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File 148264214210.png - (422.47KB, 1400x600, I think it's time we blow this scene.png) [iqdb]
29615 No. 29615
[X] Which means you've got responsibilities, here. Estimate as truthfully as ya can.

Which means you've got responsibilities.

Regardless of any douchenozzle tendencies this dude in front of you's displayin'.

Nuts. “Eight dollars,” ya say, puttin' the disc back down. “I'm gonna say 'bout eight dollars.”

Rika does a squinchin' of the peepers, royal. “You paused,” she says.

“I didn't pause.”

“You paused,” Rika says again. “Before you named your price, you paused.”

“That wasn't a pause,” ya say. “That was more like a happenstantial ellipsis.”

“That would be a pause. That's a pause. An ellipsis denotes a pause.”

“As the dude who either did or didn't pause, I think I can tell if I paused or not, which I didn't,” ya say. “Tell 'er, Mac. Tell 'er I didn't pause.”

Rinnosuke sits there lookin' ya both askance, cheek of his mug restin' easy in his palm.

“Mac,” ya say again.

“She didn't pause,” Rinnosuke says. His syllables come out half-squashed, squeezin' between his lips and the hand he's not even botherin' to move away for understandability.

But that's good enough. “See?” ya say, whirlin' back to the dude ya like least here. “I didn't pause. Eight smackers, over easy. Whaddya iratin' at me for, anyways? That's scant compared to what the others're worth.”

“My problem is that the more you talk, the more I think that you're simply making these prices up as you go.

Well, ya can't say she's wrong.

“You're wrong,” ya say.

Or ya guess ya can. Whoops! And with that, ya flip label-side-up the grand finale of disc procession and—oh, wait, this last one's actually just tax preparation software. Talk about an anticlimax. “Yo Mac, how'dja score these again?” ya ask. “Singularly.”

Now he takes the hand off. “Three hundred yen each,” he says.

“Yeah—ya got this one right, I think. So the total is...”

And then ya don't say what the total is, 'cause ya realize something. Ya realize something kinda significant.

“Hey, Mac?” ya say, out into the open air. “What's three hundred yen in dollars?”

“I still don't know that.”

“Right, gotta ballpark. Lemme see—it's prolly three dollars—”

“An exact one to one hundredth exchange rate?” Rinnosuke interrupts ya. “That seems unlikely.”

“I said I was ballparkin' it, didn't I?” Not that the dude hasn't got a point. “Okay, we'll round it down. Let's say two-fifty. See, we're not cheatin' ya here.” That last bits directed Rikawards—

Not that said dude appreciates it. “I don't know what you're doing,” says Rika. “You don't know what you're doing—”

“Wait,” says Rinnosuke. “What price did you set the others?”

“Ten, fifteen, eleven, eight. So if ya add those together—”

“Forty-six point five. Wait, forty-six point five what?”

“Forty-six point five dollars.”

I don't sell in dollars.

“Yo, dig it, Mac. Did I ever steer ya wrong? Just means we've gotta convert back to yen again. So if three hundred yen is two point five dollars—”

“This is mathematics,” Rinnosuke mutters. “Where did I put my brush?”

“Excuse me.”

“Gotta be straight with ya, Mac, it might not be two point five dollars. We're imaginin' all kindsa spherical cows here.”

Rinnosuke pauses fumblin' 'cross his desk to glance atcha. “I don't know what that means.”

“Sorta like when the teach tells ya to put down g as ten in baby's first physics class.”

“I don't know what that means, either—ah.” Rinnosuke locates his instrument all flourishy, then drags a thing of paper in and starts jottin'. “Three hundred yen is two point five dollars—”

Excuse me.

“Wait a sec, Mac,” ya stop 'im. “Write it as a fraction. Or actually, no, gimme the brush.”

“Oh, do you have another method of working out the amount?”

“Definitely, Mac. I'm not gonna tell ya it's better, 'cause I don't know, but I know I can work it out.”

“Go ahead—I'm interested in seeing this, now.”

“Lemme see if I remember, first. Ya set it up as ratios, and...yo, hold up, six hundred equals five? That's totally not right—”

Excuse me!

The both of ya look up from the scratch paper that's already startin' to look more scratch than paper. Hey, writin' with a tool like this is mad difícil, okay? More importantly, that's not a good look adornin' Rika's mug there, and also her everything else. Looks straight up frumious. Clenched fists and jaws and everything.

“Yes?” Rinnosuke says.

“What's up?” ya say, simultaneous.

“I'm not paying that amount.”

You and Rinnosuke mull that over, just for a tick.

“What?” Rinnosuke says.

“I'm not paying that much,” Rika says. “I was never going to pay that much—I have a budget.”

“Arentcha jumpin' steps here, dude?” ya ask.

“You don't know what the final price will be, yet,” adds Rinnosuke.

“I don't need to know the final price; it's obviously too much—I can tell it's too much, even now.” She picks up the eight-dollar disc, displayin' atcha the specterish soldier gracin' the label of it. “How much is this one? It's the second-cheapest.”

You and Rinnosuke hunch back over your inkin'—oh, wait, there ya go; flubbed your ratios. No wonder the math fell over into itself the moment you took your hand away. Some multiplication, a little long division, and you've got a number that actually looks reasonable. “So that's nine hundred and sixty yen,” you come out with, while Rinnosuke double-checks your figures.

“And added to this one—” and Rika lifts the tax software, “one thousand two hundred sixty yen.”

“Yeah, that's how addition works. Cash, credit, or debit?”

“What?”

“Ha ha, just kiddin'! I know prolly they don't have ATMs in Gensokyo. Just fork over the moola dude.”

What?

“I believe she's asking you to pay what we're owed,” says Rinnosuke. Which—yeah, duh.

Rika's mug goes real still, 'cept for her eyes. The CD she's liftin' lowers, just a bit, catchin' the light. Not as much as it would if it was shiny-side-out instead of soldier-side-out, but it catches the light.

“I have a budget,” she says. “That price falls only just inside it.”

“Lucky, dude,” ya say.

“If you hadn't changed the prices I would have been able to buy all these items and stay in my budget.”

Ya glance at Rinnosuke, who glances back doin' a sorta shrug that's done without shoulders. “True,” ya say.

“But you changed the prices.”

“Also true,” ya say.

“That's not fair. You—just changed the prices. You took what I thought was fine to pay and you made it more.”

“It's not so much the price increased,” Rinnosuke cuts in. “Rather, what you're paying now is what these items were worth all along.”

“And I still have to pay more,” says Rika, totally not up for digestin' Rinnosuke's logic, no matter how logicky it actually is. The CD shifts again, this time more youwards. “If she hadn't readjusted these prices, I wouldn't have to.”

“If you want to blame anybody, blame me for underpricing these items in the first place.”

“And you're going to keep doing it? You're going to keep having her raise the prices, and raise the prices—if she raises the prices, what am I supposed to sell anything for? There isn't any profit.”

Ya blink. “Wait, that's what you're all steamed about? Not makin' so much on the markup?”

“At least I buy,” Rika says, and it's kinda unnervin', how this dude can pitch so close to shoutin' with her face so tight. “There's nothing wrong with selling what I've bought—you aren't going to sell; I've been here enough to know—if I sell what I buy and buy off what I sell there's nothing wrong with that.”

Ya glance at Rinnosuke, flickerin' your eyes between the significant parties in this deal. That means, “Yo, Mac, is this normal?”

Rinnosuke shifts, lookin' all way very uncomfy, which you're pretty sure means, “No.” “That's fine,” he says to Rika, his supercooled shopkeep persona holdin' together in all the main places. “But I can't let you leave with anything I sell here unless you pay for it, first.”

Rika opens her yap again—but nothing comes out, even though her teeth gnash and her lips work and her neck arches like that's where all the words are jammed. She looks at Rinnosuke—at you. All around her, like maybe there's some backup here she missed that's just about to rise to her defense in a super-dramatic movie moment.

“So, this is going to keep happening,” she croaks. “You're just going to raise the prices—raise the prices—and that's it? Because she says so? So she's an Outsider—who is she to say? Authority—what authority? Whose authority does she have—”

Dicunt ei: Cæsaris.

The three of you—you, Rinnosuke, Rika—turn like a trio of tops to look at the new voice in the matter.

Rumia stands center stage, arms outstretched, somewhere between standin' and floatin' and balancin' on her own two feet.

Tunc ait illis: Reddite ergo quæ sunt Cæsaris, Cæsari: et quæ sunt Dei, Deo,” she says, and ya don't understand any of it, but you're pretty sure this is the opposite of backup.

Well, whatever it is, it settles it. Mug stone-still, throat bobbin', she transfers the moola from her person to the desktop, takin' the appropriate discs in exchange.

“Thank you for your continued patronage,” says Rinnosuke.

“No problem,” Rika definitely doesn't say even slightly, as she tries to set Rinnosuke on fire with her mind. And then, like a windup doll that hasn't gotten the hang of flesh yet, she walks 'cross the shop floor and then out.

There's a moment of perfect pin-droppin' silence. And then the whole shop seems to let loose its breath, expellin' this tenseness ya didn't even know was buildin' up, and you relax, lettin' your shoulders slump. It's maybe your imagination, but ya think ya feel Rinnosuke doin' basically the same next to you.

He handles the CDs Rika didn't buy, peerin' close up at 'em like he's tryin' to discern their secrets by eyeball alone. “These CDs...” he mutters. “Are they really worth so much?”

“Who cares?” ya say. “The important part's that we got leftovers. Where'dja put that CD player?”

“On the shelf above the radiator...” Rinnosuke sorta trails off in the tail end of that sentence. “Wait,” he says.

