That isn’t to say Satori Komeiji was anxious always. Satori Komeiji did not upset easily, nor did she often. It was only now that she was anxious, and for a reason. The reason had golden hair dry like hay and grey eyes lost in a book.
This was nothing new. It was many weeks since the boy had been... swept... into the underworld – some less since they had taken to spend evenings together, less still that they had made a rule to sleep in one bed – but Satori was long, long in habit of watching him as he read. The way he paged leisurely with the side of his thumb. The way he flicked it across his lips to wet it each third or so page (less if a passage gave him trouble). The squint on his face at the ancient wordings. The dart of his eyes to footnotes. None were stranger to Satori than the inside of her hand. Yet she took solace in those familiar things, and as often as not she did not enjoy a book in the evening, but instead him.
This was not always so. A sickness lurked in the boy’s mind, malign, black as the night. A voice with a breath stank of death. Satori had thought it his at first, until she had found he had his own mind, only smothered beneath this ghost, and a will as firm as steel. That mind preferred a cloak of silence. The ghost delighted in talk – and talk it did. All day often, picturing much, saying more, never quiet but the few times when it went away... Now was such a time. All things need sleep, thought Satori. She was not far wrong. Whether it slept for real was a thornier question, but... Now it was quiet, and that was to the good.
Satori Komeiji opened wider her Third Eye.
At once the Eye filled with the soft drone of the words from the boy’s book.
This was the stranger thing. It was all Satori could do to listen to its poison when the ghost waked, the boy’s own mind crushed by its grandiloquent ramblings. A mother, as if, that cradles her child to shield it from an outside danger – that was the ghost. And for that reason Satori did not like peering into the boy’s mind. When though she could hear his heart’s voice so clear, that was occasion to sit and listen.
What a voice that was, it belied the boy. She could make out the trace of the words only, for rather than those the boy took their meaning and made of it images of land and sky, and lords and ladies, and histories gone long before. What a frightful imagination, Satori found herself thinking, in her Eye standing amidst a court caught in a debate so ancient it predated the Land and its oldest beings. To the left, and the right, courtiers in bright turnouts and jewelled hats stood in attention to their lord, whose face Satori smiled to recognise. The lord’s wife, small and gently plump, she did not – though a vague idea presented itself to her as the lady’s husband boomed laughter in a voice that left little room for doubt. The floors of this court were gold and grey, despite the text never saying so, and the roof was silver and taller than the tallest caverns of her underground domain. There on the great table laid out was a map which the text mentioned but in passing. There lanterns hung from the soaring pillars that the book had failed to note. The scene unfolded in the curt words of the chronicle, with the least marks of a story. What it lacked, the boy’s mind readily embellished on its own accord.
Satori watched, mesmerised, loving each second of the spectacle. Satori loved stories, whether written, told, or shown, and she loved how the boy told them. Satori loved how the boy sculpted each passage with adoration. Satori loved his touch on the scene, the speech, and how one shy lady bore a face that could only be hers.
Satori loved the boy.
The thought came to her unbidden, but Satori didn’t surprise at it. There was a momentary tightness in her chest, but she knew full well what she felt for the boy. She was not the kind to deny her feelings, and though she didn’t know that she’d say them unless asked (no one asked anyway), she didn’t fool herself it was otherwise. Satori loved the boy, had loved him, could even pinpoint the moment she had begun to love him. And whenever she was alone with him like this, her world shrank to this tiny room, her and him, and his serious grey eyes, and his rough hands (that she loved regardless), and his stories and touch. Garion, Satori thought. She calls him Garion. So do I. She had to say his name.
She wished it may come out on its own, maybe when she was watching him read, maybe when she was reflecting on the greyness of his eyes, but Satori was too deeply rooted in the ground to be so carelessly romantic. She had to bring the name to her lips herself.
The courtroom shattered away to a flight of thoughts so quick she could not read them before they were gone. And then the eyes like chips of granite were upon her, and she felt her heart quicken. There was a question in his mind. What is it? Why do you interrupt? Your book is closed. You were looking at me again. What do you need? What do you want?
Your love, Satori thought. Your love, please.
Satori wanted love. She was lonely, and hated every day of it, every hour. The presence of her pets had more or less satisfied her before, but since the boy had tripped and tumbled down into her heart, she had found just what she had wanted all those years.
Now he was here: his mop of baby blond hair, his cold hands, and reminding her how stupid she had been – how much she was missing. He was here, and teasing her with his unbendable silence. In a way, she was lonelier now with him than she had ever been. Why won’t you love me?
“What would you have of me?” said Garion.
Sometimes she rued he couldn’t read her mind as she could his. What couldn’t they solve, if she might allow him even a glimpse of all these things she may not tell him? But to let him in meant letting in the ghost as well... And that wouldn’t do. That wouldn’t do at all. The chase was far from over. The game far from set.
Satori had nursed an inkling of a plan, a possible cure for this... phantom parasite – but as yet she wasn’t sure, not ready to venture such a task. She needed more books, more research, more time. What scruples stayed her hand she didn’t blame... but the wait was killing her. What centuries she had lived alone had never known such hot impatience. She wanted him for herself now. To share him with that flatulent voice in his head was a rash on her conscience. She wanted this rough-handed boy for her own.
“What would you have of me?” Garion renewed his question.
Satori answered by rising from her chair.
On soft naked toes she went where he sat on the other side of the table. That drew the boy’s attention to some other things, which he turned away from just as soon. A fleet dark thought flashed through his head when she pulled the book free of his hands, but he crushed that out too. Satori thumped the fat tome close on their table, to the boy’s unspoken grudge.
“Two hundred, twenty-and-three,” she told him with a sigh. If he prefers books to me, what does that make me?
Garion’s face was brown and wooden. “What would you have of me?”
He knows what I want, this poor cheat, Satori thought. He may not love me, he may have me for that ghost, but he wants me all the same.
And so much was true. When the ghost waked it was hard to dig around her endless rhetoric, but now that shield was gone. The boy’s mind was laid all but bare. Though he makes his best so I can’t see it all. Satori noted. She could not take that away from him. There was little but she on his mind, now as she stood before him, and she saw how that might strike him as wrong. As a matter of fact, it is. What would they tell of us? A monster with a human. Satori had to laugh.
She didn’t. She let the boy fumble with his own desires for a while.
It was not—not much—unlike peering in a mirror shrouded with garlands, only this part and that flashing here and there – but never the full image. There was her face, her colourless lips and pale cheeks. Satori saw her eyes staring back at her, her own little hands, a glimpse of her thigh... her hands once more, and her white shoulders... hands again. That much Satori could give him. And more, more... Just give me your love, please.
She gave him her hands, and the pact was sealed. There was one question that remained.
Why go anywhere? This room was warm. This room would do.
The great underground palace was a cold thing, but for those few rooms where the hot floors had not fallen into disrepair. Satori’s room was one such room. Time had been when boiling water from the springs below was piped through the stone of the manse, when one could go barefoot from bedroom to kitchen without a care for the underground cold. A broad time when the Old Hell had been the judges’ place still, and the spirits tallied in thousands. Now the judges were gone, the spirits wild. And the floors were cold as ash and hurt Satori’s toes. She did not wish to go anywhere, less to bed. But the bed was overused.
Garion took her lack of answer for one; and though he said nothing, she felt an allowing thought wash by her Eye: not a “Come,” but the closest best thing. Satori tiptoed clumsily up onto his lap. She would have gathered her skirts and done so more daintily if she may, but the boy had both her hands. And, this she knew, she could not take them away from him so soon, whether she willed or no.
And she didn’t. Satori thought Garion’s fascination with her hands a little quaint, but he had never been wrong when he had accused her of enjoying being touched. I was so embarrassed then, that he had seen through me, I couldn’t help it but deny, but... Satori felt her fingers twitch expectantly between his. He knows, doesn’t he? He must know; I am so transparent. When he lifted her curled hand to his lips, his face might have been carved of wood, so little did it show. But Satori had ways; she heard him chanting inside, “This is only to please her, I take no joy in it,” lies, lies and lies. If she was his ghost-mother as he had conceived, Satori would have shied from the implications of the act.
But she wasn’t. And she didn’t shy from smiling coyly as the boy paid court to her little hands.
They had done worse things since that night of the festival on the surface, but it seemed to Satori small matter what they did, it always came back to her hands. They held hands when switching from bedroom to kitchen, from kitchen to library; they held hands as a rule and on a whim, alone and sometimes when others were looking. The pets knew all they had the same scent about them, and the guests... Well, the guests weren’t so often come that Satori couldn’t tear herself free for a few moments if one happened by. All the same, she fostered no illusions of the secrecy of their... whatever it was, if not love. The twice deuced Hakurei had assumed quite automatically she had taken him for a lover when she had seen them together for the first time; Satori did not doubt others had done so as well. This was all empty games, pretending ignorance for the merit of her plan (and the boy’s peace of mind), yet when they were two alone like now, most games were put on hold. More so if the ghost wasn’t there to whisper venom into their ears. Then even Garion lowered his defences just a little. A little little.
But little was enough for Satori, who was little herself.
Almost she had lost herself in her own mind when the boy drew her in for a kiss. Satori’s heart gave a flutter; but she was herself enough to quickly turn her lips out of his way. She could not kiss him. They had kissed once, and even now Satori choked on her breath when she thought back on it. That was an awkward kiss, and not entirely innocent besides, but it had best remain their only. She may still have to hurt him. The gods alone knew how her and the ghost’s secret charades would end. If we kissed properly... Satori wasn’t sure she could bring herself to hurt him then. Whether she was hurting him now, she did not know. What she knew, Garion would not grudge it long either way.
Nor did he. Missing her lips the boy settled for another part of her. Satori stiffened when he nosed his way through her hair and began nuzzling lightly at her ear. His stubble was prickling her cheek, but she dare not break the moment for something so trivial. When he exhaled, the warmth of his breath made Satori shudder inside. The thrill left her lips open in a mute “Oh” of pleasure. They closed when he bit down on her earlobe and Satori dug her nails into the tops of his hands. We must look so stupid, she had time to think. Then her hands came free.
All of a sudden he was undoing her smock. When, how, she could never say; Satori might not help a pale blush when it slipped down her shoulder to reveal the bite-marks there. She couldn’t see them, but knew full well they were there. They didn’t become her; Satori had often to wear a scarf of shawl around the house not to arouse undue suspicion, but that didn’t push her to stop him making another one right now. As much as she was ashamed, when the pinch came, everything she could do was clutch at his shoulders and try to keep her voice from embarrassing her further.
She could not remember when he had first bit her in their... plays... but she did remember she had panicked. Would that she could, sooner she would have forgotten it; but it was only her voice betraying her then that had spared ripping out an unhealthy chunk of neck when she’d jerked back from his teeth. Of course it had been all surprise, and Satori hadn’t meant to test the boy’s reflexes at all. The brief flurry of excitement before she had almost made the night bloody had not let her rest, though. It had taken a long half-hour of cuddling and goading to make him try again, and Satori had had to find a shawl afterwards, but it turned out worth it in the end. Oh gods, so worth it.
A faint squeak pushed out of her tight throat when the boy slid further down her flushing neck. About her collarbone he halted, and bit down so hard her back arched back and her voice came out in a girlish yelp. Good gods... Why am I like this? Aren’t I a feared Satori? What am I doing?
There was more she wasn’t doing. Satori wasn’t doing a lot of things. Satori wasn’t watching that she isn’t heard out in the hall. Satori wasn’t paying attention where he was touching her with his cold fingertips. Satori wasn’t careful where she was touching him. She certainly wasn’t thinking back on that one time when she had forgotten herself so much she had not noticed when he had graduated from her shoulders and begun sucking on the skin on her breasts. And I was holding his head right there with my own hands, Satori recalled. And I was breathing so hard I was moaning. Oh gods, why was I moaning?
The feel of him sliding a thumb down her spine jarred her back to the present. The motion made her shudder all over again. Why? Where did you learn this? The question floated somewhere in her head, but it was blown right out when he breathed in her ear again. Satori wanted to reach and draw her hair away, the better to let him do it, but she found her hands once more trapped by his. There came a whisper, and Satori slumped slightly in the boy’s rough arms. At least he’s quit biting, she realised dimly. Calm down now, Satori. Calm down. You must say stop. This will be cold, but you must say stop.
“Garion,” she gasped weakly. “Stop. That—That’s enough.”
She was aching. She was cold despite the heat and excitement, and she probably looked a mess to boot. The hell of it was, she didn’t mind being a mess.
Satori shut all of her eyes. No, no, no. This had to stop here. The ghost should not see her so weak, lest she uses it against Satori. And my sister, my dear sister is coming home today – but when? The pets, too – what if they walked in on them? There were too many who shouldn’t see what this boy made of the fearsome Satori. There were too many who could intrude. There are too many who aren’t here right now.
“That’s enough,” she made herself say again. There was little authority in her voice, so she said it once and twice and thrice more.
And somehow, somewise, someway, the boy consented.
There was nothing but endless serenity on his serious face when he let her go; but even with her Third Eye hushed Satori could taste the acid tinge of disgust flooding his heart. With what? That he had to kiss his “mother?” Or that he had to stop? Satori could not ascertain which.
She wrenched her hand free and worked her messed-up smock back up her shoulders. The tips of her fingers lingered on the fresh bite-marks. They hurt when she touched them, but somehow all Satori felt was sour disappointment. A moment more and she would have had him kissing her breasts again. Two moments and she would have been asking him for it. What horrible time have I lived to see, when I can’t trust my own self?
