[x] Accept the invitation, you want to meet her too.
Why not? The more people you know, the better.
“Sure, I'll go back with you. I want to meet this Satori,” you say, and Rin rolls up her wheelbarrow again. Right.
“Well get in then!” she exclaims, smiling broadly. You really need to work on increasing your spiritual power so you can fly properly one of these days, but for now you can bear this situation a little more. You drop yourself into the basket of the handcart and Rin lifts you into the air alongside Utsuho, and the three of you are off. The flight doesn't take too long, just a few minutes, and you find yourself looking at a large mansion-like estate past the edges of the subterranean village.
“We're home!” Utsuho calls out, flying in through the large open doors rather than landing outside like Rin. You let yourself out of the wheelbarrow and walk alongside Rin as she enters. You're greeted by a veritable army of youkai and animals, all of whom seem curious about your presence. You can hear some muttering among them, the topic naturally being about you. Lead through them all, you're brought to a small door across the entry lobby, and Rin opens the door. Inside is a rather well decorated room, a sitting room of some kind. A lone girl sits inside reading, short pink hair, blue shirt, and some... kind of eye and tubes running everywhere. What.
“Hello Rin,” the girl says, looking up from her book, then looking at you, “and hello to you too.”
“This is Satori,” Rin says, gesturing towards the girl. She barely looks out of her teens, and she lives alone in a place like this? With all these pets?
“I was interested in meeting the man that had taken on the job of helping my pets,” she says, standing up while gesturing to a chair across from her. “Please, take a seat, I shall return with some tea.” Might as well. You take a few steps towards the chair, leaving Rin by the door. Satori heads over to a second door in the back of the room and exits as you take a seat. Before you can even start to get bored of waiting, she's returned carrying a tray, bearing a pot and several cups.
“That was pretty quick,” you say, to which Satori nods slightly.
“Thanks to Okuu, we always have hot water on hand, it's just a matter of steeping the tea,” Satori explains, setting the tray down on a table and pouring out cups. As she does, you realize the smell of the tea, a kind you use at home yourself. Tsukiko got you into it.
“This is pretty convenient, making a tea I'm familiar with,” you say with a grin as Satori pushes your cup towards you.
“I figured you'd appreciate it,” she says with a smile of her own, “far from home as you are, little comforts go a long way.” That catches you by surprise for a second, until you recall something Rin had said earlier, a joke she was playing on Utsuho by calling you a mind reader 'like Satori'. So she's been reading your mind? Satori averts her eyes, taking on a guilty expression. Yes, she is. “I'm sorry,” she says quietly, “I'm just accustomed to doing it, I don't mean to pry.”
“I'm not mad,” you say, taking a sip from your tea, “I just forgot that you were able to, it must be pretty convenient.” Satori takes a few seconds to drink her own tea, then sighs.
“It's a blessing and a curse,” she says, “animals without their own voice are happy to be understood, but humans and other youkai get scared and angry at my power. That's why... we live down here.”
“We?” you ask.
“My sister, Koishi, had the same ability, but she's since shut her third eye,” Satori explains, tapping the eye... thing over her chest. “She no longer reads surface thoughts, her power extends much deeper into the mind.”
“I don't get why people would be so troubled by it,” you say, reclining slightly in the chair. Feels good to just relax after the work you've been putting in.
“You're one of a rare few that feel that way,” Satori says, “many people are troubled by having their thoughts read. They hold their privacy as sacred, and take great offense at the knowledge that I might know their secrets,” Satori pauses, looking down into her tea. “It also causes me some trouble, seeing what others are thinking. Their unsavory thoughts and desires. It frightens me just as much sometimes to see what some people consider doing, to me or to others.” That would be hard, you imagine. You think to yourself over the tea, how you would handle such a thing. Granted, it would make your dealing with people much smoother, being able to act on whatever they might want to resolve issues quickly and efficiently, but how far would you go? Your mind wanders to Tsukiko, you know you'd like to know what's going through her mind at times.
“That does sound like a lot of trouble,” you say after a while.
“That's why I live in seclusion from the rest of the village. The animals that come to me are always grateful and happy, and aside from their bouts of troublesome behaviour, their minds are simple and straightforward. The oni as well are fairly pleasant to deal with, being honourable and honest,” Satori say, “the oni don't appreciate it though most of the time. It's the other youkai that are the most troublesome.”
“Let's not worry about all this anymore, right now,” you say, moving to change the topic. “I can understand why people might be upset over your power, but right now that's not a problem. In fact, I feel a little jealous.”
“Oh, there's nothing to be jealous of,” Satori replies.
“Sure there is. It might be a hassle to deal with being able to see everyone's thoughts, but at the same time you could make so many people happy with your power,” you say, “look at your pets, for example. They're happy to be understood, you said. If I could read minds like that, I'd try to use it to help people's wishes come true.” Satori doesn't reply, instead taking a long sip of her tea.
“I suppose that would be true,” she says, “it would be possible.” You finish off your cup of tea, and lean forward to put the cup back on the tray.
“If you could show that you are not to be feared, eventually, opinions will change,” you state, sitting back again. Once more Satori is silent.
“You take on quite a number of odd jobs, it seems,” Satori says after a few moments silence. “It's just the two of you?”
“Ah, yeah,” you reply, caught a little off guard by the sudden change of topic.
“Perhaps something like that might be good for me too,” Satori says, smiling slightly.
“Hey, I'd be glad to help out if you're going to be looking to help people,” you say, to which Satori chuckles slightly.
“I already knew you'd offer help,” she says.
“Well, I suppose you would,” you retort with a smirk.
“I should let you go now, it's been nice talking to you, you've given me something good to think about,” Satori says, setting her own cup down. You slide out of your chair, give a slight bow and head back towards the door to the lobby. Rin is still standing by, and she opens the door for you and follows you out.
“Seems like things are going to get busy around here,” Rin says as you walk back across the lobby. The group that had gathered before has mostly dispersed, and those that remain are no longer as interested in you as they had been at first.
“I'd imagine so,” you say, and the rest of the short walk is made in silence.
“I'll bring you back to Yuugi, and she can take care of you from there,” Rin says as the two of you exit. You're less than eager to get back into the wheelbarrow, but at the very least you're pleased with the fact that this should be the last time you'll have to travel like this.