Oh, yeah, there it is, alright. And perched on top of it is that set of those headphones Rinnosuke was talkin' 'bout, a coupla weeks ago. You collect both. Or maybe more than both, if headphones are already a both, though that's kinda besides the point right now. “Cross your fingers, Mac,” ya chortle. “Barrin' some egregious scratches, we've got tunes incomin'!”

“Is that why you raised the prices? Only because you didn't want her to buy all of the CDs?”

“It's not an 'only' thing, Mac. I mean, like, ya seriously did have all these tunes underpriced—I just gave ya the out for pumpin' those prices up to proper. Now ya get to sell this stuff for more than just spare change, and I get to showcase for you the power of music. That's what we Outsider dudes call 'win-win.'” Ya glance at Rinnosuke there, and—

That look on his mug. It's...complicated.

“Hey,” ya say, rearrangin' priorities pronto. “Something wrong, Mac?”

Rinnosuke shakes his head, his facemood goin' back to normal. Well, Rinnosuke-normal. “That you'd done what you'd done for my benefit—I suppose is what I thought,” he 'splains, and—

There's something 'bout the way he says that, something real, and it makes ya wanna look at something else that isn't 'im, just real quick. Or someone else. Rumia. Ya look at Rumia.

Rumia looks at you.

Then Rumia's head does the minisculest of shifts and she's lookin' at Rinnosuke, which means you've gotta look at Rinnosuke after all, which ya don't wanna, but you've gotta.

So.

There's something itchin' at the insides of your epidermis. “Hey, Mac,” ya say.

“Hm?” Rinnosuke peers atcha, just over the rims of his glasses.

Ya realize, all of a sudden, thatcha didn't actually plan something to say. Ya open your mouth anyways.

The tank smashes through the wall.

“What?” says Rinnosuke.

“What,” says you, for related but not-exactly-the-same reasons.

The tank lumbers forwards, in through the giant hole where shop used to be, crushin' beneath its treads a whole lotta shelves and crates and knickknacks and tchotchkes that two and a half seconds ago quit bein' shelves and crates and knickknacks and tchotchkes real quick and started bein' rubble, instead. It's a weird tank, even excludin' the whole it's-a-tank-in-Gensokyo-isn't-that-how-things-aren't-supposta-be-here angle—hatted with something like a squat pyramid of a roof painted a bright healthy red with a yin-yang sign facin' forth, with a coupla thick ropey things hangin' from the frontal eaves and some zigzaggy papercraft hangin' from that to top it off.

But forget form, for a sec, 'cause there's the important part, which, yeah, ya maybe mentioned already, but it sorta bears repeatin', 'specially this moment:

That's a tank.

Like, legit. Made outta tank parts, with a turret and cannon and everything. A turret and cannon that're shiftin' on their own azimuth, angle-adjustin' till the whole deal is pointed properly, i.e. right atcha.

You're not gonna lie. This is not how ya saw this day goin'. “Down!” ya yell, and head there yourself.

The sound of the cannon going off is—actually, it's a lot less explodey than you figured it was gonna be. Like, not that you've had alotta 'sperience with tanks, but if a tiny gun goin' off makes a pretty strong blam, any dude'd 'spect a gun like like to make a blam immense, right?

Only it doesn't. Like, it's still a pretty good blam, as far as blams go. Seven out of ten blammage, which is a passin' grade. It's just...flat, is all. Like the sorta thing you'd get at your local laser tag maybe if the dude in charge sprung for the better SFX. Actually, if ya wanna be totally honest? It's not so much blam as blat, and the fact that's one letter off kinda makes it disappointinger. Like it got so far only to fall flat on its face a foot before the finish line.

Still puts another hole in the opposite wall, though.

Like, it's not a big hole. It looks like a fireman went to town on the wall, instead of a tank.

But that's still a hole.

You're really, seriously, totally glad ya ducked.

Rinnosuke, meanwhile, assesses the calamity with a calm eye. “What are you doing?” he says, leanin' forwards like the desk in front is the only think keepin' 'im from leapin'. “No fighting in the shop!

His specs are askew, the dude half-covered in dust from just standin' too close to the recent coupla instances of destruction alone. What you're sayin' is that he presents himself as less than a figure of authority right now.

So it's kinda surprisin' when the tank actually does lurch to a stop, treads jerkin' bit by bit till they've got themselves a nice place to perch on top of all the wall and not-wall (well, it's all not-wall now, but that's splittin' hairs). Then, after a moment longer, something in the roof of the machine shifts—the peak of the roof swingin' up and open like it's on hinges, pushed open by a dude's hand.

A moment after that, the rest of the dude follows.

It's Rika.

You really oughta be surprised here, but somehow? Not so much.

Rika's red-faced, pantin', and ya don't think it's all from bein' cooped up in that machine of hers. Her eyes run the room—at Rinnosuke, at you, at Rinnosuke, at yousettlin' on you before her mouth cracks open in a lopsided grin. “Extortionists,” she says—calls out, in a way you're nearly 'spectin' her to follow it up with “lend me your ears.”

She doesn't though. Just keeps grinnin', eyes wide and glassy.

“Dude,” ya say, holdin' your palms out in what you're pretty sure's the universal gesture for “calm the holy oak down.”

Unfortunately, this is totally the wrong move, on account of the fact that is kinda gives the dude with the tank something to focus on. Which she does. “You,” she says. “You did it.” Her peepers to Rinnosuke again. “You let it happen.”

Rinnosuke freezes mid-step, less like a dude tryin' to get significant tracks from a desk before another dude both with and in a tank notices what he's up to, and more like a dude tryin' to get significant tracks from a desk before another dude both with and in a tank notices what he's up to and failin'.

“Extortionist,” mutters Rika, her eyes goin' back to table-tennisin'. “Extortionist, extortionists, extortionists—”

The other half of Rika's smile perks, which does wonders for the dude's facial symmetry and also gives you a bad feelin' like you're gonna need to do some serious ruin' soon but ya don't know in what direction. She reaches down—sorta stoops, in her stand, still lookin' out the top as she fiddles onehandedly with whatever knobs and levers she's got workin' in there.

The turret—cannon attached, obvs—rotates outta your direction.

Which is cool.

It rotates in Rinnosuke's direction, which is not.

Extortionists don't get shops,” says Rika.

[ ] Run!
[ ] Hide!
[ ] Fight!
205posts omitted. Last 50 shown. Expand all images
>> No. 30271
[X] There’s a crowd over there. What’s that about?
>> No. 30282
[x] Hey, check it. That dude over there’s starin’ at us.

Now I'm not saying that this is my second vote, but if it somehow is let it be known that it isn't intentional.
>> No. 30305
[X] There’s a crowd over there. What’s that about?
>> No. 30307
[x] Hey, check it. That dude over there’s starin’ at us.

Man, they're like a married couple already.
>> No. 30330
File 150423145438.jpg - (101.87KB, 847x312, festivities.jpg) [iqdb]
30330
[X] Hey, check it. That dude over there’s starin’ at us.

Rinnosuke’s brows go straight up, at him hearin’ that. “You already know what you want to do here? That’s impressive, considering you didn’t know what Tori-no-Ichi was when we arrived.”

“You’re lookin’ at it the wrong way, Mac. My goals here haven’t changed—‘hang out,’ ‘have fun,’ and ‘be awesome.’ The only hitch is gettin’ there.”

“That might be called a very large ‘hitch.’”

“Are ya kiddin’? I’m already succeedin’ three for three . I’ve just gotta keep it up! Now, lemme see...”

You stretch your neck and gaze all ‘round yourself, lookin’ for something interestin’. There’s all these rakes Rinnosuke mentioned—maybe you can get ‘im to spring for one? Or maybe you could check out all those stands standin’ there, heapin’ out foodstuffs—even if ya can’t eat any of it, what with your still-in-California wallet, just watchin’ (and smellin’) ought to fill ya up psychic.

Or maybe...

And then your vision panorama you’ve got operatin’ here stops, ‘cause ya find something. Or maybe something finds you. In the evershiftin’ crowd of twistin’ and turnin’ and otherwise rotatin’ dudes, there’s a set of eyes stood there with the sorta stock-stillness you’re used to seein’ more in statue and street performers pretendin’ to be ‘em. They’re open wide—not surprised, just wide—and attached to a mug ya can’t quite place till ya look past just the shape of it and take it together with the long-flowin’ hair and more importantly the funky headgear.

“Huh,” ya say.

Quietly, too, but Rinnosuke hears it anyways, which is actually impressive. “Did you find something?” he asks, turnin’ atcha.

“More like, ‘someone,’ Mac,” ya say. “Check it.”

And ya point at Keine, and Keine’s pointed at, and maybe those wide eyes go wider, but maybe that’s just the way back up from blinkin’ or the natural movement of her mugmuscles. Ya can’t tell, not from this far away, and it mostly doesn’t matter, anyways. The point is—that’s Keine, of the spaceship-shaped hattery and the off-and-on visitations, and now that you’ve pointed that out, Rinnosuke can see that that’s Keine, too! Which he does, you confirm, when Rinnosuke doesn’t say anything like, “Yo, it’s Keine,” and instead maintains with the radio silence—ya look at ‘im sideways, at his face, and he’s lookin’ in the right direction, seein’ Keine perfectly well—you’d bet—only—

It’s kinda funny, but suddenly he’s wearin’ the same look Keine is.

Well, not funny ha-ha. But funny.

There’s something here that feels off, like maybe ya put your foot in it lettin’ yourself point ‘er out, but before you can pin that feelin’ down Keine takes a step—and then another. And then a third, not even lookin’ at the crowd past ‘er as it parts in front of ‘er like it’s the Red Sea and here’s Moses, achin’ for the Promised Land. Just one step after another till there she is, square in front of Rinnosuke, almost sorta encroachin’ in his bubble, but not quite.

And then she stops there. And then she doesn’t say anything.

And Rinnosuke doesn’t say anything, either.