Satori was certain she looked crushingly silly fixing her clothes while still on the boy’s lap, but this was silliness she was willing to live with. Somewhere in a very immature corner of her heart she was hoping this would provoke him into doing something to her... something they would have both regretted afterwards. Yet Garion was as implacable as the stone he seemed to be carven of; only his serious grey eyes trailed after each inch of skin vanishing under the faded cloth. Satori did not fail to notice that. If he does something, if he says something, if he thinks something, she swore inside, I’ll let him do whatever he wants with me. I’ll let him kiss my breasts and touch my thighs. And I’ll moan as much as it pleases him. Gods, plans be damned, I’ll manage!
Just let him say he loves me!...
He never did.
Satori had buttoned up her smock and slid off his lap, and still the boy stared on with a stern face, squashing every chance thought under a will so strong and so dark it scared her to imagine what it could have done to her. An instance passed that Satori hated this black silence of his; but when she collapsed on her chair, and brushed the hairs from her brow, the strength to hate all washed out of her. She could no more hate him than she could stop her heart from beating.
She picked up her book and opened back on the page she had left off, Garion doing the same on the other side of the table. Through the book he leafed, seeking the place to continue, quiet and unperturbed, almost as though nothing had ever happened. As if he hadn’t just now been kissing this woman whom he deemed enemy yet yearned for deep inside.
For yes, yes indeed it was so that the boy loved this creature called Satori, with her whims and smiles and frowns; and ever vigilant, the ghost that “slept” inside his mind wist this full as certain. And this mistake as she showed today, this weakness she showed, was dangerous in truth.
Such a weakness one might use in these sorts of games she played...
>>728 Well, it does say it’s a short story, no? >moving on Didn’t I more or less do that already? This is something more of an… afterthought? Something I just wanted to give you? But yes, this is definitely the end of TiTS/YLP stuff. Feels good to have this chapter closed. I hope that everyone had as nice a ride as I. The real question now is, where will I move on?
>>731 I'm sure Hemmingway and William Carlos Williams fans would love to slap Yiffles silly for all his loquacious prose. It's not just short for him, it's *really* short for him. I was expecting 7-8 full character count posts because a Yaf thread would normally take 20 or so.
Surprise bonus content – because we haven’t milked this story nearly enough.
Satori Komeiji could not sleep.
It was not that the bed was small or hard or cold. Satori had seen some better beds in her life, yet this she would have given up not for anything. It was wide and comfortable, despite the tightness of the room; it was freshly aired and warm, and the mattress was stuffed with soft cotton. Most of all, it was not so chilly as most beds in her underground manor; as a matter of fact, it was warmer even than her very own personal bed back in her chambers, heated by the steaming subterranean springs. The quilts were cool to the touch, but below them was all the warmth she might want.
Satori Komeiji could not sleep.
It was not that she did not wish otherwise, nor that she was anxious. The day had been a tussle; the quiet plump woman whose house Satori had so out of the blue invaded did not deal leniently with her hands, nor Satori’s. Where apples wanted peeling never minded were small fingers; where jars were crammed for pickling there was no respite. Winter was a harsh time, but with harsh measures the stocks were filled, and the larder lined with jars of applesauce and other sweet preserve. The men had left the warmth of the home to make coin, but it was back in its walls where true work was being done. Satori did not rue it. A loving heart and an honest effort had proven a wonderful thing. There was in this menial household work something which set her cordial heart to throbbing. Satori ached, her palms felt blistered, but it was good pain. She would not have given it up, not for every treasure in the realm.
Nor did she fear for her safety. Even now, even here in the middle of the Human Village she may not be safer if all her pets had been crowded about her. Though never had she been welcome in its walls, though never had she thought of it with aught but silent horror on her mind, there was nothing in it which could hurt her now. Not here – in this house where she was loved, not here – in this down-filled bed where she’d been lying, and not with this boy – this foolish boy who’d very nigh flung himself at his own father to protect her. In his arms, in this soft bed, in this house, she was the safest thing in the world. What safer place was there?
All the same, Satori Komeiji could not sleep.
A hundred and one thought were in her head. There had been little to do but for talking when she and the boy’s mother had been at their work. And for someone so tight-lipped as she, Satori had found in the woman a terrific talker. Of course she had ways. Satori’s mother-in-law knew as well. A tacit thought and the two whiled their evenings away engrossed in conversation, although to anyone observing these would seem one-sided. Can I call her my mother-in-law? Satori wondered now. I have never. The woman would not mislike it, oh no, but Satori...
Hard, hard and grudging had been for her her acceptance into this family. There was love enough, and honest, to requite for their previous lack of bonds. There was no grudging her stealing the boy, no malice for her nature, nor hate for it, but still...
Satori was not human.
So much was plain; her body was there for evidence. Fifteen years, or close – this was the number she’d heard from the boy’s parents, even the boy himself. The truth was greyer by half. Time had spared her the trials of growing, shrinking and wrinkling, but it hadn’t left her behind. Clothes had frayed and faded on her back, paint had flaked from the walls of her manse, her roses withered away and died; and yet, Satori was unchanged. Truth was, it was all but as though her body existed outside the reach of the years, but for those instances when willingly she played at normalcy... at being human. Then, inexplicably, her body quickened to accommodate the change.
She had no need of nutrition, for but one example; and yet, when she ate (whether it be for pure pleasure or obligations), the food did not vanish from her belly; she did not sweat out all her drink, nor did it evaporate from her body magically. When she cut her hair, it grew out again until a certain length; when she clipped her nails too short they were soon back to their original length. When she cut herself on the page of a book she healed always before much too long – but never had it left on her a scar. Nor had any of the serious injuries she’d suffered throughout her life. What it seemed to Satori, there had to be some mysterious constant: some kind of perfect and esoteric image of herself to which she always returned, no matter what happened. But whatever deity had designed this image had given it the ability to change – if only briefly, if only when need arose.
So then, if we try enough, if we do it often, Satori thought, even if mine doesn’t do those awful things a normal girl’s body should, maybe, just maybe...
Satori touched a hand to the side of her neck, sliding it down across the incline of her breast, her side, until she felt where her bellybutton lurked unreasonably in her belly. Why do I even have this? There was the issue of looks; Satori realised she would not have been as endearing without this apparently superfluous piece, but all the same, it soured her mouth. There were plenty parts of her were plainly inhuman; why had there to be something like a twice-deuced bellybutton?
The biggest of the troubles was her Third Eye – her heart. However she hid it, the Eye was ever there, ever on the outside, for ever a testament to who—what, exactly—she was. Nor did its pains end there; through the Eye went all her blood (for all her inhumanities Satori had blood), and whereas a normal heart was buried in one’s chest where it’s warm, this one – this one had to be where it was much colder. And so her blood was much colder than a human’s; her fingers were often stiff, and her toes felt not much unlike chips of ice sometimes. Satori knew what a difficult lover she had been with those toes.
A hundred and one thoughts, Satori recalled her own words. A hundred too many.
With a faint rustling sound she climbed to a half-sit; the boy murmured in his sleep at the gust of cold from the lifted covers, but he did not stir – not when Satori brushed her nose on his cheek, not when she inched her leg sideways and sat astride him. He slept on, half-naked and innocent, oblivious to her nightly problems.
Satori paused. The thought was selfish; she knew the boy loved her—more dearly perhaps than anything else—but still at times she felt it wasn’t enough. What would it hurt you to love me more? He’d worked all day, that much was true – but hadn’t she?
For all that he must have worked harder than she – whether in proportion or no. Maybe not tonight, Satori thought, a mess of girl and nightshirt. She was an understanding creature, was Satori Komeiji.
She slid off him with never a word. The quilts fell to envelop them once more. Under their cover Satori found the boy’s hands, twined her fingers with his. Ugly fingers, each and every one of them; all that ranging and roving had left them tough as wood. But this was something Satori had learned to weather. Silently she laid her head on his shoulder and gave a mournful sigh, her discontent a needle in her belly. Another day, she promised herself. Tomorrow, I’ll ask his father to go easy on him. The old man was not privy to Satori’s plans as his wife was, but he would doubtless allow it for a smile or two.
Tomorrow, she settled in her mind. And kill the other thoughts. She closed her eyes and listened to the steady beat of the boy’s heart.
Nearby next hour there were two sleeping in this bed in the attic of this house in the middle of the Human Village. Outside, the night went on on quiet wings.
>>788 Shit's gotten busy. If I had started another story, you'd be looking at a weekly update schedule at best. I haven't written a thing for my own stuff these last 2 weeks, either, and I am/was really excited about that, so yeah.
>>790 Well, I've bugger all in regards to Touhou stories anyway, so there.
I had meant to extrapolate on what makes Satori's engines tick in this last scene according to my ideas (as evidenced by the several little titbits on how her body works), but someone had to go ahead and head it off. God damn pain elementals. (ﾟ⊿ﾟ)
-Sir, would you like cream or sugar? -That's the question isn't it? Or maybe it isn't. What it truly is, an illusion? Yes. The illusion of choice. I'm presented with a choice that already has an answer. Was the answer mine? Or theirs? Did I ever... -JUST PICK ONE YOU DUMB NIGGER CHRIST WHY DID I DECIDE TO MAJOR IN ARTS JESUS FUCK.
>>798 You forgot your painfully cheesy Legacy of Kain paraphrase.
“When I first stole into this café, centuries ago, I did not fathom the true power of espresso. To rinse it with water, taste its aroma renewed with every sip... As a man, I could never contain such forbidden truths.”
Satori woke, slowly. At first she rubbed her face in her pillows, reluctant to acknowledge the state of affairs. Then she thought something was amiss. There was certainly something wrong. Or perhaps she was dreaming still? But the pillows felt strange and no mistake; they were bulging, tough, and it seemed to her moved beneath her of their own accord or life. She lay a moment longer waiting the last wisps of sleep to drift away, making no sense of her discoveries. Then she took the needful step and rose just up on her arms.
Ah, thought Satori. This is why. A button had been poking at her cheek, and now that it had peeled away she felt it embossed sorely in her skin. What a rotten place I’d chosen in my sleep. She laid her head once more and this time where no button nor nothing assaulted her face. Light was slanting lazily through the silken curtains of her bedroom windows. The morning was quiet.
The boy below her made not a sound of rousing.
This was not the first time Satori had met a morning this way, but still her bed, she sensed, had become nothing but a bundle of paradoxes: she went to it with reluctance since the boy had taken to sleep in it as well, yet she quit it with regret. She resolved each night to give him space enough to sleep with a peace of mind, but she stirred each morrow doing everything but. She had picked the softest of pillows the house had had for her to offer, yet she woke now with buttons engraved in her cheeks. It still hurts, too, she mourned inside. A terrifying thing were Satori’s new sleeping habits, and not by half her own device.
There was not much helping it – if indeed at all; Satori had only so much control over herself asleep as any man or woman, and what she did in her dreams was no less unwitting. But whatever contrived half-measures the boy had taken to lessen their discomfort, Satori was glad of their halfness. He had slept without a shirt in their starting days, but now he’d learnt to wear one. He had deigned to face her way at first, but now he turned his back. And whenever she pre-empted one side of the bed for herself, steadily he made his fort on the other.
None of that might stop Satori, however – and someway, somehow, somewise, she met the new day somewhere in his arms. This was the matter of fact. Unconscious or no, she never did a thing to hedge against it. For even waking, Satori simply knew:
She liked to lie with the boy.
Whatever long-unspoken deity had created her had shaped her in the like of a human, and whatever... madness... had led it to curse her with this strange, immortal body had not forgotten to include the normal urges. She wanted him, and badly. Since the day when they had overnighted in the woods, after that twice-deuced festival, she had wanted him ever more. The ghost was still with him, still poisonous, but Satori found herself to lack for patience. The very first night they had passed together in this bed she had stirred before him and gambled, so stupidly: took the boy’s own hands and laid it on her body, to tell him when he woke, to tell him: you were the one who started. You were the one touching first. Now I may touch you.
And yet—and yet!—however she wished it had gone from there, and however she swore inside she had no such wish, nowhere was where it had gone. And nothing had changed at all.
She would have punched the boy in the gut if she could, would Satori Komeiji.
As the time was not the first, she had not the littlest trouble divining the boy’s thoughts once he finally roused. To begin he would look upon her with instant clarity (for he slept hard, but woke in a flash when he did) and blame her for the nuisance. When, and if, Satori did not respond, he would let her lie with him till a time that she also tired of her dreams, and joined him in wakefulness. “To keep you athwart from kicking,” to hear him tell it afterward. The boy loathed disturbing his hostess’s sleep, if it made sense. To him seemingly it did.
Otherwise, they would rest some more, making small talk of the day ahead, and at length spur themselves to their feet – and that would be all.
Satori did not want it to be all.
Somehow just lying had lost its savour. Nor was holding hands as satisfying any more. He likes my hands, Satori pondered, no matter what he says. Not very likely we won’t continue touching them anyway, whatever happens. The boy had such a leaning for her hands it was plain he wouldn’t surrender the privilege easily. So why not more? I can’t tell him I want it, the ghost would surely use it against me, but why won’t he do anything? Yet she felt already she was grasping at an answer. The boy was steady, so much it offended her, and never, ever would he overstep his bounds, less when thrown out of balance by the circumstance. Nor would he do anything with a risk of wronging me – maybe precisely for fear of losing access to my hands?
Satori laughed inside. This was why they were stuck tiptoeing one about the other. No one had denied him freedom of the rest of me, but no one had allowed it to him either. So he’ll do unspeakable things to my heart, but touch nothing past my deuced hands. What a stick had she cleft for herself! All the worse, the boy was perfectly pleased with how it was now. To dare past her hands flew anyway in the face of his own principles; even were Satori to ask he did (though mind she would never), as like as the Sun rose still somewhere on the surface, the boy would decline with some handily contrived argument. So he would. Unless...