A short flight later and you're dropped off back out front of Yuugi's home. Rin departs with a wave, and you head back to the building to find the making of another party underway already. Yuugi is at the front of the house thankfully and notices your approach, and moves to intercept.
“Yo, completed the job?” she asks, to which you nod.
“Took a while, but I managed to help track two of them down, the third was caught on her own,” you explain, and Yuugi laughs.
“Ah, well that's good. How do you like the underground?” she asks next.
“It's... interesting,” you say, “a village of youkai? It reminds me of the surface, except we don't have a roof.”
“It's a pretty rowdy place down here at times, especially on festivals,” Yuugi chuckles, “you caught it during a quiet time. Well, mostly.”
“Mostly?” you ask, though you're sure you already know where this is going.
“We're having a party here tonight, as usual,” Yuugi comments with a grin, “if you want to have a true taste of the underground, you could stick around for it.” A party in the underground, huh? You'd likely be the only human among a bunch of rowdy, drunk youkai. That would definitely make for an interesting experience, but you've already been down here for one night, and if you do stay, you'll probably end up being down here for another.
 Stick around and party, why not?  You'd rather pass and go back home.
Decided to just start a new thread, since it was less than 20 away from autosage, and I wanted to actually give it a title + picture.
>>25750 A party full of Oni and Youkai being uninhibited due to too much alcohol? Might be because I read Underground LA, but I rather get a headache from dealing with our tsuntsun Shikigami than from an all too "friendly" Oni's/Youkai's headbutt.
“Sorry, I just want to get back home and rest,” you say, bowing slightly. Yuugi chuckles.
“No sweat, I'm sure it's probably a little intimidating for a human. The underground is youkai land,” Yuugi says, brushing some of her hair back over her shoulder. “It's not like parties are a rare thing down here either, you can always come back some other time, I'd be glad to welcome you,” Yuugi pauses for a second, then her smile widens, “you'll probably be wanting me to fly you back to the surface, right?”
“Uh, yeah,” you mutter, increasingly annoyed at your handicap. This has to change, shit, even children here can fly and you're stuck hopping around to get places. Yuugi just laughs it off and turns back to the house.
“Give me a second, I'll get your pay,” she says, then heads back into the house. You hear her shouting inside for everyone to pitch in some cash, and several seconds later she emerges with a wad of cash, “here you are!” She hands it over with a smile, several thousand yen worth of bills in her hand. You quickly tally it up in your head at a glance, this is quite a bit, more than you'd expected. You could live a month off this much money. You look up with a bit of surprise to see Yuugi's grin.
“You know, typically I don't get paid this much for animal control,” you state.
“Don't worry about it,” Yuugi scoffs. You pocket the money regardless, still surprised at the amount of happy to get it. Yuugi floats into the air and takes you up with her, practically tossing you single handed to get you into an easy-to-carry position with her arms hooked under your shoulders.
“Whoa, damn, you could have warned me first,” you complain, but Yuugi just laughs. You finally notice the smell of alcohol coming off of her.
“Going up is a lot faster than coming down,” she says as she lifts you into the air and drifts towards the large hole in the cave ceiling. You brace yourself as much as possible in your position as the two of you enter the shaft at increasing speed. The light fades quickly, leaving you in the dark for several seconds before you can see again faintly. In the distance above you can see a small spot of light where the shaft exits to the surface, growing larger by the second. Yuugi was right, she is going a lot faster than the descent. Within minutes you clear the surface and rocket up into the evening sky, where Yuugi arcs out over the surface and carries you towards the human village.
“How often do you come to the surface?” you ask out of curiosity.
“Often enough,” Yuugi answers vaguely, “I can't really say when though, it's spur of the moment more or less.”
“I see,” you reply as the two of you close on the village. A few seconds later and you're flying over the street towards the bar where you first encountered Yuugi.
“I'll drop you off here,” she says, lowering towards the street. Before you can reply, she literally drops you, still a distance from the ground. While you do manage to land safely by being able to slow your fall as you do when gliding, the initial panic of sudden freefall has your heart racing. You look back to see Yuugi already vanishing into the distance. At the very least you suppose you can say that she did warn you first this time. You take a few seconds to orient yourself and make your way back home.
The brief walk has you finding you're hungry, and the smell of some food gets stronger the closer you get to home. It brings a smile to your face to realize that it is in fact coming from your place. That makes you all the more eager to get inside. You step up to the door, slide it open and step in. As you do, you find yourself entering quite the situation. Tsukiko's eyes are locked on yours in an expression of surprise that is quickly overridden with embarrassment as you realize that in place of her typical vest and shorts is a rather girly looking one piece dress that she was apparently in the middle of admiring in a mirror located in the main living area.
“Ah, wa, I-” Tsukiko stammers, looking down at herself, then at you, then slowly edging back towards the door to her room.
“So, uh, do you usually play dress up while I'm out?” you ask with a smirk.
“I was just trying it on!” she cries in response. “My sisters were going to donate some old clothes, I thought it would be a waste to let them all go, and I saw this, so I... well, I kind of...” she stammers. You nod in an exaggerated fashion, an action that seems to irritate her even more and get her more flustered and serves to make her hurry towards her door.
“Hey! Hold on a minute,” you say, kicking off your shoes in the door and taking a few steps forward. Tsukiko stops at her door, halfway into her room and peeking around the frame.
 “It wouldn't hurt to dress a little differently now and then, you know.”  “I think you look pretty cute in that, actually.”  “Got anything with a shorter skirt?”  “Needs more lace.”
I sat here for like 10 minutes debating whether or not to add  "Can I try it on in you don't want it?"
[X] “You look good. Really good. I know you might feel awkward about it, but seeing you in something that emphasizes how pretty you are is kind of nice. I wouldn't mind seeing it more often."
No use holding back.
“You look good,” you say, “really good, actually.” Tsukiko seems a bit surprised and embarrassed, but she stays in sight. “I know you're not really the 'girly' type, but I think that's why it looks so good. You don't need to be embarrassed,” you continue, removing the sword from your waist and setting it against the wall. Tsukiko slowly steps out of the doorway back into the living room.
“You really think it looks that good?” she asks, looking down at herself again and smoothing out the dress a little. Her face is nearly as red as her hair, and she's hesitant to make eye contact, but she's not trying to hide herself anymore.”It's kind of... airy...”