Yeah, it’s a whole lotta not-sayin’-anything happenin’ here. Not that you’ve got room to not-talk, seein’ as you’re not sayin’ anything, either, over here on the side where you’ve just become the third wheel on this bike someone loaded down with subtext while ya weren’t lookin’. You’d try—not like you’re the last dude to get their gums flappin’, ‘zactly—but here’s another kinda sorta funny thing: Your voice is dead in your chest, and try as ya might, ya can’t get it to Easter Sunday.

So here ya are, watchin’ this car-crash-in-slow-mo, stuck thoroughly on the sidelines, and if someone’s gonna lose at chicken or if it’s all gonna go up in a fiery conflagration it can’t happen quick enough.

It’s Keine that gets this ball of overripe awkwardness rollin’. Ya see ‘er lick her lips (that’s nervous liplickin’, not here’s-some-leftover-barbecue-sauce, obvs)—and then something like an artist’s rendition of a witness’ recollection of a smile gets fit into her face. It takes a coupla tries, before it sticks.

“Rinnosuke,” she says.

“Keine,” says Rinnosuke back.

Keine nods, like—yes, she is Keine. Her smile tries to become a little less wan. Results’re mixed. “How are you?” she says.

“I’m fine,” says Rinnosuke, soundin’ absatively unfine in every way.

Keine nods some more. “That’s good,” she says, like she actually believes ‘im. And also: “I didn’t think you’d come to the festival today.”

“It wasn’t my plan to. Christie wanted to see what it’d be like, though, so I brought her.”

Keine’s peepers flicker your way, and ya wave when they do. So maybe the bike is a trike, after all. Must be why the convo’s been so stable. “Is that the reason you came?” she asks.

“It is.”

There’s a pause, heavy with all kindsa meanin’ ya don’t have the decoder ring for. This time, when Keine looks your way, her eyes linger. And then they go back to Rinnosuke, and—

And still nothing, actually. The pause extends.

Yeah, this isn’t gettin’ anywhere on its own. Like, you’re not askin’ these two to speedrun the convo or anything like that, but whatever this is you’re bearin’ witness at is clearly stuck fast in the mud. Which means it’s time for some Christie-Christoferson-brand pushin’. “Hey, Mac—you and Keine met up at that last Tori-no-Ichi, didntcha?”

Rinnosuke starts at the sound of your voice, head twistin’ in your direction like he’s only just remembered you’re there, too (which is super-unfair, considerin’ Keine even acknowledged your thereness). He trips over his syllables for a sec—shakes his head to clear it—“We did,” he says, all very neutral. “I told you, didn’t I?”

“I thought ya did, but I wasn’t sure,” ya lie cheerfully. “I mean, that was like a week-plus ago. What’dja do when ya met up, anyways? If Keine knows some ace festival spots, I wanna get in on that.”

Keine stares at you and just you and not Rinnosuke, which is sorta what you were goin’ for. Well, as long as that mutual stareage is done with, it’s all gravy. “There was a stall with yakitori...” she starts, slowly—

“We didn’t really have a chance to visit any of the stalls after we met.” Bam—Rinnosuke with the interrupt. He says what he says, sendin’ Keine meanwhile the kinda eye contact that puts the “side” in “sidelong.” And also the “long.” And the general concept of sidelength.

“We didn’t,” says Keine, “but there isn’t any reason we couldn’t visit now.” Her smile stretches, like at some point in the past she heard that that’s how a dude’s meant to ‘spress friendliness but she’s not so good puttin’ it in practice. Well, maybe she can feel how straight up grimacey it looks, ‘cause she only holds out for a sec or two before givin’ up on it. “Could we talk?” she says, quietly. “I’d like it, if we talked.”

Rinnosuke’s whole mug squinches. Then it goes loose again as he huffs out a lung fulla sigh. “Alright. Let’s talk.”

“Thank goodness. I mean—I’m glad.” Keine’s strained smile relaxes basically instantly into the real thing, though it’s mostly relief it exudes. “I’ll show you the stall I’m talking about—I didn’t get the chance to eat there, last time, but it smelled appetizing.”

“I would have assumed you’d have stayed loyal to one stall in particular.”

“Well, under normal circumstances, yes, but Mokou told me she would be sitting this festival out—though I don’t know why—”

There isn’t even any need for Keine to grab Rinnosuke by the wrist or even make explicit the request he follow the leader. All she does is half raise an arm—barely a go-thither-by-way-of-hither gesture—and Rinnosuke falls in line behind like he’s takin’ cues outta Robert McCloskey. It’s a maneuver so casual you’re left watchin’ after it, not realizin’ you’re gettin’ left behind till Rinnosuke—just on the edge of bein’ swallowed up by the crowd—half-turns and does his own little wave your way. Then ya start, and jog up back up to Rinnosuke’s side before he and Keine can pull a total Houdini.

Yeah, that one’d be your fault, prolly.

“Are you alright?” says Rinnosuke. The look he’s givin’ is more confusion than concern, though.

Well, what can ya say? “Sure, Mac. Just got distracted for a sec.”

Rinnosuke presses his lips together, though if he hmms to accompany that ya can’t hear it, not over the general festival din. Then he says: “You need to stay close. It could be dangerous to get lost in a crowd like this.”

“Ya mean like someone here’s gonna stick a knife in my back or something?”

“What? No, not that dangerous.”

“If there’s degrees, you’ve gotta specify, Mac. Like, worst-case-scenario me here. What happens if I get lost?”

Rinnosuke’s eyes turn up in thought for a sec. “We become separated, you’re left on the shrine grounds after the festival is over, and seeing no other choice you attempt to make your own way through the Forest of Magic, where you encounter a dangerous youkai.”

You digest this, just like that hypothetical youkai is prolly digestin’ you. “Bummer, Mac,” you conclude. “Gimme your sleeve.”

Obediently, and without missin’ a step, Rinnosuke offers his hand towards ya. Ya pluck a little edge of fabric off his wrist and keep tight to it—well, as tight as you can manage with your thumb and pointer. Still, that’s something like a hundred percent more connected to Rinnosuke than ya were thirty seconds ago, which means your chances of youkai-related death just went way down, right?

Ya smile at Rinnosuke.

He doesn’t smile back, not really, but his lips sorta flex, and he nods.

Should you be noddin’ too? Ya feel like ya oughta be noddin’, too. Or something

And then Keine goes, “Oh, here it is,” and oh, right, Keine’s a thing. She turns back to look at you and ya leggo Rinnosuke’s sleeve, leavin’ his wrist hangin’ suspended in midair, though he does lower it, after a sec. Keine looks at the space between ya two with a face kinda puzzled—then she shakes that off and slaps on something more pleasant-tour-guidey. “Do you want to order? I don’t mind paying for the both of us.”

“I already owe you, so no thanks,” says Rinnosuke. “I’ll just have the negima. What do you want?”

It takes a tick to realize that it’s you Rinnosuke’s lookin’ at, askin’ that, and even once you’ve got that figured it’s all you can do to send ‘im just a coupla confused blinks before the implications settle proper. “I’m eatin’?” ya say.

Rinnosuke does that thing where peers over his glasses atcha, like maybe if he isn’t wearin’ his prescription it’ll make more sense, whatever it is. “Do you not want to eat?” he says.

“I do wanna; it’s just that I didn’t think I was gonna.”

“I already told you I knew you didn’t have any money.”

“Yeah, but I thought whatcha meant was like, ‘I know ya don’t’ve money, so also I know you’re not gonna be able to buy anything.’”

“What? Why would I mean that?”

“I dunno, it seemed a perfectly reasonable deal to mean!”

Keine motions for attention. “I can pay for your guest, too, if that’s alright,” she says Rinnosuke’s way.

“I don’t want to take any more money from you than I already have,” Rinnosuke says, over his shoulder. Then back to you: “Why would you think that would be reasonable?”

“Why wouldn’t it be reasonable, Mac?”

“I’ve fed you so far, haven’t I?”

“Rinnosuke,” says Keine. “This isn’t meant to be a loan.”

“Yeah, ya have,” you admit, “but that was, like, necessary food. This doesn’t feel like that so much.”

“If you think I’ve been feeding you the bare minimum to survive, you’re mistaken.”

“Yo, for serious, Mac? So I...” Ya motion towards the meat, and also towards the dude behind the heatin’ of the meat who is becomin’ either increasingly bemused or increasingly bemused, dependin’ on which definition of “bemused” a dude is comfier at.

“Yes, yes, ‘for serious.’ Pick a kind, and I’ll treat you.”

“Oh, uh, I don’t really know from yakitori, so I guess I’ll go with the same you did. What was it?”

“Negima.” Rinnosuke turns to the grillin’ dude, who raises his brows like he’s goin’—“Okay, ya gonna order now, then?” “Two negima,” says Rinnosuke. “Keine, what are you ordering?”

Keine doesn’t tell Rinnosuke what she’s orderin’. Keine stares into Rinnosuke’s eyes like she’s tryin’ to see her way into his soul.

Rinnosuke shifts uncomfily.

“I’ll have the negima,” Keine says, not breakin’ eye contact.

Rinnosuke, also not breakin’ eye contact, lifts a trio of fingers unsteadily towards the dude of the meat. “Three negima,” he says.

Meat Dude swivels his head between Keine and Rinnosuke apprehensively, and then, like maybe he’s detectin’ a storm on the horizon, takes actually an actual step back and gets to preparin’ with the edibles that way, even though he’s got to nearly keep his arms straight to do it.

Meat Dude is maybe a font of wisdom.

“And,” adds Keine, “I’ll be paying for it.”

Rinnosuke sorta starts where he stands. “I told you,” he says. “You’ve already done enough for me.”

“I don’t mind doing this for you,” Keine says, straight up not smilin’ anymore. “I want to do things for you. We’re friends, aren’t we?”