Unless she were to render it null someway...
And presently an idea flashed to Satori’s head.
Quiet and light as only someone as small as she may be, she switched under the covers, to seek out the boy’s own hands, the cold gnarled things. She had danced this dance before, had the cunning Satori. And as well as it had worked before so it should now, so she thought. The only thing I need to do, she thought: find something that’ll persuade him better than the previous time – that he wants me despite all – something more... more...
Her heart thrilled at the thought, but her hesitation lasted no more than a mere few moments. And before it was fully out she was leading his hands down her small figure: down her sides, past her hips, and lower, just a little lower...
The touch of his cool fingertips on her thighs raised goose bumps up and down her back.
Oh gods, thought Satori Komeiji.
What owes a mention here, Satori was a creature of the Underworld. Unacquainted with the Sun, stranger to its warmth, the small hostess had grown accustomed to the cold hallways of her manse. She warmed easy and sweated easier. As such, her bed-wear oft comprised no more than a light chiffon gown over just unmentionables – to ward off the excess heat. This left little to be had under the gown but Satori, and her legs uncovered from thigh to toe – naked to the eye.
... To the eye and touch.
Oh gods, she thought again.
Satori had never known her thighs were so ticklish. I can’t think how this can’t go swimmingly, she mused, coming to terms with this new sensation. Though not entirely new. She had been touched there before – by her over-fond sister for an instance – but never by hands so cold and so rough. Nor his. Now, Satori. Now, she spoke to herself in the confines of her mind. This is done. All that remains is to wake him up somehow and pretend you’re still asleep. Careful. And with a little shudder she released his hands and reached toward his shoulder. This was how she woke him as a rule; the boy must by now be conditioned to what it meant. He would feel it, surely.
And surely enough he did.
Satori undid her grip when she sensed the boy’s breath cut short beneath her.
And then the boy woke.
From someplace above her head she heard a grunt; below her, his chest swelled with a long, hissing intake of air. When he released it, she felt it brush past her hair.
The boy took but a moment to come to full consciousness. A feat to envy after, Satori noted jealously. Many and more mornings she had met sluggish and ruffled from her sleep. The fashion the boy waked was as though he’d never slept at all, only rested his eyes – ever ready to wake and... And what? To run away, no doubt. Had she been anyplace but right atop him, Satori was convinced the boy would quickly attempt to leave without so much as bidding her goodbye. Satori hated when he didn’t bid her goodbye. At least when he did, she could remind him to come back; otherwise she found herself fearing he might get lost, or forget her entirely... A silly fear, to be sure, and Satori realised it just as surely. But even she was not completely free of silliness.
After all, what was she doing even now?
The boy raised his head and moved it around, surveying the room. Checking if everything is as it should be, Satori concluded. He’s too wary by half about waking up. His clothing was folded on his chair; his baggage pack stood propped against a wall in a corner of the room. His book lay on the table, beside a tea urn and two cups. I always have to tear him away from his books. He would sooner read into the early hours than come to sleep with me. How am I supposed to compete with books? Satori did not know. Anyway everything was in proper order.
The boy’s voice was hoarse.
Garion, Satori answered in her thoughts. How lucky am I you can’t read my mind?
Nor could he. Having received no reply the boy laid set head back down. A low, coarse “Mm” fled his mouth. There wasn’t much in his head; Satori could sense but a shimmer of irritation and a few scraps of dimmed dreams. Only after a still minute, oh so long a minute, did she catch a quiet mantra, “Kitchen, bridge, tunnel, southwest fork, cave with the chasm, rope and lamp, hammer and clasps,” and on and on. Is he afraid he’ll forget? she wondered. This had to be the case.
Satori stayed, small and patient, giving her best to seem asleep while the boy counted out the places, paths and equipment. The stream of words continued for some minutes in a silent drone, with never another sound but for his and the small hostess’s combined breathing... Until at last, at long last, the boy felt an itch—just a little itch—in his right side, and shifted about on the bed to fend it off.
... And that was when he felt.
Satori could barely help another Oh gods, when the stream of appurtenances broke off. An image: a momentary glimpse of skin and hands and... things... happening under the covers materialised in the boy’s mind and set her heart to pounding. Oh gods. The boy stiffened, parted his lips. His fingers tensed. Satori held her breath... then recalled she was, in fact, supposed to be asleep.
“Satori?” she heard him try, faintly.
To no reply.
He murmured an indecipherable word. His mind was racing, tumbling on its own feet... Yet Satori sensed no fear in the boy.
He was disorientated, beyond a doubt. Nor did he want in surprise; but whatever made him call out just then, whatever suddenly halted his thoughts, it was anything else but fear. Satori fought off the urge to sweep the hairs from her brow. Fear would have been better, she thought. Fear implied guilt. Fear would have meant he viewed this as more than simple accident. Yet there was no fear, nor guilt. The boy’s big hands did not move an inch, but she knew this was but because he didn’t wish to wake her on an accident—if she was indeed asleep. The last time it happened I had him stay and make breakfast for his crimes, she recalled. Satori had no doubts this was his prime concern. And like as day the only.
As for idiocies like lust or shame, she had precious little care to look. There was naught of either in the boy. Satori did not fool herself otherwise.
There were limits even to her silliness.
“Satori,” she heard him say again, firmer. He was already winning back his composure.
What is he trying to do? See if I’m not by some stupid chance awake? If he was intent on waking her up, he was being very tender about it. Uncommonly tender. Satori wished it could have meant something. Yet this was still but simple courtesy on his part. Whatever he did was out of cold, machinating courtesy. The boy was just too steady.
To begin with, Satori brooded, what did I imagine? That this would solve anything? That he would fall for me head over heels and forget everything else because, what, he got a little handful of my butt? There was an end to folly, and she was clearly approaching it. She had attempted this very thing before and what had it availed her? They’d stopped fighting shy of the issue of physical contact in bed, but this had been a small step and, Satori felt, one which would have solved itself on its own eventually. She was nothing if not just speeding it up. Which served only to make her more impatient in turn.
She is asleep, she heard the boy acknowledge inwardly.
Yes. Yes, I am, she replied in her thoughts, but whether she truly was was a thornier question by half.
At any rate the conclusion seemed clear. There was little aught else to do but let the things progress by themselves. Satori chafed at their slow pace, but there was naught she could do about it. She’d tried before, it had done very little; she’d tried now, and met a wall. What hope remained? She was too small and too weak to force him into anything and the presence of the ghost effectively cut off her chances if she were simply to confess. Confessing isn’t my longest suit anyway. She would not have said it, but Satori preferred things to be done to her. Taking the reins herself, she found, felt wrong somehow. She had delicate hands, unfit anyway for reins and, in fact, anything other than books, teacups or roses. The ghost, she was sure, would find a way to turn it against her as well. There was no hope. There really was not. She had done as well as she could, but even this was much too little. She had to wait.
So it was that Satori came to give up.
Ah, this lifts the stone from my chest, she sighed. I’ll lie for a few more minutes, then ‘wake up.’ This isn’t so bad anyway. I wonder if I could have him make breakfast anyway. I feel like eggs. I could go for some eggs right now, if—
And then the thread of her thoughts snapped and vanished – because the boy squeezed.
And he squeezed hard.
And, oh gods, Satori’s heart very nearly burst right there. Her entire body flew into a panic. What? What the— What? Did he— Oh gods, what? What?
She wanted to leap up from his arms like a stung bunny, but mastered herself at the last second. Garion, did he— Did I imagine that? I must have imagined—
But no, she sensed his fingertips still digging into her flesh – actually this tip a little less, that a little more: alternating. And moving – just ever so slightly, but moving. He was touching her. He was touching her. Satori would be euphoric, if she wasn’t so startled.
Wait, she realised, wait just a moment. What if this was a tic? What if his arms just cramped up and— But the squeeze had been so strong she had felt it in parts of her she shied from naming. No, hold on! This isn’t what I should be doing! His mind! I have to read his mind! She focused on the boy still touching her back quarters. She sought out his mind and drilled into it so hard she had to wait for the rush of blood in her ears to slow before she could hear a thing.
There was nothing to hear, of course. She had been overdue.
The boy had a frightful talent for curbing his thoughts, and now displayed it in full measure and all finesse. There was nothing Satori could read, or sense or feel – nothing at all... except the faintest, tiniest little pang of guilt.
Oh gods, Satori whined. She shuddered under the weight of this new revelation.
No, this was wrong. This was all wrong. She had to do something. She had to calm down. Calm down, Satori. She ill needed panic now... But what did she need?
[ ] Care. Care and patience. She couldn’t frighten him now. She had to move slowly... [ ] Anger. She knew he wanted her now. She felt that! And so she would tell him, even if she blushed while saying it!
This isn't forgotten, I'm just running into slight health problemos and an upcoming examination session at college. I'll try to dedicate a few hours of some night soon to getting this down. Thought you guys would appreciate a sitrep.
[X] Anger. She knew he wanted her now. She felt that! And so she would tell him, even if she blushed while saying it!
Anger. Anger was it. Anger would serve. Should serve.
She couldn’t afford overmuch consent—not with the ghost still making its plots, nor with her pride still firm in its place—but too slow a going on the flipside may reverse the progress she had seen done until now. The more window she gave him, the more like he’d slither out of it someway. Anger, on the other hand... Anger should communicate what needs to be, Satori reasoned. Garion had witnessed her angered before, and, to her deepest hopes, realised sometimes—just sometimes—his tiny hostess said things she didn’t exactly mean when up in arms. As well as it was usually with a good cause. Satori did not anger at nothing. And while she wished what they were doing was but a simple nothing to them, for now touching her in her “sleep” justified at the least a brief spell of criticism.
Yes, thought Satori. Now all I need is to make myself actually angry. She summoned up all the instances he’d given her offence in those past weeks and finally worked out the most beautiful from her repertoire of frowns.
The boy flinched when she rose up on her arms and unleashed it on him in full strength.
“And what are you doing?” she demanded.
If ever he had shown surprise, it was now. For a moment, his slate-grey eyes went round. They were back to their dark, expressionless norm very soon, but a victory was a victory, however small. The look behind them anyway told volumes of how much she’d startled him. As did his tightened jaw.
“Satori.” He pronounced her name like an accusation. Am I supposed to apologise? Satori wondered quietly.
Ultimately, she decided against it. She had to strike on, while the boy was still off-guard, and more importantly while the image of him refusing to chance the woods with her those long weeks ago was still clear on her mind. The frown was hard to maintain when he was so close to her, so big and so warm. Truth be told, at the present moment frowning was the last thing on her mind. At such close range, her willpower had as well been made of pudding. Satori had too soft a heart for things like these. Too soft for her own good at times.
At any rate she forced herself to press on.
“Were you expecting someone else?” she asked acidly. “Or perhaps you have been sleeping around with so many girls you simply forgot which one you were with today? You’re a forgetful creature, Garion. Why, if I hadn’t known that already, I would have been cruelly disappointed.”
The boy gave her a difficult look. “You are cross.”
Satori snorted. “You think?”
“What an amazing thing. And wouldn’t you be,” she asked, “if I had grown so forgetful as to who I took to my bed after so many weeks of talking and fighting and sacrificing: so forgetful that I wake up in the pale morning not remembering who it is lying atop me and having to grope their buttocks to remember?” She gave him a little pause. “Well, Garion? You would be, wouldn’t you?”
A look of perplexity flickered across the boy’s stony face. Then his eyes fell to the bedside.
When he spoke, his voice was rasping and faint.
“... I apologise.”
And there was the guilt again. Stronger, more marked. Genuine.
Satori felt a tingle of triumph, but discreetly schooled her expression. Turning his eyes again her way, the boy squirmed under her glare. She felt his mind twist like a pinned snake. Not because he did what he did, she realised with some surprise. He’s labouring over being caught. Not touching me – but my finding out. That was more difficult. A question arose in her head, but Satori ignored it for the nonce. There’ll be time for investigating later. Now I must continue to be angry.
She inspected her memory for something to fuel her irritation and was stunned to find she had so many. There were grudges—some bigger, some smaller—literally in dozens. Am I really such a resentful person? She worried at it for a breath or two. Well, no matter now, she supposed. At length she decided on a certain evening, when the boy had wounded her by out of nowhere questioning her affection, and heaved herself up to a sit.
The covers whished and spilled down the length of her back. Satori felt the sweat on her arms chill. That wasn’t what made her shiver, though.
He was still holding her. Oh gods, he hasn’t let go.
Without a miracle happened and the boy felt inclined to explain why, she mightn’t ever know, but the matter of fact remained there were two large, rough hands locked about her hips. And I’m sitting right on top of him. Two cold, callused thumbs were pressing into her flesh, just low enough to graze the bands of her underwear through the gown.
Satori made her best effort to ignore them.
“I understand,” she told him in a deceptively silent voice.
Garion blinked up at her, his eyes wholly innocent of comprehension.
The small hostess tightened her legs around his sides, swallowing.
“I understand,” she said again after a breath. “You have these urges. I do, too.”
“I know, Garion. I really do. I, too, get... lonesome... every once in a while – like any creature with a heart. I do have a heart, by the way, otherwise to popular belief. You as well. I know, I know – I crawl close to you when we sleep; I can no more help that than you can help that haystack on your head. But—” her eyes narrowed, “—that does not, I repeat, does not. Give you! A free ticket! To touching my deuced butt!” She sensed the boy twist between her legs. “Who in Old Hell and all its holes gave you permission to man-handle me in my sleep, Garion? And my deuced butt, of all places! What were you thinking, touching me without my leave like that?!”