“I think it makes you look quite pretty,” you say, closing the distance more between the two of you. Tsukiko shies away from you slightly as you approach. Up close you get a better idea of why she might be as embarrassed as she is, as you notice she's not wearing her typical undergarments. Even though she has a small figure to begin with, she typically tapes down her chest anyway as a convenience. “The fit compliments you nicely,” you add, smiling at her. She looks up at you, then diverts her eyes out of embarrassment.
“Thank you,” Tsukiko says quietly, stepping away again, “but, I'm still going to get changed.”
“Well, that's fine, I got to see a rare sight, so I'm fulfilled for the day,” you quip, looking back towards the kitchen. Tsukiko wastes no time hopping back into her room and closing the door. You might as well check on what's cooking in the mean time, but you still have one last thing to say, turning your head back to Tsukiko's door. “I'd like to see you dress like that a little more often, if it's no trouble,” you state. You wait for an answer, but none comes. Shrugging, you decide to leave the issue as it is, and take a step towards the kitchen.
“Okay,” Tsukiko replies through the door, almost inaudibly. You smile to yourself and continue towards the kitchen. Seems like a rather simple meal going on, miso soup and rice. You find it slightly amusing that given her talent in cooking she eats very plain meals on her own, though you can't argue the logic of such a thing. No need for anything fancy when you're cooking for one. A few minutes later and Tsukiko emerges, dressed in a sleeveless shirt and short pants. She still looks a little red-faced, but isn't as openly shy.
“Smells good,” you say, stepping aside as she takes over. It's pretty much done, anyway.
“I wasn't expecting you to come back as soon as you did, actually,” Tsukiko says, “I only made enough for me, so...” she looks aside at you, smiling, “I suppose I might have made a bit too much for just me.” You smile back, not going to turn down the offer. You're thankful as well for her typical appetite, she only needs to portion out a third of what she has for you to be full. The two of you head to the table with your food and take seats. Your meal is mostly silent, and Tsukiko's remaining blush eventually fades as the meal wears on. You figure now is a good a time as any.
“Pretty good, but rather plain,” you say, reclining slightly as you push aside one empty bowl.
“I didn't feel like walking off to the grocer to get more things, and we can't really afford a lot of luxury anyway,” Tsukiko states, looking up from her food. “We can go quite a while on the basics, I could try spicing it up a bit more, I suppose.”
“Well then,” you say, reaching one hand into your pocket and grabbing the stack of bills. With a flourish, you lay the money on the table, and Tsukiko practically spits soup when she sees it.
“Is that your pay!?” she cries, reaching to pick up the stack and flip through it. You can see a whole new hunger in her eyes as she counts the total, which you do as well. You only had a rough idea, but as Tsukiko goes through it you get an exact count. Tsukiko issues a stunned laugh.
“That's the pay I got for this job. Blew my mind too,” you admit, trying to sound casual.
“Was it that dangerous?” she asks, both excited and confused. You just shrug.
“Honestly? I hardly did anything. I contributed as best as I could, but the others did most of the heavy lifting,” you continue, “I guess they just pay really well, or, well, I don't even know.”
“This is a lot of money,” Tsukiko says, eying the wad of cash again.
“Which is why we should spend it carefully. We can stretch it out as long as possible,” you say, and Tsukiko nods.
“Yeah, I'll try to plan out a rough spending guide, see how long we can extend this amount,” she says, returning to her food. She eats much quicker now, with a goal in mind. The way she's getting worked up over managing finances makes you smile, she kind of reminds you...
“You're turning into a housewife now?” you ask nonchalantly, which again causes Tsukiko to choke a little, backed up by blush once more.
“I'm a young woman managing her finances!” she retorts quickly, but sporting a slight smile at the same time. “Just because I'm young doesn't mean I should be foolish with money.”
“I suppose you're right,” you say with a smirk, returning to finish your rice. Sliding away a second empty bowl, you sit back a little. Tsukiko's still working through her rice, having finished her own miso. You decide to clear off the table and carry the dishes off to the kitchen, washing them up while you're there. Tsukiko comes after you've finished to wash the last of her dishes, and then heads over to a bookshelf to pick up some paper and get to work. You leave this to her, she's much faster at it than you in the first place, and a life of working in her father's restaurant leaves her with a good knowledge of prices. You'd just be consulting her opinions if you did it anyway, so you decide to just find a way to kill time, possibly for the rest of the night.
 Write in
I think this might have turned out a little better than expected.
I always find when I'm writing this and it comes to killing time during quiet period when nothing is really going on is kind of... eh. How do you spend time in a permanent Meiji era Japan pocket dimension, with no television or games? Read, sure, practice something. Drink, eat. I think I'm going to need to come up with some kind of other timesink idea that could reliably be used to kill spare time, kind of like the cyberpet business in Gensou Coil.
This is a hard one since we don't know what kind of books are in the house or if he managed to pick up anything like legos or Jenga. Sure there may not be video games, but Rinnosuke might have a few board games and such.
> Kick back, close your eyes, and fantasize about Tsukiko in skimpier clothes than she would ever wear, servicing you in ways she wouldn't dare.
Cannot do anything with Tsukiko directly now that she is calculating, so this vote is the best one so far I think. How did they pass time when not working before?
I do see some problems now though, with the need to work essentially at a minimum for a while. As I see it their life mainly consisted of eating, sleeping and working, with perhaps some semblance of an occassional date when they got some spare money and time. So how are we and Tsukiko going to spend our time outside of working for what, the next couple of months? Or are we going to directly continue working hard in hopes of earning enough money to expand our house, buy a fridge, some kitchen utensils and ultimately the double bed- wait...
[X] Kick back, close your eyes, and fantasize about Tsukiko in skimpier clothes than she would ever wear, servicing you in ways she wouldn't dare.