Rinnosuke pauses before he answers back, like he’s tryin’ to put his thoughts in order. “Yes,” he says finally, “but I shouldn’t be able to take advantage of you just because we’re friends.”

“You aren’t taking advantage of me.” Keine shuts her eyes tight—her whole face tight, actually, like to collect herself. When she starts talkin’ again, it’s real measured in tone and tempo. “Rinnosuke,” she says, “Is it really so terrible if I do something for you, when I have the opportunity?”

And Rinnosuke—says nothing. Ya see his head move off a little. Past Keine’s, like it hurts to look directly.

Keine takes advantage of this sec of off-footery to advance. Her hand seeks towards his. “Rinnosuke,” she says, gently, “this is what friends do.”

“I...”

Rinnosuke’s own hand, at his side, does a twitch. Like it’s sensed its partner handin’ through the air and hasn’t made its hand-mind up on what to do ‘bout it. But then, just slowly, it rises itself—

And ya watch.

And Meat Dude watches.

And Keine pretends she’s not watchin’, but her eyes flicker down towards the space in between ‘em, just for a second. So she’s watchin’.

And then Rinnosuke’s hand stops. And he says:

“I’m not moving to the village.”
>> No. 30331
File 15042315048.jpg - (292.78KB, 550x800, profferer.jpg) [iqdb]
30331
Meat Dude grimaces sharp and returns his attention full-meter to his meat. You can sympathize. Like, it’s not like you’re totally socially adroit—your philosophy is to just jump in with your metaphorical guns blazin’ and hope for the best, and if the best doesn’t happen, can’t be helped—

But even you can tell that this moment, whatever it was leadin’ up to, has been completely, totally, three-feet-high-and-risin’ ruined.

And Keine’s got that, too, if that look of—what is that? Anger? Annoyance? Indignation? Disgust? Whatever it is, her mug’s got it in spades, and that hand that seemed so close just sorta swiffs back down to the side of her dress. “That isn’t what this is about,” she says, flatly.

“It isn’t?” says Rinnosuke.

No,” says Keine, even flatter. “You made it entirely clear what your opinions on moving to the village were, the last time.”

Rinnosuke’s hand keeps where it is, like it hasn’t yet figured out the hand meetup got canceled. “I thought you were going to try to convince me anyway,” says the dude himself. His voice’s got something to it—a shade of embarrassment, maybe.

Whatever it is, it’s not enough to assuage Keine’s whatever-that-is. “I wasn’t going to try to convince you,” she says, and she doesn’t say it through gritted teeth, but only just.

“Alright,” says Rinnosuke, with a tone that gives absolutely no clue as to whether or not he believes it.

Keine can tell. “I wasn’t,” she says.

“I believe you,” says Rinnosuke, still soundin’ like he sounds.

And Keine says nothing to that, just looks Rinnosuke in with eyes radiatin’ heat.

It’s another kinda moment, ‘cept this one feels less like it’s gonna culminate in a petalshower of emotional intimacy and more like it’s just gonna snap, with mega-undesirable consequences for anyone rubberneckin’ too close by, you included. You’re seriously considerin’ breakin’ in anyway—just takin’ it upon yourself to shake that box of sweaty dynamite—

“Three negima.”

And then Meat Dude—apotheosize ‘im—beats ya to it, and that’s a load off but for realsies.

It works, too—just the words (and the presentin’ of the aforementioned meat) have the effect of stickin’ a blade into this drama bubble Rinnosuke and Keine’ve got goin’ here and lettin’ the tension of it run out the tear. Like, it’s not like the two of ‘em get happy all of a sudden, or anything—they’re still makin’ with the affectation of apathy and the barely disguised sullenness, respectively—but now that the meat’s here, it’s a lot more socially pressin’ to table the whole deal for chow.

Plus, y’know, actual food. So you’re kinda low-key hyped about that. Not thatcha know how this is gonna taste, but it’s on a stick, so it’s gotta be good, right?

Ya wave it in the air a coupla swishes, gettin’ some of the heat off, and then, before you can think that maybe ya oughta not, ya put the first chunk of the deal past your lips and delonginate it.

And the result is...

“Yo, this isn’t half bad!” ya ‘sclaim (with your mouth full, but this deserves it). “I’m tastin’ something—what’s this, some kinda allium?”

“It actually is spring onion,” says Rinnosuke. “It’s called ‘negima,’ after all.”

Yeah, ya get it—‘cause “negi” means “spring onion,” is what he’s sayin’. “That was gonna me my next question—I just didn’t wanna assume, is all. Ya know in France they call potatoes ‘apples’?”

Rinnosuke actually looks up from his own skewer. “What do they call apples?” he asks.

“They call apples ‘apples,’ too, but also they call potatoes ‘apples.’ They’re both apples.”

“Then how do they tell the difference between them?”

“Apples and potatoes look pretty different, Mac.”

Rinnosuke multitasks. By which ya mean that he shoots you a real unamused ‘spression and takes off more of his stick-food at the same time. “How do they tell the difference between them in speech?”

“Right, check this—apples’re ‘apples.’ But potatoes’re ‘apples of the earth.’”

“‘Apples of the earth’...”

Rinnosuke mulls over that for a bit, starin’ into what’s left of his meat. Keine, beside ‘im, parts her lips like she’s gonna say something. Only then she doesn’t. So she’s just sittin’ there, on the cusp of words, lookin’ between Rinnosuke, and you, and Rinnosuke, and you—

“Do you know where the word ‘potato’ comes from?” says Rinnosuke, all of a sudden.

Course, he doesn’t say “potato,” ‘cause Japanese. He says “jagaimo.” But that means “potato.”

“Uh...” Ya give it a think. “‘Imo’ is ‘tuber’; I know that much.”

“Yes, but they’re called ‘jagaimo’ especially because they came from Djakarta.”

“So they’re literally Jakarta tubers! That’s real cool, Mac.” Ya devour your own stick-food and look over at Rinnosuke.

He’s smilin’.

Like, it isn’t a big smile, but he’s got the slight upturnin’ on the ends of the lips and the muscles beneath the eyes and everything. That’s good. Ya want ‘im to smile. It means prolly he’s happy? And yeah, ya don’t know much on Rinnosuke’s circumstances, ‘zactly, but ya want Rinnosuke to be happy.

If ya knew tradin’ word trivia was gonna make ‘im smile, ya woulda done it ages ago. What else can ya toss up?

“Hey, Mac,” ya say.

“Yes?”

“I get that the ‘negi’ in ‘negima’ is ‘negi’ ‘cause spring onions’re ‘negi.’ But what’s the ‘ma’?”

“Ah,” says Rinnosuke, and then he finishes his yakitori.

He’s lookin’ aside atcha as he does it. The last of the meat, and then all he’s got left is a stick, and that he holds in front of ‘im with way too much poise for it to be incidental. This pause is on purpose too, ya realize. He’s creatin’ for you a moment of suspense.

And then he’s all:

“The ‘ma’ is for ‘tuna.’”

Oh.

No, wait. What? “Tuna?” ya say.

Rinnosuke nods, still with that little lip thing.

Ya look down at your own stick-food. “There’s tuna in here?”

“There isn’t.”

“But it’s called ‘negima’ anyways.”

“It is.”

You consider that.

And then ya shrug.

“Guess ya can’t count on etymology for everything,” ya say.

And plus, as long as it tastes good and isn’t gonna kill ya, who cares, right? Ya follow Rinnosuke in with the yakitori-finishin’, then look at the solitary dude left in this race.

Keine’s sittin’ there, inspectin’ her stick-food with her eyes rather than how she’s supposta be doin’ it, i.e. with her taste buds. Or, well, ya guess you can see a coupla bites off the topmost chunk of the deal, but even with that, she isn’t even halfway through—which means unless ya wanna betray the social obligation you were leanin’ on just a minute ago to put an end to the arguin’, you and Rinnosuke’re gonna hafta sit here till she’s finished.

It’s a bummer. Like, not that you’re generally impatient, ‘zactly! You’ve been in Gensokyo long enough without overly complainin’, haventcha? But with all the sheer festivalness happenin’ on every side of you, you’re totally chompin’ on the bit here to get back to properly immersin’ yourself in it.

Are there games? It sorta feels like a festival’d have games. Though, ya dunno what sorta games a Gensokyo festival’d have.

Man, ya bet this snackbreak woulda been faster with—

Your spine goes stiff. Your stick for eatin’ meat off goes tumblin’ outta your fingers and into the rest of everything else that’s litterin’ the ground. Ya barely even process that. Instead, ya put your hand up, grabbin’ it onto Rinnosuke’s arm.

Rinnosuke looks up. Looks at his arm, your hand, then follows that up to the rest of you. “Yes?” he says, clearly wonderin’ what in the even now.

“Mac,” ya say, in a voice achin’ to bow itself under the hubbub, “Count us off.”

Your seriously dramatic wordage, unfortunately, fails to fetch outta Rinnosuke the sorta reaction you were goin’ for, seein’ as no part of hypothetical reaction includes confusion. ‘Cause that’s all that Rinnosuke is. Confused. “What?” he says, confusedly.

Keine, sensin’ rightfully something real tense goin’ on in her vicinity (well, something else real tense), leans in towards ya. It makes ya wanna not say anything further, considerin’ the Keine interactions (Keinteractions?) you’ve seen so far, but maybe in this case it can’t be helped. “Count us off, Mac. How many dudes’ve we got in this party?”

The confusion doesn’t abate, though to his credit Rinnosuke does actually look over to do the countin’. “There are three of us,” he says. “Is that what you’re asking? How many we make, all together?”

“Right,” ya say. “And that oughta be the right number. ‘Cept Keine came after.”

It takes something like a full second for Rinnosuke to get it, but then you’re real glad he’s done with his meat ‘cause his little skewer joins yours down in Little Floorville. Though if you’re gonna talk differences, instead, you’ve gotta mention that Rinnosuke actually jolts. Less the spine-stiffenin’ you got and more a full-on electrocution.