“I did not—”
“Oh no, oh no – you’re right. You didn’t. You didn’t just touch it, Garion. You squeezed it.”
Garion’s mouth tightened.
“You aren’t fooling me, Garion,” said Satori. “Not me. I felt it. I felt it, Garion! Gods, I’d have to be dead not to feel! Did you even realise how hard you were squeezing? What if you bruised me? You probably have, too! I told you specifically how easily I bruise! And, to top it off, you didn’t even have the common decency to give me a prior warning! Why do I have to wake up to you crushing deuced my butt?! Tell me, Garion! Why?! Tell me!”
The boy told nothing, to no one. Only stared, each of his breaths pushing at her sharply from below.
Satori stared as well, though her mind was wholly elsewhere. Still, there was naught behind those steel-grey eyes of his for her to see – naught but the mirror image of her as she was now. Any other thought that came forth was curbed beneath a will so keen, so quick and savage that Satori quailed from peering straight into it. The only thing which remained in full view was she now: frowning down on him, gripping his sides between her calves; ringlets of hair hanging down her brow. A light trace of a button marked still her pale cheek. She was angry, but innocuous. Small and beautiful. And she was mussed. So very mussed.
Against all her intents, Satori felt her face growing hot. Am I beautiful because he thinks so, or because he believes it will mollify me? Or did I affix that on my own? Am I mistranslating it? Might it be too wishful? What is it about him that makes my heart so confused? Am I so desperate that I’ll blow every tiniest sign going for me out of proportion? She felt her will draining. Why do I have to bear this? she lamented. This is so absurd! Am I a feared Satori or a silly teenage girl fallen in love for the first time? Why can’t I stay angry with him? Why does my heart flutter? What’s going on with me? What else will?
“... What are you thinking about?”
The question brought her out of her agonising.
The boy’s face hadn’t changed. Yet his voice carried a hint of... something in it. Something not entirely wanted. Not of his own will. What is he doing? That he was trying to placate her was plain – but why? What business had he in it? Trembling, she stole a peek into his mind.
It was blank. Taut as a bowstring, yes, and threatening to loose, but rid already of whatever impulse had made him to speak. She was too late. Again, Satori. How tardy are you? Whatever it were at any rate, Satori saw no reason not to take the offered hand.
At the worst, she’d prickle herself and that’d be it.
“Only what a deuce-all trustworthy partner you make,” she replied. She gathered the locks from her forehead. “I had never imagined I would have to speak with you about my butt of all things, Garion. Why is this even happening?”
“I do not know.”
“You’ve nothing to say in your defence?”
“Not a thing? No excuses? Apologies? Nothing?”
She threatened him with a stubborn look. The boy caught it and held it.
They could hold a look, Garion and Satori.
A minute passed, and another after it – then another and another. All were silent; all were still. And with each one left behind did Satori find her anger more and more elusive. Colour rose to her cheeks. One pull and she could end this; one spurt of effort and she would be free of those cold hands of his, done with all this ridiculousness...
... But she didn’t pull. She didn’t make an effort.
All that anger – and what for? Satori brooded. I could as well be made of glass.
She recalled the night he and she had spent hugging in that tent, cowering from the storm. Then, too, she had been too transparent for her own integrity; and the excuse—the “moment”—had been no more than that – an excuse. And just as transparent. To tell it true, she’d had it planned from the start, from the instance the option of taking shelter under the trees had been laid upon the table. The first thing to enter her mind had been to use this opportunity to get close to the boy. The very first. Oh yes, bother storms, bother the chill, the wild animals! What better mood to tend to your silly wants than one where your health is at stake? Now Satori felt foolish. Was what she was doing now any wiser? No, she decided. She was making a fool of herself. A little fool, and lovely, but a fool all the same. Her spectacle had played out; it had never been much promising from the outset. Had the boy been willing to go through with it he would have anyway, without her having to make a scene. Small sense in keeping at it at all costs, she concluded powerlessly. There really was small sense in it, and she knew that. She had known it from the beginning. To surrender herself was easy. This was already the second time this morning she’d had to yield before his obdurate aversion after all.
The second, yet it hurt just as much as the first.
Still... Satori reflected, it is a relief, someway... And it really was.
Sighing, she gave up trying to keep her hands unobtrusive and laid them resignedly on his chest. The boy made as if he had not noticed, but a quick flight of thoughts gave the lie to his indifference.
Satori let out another sigh. She could feel the heat of his body through her palms. And between my legs too. Though I’d sew my mouth shut sooner than admit anything of the sort. She slid her hands farther up pensively, the fabric of his shirt wrinkling around her palms. Something bumped against her fingertips, and presently they picked up a faint, but decisive, throb. Startled, she froze up; and it was a full moment before she realised what she was feeling was his heartbeat.
What an amazing thing, she mused. This wasn’t the first ever instance she’d felt it, but for her fingers it was. The sensation was... novel, in a fashion. It can’t be bigger than his fist, can it? She wondered quietly, probing around to see how far it would spread. It seemed almost improbable for something so minute to power such a towering mass of pride, doggedness, and messy blond hair. And yet it is.
Satori raised her eyes to the face of the mass. The mass was sternly looking away, for all the outward appearances naught but a very realistically carven effigy of a boy, oblivious to everything going on around.
Satori couldn’t help a smile.
“... Yes?” he rasped.
“You’re still holding me, did you know that?”
“... Yes,” he replied, but in his mind added, Small sense in stopping now.
That, now, gave Satori something of a shock. “Small sense?...”
Garion made no answer, screwing up his lips.
Confounded, Satori blinked down at him in a daze. What is it now? She was puzzled. Small sense in stopping why? Had she not surrendered already? Well, he can’t read my heart to know for a certainty, but... Shouldn’t he be doing his slimiest best now to use this chance to slip away? So why hadn’t he pushed her off? Why was he still gripping her hips, not so much as playing at innocence, even pulling at her ever-so-slightly, as if to urge her to... To what?
What have I missed now? wondered Satori.
And then it hit her.
“Garion—” she began.
“Speak not,” he broke in. “I understand. Speak not. I shall...” And then he trailed off.
Satori watched as he sorted out the right words from the confines of his mind.
When he did, her heart almost leapt out the window.
“I shall accept the punishment,” he said.
Oh dear, thought Satori.
So this was it. The boy’s erratic actions all of a sudden clicked together into perfect sense. The punishment, Satori repeated in her head. Yes. Of course it would seem that way. Why hadn’t I realised it sooner?
What Garion believed, this was still an effect of her anger. That she intended to chastise him for the venture of handling her in her sleep. And by having him carry it through to the end no less. The same manner you’d teach a puppy not to make a mess again by rubbing its nose in it, Satori recognised. With the added benefit of exerting my will of him by way of revenge. This was what he thought this was: a payback for his foul misdeeds.
No, that’s what he wants to think. The truth was far less innocent. This is why he didn’t shake me off, isn’t it? This is why all the mental charades, isn’t it? Or was she misinterpreting things to her own advantage again? Satori bit her lip.
“What would you have me do?” asked the unwavering Garion.
The question was something she had both expected and wanted to hear, but she felt a blush mount in her cheeks all the same. An answer formed on her lips, but she held it back. ... This is really what I wanted, isn’t it? This is what I hoped would happen. The plan she had been thoroughly convinced had failed had returned with a vengeance. And here she was, her prize within an arm’s reach, waiting for but the proper word. She had won. All the blunders notwithstanding the game was now in her hands. All that separated her from the end goal was that final word.
Very deftly done, Satori, she congratulated herself, but for one small flaw. Garion was the one who had done the bulk of the brainwork, not she.
Satori’s mood soured at the realisation, but she re-mastered herself before it might show. At any rate it was to the good: the pretext was sound and well thought-out; it threatened neither her plans nor his, and left a door opened in case they should find it unsavoury once the “punishing” was done. The boy could keep his plotting and posturing, while Satori remained safe from exposing her true feelings on the matter to the ghost. They both wanted to experiment, but neither may hazard to say so out loud. This way insured they didn’t have to.
What a terrifying mind this Garion has, she marvelled quietly. Maybe from here on she should allow him to think for her in her stead. That way seemed to do them both good.
“What would you have me do?” renewed his question the unwitting blond genius.
Satori permitted herself to brush the hairs from her forehead before making a cunning smile. “You already have an idea of your own, Garion. Why do we not go with that for a change?”
The boy opened his mouth to object, but used his head in time.
“... How far do you wish to go?” he asked instead.
Satori considered the answers. “All the way” seemed just a whit too flippant; “However far you see proper” might have turned him right around.
She settled for the least hazardous path. “What do you say we do it like this,” she offered. “You’ll do whatever you think good. I’ll defer to you. Then, if I don’t like it, I’ll say. As a matter of fact, that way should give us the best results, no?”
Garion made a frown. “If you do not like it?”
Oh yes. This was supposed to be punishment. “I meant if I feel it’s going overboard, Garion. That’s what I had in mind saying ‘not like.’ A mental shortcut, that’s all.”
The boy regarded her for a moment. At length, he routed out his qualms with the same iron will as before.
“... Very well,” he agreed. With never another word he climbed to a half-sit and marked the arrangement of the pillows on the bed. Then, still quiet, he turned to his hostess, perched astraddle him and staring. “... Satori—” he started.
“What is it, Garion?”
“... I shall need you below.”
Satori tilted her head. “Say what?”
“On the bottom. I shall need you on the bottom. On the bed. You are too small,” he explained. “I shan’t be able to... access you freely, if we sit.”
“Ah.” Satori understood. “Yes, that’s... that’s true, I guess.”
“Should you lie, I would...”
“You’d be able to move more comfortably, yes?”
“You should have just said so, then.”
“I have now.”
“Yes... As a matter of fact, yes. You have.”
“... Will you lie down, Satori?”
“Yes. As a matter of fact, I think I will.”
She felt inexpertly awkward, crawling off of him on her own strength, and the chill that enveloped her legs once she was off was less than delightful; but when she sank in the piled-up pillows, and when the boy’s face loomed above her, his golden hair sticking tousled every which way, a wave of warmth erupted from her ears, spilling down her cheeks, neck, and all the way down to her chest. Oh dear, she thought ineffectually.
She hoped she wasn’t blushing too hard. This is what you wanted, Satori, she reminded herself. You were fully aware of what it entailed. Yes, he’s spreading your legs, so what? You knew he would! Quit blushing!
The boy failed to notice her disquiet, or to show if he had. A serious face and a likewise mind he slid between her parted knees. One of his hands pressed down on the pillow beside Satori’s head; the other was once again making itself at home on her naked thigh. Or had it never left? Satori could no more say for a surety. Something else was bothering her.
“Garion?” she called him.
“Must I lift my legs like this? You seem to have done this before; is it really necessary?”
The boy gave her a bewildered look. An instance passed that Satori thought she saw a face flash to and through his mind, a youthful face ruby-eyed, and her heart sank; but just as soon the image was gone, and the blond Garion turned his attention toward her legs. They were fixed to his sides about the waist, and, however Satori looked, seemed just a touch too naked for her taste. There was probably something she could have done about it, but for now, she was willing to live it down. The legs were the one part of her body she didn’t mind him seeing in the nude.
Move them, Satori heard the boy suggest with a thought.
She did, if reluctantly. To her embitterment, she found she could actually move them. More, she could lay them flat on the mattress easily if she wished – it had been simply more natural to let them rest against his hips. Well, this is embarrassing, she thought. Comfortable, maybe, but still embarrassing. She deliberated briefly whether she should do anything about it. Then, she could try for crossing them on his back, alleviating even more weight that way, but... in the end she weighted against it.
There was plenty enough skin contact as it was, and they hadn’t even touched on the main course. She returned her eyes to Garion.
“Are you comfortable?” the boy asked her.
“Yes... Yes, Garion. As much as I’m going to be, I suspect.”
“Good.” Then let us begin.
Yes, Satori thought back, let’s already. “Go ahead, Garion.”
“As you wish.”
The boy nodded and leaned down, but Satori put a small finger across his mouth.
“Ah, Garion? No kissing, please... Not my lips at any rate.”
For a while he stared at her with a blank face, a dark cloud looming at the fringes of his heart.
Satori swallowed. The position made for a difficult one for defence if anything fancied going awry, but Satori did not worry at that. A part of her even excited at the possibility. The stupid part, no doubt. What she feared was she might have daunted him too much with the last restriction. That was her foremost concern.
She resolved to give him a push. “Well, Garion?”
At first he didn’t respond. Stared on instead. Silent. Silent as the grave.
Satori began to worry for real. What do I do? she fretted. I can’t let him kiss me! I wasn’t made to resist kisses. I could never vouch for myself if we kissed. Garion was liable to upset (and sometimes resign altogether) when things did not progress his way, but this was a risk Satori dreaded just too much to take. She was the weaker of the two. She knew that. Who’d hurt more when things went out of control if not she? That was why she worried.
At last, though, the boy inclined his head, slowly.
“... As you wish,” he surrendered.
I don’t, Satori thought, but what she said was, “I do. That’s one of the... things... I feel are going, well, too far, you know? Kissing is forbidden, Garion. Well, on the lips it is. Are we clear on this?”
“Thankfully I don’t have lips everywhere on my body, no?”
“As a matter of fact, yes, that’s what I thought as well. I don’t. That’d be silly.” She adjusted her position a little. “Well, at any rate... Where are you going to begin?”
The boy thought about it. “Elsewhere,” he said.