You drop yourself into a chair and kick back. There's not a whole lot you feel up to doing at the moment, so you do the one thing that comes naturally for a guy; fantasize about women. One in particular, as it happens, the one sitting at the small table no more than eight feet behind you. You've always been fairly proud of the power of your own imagination, why not put it to use? Your memory of her in the dress she had on earlier is still fresh enough that you can see it clearly when you close your eyes. It really was quite a surprise, seeing her like that, compared to her normal self. It had the look of a more modern dress, like something you'd see in the outside world. A fairly low cut spaghetti strap one piece, though Tsukiko's breasts aren't so big that they'd take full advantage of the low neckline, it wasn't so large that it hid her figure either. You've occasionally had thoughts about Tsukiko's body before, but you've never seen her in anything more than an overlarge shirt. Your mind starts to wander into other things you'd like to see her wear.
The first thing to come to mind is a swimsuit, though things like that are fairly uncommon in Gensokyo as it were, given the locals preferences to simply chill their bath water rather than go swimming, and if they did they just went in their undergarments, or in some cases completely nude. Both thoughts are fairly nice, but they can't quite match the charm of a swimsuit. You imagine Tsukiko's wear something in red, but you're torn between a one-piece or a bikini. Both would be nice, regardless. You're more partial to bikinis as it happens, and you'd imagine that Tsukiko would too, given that a one piece would be harder to accommodate a tail with. While it's on your mind, you realize what an opportunity Tsukiko's tail would create with skirts, particularly a miniskirt. You can see it in your mind, her tail peeking out from underneath, pulling up the edges slightly. Ah man, what would be a great sight, you can't imagine what it would take to find one, let alone get her to wear something like that. You have visions of a miniskirted maid outfit, or at least the semblance of one. You proceed with this mental dress up and eventually drift into more daring realms, imagining what you would be doing in such situations, having Tsukiko dressed up in all manner of skimpy or sexy outfits. You couldn't possibly come out with any of this now, whatever there is between the two of you is closer to friendship for now, so that would have to change first. That would...
You open your eyes some time later to deep darkness. You've drifted off to sleep it seems, as you sit forward in your chair, rubbing your eyes. You're a little embarrassed that you drifted off like that, but you suppose that it might have been better like this. For a moment, you wonder if you missed anything important, then slide from your chair and head back to your room, and get into bed. You fall back to sleep rather quickly, accompanied by more dreams of your red-headed wolf girl.
It's some time after sunrise when you next wake up. You lay in bed for a few minutes to listen for any sign of movement in the house to see if Tsukiko's awake yet, but hear nothing. You roll out of bed and head to the door. Seems it's not that long after sunrise, doesn't seem like too many people are up and moving around at all. You head into the main living area and cross it to the front door. The paper is waiting outside, as usual. You snatch it up and head back inside. Given how much money you brought home yesterday, technically you don't need to find another job, but as you look at the paper in your hand, you can't help but think that it would be better to just find something to pass the time.
 Look for something quick and easy.  Look to see if there's anything else well paying.  No jobs today, you're taking a break.  Wait for Tsukiko to wake up before deciding.
You're not going to bother with looking for another job at the moment, not until Tsukiko wakes up at least. You'll wait to hear what she might have to say on the matter. For now, you just sit back and read the paper, glossing over a few news stories about slightly outdated events and other pieces of news you're not really familiar with. You're not finished with it yet when you hear movement from the room behind you, and the door slides open a few seconds later.
“You fell asleep early,” Tsukiko says with a slight grumble.
“Sorry about that, I suppose I shouldn't have closed my eyes,” you apologize, folding up the paper, “so how'd the planning go?”
“We could extend the money we have now out for two and a half months spending reasonably,” she recalls from memory, “almost four months if we keep going as we have been.”
“That's quite some time,” you say, reflecting on the thought of taking a month off from working to just relax. As much as it sounds appealing, you don't think you could handle it. Admittedly, working is a new necessity in life, something to keep you from going nuts with the otherwise nothing there is to do. Even though you're been in Gensokyo for little over a year and a half, you still find yourself missing the conveniences of modern life now and then. Granted, the Kappa did harness nuclear energy, but with nothing to use it with, it's just a luxury for now. If only you could get your hands on a working TV, and maybe a DVD player or a VCR. You know Rinnosuke has a library of various movies that have fallen through, but most technology that comes through is damaged, either by it's arrival or simply wearing away in nature before anyone finds it. “Say, Tsukiko, you think I should take some time off?” you ask.
“Hmm? I don't know, do you want to?” she replies with her own question.
“Kinda yes and kinda no,” you reply, sighing, “I don't really know what I'd do with free time though.”
“Then why not just work? Why ask me?” Tsukiko retorts. Well fine, that settles it, you suppose. You flip open the paper and get looking for the ad section. As usual, there's a number of help wanted postings, including the ever present ad for a live-in maid position at the Scarlet Devil Mansion.
One particular ad catches your attention, one that runs fairly often and is always put in by the same familiar face.
“Keiji's advertising for deliveryboys again,” you say aloud.
“I wonder what's going on this time,” Tsukiko grumbles, “you going to take the offer?”
“Why not?” you ask, folding the paper up and dropping it next to your chair, “simple enough stuff. Not like I have to break my back working right now.”
“Well, whatever you want to do,” she says, shuffling off to the kitchen. With that said, you stand up and get ready to leave. Once you're ready, you slip on your shoes and head out. Even though it's still fairly early, Keiji's place was always open, one of the perks of not only a large family operated restaurant, but also one staffed by youkai. You travel into the heart of the village, where there's still signs of life, the early risers working to get their businesses ready and open for the day, alongside the youkai-centric businesses either still open or ready to close until night. Keiji's restaurant still has business at this time, as you see a few people entering and leaving as you approach. You enter through the front doors as well coming to find the usual breakfast crowd.
“Ah, hello Patrick!” a girl calls out from across the dining area. One of Tsukiko's sisters, Hanako. She's got the same family traits, red hair, grey wolf ears and a tail, however her hair is kept in a neat bun. She also wears glasses. Seems she's on the counter today. “How can I help you?”
“I'm here about Keiji's ad, looking for a deliveryman?” you explain, and Hanako nods, then walks to one end of the counter.
“I should have figured you'd come calling on that,” she says with a smile, “you been doing alright?”
“Yeah, I got a huge payment the other day for a simple job, Tsukiko was happy about that,” you say, smiling yourself now.
“Oh? That's good!” Hanako replies, “Tsukiko'd come by a day or so ago to kick around, since she said you'd been gone on a job for a day and was bored. She was grumbling about how little money you had.”