If Keine was just suspectin’ something was hinky a moment ago, now she knows. “Rinnosuke? What’s happened?”

Rinnosuke ducks his head with supreme dejection. “Rumia happened,” he groans.

“Rumia?” Now it’s Keine’s turn to perk, though hers is the most restrained outta the whole bunch. She turns, scannin’ the crowd. “She’s here? Did you see her?”

“I don’t see her. That’s the problem.”

“I...don’t understand.”

And Rinnosuke’s startin’ to look deeply disappointed in all the circumstances happenin’ right now, so you take over. “What Rinnosuke’s sayin’ is,” ya ‘splain, “we brought Rumia with us.”

“You brought Rumia here? I’d understand you bringing one of the less dangerous youkai, but—” Keine cuts herself off, finally puttin’ two and two together in the fashion of the rest of the class. “If you brought Rumia here, where is Rumia now?”

Rinnosuke does a thing that definitely isn’t a smile but prolly involves the same muscles. “That would be the problem,” he says.

Keine takes a step back from the yakitori stand, turnin’ her head again, a real worried look to her face. The potential Rumianess of the vicinity has just skyrocketed, and she’s dealin’ with it the best she can, ya guess. “How long ago did you lose track of her?”

“Uh, a little before ya showed up?” ya say. “She was here when we got here, right, Mac?”

“She was there when we happened upon that couple, at least,” Rinnosuke quasi-confirms.

“What couple?” says Keine.

You and Rinnosuke look at each other for a sec, all like—what, though. “Jeez, I dunno,” ya say. “Just a couple.”

“It wasn’t anyone we knew,” says Rinnosuke. “Only a couple leaving the festival as we arrived.”

“So it’s possible she followed this couple into the forest,” says Keine.

“Naw, naw, check that.” Ya raise your hand in the classic stop position. “Rumia couldnta been followin’ those dudes—she was definitely here when we were headin’ up the staircase. She was floatin’, remember?”

“So Rumia is here,” says Keine. “Somewhere at this festival.”

Rinnosuke nods, a grimmish ‘spression formin’ on his own mug, now that he’s got the weight of this sitch properly settlin’ on ‘im. “That would be likely,” he says.

“I don’t think she woulda left immediate, at least,” ya add. “Last I checked, she was totally psyched re: festival food. So, prolly, she’s gonna give procurin’ that a decent try before she ever hoofs it.” Ya decide not to mention that “last ya checked” was something like two weeks ago. Or a fortnight, if you were gonna be into that.

“I see,” says Keine. “Then—” She pauses. Another look ‘round herself. “If what you say is true, she may have been to one of the stands selling food already. I helped in setting up for the festival, so I should know where all of them are located—I’ll visit them, and ask whether anyone’s seen a youkai matching Rumia’s description. In the meantime, you...”

Another pause. ‘Cept, this one sorta lingers. And not in the high-tension, high-suspense sorta way, either. Up till Rinnosuke breaks it, anyways:

“Yes?”

Keine makes a face like she’s got a taste she’s distinctly unkeen on. Then she goes: “You should stay here and wait.”

“You want me to wait?”

“It...would be for the best. That is—in the event Rumia tries to find you, it would be easier if you stayed in one place—unless you’d like to search with me?” Her voice rises on the last bit, like something just growin’ proper wings and tryin’ out this “flight’” biz it’s heard good things about.

Now it’s Rinnosuke’s turn to pull a pause. It’s a long one. Longer than Keine’s, even. And even though Keine would be totally justified in promptin’ Rinnosuke to skip to the end of it, like she had happen to her—she doesn’t. Just lets it run, as far as Rinnosuke’s willin’ to take it.

He takes it pretty far. Not too far, but far enough.

Still, it does end. Though it’s got some inertia to it, when it does. Enough that when Rinnosuke does speak, it’s a slow kinda deal. Haltin’, unsteady. “No,” he says. “What you said—it makes sense. Somebody needs to stay here, in case Rumia passes by. And I’m recognizable.”

Keine’s head jerks shallowly. “Right,” she says.

“Right,” says Rinnosuke.

Keine doesn’t say, “Right,” again, but she opens her mouth for it. Then she closes it, and turns, carefully, balancin’—

[ ] Help Keine out with the searchin’.
[ ] Stick with Rinnosuke.
>> No. 30332
[X] Help Keine out with the searchin’.

Well that was all very... something. There's probably a word or phrase for it but all the ones I can think of aren't strong enough.
>> No. 30333
[X] Help Keine out with the searchin’.

We need to find Rumia.
>> No. 30334
[X] Help Keine out with the searchin’.
>> No. 30335
[X] Help Keine out with the searchin’.

Goddamn I feel bad for Keine.
>> No. 30336
[X] Help Keine out with the searchin’.

I was wondering during that entire first half where the cutie was.
>> No. 30337
[X] Stick with Rinnosuke.

>>30332
If there's a phrase for "such a copious amount of subtext and hidden meanings that even the normally dense or uncaring characters have to comment on it" I don't know it.
>> No. 30338
[x] Help Keine out with the searchin’.

>>30337

I'm leaning towards "really fucking awkward" myself.
>> No. 30339
[X] Help Keine out with the searchin’.
>> No. 30340
[X] Help Keine out with the searchin’.

That was amazingly awkward, and I'm betting things are going to get worse before they get better.
>> No. 30341
[x] Help Keine out with the searchin’

I bet that we find Rumia playing carnival games with children and it will end with everyone losing their shit and Christie making a mad scramble towards forest with youkai in tow.
>> No. 30342
As one anon wisely said once:

"HOME WRECKER GET OUT REEEEEEEEE"

But since that doesn't really work let's go with her and answer any question she has, as long as that question is "How can I help you two lovebirds get married"

[X] Go with Parsee-err Keine
>> No. 30343
>>30342
>lovebirds
You talking about Kei x Rin or Chris x Rin?
>> No. 30344
[X] Help Keine out with the searchin’.
- [X] Hey, if I were to dab my clothes with a bunch of meat juice, do you think that might find her. Well, she might eat me, but then we'd at least know who's she's eating than not know who she's eating and who she's not, right?
>> No. 30345
File 150428608870.jpg - (15.78KB, 294x349, e092b00ca067de61646bb5147a165344d537d0f6_hq.jpg) [iqdb]
30345
>>30343
>Kei x Rin
>> No. 30350
[X] Help Keine out with the searchin’.

Got to be proactive.
>> No. 30354
[x] Help Keine out with the searchin’.

Yeah that was awkward as all hell. I kinda want to stay with Rinnosuke, but if we wanna get to the matter or whatever is goin' on between 'em we're gonna want to go with the more talkative person.

Love the guy, but most times it can be like talking to a rock.

This won't be awkward at all!
>> No. 30357
>>30343
Chris x Rumia
>> No. 30359
>>30357

Sadly, this won't even be an option until we find a way to discuss Rumia's age. As things stand now, Chris probably assumes she's 14 or something.
>> No. 30446
>>30357
This has my support
>> No. 30449
>>30357
I'd rather see Rumia X Chris, if we're going that route.
>> No. 30457
>>30331
[X] Help Keine out with the searchin’.
- [X] Hey, if I were to dab my clothes with a bunch of meat juice, do you think that might find her. Well, she might eat me, but then we'd at least know who's she's eating than not know who she's eating and who she's not, right?
>> No. 30464
[X] Help Keine out with the searchin’.
- [X] Hey, if I were to dab my clothes with a bunch of meat juice, do you think that might find her. Well, she might eat me, but then we'd at least know who's she's eating than not know who she's eating and who she's not, right?

What could possibly go wrong?
>> No. 30466
File 150908198615.jpg - (390.54KB, 1500x2121, make it clear.jpg) [iqdb]
30466
[X] Help Keine out with the searchin’.

“I’ll look too,” ya say.

—and Keine snapback unturns, like she was on a rubber band pulled tight that someone just let go, lookin’ ya straight on like she’s heard the words outta your maw, yeah, but they weren’t supposta happen.

Which—maybe ya can’t blame her, almost. You weren’t plannin’ on sayin’ those words, either. They just sorta did that.

Whatever the case, Keine only takes a sec before she recovers, her ‘spression goin’ hard in places. “I’m not certain that’s wise,” she says. “It’s much too dangerous for an ordinary Outsider to wander on their own, even here.”

And if she’d been listenin’, she’d know ya just got the don’t-wander spiel from Rinnosuke. There was sleeve-holdin’ and everything. Ya don’t mention that, though. “I wasn’t plannin’ on wanderin’ on my own,” ya say, instead. “I figured I’d stick close to you. Four eyes’re better than two, right?”

Keine visibly mulls that over, but if she’s comin’ up with any reasonable sorta objections, she at least doesn’t mention ‘em. “Rinnosuke,” she says instead, “are you okay with this?”

Rinnosuke pauses just a bit too long. “Yes,” he says. “Why shouldn’t it be? With you looking after her, she should be safe.”

Another beat.

“Right,” says Keine.

“Right,” says Rinnosuke. And before the two of ‘em can go past déjà vu and into straight up time loop, he turns off, starin’ straight forwards instead of in Keine’s direction. Which, incidentally, puts his sightline right through Meat Dude, who’s been standin’ here all this time—natch; it’s his stand—and right now’s tryin’ his very best to develop invisibility.

Like, it’s not workin’, obvs. But it’s a respectful attempt.

You, you’ve gotta contend with another coupla measures of Keine gazin’ into the back of Rinnosuke’s skull before she pulls up, too. “Stay close to me,” she says your way, signifyin’ the gettin’-to at of the most important ish at hand, i.e. the findin’ of a floaty friend.