“Elsewhere sounds good. Go on, then.”
“As you wish.”
That, on the other hand, I really do.
As he had promised, he did.
Wasting not another moment the boy dipped to her level; “elsewhere” turned out to be her hair when, holding his breath, he began nudging through her locks, to get at her flushing ear. The breath was hot when he released it on her skin. Satori felt a frisson running down across her nape. Oh gods, she managed a thought. This wasn’t what she had expected. All he had done was breathe in her ear, and she was shivering already. They were good shivers, but... Satori’s heart beat faster. She bit down on her lower lip, chasing the bad thoughts away.
When his nose began brushing gently on her ear, she had to clench her throat not to let out a sound. All of a sudden Satori’s fingers started to itch. Time and once more Satori splayed her fingers and closed them again, but the itch refused to go. She knew why that was. She knew what she wanted. No... not now, Satori, she begged herself. This is good enough for now. Maybe later... Maybe he’ll think to hold your hands himself... Will he? Oh, it’d be so much better if he just... The boy blew again. Satori shuddered.
Maybe I was wrong? she wondered, returning to the present. Maybe she had been barking up the wrong tree since the very start? All along she had been trying to treat this boy as someone unique, unlike anyone else; but was he really? For all his dispassionate façade, he was still a man with all the manly kinks. Perhaps rather than Garion she should have appealed to someone a few rungs lower on the evolutionary ladder? It seemed disrespectful, but... When ever had respect earned her these sorts of favours? Never is when. Ah...
She closed her eyes as the blond man poked his nose through her hair, inhaling her fragrance. Though we smell the same, since we wash with the same soaps... don’t we? Maybe Satori had some scent of her own of which she wasn’t aware? She had overheard him making remarks on her smell once or twice or some, but it couldn’t be... Could it? Was that why he had gone for her hair as the first thing?
She recalled another instance she’d had him messing around in her mop. The tent situation. Then, too, it had been him come up with the idea of sniffing at her hair, not Satori. Nor was it any show of respect that effected it. Just the two of us being selfish. Only that. And yet, had the results truly been that awful? Could it be? Am I caring too much for him and too little for myself after all? Satori was conflicted. Was she finally arriving at the fundamental error in her advances? Or was she making a mountain out of a molehill? What a fix it is to be me...
Contented with the hair, the troublesome boy slid down to her neck, pausing once to brush his lips on her earlobe. Satori canted her head. She had no wish to make it any harder on him that it already were. Whatever he had eaten before moving into her kitchen, Garion had used it to grow to imposing sizes, while Satori was only as big as the gods had had the whim to create her. That wasn’t very big at all. With his knees clasping her hips, reaching Satori’s neck had Garion engaging in painful-looking gymnastics. Well, he doesn’t absolutely have to sit between my legs, Satori reasoned, trying to rinse herself of the guilt. This is his fault, not mine that I’m so small... Still, tipping her head was the least she could do. The merits far outmatched the costs either way.
Far, far outmatched them.
Satori fought to stay focused whilst her neck was being smothered with kisses. To keep her voice inside took all the effort in the world; about her back, though, she could do close to naught. The boy wasn’t pottering about; and each time he worked his way from her collarbone to her throbbing ear, sliding along her skin and marking every inch with his cool lips, it was everything Satori could do to clinch her fists and feel her spine arc against her will. A sensitive neck had Satori Komeiji. And now the boy knew as well. Nor did he let that knowledge go to waste.
Almost with release did she meet the moment when he moved on from her neck and kissed down her shoulder, elbow and forearm. A short nudge on the wrist and he was prying her fingers open. The fingers gave way, and suddenly he was kissing the inside of her palm.
Satori watched, bemused, as the boy followed after it even when she picked up and pulled it away. What does he think he is now? She opened out her fingers and pushed them against his face, but all it did was make him nuzzle harder. Satori knitted her brows. Awhile, she toyed with the idea of having him chase her hand around a bit, but quickly decided she was being silly again. There were ends to teasing, and that sat well outside them.
There were many things that didn’t.
Something warm and moist pecked the inside of her hand. Satori stiffened. W—What? She started snatching her arm away, but Garion seized it, cat-quick, and locked it down. And then, he began to lick.
And this shocked Satori so, that she lost her words, and had none even as the boy traced his tongue from the centre of her little palm to the ends of her longest fingers. The tongue was strong, hot and wet; it parted her ring- and middle-finger, wrapped around her fingertips, fought against her thumb when the boy took it in his mouth and sucked. Wait, Satori, the small hostess calmed herself, don’t squirm, wait! This... This is no different than if you were being licked by a cat or a puppy, right? This is no different... The trouble was it was. There was little innocence in this licking; he was openly making love to her hand, all the while the thunderstruck Satori watched.
Nor was it much innocent when he made his way back up her arm: when he sucked on the inside of her elbow or farther up, where he pulled the straps of her gown down her shoulder, bumping his teeth against the exposed skin. Satori dug her nails into the covers.
When he arrived at her neck, and she felt his lips on her most sensitive spot, she gulped. Oh gods, she thought, panicking. Oh gods, oh gods, oh gods...
And then, the boy licked.
Satori blinked in astonishment.
The small hostess lurched. W—What? What? Her thoughts tripped over one another. He just licked my— Oh gods, what? Why did— What did I— Why did he— What?
The answer was on his face, dark and resentful, when he straightened to look her in the eye.
Satori, Komeiji Satori, the dreaded mind-reader, mistress of the Palace of the Earth Spirits, feared by men, spirits and monsters alike, felt a clamp in her chest.
Only when she attempted to say his name did she realise she had forgotten how to breathe. Oh no, oh no, oh no, she heard herself struggle inside. Calm down. Calm down! Come on, Satori, breathe!
The boy backed out to a sit, never tearing his eyes from hers, and you’d think, never blinking. There was a sharp, premeditated grudge in his motions that made Satori’s blood run cold. She had wronged him, slighted him somehow – but how? Why? When? Satori scrambled for air. Wet patches on her hand, arm and shoulder erupted with sudden chill when she sat up, supervised by the boy’s insulted glare. The one on her neck was cooling quickly. She felt the stickiness between her fingers. The tenderness of her skin where he’d sucked on it. Step by step, her senses came back to her, little by little.
The last to return was the common sense. The one that told her her mouth was hanging open.
She clamped it shut. Then opened it again.
“Garion—” she began.
The boy overtook her. “Why did you not say anything?”
“Why did you not—”
“I heard you, Garion. I heard you. I just don’t understand—”
She broke off under his stare. What does he want from me?
Then she understood. He was instructing her to read his mind. That’s right. Why aren’t I, in the first place?
Satori aimed her Third Eye at the boy and read his thought.
“Why did you not say anything?” it was asking.
Well, this isn’t helpful, thought Satori. She reached deeper and rummaged through the surface of his mind, but whatever she had hoped to find wasn’t there. What was I hoping to find? An explanation? That’d do for starters. There wasn’t one, though.
This way clearly wasn’t working. The more conventional approach had to do.
“What—” She swallowed. “What... What do you mean, Garion? Say what? What was I supposed to say? Garion, please, I... I don’t understand.” Tell me. Tell me, please. “What is it? What should I be saying?”
The boy did not reply. Not a moment, not for two.
At length, his eyes unlocked from hers and fell to the bed. The corners of his lips tightened. Garion glanced from left to right, avoiding looking straight at Satori.
He took a heavy breath and exhaled.
He clicked his tongue.
He made a grunt.
And finally, he spoke.
Satori batted her eyelashes in confusion.
“To stop what?”
“... To stop,” Garion said stubbornly.
The boy muttered a curse. “To stop that,” he said. “You were meant to... to tell me to stop, once we crossed over into forbidden territory. You were to stop me if we went ‘too far.’”
Satori was baffled. “What makes you think I—”
“You were not making any sounds.”
“You were not—”
“Quit repeating yourself, Garion. What do you mean I wasn’t... Wasn’t making any sounds? Wasn’t making any....”
Oh gods. Satori couldn’t help her lips parting in wonder at this revelation. So this is it.
She slipped once again into his mind. And there it was. Satori hadn’t seen it earlier, but there it stood in a pool of shame, looking at her with its black little eyes.
The same as before, Garion’s well-concealed emotion had leaked out. There hadn’t been many times Satori witnessed such a thing occurring, but each proved more and more how terrifyingly normal the boy was beneath the tough, seasoned exterior. And when she stared into the abyss that was his repressed soul, Satori felt like crying at how great and utterly desperate it was. Years of dedication had allowed him to keep it largely restrained, but in those times it did break through, like a punctured balloon, it broke through hard and overwhelmed everything else. Now was such a time.
And what he was feeling was guilt.
Of all things, thought Satori. And all that because I wasn’t...? Oh gods, this is too much.
She began to laugh.
The boy was glaring at her when she started, and when she finished he was still glaring.
That’s so like him, Satori thought, wiping at her eyes. Of course he’ll be angry if everything doesn’t go his way. Why hadn’t I realised that before? And it was so simple, too. The reason Satori had forced herself to stay quiet had been... nothing if not totally unimportant now, but what it had done was convince the boy of her simply not enjoying his... caresses, if they should bear being called that. The silence had made him to think he had not been enough skilful for the task, or perhaps simply not to his hostess’s liking; and yet, she hadn’t said a thing, never told him to stop. Why? The question ate away at him even now.
Should I answer it? Satori wondered. No. The ghost is still asleep. I’ll see if I can get something more out of him.
“Ah, yes,” she spoke up, “I understand now, Garion.”
“... Truly.” It was more a statement than an inquiry, but it was his questioning all right.
“Yes. As a matter of fact, yes, I do understand,” said Satori. “You’re a silly little thing, I must say – for all your pretence of refinement.”
“Yes, Garion. Silly. You got that right.” She flicked a hand through her messed-up hair. “We did cross a few lines back there, yes. Your getting creative contributed to that quite a lot. Still. What-ever made you think I would call it off? This was supposed to be punishment. You weren’t supposed to enjoy it – nor I.”
The boy flared up. “We both know—!”
Then he cut off.
Satori couldn’t not smile at the consternation drawing on his face. Yes, Garion. We both know that’s not true. We both know it was just a cover – an excuse to touch each other in ways we otherwise wouldn’t dare to. The smile widened when he clawed at his face in dismay. Then even wider when she saw the thought that so tormented him.
“I want her,” it was saying. “Woman or no, enemy or no, plans or no, I want her. I want her. I want her.”
Satori felt very, very warm inside. And so I lose the last shreds of common sense I had. Then why does it feel so warm? No, no matter. She shook her head. I want to be good today. I want to fulfil a wish.
“Garion,” she called him softly.
“What?!” he snapped, breaking out of his anguish.
“Aren’t you going to continue? I never did say stop...”
The boy gave her a suspicious squint. What trickery is this? he was thinking.
Satori feigned surprise. “Trickery? You stopped in the middle of it. You’re the trickster, Garion. Honestly,” she chided, “what’s amazing here is how you can completely ignore me while still sitting between my legs—because you are, in case you’d forgotten.”
He seemed to regain a scrap of his dignity. “... I apologise.”
“And what shall I do with all those apologies, tell me? You are a man of action, Garion. Act.”
You want me to...? He left the thought incomplete.
Yes, you dolt, she answered inside. Get over here and lick me already.
Of course, he didn’t hear that. Thank the gods he didn’t. I’d have burned of shame if he had.
Satori sighed. Then, she spread out her arms, inviting. “Today’s a special occasion,” she said. “We can try out whatever there is to try out. Apart from kissing, that is. Anyway, you can show me what else there is to do on chances like this. Afterwards, I’ll decide what’s acceptable and not, and... Well, we’ll see if we can get anything worthwhile out of that. What do you say, Garion?”
She had to admit, he made a good show of hesitation.
The final answer, though, was foreseeable.
“As you wish,” he said.
Satori smiled. “Great. Then let’s be about it, why don’t we? My arms are getting numb being held out like this.”
Acknowledging with a nod, he crawled back close. Satori locked her arms around him as he lowered to nose at her ear again.
“I do this only for you have requested it,” she heard him whisper.
Yes, yes, naturally. Whatever helps you live it down, Garion. “Could we skip this part then?” she asked. “We’ve already done nuzzling.”
Oh well, thought Satori. This isn’t half bad anyway; let him have it.
A few moments passed before Garion spoke again.
“Let out your voice.”
Satori couldn’t believe the thrill the command alone gave her.
“Yes,” she whispered. “I’ll do.”
“Good.” He went back to her neck.
This isn’t going to be easy, Satori thought, inhaling.
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Satori Komeiji felt violated.
She wanted to die of shame and a few other nameless things if the gods were kind. She was sticky. She was limp, covered in scarlet love-bites, tired, and steadily growing cold. She felt drained. She felt stupid, self-conscious, dishonoured and depraved.
Most of all, Satori Komeiji felt incredibly good.
The boy was locking up the last clasps of his utility belt when she decided to speak up.
Naturally, the first thing to do after he’d ripped himself away from her had been to get out of bed and resume his daily routine. As though nothing had ever happened.
“Could you look at me?” asked Satori.
He turned around obediently. On an accident, his eyes fell upon one of the spots he’d left on her neck. The sound of her moaning voice, still fresh in his memory, flashed into his mind. So something like that has happened after all, Satori mused. And here I thought I might have been dreaming...
“Try not to dwell too hard on it,” she advised. “I’ll do the thinking. You focus on your search, all right?”
“When will you be back?”
When else? “What about dinner? Will you want to—?”