“Really now?” you ask, a little surprised. She must have forgotten to mention that part to you, you're going to need to make sure to remember to ask Tsukiko about that when you get back home. The two of you enter the back of the shop, where the kitchen is already bustling with activity, far too much for simply tending to breakfast. The rest of the family is here, save for the Kikuo, their mother. Keiji, however...
“Yo Pat!” Keiji calls to you, spotting you through the chaos, “what's up? Come about the job?”
“Yeah,” you answer as Keiji makes his way towards you.
“It's a good thing you came early then, we've got some crazy luck,” Keiji says, nodding to Hanako, who then heads back out front. “Aside from handling the usual business of the day, I got an order for catering two different events. I put the ad out in advance, and it seems it was answered just in time, I don't have a single free pair of hands to carry orders for drop-ins.”
“Good thing I came when I did then,” you say.
“No joke there,” Keiji remarks, “so, how's my girl?” he asks, a wide grin crossing his face. “She's not giving you trouble is she?”
“She's fine,” you say, “we've been getting along well for a while now.”
“That's good to hear,” Keiji says happily, “when can I expect the pups?” Boy is it warm in this kitchen...
“Uh, well, I don't know about that,” you reply, on the defensive. You know Keiji's just messing with you, but still. You're not entirely sure if he does actually know what you think of Tsukiko... perhaps you should fill him in?
 Admit you have feelings for her.  State that you're just on friendly terms.  You're not really sure you could be with a youkai.
“There's actually something I want to tell you, Keiji,” you say, lowering your voice slightly. He catches on quickly, putting his arm over your shoulder and leading you away from the noise, to a corner of the kitchen.
“What's up?” he asks, letting go of you and stepping out in front of you, “something troubling you?”
“Truth is, I really think I'm falling for Tsukiko,” you admit, looking over the kitchen to see if anyone else is listening. Granted, they're all her family, brothers and sisters, but you still feel embarrassed even bringing this up with her father. Keiji himself gains a wide smile. “Problem is, I don't know how to get her to accept my feelings. She seems very reluctant to actually consider some kind of relationship.” Keiji's grin softens a bit, but remains present.
“Now, don't take this wrong,” Keiji says, folding his arms over his chest, “I can't really blame her for being reluctant about this. Not that you're to blame for it, though, it's just a kind of natural thing for youkai,” he explains, “She'll outlive you, she'll outlive your children, and their children, so on and so forth. Your entire family line could wither away and die in a youkai's lifespan.”
“Yeah, that's one major problem she has,” you say, your head sagging a bit. It's really quite an insurmountable wall.
“Don't let that stop you!” Keiji suddenly demands, clapping a hand on your shoulder, “you're a good man, Pat, a good worker with a strong body and a strong spirit. Even though she's a youkai, my Tsukiko is still a girl, and any girl can fall easily for a good man that cares for them,” he says, withdrawing his hand and smiling proudly, “hell, even some men! If Kikuo weren't such a babe, I'd think about marrying you myself just to have another good man around!” Keiji declares, punctuated with a laugh.
“Your pep talks are something else, man,” you reply with a laugh of your own. Keiji recoils in mock horror.
“No way! Such an honest confession turned down like that!” Keiji cries, “well all the better! If I stole you away, then who'd be there for my little girl, huh?” he asks, extending his hand towards you. You take his hand, and he gives you a firm shake. “I'd be too glad to leave my girl in your hands.”
“I'll do my best,” you state, and Keiji releases your hand.
“Now then, have you eaten?” he asks. You unconsciously place your hand on your stomach. You hadn't thought of it, you left home without eating.
“No, actually,” you admit, and Keiji huffs.
“Then take a seat at the back, I'll throw something together for you,” he says, moving away into the kitchen. You head towards the back, where a small table meant for staff breaks and meals is located. In no time, Keiji comes by with a bowl of rice with natto and places it in front of you along with a spoon. Admittedly, you've become rather good with chopsticks, but nothing beats a spoon for shoveling food. You eat your meal fairly quickly, and take your dishes to the sink yourself. With that done, only a few more minutes pass before Keiji approaches carrying a large box.
“Order going out?” you ask, and Keiji nods.
“You got it, going to the address on the top here,” Keiji says, pointing out the spot on top where a location is written. You nod and take the box, then head off to the back door. The town is fairly small, compared to cities in the outside, thankfully, deliveries don't take too long. Especially not when you can jump over houses. You find the house no problem, make the delivery and head back, where you idle until the next order comes in. You had been surprised when you learned that Keiji was offering a delivery service, since at the time you hadn't thought it would be worthwhile with the lack of telephones or other kind of communication, but it still worked out. People drop in, leave an order with a time they want it delivered for, their payment, and then go about their business. Not exactly an instant service, but it makes quite a bit of money off people that don't want to worry about cooking and have some forethought.
Another order comes up as you're waiting, and you're off to deliver again. Another routine drop off, and an uneventful return. The process repeats several times as the day wears on, with the number of orders going out increases the closer it gets to mid day, to the point where you occasionally have to carry two deliveries for two separate places, only to rush back and claim a third before another is ready. You handle it well, however, with no major problems occurring. You only tripped once the whole day, on a return trip to the restaurant, a jump too low caught your foot on the top of a roof and sent you sprawling down the opposite side followed by a drop into the alley behind. Thankfully you weren't carrying anything at the time. Just as mid day arrives, the kitchen activity starts to let up as several boxes are set up and ready to go.
“Alright, this is an important delivery,” Keiji announces, calling the attention of everyone in the kitchen, “these orders are for the school. Ms. Kamishirasawa's having some kind of event today for her students. She didn't pay in advance, so you'll be collecting the cash from her,” he says, turning his attention to his two sons working in the kitchen, “Hisao, Masa, you'll be helping with the deliveries. The girls and I can handle the rest for now,” he adds, and the two men leave the kitchen and start getting ready to head out. The two older brothers of the family, admittedly you've never really talked to them much. Both of them naturally have the families trademark red hair, both worn short. You take up the first two boxes as you're joined by the others, and they take theirs.
“Doing good work so far today,” Masa says, nodding to you as the three of you head for the back doors.
“I think you two were doing a bit more work than I was,” you say, nodding slightly yourself, “I'm just delivering, you two were busy so far with cooking.”