Ya thumbs-up with vigor, ‘cause seriously, you’ve got it already. But hey, she’s gotta make sure, ya guess. You can respect that, too. “So what’s the plan?” ya ask.

“I don’t think there should be any changes—we should visit the food stalls, and ask if anyone’s seen Rumia.”

“Groovy.” And before the two of you can get outta sight—easy, in a crowd—you do some turnin’ back of your own, hangin’ a goodbye wave for Rinnosuke. “Catch ya later, Mac!”

Rinnosuke doesn’t “catch ya later” back. Maybe he doesn’t even hear ya, over the festival sound. He just stands there, at the meat, like he’s deep in thought over what he’s gonna order and not anything else. The last ya see of ‘im before Keine leads you away is his back—tall, stiff, clothed up in that familiar-by-now half-wrinkled robe.

It’s the only back that’s there, at the customer side at the stand. And with the light from the stand rayin’ past ‘im, it looks dark by comparison.

Dark, and sorta lonely.

***

Keine’s plan is logical, and methodical, and also, if you’re gonna be honest, totally limp. Like, it makes sense! Visit all the places Rumia woulda liked to go to and see if Rumia’s maybe actually been anythere! Ya couldn’t do it better if this festival was on the Outside.

It’s just that that’s all there is to it, basically. Keine leads ya to a food stand (‘cause ya don’t know where they are), Keine talks to the food stand dudes (‘cause ya don’t know who they are), Keine thanks the food stand dudes for their time and leads ya to the next food stand on the route. Rinse and repeat, and then keep on rinsin’ forever ‘cause the back of the shampoo bottle never said “stop.” Sure, ya get some stares pretendin’ not to be stares, from passersby and food stand dudes both, but it’s never anything more than the fleetingest of curious glimpses. Keine’s clearly some sorta authority here, from the way everyone reacts to the dude with a friendly kinda deference—maybe they figure that if you’re walkin’ so obediently at her shoulder you’re prolly no problem. Or if ya are a problem, you’re not an important one.

Which, y’know, it’s fine. You’re not a problem, and it’s not like ya wanna be. But still.

In any case, it isn’t long (okay, not long long) till you and Keine wind your ways over to where the stands end and the crowds start thinnin’—without havin’ caught report of either Rumiahair or Rumiahide. Or ya guess Rumiaskin, unless it is Rumiahide, actually, in which case Rumia’s in alotta trouble—so ya hope not. Keine’s lookin’ kinda troubled herself, though ya think prolly Rumia’s well-bein’ isn’t so much of a factor there. “We’ll have to search the other end of the shrine grounds as well,” she says.

“Cool,” ya say, in her footsteps, followin’ as she pulls a turnaround. And then ya don’t say anything else, ‘cause it’s back to lookin’ for Rumia again. Only even limper, ‘cause where before your walkin’ got at least broken up by Keine tuggin’ you aside so she could check in with vendor number so-and-so, now she’s already done the askin’.

In other words, it’s just you and her, walkin’ silently. And not, like, the companionable kinda silence either. Just silence.

You’d think the fact that the festival’s so loud’d help, right? Right? Like, it’d compensate or something? It doesn’t, though. Go fig.

“How is Rinnosuke?”

And then suddenly that not-companionable-particularly silence’s broken. “What?” ya say, lookin’ Keinewards.

Keine’s mug is ‘spressionless. “How is Rinnosuke?” she says, again. “He’s still hosting you, isn’t he? I thought you might be able to tell me, considering the amount of time you’ve spent with him.”

Her gaze is steady as she says that—by which ya mean it’s fixed steadily forwards, pointed towards nothing in particular ‘cept for the direction she’s walkin’ in. Which is a weird way to act with your eyes while you’ve got someone you’re actually literally talkin’ to, ya think, but...

The way she holds herself. With her chin a mite too high and her neck a mite too stiff.

It makes ya wanna put a little bit more thought into your answer before ya loose it.

“I dunno.”

Not that it helps. Uh, maybe ya better come up with something else? “Like—Rinnosuke is Rinnosuke, right?” ya quicksay, keepin’ gropin’ for the right words, ‘cause these aren’t those, for sure. At least Keine’s lookin’ atcha proper, now. “I mean—he’s sorta vaguely morose, I guess? And sometimes something sets ‘im off into a real downer of a mood?” And sometimes it’s something ya say or do that does that, specifically, but ya don’t wanna zoom in that far. “So, like, I dunno. He seems basically together, but if this is a real downturn from how he was before I fell in, I wouldn’t really know.”

Keine looks ya in a tick longer, then looks away, breathin’ out what looks like all the air out her bod. “No, you wouldn’t,” she agrees.

She sounds tired.

“So is that how it is?” ya ask.

“I’m sorry?”

“Is that what happened? Did something a serious bummer happen Rinnosuke’s way? Or something?”

It takes a little for Keine to get what you’re askin’, but then she shakes her head. “No,” she says. “Rinnosuke—this is how he’s always been.”

“Oh.”

So it’s a basic check-up. Yeah, that’s fair. Rinnosuke seems like the sorta dude who you’d ask “How’s kicks?” and whether you’d get a truthful answer back’d be a crapshoot. Not that any lyin’ ya got’d be malicious, but a white lie’s still lyin’, right?

‘Cause—like—

The meds, the ones he rushed to fetch when you were heftin’ a wicked fever. All the rice he’s been scoopin’ your way.

Rinnosuke was maybe never gonna complain ‘bout all that stuff, not unless ya asked.

(Or maybe he woulda complained, eventually. But whatever breakin’ point he’s got re: Christie-Christoferson-carin’, ya never reached it, and ya still haven’t. Which is kinda…)

“No,” says Keine, all of a sudden. “I’m wrong.”

And that yanks ya outta your thoughts, real neat. “Huh? So something did happen?” ya ask.

“That isn’t what I mean,” says Keine. “It’s only that—” Another stop. And then: “He was smiling.”

Ya try to parse those words in a way that deserves the next-to-dramatic tone Keine dropped ‘em with. It doesn’t work. “Yeah?” ya offer, finally.

“You saw.”

“Yeah,” ya say, “when he was talkin’ ‘bout potatoes. What’s the big deal? He does that.”

“Does he?”

Keine says that like she isn’t really there, in a way ya don’t like and that makes ya look to your side at ‘er, sharp. She’s facin’ off again, ‘cept this time even more so, so ya can’t even see her eyes.

Ya really wanna see her eyes.

“Uh, yeah, he does,” ya say. “I mean, not a lot—which, y’know, bummer—but it’s not like he’s dour twenty-four-seven. Like, you’d know that, if ya ever saw ‘im put on his records.”

“Records?”

And it’s like—yeah; didntcha tell Keine ‘bout the poltergeist? Only: Yeah, but ya didn’t tell ‘er ‘bout the record player aspect of it, so fair ‘nuff. “Rinnosuke found this record player, and we got it workin’ again,” ya ‘splain. “Anyways, there’s a buncha tunes he had lyin’ ‘round the pad to go with it, and he likes all the terrible ones. No accountin’ for taste, I guess.”

“I see,” says Keine. “Rinnosuke hasn’t told me anything about this at all. When was this?”

“Man, I dunno. A month ago, maybe? Something like that.”

Keine doesn’t have any follow-ups to that. Her lookin’-away-from-you seems to solidify.

Something inkles in your mind. A feelin’ like maybe ya said the wrong thing, or at least something that Keine woulda been better off not hearin’.

So, of course, ya prod what’s causin’ it. “He wasn’t keepin’ it a secret from you or anything, prolly,” ya say. “I mean, it’s not something ya go outta your way to mention, right? Like if I ate a really awesome burger or beat my personal record paddle-ballin’. I don’t think I’d tell anyone, not unless I got asked ‘bout it specific.”

You can see Keine’s jaws tensin’ (ya don’t hafta see her eyes for that—totally different part of the skull). When she speaks, it’s in a real low voice, something ya almost wanna lean forwards, the better to hear.

Ya don’t hafta, though. Ya hear it well enough. “I understand,” is what Keine says, “but I would never have asked.”

“Oh, huh,” says you.

And ya don’t really know what else to say to what she’s said, so the whole convo at that point just dies an ungodly, ignoble death. Bummer. The two of you walk in silence (surrounded as ya are by the loud of the festival), backtrackin’ your steps, passin’ by again all the stalls you and Keine already passed by. You see one or two stallkeeps glancin’ up to catch ya as ya go by—or maybe (prolly) it’s Keine they’re lookin’ at. Or maybe they’re just liftin’ their heads respective for one reason or another and it’s got nothing to do with either of you. There’s a lotta stuff to raise heads for here, after all.

‘Cause festival.

“I’d like to ask you not to talk to Rinnosuke about the Outside any longer.”

And there’s something that makes your own head jerk up. “What?”

Now Keine shows her eyes again. “I’d like to ask you not to talk to Rinnosuke about the Outside any longer,” she says again—enunciates, even. Just to make sure ya don’t mishear. Or think ya did, which was the ish, just now.

Also, what times two.

“Ya mean—don’t answer any of his questions?” ya say leerily. “‘Cause he asks questions.”

“No. Please listen to me, very carefully. I’d like to ask you not to talk to Rinnosuke about the Outside any longer.”

And then she pauses there, like—didja get that?

Yeah, ya got that.

“You wanna ask me not to talk to Rinnosuke ‘bout the Outside anymore,” ya say, just to confirm.

Keine nods. “That is what I’d like to ask from you.”

Her eyes are clear, and piercin’, and don’t blink often enough for ya to feel comfy ‘bout it. Now you’re the dude that wants to stop meetin’ ‘em. Or at least if you could find something to say in response to a dude’s confession—that’d be good, too. Like, beaucoup, even.

And then, all of a sudden, Keine’s drilly gaze stops bein’ drilly and starts bein’ confused. And mildly gobsmacked. It drifts off your face, redirectin’ itself somewhere over your shoulder, and ya turn to follow it.