“I will tend to it as per usual,” he interrupted. “Then, we will join here in the evening. You shall have time to think until then. Is this acceptable?”
“Ye—Yes. As a matter of fact, yes... I guess.”
Satori felt weird. Have we just made an appointment for cuddling?
The boy went back to his hooks and ropes. He fastened his oil lamp to the belt and checked the harness on his pack. Once done, he heaved it up on his back.
“Then I shall be on my way,” he announced.
Satori pondered standing, but ultimately just nodded from the bed. “You’ll be careful, won’t you?” she asked.
“Come back to me.”
“... I shall.”
“Garion,” she called him once more.
The boy turned around on the doorstep. “Yes?”
“... You jingle with all that equipment on you, did you know that?”
He gave her a flat stare.
Then, he left the room and closed the door behind him. His heavy steps carried him off down the hall and before long faded away.
Satori flopped down on her pillows. The silence of the house descended on her like a thick, stifling blanket.
And so it begins, she thought miserably. You sure like making things harder for yourself, Satori.
She buried her face in a pillow and tried to think of nothing.
And yet, however hard she tried, the nothing had golden hair, cool lips, and two eyes grey like slate.
A hand went up to her neck, where he had been kissing her not ten minutes before.
It looked like a lonely afternoon.
※※※ HERE ENDS Morning Before ※※※
Aaaand done. This took altogether too long to complete. Consider me officially burnt out. At this point I honestly have no idea what else we could do with this story.
I apologise if the slight change of style between the two parts isn’t so slight after all. I managed somehow to read an entire book between starting and finalising this particular short (hah!) story, and I am very easily influenced by whatever text I’m reading at the moment of writing. That’s the first book of Trudi Canavan’s “The Black Magician” Trilogy, if you’re curious. A tad trite, a little drawn out, but even so it’s an entertaining read, if you happen to enjoy this kind of mage-centric politics-and-sorcery fantasy.
Anyway, hope you riked the scene.
Also, I posted a poem over at >>/at/28571. It’s quite artistic. I know because I wrote it. Believe me. I happen to be an expert in this field.
>>832 I would Read that. Your Satori is just that perfect. I was read here since 2008 and your story is one of the few that I extremely enjoyed. Never saw a story that soo many people wanted continues and side stories. Just the kind what I love: great characters, amazing storyline, some mindf.ck, and L.O.V.E. Oh and the most important one! It's Completed!
Still, I don't think it'd be worth the time investment. You'd be reading the same story all over again, essentially. I'd have to write it, and frankly there isn't enough incentive for me to do so. We've done everything everyone wanted done with this story. I reckon it's high time (finally!) to let it rest.
>>838 Sorry. I don't believe MiD is salvageable. I wrote that one into a pretty tight corner. No forethought and lack of real plans of finishing the job does that to a story. And frankly I don't reckon putting myself back in an obligating setup would be healthy for my current lifestyle or my social or writing endeavours.
>At this point I honestly have no idea what else we could do with this story.
Satori Birth Scene from both perspectives (Satori and Garion)
Rachel and Michael as grandparents scenebefore cut-off to their funeralsand then Garions.
In regards to Old Yafferies, perhaps you could let Shooter, Nanaya or hell even Fuku out of their graves once in a blue moon for a short or two? "The Story" was a great thread but the lack of Post-Modern Yaf Wriggle and Fuku's Forest was painful
>>849 I canned that since nobody read it and I honestly am not made for blogging. I couldn't blog properly if my arse was on blog fire and being whipped by a thousand angry livejournal users.
>/shorts/ Okok. I'll need an hour or two to sort out the formatting, and I'm cruising between some cities at the moment so it might be a while until I sit down and have that sort of time to myself, but I'll get 2 it sooner or later. Here or make another thread?
>>851 Wait, on a second thought, this shit doesn't even have anything to do with 2hu anymore since the conversion. Wouldn't posting that be against the rules or something at this point? Maybe I'll just reopen the blog thing and slap it there or something. /shorts/ shouldn't be used for this sort of shit.
Now it wasn’t ‘till ten that things started going belly-up.
Of course I had made utmost efforts to stir up earlier than normal. I was not too keen on waking to my guest legging it with half my flat on her back. Whether she would was a murkier question, but still. I may have professed her complete welcome, but somewhere in the less attended part of my mind the congenital fright of strangers still loomed pretty big. I’d put her up for the night, but putting up with it proved a thornier thing. As well let your car overnight in the park with the windows down. You’ll twist and you’ll twist, and sleep will seem miles off, ‘till morning has risen and you’ve seen your precious safe. I didn’t do so much twisting, but what torture I spared my beddings I made up in full on whatever idiot had taken over my steering wheel when I’d decided to let her in. The poor sod was on the run before first light.
That isn’t to say he wasn’t back on the morrow and happier than ever. That too much to believe? The breakfast I was making would’ve had you changing your mind quicker than a teenage girl at a sale. Imagine sunny side up eggs sizzling on the pan. Imagine slices of tomatoes sprinkled with onion cubes, crunchy toast running with cheese, ketchup faces smiling up on you in suicidal bliss. Imagine two cups of tea steaming in your face as you go around, and you won’t be too far off at all. A princess could have strolled into my kitchen and thought I’d foreseen her coming. This was my tribute. The trouble was, the princess had no dress, no crown, hairy legs, and swore like something awful.
“Fukuzai?” I knocked on Her Majesty’s door. “Are you up, yet? It’s closing ten on the clock. Sleepyhead!”
The answer was commotion on the other side. A few moments and the door inched open. A sleepyhead peered through.
“Quit whining, fucking hell. The fuck are you? Shut up…”
Any way you hack it off I was hardly used to being received at my bedroom’s door by anything else than a silence and a promise of a lonely night. Hairy legs, “fuck”s or no, Fukuzai was a girl. She’d have had me out of my hide if I’d said so, but she was. You’ve never been threatened to be pulled out of your hide if you’ve not had these mismatched eyes glaring holes in your face. Navy-blue, purple; I wondered if there was a flag to match. Fukuzai was holding on to the door, more than ready to slam it in my face at a drop of a hat. Ugly fingers, every one of them, but all that cold and raking through trash had left them tough as rock. There was something to be afraid of.
The eyes and the fingers were one thing, the legs completing the horror – another; but there was something else which didn’t fail to register in my wildly thrashing attention. The panes of her cheeks were sprinkled with tiny brown dots that darkened her skin almost to chocolate. Maybe because of the dirt, maybe because the lighting had been bad, I hadn’t noticed the previous night. And it was such a simple thing – freckles! This may change much – or nothing at all, if the police didn’t record details like these…
“You lookin’ for what?”
Fukuzai’s eyes narrowed into half-circles. I had to check my tongue was still in place, but whatever deity was watching granted me that much.
“Ah, yes, that’s, hum… Well, breakfast—”
“I heard about your fucking breakfast. So what of it?”
“Arp.” There had never been a thing that would wash away my cool as quickly as those eyes. “Well, thing be… That’s almost done, so—well, you want to smarten up before eating, now’s a time…”
“You’ve made food for me?” She was as disgusted as she was surprised. “… The fuck a’ you thinking? Who asked you?”
“I asked myself. If you’ve any special wishes, I can see what the fridge has to say.”
“I don’t need your fucking food.”
“No,” I allowed diplomatically. The legs were driving me mad. She hadn’t had to skin her slacks to sleep. I was an inch from telling her that when my sanity came rushing back. “At any rate I was taught guests ought to be fed if they’re overnighting,” I told her, “by my dear parents nonetheless, bless their bones. If you’ve issues with it, why, you can take it up with them. They’ll listen, I should wager; they’ve got all the time in the world where they are.”
“You think you’re a fucking comedian, don’t you?”
“A clown, conceivably,” I admitted, “but not, I hope, the cream pie kind. See here now, there’s no way I’m eating all those piles of cheese anyhow. So why don’t you, you know, gimme a bit of a hand, ah? Or a mouth, shall we say? See, see?”
The jape bounced off her frown like a fly and died half-way to the ground. Oh bloody hell, I managed to make a mental note, why am I groping the damn doorframe? Fukuzai’s hands tensed as she prepared to door my fingers right off…
And then, miracle of miracles, the hands fell along her sides and I was spared the horrors of a fingerless existence. The frown melted off her dark face, and she brushed me aside going out for the washroom.
“Whatever, let’s be about it,” I heard her mutter.
I called after her. “Ah, Fukuzai? Those special wishes…”
“Cunt your special wishes. Whatever you’ve made, I’ve had worse.”
Then the apartment’s door slammed and she was gone.
I stood at the precipice of my bedroom (her bedroom until further notice), feeling the dumbest shmuck on the face of the planet. It was perhaps because she’d showered the previous evening (did that make it her shower?) and smelled of my shampoos, but her passing left me in a dangerous sort of daze. I couldn’t let her stroke my mental ejection seat switch so easily. I had to collect myself. I had to remember her legs.
A summary while later and we were being disturbed by each other’s presence in the living room. The weather outside, I noticed, was happily shifting from light greys to full-blown bullshit. We had a storm on our hands if we had a sky. This must have frustrated some of Fukuzai’s plans; she was visibly taking it out on her food. The eggs were a crushed mess of yolk and white.
“Should’ve said you weren’t tender on eggs,” I dared over my plate.
Fukuzai gave no answer, her hands busy stabbing moodily at her meal.
“You don’t want to, don’t force it.”
“I’m fonder of shushing up myself,” I told her. “‘Shut up’ isn’t close as refined. It’s such an ugly phrase, really – so overused. How wonderful would the world be if we shushed ourselves rather than shutting up like… like clams? Well, clams are gross in their own fashion, but that’s running ahead with it; all I’m saying is, you don’t have to eat it if you don’t want to. Fukuzai?”
“There goes the ugly,” I murmured – but no sooner than I had done the murmuring, she was forking each and every last bit of fatigued egg down her mouth. Against all odds it seemed her dislike of eggs was overridden by her desire to please me.
I didn’t say so, but I did think so. My face must have tipped her off; Fukuzai sold me a glare so sharp it could peel the hide from a bear. Saying anything suddenly looked no less than fatal overkill. I elected a change of topic was in proper course.
“It’s a touch chilly today. You don’t want to put any more clobber on, you’re sure?”
She was shaking, but it was patently more egg than anything else.
“Aren’t you cold?” I pushed on.
“… ‘Sit bug you?”
“No. No, I suppose not. It’s only that, you know, not being in the habit of giving sleepovers I’m not entirely sure what to expect. Maybe this is rather normal, and I am a stupid silly bleeder worrying for nothing; who knows what the norms for sleepovers are if there isn’t a book to tell you or a class in school to teach you; maybe this is how it’s ought to go. Well, truth is, it doesn’t matter in the least because either way I don’t give a care, because yes, yes it does bug me. A lot. Would you please dress?”
A prickly sigh was her reply. “… Just tell me to get the fuck out and b’done with it.”
“I don’t want to be done; I want you to dress. You’re doing yourself no good chilling your… your legs like this, much less any good to me. That’d be right awful of me to boot you out anyhow. Won’t you say? We’ve got a hail in the making if I’ve two eyes, and that’s no weather for a girl to loiter about in. You are a girl, too… if I’ve two eyes. The short of it is, it was my pretty idea to let you stay in, I shouldn’t presume to drive you out – even if I wanted. So more than sulking, try and get your finger around the idea that we’d be best off just getting on for the while. You following me there? Fukuzai?”
Fukuzai groaned. “… You talk too much.”
Yes, and you too little, I riposted in my head.
That much was true, though. I had gone and insisted she stay, even if… even if I knew jack-shit fuck-all about her, as she’d had the fluency to put it. I stared on her as she jabbed into her meal with all the world’s gloominess for a mask. The freckles were even clearer here beside the windows; but overall her face could put the nonsense outside to shame.
A shame itself, I thought. She could melt the enamel off your teeth with a glare; I had to wonder what her other expressions could do. That was presuming she had other expressions. So far I’d had to play a theoretician. The fact she had preferences in food told she’d been raised to have one—had a home once in other words—but that was where I was stumped.
The more I stared, the more I felt my wits tapering. I had gone over every news and missing persons base that I could find, but nowhere did I find anyone with mismatched eyes and freckles such as hers. Nor her name. Fukuzai Toorima. That’s with an “oh.” The name was as fake as my insurance records, but a dog without an eye would have seen why. A clever trick, for somebody so superficially unconcerned. There was not a touch of the Altaic tinge on her face, but the name stank of overseas. That alone would have dashed any ordinary one rescuer to take interest in this uncombed creature’s circumstances. The name spelled complications, and complications aren’t exactly what Tiggers like best. The hurdles here were just too high, too daunting.
And that’s just how Fukuzai wanted it.
She caught my look, and held it. I wondered how long she could maintain. How long ‘till one of us broke a nerve and another sweet exchange ensued? I had done my best to grill her for whatever of worth the previous evening; but whatever had turned out no more than a glower and a nasty “fuck you” in the face, and I’d been left to be glad with that instead. How long had I to try until that wasn’t so? What if I snatched her up by the scruff of her neck and shoved her up to the police station to get a nice pretty mug shot? Would she report me at once for sexual assault and clinical insanity while at it? Or would I get treated to the business end of a barrel, because she’s the head of a foreign drug cartel on the run and I’m taken for her accomplice? Would they put the UKSF on the line while we dive out the window and they get in their squad cars to run us down like dogs? I didn’t know half as many possibilities as I should like, and I liked less than half of those I knew.
Fukuzai was doing terrible things with her brows. A moment I was convinced I had forgotten to zip up my mouth and all the things I had been thinking had spilled out, but no, the only thing I was spilling was the semblance of authority I had yet on my side. It was everything I could do to rake what left of it I had back in my pockets before it was entirely gone.