“It's not that hard, really,” Masa says, “but then again, we're pretty much raised for this.” Conversation trails off after the last comment. You don't really have anything to say on that, and not knowing what there is you can talk about. Of course, any attempt at conversation would be hindered pretty quickly once the two wolves take to the sky, leaving you to bound across the town. Reaching the school is a fairly quick task however, and Keine is already waiting out front for the delivery.
“Ah, thank you for coming,” Keine greets the three of you, opening the doors for you to enter. The building is a fairly large place, you've been here once before in the past, after you'd arrived. In fact, you're quite familiar with Keine herself, since she had let you stay with her for a few weeks after your arrival, until you could afford to rent your own place. You've come quite a long way since those times, in reflection. You arrive at the room Keine leads you to, where all the current students are eagerly waiting the food, and a cheer rises as the three of you enter behind Keine. You take a few minutes to help remove the food and distribute it, and once that's done, you prepare to leave, but Keine approaches you at the door.
“We'll go on ahead, you take care of the payment,” Masa says, waving off as he leaves. You nod after him then return your attention to Keine.
“Hello Patrick,” she says happily, “I'm glad to see you working hard still.”
“It's what I do,” you say with a slight air of pride. Keine hands over a thin envelope.
“This is the payment, I wasn't able to make it when I placed the order, the students hadn't all brought in their money at the time,” she says, sounding slightly apologetic.
“I'll get it to Keiji, no problem,” you say, pocketing the envelope.
“I've seen you around town a few times with Tsukiko, are you two getting along well?” Keine asks, and you respond with a nod.
“We get along pretty well now, despite our rough start,” you admit.
“That's good, I'm glad to hear that,” she says, sounding relieved, “honestly, that girl gave me a bit of a scare when she jumped on you that one time. So you're on good terms now, that's nice.”
“We do work and live together after all,” you add with a shrug.
“Oh, I just thought,” Keine says suddenly, “I should give you a tip for your work.” Normally, being told you're being given extra money is something exciting, but you're not exactly wanting for cash right now. Still, there's always saving for something extra...
 Accept. Might as well, money is money.  Refuse. The pay for your work is enough.
I'd have gotten this out earlier, but I got a little caught up reading over the chapters for the story this is set after, doublechecking details to make sure I remember things right.
I think I should probably rewrite Border Crosser from the start, since I see a lot of problems with it now. I also want to finish the story proper and fill in the gap between the end of the original story and the start of this.
It's more like a continuation of the story. Technically yes, it did die, but the ideas I've had for it are still present in my mind. This story picks up at a point after the events that would have happened. You can pick up some hints to these throughout the story so far.
Rewriting it wouldn't have a negative effect, really. The dialogue was very sloppy, and it could serve to be fixed up. The first chapter was in first person before I jumped to a third person perspective, and there are some things that I've since wanted to change a little or expand, but otherwise there would be no major changes to the plot.
[x] Accept. Might as well, money is money. -[x] Split it with Hisao and Masa when you get back. You made the delivery with their help.
Extra money is always good. You say nothing as Keine takes off, and returns a few seconds later with another small wad of cash. A very generous amount for just a simple delivery, you feel a little guilty now accepting it.
“Thanks Keine,” you say with a grin and a nod, slipping the cash into another pocket.
“No problem!” she declares with a smile. “See you around.”
“You too,” you say, heading off on your own now to get back the the restaurant. Along the way, you decide you'll split the tip with the other two, since they did help with the delivery and all. The return trip is fairly quick, and when you get back, you find Masa leaving, carrying a box. Looks like he's making another delivery, maybe something you need to help with again? Of course, the situation turns out a little differently when you reach the kitchen.
“Good work,” Keiji says, greeting you as you enter, “we got one of the major jobs out of the way, so now I have some more free hands to do some deliveries. You're free to call it a day if you want,” Keiji says, producing a roll of bills from his pocket and starting to count out a sum, “of course, you can always stick around and keep working. I'll pay you more the longer you work.”
“Before that,” you say, producing the tip money and counting it out quickly. It's an uneven amount, but you split it three ways in your favour, handing over the rest to Keiji along with Keine's payment. “I got a tip for the delivery, I didn't feel it was right to keep all the tip money for myself when I didn't deliver alone.” Keiji accepts the money with a chuckle.
“You're a real honest man, Pat,” he says, separating a few bills from his roll, “this is your pay for your work so far, though are you going to stick around?” he asks, handing the pay over to you.
 Of course, you're glad to help out the business.  The others have it covered, you'll be going.
[x] Of course, you're glad to help out the business.
“I'll keep at it,” you say, accepting the money and putting it with your share of the tip away in a pocket.
“Alright then, there's another catering delivery coming up, this one's prepaid though,” Keiji says, heading off into the kitchen, “since you're going to be hanging on for a bit more, have a seat and I'll get you some lunch,” he calls back to you. Might as well. A few minutes later at the staff table, Keiji delivers a bowl of udon. Not wanting to waste time, you eat as quickly as possible. Your foresight turns out to be handy, as a delivery comes up very soon afterwards. You still take a few minutes to finish, but it's an acceptable window. You push aside the empty bowl as you stand, take up the delivery box, and head out quickly. Within two minute's you're bounding your way back for more work. A dry period hits, being right around lunch, most orders for now would have already gone out. As you wait, Keiji and Hisao carry up three more boxes.
“Alright then, these are going to that new temple that opened on the outskirts,” Keiji says as you come to gather the delivery boxes, “those girls are having some kind of celebration, and they wanted some good food to go along with it. Hisao's going to be going along with you to help.”
“Alright then,” you say, taking two of the boxes and leaving the last for Hisao. You're a little familiar with the temple, though not so much with the inhabitants. You do know one of them though, that mouse girl Nazrin. She's actually come to you to give you a job a few times in the past, usually something she's been tasked to do herself by her own master. She's only ever once paid you in proper money, every other time it's some kind of object, a 'treasure' she'll say. While it's true that the things she gives you tend to have some value, you have a bit of a hard time selling off some of the things you're given.
You set off with Hisao taking the lead. Opposed to last time however, he doesn't fly off ahead and leave you to catch up.
“You enjoying the work, I take it?” he asks.