It’s the stand—the one you and Rinnosuke and Keine were at originally. Jeez, comin’ back took a lot shorter than the other way ‘round, didn’t it? Prolly helped there’s nobody Keine had to yak with the second time through. More importantly, there’s Rinnosuke.

More more importantly, there’s Rumia, hoverin’ in midair next to Rinnosuke, leanin’ towards the meats like she’s magnetized. She’s chattin’—her and Rinnosuke, with Rinnosuke—but ya can’t hear what’s goin’ on from where you’re standin’.

Not that it isn’t moot in a sec, ‘cause the moment Keine realizes ‘zactly what she’s lookin’ at, she rushes over to surreptitiously barrel herself in between the two of ‘em (leavin’ you to hoof it behind, incidentally). “Rinnosuke,” she says, something like a mite too loud to be normal. “You found her.”

Rinnosuke freezes halfway through gettin’ another thing of stick-food past his lips, his eyes flickerin’ between Rumia and this dude who just nearly put out his sternum, i.e. Keine. “It isn’t so much that I found her as it is she found me,” he says.

“There was food and I was hungry,” Rumia agrees, haulin’ a meat-stick of her own. Or two, actually—one skewer for each hand, each of ‘em chock fulla delicious or a variant thereof. And there’s no tellin’ it’s Rumia’s first coupla skewers, either.

Rumia’s prolly havin’ a good time, is what you’re sayin’.

“It’s good you waited here, then,” Keine says to Rinnosuke, and only to Rinnosuke. “Rumia might have come and gone without any of us ever seeing her.”

Rinnosuke glances over Keine’s head at Rumia again. “That might be true, yes,” he says.

His voice is distracted, almost more like steam slippin’ off from between the pipes than any kinda intended verbage, and ya wonder, suddenly, what it was that Rinnosuke and Rumia were talkin’ ‘bout, before Keine bustled into their hedgerow.

And speakin’ of the dude—

Keine tries to eke out a bit of comfiness in the basically-no-space she’s jumped. She fails with manic cheeriness. “Well, now that you’re all together, would you like me to show you around? I don’t think I’ll be needed right at this moment, so I should be able to show you some of the more interesting stalls that have been set up.”

“That wouldn’t be my decision,” Rinnosuke says. “Christie was the one who wanted to come—so you should ask her.” He nods your way to direct.

Keine follows the pointin’ of his mug till she’s lookin’ at you herself, her host’s smile greasepaint. “What about you? Is there something that you wanted to see here?” she asks.

“I kinda saw it already, dude,” ya say. “See?”

Ya punctuate with a easy gesture, a flick of the wrist at the stand you’re at. It’s not that quick, of course. Keine catches it, and follows it—and then totally doesn’t at all see what it is you’re seein’, lookin’ back at you with her smile pleasant and also totally uncomprehendin’. “You have?” she says.

“Yeah, we had the whole discussion ‘bout etymology and everything.”

The incomprehension tapers off. “You’re talking about the yakitori?”

“Hey, don’t knock the negima! That stuff was pretty cool. Right, Rumia?”

“I didn’t have negima,” says Rumia. “I had skin.”

“Fair ‘nuff. How was that?”

“I liked the part that was crispy.” Rumia pauses. “I also liked the part that wasn’t crispy.”

“Sweet.”

“That’s the sauce,” Rinnosuke says. He’s got another stick, replacin’ the one he had dropped when ya left ‘im. Or maybe replacin’ a replacement. Ya don’t know how much he’s had, either.

“Christie—Christoferson.” Keine fumbles with your name like she’s not sure where to cut it before just goin’ with the extra-formal whole hog just in case. “Other than this stand, isn’t there anything else you wanted to see while you were here?”

“Yeah, I guess it’d be kinda funny weird if we hiked all the way here just for the yakitori.” Ya put yourself into the whole group, on Rinnosuke’s other side, and give the matter a good musin’.

But not too much musin’.

“Ya know any stands that do cotton candy?” ya ask.

Keine looks stares at you. When she blinks, she does it like a dude who hasn’t had enough sleep and wants to savor it. “‘Cotton...candy,’” she echoes.

Yeah, that was a reach. And so’s this. “Corn dogs?”

“I haven’t heard of a ‘corn dog’ before, either—is that—” And the part that makes ya feel bad is that Keine is actually honestly concentratin’, rackin’ her brainmeats proper and everything. “I’m sorry—my English isn’t very good. Though, I might be able to find someone who speaks the language, if you don’t mind waiting.”

“Naw, don’t worry ‘bout it. Prolly if the name doesn’t ring a bell ya don’t have it at all.” What else, what else? “Funnel cakes?”

Rinnosuke makes a skewer-complimented gesture. “I recognized ‘cake,’” he says.

Rumia perks. “Is there cake?”

“That’s what I’m tryin’ to fig, dude,” ya say. Then, back to Keine: “What about churros? No, wait, wait—what about caramel corn? That stuff’s crackerjack!”

Keine does another measured blink. Her eyebrows reach towards each other like a coupla tragic star-crossed lovers. “All these things you’re naming,” she says, slowly. “You’re talking about more food.”

It doesn’t sound like a question, but ya answer it anyways. “Yeah—sorry, I guess I kinda wasn’t clear ‘bout that? Totally my bad, dude.”

“Isn’t there anything that you wanted to see here, especially, though?”

“Yeah? I mean, all that stuff I just said—”

Other than food.”

This might deserve more musin’, after all. Ya turn to Rinnosuke. “Hey, Mac, is there anywhere you wanna see?”

“Not particularly,” Rinnosuke says.

Ya look back at Keine. And, with the forthrightest air of whaddya-gonna-do, ya shrug.

***
>> No. 30467
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30467
This is how ya festivate: First, ya eat yakitori. Then, ya eat more yakitori. Then ya eat food from the stall a coupla stalls down, which isn’t yakitori but tastes pretty good anyways.

It’s the stall after that where Keine begs off, mid-chowdown. Specifically: She apologizes, while your mouths’re full (some fuller than others, Rumia) and says that she’s gotta go, ‘cause she’s got “responsibilities.” Which might be true. If she’s a major factor of this fête goin’ on swimmingly, she can’t spend the whole night hangin’ out, even if it’s with the three awesomest dudes in Gensokyo.

Then again, maybe she’s just fleein’. She’s real hurried ‘bout that departure.

Then again then again, responsibilities.

Anyways, with Keine outta the ‘quation, stuff gets a lot less conversive. Turns out she was providin’ the majority of the verbage, and now that she’s not a thing anymore, most of what comes outta your three’s lips is just, “food, please,” and “how much,” and “thank you,” and “that’s good” (‘cept for one stall where ya hit something ya didn’t ‘spect to be so spicy, where your utterin’ lies more along the path of “sweet Christmas, Mac, hydration, stat!” but that’s the sorta risk ya run when you’re foodily adventurous). Ya don’t know how much time it takes, ‘zactly, but ya reach a point eventually where ya look down at the space food used to be and realize that fittin’ in another morsel’s gonna be straight up impossible.

“Well, Mac, I’m stuffed,” ya cheer. “Whaddya wanna do now?”

“I should be asking you that question,” says Rinnosuke, ‘round the hand holdin’ up his chin. Dude was the first of you three to stop eatin’, something like four or five stalls back—since then, he’s been patiently hostin’ your expedition. And fundin’ it, too.

Aw, man, all that effort ya put into figurin’ out how to pay ‘im back—ya just undid it, didntcha? And then some. ‘Cept when ya say “some,” whatcha really mean is “super tunloads.”

Eh, no use worryin’ ‘bout it now, ya guess. If ya wanna balance your karma, you’re just gonna hafta start again from here. “I mean, we’ve been tourin’ nothing but food stands since we got here, Mac. Which—I am totally fine with, obvs, but isn’t there something you wanna do while the festival’s still rockin’?”

“I said it to Keine already, didn’t I? There wasn’t anything in particular I wanted to see here.”

“Nuts. Ya really meant that, huh?”

“You thought I didn’t mean it?”

“Well, ‘cause if ya hadn’t meant it, now I coulda tagged along with you, while you did something ya wanted to do—is what I figured.”

Rinnosuks sighs. “I didn’t want to come to the festival in the first place,” he sets down, firmly and nonnegotiably, and also he said that to Keine too, didn’t he? More or less.

He only came ‘cause you wanted. Ugh. Ya knew, but havin’ it thrown righteously in your mug like this, ya can’t feel anything but a heel.

Well, now that you’ve confronted the ish, there isn’t anything left ya can do ‘cept to wind this event down. “Alright,” ya say. “Ya wanna go home, then, Mac?”

Rinnosuke considers this. Then he looks at Rumia, who’s, of course, still vittle-inhalin’ with the ease of a baleen whale on a krill feed—at least till she notices the eyes lightin’ on ‘er. She finishes the last of her little tasty batterball things (that no doubt’ve got a proper Japanese name thatcha weren’t listenin’ to) and looks back up at where the gaze’s comin’ from all like—

“Hmm?”

“Are you full yet?” Rinnosuke asks.

“No.”

Which is kinda whatcha ‘spected, but still impressive. ’Specially considerin’ that Rumia’s rate of eatage has been outflyin’ yours this whole time.

Prolly not good news for Rinnosuke, though. Ya see ‘im heave a hefty sigh, slumpin’ in his steps with the weight of it. And then he straightens up, reachin’ for his change—

“Are we leaving?”

And then Rinnosuke looks back, ‘cause he’s gotta look back, ‘cause Rumia isn’t to his side anymore. She’s stepped away from the food stall—back, natch—and now she’s floatin’ there, toes grazin’ the ground, hands folded in front of her—komon, right? Anyways, lookin’ at ‘er, it’s pretty much amazin’ how much she looks the very model of a very well-mannered young dude and not like actually a dude that eats other dudes occasionally and also that spent the latest chunk of time stuffin’ her mug royal.

