from the gift.
“H-how did you…?”
“I traded my watch,” you shrug. “It was useless to me, anyways.”
She looks at the necklace again, her face strangely unreadable. A tear rolls down her cheek, soon followed by more. Slowly, she pulls the box in and holds the gift against her chest. Her shoulders are quivering, her legs shaky. This worries you, greatly.
“Hey, Reisen? What’s wrong?” you ask fearfully, utterly terrified that perhaps you did something horrible instead. “…You don’t like it?”
You are standing right next to her, a hand gently on her shoulder. She shakes her head in response to your words, looking up finally with a red face and tear-stained cheeks. It tugs at your heart to see her in such a state, with guilt wracking you mercilessly.
“No. It’s not that,” she replies shakily, her voice quivering. Despite the emotions, she is smiling, and it is incredible relief. “I love it. I just… didn’t expect it, that’s all. I’m sorry; I get really emotional with gifts, and you really surprised me with that. We’ve only known each other for a few days, you know?”
Yet, you feel as if you’ve known her forever. “Time is meaningless to me, a man without memories. Only now, today, and tomorrow matters, and I do wish the future to be as wonderful as you.”
“Flatterer!” She sniffs, giggling lightly before bopping you gently against the chest, a mock angry look and pout on her face. “And what are you doing, making a girl cry like that? Do you like seeing me in tears, Ein?”
You only chuckle in response. Reisen smiles beautifully.
“Thank you, Ein. And…” She pauses, closing her eyes and breathing deeply. “Thank you.”
Her tears soon dry, and the two of you are walking again; this time, side-by-side. The necklace looks amazing on her.
It’s the last stretch of path before reaching Eientei, a little ways into the Bamboo Forest.
[ ] Ask Reisen about her earlier life.
[ ] Talk about the village, and what lies beyond.
[ ] Ask about different time zones.
[ ] Silence is golden. Don’t ruin a good thing.
[ ] ________