“I am, it's easy stuff,” you admit.
“Hah, I'd imagine it would be in comparison to some of the other things you do, huh? Jack of all trades,” Hisao says with a grin, “why not just take up one steady job and stick with it? Have a steady income?”
“Everyone is always looking for some way to get things done without doing it themselves,” you state, “I make myself available for these people.”
“Do you really make a good living with this?” Hisao asks.
“I get by well enough,” you say, looking over at the wolf youkai, “why do you ask?”
“I just want to be sure my little sister's living well,” Hisao admits with an embarrassed smile, “especially considering your intentions.” Now you're starting to share the embarrassed feeling. It must show in your face, since Hisao chuckles a bit. “What? You think that some kitchen noise and talking quietly will keep a youkai from overhearing you? Pretty much all of us heard you.”
“Ah... ha ha,” you laugh weakly, you suppose you should have considered that yourself beforehand.
“No problems though, I think the only one that has a problem with it is Tsumugi,” Hisao says.
“What? Really?” you ask, a little surprised.
“Oh, it's no problem with you, if you're worried,” Hisao quickly adds, “she's just pissed because she's still single herself.” You smirk at that revelation. Tsumugi's the middle sister, beneath Hanako and of course older than Tsukiko. Despite this, she seems the most unfortunate of the sisters. Hanako looks very much like her mother, and has the killer body to match. Tsukiko shares Keiji's eyes, but her body is only average in comparison to her older sister and mother. Tsumugi, however, bears the closest resemblance to Keiji, and might as well share body type as well. As flat as she is and with her masculine build, calling her 'the fourth Mitsumine brother' is a sure fire way to get your ass kicked.
The rest of the delivery is made in silence, though it's not as if there was much farther to go. The two of you reach the temple, where a number of people from the village have gathered around tables and blankets outside. A blonde woman greets you when you arrive, and helps carry the food to the waiting guests. You venture a guess that this woman is Shou, Nazrin's master. You'd heard about her in descriptions a few times. A tiger youkai, huh? She sure makes it obvious with the black striping everywhere. As for Nazrin herself, you don't see her around. Probably off on some task or... whatever it is mouse youkai do. Delivery made, you make your way back to the restaurant.
The way back is quiet as well. Hisao seems to have exhausted everything he wanted to say, and once again you find yourself lacking any kind of topic. You feel a little guilty not really trying to take the time to get to know Tsukiko's family in the past, though you never had many chances to interact with them. If they weren't busy working, they were always off on their own. You make a note to seek to resolve this issue in the future, especially if you're going to try to act on your plans. The rest of the day goes fairly smoothly. Deliveries drop off into the afternoon and start to pick up again as evening approaches. A predictable pattern given how days usually proceed, though unusual in the fact that along with dinner orders for humans, breakfast orders going to youkai homes also start showing up as night approaches. The delivery schedule picks up quickly as the sun gets closer to setting, and once again you're set to a constant pace of deliveries.
Your latest delivery complete, you return to the kitchen to find another box waiting along with Keiji and a prepared wad of bills.
“Sorry to say Pat, but this is it,” Keiji says with a wide smile, holding out the money to you, “your severance pay. I'm letting you go after this last delivery.”
“Huh? Okay?” you say, a little confused as you pocket the money. You're convinced that this is just Keiji's unsubtle way of telling you to go home for the night, though he could be a little more direct about it.
“Be sure not to come back after dropping this off,” he adds, giving you a thumbs up. Out of curiosity, you check the address it's going to, and nearly burst out laughing.
No more than five minutes later, you're knocking on the destination, then open the door yourself. Tsukiko greets you with a grin tinged slightly with annoyance.
“Oh, fancy to see you Mr. Worker Bee,” she muses as you enter your house, kicking off your shoes in the doorway, “sure were taking your time with work.”
“I like to be occupied,” you say, brandishing the box, “anyway, you ordered some food?”
“I thought it would be the only way I'd see you tonight,” Tsukiko jokes, her mood lightening a little more now that you're back.
“Well, you did place an order for me too, it seems,” you retort. Your name is indeed on the order slip, after all, right at the top, above everything else, “does this mean you found a recipe suitable for cooking human?”
“I think so,” Tsukiko says, taking the box from you and heading to the table with it, “it still needs some refinement though, so you'll just have to wait patiently.”
“No problem with that,” you reply, helping set out the food. Both of you have your own favourite meal out of this. For you, it's Keiji's super spicy beef bowl, and Tsukiko has her grilled chicken and vegetables, an oddly western dish in comparison. Conversation is understandingly lacking as the two of you chow down on your preferred meals, setting aside your empty dishes afterwards.
“I wonder if it's strange to feel like I just had some great home cooking after ordering out,” Tsukiko contemplates idly.
“It's your own family restaurant. I'd imagine it would feel like a home cooked meal if it came from there,” you retort.
“I dunno, I think it should feel more restaurant like, but... ah whatever,” Tsukiko complains, dropping onto her back, “I'm feeling better now that I had some good food anyway.”
“You were feeling down?” you ask, slightly intrigued.
“Not down, more like annoyed,” Tsukiko says, rolling over onto her side to face you. “I'd taken up a job too since you were going to be gone, figured we could always just set aside the money we earn and get a bigger place or something,” she says, shrugging in the meanwhile, “that print editor thing sounded kind of interesting, and it was up on the Mountain, so I figured it wouldn't be bad. Ugh, god.”
“What? Aya was that bad today?” you ask, now starting to get amused.
“Not even Aya, it was some other tengu girl, Hatate or whatever,” Tsukiko grumbles. Obviously remembering it is starting to irritate her again, “at least Aya is a pretty good speaker, if a little too nosy. Hatate's just dumb, and she talks like she's dumb. She's so demanding and bossy too, and worst of all she doesn't even pay well,” Tsukiko vents at length, eventually fishing out a small mount of money from her pocket. It's just over half of what you got for half a days work at the restaurant. That really does seem kind of stingy.
“So what time did you get back at?” you ask.
“I came back around mid day or so. I thought you'd be coming back soon at that time too, but yeah,” Tsukiko chuckles, sitting back up, “so how much did you make?”
“A fair amount, actually,” you say, producing your own pay for the day. Tsukiko takes a very clearly annoyed look in response.