“Anyway, no,” I said with unruffled poise, “I’ll sooner go out myself than have you go anywhere into that weather, and I’ve had no urges to go anywhere today so far. So, how about, why don’t we stay indoors, you and I, and, I don’t know, watch a film or something while we sit and… well, work something out?”
Fukuzai answered with a mocking sound.
The sound was “Keh.” It wasn’t a snicker, not quite – but it might have become one eventually if we’d left it alone to breed and adapt to the shady environment of my flat for a couple million years. I hadn’t a day, much less a year, let alone a million. Sod evolution; I killed it then and there.
“Oh, lay it off, why don’t you! You’ve the mouth of a trooper, and the legs of one, but you ate the bleeding eggs right merrily, didn’t you? And the bread, and the cheese, and the tea too, and I heard you pining for more bacon when we ran dry. You mouth off how you want, but you took the bed when I offered, didn’t you? You took the shower, too. You’ll take everything but the faintest suggestion of actual help. Why?”
I’d considered smacking the table for added effect, but setting off a chance smacking match was the last thing on my mind. Fukuzai bared her horns without the smacking; the smacking could have proven disastrous.
“I don’t need your shower,” she hissed. She was bristling, and not because her hair hadn’t known a brush since the Titanic. “I don’t need your food, I don’t need your bed, and I don’t need your fucking help.”
“And yet here we are.”
“Whoop-dee-fucking-doo. You were the one begging and dragging me to come.”
“You let me.”
If she could spew acid, she would. “And would you shut your cunting bastard mouth if I’d said no? I know your fucking types, I do. There’s two of you types; you either want to stroke your overgrown fucking ego doin’ ‘good’ for the ‘infirm’ or you want a cheap lay. You’re that with the ego, aren’t you? The good boy. Takin’ every god damn care not to do your parents a disservice, aren’t you? Well, fuck you. They’re dead, you said so; they don’t give a flying fuck about your stupid, goody-two-shoes, fucking, spunk, shit.”
“That wasn’t what I was trying to do,” I said quietly.
I didn’t want to blush. I was about to.
“Ah, you’re that other type then?” There was no mercy in Fukuzai. “Not that? No. You wouldn’t do that, would you? You ain’t got the balls to. Ah, ‘s that sting?” She was twisting the dagger with a sneer. “You poor, poor pup. You’d run with your tail tucked in if I stamped my foot hard enough. That’s what you are. You’re a hopeless, fucking, callow, baby boy, as has found himself a set of white armour and a mount. Well, I don’t need your fucking white-knighting, fucking bullshit. I don’t need your stinky, fucking horse. Jam it up your arse. I don’t need your help. I don’t need you. ” Then, almost an afterthought, she added: “So get your cunting fuckwad hands out of my business.”
And that was when I blushed.
“Oh yeah? Oh yeah? ”
The better for me it was a blush of anger.
I brought my fist down beside my plate. “‘S that what you want? ‘Cause far as I see it you took me up on your own bloody accord; no one forced you. Or, maybe you’d more like if I’d left you to soak under that bloody bridge then freeze solid by the morrow? You bloody take a gander outside and tell me you’d sooner be out in that shit. You tell me with a hand on your bloody heart you didn’t sleep well last night. Tell me!”
Fukuzai clamped her teeth so hard I thought I heard one cracking.
“And what about that job of yours?” I was on a roll. “You’d have gone and got it soaked too if I hadn’t given you the ride. No, bugger that; what about you? How would you like to sink your entire next pay check into pills and shit so you don’t cough your bloody lungs up every day? I think you know why you took me up – because you did; you knew I was your last chance of getting through that squall without freezing to the bone.”
“Oh, but I was, ” I rode over her. “You don’t know where or if there is a shelter in this city, elsewise you’d have been there. You couldn’t get a spot to crash at the station; that’s where the scummiest of them go. And how do I know that? You were napping hugging your knees under a broken bloody bus stop shed, in the middle of a falling bloody chill. You were wet and cold; you were at the last of your wits. You were shaking. ”
Slowly, her purple-blue eyes let go. “... Shut up.”
Almost my heart caught in my windpipe. I couldn’t believe the weakness in her voice – no more than I could believe the happiness in my own after I’d slid back down on my seat with this newfound victory.
She’d think thrice before speculating on my male equipment next time.
“You brought this on yourself,” I told her. To no reply, of course. I’d not expected a reply. I had hoped for one, but I hadn’t expected it. The small victory I had had to sustain me. “Now, the tea’s getting cold, so let’s be over it, why not? And you’d do well to finish up that toast; I’m positive the children starving in Africa will be eternally grateful. That’s a healthy chunk we’d be tossing away. And then, after you’re done, what do you say we make ourselves another ride down to town and—”
The doorbell went and made itself a coat out of my next words.
“Mother of...” I tsked. “Hold on, wait here.”
I rushed off to answer the door. I had but a few faces in my mind when I pulled the bolt, each less welcome than the other. The devil’s come to take me, I thought. I wasn’t far wrong.
“Cracking morning, no?” The devil flashed me a blinding grin. “Good on you, you lazy arse.”
I’d forgotten him. I confess it now, I’d let him give me a slip that day; I had other things to mind. The devil took my hand and crushed it in a reinforced knuckle glove; he was tall, glass-eyed, set up in full ACU, and, very like most importantly, my best friend since I had grown long enough arms to clamber out of the cradle.
You ever watched one of those off-the-rocker eastern cartoons, you know the type. The easily bored four-eyed introvert. The easily bored four-eyed introvert with a bottomless wallet and the numbers of everyone from the drunk next door to the Queen’s personal chambermaid. A dangerous sort of man to anyone to stumble into his wandering trajectory. You don’t know whirlwind ‘till you’ve seen this chap switch fluently from electric guitar to jaunts countryside in full military getup. That had been the previous week.
This was when we were meant to try our first steps at it – and I’d forgotten all about it.
“Ah, er, hey, hullo!” I made my best disarming smile. “Cracking, yes...”
“Started to blow over, though. You’re in tough, old boy. Grab your knickers and let’s be about it. I left her ladyship on engine on.”
You had to admit he was right in one thing – I was in tough.
“Ah, well... about that.”
I felt my tongue tumbling over the next words.
I could tell him I’d gone down with a cold. I could tell him my horoscope hadn’t been the best that day. I could tell him I hadn’t the first idea who the half-dressed girl in my room was, nor how she’d got there and eluded my attention until this moment. I could tell him many things.
I told him the truth.
“You see,” I began, “there has been a tiny... a tiny little hold-up. You see...”
>>878 whenever I look at the drivel I've penned up I feel like throwing it away and the cycle repeats itself. The words never fit the vision in the head and too often it feels like its not the proper medium for the story. Too prideful [?] to ask for a proofer too maybe? dunno.
>>879 Yo, that's generally a good mindset (the day you look back and see no issues is the day you stop improving), but you gotta power through it, man. You think I'm 100% satisfied with the stuff you can see above? Man, fuck no. And believe me I feel like stabbing myself with a rebar when I notice a typo, missing words or confused tenses. The difference between you and me is I use it to bully myself into improving. Because FUCK YOU, guy who can't past perfect consistently and switches back to past simple for no discernible reason other than severe brain retardation.
As for the vision, I treat it as a merit. A single story can get an infinite number of interpretations, and that's a beautiful thing. Your vision will nearly always be different from that of your readers no matter how well you transfer it into words. Because your readers are people, and people are different. Their imaginations work in different ways, different from yours. Of course, it feels nice if their interpretation aligns with yours (how happy would I be if someone noticed some of Garion's nasty habits fading and disappearing as the story and his character develop!), but you won't have that always. If ever. Because again, your readers aren't in your head, seeing the things you do. Nor is a perfect transmission of your vision what you should be striving for. Because it's senseless and impossible for one. Why's that so important for you anyway?
>>878 I tried to for years before I gave up. Every time I go back and read something that I wrote it makes me vomit in the mouth a little. Worse than the crap you see on ff.net No discernible improvement after almost 5 years of trying to write something almost every day? Not cut out for it, sorry. Hell, I don't even like voting on stories because I can never seem to express it well.
>>930 Na, Jotaro's an asshole and a Mary Sue. Dio, on the other hand, is moe as fuck. The way part 3 ended was ass-pulled bullshit.
Oh, and would you look at that! Someone's finally grown the cojones to bump this thread off the top of the page. At last, we can stop posting now. It's been a long run, but it's finally over. Time to say my farewells.
Parsee Mizuhashi screwed up her eyes at the great underground chasm that had been a stain on her backyard for as long as she could remember. She made a face. The heels of her sandals briefly left the ground when she bent over the railing of the bridge and puckered her lips.
The she spat.
The yellow-white ball of spit fell and fell, shrinking at a steady rate, until it was swallowed by the darkness far below.
Parsee Mizuhashi slithered back to the safe side of the railing and whisked the white stone dust off the front of her tunic. She scowled lifting her hand to her eyes. There was dust under her nails. The stuff permeated the place. Every morrow Parsee Mizuhashi rose from bed she’d scoop crumbs of it out with the edge of a spoon; every next morrow she’d do it again. There was no end to pains of Parsee Mizuhashi.
There wasn’t a person to come over today, either. Parsee Mizuhashi squinted in vain at the other side of the bridge, none of the vague shapes over there turning out to be travellers awaiting passage. There were times she thought it better that way. Then there were days she remembered what here function here was. A lack of travellers meant she couldn’t fulfil that; an abundance of them, on the flipside, would surely make her ears shrivel up and break off. Whichever way you hacked it off, it weren’t clever for travellers to accost Parsee Mizuhashi. And whichever way you hacked it off, it weren’t clever for her to hope one would show up someday. There was no end to pains of Parsee Mizuhashi.
Parsee Mizuhashi sniffed in a sleeve and turned around her house-wise. The thing looked to her more run-down with each day in passing; yet Parsee Mizuhashi saw small sense in bothering with repairs. “As long as it damn well don’t fall apart,” you’d hear her mouthing to herself in her sleepless throes. There weren’t guests to complain of holes in her roof, nor rain to make them overmuch unacceptable. “Why should I need a bloody roof either way,” you’d hear her wondering those nights she wasn’t mourning any other thing. There was something about the integrity of a house and the including of a roof that told everything was in its place; yet she couldn’t shrug off a sense of redundancy in worrying after a roof in an underground cavern. There was no end to pains of Parsee Mizuhashi.
The hinges of her front door screamed bloody murder when she closed it back behind her and took in the silence of the house. That was when Parsee Mizuhashi marked something in her mind.
There was no story beyond the eighth paragraph. Nobody was willing to devote their time and enthusiasm to telling of her hateful days spent alone in an empty house underground. There was little point, yes indeed very little, in giving her the favour of a pen when much more fascinating creatures lurked beyond her small realm. Why, take the mind-reader for but one example; and what of her pets? The one-horned Yuugi of the underground city as well, however she looked not unlike a rhinoceros with the damnable thing thrusting out of her face. What chances had flax-haired Parsee Mizuhashi when put beside such divas? A wretched, lonely existence was her calling; and to that calling she was made and well-equipped. This was why, those years she had spent in the collective consciousness of those who knew about her, she spent them in the side-lines and never the bright spotlight. She was simply not up to the challenge. Unwelcome to their perfect, inner worlds. Unwanted.
Yet none of this ever crossed her mind when she entered that philosophically senseless house she had.
Parsee Mizuhashi wrinkled her nose as she realised a last what had been stinking up her foyer for somewhere around a fortnight now. A mouse had crept under the foundations and given its last breath in one of her boots that she never used. Now it little resembled its original form.
Parsee Mizuhashi picked up the boot and immediately regretted doing so. A fearsome mixture was old boots and dead matter. Now it fell to her to unmake the mess.
She shivered imagining what it would do to her nails.
>>991 >Nobody was willing to devote their time and enthusiasm to telling of her hateful days spent alone in an empty house underground. There was little point, yes indeed very little, in giving her the favour of a pen when much more fascinating creatures lurked beyond her small realm.
Time had been when budging had not been something Satori Komeiji had had to contend with, but such a time, it seemed now, was a thing of the past. The mind reader shifted on her bed, folding her legs. Her naked toes brushed against the satin sheets. The soft sensation did little to soothe her mood. Satori Komeiji might have been close to budging once, but it had been an unguarded moment, one she was everything but proud of. Satori Komeiji would not budge, and that was final.
The trouble was, “final” was a word finer apparently even than her nerve.
Satori Komeiji, mistress of the Palace of the Earth Spirits, vicereine of the Old Hell, a dreaded mind reader, and most importantly a woman, rose to a clumsy sit. She had waited an hour and more, but there had been no motions at or beyond the door of her bedroom, and her patience was wearing thin. This was nothing out of the ordinary, as Satori Komeiji herself realised hers was a patience sewn with a fine thread. But an hour might have worn even the staunchest women of the books stashed in her manse’s spacious library, and wear it did. This time, it was Satori’s patience which suffered.
She stood to her feet. What of the comfort the fuzzy carpet may have offered their soles was lost in the quick march Satori launched toward the door. The ancient oaken slab turned inward, admitting her out to the hall. The hall was empty.
Satori slammed the door.
There had been a cold waft from the corridor without, and it was to it that Satori ascribed the angry shiver shuddering down her spine. The mind reader flung herself onto a chair, taking especial delight in the cautionary ring of teacups on the table beside it. Two teacups. Satori considered hurling one of them at a wall, to calm herself, but a certain sour memory put the unwise thought out. At any rate she might be forced to remove it soon either way; and teacups came expensive in the underworld, the kind she liked most of all. One she had lost already. Another might just set her over the line. She let it be.