Rinnosuke stares. The hand reachin’ for his money stops reachin’ and settles. “Are you finished?” he asks, trailin’ off at the end, like that’s where he realized that him hopin’ on her is maybe not supposta be happenin’ here, generally.

“Nothing ever finishes,” says Rumia, smilin’.

“Are you finished eating.”

“Ah.” And Rumia tilts her head to ponder this, just for a sec. “Yes,” she says.

“But you’re still hungry,” Rinnosuke says.

“I’m always hungry,” says Rumia. There’s something funny ‘bout her smile, now thatcha look at it. Something lopsided, if you’ve gotta say—but before you can say for sure, she closes her eyes. “Et respondit ad illum Jesus: Scriptum est: Quia non in solo pane vivit homo, sed in omni verbo Dei.

Which, y’know, what that means you dunno, ‘cause Latin. But with that, the whole Rumia-eatin’ matter’s settled, basically, so Rinnosuke nods the stallkeep an awkward goodbye, and you and him and Rumia start makin’ steady tracks in the direction home. Rummia settles between ya, electin’ not to hover for once, not even on her toes, her (not-old-timey-Japanese-lookin’) shoes kissin’ the ground solid as she takes up the middle of your peloton.

And that’s that, basically, as ya clear the stands and lights and the thickest parts of the crowd. Ya mosey with care down the grand stone stairway—Rumia hoppin’ the steps, ‘cause she doesn’t hafta worry ‘bout gravity, or any bruise-breakin’, bone-shatterin’ sudden stops comin’ consequential of a slip of the sole, the lucky dude—and by the time ya get to the bottom, with the noise and sight hidden by the whole ascent behind ya, the whole night feels almost like it didn’t happen. Like a dream, is what you’re sayin’. You’d nearly bet on it, if it wasn’t for the other dudes on the same path as you doin’ similar—walkin’ for home.

But then, of course, Rinnosuke guides ya off the path and into the line of trees borderin’ it, and ya step into the forest and—that’s it. Those dudes you were talkin’ ‘bout, just a sec ago? They might as well not exist anymore. Or not have existed anymore, ever, ‘cause that’s infinitely more terrifyin’, and also just as possible in a place like this where flying’s a thing and so is magic—

Okay, ya know what? That’s not a productive line of thought. For serious. You’re just gonna abort, if ya don’t mind. Which ya don’t.

Unfortunately, without something so solid and-slash-or terrifyin’ to fix on, your mind wanders easy, and it isn’t long till you’re back on the topic of host-inconveniencin’ houseguests and how ya far basically pretty solid into that category. What can ya do? Apologize?

Yeah, that’d be a start, actually. “Sorry, Mac.”

Rinnosuke turns his head sharp youwards, like he forgot you were there, or didn’t ‘spect to hear from you, at least. Which—ya kinda understand. You’re kinda surprised the trees didn’t just swallow up the decibels instantly somehow yourself, to be honest.

“What are you apologizing for?” Rinnosuke asks.

And with the dude’s face formed in something like actual passin’ confusion—wow, guilt. “Y’know, for makin’ ya bring me to the fair,” ya say. “I really shoulda figured ya didn’t wanna go from the start of it, right? ‘Cept I didn’t, so I sorta just dragged ya out here, so—I’m sorry?”

Wait, why’dja say that like a question? That was totally not a question.

“I’m sorry.”

And that’s successfully not a question, but also it’s severely lackin’. In ways.

“I’m seriously sorry.”

Better. Only, Rinnosuke’s mug, rather than clearin’ into a ‘spression of oh-right-that’s-true, settles even more thoroughly into that confused direction it’s already gone some distance in. “I still don’t see why you’re apologizing,” he sighs. “I was the one who offered to take you, in the first place.”

“Yeah, but ya wouldnta offered if I hadn’t made a whole stink about it the first night, right? So it’s my fault again.”

“You were quick enough to stop when I told you why I was leaving alone the first night, so I’m not sure anything you did qualified as a ‘stink.’ Besides, it was my choice whether to take you—I could have just as easily put an end to the matter entirely.”

“Yeah, but...” Dude, just accept the classification of this as douchery, already. “Like, ya coulda spent tonight indoors doin’ whatever instead of gettin’ dragged out here by yours truly, right? I stole that from you.”

“Well, it’s not as if I would have accomplished much of anything, anyway,” Rinnosuke mutters. Then, at regular volume: “And...it wasn’t as bothersome for me as you’re making it sound. There were parts that were interesting. The part about the potatoes, for example.”

“Ya wanna hear more ‘bout potatoes, Mac? ‘Cause I can do that.”

“Well, it wouldn’t have to be potatoes, necessarily—” He breaks off there, maybe sensin’ that he is sorta not landin’ it with this consolation, possibly, and switches tracks. “But if you feel guilty, there is something you could do for me.”

Your chance at redemption. “Hit me.”

“Could you sort through my collection of compact discs? Some of them are missing cases, and I can’t tell the difference between the ones that play music and the ones that don’t.”

And if that’s all he wants outta you, you can totally fulfill. It’s not gonna make up for you existin’ in inconvenient ways, but it’s a start, at least. “No problemo, Mac! I’ll get right on that—as soon as we land home.

“It doesn’t have to be done that soon. Just sooner rather than later, preferably.”

“Hey, if you’ve gotta pull off a job, better sooner than leavin’ it hangin’ over your head for weeks, right? So it’ll make me feel something like loads better, too.”

“Really?”

“Seriously.”

Rinnosuke hmms, and nods. “Then you do can do as you’d like,” he says, gently, and it’s not like he breaks into a sudden shiny toothy ecstasy-beamin’ smile, but—

Well, ya feel better ‘bout this, too.

Ya nearly start as a hand slips into yours. It’s a cool thing, cool enough that for the first moment ya barely notice it from the cold, winter-approachin’ air ‘round it. But then ya note: feelin’, and fingers, and ya glance over.

Rumia looks back from her spot next to you. Her eyes flicker down to the link she’s makin’, then up at your mug again.

I want to hear more about potatoes,” she says.

Huh. “Double no-problemo, dude,” ya say. “Ever heard of french fries?”

She hasn’t. It’s awesome. You’re no psychologist, obvs, but you’re pretty sure her mind? Blown.
>> No. 30468
>Quia non in solo pane vivit homo

Never thought I'd read Rumia, of all people, saying this. She really is taken with those two.

Also, I'm surprised she hasn't heard about Fried goodness. Good on Chris for preachin'
>> No. 30469
I felt really bad for Eine Kleine Keine.
>> No. 30478
>>30467
>Et respondit ad illum Jesus: Scriptum est: Quia non in solo pane vivit homo, sed in omni verbo Dei.

While I realize our intrepid heroine is less than adept re: Latin gobbledygook, I think she's still sharp enough to notice if somebody namedrops the big man himself in the middle.

Where'd this dude get a Bible from anyhow.
>> No. 30479
Too bad the meat juice idea didn't pan out.
>> No. 30488
Perhaps the "Holy Bible in Latin and English :, Volume 3"

Et respondit ad illum Jesus: Scriptum est: Quia non in solo pane vivit homo, sed in omni verbo Dei

And Jesus answered him: It is written, that Man liveth not by bread alone, but by every word of God.

Meat idea would've been funny, but at least it all kinda turned out alright, except for Keine
>> No. 30494
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30494
>>30488
>>30489
>>30490
>>30491
You know you can delete posts right you fat fucking retard
>> No. 30495
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30495
>>30494
that's four posts, you can only delete the most recent one if you know the given password

I think it changes every time, so in this case flagging down a mod to eliminate the extraneous posts would be the best solution
>> No. 30496
>>30495
It changes every time for you? It doesn't change every time for me.
>> No. 30510
File 151114727370.gif - (2.96MB, 480x320, tumblr_ou6pko9k4R1rrftcdo1_500.gif) [iqdb]
30510
We're at "240 posts omitted," so I'ma just bump more or less meaninglessly so this thread doesn't end up over the next thread. That fine with everyone?

Yeah?

Okay.
>> No. 30511
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30511
That said, I can't believe we've made it all the way to the end of a fourth thread. I'm really genuinely thankful to you all for sticking around. This story wouldn't be half of what it's been without your reactions, discussions, and theories.
>> No. 30512
File 151114803868.webm - (2.01MB, 93 - oh no.webm) [iqdb]
30512
Sadly, the next update may be a bit delayed (even more than usual). My laptop has run into a few...

...circumstances.
>> No. 30513
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30513
Don't despair, though! I'll still be here, watching over my threads, like Mufasa watching over Simba!

I.e. technically present but unable to actually do much of anything.
>> No. 30514
File 151114901354.gif - (1.82MB, 400x225, tumblr_omewejVZzC1s02vreo1_400.gif) [iqdb]
30514
>> No. 30515
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30515
>> No. 30516
>>30512
That sucks, but wow that webm just about sinks up to Peter Gabriel's "Sledgehammer" and that's kinda neat.
>> No. 30517
>>30516
Speaking of Peter Gabriel, have you listened to "Scratch My Back"? I like it, although he gets a bit overdramatic and moany at points.
>> No. 30518
File 151115483928.jpg - (14.97KB, 480x255, tumblr_o1f8wijfe71rqpaa6o1_500.jpg) [iqdb]
30518
Whoops, sorry, I was on the phone with tech support. Now, where was I?

Oh, right. Bumping until autosage.
>> No. 30519
I like this story. Hello, author.
>> No. 30520
File 15111553061.png - (36.35KB, 229x306, 019.png) [iqdb]
30520
One for luck.
>> No. 30526
Link to new thread: >>30521
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