“What a cheapskate,” she grumbles, lowering her head onto her arms, folded on the table top. Tsukiko looks as if she's thinking about something at the moment. You get an urge to talk about something, but you're not exactly sure what.
 Make some passes at her, try to lighten her mood some.  See if you can't talk honestly about your feelings.  Propose a day off tomorrow to have some fun.  Nothing right now, actually.
Even though I said I'd be taking a break, I still wrote this. I like the scene too much to let it just sit in my mind, so yeah.
Figures though. I have a track record for acting contrary to my word. I update when I say I won't, and don't when I say I will. Maybe I should announce a break every day. The sudden thought of being without the burden of fulfilling an implied deadline apparently causes me to want to work rather than relax.
[x] Make some passes at her, try to lighten her mood some. [x] Then propose a day off tomorrow to have some fun.
“Ah, what can you do about Tengu. I'm surprised she wasn't too proud to pay you in the first place,” you quip, only for Tsukiko to sigh.
“I kind of wish she was, at least I'd have had an excuse to hit her, then I'd feel better for sure,” Tsukiko complains, raising her head slightly to rest her chin on her arms. A grin comes to your face.
“Well, that wouldn't be very good at all,” you huff playfully, “it's unfitting for such a cute girl to be so violent.” Tsukiko furrows her brows at you.
“Oh right, when have you ever taken issue with it before?” she asks, and you respond with an exaggerated sigh.
“I just decided this now. I can't have my lovely shikigami scrapping all the time,” you declare.
“Fine by me, I'll just loaf around at home, cook, eat and sleep, then,” Tsukiko muses with a grin.
“Ah ha! If you do such things though, I would not be able to call you my shikigami!” you announce, your smile widening. Tsukiko's broadens a bit more as well, but takes on a curious look.
“So what would you be calling me, then?” she asks.
“I'd imagine that I'd have to call you my wife,” you deliver the final line, a blow that causes a faint blush to creep across Tsukiko's face moments before a burst of laughter.
“I should have seen something like that coming, but I was expecting a dog joke more,” Tsukiko says with a small chuckle. You turn your attention to the money you placed on the table, dividing the stack in half and setting it aside before picking up the other half. “What's up?” Tsukiko asks.
“How about the two of us go have some fun tomorrow with this?” you ask in return, flapping the bills.
“And the other half?” Tsukiko says, eyes wandering to the money set aside.
“Savings,” you answer, setting your fan of cash down on the table, “with this though, we can go out and have some time to relax in the town, find something to do.”
“I suppose we could,” Tsukiko says, eyes traveling back to the funds in front of you, “so is this your completely unsubtle way of saying you want to take me on a date?” Tsukiko chuckles, looking back up at you and your guilty smile.
“I won't deny that part of it,” you admit, “but I also thought it would be nice to just celebrate our recent good fortune a little.” Tsukiko finally lifts her head up, cradling it with her hands.
“Then I don't have a problem with that,” she answers with a smile, “I figure putting up with a night of your lame pick up lines and passes could serve as my punishment for being such a bad money maker.”
“I look forward to your 'suffering' then,” you joke, glad to see Tsukiko cheered up again. Of course, given your day of work, and that you've just finished eating, you're starting to feel a little sleepy. You feel it might be a bit of a waste to leave behind the good atmosphere you've built up, but you're not really sure how successfully you could play off it.
 See if Tsukiko would be up for some personal talk.  Do some planning over what you want to do tomorrow.  You have something else you want to do. [Write In]  Just go to bed.
[x] Do some planning over what you want to do tomorrow. -[x] Try to use that to talk a bit while not pressing your luck.
“Now then, what to do...” you trail off, leaning back away from the table. “Eating is always a good start.”
“Hmm? Planning for tomorrow already?” Tsukiko asks, grinning across the table at you. You smile a bit yourself.
“Of course, I want to make a good impression after all. A charming and intelligent man who is well to do,” you respond.
“Yeah, well, all three of those are already spoiled just having to live with you,” Tsukiko muses, getting herself a smirk in exchange.
“It doesn't necessarily have to be a romantic thing, just two friends who happen to be opposite genders out having a good time,” you reply.
“I guess you could look at it like that,” Tsukiko comments, “though you're probably beating yourself up inside for sabotaging your own advances just to get me to buy into them.” You chuckle a bit, though you figure you might as well stop beating around the bush for once and try a direct question.
“Are you really that put off by me?” you ask, still retaining a smile. Tsukiko tilts her head slightly.
“It's hard to say, there's a lot on my mind about the entire idea. It's... complicated, no matter what I feel,” Tsukiko answers. You're not too sure what to make of that, but you're starting to feel much more tired quicker as your day of work starts catching up to you. Maybe you'll press on the idea a bit more tomorrow. As it is now, you can't really plan straight and you'd most likely forget anything you did come up with. You could think more clearly on the subject in the morning. When all else fails, you can just wing it. You slide away from the table and stand up with a yawn.
“I'm going to go to bed,” you say, heading towards your room.
“Alright,” Tsukiko says from behind you as she starts clearing the dishes from the table. “Oh, and I'm looking forward to what you have in mind tomorrow,” she tacks on, causing you to stop at your door and look over your shoulder. She's vanishing into the kitchen by the time you do though, so you don't even get a chance to look at her. You imagine she's probably as red as her hair though, and you head into your room with a smile. You're still smiling by the time you fall asleep.
Morning comes predictably, and you find yourself waking up after dawn for once, rather than before it. A product of a busy day of work, as it were. You get yourself out of bed and get out of your room. Tsukiko's still asleep, as usual. She'd sleep until noon every day if left to her own devices. You see your money where you left it on the table and find yourself reminded that you're going to be taking Tsukiko out for some fun today, and that you haven't really finalized any kind of plans. You could probably get onto that.
 Start planning your day. You want to be sure you're ready. - Kick around the entertainment district. - Head out to the lake for some swimming. - Hike through the woods for a bit. - Go visit the Hakurei Shrine for a time.  No need to get worked up yet, you have hours to plan with.
I'll try to keep this updated at least once a week.
[x] No need to get worked up yet, you have hours to plan with. I don't think Tsukiko would appreciate it if we made this date super serious business. She doesn't seem to be very receptive of his more forward advances.