An awry smile pushed out of the constant of her frown. This was stupid thinking, and just as well as Satori realised it, she knew it was her way of coping. Coping with what? She asked the question in the confines of her mind, but no reply was forthcoming. Of course. Nobody there.
She laughed at her private joke, the last note coming out as a sigh. Her hand wandered to the unfortunate cup, bringing it to her lap and fingering the gold-embroidered lip wistfully. An hour and more. A minute might break a man if administered correctly, and Satori could not even say she was a man. What did that make the time she had spent tossing and switching on her bed, hoping quietly for the whine of the door turning on its hinges? Aggravating was one word, but Satori was of a different mind. Hurtful. And infuriating, she thought. Not a hint of gratitude. Not even a shred. Satori had waited, each tick of the clock pounding in her ears, growing in volume as the minutes slid by. She had waited, unwilling – or perhaps afraid – to interrupt the wild rush in her mansion’s halls. There had been many things she wished to say of it. Satori appreciated her silence, and the rush had been anything but, yet still she said nothing. Only retreated to her room and curled up on the bed, keeping her complaints to herself. And waited. An hour and more she waited.
And still the boy had not come.
Satori Komeiji squeezed the handle of her cup.
A part of the blame lay indisputably on her shoulders. Since she had woken him late it had been to begin with that the boy had had to rush at all. Satori herself had not slept overmuch; sleep had come a hard thing somehow that night – but she had not wanted to deprive him of his own, and it was that which had effected the current state of affairs. The needling of her sister, the trying on of the dresses, or the leisurely pace at which they had taken their own... affairs... Those put aside, Satori Komeiji was nothing if not the architect of her own frustration.
At least she was one of them. The other had blond hair and eyes like slate, and even now was flying for the festival at the Hakurei shrine.
Two weeks, thought Satori Komeiji. Two weeks he had pestered her to come along. Two weeks she had said no, only, come the next day, to be molested again. Yet, now that the highest of times had reared its head, the boy had said nothing. He had not come.
Satori Komeiji returned the cup to its spot on the table.
No more. She could take no more. Two weeks her patience had been piecemeal chipped away, and if it hadn’t been nearing its end before, it certainly was now. She stood again, casting around the room for her discarded slippers. She found them thrown any-old-how by the bed.
The hallway outside her chambers embraced her in one of its customary chill drafts. Satori Komeiji tore through it, stamping toward where she had last seen of the boy.
There was still a chance she might catch him, reasoned Satori Komeiji. She would give him a stern talking-to for making her wait if it proved he was still in the house, and if not... For now she was contented with but one solution. Satori shouldered the infant other aside. A step at a time, she chided her own hastiness. Slow and steady wins the race.
Satori Komeiji studied her face in the mirror, thinking it the stupidest thing in the world.
Though he had not been in the first place she had looked – her sister’s room – nor the second – his own – nor even the third, still Satori Komeiji had stalked the passages of her manse in search of the mess of blond hair which had so gotten under her skin. He hadn’t been in the kitchen, nor the great dining room, nor even his favourite library. She had checked in the mansion’s bathrooms, but they held no boy; she had ventured into the less attended wing of the house where her pets lived, but still no avail.
What of the intents she had nursed of lecturing him on the politeness of making her wait had tapered off to a sharp point in the course of her hunt, now stuck in her side and pumping her belly full of squeamish tightness. When she had arrived to an empty guest-room they had been half-ground already; when even the library had turned up no boy, blond or otherwise, she could feel them prickling at her insides. This was a new sensation, and one which Satori Komeiji did not entirely agree with, but she did not wonder at its core. She did not want to wonder. The boy’s silent departure had pulled the rug out from under her feet, and if the years of acquaintance Satori had fostered with her own self had taught her anything, it was that she did not think straight when her feet had no rug to stand on. She could no more trust herself with her emotions on the rise than she could stop them from arising in the first place.
And that she couldn’t was plain enough.
I am not myself, thought Satori Komeiji. She was not herself, and that was the end of it. She simply was not.
Satori Komeiji clasped a jewelled brooch to the side of her head and felt the silliest thing on the planet was scowling on her from the world inside the mirror.
To forfeit her original plans once they had turned unfeasible had been easy; easier yet to renounce the weeks of “no” and accept the hitherto unacceptable course. Satori herself had startled how readily she had launched into a torrent of preparations. Almost she had laughed at how fickle she must have seemed, almost – but the sour tinge on her tongue, and the set of her pale lips had killed the laugh before it might embarrass her even further. Enough she must bear the private shame of having it pass; being laughed at by her own self might just have knocked the last pillars of saneness from her mind.
The difficult part had been the preparations themselves.
Satori had watched, with no small restlessness, how her sister had tried the dresses she had – someway – had stashed in her scarce-inhabited room; she had known some of the pieces more or less intimately. Yet when down it had come to choosing one for herself, Satori had struck a hard and unexpected stump. Whilst she had thought whichever would do for her sister (and might have done with the fashion show ending already), her own complexion and... figure... had made for a tougher match. Much tougher. No colour seemed to fit; no cut appeared to flatter her tiny frame. Nothing had toned with her eyes, and no dress been good enough. Satori had dug through the collection of clothes twice over, finding no satisfaction.
The memory of being, mere hours before, stuffed on the old couch, close – uncomfortably close – together with the boy, had been no small distraction, either.
Satori liked being touched. There was no escaping it. She had always enjoyed sleeping with her pets – or petting them, or, on those colder evenings, letting them rest across her lap for warmth – but the human touch had been a new, exciting thing. She had thought she had digested this knowledge – storing it away in a dustier corner of her mind – but each time she remembered being wedged between the couch’s fraying arm-rest and her long-legged guest, her shoulders at once went tense. They had been tense throughout, too. To Satori’s credit she had not allowed it to show on her face – gods forbade she had – but once her pets had come to retrieve the boy, she had given him over with decidedly limping arms. Nobody had noticed it – or had thought they had – yet Satori could not shake the feeling she had acted poorly in front of her guest. And if he knew, she had questioned herself silently, and hid it somehow – so what?
No answer had come, and, on the edge of her tolerance, Satori had picked the closest dress which matched the colour of her eyes, and dragged it to the mansion’s bathroom.
Now, wrapped in the stupid robe and done examining her stupid face, Satori Komeiji was all but ready to go.
The only thing that remained was her furiously beating heart.
Satori Komeiji kicked open the bathroom’s door, and, swallowing the sting of pain in her toe, stormed for the front entrance of the house.
At any rate it was a ways from the mouth of the underworld to the Hakurei shrine, even if sailing on the wind. She would have time enough – more than time enough – to sort out her feelings on the way. Not that there is much to sort out, she comforted herself, shutting the front door behind her. The roaring currents of the great underground cavern picked up and whipped the tails of her robe. Satori Komeiji bowed and smoothed it down.
Coming back up, she was biting her lip.
Not that much anyway, right? she thought miserably.
Satori Komeiji had not sorted out her feelings on the way.
The lights of the fair had been visible from still miles away – a string of incandescent globes snaking down the slope of the shrine hill, then breaking off westward along the road once called by the humans of Gensokyo the Pilgrim’s Way. The shrine itself was as though the Moon had donned a rainbow dress and sat on the peak of the hill, watching the starry night. As she fast approached, Satori Komeiji saw the tides of humans milling up and down the ancient road, browsing the stalls their neighbours had pitched to both its sides, and felt her blood quicken. Music was breaking through the scream of wind in her ears, growing ever louder as she closed on the festival atop the hill.
Satori Komeiji had not sorted out her feelings.
A circle around the shrine grounds and she selected a clump of trees outside its bounds as her best landing place. A few branches grasped and picked at her dress as she came down, but Satori paid them no mind. The din of the revellers’ voices rang dissonantly in her ears. She emerged from the darkness wringing her hands, but the multitude of bright lampions – and the already sorry state of the Hakurei’s guests – had covered the sight of her approach well. Satori skimmed across the crowd, singling out faces she recognised by sight or reputation. The noblest, most powerful personage of Gensokyo was lounging, seated on blankets and pillows and expensive rugs strewn about the yard, talking and laughing, eating and drinking, the usual schisms of their kind set aside for this special night. Here she saw the ill-reputed vampire of the Scarlet Devil Mansion, chatting away with Keine Kamishirasawa of the Human Village, neither showing the least sign of apprehension. There, she spotted the shrine maiden of Moriya – in contest, usually, with the red-white Hakurei, yet now using of her food and drink with careless abandon. And many, many more. Satori scanned on, thrilling. The one face she wished to see had not yet entered her view.
Satori Komeiji had definitely not sorted out her feelings. But when she saw the glimmer of blond hair on the far side of the yard, she realised instantly she had never needed to.
There were stares as she sliced right across the drinking crowd, there were, and more than one hushed remark, but none of them made matter to Satori Komeiji. The shrine maiden of Hakurei was standing faced this way, the fullest favour of her attention locked on the boy before her. The red-white girl was flushed, and less than the epitome of serenity. Satori Komeiji did not look at her. She opened wide her Third Eye.
The boy’s mind was in a scramble.
Satori could not help a smile at the sound of its voice. And though the other voice, the black voice just below his own, was whispering as ever and always, the smile could not be removed. A few more hurried steps and she was at his side.
Satori Komeiji slid her hand into the boy’s own, at the same time opening her lips to speak.
“I don’t know that that’ll be necessary, Garion.”
It was a moment before his head turned on his neck. A longer moment before the last echoes of his previous thought had died, and his big, grey eyes fell on the tiny mind reader beside him.
A spark of recognition lit up in those intelligent eyes, and, as though answering its call, his big, coarse hand tightened around hers.
He did not know this, of course. So he was occupied surprising at her appearance – and then at her robe, and brooch, and all – that he did not notice his body betraying his emotions. No. He stared on, dumbstruck, down on Satori’s stupid face.
Satori Komeiji still thought her face was stupid. This had never changed. She thought her robe was stupid, and the brooch was stupid, and her sandals were no smarter than a chunk of basalt rock. She thought the band tucking away at their instruments behind their backs was stupid. She thought that the pained decision to come here had been stupid beyond belief, that the festival itself was somehow stupid, and that everyone who partook in it, especially herself, clearly had to be out of their wits.
She thought the boy was just as stupid as she, gaping down on her like he was.
The music slowed and faded away, and inside her stupid head, Satori Komeiji thought she had been stupid not to realise this sooner. But, as she matched the gaze of those slate-coloured eyes, and felt the roughness of the boy’s long fingers press against her skin, she thought that sometimes – just sometimes – stupid was the rightest thing to be.
In this, Satori Komeiji vowed as the stars winked high above their heads, she would not budge.
I could read your Satori everyday and night for a week and not get bored. I actually did that once, when I decided to binge read everything you wrote for this, sidestories and all. I got about four hours sleep every night, and despite the fact that I become an overly critical and apathetic bastard when I don't get enough sleep, I was still excited to read everytime I woke up. So if you get the urge to write something else about her, I'll still be waiting. Cheers, YAF.
As for the short itself, the part when Satori realised that Garion wasn't coming to say goodbye really hit me in the gut. There was some actual physical pain there. Poor Satori. I don't usually have such a visceral reaction to most fiction, so I have to give you a lot of credit there.
I can't point to any other parts that I particularly enjoyed, but that's because I enjoyed so much of it that it all melted into a pleasant buzz of Satori.
Only complaint I can make is that there isn't enough character interaction, as that's perhaps your strongest area, but there wasn't much chance for that in this scene anyway so I'm content with what I got.
>>1565 I’m glad you enjoyed it, but cut down on all that praise. Someone might think you’re a – gasp! – some kind of YAFdrone or something. >>1566 Time to leave them all behind and work on my novel finally.
I’m very slowly rewriting TiiTS on my blog by way of exercise. Currently have no Tohu ideas I want to do. It’s all on my brain whether it comes up with anything good.
You can try and help it, if you want. I ain’t gonna stop you.
This must be annoying as all damns to read on a mobile device.
>I’m glad you enjoyed it, but cut down on all that praise.
Bah, that's only light praise by my standards, I just have an obsessive need to write out and clarify all my thoughts and that tends to skew whatever my main point is towards extremes. That post was meant to be half the size and praise, before I worked it over for editing, damnit.
Besides, you asked me to comment in such a pitiful way, so you only have yourself to blame if I overdid it!
>Someone might think you’re a – gasp! – some kind of YAFdrone or something.
Wait, you mean I'm not? Shit, better stop listening to you then.
>This must be annoying as all damns to read on a mobile device.
>>1595 Combining monsters for double the monstrosity? This is pure heresy. >>1596 >Isn't writing your Satori its own reward? There is a limit to spinoffs this story needed or deserved, and we passed it a long time ago. >I know you love me YAF!I can read minds! You are a monster and you can’t read anything. I AM THE HAMMER!
Well, I s'pose it is Tuesday. I shouldn't have expected anything else. Enjoy your monster hunting.
>There is a limit to spinoffs this story needed
I guess you have a poi
>or deserved, and we passed it a long time ago.
I will not stand for these filthy lies! You, me, Rumbling Spell Orchestra, Satori only, Final Destination!
Except not really, because I've forgotten how to play, and Satori mirror matches are hilariously terrible.
p.s: I considered taking out his head and puzzle, replacing them with Satori's head and third eye respectively, but realised I can't be assed today. Just imagine it really hard when you look at the image. Thank you.